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> End of corporate personhood, What will it accomplish?
CruisingRam
post Oct 30 2011, 07:23 AM
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Possibly the most common theme among OWS demands is "end corporate person hood"

1) What would be the advantage-disadvantage to ending this legal construct?

2) Would it ultimately harm the economy?

3) Would we have to simply change corporate law or would it take a constitutional amendment?
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Dingo
post Oct 30 2011, 08:25 AM
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QUOTE(CruisingRam @ Oct 30 2011, 12:23 AM) *
Possibly the most common theme among OWS demands is "end corporate person hood"


1) What would be the advantage-disadvantage to ending this legal construct?
Frankly I don't get where you can end it at the present time. Who would you sue? Certainly you could restrict it so it couldn't get involved in rewarding politicians for their votes. No doubt you would need an amendment.

2) Would it ultimately harm the economy?
Getting rid of corporate personhood would be getting rid of corporations. Not a bad idea down the road but we're not post corporate yet.

3) Would we have to simply change corporate law or would it take a constitutional amendment?
Definitely an amendment.
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CruisingRam
post Oct 30 2011, 09:11 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood

To give some background, should have provided that link in the thread starter. Hope that helps Dingo. thumbsup.gif

So there is a legitimate argument that the legislative change will suffice with a change in this wording:

The laws of the United States hold that a legal entity (like a corporation or non-profit organization) shall be treated under the law as a person except when otherwise noted. This rule of construction is specified in 1 U.S.C. 1 (United States Code),[14] which states:

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;


This post has been edited by CruisingRam: Oct 30 2011, 09:23 AM
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Maybe Maybe Not
post Oct 30 2011, 11:01 AM
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1) What would be the advantage-disadvantage to ending this legal construct?

If, as an individual person, I have certain rights, why should I lose those rights when I join with like-minded others to, say, express a political opinion, or practice a certain religion?

Why should the equal protection of the laws and due process of law NOT be required when it comes to organizations as opposed to individuals?
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Mrs. Pigpen
post Oct 30 2011, 02:04 PM
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QUOTE(Maybe Maybe Not @ Oct 30 2011, 07:01 AM) *
If, as an individual person, I have certain rights, why should I lose those rights when I join with like-minded others to, say, express a political opinion, or practice a certain religion?


You don't lose those rights when "you join with like-minded others"...regardless of whether corporate personhood exists or not, you, as an individual, maintain said rights.

QUOTE
Why should the equal protection of the laws and due process of law NOT be required when it comes to organizations as opposed to individuals?

Do Corporate "persons" have equal accountability under the law? Can a corporation receive the death penalty? Incur any criminal prison time? Be subject to the military draft?
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skeeterses
post Oct 30 2011, 02:24 PM
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1) What would be the advantage-disadvantage to ending this legal construct?
The advantage is that it would level the playing field in the sense of having personal risk for every capitalist, as opposed to just small business owners. If a small business owner followed the same safety procedures that BP did in 2010, he/she would be sitting in a jail cell.

3) Would we have to simply change corporate law or would it take a constitutional amendment?[/b]
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has decided long ago that Corporations are people, so it will require a constitutional amendment.
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akaCG
post Oct 30 2011, 02:51 PM
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QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 10:04 AM) *
...
Do Corporate "persons" have equal accountability under the law? ...
...

In cases where Corporate Persons and Human Persons have identical liabilities/responsibilities under the law, absolutely. In cases where they don't, no.

A corporation is as liable for dumping a barrel of waste into a lake as you and I are, for instance.

A corporation is as liable for not filing its taxes on time as you and I are, for another.

Etc.

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 10:04 AM) *
...
Can a corporation receive the death penalty? ...
...

Can a corporation shoot and kill a highway patrolman after getting pulled over for speeding?

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 10:04 AM) *
...
... Incur any criminal prison time? ...
...

Can a corporation steal a car? Slip into a little girl's bedroom and sexually abuse her?

