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Yesterday we began exploring the legal doctrine of corporate "personhood," the idea that a corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners and/or operators, with its own assets and liabilities.  We also explored why the separate legal entities called corporations are defined as "persons" under Title 1, Section 1 of the U.S. Code, and thus are entitled to due process of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Today we'll explore what's wrong with corporate "persons."  Simply, as a matter of law, they are sociopaths.  While there were good policy reasons for the law to develop that way, we must change that.  We must install a conscience in corporate "persons," or they will destroy our nation and our world.

And since it's Friday, your intrepid Kossologist has looked to the stars for your fortunes.  You might want to stuff your fortune in a mattress, or at least stay in bed.

More below the fold....

Installing a Conscience in Corporate "Persons"

Yesterday we looked at how the peculiar notion of corporate "personhood" was derived.  Unlike the states, which have inherent sovereignty as states, our federal government has only limited and derived sovereignty.  It may only regulate what the U.S. Constitution explicitly says it may regulate.  That is the essence of the Tenth Amendment.  The "default" answer to the question "May the federal government regulate X?" is No.  Unless the U.S. Constitution says the federal government may regulate it, the federal government may not.

And the U.S. Constitution does not mention corporations or other private groups of persons.  It mentions only four classes of human actors: (1) persons; (2) States; (3) Indian Tribes; and, (4) the federal government itself.  The regulation of corporations was to be left to the states, and that would have been fine but for the Commerce Clause, which assigns to Congress the task of regulating interstate commerce.  That requires the Congress to regulate corporations and other groups of persons, but as what kind of actors?

In one of the first laws passed by Congress, Title 1, Section 1 of the United States Code, Congress decided that corporations and other groups of persons were included in the class of "persons."  That allowed Congress to regulate the entities themselves, not merely the individuals who were members, owners, and/or operators of those groups.  It meant the entities could have their own assets and liabilities, distinct from the personal assets and liabilities of their members, owners, and/or operators.  And it meant the entities themselves, and not merely their members, owners, and/or operators, were entitled to due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.

Corporate personhood is limited personhood.

The legal fiction of corporate personhood actually gives corporations fewer rights than are enjoyed by the human persons who belong to, own, and/or operate them.  Corporations can't vote or run for political office.  And corporations have no right to life in the way human beings do.  You don't have to get government permission and pay a fee to have a baby, but you must do both to create a corporation.  And the government can (and sometimes does) say "No, you can't create that corporation."  The government can't impose capital punishment on a human person but for a narrow range of criminal offenses (mostly premeditated homicide), and it must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.  But the government can bankrupt or shut down a corporation for any of a wide range of criminal or civil offenses, and the civil offenses need only be proved by a preponderance of evidence.

And we properly accept this lesser "person" status for corporations, because they're not really "persons."  Their personhood is a legal fiction, rather than something inherent in their being.  We recognize that it is a legal fiction - it's taught as such in law schools - and because it's a fictional personhood, we can constrain it in ways that most of us would rightly find abhorrent for real, human persons.

Still, the fictional corporate persons seem to and often do dominate our lives.  They drive real human persons out of business.  Left unchecked, they can and sometimes do dominate our political discourse and leave real human persons all but voiceless.  They can and often do cause great harm, and worse, when they cause harm they often seem to take an almost savage glee in having done so.  For-profit corporations commonly behave in ways that, were an individual human person to behave thus, would be classified as sociopathic.  Why do they do so, and how can we stop them?

For-profit corporations are not permitted a conscience.

One of the seminal cases in corporate law is Dodge v. Ford Motor Company, a Michigan Supreme Court case from 1919.  Henry Ford was running a successful automobile business in 1916, and John and Horace Dodge were 10% owners of his corporation.  The corporation held a capital surplus of over $60 million, and Ford's practice had been to distribute much of the yearly surplus in the form of special dividends to shareholders.  But in 1916, Ford decided he wanted do something more than simply make money:

My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes.  To do this we are putting the greatest share of our profits back in the business.

Ford announced that he would use the $60 million capital surplus to build more automobile plants, to employ more workers, and to reduce the cost of his cars so that more people could own them.  John and Horace Dodge were not impressed with this philanthropic impulse.  They had not invested in Ford's company "to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes."  They'd invested in Ford's company because they'd been assured that if the business made a profit, they would get a portion of that money.  Now Ford wanted to change the rules and use the money for something else.

The Michigan Supreme Court held that the Dodge brothers were right.  Because he was running a for-profit corporation, Henry Ford had solicited investors on the promise that if his company made a profit, the investors would get a portion of the proceeds.  He owed a fiduciary duty to to run his business for a profit, not as a means "to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number."  However noble Ford's motives, he was being noble with other people's money.

Henry Ford could have a conscience, but Ford Motor Company could not.

There are, as always, exceptions to this general legal principle.  A corporation can spend money on charity if its directors can show that doing so will enhance the corporation's reputation and thus attract more business.  But the general rule of law is that for-profit corporations exist to generate profits for their shareholders.  And because that is a rule of law, it offers a road map for how to give corporations a conscience.  A corporation's conscience must exist in law, so investors can know about it and factor it into their investment choices.

"I'm in the widget business."

Let's say you're a majority owner and the CEO of WigiCorp.  You make widgets.  Your dad made widgets.  You grew up around widgets.  You know what makes a widget good, and you know how to make them well.  If you're at a party and someone asks what you do, you might well answer, "I'm in the widget business."

And you might give the same answer if someone asks how widgets affect the environment, whether our reliance on widgets adversely affects foreign or domestic policy, or public safety.  "I'm not in the environment business, the policy business, or the public safety business.  Dad made widgets.  I make widgets.  I know all about widgets, but I don't know anything about environmental science, foreign or domestic policy, or public safety.  I'm in the widget business."

That's pretty much how many corporate officials think, when it comes to the actions of their corporations.  They're in that business, and if they are good at it, they can tell you all about that business: its production methods, its markets, its profitability, and its costs.  Their business model is about widgets, and in many cases the business model focuses exclusively on how best to maximize the profits and minimize the costs of producing and marketing widgets.

The problem, of course, is that producing and marketing widgets does have effects outside the widget business.  It does affect the environment.  It may affect foreign or domestic policy.  It will impact public safety, and the social fabric of communities where widgets are made and/or bought.  And the bigger a business widget-making is, the more likely that it will do all of the above.

Maybe you didn't get into the widget business because you wanted to change the environment, affect foreign or domestic policy, impact public safety, or remake the social fabric of communities.  But you're probably doing all of those things anyway, as inevitable byproducts of producing and selling widgets.  A human person with a conscience would care about those things.  A corporate person should care about them too.

But when Henry Ford tried to act on his human conscience, the Michigan Supreme Court said Ford Motor Company could not, because that act of conscience wasn't being done with Henry Ford's own money.  It was being done with other people's money.  How do we get around that?

Regulation installs a corporate conscience.

Sensible, responsible business practice regulation is about putting WigiCorp in the environment business, the foreign and domestic policy business, the public safety business, and the social fabric business.  Because WigiCorp's widget business probably impacts all of these, the people who run WigiCorp should have to factor them into the business model.  And they should have to do so in a way that is accessible to investors, so investors can factor those elements of WigiCorp's business model into their investment decisions.

Is WigiCorp taking proper care of the environment, and if not, what will that cost WigiCorp?  Is WigiCorp doing business in ways that may impact government policy, and is it paying its share of those policy costs, in fees and/or taxes?  Is WigiCorp running its business as safely as it can, and paying the costs where failures can't be avoided?  And is WigiCorp working to protect and strengthen the social fabric of communities where it makes and markets widgets?

And if not, will WigiCorp be able to remain profitable, or will it be fined or even shut down for not meeting its legal responsibilities?

If the answers to that first group of questions are "Yes," or "Yes, as best WigiCorp can," then if WigiCorp also produces and markets widgets well, it should be a healthy corporation and worth your investment.  If the answers are "No," then even if WigiCorp produces and markets widgets well, it should be a bad investment.  That formula works both to give WigiCorp a conscience, and put investors on notice of whether and to what degree WigiCorp is acting on its conscience, thus overcoming the "other people's money" objection of Dodge v. Ford Motor Company.

But that formula only works if WigiCorp will be fined or even shut down when it doesn't meet its legal responsibilities.

Responsible regulation requires rigorous review.

It's not enough to pass laws and enact sensible, responsible business practice regulations.  Congress also has to fund the agencies that review corporate behavior and enforce those regulations.  That may mean agencies that advise you, the second-generation widget maker, on exactly how your widget business impacts the environment, policy, public safety, and the social fabric, because it's likely you don't know those things.  And you should know whom you can ask to get the correct legal answers.

Those answers must not be coming from someone with a profit incentive to tell you an answer you want to hear, rather than the answer you need to hear.  (As an example of that, consider Moody, S&P, and the other for-profit investment ratings agencies that rated hugely risky derivative instruments as if they were safe government bonds.)

And when you don't avail yourself of that information, or fail to act on it, government must step in with the big hammer of criminal and/or civil sanctions, and impose punishments severe enough to let both corporate officers and investors know that breaking the law is not profitable ... period.

No, we won't get perfect regulations, or perfect enforcement.  The law is always an imperfect instrument.  But it's the best instrument we have to rein in sociopathic corporate persons.  We have to force them to have a conscience, and make sure investors can know what that conscience is and whether the corporation is acting on it.  That protects everyone.

Especially We the People.


Pisces - Try to avoid the pothole you drove into last week.  Especially while drinking tomato juice.

Aries - You're ruled by the planet Mars.  So far as we know, there's no intelligent life on Mars.  That explains it.

Taurus - Cross walks are not a dare.  Just sayin'.

Gemini - Your future is partly cloudy.  Or partly sunny.  Or you need a smaller glass.

Cancer - Finally, you'll get your chance to screw up that other thing you've never been allowed to do.

Leo - No, your knees aren't supposed to bend that way.  Stop doing it.

Virgo - Consider that your dishes might enjoy talking to other kinds of dishes in the dishwasher.  End dish segregation.

Libra - Yes, that again.  But this time, smile.

Scorpio - The taxes can wait.  The litterbox can't.  Even if they do look the same.

Sagittarius - So you finally found it.  We told you it was there all along.

Capricorn - Try not to look so gleeful when you do that.  It makes people jealous.  And angry.

Aquarius - Sorry, but chocolate is not a food group.


Happy Friday!

Originally posted to NCrissieB on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 03:45 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Sociopathic corporate persons are like sharks; (15+ / 0-)

      they consume relentlessly.  Responsible regulation sounds good for the short term.  

      But longer term, it may be that the very concept of corporate personhood will have to grow up, especially in light of recent depradations.  Corporations have the privileges of personhood but do not face the responsibilities of personhood.  The lack of conscience is built right in.  

      Right now, no one in a corporation is truly culpable when "laws are broken" and "mistakes are made".  That's not true for individuals.

      •  Corporations are made up of individuals (30+ / 0-)

        and reining corporations in has to start with the individuals who make decisions for the corporation being punished as individuals when they break the law.

        Right now, the way things work represents a serious moral hazard situation.

        You have extremely wealthy, powerful people making decisions that endanger people and the environment while being, for all intents and purposes, completely shielded from personal consequences resulting from those decisions.

        This needs to change or the behavior of corporations won't change.

        It is ridiculous that a person caught with a bag of marijuana serves more time than the person who decides to maintain dangerous conditions in a factory that ends up killing 1000 people.

        But there just are no personal ramifications for anti-social decisions on the part of the corporatists.  Hell, they don't even have to see the people they've hurt or the environment they've degraded because they live half a world away from where these bad things happen.

        Financial "punishement" is insufficient for some of the heinous crimes corporations have committed.  Union Carbide and the Bhopal incident spring to mind.  The engineers of the decision to keep that plant running as it was amounts to homicide but they never had to face charges in a court of law.

        "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

        by Edgewater on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:27:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Enforcement is always a problem. (8+ / 0-)

          As I replied to political junquie above, law enforcement is always imperfect.  We can try to make it better, and we must, but we'll never get it to work perfectly in every case, for individuals or for corporations.

          Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

          •  Corporate personhood (18+ / 0-)

            makes regulation and law-enforcement very difficult.  Again, this isn't a discussion about perfection.  It is a discussion about fixing a problem that requires new answers to come up with something at least incrementally better than what we have now.


            have argued successfully that under the 1st Amendment, money is equal to speech, so corporate monetary donations for political influence and lobbying are free speech issues, (even though they are not voters or citizens). Advertising too, becomes free speech, more than free, it's tax-deductible, just like their lawyers' fees for criminal trials, corporate lobbying expenses, and toxic waste clean-ups.
            aaaUsing the 4th Amendment, corporations now have privacy rights and can deny OSHA and EPA inspectors access to their properties. This protects corporations from random inspection, without which it is virtually impossible to enforce meaningful health, safety, environmental laws, or to have federal regulatory inspections of corporate accounting practices without a warrant, (giving some corporations time to hide or destroy incriminating documents). With no oversight, corporations, in collusion with their accountant/consultants hide billions of dollars in losses from the investing public while analysts, that are paid off by the investment bankers, advise the public to buy what they know is a worthless stock.
            aaaCorporations now have 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination and double jeopardy. They have designed litigation around "takings"- the doctrine that some regulations constitute the taking of private property without due process or compensation, again violating their 5th Amendment rights. As another weapon in their arsenal, they use it as a way of getting around such things as rent control statutes, and Superfund clean-ups. And if they manufacture a harmful product and it is removed from the market by legislation, they sue for lost profits.
            aaaThey have also used their rights as 'persons' against U.S. citizens working for corporations, since the courts have privileged employers' property rights over their workers' rights to free speech, freedom of association, and freedom of labor. So employees now have an extremely difficult task when trying to organize against employers who flagrantly violate their labor rights. The current percentage of union workers in the United States is only 14%, although if given the choice of joining a union or not, nearly 50% of workers would join.
            aaaCorporate rights have been pushed to the point that there are no discernable limits. Corporations have more rights and far less liability than real, natural, human beings. Throughout the United States, under corporate rule; We now have only six corporations that own 90% of the national media, they essentially control public opinion.

