Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Abolish the Corporation*

Let's not first "kill all the lawyers," as Shakespeare's Henry VI suggested. First thing we do, instead, let's slaughter the legal "persons" that choke off any attempt to put blame where blame is due for the undemocratic concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few: the corporation.

Through the magic of corporate law, there exists an entity that is separate from the people that form it, own it, direct it and are responsible for what it does -- such as spilling tons of crude oil into the ocean, hiding information showing that cigarettes are addictive and cancer-producing, buying up public urban transit systems to destroy them and eliminate competition for the car.

If these actions ever come under scrutiny of the authorities, veritable armies of lawyers can be counted upon to spar for years. In the end, the corporations in question pay for the damage -- if they lose, which is not often. None of the actual people involved -- not the CEO, not the managers, not the stockholders, not the directors -- pay for their misdeeds. The corporation -- a thing that is not alive and does not actually exist in any real sense -- did it.

Moreover, the decisions that led to these actions are never made within earshot of the customers and citizens and workers who are most affected. We, the people, have no say as to whether the corporations will bilk us, poison us or get our children killed -- before it happens. It's only long after the damage is done that, maybe, with fingers crossed and lots of luck, a few hapless victims get something back.

It's time to end the charade. Let's stop pretending the corporations exist -- they don't; instead, let's take names and kick butt. Let's assume the power to control the crucial economic activity that defines whether we survive and how.


*(In response to private comments concerning the revolutionary agenda I proposed, which is not wholly original, I would like to clarify at least what I mean by the planks I put forth. In the next few posts I shall be attempting to review the points in greater detail.)
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