If Corporations Can Engage in Electioneering, They Ought to be Able to Vote!

January 26th, 2010

It’s happened again. Not to be outdone by the Supreme Court judges of 1886 who first pronounced corporations as possessing the same privileges as citizens with regard to property rights, the current crop of judges have now confirmed our paper citizens can meddle in the election process. This decision is brilliantly reviewed in this excellent editorial by the NY Times.

Corporations have had their rights to endorse candidates and contribute to their campaigns restored so they can be just like regular citizens – you know, the ones with actual beating hearts. Well, you’d have to multiply what we regular citizens might contribute by a gazillion, but yes, paper citizens enjoy the same rights to participate in politics. That must buy a lot of gratitude on the part of a candidate, although a corporation would be hard to take to lunch as a polite ‘thank you’ gesture.

What does IBM eat? Italian? Thai? DW-40? Perhaps a thank-you card would be a better idea.

Here’s my problem with this issue. It duplicates and magnifies the rights of corporate owners and officers to twice engage in electioneering, on their own and then again via the combined use of assets/monies which aren’t necessarily theirs to use for this purpose. Does it say in the prospectus that the corporation is a registered member of a particular party?

Perhaps this is an overly simplistic view but if every person working in or owning a corporation has the individual right to engage in electioneering and fund raising for a campaign, why would they be able to do so again through their business? The initial notion of a corporation having the status as a ‘person’ is attributed to the bizarre phrasing of a judge summing up a Supreme Court decision of 1886 regarding a railroad. Why it is assumed that the right to due process of law for a business belongs to the corporate entity rather than to the corporation’s owner(s) on behalf of that entity, is a form of non-reasoning which escapes me. But then, I’m not a lawyer.

If each individual working in or owning a corporation has the right to engage in electioneering and fund raising for a campaign, why would they be allowed to engage in such activities a second time via their business? If a corporation has status as a ‘person’ shouldn’t the Corporation vote as well? Perhaps the age of the corporation might be important to define, ensuring it has the knowledge and maturity to make such a decision. I supposed any corporation which has been around for 18 years or so might be qualified, assuming it is legally registered within the United States. I’m not sure which corporate representative should have the privilege of casting it’s vote, along with his or her own, but that would be nitpicking.

Of course, this may abridge the rights of shareholders expecting a certain percentage of profits to come to them directly, rather than reducing them through the making of contributions to candidates they may not even personally support. This will certainly limit the hopes of employees for a better tier of medical plan as monies accrued through their labor go to some yutz running for office. And about that 401K… .

Corporations have some really hard decisions to make.

So do we. Corporations needing friends in government obviously no longer have enough friends among consumers. There’s a reason for that – consumers wouldn’t voluntarily buy their ‘stuff’ without the assistance of government to hide selected ingredients in labeling, restrict competition as corporate monopolies multiply freely or lowering prices by offering starvation wages to their employees.

Learn about the companies you reward with your purchasing dollars and shop accordingly.

Categories: NY Times

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