            The Elimination of Corporate Personhood

            Article from Green Party of Sedona and the Verde Valley

            "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

            by Edgewater on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:01:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "We now have only six corporations that own (20+ / 0-)

              90% of the national media, they essentially control public opinion."  To me this is the biggest problem we have.  Until and unless this is fixed all other problems will not get fixed.

            •  There's a lot in there that makes me skeptical. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              As another weapon in their arsenal, they use it as a way of getting around such things as rent control statutes

              Yet many cities have rent control, so I'm pretty skeptical of this claim.

              have argued successfully that under the 1st Amendment, money is equal to speech, so corporate monetary donations for political influence and lobbying are free speech issues

              Yet corps are prohibited from donating to PACs, so we know their first amendment rights are, at most, limited.

              And if they manufacture a harmful product and it is removed from the market by legislation, they sue for lost profits.

              I can sue the sun for being too bright; it doesn't tell us anything about my legal rights, though.

              We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

              by burrow owl on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:25:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Human personhood does too. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              winterbanyan, kktlaw

              The constitutional rights of human personhood make law enforcement more difficult too.  Indeed, that's why we have those rights ... to protect us from the predations of government.  A whole lot of us here have spent a whole lot of time, energy, and words fighting to defend those rights, because when the government can storm into your home, search it, arrest you, and lock you away without due process of law, we consider that a serious transgression of our essential rights as Americans.

              But it does get in the way of law enforcement.

              •  And what does that have to do with the subject (0+ / 0-)

                at hand?  Which is that corporations, non-human entities, have the rights of a human being in this sense?

                Nothing, basically.

                "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

                by Edgewater on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:05:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Money is a definite kind of speech. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              k9disc, NCrissieB, kktlaw, Edgewater

              When given to politicians it is "an inducement to corruption."

              Since corporations have a duty to make a profit for their shareholders, there can be no logical alternative explanation for their contributions to politicians than the expectation of getting a quid pro quo from the said politician. That is to say, "the offering of a bribe."

              Nor is it possible the politician can be unaware of that expectation.

              Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

              by Jim P on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:07:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  As a society, through the legal system, we have (6+ / 0-)

          collectively made decisions about what behaviors we are willing to protect and which ones we are not.

          The pothead with 2 possession arrests picks up a third? Not willing or interested in protecting that behavior.

          The midlevel manager who keeps Wal-Mart shelves stocked with $3.00 bottles of whatever so that millions can afford them? At the expense of an industrial accident here or there that gives a few thousand people leukemia?

          Well, I have to conclude that if we didn't want to protect our $3.00 bottles of goop that we wouldn't protect the behaviors that contribute to them...but, since we do...

          Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking. -J.M. Keynes

          by elropsych on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:06:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Part of reigning in these individuals includes (5+ / 0-)

          clear consequences for behavior.  If a person breaks the law, he goes to jail.  If a corporate breaks the law, the officers should go to jail.  

          I'm sick of GOP SOP!

          by xysea on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:51:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  "The lack of conscience is built right in." (12+ / 0-)

        Corporations exist as creatures of law, so yes, as the law presently stands, "the lack of conscience is built right in."  But because they exist as creatures of law, we can use law to build in that conscience.

        As to your statement that "no one in a corporation is truly culpable when 'laws are broken' and 'mistakes are made,'" that's not entirely true.  Corporate officers can be and often are held criminally liable for violations of law.  Conversely, a surprising (and dismaying) number of individual lawbreakers are not apprehended or prosecuted.  Law enforcement is always an imperfect practice.  We should make it better, and we can, but we can never make it perfect.

        Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggggs::

        •  I am not seeing the words you are quoting (9+ / 0-)

          in my post above.  Is this response meant for my post?

          Suggesting that someone is attempting perfection is unfair.  I am not asking for perfection.  What I am asking for is that corporations no longer be able to use the shield of "personhood" to get away with poisoning our environment, making workers toil in unsafe factories, and producing unsafe products.

          Corporate personhood allows the wealthiest citizens to use corporations to control the government and use it as an intermediary to impose their will upon the people. It is this basic about-face from democracy that should most concern us. But because of our corrupted legal system, corporate media, and corrupted elected officials, social activists usually focus their efforts on the bad, even horrible, results of corporate control of government and society. Reformers run around trying to get bureaucrats to enforce the minimalist regulations that have been enacted into law, rather than finding a way to prevent the corporate lawyers and lobbyists from writing the laws.

          Take, for instance, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its feeble attempts to clean up the most toxic sites in the United States. Almost all of these sites were created by large corporations. Regulation of corporations was traditionally left to State governments; the Federal government regulated only interstate commerce (though in the 20th century it increasingly used its power to regulate interstate commerce as a means to regulate all commerce). Why did the State governments not prevent the creation of toxic sites in the first place?

          One might claim that there was simply, in the past, a lack of knowledge on everyone's part about the environment and the dangers of toxins. This theory does not stand up to analysis. Poisoning wells was a crime from the earliest of times. Government standards for food purity and safety go back to at least the Middle Ages. Sanitation laws came into common existence in the U.S. during the 19th century. But toxic sites were the result of toxic dumping by large industrial corporations. They dumped toxic byproducts into the air, into waterways, and onto the ground. They continue to do so today with environmental law written to give them permission to pollute up to specified levels, and even at higher levels if they are willing to pay small fines. In addition, they have used their political power to force taxpayers to pay to clean corporate toxic spills. In some cases they have escaped financial liability through the corporate bankruptcy laws, which limit the liability of stockholders. Billions of dollars that were paid out in dividends to stockholders cannot be reclaimed by the people in order to cover the costs of toxic cleanup at taxpayers' expense.

          The Santa Clara Blues:Corporate Personhood versus Democracy

          Here is an article which explores the history and ramifications of corporate personhood far more thoroughly than you did yesterday.

          Close to the end of the article it states:

          The importance of the 4th Amendment right of corporate persons is shown, among other places, in Marshall v. Barlow's, Inc. [436 U.S. 307 (1978)]. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA), enacted to try to get employees safe working environments, allowed for surprise inspections of workplaces. These inspections were struck down by the Supreme Court, which declared that OSHA inspections required either the corporation's permission or a warrant. Apparently the constitutional personhood rights of corporations trump the rights of real persons. Thousands of workers have died, been maimed, or poisoned since 1978, while on the job; many of these accidents were preventable, but the Supreme Court did not consider the liberty of the workers, only the liberty of corporations and their wealthy owners in making this murderous decision. No workplace that follows OSHA safety rules need fear a surprise inspection.

          Revoking corporate personhood and 4th Amendment rights for corporations would allow the government to make reasonable inspections to insure worker safety, to insure that toxic substances are not being emitted, and to insure that corporations are operating as allowed by their charters and the law. Revoking personhood should not be feared by law-abiding, legitimate businesses and corporations who are obeying the law.

          Revoking corporate personhood would be a step in the right direction - not perfection - but a step in the right direction.

          "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

          by Edgewater on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:53:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Revoking.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            winterbanyan, kktlaw

            Revoking personhood should not be feared by law-abiding, legitimate businesses and corporations who are obeying the law.

            Funny, I heard the exact same comments made about the Fourth Amendment in the wake of the USA PATRIOT Act.

            •  Again, you introduce a ridiculous comparison (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              You are trying to compare the 4th amendment rights of human individuals with the 4th amendment rights granted to non-human entities that have been granted the same status as a human being in terms of the 4th amendment.

              I have no fear that my neighbor is pumping the environment full of toxic chemicals.  And if I did, I could call the appropriate authorities who would then investigate and prosecute if my allegations were true.

              My neighbor wouldn't drag the case out for 20 years, while spending that time hiding the evidence and dragging in every means of co-opting the law possible using an army of high-paid attorneys.

              My neighbor wouldn't be able to direct the media to sweep his crimes under the rug and have the media obey.

              You are comparing apples and oranges and I find it quite disingenuous.

              "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

              by Edgewater on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:14:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Conversely ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ... you're justifying government tyranny, so long as that tyranny is only directed at corporations.  You will have a reply that you think will justify having tyranny directed at corporations, and it will include some loophole for why that's different from tyranny directed at individuals.

                I'll say that Herself and I are a corporation, and that our corporate office is our home, and under your theory the government could break into and search our home at any time, because they would be "inspecting a corporate office" and corporations have no Fourth Amendment rights.

                You'll then say you don't mean corporations like ours, but only the big, bad ones.  And so on.

                And the argument we would have would follow the exact same pattern as the countless arguments I've read and had with conservatives about the Fourth Amendment rights of individuals.  But you say that is apples and oranges.

                •  I am all for 4th Amendment rights for individuals (0+ / 0-)

                  as far as corporations go I am not.  Usually I don't debate that point with progressive thinkers because most progressives I know don't support 4th Amendment rights for corporations.

                  I don't think of stripping corporations of 4th Amendment rights as tyranny because I don't think of corporations as human.  

                  Under my theory you and Herself are probably safe from government searches because 1. you don't have employees working for the corporation stationed in your home and so work safety wouldn't need to be assured and 2. I doubt you are handling toxins or other potentially environmentally damaging substances that the government has a responsibility to ensure are not being dumped.

                  Under my theory articles under which corporation was granted by the government would include the terms under which that corporation operated and it would have to be included in those articles whether your corporation met certain thresholds which would trigger the possibility of unannounced inspections.  If, for whatever reason, your corporation would meet the threshold, you would always have the choice not to form a corporation or to open a corporate office separate from your home.

                  Most importantly, under my theory, the ability of government to actually enforce regulations by unannounced inspections of corporations who do employ people in potentially dangerous workplaces or who do handle substances which could potentially cause environmental damage if handled inappropriately would not be disallowed because two people have chosen to incorporate and then chosen to center their "headquarters" in their home.

                  Suggesting that the rest of the nation and the world should be subjected to dangerous practices by ruthless and unethical corporatists so that you and Herself can have a two-person corporation run out of your home is pretty much a non-starter as far as I'm concerned.

                  Under my theory the right of a community of citizens to assure themselves that the chemical plant down the street isn't polluting their drinking water is just a tad bit more compelling than your right to demand that corporations have the privacy rights of a human being so that you can have a two-person corporation run out of your home which isn't subject to inspection.  After all, you choose to run the corporation out of your home, no one is forcing you to do that.

                  But again, under my theory you and Herself probably wouldn't have to go to the drastic step of actually opening a corporate office separate from your home to avoid inspections.  Inspections would be something used to assure worker and community safety and a two-person outfit run out of your home doesn't seem like it would meet a reasonable threshold of safety risk.  

                  "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

                  by Edgewater on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 02:24:13 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I question the validity of this statement (11+ / 0-)

          Corporate officers can be and often are held criminally liable for violations of law.

          Our prison system is the largest in the world. I can only think of a handful of white collar criminals ever being prosecuted, let alone imprisoned.

          The Limited Liability Corporation has evolved in this country into the No Accountability Whatsoever Corporation.

          •  Another Big Diarist Error. (5+ / 0-)

            In addition to the one you have highlighted, I note a much more substantial erroneous claim of the diarist. The diarist asserts that "corporations are defined as 'persons' under Title 1, Section 1 of the U.S. Code, and thus are entitled to due process of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments." This is false.

            Congress has no power to determine who is or is not a person entitled to due process under the federal consitution. If they did, then the recent Republican congress could have simply declared that a fetus is a person and thus vested every fetus in America with due process guarantees and put a legal noose around the neck of Roe v. Wade. They didn't. Why not? Because no congress has that power.  

            The power to interpret the meaning of constitutional language belongs to the courts in our divided system of government. Thus, Title I, Section 1 of the US Code, a statutory provision adopted by congress, does not entitle a corporation to constitutional due process protection. Rather, the constitutional due process protection afforded corporations is the product of judicial decisions interpreting the applicability of the Fifth and 14th Amendments to corporations.

            The right wing hates Pooh because he reminds children to "think, think, think."

            by dicta on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:37:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We're both correct. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              winterbanyan, kktlaw

              Congress assumed for itself that authority in enacting Title I, Section 1 of the U.S. Code.  The U.S. Supreme Court could have held that Congress exceeded its authority, and that argument was made in the 1816 Dartmouth College case.  Instead the Court held that the Commerce Clause implicitly required Congress to regulate corporations, and thus Title I, Section 1 was consistent with the intent of the Commerce Clause.

              But in the same way, you could argue that Congress really hasn't passed any law, because the Court might have found or might someday find that law to be unconstitutional.  It's technically true.  It's also overstating the role of the Court and understating the role of the Congress.

              Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

              •  Only One Of Us Is Correct. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NCrissieB, Edgewater

                The decision does not support the proposition that congress has the power to define constitutional language. So, your claim that corporations are afforded constitutionally guaranteed due process because congress defines "person" to include corporations is still wrong and you should acknowledge the error and stop repeating it.

                The right wing hates Pooh because he reminds children to "think, think, think."

                by dicta on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:54:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's sophistry and false. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  winterbanyan, kktlaw

                  Congress "defines constitutional language" every time it writes a statute.  Among other things, it defines by its action that the statute is within its Article I authority under the Constitution.  Then the Court either agrees, or disagrees.  The Court may get the last word, but it doesn't get the first word.

                  •  Stop It. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    k9disc, Edgewater

                    Your sloppy reasoning got you into the analytical dark alley that you find yourself, not somebody else's sophistic argument.

                    Corporations do not have constitutionally guaranteed due process rights because congress said they were "persons" in Title I, Section 1 of the US Code. Corporations have constitutionally guaranteed due process rights because the courts said so.

                    So, just admit your error and move on.

                    The right wing hates Pooh because he reminds children to "think, think, think."

                    by dicta on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:31:44 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I won't "stop it." (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ms Citizen, winterbanyan, kktlaw

                      This will come as a shock, but I don't take orders from you.  If you want to write a diary about corporate personhood, feel free to do so.  But enough with the high-handed insults.  Donuts are next.

