A Nation Of Laws

The following was inspired by reading book reviews of Thom Hartmann’s “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became “People” – And How You Can Fight Back“.  I am thinking about getting that book. I like Thom, whip smart, good guy, on top of stuff like this, he’s everything that is right with the progressives of the world, and it sounds like a good read. 

You could say a great many things about America, and have them disputed by someone somewhere.  We are a center left nation. We are a center right nation.  Health care is a right.  Taxation is theft.  All of these statements are disputable, because they are creations of opinion.  You can feel as strongly as you like about a subject, that does not make it true.

There is one statement however that you can make, insofar as the United States of America is concerned, that is not opinion.  It is fact.  Truth. Bedrock upon which all other opinion about the nation is built.

We are a nation of laws. 

Argue about your own personal interpretation of the constitution, you are arguing about us being a nation of laws.  Talk about the ills of government, or the greatness of government, you are talking about an interpretation of us as a nation of laws. Yell about any subject that makes it to any of the shows the polititainers are on, and you are talking, in part, about “A Nation of Laws”

A decision of the Supreme Court of this nation, a little over a year ago, permanently altered the people’s relationship with business, and Corporate America’s(and the rest of the corporate world’s as well) relationship with the body politick.  This happened with the Citizens United V. Federal elections commission, which overturned an important part of the McCain Feingold election law.  The concept of corporate personhood, it is said, was strengthened by this decision by ostensibly giving corporations free speech rights. 

Many on the left were appalled by the judgment, saying that special interests and lobbyists got more power and that we the people lost power.  This is true, as far as I can see it.  The monied interests of this country, and throughout the world for that matter, through this ruling, now have much stronger rights than the common man and woman, by dint of the fact that they can now use their far greater monetary resources, with impunity, to spread their speech further and wider than most individuals are capable of.  It is, as far as that goes, an ugly episode in the history of this nation of laws.


Viddy of the day:  Sen. Leahy on Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision, from january last year.


Because the laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the weak.

No country can afford to have its prosperity originated by a small controlling class. The treasury of America lies in those ambitions, those energies, that cannot be restricted to a special favored class.

-+Woodrow Wilson


But the corporate personhood argument is just a hair off, is in fact incorrect, as least from what I know about the subject.  I am about as left wing as you can get, left wing Americans like myself generally dislike this concept, and I am no different.  But just because I dislike it, doesn’t mean that it is automatically illegal, or even immoral.  “We The People” live in a “Nation of Laws”, AND “Corporate Personhood” is part of that landscape we should get used to, at least until we specifically put a law into place to alter the law of the land that makes Corporations equivalent to individuals as far as the law is concerned.

Because in the eyes of the law Companies ARE people. U.S. Code, Title 1, Chapter 1, Subsection 1 states, and I quote:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise— … the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;

I know not the origin of this part of the U.S. Code, whether it is as old as the Code itself , or a more recent creation.  But regardless, it is, as of now, written in stone, into the laws of the land,this concept of “Corporate personhood”, and as plain as day at that. 

I dislike it, but then again there is that one portion at the beginning of that “unless the context indicates otherwise”   Now,  Citizens United vs F.E.C. no doubt, strengthened the monied interests, we hit that concept already, but it did NOT strengthen corporate personhood, which is a simple reality. It is fact that, unless otherwise stated, Corporations, groups of people, have just as many rights as individuals.

To state that groups of people should not have some level of “equal protection” under the law that individuals have, is something of a silly concept.  The individual and the group can co-exist, even if they are at odds ideologically.  What the law needs to do, and I think generally does an admirable job of, is making sure that while we are equals in having rights, since the individual generally does not and cannot have the economic power of a group of individuals, is that the rights of the individual should always come first, and should be deferred to.

We the people should ALWAYS be first amongst equals.

Perhaps, at some point, I will again cover in detail (i’ve done it before, but it’s been awhile) the clear abuses of power that corporations manage to pull off that make “corporate personhood” such a contentious issue.  Maybe a look at BP, AIG, and other corporate criminals.  The corporations of this nation, because of their vast monetary resources, hold great power, I see them as equal AT LEAST, to the vast power of the federal government, and they are not checked by the documents that check the power of government, placed there, and wisely so, by the founders of this great nation. 

Corporations, despite having constitutional protections and status that grants rights equal to ordinary citizens, have no such documents as the founders put in the Declaration of independence , the constitution, and the like holding them in check, have greed and avarice as a guide rather than the lofty concepts that guide the government in general.


That’s it from here, America.  Catch ya tomorrow.

(minor edits and small additions 3:25 pm 2/2/11)


One thought on “A Nation Of Laws

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