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 10:04 AM) *
...
... Be subject to the military draft?

Can a corporation aim and fire a rifle? Pull the pin on a grenade and throw it? Dig a trench? March in step?

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Mrs. Pigpen
post Oct 30 2011, 03:05 PM
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QUOTE(akaCG @ Oct 30 2011, 10:51 AM) *
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 10:04 AM) *
...
Do Corporate "persons" have equal accountability under the law? ...
...

In cases where Corporate Persons and Human Persons have identical liabilities/responsibilities under the law, absolutely. In cases where they don't, no.

A corporation is as liable for dumping a barrel of waste into a lake as you and I are, for instance.

A corporation is as liable for not filing its taxes on time as you and I are, for another.

Etc.


Right. Ergo NO corporate entity is currently locked up behind prison bars from criminal misconduct.

Obviously, they don't have identical liabilites/responsibilties under the law. Thanks for clarifying. thumbsup.gif

This post has been edited by Mrs. Pigpen: Oct 30 2011, 03:17 PM
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Gray Seal
post Oct 30 2011, 03:34 PM
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I am not a fan of the term "corporate personhood". I have specific disagreements with corporate law but with none because a corporation is a person.

1) What would be the advantage-disadvantage to ending this legal construct?
The question has to be more specific than this. Ending what ?

2) Would it ultimately harm the economy?
Harm by ending corporations? Ending what?

3) Would we have to simply change corporate law or would it take a constitutional amendment?
There is no constitutional law nor interpretation that makes a corporation a person. Business that has more than one owner is a collection of people. A person does not lose the protection granted in the constitution because they are in a group.

-------

My objections to corporate law are in the area of unequal opportunity. Why should some groups which call themselves corporations have their own set of laws? People, whether an individual or a group, should have the same access to opportunity under the law. Corporate law violates this principle. I do not wish to see groups being placed at a disadvantage because they are a group but neither do I wish to see corporations given advantage because they are a group.

I do not wish to see groups have their right to say, produce, or distribute any political statement they wish at any time diminished one iota.

I do not wish to see groups being treated differently from individuals in the courts or the law in regards to taxes nor litigation. The individuals within a group should be same treated the same as any individual.

Persons should be treated as equally as all persons. I do not care if they are in a group or not. There should be no separate law. The problem is not that corporations are treated as a person but that corporations are not treated the same as a person for corporations are a collection of persons.
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akaCG
post Oct 30 2011, 03:46 PM
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QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 11:05 AM) *
QUOTE(akaCG @ Oct 30 2011, 10:51 AM) *
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 10:04 AM) *
...
Do Corporate "persons" have equal accountability under the law? ...
...

In cases where Corporate Persons and Human Persons have identical liabilities/responsibilities under the law, absolutely. In cases where they don't, no.

A corporation is as liable for dumping a barrel of waste into a lake as you and I are, for instance.

A corporation is as liable for not filing its taxes on time as you and I are, for another.

Etc.

Really? Please point to a single corporate entity that is currently locked up behind prison bars from criminal misconduct.
...

Please point to a Corporate Person the physicality of which is identical to that of a Human Person, and is therefore amenable to incurring the ENTIRE range of liabilities/responsibilities that a Human Person is amenable to, such as being physically "locked up behind prison bars".

Perhaps I should have added "Except, of course, for the fact that, given that Corporate Persons don't actually have bodies, physical penalties (flogging, stoning, tar and feathering, inprisonment, etc.) cannot be applied to them the way they can in the case of Human Persons who do actually have bodies." after each of the sentences above. But I didn't think it was necessary.

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 11:05 AM) *
...
Edited to add:

And...Oh yes, the number of individuals who consider themselves to be united as a "corporate entity" could dig a serious number of trenches and throw many grenades. They could also steal a car or do any number of awful things.

