Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Corporations are not people.

Even though most of the founding fathers were liberal capitalists, they believed that corporations were not people and did not have the same rights as people. After all, they had just fought a war against King George and his greedy lapdogs.

Many of the thirteen original colonies began as commercial ventures with proprietary charters granted to English bureaucrats and businessmen. They satisfied their labor requirements with indentured laborers brought from England and later with slaves. At the onset of the Revolution, four of the colonies—Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland were still privately chartered.

The founding fathers strongly believed in regulating trade. That’s precisely why the Constitution granted the Federal Government regulation of commerce. It's incorrect to conclude that this regulation of commerce only applied to tariffs between the thirteen original states or that the founders were supportive of corporations. They believed that corporate charters should be a regulated privilege not a right.

This belief was supported by the states as well. Almost all the states included language in their constitutions to regulate corporations. Most believed that the granting of a corporate charter was a privilege that carried no rights and could be revoked whenever corporate activities were not in the general interest of the state or the people.

In the early stages of the industrial revolution, corporations flourished. They gained more power and more influence. They began to fund campaigns and establish friends in high places in this country, just as they had in England. This began a one hundred and eighty year period of lawsuits and court decisions based on hair-splitting semantics that culminated in January with the current pro-corporate, activist Supreme Court’s decision to grant corporations the same rights as citizens.

Corporations are not people. They do not have the same rights, morals or ideals as individual people. They do not vote and should not participate in elections the same way people do.

This ruling will cause a flood of corporate cash into politics. If you think candidates have been bought and paid for in the past, wait until you see the upcoming election cycle.

The Supreme Court ruling that corporations can support candidates without limit means that even foreign corporations can buy as many Congressmen as they can afford by funneling money through Delaware-based subsidiaries. It puts our democracy at a very dangerous historical crossroad.

It’s critical for the American people to reestablish our control over corporations by passing an amendment to the Constitution restricting corporations. It’s what the founding fathers intended, and it’s what will keep our democracy alive.

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