What exactly is a corporation? This is a great question. If you read through the recent pro-corporation rulings by the Supreme Court you will find, as Jeffrey D. Clements shows, that the Supreme Court Justices don’t ever actually say exactly what a corporation is. The defense of corporate personhood is instead masked in metaphor. “It is not corporations attacking our laws; it is ‘speakers’ and ‘advocates of ideas,’ ‘voices’ and ‘persons,’ and variations on what Justice John Paul Stevens called in his Citizen’s United dissent, ‘glittering generalities.’”
Corporate personhood is a dangerous concept, one which threatens the very foundations of our democracy. As Eric Holder resigns from his post, one can only consider the additional impact of his now infamous memo which initiated the reign of ‘too big to fail.’ As Taibbi describes Holder: For years he would flip-flop from public defender to corporate lawyer, but in the end he stopped the flip-flop and has remained, until this day, a man that the corporations can depend on.
The current conditions are savage and dangerous. Corporations have been given the same rights to free speech and privacy that citizens of this nation enjoy and at the same time they have been given immunity from prosecution for crimes they commit which citizens in our nation do not enjoy (except, perhaps, for a few of the Clinton/Bush/Obama friends and NFL football players).
The BP oil spill? Nobody went to jail for that.
The financial collapse caused by investment banking’s risky and fraudulent behavior? Nobody went to jail for that.
The recall of millions of cars due to a series of deaths caused by a known fault in the design? Nobody went to jail for that.
While corporations are important economic tools they do have a tendency to “aggregate immense power, corrupt government, drive down wages, trash public resources, concentrate markets to squeeze out competitors, and more.” (Clements)
The astonishing accumulation of power and wealth by large multi-national corporations, their ceaseless attempts to disfigure our democracy in order to generate more profit, the amazing steps these vehicles take to avoid paying taxes or hiring American workers or even coming clean about the destruction they’ve created in their pursuit of profit are all fostering economic despair in our nation.
As long as a corporation has free speech AND cannot be put in jail we will see the disintegration of our basic economic structure continue.