The Abolishment of Corporate Personhood is Necessary
The Abolishment of Corporate Personhood is Necessary
14 December 2011 (Updated 15-20 December 2011)
related to persons only, and not at all to property.
But is this a just idea? Government is instituted no less for protection
of the property than of the persons of the individuals.
The one as well as the other, therefore, may be considered
as represented by those who are charged with government.
–– James Madison, the Federalist Papers
Corporations have become so much a part of our daily lives, that within the present cultural framework, it might seem intimidating and perhaps even somewhat pointless to question the legitimacy and function of a corporation, let alone the wealth, power, and influence of a corporation. Incidentally, the same might be said of congress, at least on the latter point of wealth. Actually, one might argue, though it hardly seems disputable, that our lives revolve around corporations in this technologically dominated super-society. What would our lives be like, without the corporation? At any rate, in the interest of human, social, and environmental rights and wellbeing, it is of great importance to not only question the legitimacy of profitable corporations, considering that corporations are arbitrarily deemed persons and enjoy the rights of a person far exceeding human beings––an example being, that money has essentially become a toxic mimic of freedom of speech––and also bearing in mind that monopolies abound. In terms of actual and functional democracy, the governable authority of state governments is largely impotent to that of the federal government, and in turn, the governable authority of the federal government is largely impotent to that of the unchecked and self-serving power of the corporation. Insofar as any governable authority is functionally democratic and executed in the interest of a truly egalitarian society. Suffice to articulate, arguably, such a society has not been hitherto pursued at all, or with nearly enough tenacity to merit the pursuit thereof, and certainly is an immeasurably far distance from fruition. Surely such a society was never intended by the elites who constructed the
Without precedent in western civilized history, more of what we see, hear, read, eat and so forth, is manufactured and controlled by for profit corporations for our mass consumption. Indeed, virtually every aspect of our lives is in some way fashioned, influenced, or controlled by corporate power. The very air we breathe is poisoned by corporations; and yes, we also poison the air, though arguably our impact pales in comparison to that of the corporation, and is made possible, to the extent that it overwhelmingly matters, by the corporation. Most of us purchase food manufactured by corporations, live as tenants to landlord corporations, utilize transportation produced by corporations, work for corporations, enjoy leisure time through corporate ventures, be they Hollywood films, television, or football games, and so forth and so on. The
What precisely is a corporation? According to one dictionary, a corporation is quite simply, either “a company or association chartered to act as an individual”, “a governing body”, or “a fat belly”. An older Webster’s Dictionary defines a corporation as “a group of people organized, as to operate a business, under a charter granting them as a body some of the legal rights, etc. of an individual.” The connotation of an individual within the fundamental context of the corporation is denoted as that of a person. In order to deduce a precise definition of a corporation, let us look elsewhere. Dictionary.com states that a corporation is “an association of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existence of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.” Insofar as one might ascertain, at least in the realm of observable and quantifiable reality, human beings, individual persons as we are, cannot exist continuously, for we experience death, nor can we exist independent of ourselves, we are biologically born––not created by law or under the authority of law, save perhaps Natural law, which it seems humans are particularly keen on trumping, even, and maybe especially so, through science––and finally, our powers and liabilities are not distinct from ourselves. Certainly this is true of nonhuman beings; in fact, arguably, no living beings meet the criterion mentioned in the definition above.
Yet another definition declares that a corporation is “a group of people authorized by law to act as a legal personality and having its own powers, duties, and liabilities” which might also be referred to as a “municipal corporation [as in] the municipal authorities of a city or town”.  The etymology of the term corporation might be traced to around the 1530s.
"persons united in a body for some purpose," from such use in Anglo-Latin, from L. corporationem, noun of action from corporare "to embody" (see corporate). Meaning "legally authorized entity" (including municipal governments and modern business companies) is from 1610s.
Similarly, the origins of the term corporate:
late 14c., "united in one body," from L. corporatus, pp. of corporare "form into a body," from corpus (gen. corporis) "body" (see corporeal).