                      •  Insults & Donuts. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        What was it you called my argument again? Oh yeah, sophistry. So, insulting kettle, meet insulting pot.

                        BTW, your retreat to the donut slinging position really shows off your good side.

                        The right wing hates Pooh because he reminds children to "think, think, think."

                        by dicta on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:03:25 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  And you don't get that SCOTUS (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ms Citizen, kktlaw

                      basically upheld Congress's right to make this definition in order to fulfill its duty under the commerce clause, and hence the Dartmouth decision upholds the constitutionality of the Congress's action.

                      And SCOTUS is the final arbiter on interpreting the Constitution.  Not you.

                      The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

                      by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:11:33 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  If the constitution also laid out responsibilites (5+ / 0-)

        as well as rights, I think we'd be in a better position to deal with this. But the Founders stopped at rights, at least as far as persons.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:51:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The courts will have to make this change (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ms Citizen, NCrissieB, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

          and the process will be slow.  More than a century of 14th amendment protection for corporations is hard to undo.  The best way is to use the courts to show how corporations infringe on actual individuals' (ie, people's) natural rights.

          •  Congress will have to help. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ms Citizen, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

            This is one where We the People need to buy Congress, the way we bought the White House in 2008, and demand congressional action.  They'll have to pass laws with very clear rationales that take note of Court precedent and explain why they are departing from it.  Then, yes, the onus shifts to the judiciary to revisit those precedents and respect the new laws.

            •  We didn't buy the whitehouse. (4+ / 0-)

              We voted a guy in.

              The whole idea of buyng democracy is a crock, the metaphor itself is dangerous.

              We cannot compete with them on economic turf, period.

              Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

              by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:35:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I disagree. (4+ / 0-)

                We the People bought the White House.  Like it or not, that's what happened.  We the People, individual donors averaging $86 per, put enough money behind Team Obama to first defeat Team Clinton and then win in November.  In a political environment where the candidates have to pay to organize and advertise in order to get elected - and that is our political environment - you have to pony up enough money to get the voices you want heard to be heard.  That's the reality of the United States at the dawn of the 21st century.  Whether it was the reality in 1796 or whether it will be the reality in 2040 is a different story.  But it's the reality now.

                •  For someone so talented with words you sure are (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NCrissieB, Edgewater

                  careless with them.

                  That's nice, buying the Presidency.

                  Makes me feel like a citizen consumer.

                  These kinds of things are self serving prophecies, language is powerful.

                  Look at the language of the founders and of Lincoln, of TR, of FDR.

                  Nary a transaction money metaphor to be found, by any of them, from the founders to FDR.

                  From FDR on we have a political lexicon rife with transactional metaphor.

                  The axis lost WWII, but the fascists won, and I really believe that.

                  We turned at that point in time, and now, our citizens are consumers.

                  Our elections are bought, not as some kind of conspiracy theory, but nakedly bought. Proponents of change from Political Capitalism to something more even use that language.

                  We can't express a damn thing without invoking money language.

                  Democrats, progressives socialists, whatever always lose when we talk in terms of money.

                  People, health, prosperity, happiness, love, peace, those are our bread and butter, those are the things we will ride to victory.


                  Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

                  by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:13:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  A Very Tall Order (14+ / 0-)

      Bushiness Schools have done such a miserable job of teaching ethics. Then they got to work in a culture with only one metric profit.

      nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it. - Barack Obama

      by Lefty Coaster on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:24:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good Morning Crissie and Krew! (13+ / 0-)

      :::::hugs::::: and a good day to all, even IF it is Friday the 13th!

      I don't have much time to comment today because we are getting ready to head out of town for a wedding this weekend.

      I worked most of my career in local government and am a believer in necessity of a good regulatory environment in order to protect the public good.  One of my favorite sayings regarding regulation is "Is it permittable and is it enforceable?"  

      What has happened in recent years is that the balance between permitting corporations to operate freely and the regulatory environment to ensure their operations do not adversely affect the greater good (both the general public and the investors) has become grossly out of balance.  By their very nature, corporations are predatory and cannot not have a conscience.  The only way to ensure that those predatory instincts are held in check is through regulation.  


  •  Brian Ross/ABC started a little report about (18+ / 0-)

    bailoutted firms and the NY prostitution biz, it never took off more than a couple of day's attention.

    But then I read about Senators looking after Big Agriculture and Big Pharma, and there is not much difference between a corporate hooker or a corporate senator.

    Both get paid to perform.

    "So oil companies and investors are stashing crude, waiting for demand to rise and the bear market to end so they can turn a profit later."

    by bamabikeguy on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 03:52:22 AM PDT

    •  Morning, bbg. That's harsh, but accurate. (11+ / 0-)

      One could hope that greater transparency in government would help with that, but I have my doubts. Perhaps more coffee with help with the outlook thing today...

    •  That's a campaign finance issue. (12+ / 0-)

      And I agree with you.  We can't allow corporations to by government by being the primary source of funds for candidates disposed to serve those corporations.  That's not to say I think no corporation should be allowed to contribute to any political campaign; a labor union, or an environmental group, or, or Orange-to-Blue are all corporations of one sort or another.  Rather it's to say that for-profit corporations cannot be permitted to drown out the voices of every other political actor, and that is a campaign finance issue that needs to be addressed.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggggs::

      •  Actually that is to say that. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cybersaur, FarWestGirl, Edgewater

        Who's to say how loud my 1st amendment exercising can be?

        I think of it like this...

        We all have the freedom to speak, but only the powerful have the freedom to be heard.

        I just love Buckley v Valeo.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:06:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nail on the head (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k9disc, NCrissieB, kktlaw, bamabikeguy

        The two critical problems with this corporate personhood thing that I see are:

        1.  an imbalance in the lobbying due to the deep pockets of corporate concerns.
        1.  corporate control of information and media

        The philosophical discussion can mine many pearls for thought, but to my mind, we have 22 months to get these two problems contained - and I consider these problems to be the most critical problems we have.

        This is because undue influence by corporations on our government and courts has been the underlying cause of all the other problems facing us.  The economic crash, global warming, pollution, failing educational system, etc ad nauseum.

        The only solution I know of is to move to public financing of political campaigns.  Owners of the media should provide air time for debates and the discussion of issues as a "corporate citizen" responsibility.  I'd also like to see political candidate commercials abandoned - they are rarely instructive or useful and are tremendously expensive.  The public shouldn't have to pay for them.

      •  But Crissie (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        if corporations are given the rights of "persons" then all corporations deserve equal treatment under the law just as we think that real people deserve equal treatment under the law.

        So exactly how would you legislate that one corporation - say Exxon Mobil - shouldn't have the same rights as another like GreenPeace or the Teamsters?

        I am not asking to be snarky.  I really want to know how you think such a line could be drawn and still withstand a SCOTUS challenge.  Given the enormous financial resources of corporations like Exxon, among others, SCOTUS is surely where an attempt to deny them the same rights as non-profit corporations would end up.

        It is apparent that I disagree with you on the whole issue of corporate personhood.  In my view, corporations as they currently exist are responsible for an enormous amount of pain, suffering, death, environmental degradation, and worker exploitation the whole world over.  Something needs to be done and regulation has proven to be ineffectual in the face of corporate "personhood" IMO.

        I hope that you understand that the passion I bring to this debate is not directed at you as a human being.  I've been reading your diaries since I started here at DKos and very much enjoy them.  I believe you have a good heart and a good mind.

        My disagreement with you in this diary and the one yesterday is posted because this is an issue I feel very strongly about and not simply to score "points" in your diary.  

        Hugs to you and I hope you have a great weekend.

        "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

        by Edgewater on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:49:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That was my point.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You can't say that corporations like Greenpeace or the Teamster's Union could contribute to political campaigns, but corporations like Exxon-Mobil can't.  That argument won't work, and it wouldn't work even if corporations and other groups of persons were not defined as "persons."

          If the U.S. Constitution were amended to include "corporations and other legally recognized groups of persons," do you think those groups would not receive any constitutional protections?  My guess is that they'd get most if not all of the same First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendment rights that they presently have.  Because those rights are essential safeguards against tyranny, both for individuals and for groups.

          Many here at DKos have rightly expressed outrage that the NSA was illegally spying on an Islamic charity (Al-Haramain) and on peace groups.  But those groups are corporations.  Under your theory, there would be no question of illegal surveillance against them, because you say corporations should have no Fourth Amendment rights anyway.

          Your outrage at folks like Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, Union Carbide, etc. has blinded you to the logical consequences of the position you've taken.  Because the random "inspections" of corporations would not be limited to, nor even largely directed at Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, Union Carbide, etc.  The government would want to randomly "inspect" the corporations whose existence and activities it finds offensive or inconvenient, and under your theory there would be no protection against that, because corporations like the AFL-CIO, Pax Christi, Greenpeace, and the ACLU would have no rights.

          That's not "corporatist propaganda" or "idiocy."  It's a lawyer assessing how the law would work if it were set up as you've suggested.

          •  I disagree with that conclusion (0+ / 0-)

            There are very real differences between a non-profit group like Greenpeace and a manufacturing company like Union Carbide that the idea of corporate "personhood" obscures.

            If they are both corporations right now they are both persons and both subject to a right to equal treatment even though they are very different organizations doing very different things.  By removing that "personhood" we could actually create laws that govern manufacturing corporations that wouldn't apply to non-manufacturing corporations like Greenpeace.  This would represent the rational recognition that even though both are corporations they are actually very different kinds of organizations doing very different kinds of work.

            Accepting routine unannounced inspections in a place of work is far different than accepting wire-tapping at that same place of work.  There is no reason, you as a lawyer, should make the claim we can't have the former without also accepting the latter.  The act of wire-tapping should always require a court order regardless of the target of the tap IMO.  There is no reason the law regarding the illegality of warrentless wire-tapping needs to be changed simply because we allow OSHA to inspect worker safety conditions at Union Carbide.

            Similarly, suggesting that the state has a compelling interest to inspect chemical plants to make sure safety standards and environmental regulations are being met is not the same as suggesting that all corporations be inspected.

            The reason you come to this conclusion is because you are arguing that all corporations should be treated in the exact same fashion.  And this equal treatment arises from the idea of corporate "personhood" that is precisely the thing I want to get rid of.

            If we get rid of that the state can pass a law that says something along the lines of: if corporation x is involved in handling any of the following substances in a certain quantity then they must be subject to random inspection of their plant.  The inspection is limited to the specific examination required to insure public safety from improper handling of said chemical.

            How would a law like that subject the ACLU or Greenpeace to inspections?

            Your desire to maintain corporate "personhood" has blinded you to the logical consequences of the position you've taken in spite of the very real horrific consequences that have already resulted from the concept of corporate personhood.

            Corporations would like to assure everyone that any attempt by the state to regulate them will turn the country into a police state where worker's unions and non-profits are harassed and wire-tapped. That is pretty much the position I see you taking in your post above.  This is basically a corporatocracy meme propagandized to maintain their ability to run roughshod over individuals, communities, and the environment.  It doesn't surprise me to see people buy this ridiculous notion because they've been churning out propaganda making this claim for years.

            "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

            by Edgewater on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 03:20:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Morning bbg :) (4+ / 0-)

      Hope all the kids and Larry are doing well?  And that your life has slowed down a bit to "less hectic"?

      The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

      by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:16:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hard to imagine that building new plants (12+ / 0-)

    and selling more cars was considering a bad business plan...  Was it simply that Ford mentioned the altruistic reason for his decision that led to a lawsuit?  Had he left out the part about employing more men and giving them a wage to buy his product, would Dodge have been okay with that? I guess big business has always been heartless! Sheesh!

    Morning Crissie!
    Morning Krew! Hope everyone is well this morning!

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics" FDR

    by theKgirls on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:00:25 AM PDT

    •  The reason why Ford used (6+ / 0-)

      strike breakers and scabs because all that time he really cared about the worker. I don't think his reasons were entirely altruistic.

      "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

      by thethinveil on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:10:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Morning, Kgirl and little kgirls. I've largely (12+ / 0-)

      heard good things about Ford as an employer, and a corporate citizen in general.  His great grandson once said, "I believe very strongly that corporations can and should be a major force for resolving social and environmental concerns in the 21st century. Not only do I think this is the right thing to do, I believe it is the best thing to do to achieve profitable, sustainable growth." Words aren't action, mind you, but that's the right attitude at least.

      •  Check out the Nations coverage of the Detriot (7+ / 0-)

        Strike in the 30s

        The Detroit workers, in contradiction to the widely advertised Ford gospel "high wages," were never really well paid. The automobile industry is a seasonal one. The factories slacken production during the fall months in order to prepare for new yearly models; and the automobile worker had to stretch the "high wages" of eight months to cover the full twelve-month period.

        How Ford reacts when workers strike.

        In what strikers declared was an effort to turn public sympathy away from them, Ford announced the closing of his plants throughout the country and the consequent laying off of nearly 150,000 men. This story, of course, gained the front pages of the papers. That the strikers' contention was in many ways correct may be deduced from a leading editorial on the strike which appeared in the Free Press, organ of reaction in Detroit. After conceding that the conditions were bad, the writer declared: "They [the strikers] should remember, too, that they owe consideration to their fellow-workers; and that if they remain idle after securing the ratification of their principal grievance [abolition of "dead time"] they will be depriving more than 150,000 men and women in other plants of the means of livelihood, by forcing those plants to remain closed through lack of construction material."

        The Nation - The Detroit Strike.

