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Maybe I should wait to write this review until blood stops pouring out of my eyes, but where s the fun in that Skimping on exclamation points never helped anyone I m not going to tell you that big corporate conglomerates are the good guys I m not even going to tell you that I totally agree with the Supreme Court s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment during the Lochner era though the reasoning from those interpretations has resulted in a lot of what I consider good outcomes like how the government can t arrest people for using contraception or being gay But, I am going to tell you that Thom Hartman makes so many basic wrong assumptions about the Constitution in Unequal Protection that it makes the book completely irrelevant to any discussion of actually limiting corporate influence over Amernican government It might be my loathing of historical fiction talking, but this book totally sucks There are parts of it that don t suck, but where it doesn t suck,recent legal developments have made it obsolete, or sucky assumptions have infested the non sucky parts Sorry, Mr Hartman, I mean this with all due respect, and you are obviously a muchinfluential person than me, so I hope that instead of taking offense, you will invest in a constitutional law class The basic assumptions I see causing so much confusion in this book are the following 1 That the Constitution guaranties any blanket rights 2 That including corporations in the Fourteenth Amendment makes their treatment under the Constitution similar to humans and3 That it is possible to limit corporate rights without increasing government rights.There are many, many other assumptions and errors in this book, but those seem like the ones that are most fundamental to the premise of the book and that most make this book irrelevant to any real solution I m going to discuss those assumptions in the order I listed them.First, it s important to be clear that the Constitution doesn t guaranty any blanket rights It doesn t guaranty that you can say anything you want to say, carry guns, be free from searches or slavery, have a jury trial, or vote What the Constitution does is limit the government Congress can t pass a law that infringes on speech Congress can t pass a law that infringes on your right to carry guns the federal government can t unreasonably search your stuff The Constitution formed the federal government it didn t form anything else, so it doesn t govern anything else States gave up some rights when they signed on to the Constitution, so in some ways it applies to states Through the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has applied the other amendments to the states, so they are an exception to the rule that the Constitution only governs the federal government Like the federal government, state governments can t infringe on certain rights While the Constitution identifies rights, it doesn t guaranty that people always have those rights I can infringe on someone s speech, and, unless there is a statute prohibiting my infringement, get away with it without punishment My boss can infringe on my speech, with a few limited exceptions Goodreads, as another example, can take down my reviews if it wants to, and I have no recourse other than getting really, really mad and talking shit about it.So, my point is that you re a Supreme Court Justice, and you ve got this case in front of you Some doofuses Congress wrote a statute, and it says, Any person who dumpsthan five teaspoons of toxic waste into the Mississippi River has to pay the neighbors one hundred jelly beans per teaspoon of toxic waste So, now BP has dumped six teaspoons of toxic waste into the Mississippi, and it s claiming that the statute doesn t apply to it because it s not a person Do you think Congress meant to include BP when it said any person, or not Was Congress thinking about who was doing the dumping, or was it just thinking about punishing anyone or thing that dumped It is the same with including corporations under the Fourteenth Amendment The focus of the Amendment is to restrict states from infringing on certain rights So, then, are states not restricted as long as the rights they re infringing are the rights of corporations Maybe But, then what if states decide than only corporations can buy property So, you form a corporation, buy property, and the state can search it any time it wants to Or, don t worry, if you already own property, you ll be granted a free corporation in your name by the state, and your property ownership automatically transfers to that new corporation, but the Fourteenth Amendment doesn t apply to your property I m not saying that would necessarily happen, but if a state can perform warrantless searches just because the land it is searching is owned by a corporation, that seems like undermining the basic purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment to me Its purpose is to restrict state power, not to grant rights to anybody.Second, including corporations under the Constitution doesn t guaranty that the government treats them the same as humans Maybe that is just self explanatory All it means is that states and the federal government don t get a free pass in whatever the limits on their power is, just because they are dealing with a corporation The criticisms Hartman makes of the Santa Clara decision are true in many points specifically, in his pointing out that it doesn t actually do what the basic premise of this book is claiming it does , but I completely disagree that a solution to corporate abuses is to allow states and the federal government to have complete freedom in governing corporations Saying that states