In other words, simplistically, a corporation is a united organization comprised of natural persons, legally authorized to serve a particular function.
The aforementioned laymen definitions in conjunction with the etymologies give us a very general, perhaps unhelpful, idea of what a corporation is, though what of the legal definition of corporation? One legal definition of corporation is “an invisible, intangible, artificial creation of the law existing as a voluntary chartered association of individuals that has most of the rights and duties of natural persons but with perpetual existence and limited liability.” In other words, corporations are a legal fiction, have been bestowed the rights of super persons, may exist perpetually regardless of the flesh and blood human beings embodied and associated with the corporation, and have limited liability to any and all claims of criminal and legal actions, and of harms or damages of any and all sorts.
Jan Edwards and Molly Morgan of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, have published an important summary of the history of “corporate personhood”, which is to say, “the legal phenomenon that provides constitutional protections to corporations.” Edwards and Morgan express that “Women, poor people, slaves, and even corporations had long been considered persons for purposes of following the law…Corporate lawyers had tried to avoid these laws by claiming corporations were not persons and therefore not required to follow the law. So it was decided that for purposes of following the law, corporations were persons…But corporations were not persons with rights in the law, and neither were women, slaves, indentured servants, or poor people.” [Emphasis original]. To understand corporate personhood, Edwards and Morgan take us back to the 55 white men who fundamentally established the
Elegant rhetoric aside, the framers of the U.S. Constitution, the perceived foundation of U.S. law, were wealthy, white, highly educated––by European standards––land and slave owning men. The wealth, and hence, power, of the “founding fathers” as they are chauvinistically referred to, was based on “how much property they owned––land, crops, buildings, personal goods, and, for most of them, property in the form of human beings, their slaves.” Before continuing further with Edwards and Morgan’s important analysis, a brief aside should be mentioned.
The genocide and colonization of the Native American populations shall have to be put aside, though it is worth quoting some passages, not particularly restricted in meaning and scope to antiquity, in an effort to offer a general idea of the ideological sentiments of the elites in the late 1700s and there implications; positions which have been much idolized throughout the history of the U.S., and continue to be fundamentally worshipped, and flourish it should be added, today. With regard to the Native inhabitants not hitherto decimated or conquered by cultural and federal conquest, not yet assimilated into the folds of the infant empire, the esteemed Alexander Hamilton, the face printed on the front of the U.S. ten dollar bill, expressed: “The savage tribes on our Western frontier ought to be regarded as our natural enemies, [Britain and Spain’s] natural allies, because they have most to fear from us, and most to hope from them.” This speaks volumes, for
Edwards and Morgan argue that the elites that established the
James Madison, one of the principle framers of the Constitution, declared Tuesday June 26th, 1787:
The man who is possessed of wealth…cannot judge of the wants or feelings of the day laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we [resemble] the states and kingdoms of Europe; when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In
That the “minority of the opulent” has been, and is, protected “against the majority” is quite noticeable. In the past 30 years alone (before the instigated housing market crash and the 2008 “Great Recession”), in terms of economic growth, so-called, there has been an enormous, and contrived disparity between “the top one-hundredth of one percent”, the opulent of the oligarchy, “who now make an average of $27 million per household” and the bottom 90%, with an average income of $31,244. Incidentally, the U.S. Labor Department reported that some 4 million people were working at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for the 2009 calendar year. The federal minimum wage is not a livable wage. A rough illustration is that assuming one works 40 hours a week at $7.25, one would make $13,920 a year, minus state, federal and other tax deductions, minus health, vision, and dental benefits, assuming they are permitted and able to pay for such coverage. With the soaring costs of everything from food to housing, even a single person working at the dismally and repressively low federal hourly rate is destitute to a remarkable degree. Arguably, tens of millions of people in addition, who make more than the federal minimum wage, even dollars more, are still not living or achieving the much flouted and rapaciously materialistic “American Dream”; for they are having extremely hard times covering the basic necessities. In her important work, Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich remarks that in early 2007, “
“In 1787, in order to be considered one of ‘We the People’ and have rights in the Constitution, you had to be an adult male with white skin and a certain amount of property…At the time of the Constitution, this narrowed ‘We the People’ down to about 10% of the population. Those who owned property, including human property, were very clear that this was rule by the minority––and that’s the way they wanted it.” That the few main provisions in the Constitution meant to protect people were intended to protect only the privileged few, and that the Constitution was by and large written to protect property, is not inconsequential at present.