        "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

        by thethinveil on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:40:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Here is what 150,000 people look like. (4+ / 0-)


        "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

        by thethinveil on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:59:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I am developing a new theory about Detroit - (12+ / 0-)

        First, good morning Shuruq, KGirls, thinveil and all! And big huggggggs on this Friday the 13th. In my recent quest to buy a car (see below) I visited several car dealers. Here's my (undeveloped) theory: Detroit could survive if all car dealers were shut down. They are unnecessary middlemen who provide no real service either to the car manufacturers nor the public. They double (or almost) the price of the new, and especially, used car. Yes, it would be a loss of jobs, but the job loss pales in comparison to the big three shutting down. The owners are already rich. The salespeople work on straight commission, so they could do that in another field. Meanwhile, we would not lose the millions of jobs of the car makers, the steel companies, the tire manufacturers, etc.etc. The acres of land these dealerships use is ludicrous. The land and buildings could be converted to community marketplaces where the public, for a small fee, could come and sell their wares and services, including fresh produce, locally made goods, household appliances, car repair, computer repair, etc, etc. The huge parking lots of dealerships could be used for commuter parking (ridesharing). The automakers could display one new car of each model so the public could view and test drive. The car would then be ordered and delivered directly from the manufacturer. As for used cars, the lots would be used for the community to come and buy and sell used cars on designated days of the week. Also, mechanics could be on site to inspect the used cars and to provide their services. The car dealerships are just a needless and useless drain on the public. I'm sure someone else has come up with this same idea and I really haven't had time to research it. But in light of Crissie's and our recent discussion on getting services locally, turning the dealerships into community markets makes sense. What do you think?

        •  Morning, kkt :) (8+ / 0-)

          And huuggggs.

          These huge car dealerships are something relatively recent in my lifetime.  When I was a kid, a dealership had a couple of demos for you to drive, then you sat down, chose your options, and waited a couple of months to get your car.  And since people drove cars into the ground, rather than replace them every 2-3 years, used car lots were very small, and choices limited.

          Somewhere along the way we all decided we should be able to drive off the lot with our new car the very day we chose it, and we started to think we needed to trade-in every few years.  This is a combination of the public's unwillingness to wait, or be seen in an older car, and the marketing incentive of being able to entice buyers by immediately supplying the car of their dreams.

          This is a two-sided problem, but I think we, the public, have shown our own unwillingness to wait in spades.  We don't save for a new TV, we buy it on credit.  Etc.  There need to be changes in expectation and psychology from top to bottom.

          The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

          by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:26:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's a great idea (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

          What happens to the cars that don't sell in a particular dealership?  Do they end up getting shipped elsewhere?

          I ask, because I'm sitting in Alaska, thinking about the big semi trucks that haul cars and trucks all the way from the lower 48 to dealerships.  The savings in transportation costs (and environmental costs) alone should justify only shipping pre-sold vehicles.

          Good luck getting rid of dealerships, though.  Some here are not only fabulously wealthy, but have a big thumb in our government.  Very crooked - I'd love to see them go, but we have to get rid of the imbalance of corporate influence on government before we can get there.

      •  What about his documented support of the (5+ / 0-)

        Nazi party and Hitler himself? His criticism and personal dislike of FDR led him to make massive contributions to Hitler and his political party...

        Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking. -J.M. Keynes

        by elropsych on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:17:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It was the rationale, not the expansion itself. (9+ / 0-)

      Had Ford argued for expansion on profit-making grounds, he would likely have been fine.  It was his expressly altruistic rationale that left him open to a shareholder suit.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggggs::

    •  Morning, theKgirls :) (5+ / 0-)

      Hope you and all the girls are doing well.  Haven't seen an update in days, but am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.


      The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

      by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:19:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Under modern law, the case woulda been dismissed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      had Ford done the exact same thing and explained his actions as either being a good corporate citizen or as being aimed at getting more productivity out of its workers.

      We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

      by burrow owl on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:27:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beyond regulations we can affect w/ demand (10+ / 0-)

    Our choices if they get sophisticated enough can cause corporations to act responsibly BECAUSE ITS PROFITABLE. If we demand fair-trade products, or ones Union Made, or in the USA, or Environmentally friendly, or organic, then that's what will be provided. I wrote about this in my wildly unpopular diary. Why are there so few progressive corporations?

    I never knew there was a legal responsibility for corporations to act solely for profits. People hinted at that in my diary's comments, but you really spelled it out. Thanks. Great diary as usual! Is this only true for publicly traded corporations?

  •  Good morning...I'm ready to go home and go (8+ / 0-)

    to bed now...long night at work...

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:03:29 AM PDT

  •  I wanted a better answer than regulations. (12+ / 0-)

    Not that I am against them but it is too vague and said so often - even to the point where it becomes meaningless.

    how ya doing?

    Sorry to open with criticism.

    And I kinda want a bigger glass!

    I say this not knowing what you are referring to in the kossascopes.

    "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

    by thethinveil on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:03:34 AM PDT

    •  The reason for regulation ... (9+ / 0-)

      ... is that business practice regulations can't be vague.  You could write a very general law saying that corporate officers should act "in good conscience" as "responsible citizens" or some such, but doing so will only create problems because it's simply too vague.

      Again, the fiduciary duty owed by corporate officers to their shareholders requires that shareholders be able to evaluate and predict whether a corporation will be profitable, including whether it's likely to be held liable for violating the law.  If the law is vague, it's impossible for investors to know whether a corporation is complying with it or violating it, so they can't evaluate the risk of their investment.

      That's why the corporate "conscience" has to be enacted through very clear regulations that can be evaluated and priced by anyone considering whether to invest in a corporation.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggs::

      •  Which is why I (4+ / 0-)

        brought up that your suggestion was vague - it didn't include what kind and form the regulations would take.

        There is a lot of talk in the media about re-regulation but never the connection to how and what form they will take. It is as though they are denying the public specifics to leave them out of the debate. Imagine that.

        So when you responded to my comment yesterday about the possibility of charters, management elections, and non-profitizing you implied that you had a specific plan other than regulation.

        Charters could be considered a form of regulation. Many other options out there that are not being considered are regulations as well - like worker enforced regulation.

        My issue stems from the inability of government to actually enforce, update and even legislate FAIR regulation. By fair I mean to the consumers, the workers, the environment AND the community. Our regulations seem to cover one maybe two but not all.  Which leads me to think there there needs to be radical change to solve the problem of the sociopathic corporation.

        "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

        by thethinveil on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:25:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What I don't like about the Regulation path (5+ / 0-)

          is that there are too many constitutional arguments that can nullify said legislation.

          You can write a legislation that says News programs cannot lie to the population, but the news organization can assert a 1st amendment right to freedom of expression.

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:47:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Regulation is Slow, Loopholes are Quick (8+ / 0-)

            It sets my teeth on edge when I realize that

            1. Deciding on regulatory mechanisms, enacting them, promulgating guidance and implementing the promulgation are slow, painful processes
            1. Corporations can fight harder and longer for their interests than can congress and regulatory agencies for ours
            1. Even if the regulation is enacted, promulgated and implemented, the corporation has long since figured out how to get around said regulation.

            ::Someone please tell me I'm wrong::

            Joe Biden: Get up! Al Gore: Pray, and use your feet! Harriet Tubman: Keep going!

            by JG in MD on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:51:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I can't tell you you're wrong (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NCrissieB, thethinveil

              because you're right.

              Government is formed, at least in part, to create a level playing field where the rights of one person, one worker, one consumer can match the rights of a large corporation.

              If government turns around and says the corporation now has the same rights as a worker, a consumer, a human being then you are now on a playing field where the "person" you are arguing against has billions of dollars and a few politicians in their pocket to fight against you.

              Does any rational person think they can enter a 10 year lawsuit against a passel of million dollar lawyers and come out on top?

              Let's place that court battle in a country where the corporation you're fighting against has a buddy who owns half of the media.

              Still think you can win?  

              "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

              by Edgewater on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:59:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Empirically, you're wrong. (0+ / 0-)

                The empirical evidence is that individuals do win lawsuits against corporations.  Not every time, but the difference has less to do with the corporations owning the media and having armies of lawyers than with the facts of a given case.  You are making assertions that simply don't square with the empirical data.

      •  Does this mean that (12+ / 0-)

        regulations could be thought of as the "superego" of the market system, while the Dodge boys, Madoff, and others of their ilk would be it's Id?

        Does that make the people the ego, negotiating between the two in order to diminish stress on the system and keep a sustainable balance, that allows both to exist without one destroying the other?

        If so, the Id has been winning for the past 40 years.

        And the economic collapse is good evidence for a stronger superego.

        Very good morning to you, by the way!

        As much as I am on record enjoying the spirit of discourse in this forum, one of my favorite hugs ever just happened this morning:

        As I was putting on my gloves, my 2 year old stumbled out into the living room with her favorite three stuffed animals (can't sleep without them, not so much the pacifier, but if "her people" are not in her arms at bedtime, troubles are comin'). She offered me one. I thought at first she was holding her arms up for me to pick her up, but it was obvious she wanted me to take piggy-bear. So, I did, and hugged and kissed her favorite "people." Then she offered me yellow-bear, I did the same, and through her groggy-heavy-lidded-with-sleep expression, cracked a huge smile. Then blue-bear, and she nearly melted my heart when she hugged herself and smiled as I hugged and kissed her little stuffed person. This is the first time she's ever done this, that I know of--she has always clung to and guarded her "people" possessively. And I feel like a big pad of melted butter.

        Maybe there is hope for us yet.

        So, for NCrissieB, the Kula Krew, and the Crissie Crew, too...{{{{{{{{{SPECIAL MORNING HHUGGGGGGGSSSS}}}}}}}}

        Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking. -J.M. Keynes

        by elropsych on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:29:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Regulations are hard to enforce (4+ / 0-)

      if corporations have the right to privacy that "persons" enjoy:

      Using the 4th Amendment, corporations now have privacy rights and can deny OSHA and EPA inspectors access to their properties. This protects corporations from random inspection, without which it is virtually impossible to enforce meaningful health, safety, environmental laws, or to have federal regulatory inspections of corporate accounting practices without a warrant, (giving some corporations time to hide or destroy incriminating documents).

      The Elimination of Corporate Personhood

      "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

      by Edgewater on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:09:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good morning Crissie! (13+ / 0-)

    I would say that the reason regulation is necessary is because corporations (most of them) have no conscience.  Enlightened self interest would be wonderful, but who turns on the light?

    In "Heaven Can Wait" Warren Beatty turns on the light for one corporation, but most have no such person.

    •  That absence of conscience is artificial. (7+ / 0-)

      The absence of a corporate conscience is artificial; it exists because the law requires it.  That means we can create a corporate conscience by act of law.  If Heaven Can Wait had been a real case, Warren Beatty's character would have been subject to a harsh shareholder suit, and he'd have lost.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

      •  He might not have lost (8+ / 0-)

        If he could show that he was actually increasing market share and profit.

        That, to me, was the point of that part of the movie.  

        e.g. When he wanted their tuna fleets to not catch dolphins, he didn't say, to the board of directors "We shouldn't catch dolphins because it's wrong" -- he came up with a marketing plan "Would you pay a penny to save a fish that thinks?"

        I don't think we can create a corporate conscience by act of law --- they will just weasel around whatever laws we write.  We need enforceable regulation.  That's not really a corporate conscience, any more than the laws against murder are imposed superegos.

        Laws and regulations exist, in large part, because a lot of people and corporations lack a strong superego (or conscience) and are driven by id.  You can't force a person to have a superego, but you can punish people whose ids violate the law.  And that may restrain the id, because it doesn't want to go to jail (or pay a fine).

    •  Regulate the bonus and options time frames (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB, kktlaw, thethinveil

      If Congress were to pass legislation that extended the time horizon for paying bonuses and exercising stock options, much off the short term greedy behavior would disappear. Let's say that stock options vest over ten years, rather than the current five. The incentive becomes to focus on the sustainability and long term viability of the corporation. And let's also say that the initial stock options (or stock grants) cannot exceed 2 times base salary.

      And let's say that annual bonuses have the same ten year time frame with the monies being available only 10% each year.

      As it is now, millions are paid in annual bonuses which are based on annual targets. This structure encourages the "I want mine and I want it now" mentality." It also encourages short term decisions which put the environment, safety, stockholders, our financial system, even the corporations themselves at tremendous risk.

      I offer this in addition to other regulations but I think this is much easier to enforce.

      Good morning everyone.

  •  Crissie, dear, I love you and your diary, but (12+ / 0-)

    I have to speak up when you're just plain wrong.

    Chocolate is so a food group.

    But on the need to implant a conscious in our concept of corporation, you're absolutely right. :)  

    Morning, all! I've missed you guys this week...

  •  Most Corporations have no conscience... (13+ / 0-)

    They all are just about the bottom line.  Even those that are environmentally conscious.  

    My dishes choose to be separated.  They want to be put back on their shelves in a timely and efficient manner.

    And, by the way, chocolate is a vegetable.  'nuf said.  

    Got my stitches out yesterday and a regular cast on now, in tasteful and sophisticated black.  And now I can type better.

    Good morning crissie and krew!  Hugggs to all of you.  I've been lurking for a few days.  Now I feel almost back to normal.

    All shall be well again, I'm telling you. Let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know. (S Carter)

    by MinervainNH on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:14:11 AM PDT

  •  Regulation is good (19+ / 0-)

    in as much as we have people who will regulate.  Enforcement of the regulations left on the books were nonexistent these past 8 years especially.  How in the world do we fix that?  Sure, we took out most of the free marketers this past election, but it was a case of closing the barn door after the horses got out.  One part of the problem IMO is that some of these corporations have become "to big to fail".  Time for some trust busting?

    •  I think it has to be a combination of regulation (12+ / 0-)

      and societal expectation that corporations work, if not for the public good, at least not at direct odds with it. Two years ago, I would have said that expectation was impossible to achieve. Now, it's a possibility--anger at the ruin serving the interests of pure greed has brought on our country makes it possible that people will reward those corporations who display a conscious. Which, of course, would make doing so a good business decision...

    •  I'll echo Shuruq. (8+ / 0-)

      It has to be both sensible, responsible regulation, effectively enforced, and a social expectation that corporations will act on the legal conscience that we create through regulation.  Corporations that weasel around looking for ways to avoid regulations must not be celebrated as "innovative," any more than we would celebrate someone who finds an "innovative" way to rob a bank or commit murder without getting caught.

