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Forum Post: Corporations Have been People for between 63 and 160 years !

Posted 11 years ago on Nov. 19, 2011, 2:06 a.m. EST by Rico (3027)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

A lot of folks seem to think that corporations became people only recently under the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case heard by the Supreme Court last year. In reality, we debated the idea of corporations being people for about 100 years between the middle of the 19th and 20th centuries. The corporation as a person was finally cemented into law in 1948.

On June 25, 1948, US Code Title 1, Section 1 was revised by Congress to read "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise - the words "person" and "whoever" include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;"

Given this definition of a corporation as a person, the Supreme Court had little choice but to grant them their free speech rights in the Citizens United case. The majority opinion also noted media corporations (Fox, MSNBC, etc) routinely advocate candidates, and there is path under law to allow one corporation to advocate while denying another the same right according to equal protection. While I wish it wasn't so, it's hard to refute their logic on any grounds other than distaste.

The court's hands were tied. Congress needs to fix Title 1, Section 1.

I just felt people would be interested to know we've been calling corporations 'people' in one form or another since the mid 1800's and it's been a matter of law for 63 years now ! I sure didn't know that until I did the research !



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[-] 1 points by OurTimes2011 (377) from Arlington, VA 11 years ago

This issue is not how long corporations have been considered people.

Corporations, certainly those in the financial sector, have grown so powerful that they are a threat to democratic capitalism.

Remember that the American Revolution was a declaration that the king was not better than all other humans. Therefore, the king did not get to determine the fate for everyone in society. People can decide for themselves. All humans are equal. But artificial, man-made creations like corporations are not human, so they do not deserve the same rights as humans. Corporations exist to serve people. People do not exist for the sake of corporations. Corporations do not get to determine the fate for everyone in society.

Most feel that the democratic processes, critical to insuring competition based on the rule of law, have been captured by a small group of firms that break the law with impunity and capture outsized returns as a result. They then use these gains to further their hold on the body politic. This gives rise to an extreme amount of selfishness and greed that is detrimental to the long-term interest of the country and its citizens.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

Don't mistake me, I want the money out of politics ! See my proposal at http://occupywallst.org/forum/we-the-people-in-order-to-a-proposal/ .

The problem is that while we can band direct contributions and pay-offs to our elected representatives and candidates for office, we can't stop all the Corporations, Unions, and PACs from running advertisements for or against the candidates because of the free speech/coporations are people problem AND the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The issue with fixing the corporate free speech problem is that we DO allow corporations to speak about politics (Fox and MSNBC for example), and nobody has found a way to allow SOME corporations to speak while banning others without running afoul of the 14th Amendment's equal protection.

We need people to figure out how we silence the corporations.

[-] 1 points by JOHNUSACITIZEN (62) 11 years ago

I used to think the bizarre rules and internal practices of the legislature where fostering stagnation, or the ridiculous faith some people place in a single man, the President; He is not a king who rules by fief, he is a public servant, the highest, but still only that.

WE THE PEOPLE make big things happen. ALL OF US, rich, poor, young, old -- ALL OF US.

Regardless of our governments perceived flaws in form, workings and our expectations, there is really nothing just plain wrong in the executive or legislative branches structurally. They simply require men and women who TRY to take meaningful action. They don't even need to bring a vision, except to listen and learn from their constituents, and then TRY the best they can to represent us, ALL OF US. Easier said than done, always changing in small ways to adapt/adjust, it's an ever changing, growing process. It's a democracy.

The only serious structural defect I see is with the Courts. We all grow old. We all know what that means, some remain agile and engaged in life into their 80's. How many people do you know who can do their finest work beyond that, or even up to that age? To ask a fellow citizen to labor until they die is just plain cruel, and that's what most do as they view stepping down like a failing somehow, giving up a sacred (if anything in our civil process is) trust. We ask too much.

WE THE PEOPLE ask too much of them.

1st Amendment (in entirety) Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Corporation are not people. I'm not sure how the court or anyone can confuse the all too clear meaning of the simple word 'people' with anything other than US Citizen.

The Supreme Court is wrong, and our structure provides no reasonable recourse, except to wait for them to fade and HOPE the new Justices will remedy this error.