Yes, the individuals can. A CEO, a board member, a VP of Midwest Sales, a union rep, a receptionist, a janitor, a shareholder, a bondholder, etc. can be drafted, taught to march in step, dig a trench, aim and fire a rifle, pull the pin on a grenade and throw it, etc.. But the Corporate Person of which they are members cannot. And it is the Corporate Person itself that we're discussing, is it not?

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Mrs. Pigpen
post Oct 30 2011, 04:03 PM
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QUOTE(akaCG @ Oct 30 2011, 11:46 AM) *
Perhaps I should have added "Except, of course, for the fact that, given that Corporate Persons don't actually have bodies, physical penalties (flogging, stoning, tar and feathering, inprisonment, etc.) cannot be applied to them the way they can in the case of Human Persons who do actually have bodies." after each of the sentences above. But I didn't think it was necessary.


Agreed. So perhaps a Corporate person isnt' precisely the same as an individual person. (Actually, if the argument is that corporations are simply a group of individuals then corporations DO in fact have bodies...a great many of them, in most cases). But, as you were saying, corporate "personhood" cannot be the same as individual personhood.

And if an entity isn't held to the same degree of responsibility it should not have the same benefit.

This post has been edited by Mrs. Pigpen: Oct 30 2011, 04:14 PM
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akaCG
post Oct 30 2011, 04:57 PM
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QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
QUOTE(akaCG @ Oct 30 2011, 11:46 AM) *
Perhaps I should have added "Except, of course, for the fact that, given that Corporate Persons don't actually have bodies, physical penalties (flogging, stoning, tar and feathering, inprisonment, etc.) cannot be applied to them the way they can in the case of Human Persons who do actually have bodies." after each of the sentences above. But I didn't think it was necessary.

Agreed. So perhaps a Corporate person isnt' precisely the same as an individual person. ...
...

There's no "perhaps" about it. Corporations never were, and aren't "precisely the same as an individual person".

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
...
(Actually, if the argument is that corporations are simply a group of individuals then corporations DO in fact have bodies...a great many of them, in most cases). ...
...

No, they don't actually "have" either a body or bodies. Not in any sense other than a semantic one. Sorta-kinda like the sun doesn't actually "rise" and "set".

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
...
But, as you were saying, corporate "personhood" cannot be the same as individual personhood.
...

That's right. It can't. And it isn't.

Something that those who spout off inane bumper sticker bromides like "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one." (I'm sure you've seen them around) seem to be either incapable of understanding or unwilling to.

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
...
And if an entity isn't held to the same degree of responsibility it should not have the same benefit.

What benefits would you like to see denied to corporations in compensation for the fact that they, unlike Human Persons, don't actually have bodies that can be flogged, stoned, tar and feathered, inprisoned, or executed? The ability to own property? Borrow money? Lend money? Restructure under bankruptcy protection? Operate under limited liability laws? Move from one city/state to another? Other?

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AuthorMusician
post Oct 30 2011, 06:12 PM
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QUOTE(akaCG @ Oct 30 2011, 12:57 PM) *
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
QUOTE(akaCG @ Oct 30 2011, 11:46 AM) *
Perhaps I should have added "Except, of course, for the fact that, given that Corporate Persons don't actually have bodies, physical penalties (flogging, stoning, tar and feathering, inprisonment, etc.) cannot be applied to them the way they can in the case of Human Persons who do actually have bodies." after each of the sentences above. But I didn't think it was necessary.

Agreed. So perhaps a Corporate person isnt' precisely the same as an individual person. ...
...

There's no "perhaps" about it. Corporations never were, and aren't "precisely the same as an individual person".

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
...
(Actually, if the argument is that corporations are simply a group of individuals then corporations DO in fact have bodies...a great many of them, in most cases). ...
...

No, they don't actually "have" either a body or bodies. Not in any sense other than a semantic one. Sorta-kinda like the sun doesn't actually "rise" and "set".