Of note, apparently, for his part, Thomas Jefferson, a principle writer of the Declaration of Independence and eventually the third
“Jefferson kept pushing for a law, written into the constitution as an amendment, which would guarantee liberties for citizens, prevent companies from growing so large they could dominate entire industries or have the power to influence the people’s government, and reduce the possibility of the nation being taken over by a military coup” Hartmann asserts. For his part, James Madison shepherded the Bill of Rights, whom he drafted along with
There is an important characteristic within the initial definition of who was considered a person in the
The sparse rights ambiguously mentioned in the Constitution, which may be universally claimed thanks in large measure to organized popular struggle of the masses in the 1900s, are not guarantees. “The First Amendment just restricts the government from specific encroachments; it doesn’t guarantee anything. This was not a concern for the people because they had strong bills of rights in their state constitutions, and at that time, the states had more power than the federal government.” Generally, the federal Bill of Rights is referred to when questions of the protection of freedoms arise. For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) purports “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the
Edwards and Morgan explain. “If those rights were actually guaranteed in the Constitution, people could, for example, take the Bill of Rights into the workplace, but we can’t. Anyone who thinks workers have free speech while they’re on corporate property should ask the workers or talk to a union organizer. Because corporations are property, and because the Constitution protects property rights above all, most people have to abandon the Bill of Rights in order to make a living. The way different groups of people––like African Americans and women––have, one by one, acquired rights and become persons under the law is by getting protection from abuse by the government, usually through amendments to the Constitution––not a guarantee.” [Emphasis original].
Originally, what was the function of a corporation? Edwards and Morgan again, quoted at length:
…In colonial times, corporations were tools of the king’s oppression, chartered for the purpose of exploiting the so-called “New World” and shoveling wealth back into
So the writers of the Constitution left control of corporations to state legislatures (10th Amendment), where they would get the closest supervision by the people. Early corporate charters were very explicit about what a corporation could do, how, for how long, with whom, where, and when. Corporations could not own stock in other corporations, and they were prohibited from any part of the political process. Individual stockholders were held personally liable for any harms done in the name of the corporation, and most charters only lasted for 10 or 15 years…in order to receive the profit-making privileges the shareholders sought, their corporations had to represent a clear benefit for the public good, such as building a road, canal, or bridge…when corporations violated any of these terms, their charters were frequently revoked by the state legislatures.
…the wealthy people increasingly started eyeing corporations as a convenient way to shield their personal fortunes. They could…see that their minority rule through property ownership was under serious threat of being diluted.
Needless to say, corporations today resemble nothing like their classical predecessors.
In 1865, after years of bloody conflict between the states, congress ratified the 13th Amendment, which essentially freed the slaves. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the
Incidentally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the year 2009, “over 7.2 million people were under some form of correctional supervision”, including probation, prison, jail, or parole. In 1980, there were some 319,598 people in prison. As of 2009, that number has shot up to an estimated 1,524,513 people incarcerated in prison. Though the actual number might be higher, taking into account incarcerated women and adolescents, and those imprisoned who have been convicted of less serious offenses. Arguably, the
According to the Sentencing Project, a national organization which advocates for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and alternatives to incarceration, the 2.3 million people currently in
Moreover, sentencing policies, namely mandatory and so-called “three strike” sentencing laws, “brought about by the ‘war on drugs’ resulted in a dramatic growth in incarceration for drug offenses. At the Federal level, prisoners incarcerated on a drug charge comprise half of the prison population, while the number of drug offenders in state prisons has increased thirteen-fold since 1980. Most of these people are not high-level actors in the drug trade, and most have no prior criminal record for a violent offense.” Additionally, “an estimated 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of laws that prohibit voting by people with felony convictions. Felony disenfranchisement is an obstacle to participation in democratic life which is exacerbated by racial disparities in the criminal justice system, resulting in an estimated 13% of Black men unable to vote.” Incidentally, from a perspective of strict adherence to the Constitution, arguably the prohibition of people with felony convictions to vote is in violation of the 15th amendment. The increased incarceration rate of women and juveniles is equally, if not more disturbing, and seemingly follows the overall trend of the prison industrial complex.
