Corporations are not people, my friends, no matter what Mitt Romney says.
Corporations are corporations. People are people.
If corporations were people, they would obey the same tax laws as regular people do. Instead, they have a separate set of rules. What an amazing irony, given that “legal personhood” arose, in part, from a desire for equal protection under tax law.
If corporations were people, when they broke the law, they would be punished, not just by fines but sometimes by imprisonment or death.
If corporations were people, they could not urinate in public. This would be a relief to the employees of certain corporations, who are presently asked to enjoy humiliating public displays of trickle down. We'd insist corporations use a rest room like everyone else. Although that would usually require knowing their gender. If something doesn't have a gender, that's a big clue that the something is not actually a person.
If corporations were people, they would be counted in the US census.
If corporations were people, some would be old enough to receive Social Security.
If corporations were people, taking money out of them would be called robbery, not profit or dividends. Owners would surely justify this robbery by saying the corporation was a dependent body, but we would see quickly enough that it was the owner that was dependent on the corporation, not vice versa.
If corporations were people, other people could not buy, sell, trade or own them. We don't let people own people in the US. We call that slavery. Every person controls his own destiny.
If corporations were people, they could not be dissolved by other people. We'd call that murder.
If corporations were people, then from the moment of their very conception, their ultimate existence would be assured—no backing out allowed. If any other person interfered with or otherwise aborted plans to sign articles of incorporation, pro-life groups would insist that was murder, too.
If corporations were people, they would have a childhood. During their first eighteen years, they would attend school and learn how to be good citizens. They would not be allowed to sign contracts.
If corporations were people, they could not exist simultaneously in multiple countries at the same time. We would know when they were in one country or another. They would need passports and visas to move around, just like people do.
If corporations were people, we'd give them freedom of speech, but no more such freedom than we give any other person.
If corporations were people, there would be limits on how much they could donate to political campaigns. Because people have such limits.
If corporations were people, some could even vote or run for office—if they were old enough and born or living in the right place. But if we caught them coercing the vote of another person, perhaps an employee, we'd throw them in jail.
If corporations were people, they might need freedom of religion. But not so that they could coerce the rights of others, and instead so that they could explore what they thought of life, death, and ethics, independent of the people who gave birth to them. Religion is a very personal choice we should each make for ourselves, not owners for corporations, nor corporations for employees.
If corporations were people, I wouldn't have to write this article. Because when two things are the same thing, so many questions like this just don't come up. And yet the questions keep coming and this list could go on. Corporations are not people in so many ways.
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This first part of a 3-part series was originally published December 2, 2013 at Open Salon, where I wrote under my own name, Kent Pitman. The next part is We The People (and Corporations). The series concludes with Employers of Religion.
The public domain liberty bell graphic came from freeclipartnow.com.
Tags (from Open Salon): politics, incorporation, corporations, corporate personhood, legal personhood, legal person, legal personality, taxation, crimes, punishment, imprisonment, life, death, death penalty, urination, trickle down, census, social security, robbery, slavery, human trafficking, murder, pro-life, childhood, contracts, travel, passport, visa, home country, citizen, citizenship, speech, religion, freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, religious freedom, philosophy, ethics, vote, voter, voting, run for office, running for office, candidate, elect, election, elected, office holder