5 Critical Resources for Understanding ‘Corporate Personhood’

Corporations in America are recognized by the government as having many of the same rights as people. They are actually considered ‘people’ for legal purposes in many situations.

Corporations claiming ‘freedom of speech’ are among the largest funders of elections and campaign advertising in America. And, as a result, they influence politicians to put corporate power ahead of the needs of citizens.

This article has a list of resources at it’s end — but let’s start by understanding how bad things have gotten.

To begin with, fear of corporations taking over America’s government has been with us from early in America’s history…

“Unless you become more watchful in your States and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges, you will in the end find that the most important powers of Government have been given or bartered away, and the control of your dearest interests have been passed into the hands of these corporations.”

– Andrew Jackson, farewell address, 04 March 1837

How bad has it gotten? Well, the current US Government has pushed corporate power to new levels.

Today, corporate or business interests are the main funders of elections, the main controllers of the media, the most dominant forces over our governments … (and) the fastest commercializers of governmental functions, including military services…

– Ralph Nader in a letter to President GW Bush, April 29, 2004

It’s gotten much worse recently. Corporations exert power over almost every area of life.

The goal of the corporation is to maximize the profit of their shareholders. That’s it. If the value of a rain forest can be maximized by turning it into paper napkins, that will be the goal of a corporation.

“The belief is common in America that the day is at hand when corporations… after having created a system of quiet but irresistible corruption – will ultimately succeed in directing government itself. Under the American form of society, there is no authority capable of effective resistance…”

– Henry Adams, 1870

Can they be stopped?

No — they can’t be under current law. The laws today give them the right to worry only about themselves and to directly lobby government and support candidates that will help them in their quest to put profits first.

These corporations and their trade associations are relentlessly obtaining from governments more and more privileges and immunities which as “artificial persons” are severely tilting the balance of power and wealth against real people.

– Ralph Nader in a letter to President GW Bush, April 29, 2004

In an essay on the New Values of the 21st Century, we argued that a core value of society should be: “People are more important than Corporations”.

Abraham Lincoln, the great US President, kept this country together during a civil war — but worried afterwards that the corporations that profited from the war could pose an even bigger threat:

“As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

– US President Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Here are 5 Resources to inform you on this issue. Armed with that knowledge, we can inform others and work to establish this as one of the core values of the 21st Century Citizen.

1. The award-winning documentary movie, The Corporation.

2. Thom Hartmann’s great book on the subject, Unqual Protection [amazon link here].

3. An interview with Thom Hartmann where he discusses the subject of corporate personhood.

4. Here’s a great article from truthout.org, The Supremacy of the Super-Citizen.

5. This article on Alternet describing how the citizens of Humboldt County passed their law against ‘corporate personhood’.

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5 thoughts on “5 Critical Resources for Understanding ‘Corporate Personhood’

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