The Corporate Pursuit Of Happiness
The sixty three year old law limiting political spending by corporations was overturned by the United States Supreme Court today in a decision that called any ban a restraint of free speech. The ruling will lift restrictions on what corporate America can spend to influence public opinion in elections. According to the five seat majority, the First Amendment protects more than just the individual wishing to make a statement. According to our Supreme Court, corporations need protection as well.
A corporation is far from being an individual. They don’t vote. Everybody who works in a corporation already have they privilege of free speech. So why do they need free speech again as their corporate collective? Unleashing the deep financial pockets of so many companies into the campaign mix is bound to manipulate people to vote against their own interest. Case in point, healthcare reform, an institution designed to assure that we all receive the medical care we may need from time to time, is something that has become something evil and dastardly.
Corporations don’t like laws limiting their ability to pollute? All they have to do is put their financial backing behind the candidate that’s more likely to sympathize with their interest. Wal-Mart wants to move into a town where the city council is blocking their new store? All it has to do is throw its money behind their opponents. Exxon wants to drill for oil in a national park? All it has to do is back the candidate that has about as much an interest in nature as a klan member has for the black community. Bank of America wants to make Fort Knox a client. Halliburton wants a contract to operate the TSA as a security investment. T. Rowe Price wants to handle the privatization of the social security system. I think you get the picture.
A corporation is not a person. The only reason it exists is because of a piece of paper filed in some court somewhere. Even if you don’t believe that President Barack Obama has a legal birth certificate from Hawaii or any other state, you can’t deny the fact that he exists. The same thing cannot be said about a corporation. Essentially, a corporation is little more than a work of legal fiction. Why does this fictional entity deserve free speech? Honestly, what does the corporation have to say that its board members, officers, directors, and whoever hasn’t already said? The corporation has no thought process. The only thinking a corporation does is the thinking of the people who run it.
It all comes just in time for this year’s midterm elections, corporations can now spend unlimited money on ads to support or defeat candidates. Writing for the minority in dissent, justice John Paul Stevens said that the court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation. In a single day, the highest court in the land has altered campaign finance, and not for the better.
We hold these truths to be self evident. That all men are created equal to the American corporation and that corporate are created by lawyers to have the same unalienable rights as people. The corporation has no life or need for the pursuit of happiness. Corporations don’t need happiness. Only the people who run that corporation have such interests. And with this gift laid at their feet by our conservatively controlled Supreme Court, they are very happy indeed.