A felony conviction, namely for nonviolent drug offenses, greatly impacts the possibility of gaining employment, receiving welfare benefits, access to public housing, and eligibility for student loans to pursue higher education. The social and economic repercussions of the prison industrial complex are related to the social and economic consequences of American slavery. It is also important to mention that since the late 1980s there have been 281 known DNA exonerations of people wrongfully convicted in the
The 14th amendment passed by congress in 1866 and ratified in 1868, provided citizenship rights to all persons born or naturalized in the
Edwards and Morgan specify that the phrasing in the 14th amendment “about not depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without the due process of the law is exactly the same wording as the Fifth Amendment, which protects people from that kind of abuse by the federal government”. The expansion of corporate protection from that kind of abuse, so-called, was further geared towards the states. “These are important rights; they’re written in a short, straightforward manner; and after the Civil War and all the agony over slavery, the people in the states that ratified the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were clear that they were about righting the wrong of slavery.” Slavery, “the legalization of a lie––that one human being can own another…was at the core of a whole system of oppression that benefitted the few, which included the subjugation of women, genocide of the indigenous population, and exploitation of immigrants and the poor.” A new, legalization of a lie was required by the elite class for their minority rule. The definition of “person” in the 14th amendment became the bedrock of that lie.
Edwards and Morgan assert that the “watershed moment came in 1886 when the Supreme Court ruled on a case [concerning taxes, not corporate personhood] called Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad.” Before the court’s final decision on the case was announced, Chief Justice Waite is attributed as stating: “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.” Apparently, albeit controversially so, John Chandler Bancroft Davis, a reporter of the U.S. Supreme Court, and former president of the Newburgh & New York Railroad, added commentary in the headnotes to the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad that essentially defined a corporation as a legal person. He is reported as transcribing, in his own words, Justice Waite’s oral statement of opinion mentioned above, in the headnotes thusly: “The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a state to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Interestingly, there appears to be a letter from Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison Remick Waite to court reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis, which was uncovered in the National Archives only recently, “informing
In 1889, the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation is a “person” for both due process and equal protection, in the decision of Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad v. Beckwith. The next step for corporate lawyers after successfully alleging “discrimination whenever a state law was enacted to curtail corporations” was to allege the same on the federal level. The beginning of federal regulatory agencies coincided with these precedents, which are now considered firmly established constitutional law. Because corporations were granted the status of persons under the 14th amendment, “it would be discriminatory not to give them the same rights under federal laws. With the granting of the 5th Amendment right to due process (Noble v. Union River Logging, 1893), corporate lawyers could challenge––and the Supreme Court could find grounds to overturn––democratically legislated laws that originated at the federal as well as state levels.”