Maybe when the time comes to replace them, WE THE PEOLE will demand a proper vetting. Looking not so much at opinions written, but how many times their decisions where overturned solely on the merit of the case presented to them(new facts and strategies DO change things--can't blame them for a good appeal that changes the ground.)

Our Judges are only human, and our laws are... well, I'll leave it at complex. I'll be sure to lobby my representatives to take this tact when vetting, vetting based on errors (hoping the number and magnitude of errors show a nice trend of going down over their carriers) and hope for the best.

Maybe we could even ask our retiring judges to hold a privileged position, one they more than earned from a life of service, to act not as judges but mentors and advisers to the Court. Freed of the burden, but THERE with the Court should they choose to remain, so their wisdom is not lost too soon.

It's a hope... just a thought that came after speaking with a neighbor, someone I disagree with about a lot of things or at least the few we discussed. Somehow, I feel I got schooled anyway. He made me think, not what he wanted me to, but think just the same. Have to thank him next time I see him.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

John, there's actually some rationale for why we slowly evolved into calling a corporation a 'person,' See my response to TrevorMnemonic below at http://occupywallst.org/forum/coporations-have-been-people-for-between-63-and-16/#comment-388082 .

I agree we need to be veeerrrryyyy careful in who we appoint to sit on the Supreme Court ! They stay there for a loooonng time and have a LOT of influence over the path of our Nation !

[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 11 years ago

I just felt people would be interested to know we've been calling corporations 'people' in one form or another since the mid 1800's and it's been a matter of law for 63 years now !


They evolved tongues that long ago . . .

I had not heard that . . .

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

LOL! Yep, apparently it's an ancient art !

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

By the way, you do not understand Title 1, for if you did, you'd realize that all must, in writing, object and deny the voluntary compliance with it's terms that are otherwise, and in fact compulsory.

In other words, all have been incorporated by not objecting.

This is only a bandaid on this problem and your subsequent life as a natural person, in the USA, will not be easy.

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

AND, persons have been incorporated for many years, in 2010, corporations (of the business nature and certainly not individual people) made their case that they too, are entitled to the same (very limited) rights that incorporated persons have.

Next step will be the stripping away of all our rights so that all can be subject to criminal prosecution for things of which we are all guilt, yet currently, and only to some degree, protected by The Constitution and it's Bill Of Rights.


[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

This is a very interesting subject, during certain phases, the Supreme Court denied that people were not corporations and distinguished between them and voluntarily applied and chartered "artificial entity" types of business corporations.

You are however, correct, natural persons were long ago, forcefully incorporated, many claim this was because corporations(government) cannot legally do business with natural persons, this is not true.


this case was heard and decided in 1992-1993

I'll point out a few interesting details...

kick it about as you desire and also note that it was, during this time, that the USA signed an international agreement with the United Kingdom in regards to the UK's Social Security Administration Act of 1992

"(b) Four contextual features indicate that "person" in 28 U.S.C. 1915(a) refers only to individuals. First, the permissive language used in 1915(d) - that a "court may request an attorney to represent any such person unable to employ counsel" (emphasis added) - suggests that Congress assumed that courts would sometimes leave the "person" to conduct litigation on his own behalf, and, thus, also assumed that the "person" has the legal capacity to petition the court for appointment of [506 U.S. 194, 195] counsel while unrepresented and the capacity to litigate pro se should the petition be denied. These assumptions suggest in turn that Congress was thinking in terms of natural persons, because the law permits corporations, see, e.g., Osborn v. President of Bank of the United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 829, and other artificial entities, see, e.g., Eagle Associates v. Bank of Montreal, 926 F.2d 1305 (CA2 1991), to appear in federal courts only through licensed counsel. Second, 1915(d) describes the affidavit required by 1915(a) as an allegation of "poverty," which is a human condition that does not apply to an artificial entity. Third, because artificial entities cannot take oaths, they cannot make the affidavits required in 1915(a). It would be difficult to accept an affidavit on the entity's behalf from an officer or agent in this statutory context, since it would be hard to determine an affiant's authorization to act on behalf of an amorphous legal creature such as respondent; since the term "he" used in 1915(a)'s requirement that the affidavit must state the "affiant's belief that he is entitled to redress" (emphasis added) naturally refers to the "affiant" as the person seeking in forma pauperis status; and since the affidavit cannot serve its deterrent function fully when applied to artificial entities, which may not be imprisoned for perjurious statements. Fourth, 1915 gives no hint of how to resolve the issues raised by applying an "inability to pay" standard to artificial entities. Although the "necessities of life" criterion cannot apply, no alternative criterion can be discerned in 1915's language, and there is no obvious analogy, including insolvency, to that criterion in the organizational context. Nor does 1915 guide courts in determining when to "pierce the veil" of the entity, which would be necessary to avoid abuse. Respondent's argument that there is no need to formulate comprehensive rules in the instant case because it would be eligible under any set of rules is rejected, since recognizing the possibility of organizational eligibility would force this Court to delve into difficult policy and administration issues without any guidance from 1915. Pp. 201-209. "

