One of the worst decisions the United States Supreme Court has made in recent years has been to put corporations on an equal footing with flesh and blood human beings, at least where it comes to such things as campaign donations.
“Corporations are people, my friend,” a glib Mitt Romney told someone at a campaign stop earlier this year, a comment which no doubt both warmed the hearts of many potential campaign contributors, and infuriated Americans whose lives have been made worse by the decisions made by corporations.
You can pretty much talk until the cows come home; I’m not sure there is any way I will ever believe that a corporate entity should ever be equal to a human being.
And yet . . .
In one one important way, corporations are people.
We often have a tendency to look at the actions - and the results of those actions - as coming from sort of corporate machine mind, like in the science film Colossus: The Forbin Project.
And we hear the paltry excuse that the “Stockholders” are somehow to blame, as if their relentless need for profit is pushing the company to make these monstrous decisions that endanger people’s lives and hurt the environment.
No so, Occasional Reader.
The decisions made by corporations - whether they despoil lakes and rivers, fight over air pollution, deny climate change, put human beings in unsafe working conditions and even evade responsibility when men and women are killed on the job - these decisions are all made by human beings.
The decision to purposely target the poor through tobacco advertising?
No computer made that decision.
Putting poor neighborhoods at risk by placing dangerous landfills near them? The “Stockholders” didn’t have a secret meeting and decide what the acceptable losses in the system of capitalism were.
The men and women at the top of the corporate food chain did that.
Shutting American plants down and rebuilding them in countries where not only can the workers be paid far less than their U.S. counterparts, but the environmental and safety standards are also more lax?
Human beings made those decisions.
But just try holding any of them accountable.
Remember, 11 men died in the BP oil disaster last spring, and the most notable thing that happened was that members of Congress apologized to reps of the oil company. No one in either party has made the deaths of these men an issue in the 2012 campaign.
Where are the political X-Men when you really need them?
Unfortunately, when the Supreme Court granted personhood upon artificial entities, they did not see fit to say, “Okay, now that you are people, now you can be subjected to everything that an ordinary person is. You can be arrested. You can be sent to prison. You can be executed if your actions cause the death of others.”
You might say that the Supreme Court has created a sort of Super-Human in this regard, without the courtesy or decency of letting the rest the world know where the Kryptonite mines are.
Quote of the Day
Disparage no book, for it is also part of the world. - Rabbi Nachman of Btratzlav