can t deprive corporations of property without due process does not mean that corporations are similar to humans I won t go into the equal protection clause now, but it would, likewise, be weird to me if it didn t apply to corporations And neither of those clauses make corporations similar to humans, they only restrict state power.Third, the way to limit corporate rights is to increase government regulation of corporations Somehow, that idea gets glossed over in this book The reason I feel this avoidance from the book is because he references Jefferson a lot and the idea that Jefferson would have wanted to replace corporate rule with agency rule is totally outrageous to me I mean, Jefferson was like a Clarence Thomas style nut about anti regulation, as far as I have ever read To me, you can t be proposing government regulation and citing Jefferson as your founding father backup That s the way to get a zombie Jefferson stalking your home, looking for blood.Anyway, maybe Hartman is assuming that applying the Fourteenth Amendment to only humans would increase regulation, but that seems far from correct to me This year, I accidentally organized a panel at a conference that turned into recruitment for a militia hoping to destroy American infrastructure I m not kidding at one point a speaker put up a slide on U.S military strategies for fighting asymmetrical warfare It was very troubling Flannery was there, she ll tell you When people asked the speaker what her plans were for rebuilding society after she s destroyed it, she carefully avoided saying that she wants to return to a hunter gatherer society which is what she wants to do, I believe This review does an excellent job of discussing how unrealistic that idea is There is a similar dissonance in Unequal Protection, where Hartman carefully avoids telling you that his solution to the evils of big business is to create big government Don t get me wrong, I think that s a good solution I have been saying for years that we live in a feudal society, in which corporations are our feudal lords, and I completely agree with Hartman on that point I do not, however, agree that the alternative is democracy Hartman sets up the dichotomy that we could live in a democratic society, but a feudal society has supplanted it I think that is false, and that feudalism and democracy are not mutually exclusive I think you can have a democratic feudal society, and that is probably what we have I think the alternative to Hartmann s feudal society is a socialist society Personally, socialism, which I would argue is just another variety of feudalism in which government officials act as feudal lords, sounds way better to me than Hartmann s feudalism, but it is not very popular with real Americans, so I can see why Hartman sidestepped the issue I think that when a stronger government supplants strong business interests, the nominal purpose, at least, is the public good When business interests rule, that is not even a nominal purpose.The real problem Hartman flatly and wrongly denies is in corruption When regulators are giving BJs to corporations, there is a problem And, I think it s pretty clear that regulators are, for the most part, giving BJs to corporations in America, but also in other countries The solution to this isn t allowinggovernment abuse as in, giving states the right to bypass the restrictions of the Fourteenth Amendment , it is to give the governmentregulatory power over corporations It is to require rich people to pay enough taxes that the agencies that catch corporate crimes can actually do their jobs Sorry, Brian This book practically killed me There is a sentence towards the end of this book that I can t find now about a constitutional law scholar who said he practically passed out when he read what Hartman s ridiculous proposals were That guy I feel like that guy I LOLed I could go on about the errors relating to equal protection analysis, and the founding fathers, and the restrictions on international treaties and tribunals, but you ve probably already left the review by now I ll just tell you that this is a completely unreliable source of information about constitutional law It is incorrect in ways that are both fundamental to the nature of the Constitution and ways that are trivial, but misleading Completely exasperating. Note, Aug 29, 2015 I just edited this review slightly, to correct a misspelled word.Thom Hartmann is a liberal he prefers to avoid the l word, with progressive talk radio host and writer of popular level books on current issues To his credit, he s also quite active, along with his wife, in philanthropy for children in need, and relief work abroad His core subject here is one of the most crucially important and timely ones imaginable the ongoing drastic deformation of society, the economy, government, and law in America and around the world, at the hands of profit driven mega corporations intent on concentrating all the world s wealth and power into their few hands He lays this deformation bare under a piercing searchlight, and what he reveals is appalling before I read this, I already considered myself relatively knowledgeable about the problem, but he exposed information that even shocked me And he makes it clear that the principal legal weapon of these corporations is a warped interpretation of corporate personhood While Hartmann isn t an historian and it often shows , he s researched some themes and key events in American history thoroughly enough to be on sure ground As he documents, abuses of power by multinational corporations working hand in glove with bought politicians to create monopolies and exploit the masses are nothing new they were rife in the 18th century, with the East