""Persons" were not always so entitled, for the benefits of 1915 were once available only to "citizens," a term held, in the only two cases on the issue, to exclude corporations. See Atlantic S.S. Corp. v. Kelley, 79 F.2d 339, 340 (CA5 1935) (construing the predecessor to 1915); Quittner v. Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America, Inc., 70 F.2d 331, 332 (CA2 1934) (same). In 1959, however, Congress passed a one-sentence provision that "section 1915(a) of title 28, United States Code, is amended by deleting the word citizen' and inserting in place thereof the wordperson.'" Pub.L. 86-320, 73 Stat. 590. For this amendment, the sole reason cited in the legislative history was to extend the statutory benefits to aliens. 2 [506 U.S. 194, 199] "

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

"The second revealing feature of 1915(d) is its description of the affidavit required by 1915(a) as an "allegation of poverty." Poverty, in its primary sense, is a human condition, to be "[w]anting in material riches or goods; lacking in the comforts of life; needy," Webster's New International Dictionary 1919 (2d ed. 1942), and it was in just such distinctly human terms that this Court had established the standard of eligibility long before Congress considered extending in forma pauperis treatment from "citizens" to "persons." As we first said in 1948, "[w]e think an affidavit is sufficient which states that one cannot, because of his poverty, pay or give security for the costs . . . and still be able to provide' himself and dependentswith the necessities of life.'" Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339 . But artificial entities do not fit this description. Whatever the state of its treasury, an association or corporation cannot be said to "lac[k] the comforts of life," any more than one can sensibly ask whether it can provide itself, let alone its dependents, with life's "necessities." Artificial entities may be insolvent, but they are not well spoken of as "poor." So eccentric a description is not lightly to be imputed to Congress. [506 U.S. 194, 204] "

"The third clue is much like the second. Section 1915(a) authorizes the courts to allow litigation without the prepayment of fees, costs, or security "by a person who makes affidavit that he is unable to pay such costs or give security therefor," and requires that the affidavit also "state the nature of the action, defense or appeal and affiant's belief that he is entitled to redress." Because artificial entities cannot take oaths, they cannot make affidavits. See, e.g., In re Empire Refining Co., 1 F.Supp. 548, 549 (SD Cal. 1932) ("It is, of course, conceded that a corporation cannot make an affidavit in its corporate name. It is an inanimate thing incapable of voicing an oath"); Moya Enterprises, Inc. v. Harry Anderson Trucking, Inc., 162 Ga. App. 39, 290 S.E.2d 145 (1982); Strand Restaurant Co. v. Parks Engineering Co., 91 A.2d 711 (D.C. 1952); 9A T. Bjur & C. Slezak, Fletcher Cyclopedia of Law of Private Corporations 4629 (Perm. ed. 1992) ("A document purporting to be the affidavit of a corporation is void, since a corporation cannot make a sworn statement") (footnote omitted). "

