ABOUT: What kind of citizens will corporations be?
The Roberts Supreme Court has recently decided that expenditures of money by corporations for political purposes constitutes protected speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution.
This decision significantly extends the legal concept of corporate person-hood.
Prior to the decision, most of the rights of corporations were associated with their legal business-related purposes and obligations.
In order that corporations - abstract, virtual entities - could enter into business contracts and could sue and be sued, they were given the same status as real entities - in other words, in business and in court, a corporation has the same legal status as a person, a concept known as corporate person-hood.
However, the combination of the ideas that political expenditures constitute protected free speech and that corporations have both the ability to speak in that way and that same protection effectively extends corporations' status beyond person-hood to that of citizen-hood.
What will this recent change of status for corporations mean for our democracy and our society?
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It is seriously bad news. Democracy evolved over considerable amounts of time in quite a few ways, among which was the matter of who was identified as enfranchised with voting rights, representation and influence on government.
In the early days of the USA, only white male landowning* citizens over 21 years of age could vote.
In 1870, the 15th amendment extended voting rights to all male resident* citizens over 21, regardless of race or color.
In 1920, the 19th amendment further extended voting rights to female resident* citizens.
In 1971, the 26th amendment further extended voting rights to resident* citizens 18 or older.
* Due to the limitations of voter registration, it remains necessary to establish a legal residence of some sort for some period of time in order to acquire a voter registration in any particular state. As a result, people who are transient or homeless for some reason - usually poverty - are often disenfranchised and lack the representation provided by the ability to vote. This is a meaningful and relevant fact-of-democratic-life, since it is the first stage of a clear anti-democratic trend in which the less money one has, the less representation and "justice" one can afford.
As time has gone by, some related changes have occurred (and some have not), in regards to the requirements for who may hold elected office. For example, it is still necessary for a citizen to be over 35 years old and a natural born citizen (like our current president, Barack Obama) in order to be sworn in as president.
Free and fair elections are a necessity for the democratic process and there are a number of specific laws related to electoral fraud which are meant to identify and prevent the corruption of the election process.
However, on the local, regional and national scale, the corrupting influence of money: on the election process; on elected "representatives" in office; on appointed officials; and on "public servants" is undeniable (and has been for as long as our democracy has existed), to varying degree.
As a result, the degree to which an individual citizens right to vote has meaning and conveys influence and political power is reduced by the degree to which the election process and its' aftermath are corrupted by the purchase of political influence in the halls of government.
With the Supreme Courts decisions to identify and protect both individual and corporate political expenditures as free speech, a Pandora's box has been opened.
BIG MONEYs' self serving interests will be able to seek additional ways to acquire influence and representation, further reducing the already limited value of an individual citizens right to vote.
So, although corporations do not have voting rights, in various ways: they can, do and will acquire votes; they can, do and will purchase influence; and they can, do and will be able to buy "justice"; thereby reducing the influence, representation and "justice" available to the individual, less-than-wealthy citizen.
It is the continuation of a trend of gradual dis-enfranchisement. Deprived of representation and influence, the less-than-wealthy citizens will eventually revolt, undoubtedly rightfully choosing the familiar slogan - NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION! > taxcrackpot.net
Ultimately, government exists with the consent of the governed > bill-of-goods.us < Our government was founded on several guiding principles which form a contract between the government and its' individual citizens that has increasingly been reneged upon > lip-service2.us
The ascendancy of the power of BIG MONEY, > fire-sale.us < their disenfranchisment, exploitation and resultant reduction of the status of the middle class > new-serfdom.net < are all plain to see, are not acceptable and will not be allowed to stand.
As abstract and virtual, yet possibly very long-lived entities driven almost entirely by the profit motive & short-term thinking, it is in the nature of the beast that corporations lack an individuals': judgement; reasoning; education; social conscience; moral and/or ethical basis; concern for the common good; sense of shared human frailty and inevitable mortality; and concern for the legacy left to future generations.
While by no means perfect themselves, most individuals possess some or all of those qualities to a varying degree, their possession of which qualifies them as real citizens, necessary for democracy to function.
So corporations are not by their nature inclined or motivated to be good citizens > ethically-challenged.biz < and should be allowed neither the right nor legal methods to purchase political influence, regardless of the Supreme Courts' lack of understanding of that fact.
For corporations, all decisions, methods and purposes are ultimately "just business", reducing everything to a cliche describing the unethical exploitation of an advantage.
The ultimate purpose of government, pursuit of the common good for the long term, is much more than that > karmanomics.net
The ultimate purpose of a human being, an individual, is also much more than "its-just.biz" for all of us except the ethically bankrupt.
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