Archive for October, 2012

Citizens United

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Citizens United, again in the middle of a rather large conflict of interest case.
The rights of a person vs. the rights of an entity.  Does a corporate entity share the same rights as an individual person?  Does it have a right to?

This brings up some very interesting questions.  A corporation by itself isn’t a person.  But it is run by a person or sometimes a board of people.
1. How should constitutional law apply to privately held corporate entities? 
2. How should constitutional law apply to publicly held corporate entities?
3. Do corporations donating practices affect the outcome of an election?
4. Do corporations donating practices serve the will of the people or the will of the corporation?
5. Is there an unfair advantage of corporate donations vs. private donations?  

I’m going to have to say, “No”, a corporate entity cannot and should not have the same rights allotted to an individual person.  Applying logic and pure definitions, you can make the distinction between a corporation and an individual.  A corporation by its purest meaning is a business built for the sole purpose of making money.  A corporation usually –although not always- consists of more than one person.  Corporations usually have executives or a hierarchy of positions filled by individuals.  Independently each individual under the executives has rights granted to them as made possible by the Constitution.  However allowing the Corporation to act as a singular entity with the same rights as those under its umbrella, negates the rights of the individual within that entity, if they are not on top of the hierarchy chain.  This essentially allows the top singular person, or a very small minority of individuals, to express his/her/their opinion as, speaking for the group, regardless of whether or not the majority of people within that corporation agree with their executive(s).   It is unfair representation, or even misrepresentation.

Does the top executive of a corporation have the same rights as anyone else? Yes.  Should he be able to leverage a second means of representation, and falsely represent a group, via his access to a corporate bank account?  NO.  Corporations are not people, and should not be extended the same rights as individuals.  Or, at least not until the Corporation becomes a sentient being with rights of its own.

Editors Note: My friend David Schwarz made a comment on my FB post where I was asking for questions on this topic.  He posted an enlightening question/comment:

Citizens United isn’t about voting, or taxes, or money, it’s about free speech among groups of people. Why do people keep parroting that corporations are people?
Why should free speech apply to certain corporations, like newspapers and cable news channels, but not to others, like conservative nonprofits or unions?
” -Bucky

This got me thinking that I’ve been looking at this from the wrong angle.
I’ll post more on it as the discussion progresses.

**********************  UPDATE ************************

After much discussion and thought provoking insight from people I know and respect, I’ve changed my mind on this issue.  I, like most others got caught up in the Money/Politics merry-go-round and didn’t pay attention to the big picture. This was in-fact about freedom of speech, not the finer points of big money in political campaigns.

Do I still have a problem with the ability of large corporations gaining preferred access to our political arenas and bypassing the  will of the people?  Yes. There is clearly a fundamental collapse of our system taking place.  But was Citizens United responsible for this?  No. It only sounds dirty on the outside.

Perhaps a better use of time is going after ethics reform rather than ones ability to support, with voice or donations, the candidate of their choice. Our ability to lobby our elected officials is important. Perhaps it’s the elected officials that need to be held to higher standard and scrutinized more carefully.

Personal Lists

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

I’m starting a list of suggested reading, listening, and viewing.
This list will start small, but grow as time progresses.
I welcome suggested adds.

1. Intelligence Matters (Bob Graham)
2. Keys to the Kingdom (Bob Graham)
3. My Country, My Country (Laura Poitras) -documentary
4. The Oath (Laura Poitras) -documentary
5. Leaked Cables (Wikileaks/multiple authors. torrent.)
6. 9-11: Was there an Alternative? (Noam Chomsky)
7. Power and Terror: Conflict, Hegemony, and the Rule of Force (Noam Chomsky)
8. I’ll add more later…