"ext, some weight should probably be given [506 U.S. 194, 205] to the requirement of 1915(a) that the affidavit state the "affiant's belief that he is entitled to redress" (emphasis added). "He," read naturally, refers to the "affiant" as the person claiming in forma pauperis entitlement. If the affiant is an agent making an affidavit on behalf of an artificial entity, however, it would wrench the rules of grammar to read "he" as referring to the entity. 6 Finally, and most significantly, the affidavit requirement cannot serve its deterrent function fully when applied to artificial entities. We said in Adkins that "[o]ne who makes this affidavit exposes himself "to the pains of perjury in a case of bad faith." . . . This constitutes a sanction important in protection of the public against a false or fraudulent invocation of the statute's benefits." Adkins, supra, at 338 (quoting Pothier v. Rodman, 261 U.S. 307, 309 (1923)). The perjury sanction thus serves to protect the public against misuse of public funds by a litigant with adequate funds of his own, and against the filing of "frivolous or malicious" lawsuits funded from the public purse. 28 U.S.C. 1915(a), 1915(d). The force of these sanctions pales when applied to artificial persons, however. Natural persons can be imprisoned for perjury, but artificial entities can only be fined. And while a monetary sanction may mean something to an entity whose agent has lied about its ability to pay costs or security, it has no teeth [506 U.S. 194, 206] when the lie goes only to belief of entitlement to redress. 7 So far, then, as Congress assumed that the threat of a perjury conviction could deter an impoverished "person" from filing a frivolous or malicious lawsuit, it probably assumed that the person was an individual. "

The perversion and impuning, by congress, of our Constitutional Law began in earnest, in 1851.

It has taken much political jockeying and mockery of our Constitution to arrive at this vile point in regards to "Corporate Personhood".

Bookmark this and it's links, the trail stemming from these rulings is onerous, tedious and quite convoluted.

Ten in stone suits me just fine.

Note, "persons vs citizens" jargon...... natural or otherwise

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

I'm no lawyer, and the language IS tough to follow by a layman, but I THINK you're providing evidence that we CAN change the definition of a "person" or at least construe it narrowly according the the context in which it is used. I agree.

The REAL problem in my opinion, is the due process issue that arises when we try to prevent one corporation from speaking on political matters while imposing no limit on others such as Fox and MSNBC. Do you have any ideas on how to get around this?

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

Please, encourage all to read the Constitution! Test all on it. Take an oath to uphold, fight and to protect all rights contained therein...

It should be noted, that in this document, there is very specific and clear language in regards to 'NO PERSON SHALL BE SUBJECT TO LAWS THAT A REASONABLE PERSON CANNOT UNDERSTAND'

ya dig?

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

Sure, I have been advocating for quite some time that we add a final year to high-school covering nothing but Government, Civics, Citizenship, Personal Finance, and Consumer Responsibility ( i.e. my post at http://occupywallst.org/forum/the-power-of-the-people/ and my Christmas shopping guidelines at http://occupywallst.org/forum/ows-please-support-the-american-worker/ ). The primary responsibility of our K-13 system, in my opinion, is to produce good citizens. Everything else comes second. I think this extra year of instruction provided before entering the Democratic/Capitalist world can yield real benefit to the students and the Nation at large.

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

That's all great and good stuff, but first, the cart must be placed behind the horse.

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

Constitutional Convention and revert back to our original document. Cast out ALL legislation and perverted SCOTUS rulings. Start over.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

LOL ! Let me rephrase my question:

"Do you have any REALISTIC ideas on how to get around this?


[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

The suggestion of a Constitutional Convention and testing ALL to prove they can rear, write and comprehend written words contained in this document, then reverting solely back to it, is the only way.

If you read it and understand it, these truths will reveal themselves to you, as forcefully as a cop's knee to your throat.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

I agree 100% that EVERYONE should be intimately familiar with the Constitution.

The REAL trick comes when we realize that the Founders INTENTIONALLY made it a living document via the amendment process and Supreme Court interpretations of its meaning. Once one starts digging down into the REAL law formed by the amendments and Supreme Court rulings, things get complex real fast... probably above the head of most laymen. Unfortunately, we can't CHANGE the ability of Congress to amend or the Supreme Court to interpret without CHANGING the very document we so love !

Nevertheless, I agree all citizens SHOULD at least understand the core document and the principles of the Enlightenment from which it emerged.

