Contributed by Auggie
Concerned human being
The Supreme Court this week reversed legislative restrictions on the role of corporations in political campaigns, ruling that companies can spend as much as they want to support or oppose individual candidates. The decision was made on the grounds that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to freedom of speech. As a concerned citizen of the United States I find this philosophy extremely disturbing. If we can’t rely on the Supreme Court to be intellectually honest then who can we rely on?
A corporation is not a person in any way, shape or form – it does not exist in corporeal form. A corporation is nothing more than a bundle of contractual agreements filed in some office or database, and it has no more rights to participate in the democratic decision making process than any other piece of paper. You could write a book on this topic, but in the interest of blogging etiquette I’ll limit my remarks.
Many states already have “paycheck protection” laws whereby no union dues can be spent for any political purpose such as lobbying and campaign donations unless the union members specifically agree, but shareholders and other stakeholders have no such protection. They may in fact be contributing to political causes they do not agree with. Even if a shareholder agrees with the corporate view, an individual citizen has nowhere near the political clout of a corporation (where the actual decisions are being made by a small number of people with power). Investors, consumers and employees etc. already have the right to challenge and influence the democratic process individual citizens.
Furthermore, most large corporations rely on pools of capital from investors around the world, and by treating the corporation as a person we are essentially allowing non-citizens to have a say in American laws and regulations. My concern is naturally with the U.S. because I live here, but I would think that any country arriving at decisions through a democratic process would not want those decisions overturned by foreigners.
The Supreme Court ruling produced vastly different reactions from the two major political parties, but my viewpoint is completely non-partisan. And believe it or not has nothing to do with my opinion on campaign financing. My real concern is the anthropomorphizing of corporations and how it blurs the boundary between capitalism and democracy.