At a time when women, Native Americans, and most African American men were still denied the right to vote, corporations acquired legal personhood. In Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896, the Supreme Court striped African Americans of their legal personhood rights, ruling to legalize racial segregation based on the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine encompassed in the “Jim Crow” laws. If there is any question that “the primary purpose of the Constitution and the body of law it spawned is about protecting property rather than people” one would need only consider that 288 of the cases brought before the Supreme Court between 1890 and 1910 dealt with corporations, while a mere 19 dealt with African Americans. Edwards and Morgan explain: “Of the hundreds of 14th Amendment cases heard in the Supreme Court in the first 50 years after its adoption, less than one-half of one percent invoked it in protection of African Americans, and more than 50% asked that its benefits be extended to corporations. ‘Equal protection under the law’ [means] whoever has enough money to go to the Supreme Court to fight for it. Railroad robber barons did; women didn’t; and African Americans most certainly didn’t. In fact, the pattern over more than two centuries of
Edwards and Morgan offer a summary of the history of Supreme Court precedents that have given so much power to corporations. “In 1906 [corporations] got 4th Amendment search and seizure protection (Hale v. Henkel). In 1922 they got the ‘takings’ clause of the 5th Amendment (Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon), and a regulatory law was deemed to be ‘takings.’ In 1947 they started getting First Amendment protections (Taft-Hartley Act). In 1976 the Supreme Court determined that money spent for political purposes is equal to exercising free speech, and since ‘corporate persons’ have First Amendment rights, they can basically contribute as much money as they want to political parties and candidates (Buckley v. Valeo). Every time ‘corporate persons’ acquire one of these protections under the Bill of Rights, it gives them a whole new way of exploiting the legal system in order to maintain minority rule through corporate power. And since 1886, every time people have won new rights––like the Civil Rights Act––corporations are eligible for it, too.”
There are certainly many more relevant examples, some much more recent. One such example is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010. This particular case basically granted an extension of corporate powers (for the term rights seems a misnomer on this point as well as many others), namely that of what is called “electioneering communication”, which is really a dressed up phrase for corporate political spending on elections by way of media advertisements; which is further to say, the corporate buying of political elections. Noam Chomsky, emeritus professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, states that “the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government may not ban corporations from political spending on elections—a decision that profoundly affects government policy, both domestic and international.” Chomsky continues, observing that the nine panel “court was split, 5-4, with the four reactionary judges (misleadingly called ‘conservative’) joined by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. selected a case that could easily have been settled on narrow grounds and maneuvered the court into using it to push through a far-reaching decision that overturns a century of precedents restricting corporate contributions to federal campaigns.”
The editors of the New York Times expressed: “The justices overreached and seized on a case involving a narrower, technical question involving the broadcast of a movie [produced by Citizens United] that attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 campaign.” Notably, the editors convey that “[m]ost wrongheaded of all is [the court’s] insistence that corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights. It is an odd claim since companies are creations of the state that exist to make money. They are given special privileges, including different tax rates, to do just that. It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate.”
In dissent of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens stated: “The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court’s disposition of this case.” Remarkably, Justice Stevens acknowledged that even though “they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters.” [Emphasis added].
It would be prudent to again ask the question, what is a corporation? Edwards and Morgan tender an illustrative answer.
A corporation is not a real thing; it’s a legal fiction, an abstraction…it’s just an idea that people agree to and put into writing. Because legal personhood has been conferred upon an abstraction that can be redefined at will under law, corporations have become superhumans in our world. A corporation can live forever. It can change its identity in a day. It can cut off parts of itself––even its head––and actually function better than before. It can also cut off parts of itself and from those parts grow new selves. It can own others of its own kind and it can merge with others of its own kind. It doesn’t need fresh air to breath or clean water to drink or safe food to eat. It doesn’t fear illness or death. It can have simultaneous residence in many different nations. It’s not male, female, or even transgendered. Without giving birth it can create children and even parents. If it’s found guilty of a crime, it cannot go to prison.
In articulating his dissenting opinion of the ruling of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Justice Stevens cites UCLA Law professor Julian Eule. “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it”.
Renowned 20th century innovator and theorist R. Buckminster Fuller wrote: “Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys — legally enacted game-playing — agreed upon only between overwhelmingly powerful socioeconomic individuals and by them imposed upon human society and its all unwitting members.”
