Contrary to the now infamous Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, corporations are simply not people and should not be provided the civil rights protections meant to cover individuals in the first ten amendments to our constitution.
The most simple argument is as follows. THEY CAN’T VOTE. Nor should they be able to vote. Corporations are legal and economic entities sanctioned by the government to provide protection, via separation, between people and the corporate entity itself. In other words, corporations exist specifically to be an entity that is separate from the human individuals that own and control it. This separation allows for certain liability protections for these individuals. It also provides a mechanism for separating the economic interests of the “entity” from those of the people who control it.
Let’s put it in less technical terms. By forming a corporation you can separate your income and costs from those of the corporation. The corporation can make a ton of money, and even though you own the corporation itself, you don’t pay taxes on this money. You only pay personal income taxes on the money the corporation pays you as income. The corporation pays it’s own taxes, based on a completely different set of tax laws. To put it simply, you are not the corporation. The corporation stands on its own. That is its purpose!
Our democracy is based on the simple principle of “one man, one vote”. Young school children can understand this simple concept. It is just Common Sense (Thomas Paine reference intentional). Each person gets one equal vote in the selection of our government. Rich people don’t get extra votes because they are rich. That would not makes sense. And corporations don’t get any vote at all, they are not people.
If a corporation wants to spend money on an elections, it is free to pay any individuals as much money as it wants, and encourage them to donate or spend that money on the elections subject to the campaign finance laws written for individuals. The corporation would have to report this money as compensation, and the individual might owe income tax. In addition, the individual would now control the assets and might choose the spend the money in another way. But all of this makes sense. It’s legal and it is the way it should work. No individual’s civil rights have been affected in any way.
However, the Citizen’s United ruling has allowed corporations to be protected under the individual’s right to free speech, and free speech equals money. The net effect has been that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections and are not subject to campaign financing laws covering amounts and disclosures. So let’s review. Even though corporations can not vote, they are free to influence elections through spending in manner that far exceeds what is legal for individuals citizens, who can vote.
Does that sound right to you?
Editors Note: Certain existing situations in today’s society seem completely our of touch with reality or common sense. From time to time this blog will argue such points in the category “Un-Common Sense”.