      And yes, some of that will necessarily involve trust-busting, because monopolies and monopsonies cannot be effectively regulated.  They will truthfully claim that if they are fined or forced out of business, we will all suffer for it.  So they can't be so big that we suffer by punishing them for their misdeeds.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

    •  I love Crissie's diaries. (10+ / 0-)

      But when on earth do you have time to write them?  Hope you don't view yourself as a substitution for the Kula diaries.  There's room for both when Kula finally gets home.

      If you can't support the veterans you have, don't make any new ones.

      by slackjawedlackey on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:31:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I write in the weeeeeeee hours. (10+ / 0-)

        I get up between 3.30 and 4am and write in the wee hours, while things are quiet.  So if you wonder why there's sometimes so much wee on the diaries ... umm ... it's the hours ... and the coffee....

        Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggs::

        •  Ick! (8+ / 0-)


          Oh, and to anyone who wants to know, Teacher Hubby now has an official contact to go with his principal's verbal, "You'll have a job." Yay!!!!

          And he used the Peter's article on filtering C02 out of the air and using it to create synthetic fuel in his classroom. They were fascinated.

          •  Shu- that's great news! Congratulations! (6+ / 0-)

            I have also used links and arguments I have discovered here in the classes I teach. I have to figure if some of these conversations get me thinking, they would get my students thinking, too.

            So far, that's been proven true.

            I try to bring them as wide a variety of sources as possible. We even watched the Stewart/Cramer back-and-forth yesterday, so I look forward to playing them the interview from last night to see what they think of how these two interacted directly with each other.


            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking. -J.M. Keynes

            by elropsych on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:36:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Please report on this tomorrow... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elropsych, Shuruq, NCrissieB, kktlaw

              I'd love to hear their reaction to the Stewart interview. I watched it last night and didn't think there was a lot of back in forth because Cramer just didn't have any way of defending himself or his network.  Stewart did a great job of laying out his argument without getting nasty about it. No screaming, not hyperbole, just calm rational discourse.  It was fascinating to watch.  I wish we had journalists who could present such a clearheaded piece!!!!!

              "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics" FDR

              by theKgirls on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:08:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I give a lot of credit to Cramer for (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Shuruq, NCrissieB, theKgirls

                how he handled himself in the hot seat. I thought he was a different person than he was on "Doucheborough"'s show. Nearly reasonable. Nearly devoid of the persona he's built for his own Money show.

                I did not like that JS cut him off a few times just as he was in the middle of a thought, but that is his prerogative on his show. He is the host. J. Caron once said in an interview that if he let a guest go more than 7 seconds without interrupting him/her that he wasn't doing his job. I was reminded of that last night.

                Stewart's straightforwardness about his own show and MO being unfair was astounding for its honesty, clarity of vision, and self-awareness. Something(s) the other side is in severely short supply of. I mean, just compare that to the Rush-Steele teapot tempest. The culture of thought is so different in these two wonder getting them together to work for the benefit of nation has become so difficult.

                I intend to put up a diary tomorrow listing the advertisers on Beck's "Surround" show this afternoon. I can include my students reaction to Stewart/Cramer in that piece, making it easy to find. My title: "Beck's Advertisers: Surrounded"

                Stewart/Colbert 2016 ;')


                Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking. -J.M. Keynes

                by elropsych on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:40:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Woohooo, Shuruq! (6+ / 0-)

            Congrats to hubby on the contract.  And I still want to be in his science class.  Damn, what I would have given for a teacher like him.


            The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

            by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:36:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yayyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shuruq, theKgirls, kktlaw

            He's the kind of science teacher we all wish we'd had!  Well-deserved congratulations!!!!!

          •  Wonderful news!!!! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shuruq, NCrissieB, kktlaw

            Congrats! A friend of ours has an MBA from Harvard and yet his dream job is being a high school science teacher. I hope he does it, he'd be fantastic -- just like your hubby, he loves to pull in everyday information and uses it to teach. (He does that in conversations with us and does experiments with his kids since now he's a stay-at-home Dad.)

            Huggggggs to you and the family! Congratulations again!

            "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics" FDR

            by theKgirls on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:05:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, I'm a Sag, and I finally found it- a CAR!! (17+ / 0-)

    Good Morning Crissie and all the Krew! I've been out of the loop for a few days because of extreme tiredness and busy-ness. Yesterday I finally, with more than a little help from my good friend Fran, bought a 2004 Hyundai XG350 with only 34,000 miles on it. It's the Hyundai's "luxury" model, and it is really nice! Really nice leather interior, burled 'wood' on the inside, silver, alloy wheels, everything! I had wanted an SUV for ease of entry/exit and this is not, but the driver's seat raises up and down at the push of a button which I can use for ease of getting in and out. I feel like a 16 year-old with my first car, since I have been carless for over a year. The sense of freedom is awesome, and always before I took it for granted. I always name my cars, and I call this one "Baby", which is a genderless name that I can make male or female at my whim. I plan to baby Baby for many years to come. As for the topic, I have consciously never worked for a big corporation because of the heartlessness of those entities. Crissie, once again you are spot-on in your assessment of forcing corporations to abide by all laws, not just their own. Great diary!!

  •  Good morning, Crissie and Krew :)) (8+ / 0-)

    Let me say HUGGGGGSSSS and good morning to everyone before I even read, before the falmers arrive, before I start wanting to kick butt and take names like yesterday. LOLOLOL

    I missed you all in the mess yesterday.  And more so than ever in the midst of the flying insults.

    So here's an extre HUG for all you wonderful folks who make it worthwhile to come here in the morning.  You know you're all special people, don't you?


    The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

    by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:51:57 AM PDT

    •  Oh, I left before that happened (8+ / 0-)

      and saw only one snitty comment left in response to something I said.  I'm glad I didn't go back to investigate.
      Morning Reaction is a very pleasant start to my day and I don't need falmers to spoil things.

    •  Good Morning, winterbanyan! :) (7+ / 0-)

      :::::hugs::::: and hope your day has started off well.  

      All is well thus far. If things get testy, take deep breaths and call Jon Stewart.  LOL :D

    •  Eep. Maybe I'm not sorry to have missed it. (5+ / 0-)

      The diary's open in another tab for later reading, because I love everything Crissie (and all of you!) write. I was a bit sad yesterday afternoon to go flipping through diaries here and seeing so many nasty comments. It's the main reason why I enjoy the morning so--civil, interesting discourse from people who care about one another.

      Morning, Banyan! The kids are already storing up photos for you for the weekend. :)  

      •  Cool! Shuruq, you and the munchkins (6+ / 0-)

        are very special people. :)  Said sincerely and from the heart.  Read the diary, skip a lot of the comments, especially at the beginning.  There was a certain lack of... hmmm... SENSE?  A lot of heat, insults and little light.  A very visceral response from some.  But the diary is GREAT.

        More hugs to you and the family.

        The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

        by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:40:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yesterday got ... testy. (8+ / 0-)

      Ironically, once the bile settled, by and large those same people came 'round to saying something along the lines of "Oh, I see what you're saying now...."  But we all have days like that, so no harm, no foul.

      And yes, the Kula Krew are a wonderful group, and I was a bit saddened that some seemed so uncomfortable as to leave yesterday.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

    •  WB, this is a very serious issue for many people. (5+ / 0-)

      For me, personally, it is the only issue.

      It is the one issue that stands in the way of everything progressives want:

      • Fair Wage

      • Environmental protection
      • Corporate Sponsored Public Policy
      • Financial Transparency
      • Universal Healthcare
      • Media Consolidation
      • Truth in Media
      • Tax Policy
      • MIC and Weapons trade
      • Consumer Protection (horrible phrase, we need a new one)
      • Clean Elections
      • Campaign Finance

      And so forth.

      Nearly every single issue that is important to progressives is stymied by the Corporate Agenda.

      Giving them the constitutional rights and  protections as citizens, even if slightly abridged, has been a very damaging slippery slope and has granted corporations rights they were never intended to have.

      Chrissie has made a case that the use of the word 'person' in the US Code gave corporations constitutional rights. I think she is incorrect in that assumption, but she has stated it as fact, and has precedence on her side.

      That does not mean that it is correct.

      The law is not purely factual, it is interpretation, and she has offered both interpretation and precedent as fact.

      She's made an interesting case, but I'm afraid it's no different than the case that created the status quo, and there are many people who feel it's erroneous.

      Also, yesterday, she lobbed around a bunch of logical fallicies to flesh out her sound legal interpretation.

      You'll have to forgive some people who take this issue deadly serious for taking offense at the logical fallacies that were dropped on top of a disagreement in the interpretation of the law.

      I tried to be civil, and think I remained fairly so, but I was pretty pissed off, as I think she really mislead a lot of people about the issue of Corporate Personhood.  

      I think I understood where she was coming from, but the questions and answers were not very straightforward, and they certainly were quite leading.

      It was actually a decent piece of Lawyering - facts and precedent. They are on her side, as that's the way it all went down.

      But, that is not to say that the interpretation was correct, any more so than the Plessy v Furgeson precedent was correct.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:26:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know, I didn't have a problem (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ms Citizen, NCrissieB, theKgirls, kktlaw

        with people arguing that the law should be changed, or that it has created problems, or that corporations suck.

        What I had a problem with was the downright personal nastiness from those who refused to accept that this IS the law (which we need to correct) and chose to express their disgust by attacking the diarist.

        Much heat, no light in some of those comments.  If you really want to discuss an issue, avoid attacking personally those you disagree with.  Personal attacks shut down real discussion very fast.

        This subject is a hot one for me, too.  But to call the diarist an idiot, to say she needs to return to school to study history and logic, and to demand the diary be unrecommended because you don't like it?

        That's not discussion.

        The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

        by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:17:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I agree that it did get a little harsh from (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NCrissieB, Edgewater

          a couple people, but she did use some pretty blatant logical fallacies, and used them repeatedly - appeal to authority, straw man, false dichotomy, to name a few.

          It was a bit tortured for me as well.

          I do think I gleaned a bit of her intent, and chalked a few up to frustration and shorthand.

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:42:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You stated that she lobbed logical (6+ / 0-)

        fallacies.  Could you elaborate on that and give examples?  I don't like the idea of corporate personhood either, but I didn't note the fallacies in the argument.  Maybe you could enlighten us with a diary of your own?  Thank you.

        •  No thanks. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NCrissieB, Edgewater

          I'll just post them here, in paraphrased form:

          You can have business as Government Only or you can have Corporate Personhood.

          Then there was the 'Without corporate personhood, there would be no business whatsoever."

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:38:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That isn't precisely what I said. (5+ / 0-)

            What I said was that if corporations are not allowed due process of law - if the government can seize their assets or shut them down at any time, for any reason or no reason whatever - then no sane person would invest in a corporation.  And they wouldn't, because it would be stupid to invest in a corporation when government can arbitrarily swoop in and seize or destroy anything it wants.

            The U.S. Constitution guarantees due process of law only for "persons," in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.  The Constitution could be amended to provide and set different standards of due process of law for corporations.  But unless and until it is, if corporations are not included in "persons," then they are not entitled to due process of law.  That leaves them subject to rule by arbitrary fiat, and no sane person would invest in that.

            There's a reason no one invested in Chinese business until the Chinese government passed new laws that protect businesses from arbitrary government seizure.

      •  We can disagree. :) (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k9disc, winterbanyan, theKgirls, kktlaw

        We can even disagree on very serious issues.  That does not mean it has to sink to the level of bileful diatribe that happened yesterday.

        Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

  •  Well...hmm... (4+ / 0-)

    I don't see how you can regulate businesses effectively when they have constitutional rights.

    How do you keep FOXNews from lying when they assert their 1st Amendment rights under the constitution?

    How can you treat the widget business one way and treat the Doohickey business another?

    That seems like a classic 14th Amendment violation to me.

    And of course we haven't quite gotten to that point yet, we are treating businesses differently, Tobacco is a good example, but corporations are influencing our elections and legislation with an extension of Constitutional rights as the foundation for that ability.

    It seems to me that this corporate personhood situation is a classic, and active slippery slope.

    They've got the money, they've got the clout and they've got constitutional rights.

    I don't think you can regulate them effectively because you can't treat them differently per the constitution.


    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:55:24 AM PDT

    •  We regulate people. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ej25, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

      The idea that we can't regulate corporations because they are "persons" is a canard.  We can and do pass laws to regulate the behavior of human persons, and your personal legal exposure does change depending on what activities you engage in.  Different activities are subject to different laws, because we recognize that they have different kinds of social impact.

      For example, you can wobble across your lawn or through your house because you're intoxicated, and you're not violating the law.  But if you get behind the wheel of a car - in legal speak, if you have "actual physical control" of the vehicle - then you are breaking the law, even if you don't start the engine.  In your house or walking across your lawn, it's okay to be drunk.  Behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, it's illegal to be drunk.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

      •  You cannot regulate into exist a conscious (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrissieB, Edgewater

        Lets compare your argument to Sartes discussion on the existence of the Other.

        What is, for Sartre, the nature of my consciousness of the other? Sartre provides a phenomenological analysis of shame and how the other features in it. When I peep through the keyhole, I am completely absorbed in what I am doing and my ego does not feature as part of this pre-reflective state. However, when I hear a floorboard creaking behind me, I become aware of myself as an object of the other's look. My ego appears on the scene of this reflective consciousness, but it is as an object for the other. Note that one may be empirically in error about the presence of this other.

        Now the corporation may hear the noise of the creak of regulation looking at them in a embarrassing act but they do not feel the shame that would allow them to recognize this.

        I think we are making the mistake that regulation gives corporations a conscience. Corporations may know the existence of the other but still their primary motivation is greed and profit motives.

        Now people are much more complex in what builds their conscious. It that they believe in right and wrong and human dignity and virtue and so forth.

        Regulations fail in making the Corporation believe in the communities values and their pain they still only recognize their own - only when their isn't enough profit to feed the beast.

