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Author Topic: Corporate 'entity' status  (Read 2094 times)

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Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Corporate 'entity' status
« on: November 04, 2011, 12:37:07 AM »
I have been introduced to several classes in a row that covered the fact that corporations have legal rights just like individuals do. That is a corporation is legal considered to have all the rights and privileges of a person.

That got me thinking while they have all the 'perks' of a person, I don't see them being given the responsibilities and duties of one. They seem, to an extent, to be self-centered 'people' with no consideration of others.

The question I have is this. If a Corporation is a 'person' legally, how can we train them to be something other than self-absorbed, selfish sociopaths?

I mean look at some of the things they do. The meat packing industry USED to be a good trade, after Upton Sinclair's exposure of the problems in the 'Jungle'. Now if you do that sort of thing, you can get SUED by the industry. And from what I've seen we're consolidating and making things dangerously easy to pass on infection. There are something like 13 major meat packing locations that supply something like 80%+ of our meat.

There is a chicken packing plant in my home state of NC that has leeched the labor of their area down to the level where they have to bus workers in from three and four hours away.

Monsanto has made it common practice to sue anyone that MIGHT possibly oppose their growing monopoly on seed stocks. If you grow soybeans that aren't their hybrid and someone else does within MILES of your place they can sue you for 'stealing their Intellectual Property' by accidental contamination. That isn't even considering what they tried to do with inserting a 'suicide' gene into their seed stock to ensure that they have a captive audience. (Which was deemed illegal by the way.. till they find a way around it)

They have sued/bought out seed reclaimation businesses all over the country. There are estimated to be less than two or three dozen left in the country now.. in the 80s there were hundreds.

I know not all businesses hit the 'sociopath' level but there are a few that are getting scary 'psycho' if you judge them as human.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2011, 03:28:10 PM »
I've seen two admittedly quippy signs that address this:  "If corporations are people, I wanna see the birth certificate," and "I won't believe that corporations are people until the state of Texas executes one."  The fact that these industries seem to have the ear of the government more than the voters is particularly disturbing.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2011, 04:52:30 PM »
I find some things a bit disturbing, such as a corporation having a LONGER right to copyright than an individuals. Corporations have a right to it for 120 years now, and if they had their way, they would never have to cede a copyright. It's been tried SEVERAL times to extend copyright to infinity but no one in congress (yet) has been stupid enough to let it pass.

Corporate entities are trying harder and harder to restrict anything that they can conceivably make a dime off of. Rupert Murdock has challenged 'fair use' quotes of his papers and services several times.

For a student like me that is a fairly scarey thing since papers require citation, if Murdoch had his way I'd have to BUY outright the right to cite a book, paper, website that his companies own. And pay him for every person who has a copy of my paper. I'm an undergraduate student so that is not to scarey, but I can imagine for graduate and doctoral students that could get very scary very fast depending on their field.

Offline Sure

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2011, 09:09:14 PM »
Eh. This 'corporations are people' is just an oversimplification used by people who wish to attack (what are currently) corporations' rights. Corporations are not legally people. Corporations legally have the same rights as people in regards to contracts, property, and the fourteenth amendment. There's an argument that that means corporations have all constitutional rights but that's not been legally declared. There's another ruling, for example, that Corporations are not protected in the same ways as a person under the Fifth Amendment.

Now, there is a bit of legislation that says laws apply to corporations as if they are people unless otherwise specified, but that's a legal fiction and, further, works to limit corporate power.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2011, 09:20:57 PM »
Thank you, that was quite edifying. I appreciated the clarification and expansion. I know that prosperity for us all is a careful balance between what is good for a company and good for the general public.

My own outlook on corparations is a bit mixed. I think that we (the US gov) need to fix corporate tax systems and make incentives that make it profitable for companies to bring back and work to our country and invest in the US. I find it ironic that every canidate that has been greatly outspoken about 'fixing' the 35% corporate tax rate tends to lose the Presidential race (Gore, McCain and Kerry for example).

It makes sense to bring back money to our shores by closing the loop holes and growing the jobs here.

