A Climate for Crooks

August 18, 2010

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Only politicians of a so-called democracy could, with a straight face, challenge the fundamentals of human rights and common sense and redefine what a person is. The Supreme Court did this when it invented the corporate person, which it did with the sole intent of maximizing the sequestration of wealth by the few.

There’s a great warning in the Tao Te Ching, a book written in China about in 500 BC. It says, “If you inflate some to greatness others necessarily diminish.  If you covet possessions you’ll create a climate for crooks.”

The common-sense of Lao Tzu’s observation seems irrefutable, yet the common sense of the common man is no match for a system rigged by common crooks. In fact the Supreme Court institutionalized a “climate for crooks” in 1886, when it gave corporations human rights. Recently the court heaped insult upon injury when it confirmed the right of corporations to swing elections by giving corporate persons the right to spend human persons  into the ground during election campaigns.

What is a corporate person? As defined by U.S. law a corporate person has the rights and privileges of a human person and, in many ways, may usurp the rights and privileges of human persons —may supersede human sovereignty— especially when it comes to money.

So many conservatives whine and moan endlessly about the government (with good cause) and fear government’s threat to individual liberty (with good reason) without uttering a peep about liberties lost due to corporate governance.

President Ronald Reagan claimed that government could not solve our problems because government is the problem. What he carefully did not positively state is what might replace democratic government. The sub-text of Reagan’s dismissal of democratic government is his unspoken suggestion that business/the private sector/corporations are the best repository of freedom and liberty.

But the flip-side of Lao Tzu’s simple but brilliant observation is this: if you diminish the greatness of some you necessarily elevate others. This is where we stand now. With the elevation of corporations to personhood congress diminished human personhood. In Reagan’s odious case he bashed democratic government and elevated a ruthless alternative to greatness.  Being a private-sector-worshipping conservative, it’s not a stretch to assume Reagan was giving his nod to plutocracy. It appears that for the Great Communicator the venerated “free market”, not necessarily the constitution, was the apotheosis of liberty and its best protector.

Ok, but it’s legitimate to ask, how does the corporate person actually trump the human person?

Answer this: What person having killed 2,500 people and contaminated water supplies (to this day) could get off without a trial?  The answer is: a corporate person —one named Union Carbide. In fact, Mr. Carbide killed by means of a cloud of deadly methyl isocyanate in Bhopal, India in 1984,  then settled with the Indian government out of court for an amount that “…wasn’t even able to cover the majority of (victim’s) medical expenses, not to mention their suffering” –University of Michigan News.
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Approximately that number died in the 9/11 attack and we went to war, but the corporate person, Union Carbide, was able to settle out of court for peanuts  —and continued to exist without the scathing public condemnation we give terrorist persons. The truth is, there is no death penalty for a corporate person. Corporate persons have a singular advantage over human persons: they may live and collect profits forever; or as long as they can win in court. And going to war with a corporation is just plain un-American in some circles.

But how did it come to be that a non-breathing, heartless, soulless entity could be equated with a living, breathing, and thinking human being?  As was already mentioned, it was done by Supreme Court fiat when the court ruled that a private corporation was a “natural person” under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment. But, Supreme Court Justice William 0. Douglas said sixty years later, “There was no history, logic or reason given to support that view.”  The court did it simply because it could.

Despite the bad judgment of politicians like Ronald Reagan, and despite the myopic inclination of too many Kool-Aid drinking followers, blaming government for all our ills solves nothing. Government is not the fundamental problem, corporations are the problem: colossal corporate persons with colossal power whose colossal boots leave colossal footprints upon the landscape in which we tiny human persons strive. Any problem we have with government can be traced to top dogs who pull golden strings. Government is not the top dog.

This is not a wacky conspiracy theory.  As someone said in the 1970s, “Follow the money.” Although a bribee (a politician) is also culpable, the briber (the corporate person) is the one with the real nefarious intent. The briber is the instrument causing direct damage to our way of life, our liberty, and our environment. Modern legislators are just punks for corporate persons.

Unless we rein-in corporations, blaming government is futile.  Our problems issue from the effects of corporate persons buying government persons to thwart the power of human persons. And those who seek change through exclusively government-bashing Tea Parties are victims of “…the colonization of minds,” says Ward Morehouse.

Morehouse, president of the non-profit Council on International and Public Affairs says that those who seek global change must focus on one radical goal: “…to legally redefine the role of corporations in our society and drastically limit the wealth and power they are allowed to amass.”

What Tea-Partiers should be demanding is the extinction of the corporate person. Short of that we are nothing but little people destined to become even tinier as over-eating corporate persons pig-out on everything in sight.
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