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

However, I am seeing that there seems to be a "wormhole", tied back to the 2010 SCOTUS ruling, whereas, any "CITZEN" or "PERSON" facing charges, just may be able to be represented and defended, pro-se in addition to masses of his or her also incorporated peers....

it is far too complex to lay it out here.... but, imagine the mayhem!

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

You're way over my head Frog ! I think someone with your skills could do us all a service if you can figure out how one might fix the equal protection issue.

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

Constitutional Convention and cast out all corruption as well as perverse legislation and/or acts.

Study the Constitution and it's bill of rights. Note the 13th Amendment shall be put back in place and the 16th amendment was never legally ratified and shall be null and void.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

I went and read the summary of the issues at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_protester_Sixteenth_Amendment_arguments and it appears the issue as to whether the 16th amendment is valid is been long settled.

It doesn't really matter... since you're planning a Constitutional Convention, you can rewrite whatever you want. I suspect you'll have troubling selling the American public on a complete rewrite, but I wish you luck!

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago

Rewrite? I'm saying we need to go back to it.

It won't be painless or easy, but, without corrupt representation and the voices of the people doing the reformation, we shall not pervert or lightly impute it's words again.

This document is not riddle with contradiction and is very clear as well as concise.

[-] 1 points by tomcat68 (298) 11 years ago

well, aren't corporations made up of people? or are the thousands of stockholders (most blue collar working people) not part of that corporation?

I know it's easy to rally ignorant extra bodies to help your cause by saying " evil corporations " but do you at some point tell them that those corporations are made up of people. regular people.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

Yep. It's both a free speech AND equal protection issue. We can solve the free-speech issue by modifying USC Article 1, Section 1 to say "except in matters of politics" if we want, but the equal protection issue is more difficult: How do we say one corporation like FOX or MSNBC can talk about politics but not another ? Beats me !

[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 11 years ago

It's bullshit, man. The supreme court is corrupt too.

We need to propose another bill to end massive contributions from lobbyists, unions, and corporate influences. The "supreme" court ruled McCain-Feingold unconstitutional. Obviously the supreme court is corrupt. They claimed that "McCain-Feingold" denied "free speech" even though 1: Money isn't free and 2: 100% of US citizens still would have had freedom of speech and the ability to contribute to campaigns. So how was the supreme court able to say it suppresses free speech? Another fact, a lot of corporations are owned through many investors. Sometimes these investors are foreigners. I didn't know foreigners in other countries were allowed to participate in our government. The government is supposed to be governed by it's people. I feel like most members of the government have never read the constitution.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

I don't think the Supreme Court is corrupt. I think they were forced into addressing some very tricky problems in the law and couldn't find a good way out. I doubt there are many Justices who LIKE what they had to conclude, they just couldn't find justification under the law to do what they probably wanted.

I think we can pretty readily end the direct donations of big money into campaigns. It's pretty difficult under the case law described in the post to prevent them from running advertisements that attack or support a candidate, however.

The problem stated in the post applies to McCain-Feingold. We started defining corporations to be "people" so they could enter into contracts, be sued, etc, starting in the mid 1800's and codified that in 1948. We also DO allow some corporations/associations like Fox and MSNBC to speak freely about candidates. We thus have issues with free speech of a 'person' AND equal protection under the law.

The Title 1, Section 1 change can be made by Congress but should be carefully worded to be mention ONLY political speech (corporate personhood enables them to enter into contracts, be sued, etc).

I'm afraid it's going to take someone a LOT more fluent in law to address the equal protection issue when trying to stop one corporation from speaking while allowing others. As noted in the Citizens United case, a "media company" and a company with a "media arm" cannot be easily distinguished.

We can likely fix the definition of "person." The equal protection issue is much harder.

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 11 years ago


I think you think wrongly....

This is only one of many similar corrupt SCOTUS antics exposed.

Seek and ye shall find.