Online Vekseid

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2011, 02:17:07 AM »
Eh. This 'corporations are people' is just an oversimplification used by people who wish to attack (what are currently) corporations' rights. Corporations are not legally people. Corporations legally have the same rights as people in regards to contracts, property, and the fourteenth amendment. There's an argument that that means corporations have all constitutional rights but that's not been legally declared. There's another ruling, for example, that Corporations are not protected in the same ways as a person under the Fifth Amendment.

Now, there is a bit of legislation that says laws apply to corporations as if they are people unless otherwise specified, but that's a legal fiction and, further, works to limit corporate power.

Your statement about the fourteenth amendment hides the fact that corporations basically choose where they 'reside' under section 1. This is one of the major problems with the concept of corporate personhood - most humans don't have the ability to state-shop for the most favorable laws.

Offline Sure

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2011, 02:32:22 AM »
Your statement about the fourteenth amendment hides the fact that corporations basically choose where they 'reside' under section 1. This is one of the major problems with the concept of corporate personhood - most humans don't have the ability to state-shop for the most favorable laws.

No. The courts do. And the courts have ruled against them several times. And for them several times. I have no meta-analysis of this to show what the proportion is, but I certainly know that there have been huge blows against companies as well.

Further I wasn't hiding anything, in fact I specifically mentioned the argument that the rights I listed entitle them to all constitutional rights. But it's only an argument, and no court has ever confirmed such an argument, to my knowledge.

Online Vekseid

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2011, 02:40:10 AM »
Courts can claim jurisdiction, and it may be found valid, but that is a different issue than one of residence and the tax, discovery, and other benefits that hiding behind a Nevada company (for example) provides.

Offline LustfulLord2011

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2011, 01:01:44 PM »
I think that the problem may be not the question of whether corporations are people, but with what people are allowed to do on some occasions. For instance, in the example you cited regarding the "intellectual property theft" angle of attack on growers through contamination... The fact that such a right is granted to ANYONE, irrespective of them being an independent or corporate entity, is patently absurd. If these bio-manufacturers are so damned concerned about the genetic material of their products being spread to other crops, they should make mandated control of the growing environment to protect their interests part of the deal for THEIR consumers. Then we'll see if anyone still wants to buy their seeds, given that they will have to legally bind themselves to making sure there is no potential cross pollination with other breeds.

The fact that LIFEFORMS are now becoming an issue for copyright is frankly terrifying. I am not overly religious, so I don't have the "It's the province of God, not man" thing going, but I still find it disquieting that the natural competition that is supposed to be part of nature AND business is slowly being choked out of the system. Now, the only way to survive in a given industry is to be one of the companies that already has a stranglehold on that industry... otherwise, you will almost inevitably be pushed out, or swallowed whole.

Offline adeleturner

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2011, 01:12:31 PM »
I think that we (the US gov) need to fix corporate tax systems and make incentives that make it profitable for companies to bring back and work to our country and invest in the US.
I don't know much about the corporate tax systems, but we need to be very careful about that last part.  It can easily end up accomplishing the opposite of its intended consequences.  Outsourcing labor and buying cheap goods from overseas may have a negative impact on a certain sector of American jobs and production, but it tends to result in a higher net number of American jobs than if we had tried to produce those goods locally or hire local labor.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2011, 01:16:34 PM »
You want scary corporate practices, you need only look at Monsanto. They are scary in their approach and I think the biggest single mistake of the last 50 years court ruling wise has to be letting them copyright a lifeform. They have ruined people and all but enslaved certain farm groups because of it.

They've done all they can to obfuscate any study into the healthiness of their Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) A good example is the work they did to hide their recombinant Bovine Growth Hormones (rBGH). They spend amazing amounts of money to muddle the waters. 'Special Interest Groups' (with ties to Monsanto) try to get the 'rBGH-free' labels removed. Studies are thrown out by Monsanto sponsored groups saying there is no difference and the labels 'confuse the public'.

