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REPOSTED: The "corporations are not people" argument only goes so far. (read through b/f judgment)

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coti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:06 AM
Original message
REPOSTED: The "corporations are not people" argument only goes so far. (read through b/f judgment)
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 02:15 AM by coti
From a response to another thread:

The fact is that corporations do and should have some rights. They have a set of interests that have to be protected- i.e., they must have standing to sue if injured, etc. Corporations only have "personhood" to the extent that they have any rights that people have, and a proposal to amend the constitution to strip them of "personhood" seems overbroad. Its result might be taking all rights away from corporations.

Contrary to the opinion of some, I believe the argument against the SCOTUS decision does come down to "giving money as speech." I think an incorrect, dangerous analogy has been made between giving money and speaking politically where a more proper comparison between giving money and voting can be made. We have already put limits on how much money private citizens can give directly to political candidates- in violation of the First Amendment, as the argument is going- and the same reasoning would support putting limits on all individuals, not just corporations, in the amount of money they can spend on all political advocacy.

At first glance such limitations do seem to go against the spirit of the First Amendment- they would restrict the free flow of ideas in our country. But, when one thinks about it a little deeper, limiting the influence of money in our discourse is actually much more true to the overall spirit of the Constitution, and the First Amendment in particular. When the founders wrote the Constitution, enshrining the principle of "one man, one vote" (setting aside those pesky women, non-land-owners and slaves, of course), and the First Amendment, I don't think what they properly should have had in mind was that people with a whole lot of money should have more say or a greater presence in our discourse than those without it.

In other words, the merit of ideas (and the hopefully increased representation of ideas with their greater merit) bears no correlation to the amount of money supporting them. A political idea's merit depends on prioritization of values and the strength of reasoning showing connection of the idea to those values. A system in which ideas get more or less representation depending on the financial situation of the person or entity advocating for it seems to me to actually go against the intention of the First Amendment and its roots in the Enlightenment. That is, unless money is a valued end in itself, rather than a means toward supporting those things we do truly value.



To clarify my position: An Amendment should be proposed and passed for our U.S. Constitution clarifying that donating or giving money to any other entity does not constitute "political speech" and can be heavily regulated.
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coti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:28 AM
Response to Original message
1. To whomever gave this its first recommendation: Thank you.
As an American, I thank you from the greatest depths of my heart. This is incredibly important.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:31 AM
Response to Original message
2. They properly have rights associated with PROPERTY, ok, but still not "persons"
They don't have a 5th amendment right against SELF-incrimination because there IS NO "Self" -- no person - to incriminate.

You're right that a few rights are appropriate, but not the political rights of speech and especially not voting. Humans are "the political animal." (Aristotle). Corporations are incapable of contemplating the public interest, they are required to be one track mind engines for profit. Thus, they have only data to provide the public interest managers of the country (the voters) and not a true voice, certainly not one capable of true political dialog. Only self-interested speech often disguised by claims of public interest.

Now humans may even often vote their self-interest, but often they do not and in all cases they are CAPABLE of acting int he public interest, while corporations are not. That's inhuman. :)
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coti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:43 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. My friend- I agree with you. Please read very carefully what I am saying.
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 03:27 AM by coti
Again, please read very carefully what I am saying.

What I am saying is that it is not corporate "personhood" that is the root of the problem in the decision. It is the conception that money changing hands in exchange for political or ideological representation is in line with our Constitution and, in particular, the First Amendment, as political speech.

What I am saying is that buying political advertising is not political speech at all. Such ideas do not gain representation through their merit, but through their monetary backing. That is not what those who wrote our Constitution (ultimately- disregarding the presently entirely discounted exceptions outlined "heretofore") had in mind.

What they believed is that we should have free speech because through free speech the greatest ideas would rise to the top and, hopefully, be implemented. However, after this SCOTUS decision, that is not the case. Our political ideas will now be more supported (or MUCH more supported) by how much financial backing they have, rather than the validity of their reasoning.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:59 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Nice that we agree; it's just more ambiguous than optimal to critique "person" attack
Rights of property can be recognized without calling something a "person" as in "any person OR BUSINESS ENTITY" or somesuch, depending on statutory structure.

