Remain Calm, Etc: With Rights Come Responsibilities????
Posted January 23, 2014on:
Corporations are people, my friends. Mitt Romney
Good Thursday, Widdershins. This is the post that I had planned for last Thursday, prior to the Senior moment when I forgot that I should do so on Wednesday. It’s kind of old news, but nevertheless relevant to the current sorry state of affairs.
Citizens United vs. FEC was a landmark decision that tied free speech to dollars by opining that money is necessary to the dissemination of speech. While Mitt’s statement is an oversimplification, the principle nevertheless applies that corporations are free to flood the airwaves with their opinions. This would be fine with me if they were to identify themselves within these advertisements as Exxon/Mobil (in much the same manner as the AFL-CIO), but that’s not how it works. No, indeed. Exxon/Mobil becomes Americans for a Brighter Tomorrow, and you are supposed to believe that they have only your best interests at heart. Further, they now have an absolute right to delude you – it’s free speech propelled down the conduit of freely spent cash.
Rights are a wonderful thing. We spend a lot of time asserting our rights – God-given, Constitutional, Human and otherwise. However, long years ago, my parents advised me in no uncertain terms that with rights come certain responsibilities, and spent a great deal of time teaching me to be reliable, responsible, and to remember my obligations. Now, this is the part of corporate behavior that we are so sadly missing. Perhaps I am oversimplifying, but enhanced corporate rights should carry enhanced responsibilities, yet somehow we are going backwards at a high rate of speed here.
At the very least, corporations should shoulder the same type pf responsibilities as people. As they are as much newly minted citizens as any other, allow me to share this passage from a USG publication for new citizens:
Below you will find several rights and responsibilities that all citizens should exercise and respect. Some of these responsibilities are legally required of every citizen, but all are important to ensuring that America remains a free and prosperous nation.
First, let’s discuss “our” rights. Freedom of expression is in the eyes of the beholder. I absolutely promise you that most cities have extremely restrictive laws about assembly for people, but then again, we don;t have the cash to rent out large arenas or make commercials. We actually have to speak. I also absolutely promise you that actual jury trials are the exception for corporate entities. Instead we get some judgement that represents a fraction of the offending corporation’s income (yes, you, JP Morgan) to be distributed among a gazillion people who were harmed by said corporate “person”. If the proposed trade agreement is passed, corps will even get to shop for the court of their choice. (Okay, N’Yawkers – trying shooting someone in Brooklyn, then demanding to be tried in Florida so you can claim “Stand Your Ground”. Let me know how that works out.)
Running for office? Well, we practically have that now, with politicians representating corporations more than citizens. Maybe we can just let the corps run as themselves. I cannot wait to see the election between corporate political candidates, such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. At last we’ll have an answer to the actual “people’s choice”, and maybe even a “refreshingly tasteful” Senator in the bargain.
Let’s talk about the responsibilities of a good citizen. Most corporations do not seem to be terribly involved in their community, unless you count their sponsorship of sports teams. Be still, my beating heart! One group of billionaires is funneling money to the billionaire franchise owners while the public builds the stadium. Isn’t this the greatest country ever? Frankly, I would be much more favorably impressed by corporate funded soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and educational systems. My grandson’s high school marching band takes the field in 25-year-old uniforms, and I’m certain that most public schools have similar issues with which they could use help from our new “good citizens”. Take that, Dolphins and Heat! The McArthur Marching Mustangs have a much greater need than thee.
Then there’s the part about respecting the law. Eventually their capital input will have created most if not all of the laws. In the meantime, they can simply continue to ignore the ones on the books and file bankruptcy when things go wrong. Can you imagine what would occur if our hone blew up and took out several blocks due to negligence? We would be charged minimally with second degree homicide. If our negligence caused a massive dump of toxic chemicals into a river and created pandemonium for nearly a week, could we shuffle our assets into a new name and file bankruptcy on our old one? Hell, if I get caught tossing an empty paint can into the trash I can be charged with felony littering, and God help me if I dispose of automotive oil other than at a hazardous waste dump. Same for old tires – no more tire swings for us. Off to the hazardous waste dump which is open exactly one Saturday per month we go.
My personal favorite is the paying taxes thing. While we hear ad nauseum that American corporate taxes are the highest in the world, we aren’t told that many of our largest and most corporations pay no taxes (GE) and even more receive massive subsidies (Exxon/Mobil).
Somehow, someway we need to get our brother corporations to shoulder the same obligations as the rest of us. If they are truly to be our equals, we need to be able to count on them. This is the missing piece of the CU puzzle, and it’s going to be one hot Orwellian mess until we fix it. Hail, Ford!
For the moment, I will dedicate this teaching song that we used fairly successfully with my grandchildren to the corporations of America.
This is an open thread.
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