India Company one of the biggest players The Boston Tea Party, and the boiling unrest it symbolized, wasn t solely about a tax on tea the tea dumped into Boston harbor was tax free tea, brought in by the East India Company in a sweetheart deal with Parliament, which would allow them to undersell and bankrupt all of their small American competitors who were selling taxed tea America s founders were familiar with these abuses and didn t appreciate them most were opposed to monopoly and supportive of small business and healthily competitive free enterprise in the actual, lexical sense of the term The legal and political climate they created in early America was one in which active Federal and especially state regulation of corporations and their business practices and political activities, for the common good, was taken for granted.In English American common law, however, corporations traditionally were reckoned as artificial persons, a legal fiction that allowed them to do some of the same things a natural person can, such as own property and be a party to a lawsuit At this point, it was not argued by anybody that corporations did or should possess all the rights of natural persons that is, flesh and blood human beings After the passage of the 14th Amendment to the U.S Constitution, aimed at protecting the rights of freed slaves, however, this amendment was highjacked by corporate lawyers who now argued exactly that, in a barrage of lawsuits aimed at striking down any regulation of corporate actions Their crucial victory is usually supposed to be the 1886 Santa Clara County vs Southern Pacific Railroad case, in which most historians tell us that the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons for 14th Amendment purposes In fact, as Hartmann amply documents, the Court s actual opinion explicitly refused to rule on that claim the subsequent misrepresentation of the ruling rests entirely on a headnote by the court clerk despite two explicit Supreme Court rulings that headnotes have no legal force , probably written with a deliberately disingenuous intention Since 1886, corporations have repeatedly used the courts to assert their rights as persons not to be unequally taxed vis a vis individuals to be protected from health and safety inspections and even to falsely advertise, on the grounds that this is constitutionally protected free speech A major milestone in this campaign was the 2010 U.S Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission, which ruled that any restriction on corporate expenditures for political advertising are an unconstitutional violation of their free speech rights as persons Besides a veritable chamber of horrors of actual U.S court rulings in favor of corporate abuses, the book provides a wealth of statistics on the accelerating concentration of national and global wealth into a relatively few hands, and the attendant actual decline of wages if the figures are adjusted for inflation of most Americans Hartmann also documents a disturbing trend towards state laws criminalizing any whistle blowing of corporate secrets, and perverted use of the concept of libel to criminalize criticism of corporate actions and policies, such as the laws in 13 states that make it a crime to disparage the food supply by suggesting that it s contaminated by corporation caused pollutions or unsanitary practices And he gives attention to the corporate caused systematic destruction of small business and of human scaled community He also documents the increasing monopoly domination of the news and other media by mega corporations, and their willingness to use this dominance to silence criticism and promote their own agendas.To remedy this death threat posed to our democracy and economy, the author proposes a two pronged approach On one track, he favors the enactment of local city, town, county or township regulations of corporate behavior, creatingopportunity for litigation that may give the court system a chance to correct its past misinterpretation of the Constitution as, say, Brown vs the Board of Education corrected Plessy vs Ferguson On another track, he favors a push for a constitutional amendment making it explicit that the rights of persons extend only to natural, not artificial, persons though I don t share his optimism that the Supreme Court would change its rulings in that event, given a legal culture that denies the normative significance of the written text of the Constitution anyway In all of the above, I found Hartmann s analysis sound, timely and educational For instance, it convinced me that the Citizens United decision was not only incorrectly decided, but bad policy I was previously inclined to oppose restrictions on political ads run by bona fide non profit issue oriented groups that are incorporated, but there s no legal way to separate the bona fide ones from the fronts for for profit corporations The McCain Feingold Act didn t prevent individuals, or candidates, from exercising their free speech rights The core message of the book is one everybody should be made aware of, and would, considered by itself, have merited a 4 or 5 star rating So, why did it only get three The answer could be summed up as flawed presentation, and gratuitous ideological posturing.As a talk radio host, Hartmann can probably get by with being rather disorganized and repetitive in his comments the medium doesn t lend itself to sustained, well organized presentation of developed arguments In a book, though, you need the latter, and here it s too often lacking His ignorance of history, outside of the narrow areas where he s really researched, makes his attempts at broad historical analysis so cringe inducingly oversimplified, distorted and