Edwards and Morgan once more: “When the Constitution was written and corporations were part of the government, having duties to perform to the satisfaction of the people, the primary technique for enforcing minority rule was to establish that only a tiny percentage could qualify as ‘We the People’––in other words, that most people were subhuman. As different groups of people struggled to become persons under the law, the corporation acquired rights belonging to We the People and ultimately became superhuman, still maintaining an artificially elevated status for a small number of people.” [Emphasis original].
With globalization, so-called, this perfected doctrine has enfolded the world.
Once again, Edwards and Morgan quoted at length, for their observations are crucial:
Just as sharecropping and the company store once kept people trapped in permanently subservient production roles, now the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s structural adjustment programs keep entire countries in permanent debt, the world’s poorest people forced to feed interest payments to the world’s richest while their own families go hungry. Just as genocide was waged against native populations that lived sustainably on the land, now wars are instigated against people and regimes that resist the so-called ‘free trade’ mantra because they have the audacity to hold their own ideas about governance and resource distribution. Racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and divisive religious, ethnic, ideological, and cultural distrust were all intentionally instituted to prevent people from making common cause against the ruling minority, and those systems continue their destructive work today.
Personally, one might be inclined to abdicate corporate speech, so-called, and rightfully so. If corporations were made to shut up, or at the very least, if their screaming and menacing voices were significantly diminished, maybe then we could begin to develop and hear our own, true selves, as well each other. Corporate tyranny is real, notwithstanding the manufactured illusion that corporate rule is beneficent, normal, and acceptable. If corporations are found to be illegitimate, and certainly a strong case might be, and has long been made that this is true, one arrives at the conclusion that real oppression is done against flesh and blood human beings, against flesh and blood nonhumans, and against the natural world. In fact, even if one maintained that corporations are legitimate, beneficent, normal, and acceptable, the aforementioned would be true. The culprits are corporations and occupant governments alike. It is a toxic mimic, to articulate the least, of grand proportion that corporations, and the ruling class in general, claim oppression by the very government that they largely occupy and dominate. Political, economic, social and cultural life is by and large defined, produced, and controlled by a minority; the conduits being the corporate-governmental institutions in the totalitarian system itself. To this end, the 55 white men that incorporated the
In the words of
The internal effects of a [changeable] policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessings of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are [publicized], or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined as a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
This is rather remarkable, given that, arguably, laws are not made by men and women chosen by the majority people. Just as elected and appointed officials are not decided by the general populace. Moreover, laws are often so voluminous and incoherent that they cannot be read or understood by the general public, let alone, in many cases, by the lawmakers, adjudicators, and regulators and enforcers of laws themselves.
Madison again: “Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage [law] gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many.” [Emphasis original].
There are encouraging developments.
On Nov 16, 2010, the City of
Within the span of “the last decade more than a hundred cities and towns across the country have passed ordinances putting citizens' rights ahead of corporate interests”, including banning “businesses from dumping toxic sludge, building factory farms, mining, and extracting water for bottling.” Fewer, “have also refused to recognize corporations as people.” According to the Free Speech for People campaign’s website, as of February 2011, there have been no less than five state resolutions introduced in support of amending the Constitution to actually reflect protections of flesh and blood people and not corporations. Moreover, in April and May alone, there have been nine town resolutions introduced similarly, just in the state of
A year to the date of the ruling of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, democrat Vermont State Senator Virginia V. Lyons, along with 10 cosponsors, all democrats, introduced J.R.S. 11, “urging the United States Congress to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution for the states’ consideration which provides that corporations are not persons under the laws of the United States or any of its jurisdictional subdivisions.” Four proclamations of the resolution are worth mentioning for the weight of underscored significance. Firstly, “Whereas, the profits and institutional survival of large corporations are [arguably, always] in direct conflict with the essential needs and rights of human beings”. Second, “Whereas, large corporations have used their so-called rights to successfully seek the judicial reversal of…enacted laws passed at the municipal, state, and federal levels aimed at curbing corporate abuse”. Third, “Whereas, these judicial decisions have rendered…elected governments ineffective in protecting their citizens against corporate harm to the environment, health, workers, independent business, and local and regional economies”. And lastly, “Whereas, large corporations own most of
The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City is quite insightful. In part, the opening reads: “We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over
people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.” Of the many legitimate grievances that Occupy Wallstreet at
On December 8, 2011, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced S. J. RES. 33, a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “to expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons by the Constitution of the United States, prohibit corporate spending in all elections, and affirm the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations and to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures.” As of this writing, the resolution currently has one cosponsor, Mark Begich [D-AK] and is being considered by the Senate Judiciary committee.