        "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

        by thethinveil on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:59:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yesm but that applies equally to all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        And that's why 1886 is such a landmark case, it's equality, not due process.

        I don't really have a problem with the due process, legally speaking, IV, VI, possibly the fifth, but equality? With living breathing people? With other industries?

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:13:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Corporations are not equal to living persons. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          winterbanyan, kktlaw

          I explained why and gave examples in today's diary.

          •  There are many ways in which people are (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            not equivalent to corporations.

            They can't have babies.

            We don't have limited liability.

            They can't vote.

            We can't break ourselves up into hundreds of little people and have each of those little people perform functions for us while disavowing their true relationship to us.

            It's a two way street.

            We are not simultaneously property and person.

            They are simultaneously property and person.

            It's a pretty silly argument, actually, and it gets even sillier when we break out of the legal world and get into the real world.

            Exxon makes $10B per quarter in profit. How much do we make? That's more money than the entire state of Michigan's yearly budget.

            Exxon has thousands of lawyers and lobbyists protecting them and writing laws.

            How many do we have?

            Wal-Mart gets tax abatements because their presence in a community is so important, what do we get?

            The disparity between corporations and people in the real world are far greater than the differences in the legal world.

            It's an absolutely ridiculous argument.

            How many giant companies have destroyed the environment and walked?

            Do they have to apply for a passport to leave the country?

            In a perfect world, and in the world of law, we have more rights, but in the practical, real world, it isn't even close.

            Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

            by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:25:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'm Not Sure WHY US Business Marginalized (8+ / 0-)

    ...and trashed the nation and regarded the citizens as so much soylent green -- all to churn more and bigger prizes for their fellow equity partners.

    But I know WHEN. I time it with Scalia's arrival on the Supreme Court. That's when the antitrust laws were cut off at the knees and corporations could become vast multifaceted monopolies, swallowing up any competition and flattening the possibilities of future endeavors for individuals.

    Now our corporations are likely to have divisions exploiting defense contracts, producing nightly news and game shows, making people sick and fat with fast food conglomerates, and selling long term care policies and kitchen appliances -- all under the same umbrella monopoly.

    Then, you come along and ask them to accept regulations that will help the environment and pay the people a living wage, and they say "fuck you" and send their manufacturing and service divisions off shore and demand a tax cut for the inconvenience. Then, they ship the products back and the American workers are stuck in jobs just selling the stuff to each other. And still making lousy wages. More soylent green.

    The companies need to be broken apart and forced to sell off their monopolistic business and spin off their health care division, their airline, and other vital services.

    Well, if there was ever a shot at getting it done, it will during the next few years of chaos.It's going to take a Strong attorney general to pull this off and turn this back into a nation where we work together for the greater good.

    Although something tells nme we're too late -- and we really might end up as soylent green, anyway

    •  It wasn't just Scalia. (8+ / 0-)

      The New York Times Magazine had an excellent article about the pro-corporate slant of the U.S. Supreme Court.  To blame it solely on Antonin Scalia is to both overstate and understate the case.  Every sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice is pro-corporate.

      In fact, the perennial brouhaha over social issues like abortion has served as a convenient distraction from the issue of nominees' pro-corporate bias, and the way the Court was being stacked - by every president since Reagan - in favor of corporate interests.  I'd like to think President Obama will change that, but the writers were not hopeful in that regard, and neither am I.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

      •  Totally agree! nt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:15:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, very true. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrissieB, kktlaw

        I really hope that when it comes time for Obama to nominate someone for the Supreme Court, we will scrutinize that person's views on business regulation, anti-trust laws and corporate personhood, and not simply focus on other issues.

        Civil marriage is a civil right.

        by UU VIEW on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:26:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Stacking the court with corporatists (0+ / 0-)

        is a problem much older than the Reagan era.  It has been occuring since the 1800's and it is what lead to this whole "personhood" thing in the first place:

        The Civil War accelerated the growth of manufacturing and the power of the men who owned the corporations. After the war corporations began a campaign to throw off the legal shackles that had held them in check. The systematic bribing of Congress was instituted by Mark Hanna, sugar trust magnate Henry Havemeyer, and Senator Nelson Aldrich and their associates. [Jonathan Shepard Fast and Luzviminda Bartolome Francisco, Conspiracy For Empire, Big Business, Corruption and the Politics of Imperialism in America, 1876-1907 (Quezon City, Foundation for Nationalist Studies, 1985), p. 92-97] Most Supreme Court judges who were appointed were former corporate lawyers.

        In 1886 the supreme court justices were Samuel F. Miller, Stephen J. Field, Joseph P. Bradley, John M. Harlan, Stanley Matthews, William B. Woods, Samuel Blatchford, Horace Gray, and chief justice Morrison. R. Waite. Never heard of a one of them? These men subjected African Americans to a century of Jim Crow discrimination; they made corporations into a vehicle for the wealthy elite to control the economy and the government; they vastly increased the power of the Supreme Court itself over elected government officials. How quaint they are forgotten names. In all fairness, Justice Harlan dissented from the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson decision [163 U.S. 537 (1896)], which, as he said, effectively denied the protection of the 14th Amendment to the very group of people (former slaves and their descendants) for whom it was designed.


        "The one pervading purpose . . . [of the 14th Amendment] was the freedom of the slave race, the security and firm establishment of that freedom, and the protection of the newly-made freeman and citizen from the oppression of those who had formerly exercised unlimited dominion over him." That is exactly what Justice Samuel F. Miller said in 1873 in one of the first Supreme Court opinions to rule on the 14th Amendment. [83 U.S. 36, 81 (1873)]

        But the wealthy, powerful men who owned corporations wanted more power for their corporations. Their lawyers came up with the idea that corporations, which might be said to be groups of persons (though one person might in turn belong to (own stock in) many corporations), should have the same constitutional rights as persons themselves. If they could get the courts to agree that corporations were persons, they could assert that the States, which had chartered the corporations, would then be constrained by the 14th Amendment from exercising power over the corporations.


        These arguments were made by corporate lawyers at the State level, in court after court, and many judges, being former corporate attorneys and usually at least moderately wealthy themselves, were sympathetic to any argument that would strengthen corporations. There was a national campaign to get the legal establishment to accept that corporations were persons. This cumulated in the Santa Clara decision of 1886, which has been used as the precedent for all rulings about corporate personhood since then.

        The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy

        Sorry to repeat the link but this article is really quite good and I highly suggest reading it.

        Above someone implied that worker's unions are corporations - this article disagrees.  

        Also, if you scroll down to the bottom they have a Q & A detailing the fears some people have regarding loss of corporate "personhood" and answering each of those fears one by one.

        They close the article with this:

        In the art of lying it is hard to surpass corporate lawyers. They have managed to place in the minds of law students, in the texts of some law books, and in the public mind, the idea that corporate personhood is necessary to bring corporations under rule of law. This is such a big lie it is amazing that they can tell it with a straight face. Corporations were taxed when they were artificial entities, long before they were granted personhood. They were more subject to the rule of law, not less, before receiving personhood. Read up on the history; don't be fooled again.

        "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

        by Edgewater on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 04:28:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've read that article. (0+ / 0-)

          And I disagree with it.  The article suggests I disagree because I was "blinded" in law school.  I refuse to accept that premise, and frankly I find it insulting beyond words.  It amounts to "Anyone who disagrees with me has bought into the propaganda."

    •  you're such an optimist, Pluto ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

      ...I know, cuz I read your diaries! /snark

      How much is enough? $500K/year?

      by billlaurelMD on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:46:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Could someone please explain (8+ / 0-)

    why the ratings agencies like Moody's, etc. haven't been sued for giving triple A ratings to financial garbage? Everyone knows that they were paid by the company issuing the toxic assets to rate those assets. With this conflict of interest, I don't understand why bilked investors haven't been in court saying "We bought X shares of Y because Moody, etc. rated this investment AAA when in fact Moody, etc. had a financial interest in wrongly rating these securities" The potential liability is enormous.

    •  This will come. (6+ / 0-)

      I'm surprised the suits haven't been filed yet, but I am sure they will be. Perhaps people are waiting to see if criminal charges (fraud, for example) will be brought, which, if ratings agency are found guilty, will make the civil cases stronger.

      Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

      by mofembot on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:05:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The charges may come. (5+ / 0-)

      Part of the problem is that the instruments were so arcane and complex that it was all but impossible to evaluate their risk.  Part of the problem was that everyone involved was using the same, flawed formula for risk-evaluation, and it's possible if not likely the government would have been using the same, flawed formula had it been doing the ratings.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggggs::

    •  Suits may be filed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mcc777c2, NCrissieB

      but I don't think they'll be succesfull.  The ratings agencies generally provide reasonably detailed descriptions of the methods and criteria they use in the determination of their ratings.  The very statement you desribe, "We bought X shares of Y because Moody, etc. rated this investment AAA" is the bigger source of the problem.  It is very likely that asset managers, those responsible for making investment decisions in pension funds for example, did just that.  The ratings provided by the agencies are not intended to be a substitute for due diligence investigations by any potential investor, much less a professional fund manager.  The complex nature of some of the problem financial products makes any assesment difficult and errors or shortcomings in an assesment can certainly be understood.  Complete negligence in failing to even attempt a proper assesment, however, is not.

  •  Good morning Crissie (7+ / 0-)

    and hugs and good wishes to all.  You are spot on with the horoscope - I just did find everything I'd been hunting  for over the past few weeks yesterday.  You are so smart!!!

    •  ooh, I've been searching for answers, maybe (5+ / 0-)

      they have been here all along and I've been looking in the wrong place...  Who knew? SO glad Crissie cleared that up for me!

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics" FDR

      by theKgirls on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:10:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good morning KGirls and Hugggggs!!! (4+ / 0-)

        Wow, there a lot of Sag's in the Kula Krew, including me. We are all adventurers and open to new ideas. And we always see the glass half full, right? Hope KGirl2 is enjoying good health. You are such a good mom for dealing so rigorously with her issues!

        •  love adventure; totally open to new ideas (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          myrealname, NCrissieB, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

          'cause I hate the tedium of doing the same thing the same way (except for my ritual of coffee and Morning Feature and chatting with the Krew).  Never, ever considered myself a "half full" kind of gal, but maybe I am. I just "roll with it" -- but maybe it's not possible to just roll with it unless you believe that things work out the way they are supposed to.  And that does require a certain amount of optimism, doesn't it?

          Congrats on your newfound freedom with your new wheels! Hugggggs to you!

          "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics" FDR

          by theKgirls on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:54:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, I see that you really are a (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            myrealname, NCrissieB, theKgirls

            glass half-full person. My observation is that when you were so unsure of KGirls2 diagnosis and prognosis it was very difficult to keep a positive attitude.It was the same for me all the months I was in the nursing home and kept having surgeries. I just don't think we, as humans, can keep our optimism under such undue stress. But now, things are different. It sounds like you have a fantastic communicative doctor that you trust for KGirls2. So, like me, I think your glass half-full is shining once again!!

    •  The stars never lie. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myrealname, addisnana, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

      They may stuff that can't be tested, or would be true for almost anyone, but they never lie.... ::winks::

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggggggs::

  •  Excellent explanation, Crissie! (7+ / 0-)

    I have hated the notion of "corporate personhood," tied as it is to its legal obligations to shareholders rather than to the general welfare. I am happy to be able to begin to hope that the era of unfettered deregulation and corporate profiteering just might—might be coming to an end.

    Thanks for this!
    PS: No crosswalks in my village, says I the Taurus, but I nearly got hit while by some bozo speeding up the hill this morning....RRRRRrrrr.

    Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

    by mofembot on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:01:39 AM PDT

  •  Great diary, Crissie! (8+ / 0-)

    And very clear in your explanation of what needs to be done.  Now we just need to push the people who create the regulations and fund the agencies to get on with it before we slip into the sinkhole of sociopathic corporations... a place we're already headed toward.

    When Wall Street leaps for joy over a layoff because it will improve the bottom line, without regard for the long-term effects of reduced production by the company, or without regard to long-term (or even short-term) effects on the larger or local economies, their sociopathy is showing is terms we should all be able to understand.

    The bottom line clearly needs to at least be reduced to the same level as other important things, like responsibility to others beyond investors.

    The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

    by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:05:49 AM PDT

    •  It's this bottom line thinking that drives (6+ / 0-)

      poor MrKgirls over the edge.  He is VP of Int'l business development in a small company that is owned by a HUGE conglomerate. Every year they go through the budget and decide that they are going to cut ALL travel to make the bottom line look healthier. So the $10M project in Dubai? That will have to wait for a few months until we're allowed to spend $10,000 on travel.  We'll keep our fingers crossed that no one else gets there first!  Then if that doesn't do enough, they cut 10% of the staff. So manufacturing slows down because they no longer have enough staff (and then hire temps workers who get paid as much yet have no idea what they are doing) and orders get delayed because there isn't enough staff to process it since the workers are now totally demoralized and angry and unwilling to pick up the slack.  Then their best workers say screw this and find other jobs.  But Corporate never sees this, nor do they care, because their bottom line looks good to their shareholders. Oooh, if I ran the world, it would be a very different place...

      Good morning Winter! -- hey I admire your tenacity yesterday to not allow the angry few to run you off!  Thanks for doing your part to keep Morning Feature civilized...  

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics" FDR

      by theKgirls on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:29:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, theKgirls :) (5+ / 0-)

        And I understand your husband's frustration.  Both my eldest kids work for megacorps.  The oldest just took an across-the-board 15% pay cut, but refused to sign the paper agreeing to it because it's a violation of his contract.  So let them have the heartburn of wondering if he'll sue, while he soldiers on.

        Younger child survived the layoffs but is now being hit with an enforced furlough of one week each quarter.  Meanwhile the head of the corp announces to all and sundry that he's taking a $200,000/yr pay cut, so he understands their pain.  Except he forgot he was talking to people in the news business.  The reporters figured out within fifteen minutes that Mr.-I'm-suffering-along-with-you is now limping by on $1 million per year.

        oooooh, they felt sooooo sorry for him.  On average, reporters were making $35K/year ...