There have been LOTS of claim of bridery, extortion and so forth within the US and overseas.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2011, 01:27:38 PM »
I don't know much about the corporate tax systems, but we need to be very careful about that last part.  It can easily end up accomplishing the opposite of its intended consequences.  Outsourcing labor and buying cheap goods from overseas may have a negative impact on a certain sector of American jobs and production, but it tends to result in a higher net number of American jobs than if we had tried to produce those goods locally or hire local labor.

So, we have a 35% corporate tax rate (highest in the 'first world'), yet we reward the companies with benefits, tax breaks, and such for hiding money overseas rather than bringing it back to the US. GE for example, in theory, made 5.2 BILLION US profits and not only paid nothing and got a 3.2 Billion tax breaks at the same time.

Reforming the tax code can give them the same tax credits.. but for doing something INSIDE the US. Bring back the R&D tax break, Education support breaks and such. Throw out tax breaks that encourage the companies to come back.

Think about it. We have one of the worst corporate tax rates in the world. Yet we let the companies build in loop holes that encourage outsourcing, moving the cash overseas to hide it and other things rather than FIXING the system to encourage development and growth. Encourage them to bring the money in and put it to work here rather than hide it. You can get a return on your money and a tax break.

Of course that would lay off all those lawyers, accountants and lobbyists.

Offline LustfulLord2011

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2011, 01:38:07 PM »
Sorry to be so crude, but screw the lawyers, accountants, and lobbyists. The lobbyists especially serve no useful function in our society, and are part of the growing decay that has been spreading here for decades.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2011, 01:44:53 PM »
Sorry to be so crude, but screw the lawyers, accountants, and lobbyists. The lobbyists especially serve no useful function in our society, and are part of the growing decay that has been spreading here for decades.

I was being sarcastic.. :D

Offline Oniya

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Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2011, 02:00:45 PM »
Lawyers and accountants at least have the potential to do good for the 'little person' - with enough rehabilitation, of course ;).  My vote is still out on lobbyists.

Online Vekseid

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2011, 02:06:30 PM »
I don't know much about the corporate tax systems, but we need to be very careful about that last part.  It can easily end up accomplishing the opposite of its intended consequences.  Outsourcing labor and buying cheap goods from overseas may have a negative impact on a certain sector of American jobs and production, but it tends to result in a higher net number of American jobs than if we had tried to produce those goods locally or hire local labor.

Where did you get this idea?

Protectionism hurts an economy at full employment. It does, however, help to ensure more jobs stay local, and can help an economy (especially one with a massive current account deficit such as that of the US) by making sure more money flows within its economy rather than out of it.

Offline LustfulLord2011

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2011, 02:13:37 PM »
On a topical note, I have to agree with Vekseid on this one. The principle of localization can be harmful in a boom economy, but as things stand now, promoting more internalization can only help our economic situation.

On a more humorous, less topical note, I rescind my prior statement. Don't screw the lobbyists. This people obviously have no idea of what fun is, and is that really who you want for a bedmate?

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2011, 02:18:41 PM »
Where did you get this idea?

Protectionism hurts an economy at full employment. It does, however, help to ensure more jobs stay local, and can help an economy (especially one with a massive current account deficit such as that of the US) by making sure more money flows within its economy rather than out of it.

One of the things that folks forget is how much money flows in a community. One of the things that got my dander up when the bases were being closed down in Maine was this perception (mostly by the 'vacation station' folks and not the locals) that the bases didn't contribute to the local economy.

Even a 'lowly' blue collar mill job cycles every dollar through the community at LEAST five times. Gas Stations, grocery stores and more.

It never fails to get my blood up that there is this 'out look' that all blue collar jobs are unneeded and irrelevant to the economy. There are a LOT of things that can be done efficiently here. Particularly if we engage in corporate tax reform that we've been delaying for decades.

You can't honestly say that some of the outsourced business couldn't be profitable with incentives or operating on a different model of business from the old ones we are stuck in.