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
...
But, as you were saying, corporate "personhood" cannot be the same as individual personhood.
...

That's right. It can't. And it isn't.

Something that those who spout off inane bumper sticker bromides like "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one." (I'm sure you've seen them around) seem to be either incapable of understanding or unwilling to.

QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
...
And if an entity isn't held to the same degree of responsibility it should not have the same benefit.

What benefits would you like to see denied to corporations in compensation for the fact that they, unlike Human Persons, don't actually have bodies that can be flogged, stoned, tar and feathered, inprisoned, or executed? The ability to own property? Borrow money? Lend money? Restructure under bankruptcy protection? Operate under limited liability laws? Move from one city/state to another? Other?


I would severely restrict the abilities of corporations to launder money and anonymously contribute to political campaigns even in indirect ways. I would declare one voice per corporation and restrict the political contribution to $2,000 total per voice. I would make this across the board to nonprofits and unions. So you would be limited, I would be limited and corporations would be limited. Seems fair to me, since money is supposed to equal speech, but it doesn't. It equals potentially unfair influence if not restricted, aka buying the best government available, aka corrupting government.

The two wrong ideas are that legal entities can equal people and that money can equal speech. Money talks only metaphorically, and I'm amazed at how many people can't grasp this rather obvious fact. Five of them are Supreme Court Justices, and you'd think they'd be smarter than that.

Or wait, they're just doing their sycophantic duties to their overlords by diluting the voice of the people, by the people and for the people.

What is truly amazing is that they seem to think we would not notice. That's a definitive sign of reality disconnect.

Ah well, their days are numbered too. If not a constitutional amendment, then time will bring them down. Their entirely illogical ruling, as pointed out, shall be struck down by a smarter court and will likely never come back up. It's just too ridiculous for most people. Others could probably invent an argument that convinces themselves that rocks are water, but they'd still be wrong.

Heh, right. All matter is made up of atoms. Rocks are made up of atoms, water is made up of atoms, so rocks = water. You know, on the atomic level and by throwing out all other observations. In other words, having one's head up one's butt entirely too far to see sunlight, whether rising or setting.

Also, corporations had all the rights listed before the SCOTUS ruling that gave corporations the freedom of speech buying government.

This post has been edited by AuthorMusician: Oct 30 2011, 06:15 PM
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Bikerdad
post Oct 30 2011, 07:14 PM
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1) What would be the advantage-disadvantage to ending this legal construct?
The disadvantage would be the destruction of the liability shield that protects investors, thereby vastly increasing the risk of business activity, with no concommitant increase in the rewards. As a result, economic activity will be crippled. Who will own the vast amounts of real property titled to corporations?

Who will own the assets of the corporations?

The advantage? Can't think of any other than maybe shutting up the OWS types for a few seconds before they find something else upon which to focus their perpetual outrage.

2) Would it ultimately harm the economy?
Enormously. The corporation with "legal personhood" is fundamental to modern capitalism.

3) Would we have to simply change corporate law or would it take a constitutional amendment?
I'm not positive about this, but I believe it would require a constitutional amendment. BTW, "corporate law" is primarily a subset of contract law, and if anybody thinks rewriting 75%+ of the contracts in place right now by legisltative fiat is A) constitutional and cool.gif a good idea, then they've got a very distorted view of "constitutional" and "good".

btw, CR, did you use a corporate structure for your import business? Why or why not?
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Gray Seal
post Oct 30 2011, 07:22 PM
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BikerDad, why should only people in corporations have protection from liability? Why not have liability protection for all?

Right now corporations are owned by the shareholders. The shareholders are the owners. They are the persons who are grouped to form a corporation.
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Bikerdad
post Oct 30 2011, 07:29 PM
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QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 08:04 AM) *
QUOTE
Why should the equal protection of the laws and due process of law NOT be required when it comes to organizations as opposed to individuals?

