Corporate zombies are not citizens. How to keep them dead?
These topics should be our bread and wine until forever after last week's coup de corp pitched us into battle for the last shreds of American democracy. I think this is it.
If there's nothing proven by the last decade, it's that the big money wins and will even get bailed out when they should lose everything. It's a progressively parasitic process: letting the bloodsuckers any deeper into our power will be fatal.
If we don't fight now. and we let an election pass under the corrupting filter established by the coup d'etat of SCOTUS, successive elections will ensure that Chamber of Commerce priorities become the law of the land, the likes of Tom Donohue, the President, and its lobbyists, our Congress.
What we allow corporations to get away with in the name of limited liability profit already kills millions and destroys a planet. It's a permanent battle in these United States, and responsible for the wars we wage outside them.
Wherever and whenever possible, I think we need to make 'personhood' the topic. So here're a couple of very different ideas.
1. A question that seems to beg loudly in the consideration of this concept of corporate personhood arises when the corporatists argue back to me, "how would you dare to think that you can suppress the voices of citizens just because they band together as corporations?"
And I must ask, in return, why they believe they should get multiple voices, as many as the corporations they can form? Where is the sense of that idea?
It is the basis of the astroturf deception technique that is designed to make the voter and legislator believe there are many more voices holding an opinion on matters than there truly are. I mentioned the Chamber of Commerce, as a practitioner of such deception.
2. I don't have the grand answer but believe that we need to pursue all avenues, even at the level of formation of the corporation itself. This is just one approach I encountered a long time ago and have had it discounted as a naieve, and infeasible solution.
But perhaps it can spark the right creativity in the right person.
From People vs. Profits: A False Dichotomy? Google Docs view, comes an idea promoted by its author, attorney Robert C. Hinkley.
The holiness of profit to capitalists makes it impossible, in these United States, to suggest that shareholder primacy is not holier than God.
But Hinkley argued that profit can be the driving obligation, still, while directing corporate boards to subordinate that duty to the responsibility that the public interest is not damaged in pursuit of profit.
Hinkley advocates for the addition of 28 words to corporate charters that he claims would resolve much of the conflict between ithe money-making interests binding boards of directors to their corporations and people who bleed and die.
"But not at the expense of the environment, human rights, public health and safety, dignity of employees, or the welfare of the communities in which the corporation operates."
I've excerpted two passages from the linked interview that have intrigued me over the years and present them mostly to suggest it's worth reading the interview.
As I say, I believe that waiting to see what happens at the next election is too late, the time to act is now.
People vs. Profits: A False Dichotomy?
By Chris Luis | University of California, Davis, School of Law
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005
U.C. Davis Bus. L.J. 6 (2004)
(copy above apparently hosted at corporatecode.org/docs/People_vs_Profits.pdf)
Q: Can you explain License to Kill, Inc., and what this incorporation proved?
A: License to Kill, Inc. is a duly organized and validly existing corporation under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its certificate of incorporation was based on the certificate of incorporation of a big tobacco company whose purpose clause states that its purpose is to engage in any business permitted under the laws of Virginia. Licensed to Kill's purpose clause says the same thing, but adds the following words: "Including but not limited to the manufacture and marketing of tobacco products in a way that kills more than 400,000 Americans and 4.5 million other people every year." Incorporating L2K was a way of showing how corporations are formed and operate under state sponsorship. In this regard, the state also provides certain benefits, including, limited liability for investors. The purpose of forming L2K was to raise public awareness and get people to start asking why should state governments be granting these benefits to organizations that destroy the public interest, even kill people. The point is that governments should only be allowing companies to be formed on the condition that they not be used to harm the public interest.
Q: You have suggested the "28 words" to add to the Corporate Code (Doctrine of Shareholder Primacy). Can you briefly explain what these words are and how they will affect corporate social responsibility?
A: Under existing corporate law, it is the duty of directors to run the business in a way that makes money for shareholders. I have suggested a code for corporate citizenship that would add 28 words to this duty. They are "But not at the expense of the environment, human rights, public health and safety, dignity of employees, or the welfare of the communities in which the corporation operates." The duty of directors to make money drives all corporate action. The idea behind the "28 words" is to balance this obligation with a higher duty not to damage the public interest in the pursuit of profits. For too long we have assumed that the two concepts are mutually exclusive. They are not, and the sooner we realize this, the better off mankind will be.
Here's to action!