"Corporation"="consummate evil"; how can a corporation be a person?

I’ve seen it here and elsewhere: “corporation” has become an inherently pejorative term, like, for instance, “bastard.” Corporations rob the public. Corporations wreck the environment. Corporations don’t pay their pair share of taxes. Etc. etc. etc.

I’ve also noticed that pundits and late-night comedians often sneer: “So corporations are people!!! Ha ha ha guffaw belch snort that’s rich!!!”

These are very popular, populist sentiments. Yet, they reflect a basic ignorance of what a corporation is and what it is for. At worst, “corporation” should be a morally neutral term, like “business.” But there’s no doubt that the former term is now somewhat loaded in American discourse.

Re the “corporation is a person how silly ha ha ha” trope, do that many people really not understand the difference between treating a business entity as human for the purposes of making and enforcing contracts and saying it actually is a flesh-and-blood human being?

I just wonder how this fundamental misperception became so embedded in the American psyche. And if you want to say “Because of the evil machinations of those no-good corporations like Enroniburtongoldman,” I would point out that the vast majority of American corporations behave responsibly and ethically. I really don’t get why “corporation” is synonymous with “devilspawn,” but the names of other forms of business entities carry no such pejorative connotations.

The trope is popular now because of Romney. Watch.

And he was speaking in terms of corporations having a First Amendment right to free speech, as the recent and silly Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court established, not about contract law.

The rest of your post is stuffed with straw.

People have been talking that way about corporations for decades. It can be shallow but it doesn’t both me.

This notion brought to you by United Straw. :wink: I’m not sure everybody understands the idea of a corporation as a legal person, no. But plenty of people understand and object to the idea of corporations having some of the same rights people do. They’re clear enough on that concept.

Nope. It got going right after the Citizens United ruling. It was a common refrain a lot of places-- the OWS protests, for example, and right here on this MB. Romney’s gaffe might have stoked the fire a little bit, but it was a-blazin’ long before he spoke.

The Supremes didn’t say “Corporations are people too, my friend”, as the wording in the OP says multiple times. That wording is Romney’s.

The OP never says “corporations are people too” or “my friend”. Sorry.

Well there was the documentary The Corporation which had as a hook the behaviour of various North American companies reviewed against the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders with corporations being classed as psychopathic.

Corporations are a device of the wealthy. When we say that corporations are evil devil-spawn what we really mean is that rich people are evil devil-spawn. Now while an individual wealthy person (not talking about millionaires, I am talking about people far beyond that) is not on their own an evil person if you take the collective actions of the wealthy you find a pattern of exploiting the poor, destroying democracy, passing on the risks, costs and poisons of their industries to the public while paying inadequate taxes to undue their damage, demonizing their victims, encouraging wars ect ect.

Corporations are also often devices of the not-so-wealthy. Lots of small business owners incorporate. It’s a good way to obtain various legal protections, such as personal asset protections. If the business fails, and the corporation goes bankrupt, the creditors can’t come and take away your home, since it isn’t a corporate asset.

I know of writers who do this.

I am trying to not threadshit but this tripe is repeated so often and your not helping fight “ignorance” using language like that.

The Decision was that,

So to simplify, corps are associations of people, a right protected by the 1st amendment in the “or the right of the people peaceably to assemble” portion of the text.

The decision that congress can not arbitrary create laws that “abridging the freedom of speech” because of the form they chose to exercise “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”

E.G. there was no practical way to give exceptions for the legal fictions of Fox News and ABC yet deny some random wingnut corp.

I am mostly left leaning, the but both sides but the “Corps are evil” triad is really just the equivalent of “Obama is a muslin”.

It is the political rhetoric of someone who has a (maybe valid) political concern but is ignorant on the subject and thus can not separate the concept of a legal fiction from the unwanted political influence of large multinational organizations.

The fact that politicians either fall for this stance or use it to further their goals is either frightening and/or frustrating.

But the decision is not “silly”, despite the undesired effects.

There are millions of individual shareholders (i.e., part owners) of corporations who are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. There are millions more who own shares in pensions, trust funds, etc. that own shares of corporations.

If you look at it without bias, the corporate structure (of publicly held corporations) is an excellent way to disperse wealth among the citizenry (not just the wealthy). How else could you or I, for instance, invest $1000 in Apple or Nokia?

So if they don’t have the right to free speech, that means that their speech should be restricted in some way–and by what other entity than the government? I guess you favor this.

Romney isn’t exactly a font of wisdom, but he’s perfectly correct here–a corporation is a group of individuals, and group free speech is as protected as individual free speech.

Exactly. I had written up a post like that earlier, but figured it wasn’t needed. I guess I was wrong. When people here “corporation” they think of some huge, faceless MegaCorp, but don’t realize it could easily be the small General Contractor down the street.

Yet, those same people strenuously object to the “evil acts” and “malevolence” of those same corporations–thereby not only accepting but vehemently asserting the embodiment and “personhood” of said entities.

Answer me this: a corporation, in its essence, is a group of individuals. Why should that group not have the same rights that the individuals comprising it have?

Because the individuals already have them, there is no particular reason why a collection of such individuals needs a second set of rights to augment the first. They already have the equal allotment that is their due.

Basically, people don’t lose their rights when acting collectively. Secondly, it’s one thing to believe corporations don’t have the same rights as people, quite another to implement that in practice. People who criticize the concept need to explain just what rights they believe corporations shouldn’t have and why it should differ from other group rights.

The problem is, a corporation isn’t people acting collectively; it’s a few people giving orders, and the rest obeying. Corporations don’t poll their workers before they give money to politicians who work against the interests of those workers.

The way an organization is structured doesn’t really make a difference. The ACLU doesn’t poll its members, but it still has free speech. It still has equal protection under the law. It still requires a warrant to search their offices.

We’ve had these threads before, but I still can’t understand this argument. So, you have a freedom of speech. Your neighbor, Bill, has a freedom of speech.

But if you AND Bill want to get together and form the “Two Neighbors Against Potholes in Front of Our Houses” group, then there is no freedom of speech there and the government can shut you both up? It seems silly.

Workers aren’t part of a corporation unless they hold stock. Stockholders buy the stock voluntarily and agree to the terms of the corporation sets for governing itself. If you only want to own stock in companies that do poll stockholders, you are free to do so.

Do you poll your babysitter before you decide to put a vote for Obama sign in your front yard?

He he… he he he… he said “poll your babysitter”. He he.