        The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

        by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:52:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I wonder what might happen if there was a (5+ / 0-)

      'Corporate Citizenship' rating that investors and the public could access that assessed a corp's actions and behavior. They would have to offer access in order to receive a full rating, but would receive a partial rating just on what was readily observed. That could be an incentive for transparancy and ethical behavior. Would have to be an independent group that did the ratings. It would be valuable in making investment decisions based not only on ethical grounds, but risk management, as well. Just a thought.

      Good morning!   :::Huuugggss::::

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:46:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good morning winterbanyan and huggggggs! (5+ / 0-)

      I like this comment. Very succinct and astute. Do you ever write diaries? I agree with President Obama that we should ignore Wall Street day to day because of what you said: Wall Street jumps for joy when a company lays off workers. That's a happy time for investors, but definitely not if you are one of those workers!

    •  We broke it with law ... (5+ / 0-)

      ... and at least that means there's some hope that we can fix it with law.  Most people who work for corporations do have consciences, but as the law presently stands they're not allowed to use their consciences.  We need to remedy that in a way that both protects We the People and ensures investors can know what they're investing in and make responsible choices.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggs::

    •  Hi winterbanyan - good to see you here (7+ / 0-)


      I agree.  They had a story on NPR this morning how it is always the executives who are suggesting a cut in worker's pay to make ends meet when there are many avenues to making ends me that don't involve cutting worker's pay.

      This is what happens when you're told you don't have to have a conscience, that its not legally required of you to have the community's interests run parallel to your own.

      I'm sick of GOP SOP!

      by xysea on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:53:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hi, xysea :) (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eloise, xysea, Shuruq, NCrissieB, kktlaw

        Good to see you here, too.  Hugs!  Wish I'd heard that NPR story.  Yes, there are other ways to make cuts, but a surefire way to raise your stock value is to layoff.  Investors can see immediately that the bottom line will improve.

        It's sick.  It's so sick I've been wondering about it for twenty years now.  It just never made sense to me why stock would rise when layoffs were announced.  To me it seems like a company is admitting it can't improve its bottom line without shrinking.

        And if I were an investor, I'd start worrying about the viability of the company, not jumping for joy that I'd get a bigger dividend in the next quarter.

        But that's just me, and plainly I don't invest in the market.

        The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

        by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:13:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The story was actually on (6+ / 0-)

          labor unions, which are seeing a resurgence and a favorability rating not seen since the Great Depression.

          The segment I listened to on my drive to work this morning said that unions protect workers from executives like this, who would be horrified at the prospect of cutting their own pay.  In fact, some unions have been able to actually force some of these executives to do just that, if they put workers' pay on the table.  The end result is either a compromise or workers' pay being taken off the table.

          And I agree with your assessment.  But the people who view the market aren't interested in my life, or your livelihood.  They are too far removed to feel the impact of their negative reinforcing behavior.  We need to give them a more immediate set of consequences and impacts.

          I'm sick of GOP SOP!

          by xysea on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:18:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Corporate bigwigs should beware (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            xysea, NCrissieB, kktlaw

            There's been a change of psychology among workers.  No longer do they just accept layoffs as inevitable.

            Oh no.  Now they sit down and figure what upper level management and directors are making, then talk about how many jobs could have been saved if those bigwigs had just shaved a few million off their own compensation packages.  I'm hearing it from many directions, not just the newsroom mentioned above.

            This indicates a very real sense among workers that they are paying excessively for excessive compensation for the few at the top.  And every time they look at the numbers, they get angrier and more disgusted.

            The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

            by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:34:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Workers have been paying the highest costs (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              winterbanyan, Shuruq, NCrissieB

              for the longest time and the bottom line is, they aren't making it anymore.  Now that both parents are in the workforce and it takes both incomes to make living possible, a layoff is a catastrophic event.

              Furthermore, the execs always get better health and other benefits at reduced prices.  If you don't think the lowly benefits worker who processes your pay packet doesn't know that information, or share it then as an exec you're just arrogant and deluding yourself.

              The worker is tired of paying.  Tired of the roll back in wages and benefits and retirement.   Tired of seeing the upper tiers make no sacrifice and all the profits.

              And winterbanyan, I think this is just the beginning.

              I'm sick of GOP SOP!

              by xysea on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:45:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree, xysea (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                and while the boardrooms may not realize it yet, the workers are taking a hard, long look at them, and are angry at what they see.

                At best we can hope for massive unionization.  At worst...well, maybe I'll buy a pitchfork concession if I ever get paid.

                The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

                by winterbanyan on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:51:43 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Good morning, xysea! Great to see you. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

        Your phrase, "have the community's interests run parallel to your own," got me thinking. My first thought was that you've hit the problem with globalization on the head--companies are no longer required to be part of a particular community. So things that cause problems in the community (environmental issues, unemployment troubles, people working for less than a living wage, etc) don't necessarily impact them in the short term. If things get too bad, or if paying people a decent wage cuts too far into their bottom line, they can just relocate. Not being tied to any one place cuts into corporations' sense of community obligation just as much, if not more, than it does people's. One more point in favor of Crissie's localization issue.... In the long term, not having a sense of responsibility cuts into your future customer base, so it's not sound business practice.

        My second, somewhat wistful, thought was that it would be very nice if globalized corporations developed a sense of responsibility, a corporate conscious,  to the world community. It would make them into a force for such good. Never gonna happen, alas....

        •  It can happen. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ms Citizen, winterbanyan, Shuruq, kktlaw

          For example, what if the U.S. passed a law that corporations doing business in the U.S. must comply with U.S. laws on corporate responsibility ...

          ... no matter where they are doing business.

          So you have a choice:

          1. Do business in the U.S. and comply with U.S. laws on corporate responsibility, even for your operations in other countries; or,
          1. Don't do business in the U.S., which just happens to be the world's largest national economy.

          Hrmm ... which do I think they'd choose....

          •  If the US passed a law like that it would (0+ / 0-)

            get hauled in front of the WTO so fast your head would spin.

            The US is involved in numerous trade agreements that don't allow a law like that.

            "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

            by Edgewater on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 04:35:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Love this series! (9+ / 0-)

    I, for one, think it's really important to think these things through.  It's easy to criticize corporations and capitalism, but the left has historically been short on realistic answers.  I think that is changing now, but it would be nice if we could coalesce around a clear, workable vision of sustainable capitalism - with realistic policy goals.

    Regulation - yes.  But what regulation?  Don't we have kind of a systemic problem?  Healthcare (including pharma), Agribusiness, Financial Services, IT (Microsoft), heck probably most major industries, are dominated by mega-corporations that cause great damage to society.  A lot of the damage goes unnoticed.  Microsoft, for example, has been a thorn in the side of standardization of development tools and open source by essentially throwing their monopolistic weight around.  Examples of such behavior abound.  I know I mentioned this yesterday, but as companies grow - it is in their very structure, their DNA to destroy competition.  I don't think this can be avoided simply by an ethical culture.  Large corporations may be legally persons, but there are so many people involved that no person has enough weight to control it.  CEOs go on and on about "corporate culture" but if you listen to them, they really don't have that much control over it.  Unless the culture was clearly defined by a strong personality like Steve Jobs.  But then he goes away, for whatever reason, and there goes the culture.  Yes, there are benefits that the scale of these companies provide.  No doubt.  But there's a balance, a tipping point, where the costs become too great.  And the costs of the company failing become too great, as well.  I don't have answers.  That's why I come here!  But I believe there might be a structural problem.  Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know.  Regulation seems like the only answer - but what regulation?

    I don't know the tax structure of corporations so I'm totally talking out my arse here.  It kind of seems like a graduated tax on corporations like we (are supposed to) have on the citizens might make sense.  Is there such a thing already?  Or a corporate wealth tax.  I think this exists in some European countries on private citizens.  They should pay relative to their dominance in a market.  There should be some drag, some structural penalty for monopolistic growth.

    Thanks for the education, NCrissieB!  

    •  Those are all good questions to ask! (6+ / 0-)

      The solutions won't be simple.  For example, to what extent do computer users benefit from a limited set of fairly standard operating systems, versus the wild and wooly 1980s when it was all but impossible for any two computers to communicate?  But by the same token, to what extent does one corporation or a tiny handful of them limit useful innovation in computer operating system development?

      I could offer the same arguments for each of the issues you raised.  But these are questions we can ask, and issues government has a legitimate duty to consider for the benefit of We the People.  Simply relying on the goodness of conscience-forbidden corporations to make the right decisions is and was always a failed idea.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggggggs::

    •  Oh come on! (4+ / 0-)

      It's easy to criticize corporations and capitalism, but the left has historically been short on realistic answers.

      That's just not true!

      CAFE standards?

      Closing the SUV Loophole?

      Standing up for Glass Steagall?

      Renewable Energy Investment?

      Universal healthcare?

      Regulation in General?

      Over and over, the left has given very simple and easily achievable solutions to problems.

      The only reason they are not 'realistic' is that the corporate media creates our reality and protecting people at the expense of profit is unreasonable and not realistic.

      You bought it, hook line and sinker.

      Socialism! BOO!

      That's reality.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:25:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're not "the left." (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirtfarmer, mrchumchum, guyeda, Shuruq, kktlaw

        It's unfair to criticize a general argument as if it referred to you individually.  There are many on "the left," including some who've posted in these diaries, who want nothing short of government by arbitrary fiat with regard to corporations.  Some people do hate corporations at a visceral level and want them ended, period, completely.  Some people do want the government to be the only instrument for collective action.  That you don't does not prove that no one else does, and acting as if those voices do not exist among "the left" is denying the diversity of opinion among progressives.

        That I've argued against that extreme does not mean I'm at the far opposite extreme.

      •  I'm sorry, I thought that might generate (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirtfarmer, Shuruq, NCrissieB, kktlaw

        some controversy, but it's not what I meant.  I know what you're saying, and I agree.  What I mean is in the really big picture - over the arc of the last century.  Worldwide.  I'm saying that there has been a historical bond to kinds of socialism that are quite frankly not realistic.  "Socialism" as an absolutist ideology, in practice, is unworkable.   Just as Capitalism as an ideology is.  But there are still many people on the left who will decry capitalism without offering systemic and realistic alternatives.  But, like I said, I do think that kind of absolutist thinking is largely gone...but you'll most certainly still see it around here.  

  •  IMHO, the health insurance industry (7+ / 0-)

    is, at the moment, a particularly egregious violator of putting profits before people.

    Again, just my opinion but I don't want to see them regulated; I want them gone. The only thing they're actually insuring is their own bottom lines.

    Nice job!

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:45:59 AM PDT

    •  I'm iffy on that. (7+ / 0-)

      There are countries that have excellent universal health care and work it through "private" insurers.  I say "private" because the premiums they can charge and the coverage they must deliver are mandated by the government.  There are countries that have excellent, publicly-funded universal health care but allow those so inclined to purchase extra coverage from private insurers.  There are countries that have only excellent, publicly-funded universal health care.  And there are countries using each of the above models, and not providing their citizens with excellent, universal health care.

      What I want, in case it wasn't obvious by the use of language, is the "excellent, universal health care."

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

  •  Good Morning, NCrissieB! (10+ / 0-)

    Great diary, as usual.  :)

    I read a lot from Robert Reich about corporate personhood.  It gives the corporations all the legal protections and rights of an individual, with none of the responsibility.  I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about Robert Reich, but I believe he has done good work on this front.

    One of the things he has written is a paper on the idea of corporate conscience, or social responsibilty.

    Unfortunately, you cannot read the full paper, but the gist is that corporations only care about the social good in that it affects the bottom line (profits).  If the cost of having a conscience impacts profits, then there is no conscience.  

    I suppose it would be like asking a machine to have a conscience - it's not in the schematics.

    From the Wiki entry on Robert Reich

    Reich is of the opinion that moral hazard and risk are inherent to laissez-faire capitalism, and he favors a more regulated economic system and opposes policies that create a concentration of wealth in the hands of a rich few. [14]

    I subscribed to his Blogger blog, here:

    I found his latest book, Supercapitalism very surprising and educational in many ways - and I enjoyed it when he visited the DailyKos for Q&A on it.  He advocates rolling back corporate personhood, and right now I am not finding any downsides to that position.

    Here's an interview with Thom Hartmann that shows corporations that assume human rights can trump human rights:

    A corporation today can have an infinite lifespan. It doesn't fear death. It doesn't fear pain or incarceration. It doesn't need fresh water to drink or clean air to breathe. It doesn't need health care or retirement. It can own others of its own kind. It can change citizenship in a day. It can tear off a part of itself and create a new corporation in an hour. It can amass virtually infinite wealth without that wealth ever having to pass through probate or being subject to estate/inheritance taxes.

    I'm sick of GOP SOP!

    by xysea on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:48:20 AM PDT

    •  Both misstate the case a little. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ej25, xysea, Shuruq, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

      Corporations do not have "all of the rights of human persons," as I explained in my diary.  And they "die" - corporations shut down every day - or be "killed" by government.  And both end up suggesting the same reforms I've suggested: using regulation to install a corporate "conscience."

      Yes, that has to be done legally and in financial terms, because corporations are legal entities and financing is essential to their existence.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

      •  I think we tend to view the idea of die (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shuruq, NCrissieB, kktlaw, Edgewater

        in different terms.  As Hartmann states, a corporation and pinch a piece of itself off and continue to grow in that direction, even if the body of it is dying or is killed off by the govt.

        I wonder how the regulations will impact business - something about the letter of the law and not the spirit.  Although I suppose at least following the letter of the law would be a start.

        I'm sick of GOP SOP!

        by xysea on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:55:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a guy with a law Degree: (5+ / 0-)
    Two Supreme Court judges, Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, later rendered opinions attacking the doctrine of corporate personhood. I supply here most of justice Black's opinion:

    But it is contended that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits California from determining what terms and conditions should be imposed upon this Connecticut corporation to promote the welfare of the people of California.

