Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stock People?

Should corporations be allowed access to the political process through campaign donations and other forms of bribery by another name?

Not too long ago, this query was posed to Mitt Romney in Iowa. Mitt offered up a reasonable sounding defense that goes something like this: Corporations are composed of people, there for they are people, so of course it would be unfair to not allow them a voice in democracy.
Like I said, it sounded good at the moment.
Since then, I have had a few extra moments in which to consider it and came up with a a few points for discussion:

The "voice" within our democracy in question is the ability to steer legislation, impact policy, and reap money. We need to take that into account. Good governance, the common welfare and the over all health of the republic are not at the top of the list.

We generally assume that the franchise of democratic action is assigned to those who will be living with it's outcome. Seems fair enough if you ask me.
Corporations, especially large multi-national ones, have the option a citizenry does not... the option to seek other shores. They haven't bought in to the concept of citizenship. They just hope to capitalize on somebody else's.

Another angle... Most corporations are comprised of millions of stockholders who may or may not be citizens or residents of the nation. They have no stake in our process beyond what cash they can squeeze out for themselves. Non-citizens cannot vote, nor should they. Foreigners off shore even more so.

And in most cases, millions of stockholders are represented by the very few who control the board of directors, who use their collective resources to make political decisions without their input.
If Mitt Romney and his kind are seriously concerned for the voices of shareholders they would divvy up the political cash and send each a corresponding check for donation to the political cause of their choice.

Corporations are business entities. Business entities are not persons.

Not enough hairspray can cover the smell of Mitt Romneys's bullshit on this issue.


Vanesa Littlecrow W. said...

Not only are commercial corporations not people, corporatism is the modern day mercantilism. The Founding Fathers were not fans of mercantilism.

Brian said...

I'm not sure whether Mitt Romney is a person.

I agree with this (the non-personhood and therefore lack of political agency of corporations) generally (much more so than I used to). I'm just not sure where people pooling their resources for more effective political activism ends and corporatism begins. Clearly, it's somewhere between the neighborhood watch and General Electric. But that's an awfully big space.

It's tempting to just say we should make it so only individuals can make political contributions. I like that in principle, but in practice I worry about what the inevitable work-arounds might lead to, particularly as regards curtailing of free speech. (Is an editorial in favor of a candidate a "contribution", for example?)

Public financing is an imperfect solution with its own problems, but it may be preferable to what we have.

Bike Bubba said...

No way on public financing. Imagine those with a vested interest in government going on as usual trying to fairly fund Tea Party or libertarian candidates. See the issue? (I hope!)

My take is that if corporations aren't allowed to take part in electoral politics, neither should unions or government agencies. Or, for that matter, foundations.

Gino said...

my logic would also apply to union and govt agencies as well.