actually erroneous that they re essentially waste of paper He also hasthan occasional misuses of terms here Butimportantly, even though he recognizes at one point that the traditional Democrats vs Republicans and Tories vs Labor party distinctions are less relevant than the fundamental distinction between the politicians working for corporations and those working for ordinary citizens and explicitly demonstrates that Third Way politicos like Clinton, Blair, and Obama are tools, not opponents, of the corporations , he s still a highly partisan child of the hard Left, for whom the Democratic Party is his old school tie and Republicans are essentially incarnations of evil This colors his writing repeatedly, and demonstrates that although there are coalescent possibilities galore in his core program and it stands no chance of being enacted without a coalescent realignment of political allegiances , ever getting those possibilities realized is going to be an uphill battle When he s forced to recognize that some Republicans conservatives agree with aspects of his case, his response is sometimes to disparage them anyway, as when the fact that Chief Justice Rehnquist felt that the Santa Clara precedent was wrongly decided and that corporations do NOT have human rights is met with a completely gratuitous and poorly reasoned racism smear And he goes out of his way to drag in every irrelevant liberal shibboleth he can think of his enthusiasm for Roe vs Wade, for instance, grates like long fingernails scraping over a blackboard, and demonstrates that his enthusiasm for faithful constitutional interpretation is confined to cases where he d like the result In fairness, though, his only chapter long excursion into irrelevant ideological territory, his attack on the 2000 Supreme Court ruling in the Bush Gore Florida electoral vote battle, does provide factual information that thesuperficial media accounts did not, and convinces me that the Supreme Court intervened in the case improperly His examples of horrible behavior are invariably drawn from the Right, as with the revelation which he conclusively proves that right wing organizations and campaigns are hiring people to post pre supplied talking points on the Internet, wherever sites allow people to comment a phenomenon I find as alarming as any he describes here But if the Right is doing this and they are does anyone seriously imagine that the Left is not In summary, then, this is a flawed presentation of a serious make that vitally important wake up call about a serious threat to our basic foundation as a nation Even with its flaws, I think it would be a worthwhile eye opener for many people to read, because it presents facts and arguments in one place that aren t often met with, and might not be as compactly assembled in very many other books If you take the meat, and throw away the bone, you can still find a lot of meat here While I was reading Unequal Protection, I would often hear two voices In the foreground, there was the Tim Robbins puppet from Team America World Police Let me explain to you how this works you see, the corporations finance Team America, and then Team America goes out and the corporations sit there in their in their corporation buildings, and and, and see, they re all corporation y and they make money.Much of it does indeed come across as the kind of crude anti right, anti corporate propaganda cleverly satirized by Trey Parker and Matt Stone In the background, though, I could hear the young Joan Baez singing a verse from All My Trials If living were a thing that money could buyYou know the rich would live, and the poor would die.The book may be unsubtle anti corporate propaganda but most of it, I fear, is true.Brian has already done a brilliant job of telling you what it s about in his review, so let me continue with my reactions The basic theme, in a sentence, is how corporations are rapidly acquiring all political and economic power, and how a major tool they are using is the doctrine of corporate personhood at least in the US, corporations have the legal rights of people image error Added 20 June 2011I thought this article by the Washington Post was a nice addendum to my views Entitled, With executive pay, rich pull away from rest of America , it notes that of the 152,000 people that make up the top 0.1% of American earners i.e., those that earned at least 1.7 million and 5.6 million in 2008 , 41% of these were executives, supervisors and managers image error This may be the most important book you will read in the 21st century.Thom Hartmann makes a devastatingly powerful case that corporations, mainly through establishing the status of a natural person through the court since the passage of the 14th amendment and subsequent legal cases, are now in the position of subverting democracy and becoming, nobecame the primacy controlling body in the country and the world Personally, just from observation, I think this is obvious However Hartmann does some incredible research from the American Revolution through the first case establishing, erroneously from Hartmann s perspective, human rights for corporations and up to our current supreme court allowing corporations to have unlimited spending in public campaigns, effectively drowning out the average citizens voice while squashing same citizens attempt to protest or control corporate abuses Hartmann makes a very effective case for the current corporate system as Neo Feudalism and something that is far from the democratic system, or for that matter any capitalist system, envisioned by the founding fathers The author also includes reasonable steps the reader and organizations can do to reverse this trend Read this before it is too late It may already