As you know the "person" status is real convenient because every increase in rights for "persons" is an automatic rights COLA for corporations. Bad deal.
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coti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 03:17 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Please don't get stuck on that.
That complication is just the roadblock I'm trying to illustrate while pointing out the other, more accurate, path.

A corollary of the point I'm making, or I guess the point of the first paragraph of my post (what I knew people would get stuck on), is that "personhood" is a collection of rights that have been adjudicated or legislated to corporations over time. It's not a singular "right" in itself.

It's also totally beside the point of my post. I did not write this to argue that. Do you understand what I'm trying to say about the very real rights afforded all of us under the First Amendment and what they mean? WHY we have the right to freedom to speech?
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Sherman A1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:52 AM
Response to Original message
4. Property rights for corps and alike can be legislated without the need for
"personhood" being attached. It can be worked out to protect them enough in the realm of lawsuits without giving them full personhood. Might be complex, but it can be done.

A corporation is a creation of the State, it cannot exist without the State saying it is a "Corporation". Last time I checked the State was (in theory anyway) created to serve the needs of THE PEOPLE, therefore the corporation is a creation of the entity created by the people to serve them. It only stands to reason that the people therefore are superior to both the State & the Corporation.
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coti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 03:10 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Yes, yes and yes. I agree. They don't need "full" personhood
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 03:37 AM by coti
(which they probably don't yet have, because they probably have not been adjudicated as having such), but that is all entirely beside the point. That is totally beside the point I am trying to make. Yes, corporations have taken over our government entirely. But forget that point.

Please, please read carefully the above posts and actually understand what I am trying to tell you. Giving people money to speak on one's behalf politically is not political speech and is the root of the issue here.

The spirit of the First Amendment is not simply that all ideas should fly about and through our political discourse as they may. The spirit is that that best ideas will rise to the top on their merit- NOT on their backing from whom has the most money.

Corporations or no, those who have the money to buy the most representation for ideas should not be able to do so merely because they are able to. That they have the money to get their ideas represented doesn't make their ideas right. Not only that, it gives their very possibly wrong ideas an extremely unfair advantage over those ideas that are correct. People may start believing what is wrong simply because they see those ideas more often than the correct ideas. Yes! Just like Fox News!


This is all so complicated. Truly, you already understand this concept but I just get the feeling no one has ever put it to you so bluntly- donating money for political advocacy is not the same as the "political speech" classically protected under the First Amendment.
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 08:42 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Must you be so condescending to others?
re: "This is all so complicated. Truly, you already understand this concept but I just get the feeling no one has ever put it to you so bluntly- donating money for political advocacy is not the same as the "political speech" classically protected under the First Amendment."

I have a hard time with your posts because you seemingly set them up as the "end all, most important post of all time" and then proceed to condescend to all who interact with you. Patronizing and condescending--not pretty. I'm sure you could get your points across far more effectively if you would dial it down with the preaching. :shrug:
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coti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:19 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. I'm sorry if I was condescending, although to me
it felt more like I was begging people to actually listen to what I'm saying. I knew I was going to run into a lot of resistance arguing against conventional wisdom here, that people would see me saying the personhood issue doesn't matter and try to argue that instead of looking at the free speech issue.

It was a little dramatic but I'm not sure I know a way to get the point across other than to draw attention to it as directly as possible and continually refocus people.
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Glenn Greenwald and to a somewhat lesser extent...
Kevin Drum have echoed some of your thoughts... Try posting from their pieces and discussing where you agree/disagree to engage discussion. While it is true that the dissenting Supreme Court Justices did not do so based on first admendment nor "personhood" basis, it is not true that all attorneys are in lock step agreement, including constitutional lawyers. Acknowledege that. Even the "non-attorneys" here are not uninformed.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/...
http://letters.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2010/01/22/c...

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/01/money-politic...


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pinto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
11. Locking
At poster's request.
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