Friday, January 22, 2010

Corporations Are Not Persons

I think I agree with Old Right Nader, the man who much to my surprise got my vote in '08, that a little rectification of names is in order here — Corporate Personhood Should Be Banned, Once and For All.

Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky, I seem to recall, said as much, going as far to say, I seem to recall again, that such a step would solve a lot of our ills. But I'm beyond myself here. I need a lawyer. Mark in Spokane? I mean, Libertas et Memoria? What sayest thou?

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8 Comments:

Blogger kushibo said...

I had the exact same thought about the recent Supreme Court decision: Why are we giving free speech to non-persons?

8:28 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Well, legally corporations are persons, and they have to be so considered in order for them to have the one characteristic absolutely essential to the corporate character: practical immortality. The reason a corporation can theoretically survive forever (assuming it doesn't go broke or get dissolved) is because it has legal status apart from the people who own its shares (this is what distinguishes a corporation from an LLC, a simple partnership, or a sole proprietorship). An example: The Hudson's Bay Company was originally chartered in 1670 and is still in business in Canada (where it does business under the name The Bay).

Get rid of corporate personhood, and you will get rid of one of the prime reasons to have corporations. Now, that may be a good thing, or that may be a bad thing, but that will be the result.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

By the way, I'm still Mark in Spokane. My own blog is titled Libertas et Memoria, but I also blog on two other group blog...So, I'm not Libertas et Memoria, I'm Mark in Spokane, who blogs at Libertas et Memoria, American Creation, Culby's Daily Quotebook, etc.

And who comments at Western Confucian!

Cheers!

8:16 AM  
Anonymous mcmlxix said...

Persons with practical immortality...don't we call these vampires?

10:15 AM  
Blogger Viator Catholicus said...

Sad! Ironic! Abomination! Corporations are considered person, but human beings in the earliest stages of development are not legally protected as such!!!

1:42 AM  
Anonymous mcmlxix said...

Another question...what really is the legal difference between corporations and cooperatives? Are cooperatives legal persons? If not why not? And why then need corporations be so?

3:24 AM  
Blogger papabear said...

mcmlxix, wiki seems to be reliable on this point.

7:56 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

kushibo, I don't think free speech should be denied to corporations, I just find the idea that they are "persons" weird.

Mark, thanks for the clarifications on corporate personhood and on your moniker. I recall Wendell Berry's bone of contention, which made sense to me, was with the "legal status apart from the people who own its shares" that you mention. Making shareholders legally responsible for the actions of corporations might make both investors and sharholders socially responsible.

mcmlxix, I enjoyed the "biting" humor of your comment. Good question, papabear, thanks for finding the answer.

Viator Catholicus, thank you for pointing out the obvious, which I utterly failed to see.

3:47 PM  

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