Monday, June 4, 2007

Corporations and Governement---good bedfellows?

This just makes a person sick to their stomach. Taken from a article.

While many people jumped all over presidential hopeful John McCain's
wrong-headed view on network neutrality, few noticed his infuriating
love for Microsoft. "The 70 year old presidential hopeful also said
that he would ask Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to serve on his cabinet to
deal with technology issues if elected. He did not however say what
position Ballmer might be hired in, but did joke that he might consider
him for a diplomatic position, such as ambassador to China."

Isn't that going a bit too far? Is this like asking the great robber baron Jay Gould to help the Government deal with the railroads here and abroad?
How about this little piece taken from another source that just goes to show the problems of corporations being tied to the government in some way:

Although their misbehaviors with the administration and Congress were exposed, the railroad barons of the era were successful in a coup against the Supreme Court. One of their own was the Reporter for the Supreme Court, and they courted Justice Stephen Field with, among other things, the possibility of support for a presidential run. In the National Archives, there are recently found letters from the railroads offering free trips and other benefits to the 1886 Court's Chief Justice, Morrison R. Waite.

Waite, however, didn't give in: he refused to rule the railroad corporations were persons in the same category as humans. Thus, the railroad barons resorted to plan B: they got human rights for corporations inserted in the Court Reporter's headnotes in the 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad case, even though the court itself (over Field's strong objections) had chosen not to rule on the constitutionality of the railroad's corporate claims to human rights.

And, based on the Reporter's headnotes (and ignoring the actual ruling), subsequent Courts have expanded those human rights for corporations. These now include the First Amendment human right of free speech (including corporate "speech" to influence politics - something that was a felony in most states prior to 1886), the Fourth Amendment human right to privacy (so a chemical company has successfully sued to prevent the EPA from performing surprise inspections - while retaining the right to perform surprise inspections of its own employees' bodily fluids and phone conversations), and the 14th Amendment right to live free of discrimination (using the free-the-slaves 14th Amendment, corporations have claimed discrimination to block local community efforts to pass "bad boy laws" or keep out predatory retailers).

Interestingly, unions don't have these human rights. Neither do churches, or smaller, unincorporated businesses. Nor do partnerships or civic groups. Nor, even, do governments, be they local, state, or federal.

And, from the founding of the United States, neither did corporations. Rights were the sole province of humans.

As the father of the Constitution, President James Madison, wrote, "There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by... corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses." It's one of the reasons why the word "corporation" doesn't exist in the constitution - they were to be chartered only by states, so local people could keep a close eye on them.

And so....what will we do?

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