Interesting Article I Came Across...
16 Dec 1996 20:20:40 EDT

EN>It is presently not possible to make much headway
EN>against the hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars spent
EN>each year by corporations to INCREASE consumption.

EN>Here is an essay I wrote about corporations:


EN> by Jay Hanson

EN> Nowadays, everyone knows that corporations control our
EN>political system and subjugate our citizens. But before the
EN>Civil War of 1861, citizens controlled the corporations. Up
EN>to that time, corporations were chartered for a specific
EN>limited purpose (for example, building a toll road or canal)
EN>and for a specific, limited period of time (usually 20 or 30

EN> Each corporation was chartered to achieve a specific social
EN>goal that a legislature decided was in the public interest.
EN>At the end of the corporation's life time, its assets were
EN>distributed among the shareholders and the corporation ceased
EN>to exist. The number of owners was limited by the charter;
EN>the amount of capital they could aggregate was also limited.
EN>The owners were personally responsible for any liabilities or
EN>debts the company incurred, including wages owed to workers.
EN>Often profits were specifically limited in the charter.
EN>Corporations were not established merely to "make a profit."

EN> Early Americans feared corporations as a threat to democracy
EN>and freedom. They feared that the owners (shareholders) would
EN>amass great wealth, control jobs and production, buy the
EN>newspapers, dominate the courts and control elections

EN> After the Civil War, during the 1870s and 1880s, owners and
EN>managers of corporations pressed relentlessly to expand their
EN>powers, and the courts gave them what they wanted. Perhaps
EN>the most important change occurred when the U.S. Supreme
EN>Court granted corporations the full constitutional
EN>protections of individual citizens. Congress had written
EN>the 14th Amendment to protect the rights of freed slaves, but
EN>in an 1886 decision (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific
EN>Railroad) this was expanded when the courts declared that no
EN>state shall deprive a corporation ". . . of life, liberty or
EN>property without due process of law."

EN> "There was no history, logic or reason given to support that
EN>view," U. S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was to
EN>write 60 years later. But it was done anyway. By applying
EN>the 14th Amendment to corporations, the court struck down
EN>hundreds of local, state and federal laws that were enacted
EN>to protect people from corporate harm.

EN> By the early 20th century, courts had limited the liability
EN>of shareholders; corporations had been given perpetual life
EN>times; the number of owners was no longer restricted; the
EN>capital they could control was infinite. Some corporations
EN>were even given the power of eminent domain (the right to take
EN>another's private property with minimal compensation to be
EN>determined by the courts). Of course, a corporation cannot
EN>be jailed. It cannot even be fined in any real sense; when
EN>a fine is imposed, it is the shareholders who must pay it.

EN> In effect, the U. S. Supreme Court bestowed natural rights
EN>on un-natural creatures, amoral beasts that were created to
EN>serve selfish men. Now corporations had life and liberty
EN>(but no morals), and the fears of the early Americans were
EN>soon realized.

EN> Large corporations are autonomous technical structures
EN>(machines) that follow the logic inherent in their design.
EN>Corporate machines ingest living, natural systems (including
EN>people) in one end, and excrete un-natural, dead garbage and
EN>waste (including worn-out people) out the other. These
EN>machines have no innate morals to keep them from seducing our
EN>politicians, subverting our democratic processes or lying in
EN>order to maximize profit. Moreover, they are only nominally
EN>controlled by laws, because the people who make our laws are
EN>in turn controlled by these same machines. Today in America,
EN>we live under the de facto plutocracy of the corporate
EN>machines (one-dollar-one-vote).

EN> Corporate machines, in an orgy of corporate profit, have
EN>completely destroyed American Democracy and now destroy the
EN>very basis of our lives -- both physically and morally. These
EN>machines leave our children to face an ugly future of fighting
EN>each other over the un-profitable leftovers!

EN> The only arguments that we can muster against this
EN>relentless destruction are religious and ethical: the
EN>obligation of stewardship for all of God's creation and the
EN>extension of brotherhood to future generations.

EN> But corporate machines have no religion or morals
EN> -- and we have no chance.

EN>- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

EN>Will we be able to salvage our political system without
EN>violence? Here is one candid opinion from an executive with
EN>the influential public-relations firm of Hill & Knowlton:

EN>"The big corporations, our clients, are scared shitless of
EN> the environmental movement," Mankiewicz confided. "They
EN> sense that there's a majority out there and that the emotions
EN> are all on the other side -- if they can be heard. I think
EN> the corporations are wrong about that. I think the companies
EN> will have to give in only at insignificant levels. Because
EN> the companies are too strong, they're the establishment.
EN> The environmentalists are going to have to be like the mob in
EN> the square in Romania before they prevail."


EN> WHO WILL TELL THE PEOPLE: The Betrayal of American Democracy,
EN> by William Greider; Simon and Schuster, 1992 0-671-68891-X


EN>Please copy and reprint or crosspost this article as much as
EN> you can. Be sure to include the BRAIN FOOD invitation in the
EN> article. This article and others are archived at:
EN> http://csf.Colorado.EDU/authors/hanson/

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EN> My work is dedicated to the Common Good. My essays may be
EN> freely reprinted and my ideas may be incorporated into other
EN> works without credit.

EN> The major themes on this list are "systems" and "philosophy".
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