be too late. Why do I read Because I want to learn Because I want to laugh Because I want to escape Or forthan one of the preceding reasons Ah, but there are those times when what I read is material that I feel I MUST read To please a friend To fulfill an obligation Getting to the end of UNEQUAL PROTECTION and posting a review of it mean fulfillment of an obligation I chose to receive a free copy of Thom Hartmann s book from my GR friend Bird Brian I chose with the knowledge that a string was attached to the gift Having felt the string become a tightening noose, I am finally as I write this review on my way to freeing myself of one of the many strings that control the use of my time.The opening paragraph of this review was not intended to suggest that the book is not informative and valuable I gave it four stars and not because I enjoyed reading it The ideal audience for this well researched argument is a reader who needs to be persuaded that the enormous power of corporations in America is a terrifying fact and who, armed with a warehouse of ammunition, will become actively involved in turning America into the democratic nation it was supposed to be I already knew the big truths emphasized by Hartmann and unfortunately, I m not likely to remember the details that might enable me to influence the thinking of the unenlightened If I were young and idealistic, if my memory hadn t reached the it sucks stage, if I still wanted to become a lawyer, if I weren t focused on the judges in my small world instead of the US Supreme Court with its OMG majority, then Hartmann s work would not have been wasted on me I do hope that UNEQUAL PROTECTION reaches many of those who are unaware of the immeasurable harm caused by treating corporations as persons But to get the results that the author is seeking, he needs readers with, not only minds that are open, but also eyes that don t close when they stare at interpretations of amendments and at irrelevant facts as well as important facts loads of facts In other words, not my eyes. IntroductionThis is not a review of the book, because I have not and might never read it.This might be unfair to the author.However, the ideas in the book have been clearly enunciated in reviews by Brian and Whitaker and the supportive comments that their reviews have elicited.I want to state in one place my arguments that companies in their own right are not the problem.Attacking the Underlying BehaviourThe real problem is the behavior of the companies that humans make them engage in.If any behavior of a company is regarded as harmful or evil, then the answer is to address that behaviour directly by appropriate laws, rather than to change the laws that enable humans to form companies.If there is anything harmful or evil about the underlying behavior, it is likely that the same behavior would be equally harmful or evil if it was engaged in by natural persons as opposed to a company.I do not agree with the argument that some conduct is acceptable if engaged in by a natural person, but unacceptable if engaged in by a company.Therefore, the law needs to address the behavior at ageneral level, regardless of who or what entity has engaged in the behavior.Vicarious LiabilityIn the case of a company, this might include extending any liability of the company to people associated with it like shareholders, directors, executives such as management and employees who were responsible or should be regarded as responsible for the behaviour.The Merits of the BookI don t wish to attack the book or its concerns.It has created a healthy and vital debate.I just feel that the view that corporate personality is the problem is misguided and distracts people from the real, underlying harm or evil.It is like saying that, because people commit crimes, you could prevent all crime by banning people.We need and deserve asubtle or sophisticated approach to the harm or evil.Abusing the Legislative ProcessWhen people start using the wrong tool especially a very blunt one to address a harm or evil, they create a political and legal precedent that can be abused in other situations.All of us might want to prevent or punish the evil, but we have to play the ball, not the man or the corporation.There isn t anything wrong with rich There is something wrong with misappropriation of someone else s wealth.There isn t anything wrong with power There is something wrong with the abuse of power.Legal Personalities and EntitiesModern corporations owe their existence to the British East India Company, which was incorporated on 31 December, 1600.The word incorporation is derived from the word corpus , which means body.The process of incorporation gives the company a legal body.The incorporation of the company creates a legal entity separate from its investors or shareholders.It gives the company an artificial legal personality or legal personhood Latin persona ficta.The company is not a material thing that exists in objective reality.It is a legal fiction.The law treats it as if or to use the German philosophical term,als obit exists and as if it has the same status as a human or natural person.This allows the legal person to have the rights and obligations of a natural person.However, overall, legal and natural persons are both examples or subsets of legal entities.PartnershipsBefore the concept of a corporation , if an association of persons got together to carry out a business or a business venture, they effectively formed a partnership.If the partnership owed you money, you would have to sue all of the partners, so if there were 300 partners, you would have to sue 300 individuals.This would be administratively difficult, time consuming and expensive.Limited Liability CompaniesThis