[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 11 years ago

Freedom of press is in the constitution. The problem is with campaign financing, not actual SPEECH.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

I think we can EASILY restrict campaign finance. The issue here is that third parties like corporations, unions, and PACs can run advertisements for or against a candidate without ever passing any money to the candidate's campaign. Because of the definition of 'persons' they have the right to free speech, and we can't deny one corporation the right to speak when we allow others like Fox and MSNBC to speak freely because of the "equal protection" clause. It's a conundrum.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Perhaps there's another yet very radical way to go about this. When figuring out something in one direction doesn't seem to work for me, I try to think in the opposite direction to see what that turns up. So, rather than singling out corporations from free speech independent of a campaign, what about barring everyone from independent campaign oriented ads? In other words, limit 'free' speech for everyone outside of a campaign to speech that does not include purchased advertisments.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 10 years ago

See my post at http://occupywallst.org/forum/get-our-government-back-no-ammendment-or-article-v/ for more discussion. I don't think we can ban speech, but we can at least get the money out. I don't think the 'speech' problem is nearly as large as the money problem.

[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 11 years ago

I see what you're saying. Do you have a suggestion to separate the two through better wording, like you mentioned?

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

Nope. I'm at a total loss how to silence corporations. I think we can clarify 'personhood' by simple revision of USC Title 1, Section 1, but I am at a total loss how to get around the 14th amendment (equal protection) clause.

Based on his comments, FrogWithWings may have the expertise to figure something out, and I asked him to try.

[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 11 years ago

Super pacs are ridiculous. Which is why I love Colbert for starting one to point out how ridiculous they are. Let me know if you or Frog come up with anything.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

Wouldn't be cool if we could form a Super PAC that does nothing but expose every single advertisement by the other PACs ? All we'd have to do is run their own little add in the corner of the screen while listing the people, businesses, and incomes behind it !

[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 11 years ago

Yeah. I bet this could be organized easily if someone started it. I'm trying to organize a local campaign that points out all the stupid policies that our congressmen in our state voted for. Like the patriot act and funding hundreds of billions into a war in Iraq they knew was based on lies.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

Maybe we could get Colbert to do it? What DOES he spend his PAC dollars on anyway ?

[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 11 years ago

he tried doing a joke campaign. It was called

"Vote for Rick Parry with an A for America."

They purposefully misspelled his name and suggested that Iowa voters write in his name on the ballot with an A instead of voting for him on the check box. Iowa wouldn't run the campaign ads because they said it was confusing to people who would potentially vote for Rick Perry.

[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 11 years ago

There is no need to define a person because it is clearly defined by it's definition. A person is a human being.

the people behind the business need to be held accountable. A fine is not acceptable for a business that sends out tainted goods that kill people. Just like any member of congress should be held accountable for continually voting for the war in Iraq that was based on lies. We are not a first strike nation. At least we used to not be.

If I served someone poison on accident I would most likely get charged with manslaughter. yet some businesses that do this just get a fine and a lawsuit to pay money.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

Well, I agree the layman would say a person is a person, but USC Title 1, Section 1 says that for the purposes of law, a corporation or association is a 'person.' The reason for this originates in contract law under which the corporation can enter into contracts only by rights of its 'personhood.' This same clause is what allows us to sue corporations and associations. Thus, we need to be careful to narrowly constrain there 'personhood' without otherwise restricting their ability to operate.

I agree with your general sentiment that, in some cases, the people behind a corporation need to be held accountable, and I think that DOES sometimes happen when they can be shown to have broken the law.

You have to be a bit careful in overly constraining corporations because they CAN be a good thing for small business and the average Joe. Imagine, for example, we all pool our resources to form the "OWS Hemp Shoe Company" that becomes so successful it becomes clear we need to expand. We can go hat-in-hand to the Bankers for a loan or try to sell bonds, but the interest cost of both would be high. Therefore, we reorganize as the "OWS Hemp Shoe Corporation" and offer shares of our company to other OWS folks not working at our company. We end up getting the capital we need for our expansion and only have to pay 'interest' if we're successful. In exchange, the OWS folks who buy are stock get no promise of a return, but if our expansion is successful, they get a small cut of our profits which produce a yield that is typically higher than simple 'interest' . At some point, if a buyer of our stock decides he needs his money, he can freely sell his share to another OWS guy who wants in on our operation, but missed the original stock issue. This is a pretty good arrangement for all. It let's us raise the capital we need without paying exorbitant interest to the bankers, and it lets the average man play the role of 'capitalist' and reap said rewards without having to be a zillionaire.

