Corporate Personhood Talking Points

  • When corporations have constitutional rights, peoples' rights become meaningless. How can one human being’s power to speak compare to a massive corporation’s ability to speak?
     
  • A corporation has millions of dollars, exists in many places at once; can live forever; and employs thousands to do its work around the clock. It controls politicians, the media, and the economy. A human being has little expendable income, lives in one place, dies, and must use her small amount of free time to work for causes she believes in.
     
  • A human being needs clean air, clean water, food, and love to survive. A corporation does not.
     
  • A corporation has no mind, no conscience, and no motive but to amass money. A human being thinks, tries to make ethical decisions, and is motivated by obligations to family and community. How could we say that these two dramatically different kinds of “persons” have an equal voice in a democracy?
     
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that money equals speech. The corollary is this: people who have money can speak, and people who don’t, can’t. This is a plutocracy, not a democracy.
     
  • To put this power imbalance in perspective, consider this: It took over 1 million individual donors to raise about $750 million for Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. $750 million is approximately five percent of ExxonMobil's third quarter profits in 2008, five percent of Bank of America's profits in 2007; 37.5 percent of Goldman Sachs's first quarter profits in 2009; 18 percent of JP Morgan Chase's third quarter profits in 2009; 25 percent of Ford's profits in 2009 five percent of Philip Morris's profits in 2008.
     
  • Human rights are for humans. A corporation is not a human being.
     
  • The word corporation does not occur in the Constitution. Corporations had to use unelected, unaccountable judges to give them rights.
     
  • Corporations exist to serve the public welfare, not for the public to serve them. The Supreme Court has created a Frankenstein scenario in which the people’s creations now control the people.
     
  • A person is a private entity with rights and sovereignty. A corporation is a public entity with obligations and responsibilities.
     
  • The American Revolution was explicitly anti-corporate, and the revolutionaries made sure that corporations were tightly controlled.
     
  • For the first seventy-five years after the Revolution, corporations could only exist if they served the public good.
     
  • They were severely restricted in their activities: they had to be chartered by a vote of the state legislature, they could only exist for a certain number of years, they couldn’t own other corporations, they could be dissolved once they had earned a certain profit margin, they couldn’t donate to political or charitable causes, they had to operate in the state they were chartered in, their stockholders were local, they could only do the certain task they were chartered for, and they couldn’t own land that was necessary for carrying out business.
     
  • Judge-made law is not democracy. We didn’t elect the Supreme Court justices, but they get to decide who does and doesn’t count in our democracy. Congress and the People should decide those issues.
     
  • The sole purpose of a corporation is to amass profit and consolidate wealth. They are legally required and structurally designed to make money at any cost. This makes them dangerous to people and democracy.
     
  • The structure of a corporation separates humans from their actions. They destroy responsibility and hijack decision-making. They make humans do things collectively that they would never do as individuals: poison water, deny healthcare, and destroy the planet.
     
  • Every cause we care about and fight for is affected by corporate power.

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