Offline LustfulLord2011

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2011, 02:21:56 PM »
The problem with outsourcing is that money that is spent overseas may take a long time to work it's way back here, in the chain of events... if it ever does. Blue collar jobs, locally, are the most IMPORTANT facet of the economy... it's where the most people are employed, certainly, and it's what keeps the local market working... people go to work, get a paycheck, pay taxes that support the local government, buy goods and services, the proceeds of which get paid out to other people as wages, which they then spend... the cycle goes on. But if we outsource too many jobs, what happens then is that all of that money is flowing overseas... likely never to be seen again.

Online Vekseid

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2011, 10:55:47 AM »
One of the things that folks forget is how much money flows in a community. One of the things that got my dander up when the bases were being closed down in Maine was this perception (mostly by the 'vacation station' folks and not the locals) that the bases didn't contribute to the local economy.

Even a 'lowly' blue collar mill job cycles every dollar through the community at LEAST five times. Gas Stations, grocery stores and more.

It never fails to get my blood up that there is this 'out look' that all blue collar jobs are unneeded and irrelevant to the economy. There are a LOT of things that can be done efficiently here. Particularly if we engage in corporate tax reform that we've been delaying for decades.

You can't honestly say that some of the outsourced business couldn't be profitable with incentives or operating on a different model of business from the old ones we are stuck in.

Actually that is an argument for closing down military bases and spending the money on direct public investment instead. The rate at which money flows through the economy is a direct function of the savings rate. The average is around thirty, which is how a half trillion of M0 supports a fourteen trillion dollar economy.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2011, 09:11:29 PM »
Just caught this on one of my feeds:

http://youtu.be/FwtRg2WMm6A

Not sure why it's not embedding, but the tl;dr of it is that Boulder, Colorado passed by a 3-to-1 margin an amendment that says corporations are not people and money is not speech and 6 Senators introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2011, 09:13:04 PM by Oniya »

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2011, 01:14:10 AM »
The more I read on stuff like that, Timorese depressed I get Oniya.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2011, 07:43:12 AM »
The fact that LIFEFORMS are now becoming an issue for copyright is frankly terrifying. I am not overly religious, so I don't have the "It's the province of God, not man" thing going, but I still find it disquieting that the natural competition that is supposed to be part of nature AND business is slowly being choked out of the system. Now, the only way to survive in a given industry is to be one of the companies that already has a stranglehold on that industry... otherwise, you will almost inevitably be pushed out, or swallowed whole.

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Monsanto, and I do not support the copyrighting of genetics for profit. I do think that there needs to be intellectual property rights given to the researchers who often spend quite a bit of time developing these things, or some sort of proprietary system in place to protect those researchers.

That said, it's often not actual life forms that are being copyrighted (or whatever). More often than not, it is a genetic sequence, a procedure, or something like that. Yes, there are some companies that have developed microorganisms which are then copyrighted, but for the most part, it's just little pieces. The argument against, of course, is that there is nothing new under the sun and the sequence probably already exists somewhere.

The statement that natural competition vis a vis nature itself is being choked out is false. To go back to the Monsanto example, their Roundup herbicide is supposed to kill anything in a field except for crops grown out of their special Roundup Ready brand of seeds. It worked for a while, but now there are so-called super weeds that are resistant to Roundup. Not to go all Jurassic Park on you, but nature finds a way. It's not nature we have to worry about. It's people. Nature will see to herself and be just fine.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2011, 11:11:42 AM »
My problem with Monsanto's approach towards genetic copyright is that they will sue farmers for having plants that weren't intentionally planted.  Wind carries pollen, birds and mice carry seeds - it happens.  If I happen to have a field next to a 'Monsanto-approved' field and something like that happens, they say that the plant with their mods was 'stolen'.  Sue the wind, the bird, and the mouse for 'stealing it'.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Corporate 'entity' status
« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2011, 11:23:10 AM »
That is my problem with Monsanto. They are going way out of their way to threaten farmers. There have been reports of 'private Monsanto agents' sneaking onto farm property to acquire 'proof' and the seed recovery companies that are still in business are being harassed. Monsanto also has a 'corner' jurisdiction that most of their cases in (of which they win an awful lot of) Saint Louis.

That tells me they 'bought' the court there somehow.