was one of the reasons that the idea of limited liability companies was created.The investors in the British East India Company wanted to engage in a business venture that involved travelling to the East Indies and bringing back enormous wealth.However, the project was expensive and risky.Their ships might sink, there might be no wealth at the other end, and the wealth might be stolen by pirates on the way back.If the venture failed, the investors were concerned that all of their personal wealth would be available to satisfy debts and liabilities of the venture itself.The investors wanted to be sheltered against this risk.They wanted to know that, if they each put in, say, 100,000, that would be the limit of their liability to people who traded with the venture.The government decided that the potential benefit of the venture for the nation was sufficient to justify inserting a new entity or body between the investors and the creditors, which was the company.Instead of dealing directly with the investors, the creditors could and only had to deal with the company.The company could sue and be sued for any debts or liabilities.However, the shareholders could not be sued for the debts or liabilities of the company, except their promise to invest their original 100,000 in the capital of the company This allowed the investors or shareholders to hide behind the corporate veil of the company.Their liability was limited.The creditor could only sue the company, it couldn t sue the shareholders.If anyone was worried about the ability of the company to pay its debts, the answer was that they shouldn t deal with the company at all.How a Company OperatesNo matter how big or small the company the shareholders own the company and their wealth is increased by their proportionate share of the company the shareholders appoint the directors to manage the company at the macro level the directors appoint an executive management team to manage the company at the next level down the executive management team employs the staff.Reasons People Use Companies TodayIf you look at why most small business people use companies today, it probably boils down to two reasons it protects the shareholders from claims by creditors of the business the tax rate is lower for companies than it is for individuals.The lower tax rate means that companies can keep their after tax profit in the company and use it as working capital to grow the business and its wealth, and the only tax they have had to pay is the corporate rate.However, if they reversed the tax rates so that individuals paid a lower tax rate , the only small business people who would use companies would be people who were in risky industries who wanted to protect personal assets from the claims of business creditors.Small business people probably wouldn t use a company if they had to pay a higher tax rate.The limited liability justification mightn t be enough to justify the additional tax liability.Sole Liability or Dual Liability The flipside of the law is the liability that it imposes.Just as a law can grant rights, it can impose liabilities.Corporate personality is a double edged sword.The company does not have a legal excuse if someone else a person or persons caused it to engage in harmful or evil behaviour.The company will still be on the hook.However, there is an additional question as to whether the other person is also liable vicarious liability.This could be important if a company gets sued for damages or compensation, but can t pay its debt.The plaintiff misses out on their compensation.Can the plaintiff go beyond the company to get its compensation In many cases, people can hide behind a company s impoverished financial status.Like any person, there is no point in suing a company, if it hasn t got any money.It s just that companies seem to get up tomischief than individuals do in their own name.Removing the Corporate VeilThere are already a number of situations in which the shareholders or directors of a company can be liable for the actions of the company It is possible to remove the corporate veil.This happens with respect to company loans, if the creditor obtains personal guarantees from the shareholders like a bank would do.The creditor can go around the company.Similarly, if the State wants to stop shareholders hiding behind the corporate veil, then it has to make them an entity subject to the law in their own right.An example is where a director or shareholder could be held to be liable if the company they managed or owned was trading while they knew it to be insolvent.Similarly, if they used the company to perpetrate fraud, they could be personally liable.This is what the law currently thinks is appropriate.It may be that the law needs to be tightened up.In other words, there may be a case for making the liability less limited.And punishing the actual people who ought to be punished.How Do You Do What You Do to Me Part of the rationale for punishing the person as well is that a company can t know that it is insolvent or perpetrating a fraud Only the people can know And it s the people who make the company do what it does.In these situations, the law can make the people liable for inappropriate things they made the company do.I don t think there is anything wrong with legal personality or corporate personhood in its own right.The great achievement of corporations has been to encourage economic risk taking in the expectation of greater wealth for the nation.That doesn t mean companies can t be abused or used to abuse others.However, it s the people who do it.So What Laws Should Apply to Companies Laws can create both rights and obligations.Therefore, the question is what rights and obligations should companies have