Corporate rule, or perhaps neo-fascism is a more operant term, must be abolished. If it is allowed to continue mostly unabated, within the span of a generation, or perhaps in a measurably smaller length of time, life will be a lot worse, if not outright ended, for a great many more human and nonhuman beings than at present.
 The Federalist Papers, (New York, NY: Mentor; the Penguin Group, 1961), 339
 Edited by Albert Morehead, and Loy Morehead, et. al., The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary: 3rd Edition, (New York, NY: Signet; a division of Penguin, 1st printing, 1995), 159.
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 corporation. Dictionary.com. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. Merriam-Webster, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/corporation (accessed: December 11, 2011).
 Edwards, Jan, and Molly Morgan. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Last modified June 2002. Accessed December 12, 2011. pg 1 http://movetoamend.org/sites/default/files/CorpPersonhoodExplanationTimeline.pdf.
 See Note 1, pg 161.
 See Note 1, pg 269
 Yale Law School: The Avalon Project, "Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787, Taken by the Late Hon Robert Yates, Chief Justice of the State of New York, and One of the Delegates from That State to the Said Convention." Accessed December 13, 2011. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/yates.asp.
 Dave Gilson, and Carolyn Perot, "It's the Inequality, Stupid," Mother Jones (March/April 2011 Issue), http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph (accessed December 15, 2011).
 Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed, (
 See Note 8, pg 2
 Thom Hartmann, "To Restore Democracy: First Abolish Corporate Personhood" (31 December 2001), http://www.thomhartmann.com/articles/2001/12/restore-democracy-first-abolish-corporate-personhood
(accessed December 15, 2011).
 See Note 8, pg 2
 Cornel West, Race Matters, (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 38.
 See Note 8, pg 2-3
 See Note 8, pg 3
 The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Correctional populations." Accessed December 14, 2011. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/tables/corr2tab.cfm.
 The Sentencing Project, Accessed December 14, 2011. http://www.sentencingproject.org/template/index.cfm.
 Schwartzapfel, Beth, and Hannah Levintova. "How Many Innocent People Are in Prison?." Mother Jones, December 12, 2011. http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/innocent-people-us-prisons (accessed December 15, 2011).
 See Note 20
 See Note 8, pg 4
 Ibid, pg 5
 See Note 8, pg 5
 Ibid, pg 6
 Noam Chomsky, "The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy," In These Times (February 3, 2010 ), http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/5502/the_corporate_takeover_of_u.s._democracy/ (accessed December 15, 2011).
 "The Court’s Blow to Democracy ," The
 Stevens , John Paul. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, "CITIZENS UNITED, APPELLANT v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION." Last modified January 21, 2010]. Pg 2 Accessed December 15, 2011. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/pdf/08-205P.ZX.
 See Note 8, pg 6
 See Note 40, pg 38
 Fuller, R. Buckminster. Buckminster Fuller Institute, "Grunch of Giants (1983)." Last modified 03/08/2010. Accessed December 16, 2011. http://www.bfi.org/about-bucky/resources/books/grunch-giants/chapter-iii-heads-or-tails-we-win-in.
 See Note 8, pg 6
 Ibid, pg 7
 See Note 1, pg 381
 Guma, Greg. "
 "Declaration of the Occupation of
 GovTrack.us, "S. J. RES. 33." Last modified December 8, 2011. Accessed December 16, 2011. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=sj112-33.