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“Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.”
The Roberts’ Supreme Court 5-4 decision in the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling (granting personhood to corporations) has emboldened the already powerful and very corruptible multinational corporations (that have already achieved dominion over politics and the economy in the United States) to “buy” any number of politicians and brainwash many voters in many state and national elections. The U.S. Supreme Court has made legal the absurd notion that inanimate corporations deserve the same rights (but not the same responsibilities) as living humans.
Below are seven diagnostic criteria that are used to diagnose antisocial (a.k.a. sociopathic or psychopathic) personality disorder (be mindful that only three of the seven are needed for a positive diagnosis):
• callous disregard for the feelings
of other people
• the incapacity to maintain human
• reckless disregard for the safety
• deceitfulness (repeated lying and
conning others for profit)
• incapacity to experience guilt
• the failure to conform to social
norms and respect for the law
What should be the punishment for sociopathic corporations when they lie, cheat,advertise falsely, act unethically, or commit crimes
What about the crime of rape (non-sexual) as applied to corporations? Rape has several definitions, including the following ones that are in my dictionary: 1) any violent seizure or hostile action against a weaker opponent; 2) to rob or plunder; 3) the act of seizing and carrying off by force; and the common one most people think of, 4) the crime of having forcible sexual intercourse without consent.
Corporations that plunder Mother Earth without her consent and leave her bloodied meet most of the definitions of rape. Should our society punish multinational corporate rapists as severely as we punish human rapists? And what about the corporate serial killers of creation and the creatures that have every right to co-exist on our increasingly uninhabitable planet?
What about the known lethal poisons that thousands of unregulated chemical and pharmaceutical companies knowingly discharge into the water, air, and soil? Shouldn’t their acts of desecration be regarded as premeditated murder? Their murderous actions have already caused a multitude of dead and dying zones in our aquifers, oceans, lakes, and rivers (and brains).
What about the extractive mineral companies that blow the tops off mountains in Appalachia or the Philippines (or in the Penokee Mountain range of northern Wisconsin) to extract the resources beneath and then claim innocence when living things downstream die off from the poisoned water and toxic sludge that contaminates previously pristine streams that previously provided safe drinking water, irrigation water for farming, and a healthy natural environment for fish and wildlife?
Zero tolerance for corporate criminals—not even three strikes before they’re out
How many strikes should any corporate predator be allowed before they are called out and thrown out of the game and off the land? Shouldn’t such exploitive intruders be stopped before they despoil even one more aquifer, one more lake, one more mountain, or just one planet? Shouldn’t cunning, politically connected corporate exploiters be banned, arrested, tried, and punished just like the human predators that civilized people justifiably despise? And shouldn’t there be generous monetary restitution to the victims of their crimes?
Shouldn’t corporate thieves and liars and rapists and killers be treated the same as human thieves and liars and rapists and killers? Shouldn’t we refuse to trust untrustworthy corporations that are lying to us or poisoning us?
And shouldn’t some of the most dangerous, albeit legal, of the thousands of toxic synthetic chemicals so cavalierly marketed by BigPharma be recalled just like Toyota’s occasionally dangerous accelerator pedals? BigPharma’s drugs cause many more deaths than do design problems of automobiles. Shouldn’t the pharmaceutical manufacturers, marketers, suppliers, and sellers of such potentially lethal substances be stopped just like the street corner pushers of illicit drugs? What about the corporate pushers of the cocaine-like drug Ritalin and the amphetamine Adderall that are being dispensed so cavalierly to inattentive or active little children whose brains haven’t been hard-wired yet?
What about corporate junkies, those companies and executives that are addicted to their profits, their prestige, their corporate jets, their vacation homes, and their quarterly bonuses? We regularly intervene for some of society’s human addicts who are on the road to ruin and damnation and a danger to themselves and others. Shouldn’t there be interventions planned for these wealth, power, and greed addicts before they kill again?
The answer, in a fair society, should be yes to all these questions, no matter how often the smiley-faced, well-dressed corporate CEOs or their well-paid spokespersons, in their most cunning damage-control mode, try to convince us that their companies are “responsible citizens.” We star-struck celebrity worshippers of Fortune 500 companies seem to sucker for that line again and again—but the stakes are higher this time.
Perhaps corporations should be judged guilty until proven innocent
Deep down, all fair-minded Americans know that corporations are NOT people, despite what the corrupted and co-opted Roberts’ Supreme Court so shamefully ruled back in 2010. I wonder if the best approach for society in dealing with those shady inanimate corporate entities is this: rather than applying the standard constitutional guarantee of being innocent until proven guilty, we should judge these often ruthless corporations as being guilty until they are proven innocent.
I like that notion. I have often advised my psychologically traumatized patients who were physically, sexually, or emotionally abused in childhood by parent figures to only give respect and forgiveness to them when they have truly earned it and therefore deserve the respect and forgiveness. Psychologically speaking, not obeying and also not respecting one’s victimizers should be the norm in interpersonal relationships. Psychologically speaking, and in my considered opinion, parental neglect or abuse negates the Fourth Commandment that commands children to honor their father and mother. Likewise, we should only do business with companies that have earned and therefore truly deserve our respect.
Being suspicious of psychopathic entities is an important strategy to follow if one is to protect oneself from getting cheated or otherwise victimized. Staying out of a sociopath’s grasp is the proper thing to do, even if the person or corporation seems to be charming. Staying clear of anybody or anything that you suspect has no conscience makes tremendous sense, since conscienceless entities are also likely to be liars and thieves and are fully capable of rape, pillage, and murder if they feel that there is a chance of getting away with the crime.
