Update: This is Part I of a two-part post about corporate personhood. Part II is here.
An end to “corporate personhood” would be a constitutional revolution of monumental proportions. This means it either won’t happen, or will happen only with major social “consequences” — stains on the pavement, if you will.
Nevertheless, this change, more than any other, is needed if we’re going to save the current just-born century (in my humble opinion, of course).
The world of the Top 0.01% is organized by very simple principles. This is how the Barons of the 21st Century get their power:
■ Corporations suck most of the created wealthy out of the world. (And lest you forget, labor creates wealth, not capital.)
■ The mega-rich suck most of the wealth out of corporations. Corporations are just their engines, the organs through which they operate. It’s like Ripley and that giant humanoid lift-loader at the end of the second Aliens movie — the corps are a power-multiplier for the mega-rich, but they have no separate mind.
■ The mega-rich use their wealth to buy the world. They don’t work for a living; they feed. The politicians (the Clintons, the Bushes, the Cheneys, the … guess who) do work for a living. They, like Gov. Scott Walker, report to the Kochs of the world, and serve them.
This sounds way too simple, I get that; but how is it wrong? Caesar used his army and his allies to control and loot northern Europe. You disagreed, he killed you. That was simple too. At the level of the real Masters, it’s not a complicated world.
The power of the mega-rich to loot corporations would end immediately with a return to Nixon-era top marginal taxes. It’s not worth stealing (sorry, getting your hand-picked Compensation Committee to approve) an extra $2 million per year if you have to pay 75% of it (or a job-killing Eisenhower-era 92%) to the government. At those tax levels, it makes more sense just to grow the company.
The power of corporations to loot the world via power-enhancers like “money equals speech” would end immediately if “corporate personhood” were repealed. (I’ll have more on how corporate personhood happened tomorrow.)
Personally, I’d like to see a “corporate death penalty” for capital crimes. If a corp murders third-world union leaders, for example, it gets sent to the chair — meaning its charter is revoked and the shareholders divvy up the assets and go home.
With that in mind, here’s what’s happening in Los Angeles. Via David Swanson:
Next week the Los Angeles City Council will vote on a resolution that calls on Congress to amend the Constitution to clearly establish that only living persons — not corporations — are endowed with constitutional rights and that money is not the same as free speech. If this resolution is passed, Los Angeles will be the first major city in the U.S. to call for an end to all corporate constitutional rights.
The campaign in Los Angeles is the latest grassroots effort by Move to Amend, a national coalition working to abolish corporate personhood. “Local resolution campaigns are an opportunity for citizens to speak up and let it be known that we won’t accept the corporate takeover of our government lying down,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, a national spokesperson for Move to Amend. “We urge communities across the country to join the Move to Amend campaign and raise your voices.”
Earlier this year voters in Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin overwhelmingly approved ballot measures calling for an end to corporate personhood and the legal status of money as speech by 84% and 78% respectively. In November voters in Boulder, Colorado and Missoula, Montana both passed similar initiatives with 75% support.
In a popular revolt, grassroots movements count. Move to Amend might be a very good group to keep an eye on (or even support).