See what I mean ? The idea behind a corporation is actually good for small business and the average Joe investor ( The vast majority of stock is held by us average Joes in the mutual funds of our 401k and IRA accounts ). In order for this set-up to work, the corporation needs to be able to enter into contracts to conduct its daily business, and the ability to enter into contracts (or be sued) was reserved for 'persons.' Thus. the first steps toward corporate 'personhood' came out of contract law.

[-] 1 points by Doc4the99 (591) from Washington, DC 11 years ago

Theres distinct legal implications that have ever so slighty edged to favor to the corporate entity. One of which is lobbying. Another is bankrupry. A LLC is not liable to your loses once they declare bankruptcy. Take the money and run. Also a corporate enrity has far to much power as potential individiual. Case in point, over draft one dolar the BAC will gladly let u do with a bank card. Your fee is several hundred. What arw you gonna do, u they dont need your business, file a compliant to who. Sue, ?.u dont have money.for that..dont pay, they ruin your credit. You are nothing but a nameless faceless profit on their balance sheets.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

I don't think many people here will disagree that we'd LIKE to get big money out of politics. See my response to TrevorMnemonic below.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) serves the precise purpose implied in it's name. It provides the same separation between company liability and the personal assets of the owner(s) as is provided between a corporation and the personal assets of it's shareholders. In both cases, a complainant can sue and be award ALL assets of the company or corporation, but cannot collect the personal assets of the owner/shareholder. The LLC is most often used by owners of small business who have no intent of forming a board, issuing stock, etc, but want to protect their families from being destroyed by a lawsuit against the company. Everyone who does business with a corporation or LLC knows they are limited to collecting from the company alone, and enters into contracts with the company with that knowledge. Like corporations, LLCs are required to disclose the nature of their organization in all business dealings so all parties are fully informed. Given all this, the LLC simply endows small private companies the same protection enjoyed by corporations.

The concept of "informed consent" alluded to in the LLC discussion also applies to your BAC example. Banks are not allowed to charge overdraft fees in excess of those disclosed prior to their levy. Upon receiving said disclosure, the customer may opt out of their contract to do business with BAC. If they do not, then they have implicitly accepted the new terms of contract and can incur said fees. People do not, of course, have to overdraft their accounts, but when they do, the terms of the contract define the fees associated with their actions.

I resonate with folks who complain about fees imposed by banks, and I think the recent OWS rally to move money to credit unions (who typically have less onerous contract terms and fees) was an effort to address them. This is a rational excercise of consumer power per my post at http://occupywallst.org/forum/the-power-of-the-people/ and my Christmas Shopping guidelines at http://occupywallst.org/forum/ows-please-support-the-american-worker/ .

[-] 1 points by coolnyc (216) from Stone Ridge, NY 11 years ago

Thank you Rico!



[-] 1 points by coolnyc (216) from Stone Ridge, NY 11 years ago

Many in OWS may know this, but most people do not understand the issue.



[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 11 years ago

Really? I must have missed it ! Why are people only NOW getting upset about it ?

[-] 2 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 11 years ago

cause corporations where suppose to be 'people' of high character and integrity.. they have proven to be no better than grifter selling rain dances in a drought .. they should lose the protection of personhood.

[-] 1 points by DoodlesWeaver (64) 11 years ago

It is only a problem now because Obama and the Democrats were upset with the Citizens United decision.

Obama even disgracefully publicly derided the Supreme Court in a State of the Union address about the decision. That was a disgrace.

Obama and the Democrats hate the Citizens United decision because prior to that decision the deck was stacked in the Democrats favor. Obama and the Democrats view that decision as a problem to his reelection and basically the election of more Democrats.

Obama and the Democrats don't like independent organizations having the right to free speech. Free political speech.

All that the Citizens United decision did was give back the right of free speech to independent groups. Corporations are still not allowed to make direct donations to political campaigns.

Everything from class warfare to the Citizens United decision is all part of the talking points of OWS. All talking points from Obama and the Democrats.

OWS is Obama's street army.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 11 years ago

hey doodles, spare us the republican propaganda bullshit!