It s the failure to develop a logical public policy about what rights and obligations should apply to companies and what liabilities the shareholders should have that is the real problem.Should a Company Get All of the Rights and Benefits of a Natural Person If a company is intended to have the same rights and benefits as a natural person, then the State should spell it out in the law.It s up to the State to determine what entities any particular law applies to.Normally, you would expect the law to be specific about this.Interpretation of US ConstitutionIn some cases, there might be an ambiguity in a law like the US Constitution.This might occur for historical reasons e.g., because it uses the word person when it means natural person or citizen.In these cases, it s a matter of statutory interpretation of words like person and citizen in the actual section and whether they do or are intended to extend to non natural persons.Statutory interpretation takes into account the context of the words.Sometimes the context will say no, a company is not included in the term person , but in others it will dictate that it is e.g., due process, equality before the law.In contrast, the German Basic Law declares thatthe basic rights shall also apply to domestic artificial persons to the extent that the nature of such rights permits You Can t Have Sex with a CompanyThe German law makes it clear that not every right would be logically applicable to a company.For example, can a company be a citizen Can a company vote in an election An example of where it wouldn t make sense to treat a company the same as a natural person is a criminal offence for deliberately transmitting a sexually transmitted disease to another natural person.It doesn t really make sense that a company could have an STD, could form the intention to transmit it to someone else and could then do so by way of sexual intercourse Similarly, you couldn t have sex with a company, let alone an underage company.I can t imagine someone saying to paraphrase Bill Clinton , I did not have sexual relations with that corporation The Morality of CompaniesCompanies are actually an amazing invention.There is one morally suspect aspect of companies though.The duty of a company is to maximise the interests of shareholders.Apart from statutory duties, a company has no moral or social compulsion to do good in a community sense unless there might be a benefit in a marketing sense.This means that the people who run companies get into conflicts between their overriding duty to shareholders and any moral or social duties that arguably should have influenced their judgements and actions.Management often has recourse to this overriding duty as if it were a Nuremberg Defence.Framing the LawWe need to establish what is the harm or evil or mischief that we are trying to prevent what is the appropriate law or method of preventing the harm or evil or mischief Until we start discussing the issue in terms of the harm or evil done by the company, we won t be able to design the laws that are necessary.Freedom From and Against the LawMy starting point is that everything in society should be permitted, unless there is a law that prohibits it.If some activity is not prohibited by the law, then it should be permitted.I apologise if this all sounds very old fashioned.But it is as old fashioned as the Romans, though I can only find the French maxim at the momentTout ce que la loi ne defend pas est permis Everything is permitted, which is not forbidden by law What is the Harm or Evil We Want to Prevent or Punish The question is is there some evil or harm that warrants prohibition by the law.I am using the word evil as a term to describe something that is regarded by the community or Congress as bad enough to justify the passage of a law prohibiting it.The word evil might be and sound like an old fashioned term, but it has been widely used in political and legal philosophy.It is used a lot in Jeremy Bentham s An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation He also used the word mischief.Bentham was trying to codify the basis upon which it would be appropriate to limit freedom and make some action a crime against society and the state that was punishable by the law.He had a utilitarian approach to the lawAll punishment is mischief all punishment in itself is evil Upon the principle of utility, if it punishment ed ought at all to be admitted, it ought only to be admitted in as far as it promises to exclude some greater evil Rights that Companies Shouldn t HaveSome readers have argued that companies shouldn t have The right to participate in the political process or A right of privacy.I will make some comments on each right.Participation in the Political ProcessParticipation in the political process cannot be an evil in its own right.Obviously, if a citizen participates, that participation is not intrinsically an evil.So the question is whether, when a company participates, its participation is an evil.Is there something inherent in a company that makes its participation an evil I don t understand what that characteristic could be.If a natural person had that same, precise characteristic, would it be an evil If not, then the argument must be that the participation is evil, precisely because it was by a corporation.In other words, something that is not intrinsically an evil in its own right becomes evil because it is done by a corporation If this is the argument, then it is effectively saying that the identity of the legal person can make an activity or behavior an evil.This could become a dangerous argument in the hands of other people.Could it justify something being treated as evil if it was done by a person of one colour or race