Archive for October, 2015

People as Corporations

Posted: October 15, 2015 in Philosophy

Corporations are not people.  They are superior to people.  They have rights people don’t have.  They are not treated the way living human beings are treated.  So why can’t we all benefit from this superior existence.

There could be advantages to society if individual persons could incorporate themselves as a corporation.  It seems to me we could get rid of all the prisons.  Corporations are not put in jail or executed, they are just fined if they break a law or even kill people.  Corporations are not required to be sequestered and prevented from doing business for a certain time as their penalty for breaking the law.  People are jailed; corporations are fined.

This is something that might be fleshed out in more imaginative ways.  Exactly how many benefits do corporations have that are denied to “real” persons?  How could this fiction of corporations as persons be exploited to disrupt this fiction?

Vestiges of Slavery

If you define slavery as the condition in which a person can be bought and sold by others and that corporations are persons according to USA law, then slavery in the US is alive and well.  This idea was introduced to me in the book “We The People” by Buck and Villines.

A traditional for-profit corporation is owned by its stockholders.  These stockholders, through their agents, the board of directors of the corporation, are the declared owners of the corporation.  The CEO may have lots of influence, may even be one of or a major stockholder, but he does not own the corporation in his role as CEO, only as he or she might own stock, capital rights, in the corporation.  The board does not own the corporation even though some or all of them own stock.  They are owners only in the proportion of capital, stock, they own.  The board is elected by the capital investors at large to act in their interests, usually limited to their financial interests, in growing the capital value of their stock and in the dividends that might accrue from profits proportional to their capital interest in the corporation.

Thus, in this regard, the stockholders are the true owners and collectively have the right to direct (command) and possibly sell the corporation — which in the US at least is declared to have the property of personhood.  This is the classic definition of slavery.  Of course, we don’t have empathy for the corporation as a person per se. Stock holders might, but usually don’t have empathy with those that define the corporation through their creative capacity or their day to day labor.

Given this strange fact of the existence of slavery of a corporation because a corporation by law has the characteristic of personhood and entitled to all the rights of such personhood, it seems to shed questions as to this apparent disconnect with reality.  I would suggest that what is wrong here is the idea that a corporation has in fact, in reality, the property of personhood.

Interesting to think about?  Maybe it can become the basis for some change in the personhood of corporations?