Staying away from (boycotting) corporations that have behaved unethically is the best strategy to combat corporate criminality. Corporations hate it when the nonviolent tactic of boycott is used, but in our largely brainwashed, advertised-into-submission citizens, only small minorities of people recognize that they are being victimized by psychopaths. Many victims of corporate crimes seem to be unaware of their victimhood, probably too distracted to understand that they are being cleverly conned.
The bloodless corporate coup d’état has been completed
The concept of corporate power and privilege—to the point of being above the law—has massively benefited Big Businesses at the expense of the “consuming” public, but the reality is that it has been going on for generations. Multinational corporations are increasingly in control of the White House, the U.S. Congress, and the federal courts. Both political parties are guilty of being seduced by corporate campaign money/bribes, although it appears that, whereas the Republicans have been 100 percent guilty of facilitating attempted corporate takeovers of the U.S. government for a long time, the Democrats still have had a courageous, though very small minority that is resistant to being seduced by obscenely wealthy corporations and assorted greedy billionaires.
And now, sadly, it appears that all three branches of the federal government have been totally bought by big money—and it appears that they are staying bought. It is not just politicians that are controlled by corporations anymore.
The mythical “unbiased” U.S. Supreme Court has, in reality, always been heavily influenced by corporate power. After all, throughout U.S. history, it has been wealthy businessmen, wealthy politicians, wealthy judges, and wealthy attorneys who have been the ones to be nominated by wealthy presidents and are all members of the same bipartisan “old boy’s club.” So the court has always had sizable numbers of crony capitalist, racist, anti-union justices, depending on which political party was in control of the White House when an old Supreme Court justice retired or died and a new replacement was to be added.
Say hello to Friendly American Fascism
Mussolini wrote that “fascism should rightly be called corporatism as it is a merger of state and corporate power.” He should know—he invented it.
Fascism is a far right-wing nationalistic political ideology that controls its population by a controlled and censored media, powerful military, and police systems that are backed up by a secretive national security state. Fascist nations commonly violate the human rights of their citizens and try to unify the population by creating enemies and scapegoating them. Oftentimes there is a quasi-merger of church and state, anti-intellectual attitudes and corrupt crony capitalism. Always there is an obsession with law and order (with police state tactics), fraudulent elections, and a suppression of trade unions.
The pro-Big Business billionaire’s club called the GOP has succeeded in installing all the right-wing, anti-democracy, anti-worker’s rights justices, while the decidedly more pro-democracy, pro-small business and pro-labor (but corruptible and bribable) Democratic Party has accounted for the rest. The current right-wing court has a solid 5-4 majority now.
But it appears that there has been a slow bloodless corporate coup d’état that has finally overthrown our one person/one vote democracy in America. We are now a plutocracy (rule by the wealthy class). The coup was accomplished gradually—death by a thousand cuts—and it appears now to be in place, never to be declared officially. Wealthy corporations and their billionaires are in charge of everything now, and they have their privatizing eyes on our drinkable water, our breathable air, our arable land, and our nourishing food. (As Bob Dylan sang in “Union Sundown,” “I can see the day coming when even your home garden is gonna be against the law.”)
Elections, fooling us to believe that we still live in a democracy, will continue, although the “debates” and speechifying and small monetary donations will be increasingly meaningless. There will be no viable, courageously anti-establishment candidates like Paul Wellstone (or a Green Party or a Democratic Socialist Party) for whom to cast votes. The American dream (that you have to be asleep to believe in, as George Carlin often told us) is gone, and we sheeple were predictably and apathetically snoozing when it disappeared.
Corporate rights vs. corporate responsibility
By exercising the privileges of corporate personhood while simultaneously refusing to accept the responsibilities of personhood, corporate greed will accelerate the loss of non-renewable resources that will worsen the disappearances of arable land, drinkable water, breathable air, and non-renewable energy sources.
It is the greedy, non-human, conscienceless corporations (and NOT “man”) that have positioned the planet to the verge of extinction. The guilty unregulated multinationals are the ones that cause economic crises, and because there are no consequences for their misdeeds, they are getting away with murder and don’t seem to care. Their motto seems to be “Grab everything you can steal; pay your spokespersons, lawyers, and lobbyists well; cleverly bribe your legislators; wine and dine your judges and media collaborators; don’t get caught; and let the devil take the hindmost.”
We all know that most of the acts of out-and-out criminality of powerful corporations are rarely punished commensurate with the crime. Wrist slaps are the norm for corporations and the superrich when they are “brought to justice” in front of conservative judges. If there are any consequences for reckless or destructive business practices at all, the company will usually just pay a relatively small, very affordable fine. At worst, it will threaten to move its corporate headquarters and its manufacturing facilities off shore, leaving their smelly messes to be cleaned up by somebody else, just as one would expect of a conscienceless psychopath.
We must identify and name the many domestic enemies that are members of the executive, judicial, or legislative branches of our federal and state governments. Naming the evil and the evil-doers must be done in order to effectively confront them. Simultaneously, we need to demand that our human rights to healthy water, soil, air, food, and affordable health care be safeguarded from the exploiters in the ruling classes. The future of our children, grandchildren, and planet Earth depends on it.
Please join the effort to urge Congress to pass legislation to reverse the Citizens United ruling and correct the damage done. (See www.movetoamend.org for more.)