Do Corporate "persons" have equal accountability under the law?
No, they don't, nor do they have equal rights under the laws. Corporate "persons" do not have the right to vote, nor hold office. Corporations have fewer rights than natural persons.

QUOTE
Can a corporation receive the death penalty?
Yes, it's called Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. You may have noticed that General Motors is not the same "person" as it was previously, but the government killed the previous corporation, all without due process or even criminal proceedings.

QUOTE
Incur any criminal prison time?
No, because to be imprisioned requires a real physical body. Criminal fines, yes.

QUOTE
Be subject to the military draft?
Yes. Look at the United States Railway Administration for an example. While corporations lack the physical body (see above) to go in to combat, that hasn't stopped the government from drafting the entirety of the corporation for war.
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skeeterses
post Oct 30 2011, 08:21 PM
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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Oct 31 2011, 04:14 AM) *
1) What would be the advantage-disadvantage to ending this legal construct?
The disadvantage would be the destruction of the liability shield that protects investors, thereby vastly increasing the risk of business activity, with no concommitant increase in the rewards. As a result, economic activity will be crippled. Who will own the vast amounts of real property titled to corporations?

I think the idea that a lot of people have here is that the Real Liability would go to the Executives and the large shareholders. As despicable as some of the corporate actions have been, I would never suggest putting a small investor in jail just because he/she happened to own $100 in Exxon at the time of the Valdez spill. If the Government can pass a constitutional amendment to do away with Corporate Personhood and decides to put some liability rules in for the small investor, one possible law could make every investor to set up a liability escrow account which could then be tapped IF any of the coorporations in the investment portfolio is found liable for any wrongdoing.
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Gray Seal
post Oct 30 2011, 09:03 PM
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It is not good to create law which applies to some people and not others. Liability of group businesses should be no different than for a single owner business. Owners should be responsible for the actions of its business. That is not to say employees are not responsible for their actions nor should employers be held responsible for all actions by employees, but that is a different discussion.

I do not understand the Citizens United dissenters. Should individuals spend what they want for political speech? Should political parties? How about a partnership? Who can spend money on political speak and who can not and what sort of spending should be permissible and what should not? Only a person can spend money to speak but no groups should be permitted?

I suggest that if you want to invest but not be liable then lend money to a business, don't be an owner by buying stock.
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Mrs. Pigpen
post Oct 30 2011, 09:17 PM
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QUOTE(akaCG @ Oct 30 2011, 12:57 PM) *
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Oct 30 2011, 12:03 PM) *
...
And if an entity isn't held to the same degree of responsibility it should not have the same benefit.

What benefits would you like to see denied to corporations in compensation for the fact that they, unlike Human Persons, don't actually have bodies that can be flogged, stoned, tar and feathered, inprisoned, or executed? The ability to own property? Borrow money? Lend money? Restructure under bankruptcy protection? Operate under limited liability laws? Move from one city/state to another? Other?


How about the fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination?

The potential option of perpetual life (and/or reincarnation) and limited liability are a pretty large playing card.

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lederuvdapac
post Oct 30 2011, 09:37 PM
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1) What would be the advantage-disadvantage to ending this legal construct?

It depends on your perspective. If you end corporate personhood, you would eliminate the corporate income tax - which is good for consumers and corporations. Also, you eliminate the possibility of filing class action lawsuits against the corporate (can't file a lawsuit against a non-legal entity). You would force plaintiffs to target employees, managers, and possibly shareholders (which could number in the hundreds) in individual lawsuits. It will be possible for claimants to sue the employees and managers for negligence - but going after the shareholders (which I assume many people want to be liable) would require a form of vicarious liability that frankly doesn't exist anywhere in the common law.

2) Would it ultimately harm the economy?

Less taxation is good. Possible end of certain forms of vicarious liability is also good (in my opinion).

3) Would we have to simply change corporate law or would it take a constitutional amendment?

Congress can do whatever it wants. Incorporation was created by statute, it can be eliminated by statute.
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