An article at Fact-esque reminds me of the numerous times I’ve written about the harm that comes from too-powerful Corporations. Many people don’t realize this — many others think it’s totally the right thing — but Corporations have more rights in America than human beings.
First of all, as “artificial persons,” Corporations have rights under the Constitution, including primarily Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, which are enforceable even upon States by the Fourteenth Amendment. Increasingly, Corporations are being given First Amendment protections that allow them to fund false advertising about the way they operate. (In the old days, commercial speech received less protection than political speech, but this is increasingly switching around so that political speech gets less protection, while commercial speech gets more.)
What a lot of people don’t stop to think about — and this is why I say that most Americans cannot see farther than the nose on their faces — is the Big Picture.
Corporations live longer than people. Corporations have no feelings. No conscience prods at a Corporation if it starts to do things which are harmful to the humans for whom it was originally created. Because Corporations are created for one purpose — to make profits for their shareholders — they sometimes must do things which are harmful to the very shareholders for whom they’re earning profits.
For example, if a set of laws get in the way of a Corporation, the Corporation must do what it can to get rid of the law. Sometimes, this means “taking it to the people,” as happens frequently when zoning laws and regulations get in the way of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart then spends millions to try and buy an election. Additionally, Corporations work to outsource jobs, so they can go to countries where laws that protect workers do not apply. Finally, they also work within the United States to change those laws.
And Corporations have an unfair advantage in these fights. First of all, they have more money. Few human beings have the resources that even a small Corporation has. Large Corporations? Fuggedaboutit. Even if Bill Gates had to battle Microsoft somehow — and in spite of his position, since it’s a Corporation, he could actually be in that position one day — he’d be hard-pressed to defend himself.
Secondly, Corporations can live hundreds of years longer than human beings; technically, they’re immortal. This is why one of the favored methods of used by tobacco companies in the past to beat lawsuits was to drag out litigation as long as possible. The person suing the tobacco Corporation would die before the suit could come to an end. It also means that people fighting against the Corporation politically will sometimes pass before any legistlation they sponsor does.
And now, Corporations are becoming even more powerful. Because they’ve started literally taking over the legal system.