or gender, but not another This argument starts to offend the principle that everybody should be equal before the law.Regardless of the interpretation of the US Constitution, I think that any person whether natural or legal should have the same right to be treated fairly and equally by a court.I do not accept the argument that corporations are an evil full stop and that any activity by a corporation is evil.PrivacySimilarly, privacy in its own right is not an evil.Yet the argument seems to be that, if a company were to have a right of privacy, then its privacy would be an evil.I don t understand this argument.I can understand the concern that a company might be able to use its right of privacy to avoid inspections and audits by regulators.Could an individual assert the same right of privacy to avoid the same inspections and audits If so, it s not the privacy of corporations that is the problem, it seems to be the manner in which any type of person must submit to inspection and audit that is flawed.Something in the general drafting of the law must offend the general right of privacy.The ChallengeMy ultimate concern in both cases is the assumption that a company and its activities are intrinsically evil, therefore you have to ban companies.In other words, if a natural person did the exact same thing, it would be OK.But if a company did it, there s something wrong.If that is indeed the case that Hartmann is making, I think he s going to have trouble getting anyone in Congress to take notice.Which means that the underlying harm or evil will go unchecked. Reading this book was painful While it was well researched and well written, it was difficult to see all the blocks stacked together so neatly and so clearly spelling out Yep, we re fucked Mr Hartmann does a very nice job of making what could have been impossibly dry quite interesting as he details the history of coporate personhood and the resulting fallout over the last 100 years.It is Citizens United v the FEC that galls me the most Ruling that corporations 1st Amendment rights preclude any limitations on independent polical broadcasts during elections, the Supreme Court has basically said He who sells out best wins most My one beef with this book and the reason for my four, rather than five, star rating is that the writing style is not remotely unbiased It borders on screed at times I passed it on to my son who will hopefully review it for GR when he finishes I know it will work him up into a foaming frenzy But, I wish I could get my pro business to the nth degree brother to read it Given the opinionated writing style, I doubt he would get past page 10 and believe me, he NEEDS to read this.Thank you, Brian, for sending it to me I will encourage my son to pass it on when he finishes and, if my brother ever ends up in traction, I solemnly promise to read it aloud to him. {DOWNLOAD EPUB} Ã Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights ⚢ Unequal Protection The Rise Of Corporate Dominance And The Theft Of Human RightsWas The Boston Tea Party The First WTO Style Protest Against Transnational Corporations Did Supreme Court Sell Out America S Citizens In The Nineteenth Century, With Consequences Lasting To This Day Is There A Way For American Citizens To Recover Democracy Of, By, And For The People Thom Hartmann Takes On These Most Difficult Questions And Tells A Startling Story That Will Forever Change Your Understanding Of American History He Begins By Uncovering An Original Eyewitness Account Of The Boston Tea Party And Demonstrates That It Was Provoked Not By Taxation Without Representation As Is Commonly Suggested But By The Specific Actions Of The East India Company, Which Represented The Commericial Interests Of The British EliteHartmann Then Describes The History Of The Fourteenth Amendment Created At The End Of The Civil War To Grant Basic Rights To Freed Slaves And How It Has Been Used By Lawyers Representing Corporate Interests To Extend Additional Rights To Businesses Far Frequently Than To Freed Slaves Prior To , Corporations Were Referred To In US Law As Artificial Persons But In , After A Series Of Cases Brought By Lawyers Representing The Expanding Railroad Interests, The Supreme Court Ruled That Corporations Were Persons And Entitled To The Same Rights Granted To People Under The Bill Of Rights Since This Ruling, America Has Lost The Legal Structures That Allowed For People To Control Corporate BehaviorAs A Result, The Largest Transnational Corporations Fill A Role Today That Has Historically Been Filled By Kings They Control Most Of The World S Wealth And Exert Power Over The Lives Of Most Of The World S Citizens Their CEOs Are Unapproachable And Live Lives Of Nearly Unimaginable Wealth And Luxury They Ve Become The Rudder That Steers The Ship Of Much Human Experience, And They Re Steering It By Their Prime Value Growth And Profit And Any Expense A Value That Has Become Destructive For Life On Earth This New Feudalism Was Not What Our Founders Federalists And Democratic Republicans Alike Envisioned For AmericaIt S Time For We, The People To Take Back Our Lives Hartmann Proposes Specific Legal Remedies That Could Truly Save The World From Political, Economic, And Ecological Disaster I m still not exactly sure what to think of Unequal Protection There s no denying the truth in its pages or how disturbing it is, but at the same time it s not particularly shocking, either This type of thing was probably a long time coming and I don t think it can be entirely labeled as good or bad, just very complicated It s definitely an engaging and intriguing read regardless, and it doesn t immediately try to condemn the corporate world as a whole but instead questions it in smaller sections.