    I do not believe the word 'person' in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations. 'The doctrine of stare decisis, however appropriate and even necessary at times, has only a limited application in the field of constitutional law.' This Court has many times changed its interpretations of the Constitution when the conclusion was reached that an improper construction had been adopted. Only recently the case of West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379, 57 S.Ct. 578, 108 A.L.R. 1330, expressly overruled a previous interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment which had long blocked state minimum wage legislation. When a statute is declared by this Court to be unconstitutional, the decision until reversed stands as a barrier against the adoption of similar legislation. A constitutional interpretation that is wrong should not stand. I believe this Court should now overrule previous decisions which interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to include corporations.

    Neither the history nor the language of the Fourteenth Amendment justifies the belief that corporations are included within its protection [303 U.S. 77, 86]. The historical purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was clearly set forth when first considered by this Court in the Slaughter House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, decided April, 1873-less than five years after the proclamation of its adoption. Mr. Justice Miller, speaking for the Court, said:

    'Among the first acts of legislation adopted by several of the States in the legislative bodies which claimed to be in their normal relations with the Federal government, were laws which imposed upon the colored race onerous disabilities and burdens, and curtailed their rights in the pursuit of life, liberty, and property to such an extent that their freedom was of little value, while they had lost the protection which they had received from their former owners from motives both of interest and humanity.

    'These circumstances, whatever of falsehood or misconception may have been mingled with their presentation, forced ... the conviction that something more was necessary in the way of constitutional protection to the unfortunate race who had suffered so much. (Congressional leaders) accordingly passed through Congress the proposition for the fourteenth amendment, and ... declined to treat as restored to their full participation in the government of the Union the States which had been in insurrection, until they ratified that article by a formal vote of their legislative bodies.' 16 Wall. 36, at page 70.

    Certainly, when the Fourteenth Amendment was submitted for approval, the people were not told that the states of the South were to be denied their normal

    relationship with the Federal Government unless they ratified an amendment granting new and revolutionary rights to corporations. This Court, when the Slaughter House Cases were decided in 1873, had apparently discovered no such purpose. The records of the time can be searched in vain for evidence that this amendment was adopted for the benefit of corporations. It is true [303 U.S. 77, 87] that in 1882, twelve years after its adoption, and ten years after the Slaughter House Cases, supra, an argument was made in this Court that a journal of the joint Congressional

    Committee which framed the amendment, secret and undisclosed up to that date, indicated the committee's desire to protect corporations by the use of the word 'person.' Four years later, in 1886, this Court in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394, 6 S.Ct. 1132, decided for the first time that the word 'person' in the amendment did in some instances include corporations. A secret purpose on the part of the members of the committee, even if such be the fact, however, would not be sufficient to justify any such construction. The history of the amendment proves that the people were told that its purpose was to protect weak and helpless human beings and were not told that it was intended to remove corporations in any fashion from the control of state governments. The Fourteenth Amendment followed the freedom of a race from slavery. Justice Swayne said in the Slaughter Houses Cases, supra, that: 'By 'any person' was meant all persons within the jurisdiction of the State. No distinction is intimated on account of race or color.' Corporations have neither race nor color. He knew the amendment was intended to protect the life, liberty, and property of human beings.

    The language of the amendment itself does not support the theory that it was passed for the benefit of corporations.

    The first clause of section 1 of the amendment reads: 'All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.' Certainly a corporation cannot be naturalized and 'persons' here is not broad enough to include 'corporations.'

    The first clause of the second sentence of section 1 reads: 'No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.' While efforts have been made to persuade this Court to allow corporations to claim the protection of his clause, these efforts have not been successful.

    The next clause of the second sentence reads: 'Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.' It has not been decided that this clause prohibits a state from depriving a corporation of 'life.' This Court has expressly held that 'the liberty guaranteed by the 14th Amendment against deprivation without due process of law is the liberty of natural, not artificial persons.' Thus, the words 'life' and 'liberty' do not apply to corporations, and of course they could not have been so intended to apply. However, the decisions of this Court which the majority follow hold that corporations are included in this clause in so far as the word 'property' is concerned. In other words, this clause is construed to mean as follows:

    'Nor shall any State deprive any human being of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall any State deprive any corporation of property without due process of law.'

    The last clause of this second sentence of section 1 reads: 'Nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' As used here, 'person' has been construed to include corporations. [303 U.S. 77, 89] Both Congress and the people were familiar with the meaning of the word 'corporation' at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was submitted and adopted. The judicial inclusion of the word 'corporation' in the Fourteenth Amendment has had a revolutionary effect on our form of government. The states did not adopt the amendment with knowledge of its sweeping meaning under its present construction. No section of the amendment gave notice to the people that, if adopted, it would subject every state law and municipal ordinance, affecting corporations, (and all administrative actions under them) to censorship of the United States courts. No word in all this amendment gave any hint that its adoption would deprive the states of their long-recognized power to regulate corporations.

    The second section of the amendment informed the people that representatives would be apportioned among the several states 'according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.' No citizen could gather the impression here that while the word 'persons' in the second section applied to human beings, the word 'persons' in the first section in some instances applied to corporations. Section 3 of the amendment said that 'no person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress,' (who 'engaged in insurrection'). There was no intimation here that the word 'person' in the first section in some instances included corporations.

    This amendment sought to prevent discrimination by the states against classes or races. We are aware of this from words spoken in this Court within five years after its adoption, when the people and the courts were personally familiar with the historical background of the amendment. 'We doubt very much whether any action of a State not directed by way of discrimination against [303 U.S. 77, 90] the negroes as a class, or on account of their race, will ever be held to come within the purview of this provision.' Yet, of the cases in this Court in which the Fourteenth Amendment was applied during the first fifty years after its adoption, less than one-half of 1 per cent invoked it in protection of the negro race, and more than 50 per cent. asked that its benefits be extended to corporations.

    If the people of this nation wish to deprive the states of their sovereign rights to determine what is a fair and just tax upon corporations doing a purely local business within their own state boundaries, there is a way provided by the Constitution to accomplish this purpose. That way does not lie along the course of judicial amendment to that fundamental charter. An amendment having that purpose could be submitted by Congress as provided by the Constitution. I do not believe that the Fourteenth Amendment had that purpose, nor that the people believed it had that purpose, nor that it should be construed as having that purpose.

    B Hugo Black, dissenting, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company v. Johnson [303 U.S. 77, 1938]

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:50:14 AM PDT

    •  The Money Quote (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB, FarWestGirl, Edgewater

      Four years later, in 1886, this Court in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394, 6 S.Ct. 1132, decided for the first time that the word 'person' in the amendment did in some instances include corporations.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:55:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Two points.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ej25, Ms Citizen, guyeda, kktlaw

      First, it's a dissenting opinion.  That means it's not the law, but a judge's disagreement with the law.

      Second, it applies only to the Santa Clara County case applying Fourteenth Amendment due process protection to corporate "persons" in regards to state action.  It does not address or change older federal cases and statutes that provide Fifth Amendment due process protection to corporate "persons" in regards to federal action.

      As most of the proposed regulations and specifically the legal doctrines I've discussed in this diary are related to federal regulation, the Santa Clara County decision does not apply.

      •  This is the big one though. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrissieB, Edgewater

        This is like the elastic clause of civil rights.

        We've given corporations civil rights, period.

        They make all kinds of 14th Amendment claims, as a matter of fact, I'd be willing to bet the 14th Amendment is the most widely used instrument used by corporations to escape regulation.

        Of course it's a dissenting opinion, otherwise we'd not be having this discussion and our lives would be full of magical ponies.

        And I also expected that you'd call state v federal, but if you read what he's saying, he's saying they are not really persons.

        You are extending the word person in the US Code in the same manner as the court did in 1886.

        Again, laws are not factual, they are interpretations, they are often wrong.

        That's my entire point.

        Corporate Personhood is a faulty interpretation of the law.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:35:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually I'm applying it per 1816. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shuruq, kktlaw

          Repeating again and again that all of this began in 1886 with Santa Clara County does not make it any more true.  The idea that corporations, as "persons," were entitled to Fifth Amendment due process protections vis a vis federal government was confirmed in the 1816 Dartmouth College case.

  •  Bill Gates: "Corporations can do good AND do well (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ej25, Ms Citizen, guyeda, Shuruq, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    ... at the same time."

    TIME magazine had a major story authored by Bill Gates himself last summer on Creative Capitalism that I thought was quite interesting.  Some excerpts:

    Creative capitalism ... is a way to answer a vital question: How can we most effectively spread the benefits of capitalism and the huge improvements in quality of life it can provide to people who have been left out?


    As I see it, there are two great forces of human nature: self-interest and caring for others. Capitalism harnesses self-interest in a helpful and sustainable way but only on behalf of those who can pay. Government aid and philanthropy channel our caring for those who can't pay. But the improvements will happen faster and last longer if we can channel market forces, including innovation that's tailored to the needs of the poorest, to complement what governments and nonprofits do. We need a system that draws in innovators and businesses in a far better way than we do today.

    Naturally, if companies are going to get more involved, they need to earn some kind of return. This is the heart of creative capitalism. It's not just about doing more corporate philanthropy or asking companies to be more virtuous. It's about giving them a real incentive to apply their expertise in new ways, making it possible to earn a return while serving the people who have been left out.

    We can rail all we want about the horrors of corporate greed - but since I doubt capitalism is going to go ahead any time soon, maybe it's better to channel our energies in an attempt to fashion it in a more humanitarian way.

    •  That was the point of this diary. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ej25, Ms Citizen, Shuruq, kktlaw, thethinveil

      The limitations on corporate conscience are entirely artificial.  They exist as legal doctrine, and they can be changed as legal doctrine.  That can mean, as Gates suggests, incentives for corporations that are responsible citizens.  It must also mean, as he very carefully avoids, punishment for corporations that are not.  But both the incentives and punishments must be clear to investors, so they have a reason to invest in corporations that are responsible citizens.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

    •  Says the monopoly on software guy. Hmm n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB, thethinveil, Edgewater

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:20:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Microsoft buys products from this Chinese company (0+ / 0-)

      Dongguan Meitai Plastics & Electronics Factory
      Mulun North Ring Road Industrial Area
      Changping Town, Dongguan City
      Guangdong, China

      Produces computer equipment and peripherals such as keyboards and printer cases for Lenovo, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Microsoft.

      Where workers are treated like this:

      The workers sit on wooden stools, without backrests, as 500 computer keyboards an hour move down the assembly line, twelve hours a day, seven days a week, with just two days off a month.

      Every 7.2 seconds a keyboard passes each worker, who has to snap six or seven keys into place—one key every 1.1 seconds.

      The assembly line never stops.  The workplace is frantic, monotonous, numbing and relentless.  Each worker inserts 3,250 keys an hour; 35,750 keys during the official 11-hour shift; 250,250 a week, performing over one million operations a month.

      Workers are paid 1/50th of a cent for each operation they complete.

      Of the 2,000 or so workers at the Meitai factory, the majority are young women, ranging in age from 18 to their mid-twenties.

      While working, the women cannot talk, listen to music, or even lift their heads to look around.  Workers are ordered to "periodically trim their nails"—to facilitate work, or be fined.  Workers needing to use bathroom must learn to hold it until there is a break.  Security guards spy on the workers, who are prohibited from putting their hands in their pockets and are searched when they enter and leave the factory.

      The factory operates 24 hours a day on two 12-hour shifts, with the workers rotating between day and night shifts each month.  The workers are at the factory for up to 87 hours a week, and all overtime is strictly mandatory.  There are just two half-hour meal breaks per shift, but after racing to the cafeteria and cuing up to get food, the workers have only about 15 minutes to eat.

      The base wage is 64 cents an hour, which after deductions for primitive room and board drops down to a take-home wage of just 41 cents an hour.

      There is also mandatory unpaid overtime to clean the factory and dorm.  At the end of a shift, workers must stand at attention as the foreman reviews the day’s work and what improvements must be made.

      The workers get up around 6:00 a.m.   When they return to their dorm, sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m.—they bathe using a small plastic bucket.  Summer temperatures routinely reach into the high 90s.  During the winter, workers have to walk down several flights of stairs to fetch hot water in their buckets.  Ten to twelve workers share each over-crowded dorm room, sleeping on narrow metal bunk beds that line the walls.  Workers drape old sheets over their cubicle openings for privacy.

      If a worker steps on the grass on the way to the dorm, she is fined.  The workers are locked in the factory compound four days a week and are prohibited from even taking a walk.

      Check out the link for a lot more about this company:

      The Dehumanization of Young Workers - Feb 2009

      Pretty creative of Microsoft to get cheap parts this way.

      "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

      by Edgewater on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 04:54:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good morning, happy Friday (oh Happy Day, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shuruq, NCrissieB, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

    oh Happy Day!!!) and thanks for continuing on Corporate personhood.

    But I'm sorry, you're wrong: chocolate IS a food group. It is. It is. It IS!

    "You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." Anne Lamott

    by MsWings on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:01:27 AM PDT

  •  The Sickest (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ej25, Ms Citizen, NCrissieB

    manifestation of the problem descibed in this sentence

    But the general rule of law is that for-profit corporations exist to generate profits for their shareholders.

    is by far the fact that companies feel its okay to lay people off when profits are down. Mind you, the company is still making a profit. Its just that the profit has not increased from the last measured period.  The company is not losing money. Its sad. Its okay to send people off with no income, no insurance and very little hope all because profits are down. Every year, there has to be more, more, more. And if there isn't, then send 'em packing.

    That is the corporation. Maximize shareholder value.  That's what this great country has become. What's worse, we look to countries like Japan and try to get them to adopt this model!

  •  what to regulate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think that at the root of the problem is the difficulty of revoking a corporate charter.

    What if we required businesses to strike a different deal with shareholders? If values other than profit were built right into the founding principles of a business, then shareholders would not have an expectation of profit to the exclusion of other goals and principles of business decision making.

    It's really early in CA, so my idea is not fully formed, but I'm trying to get at the fundamental argument underlying Dodge vs. Ford, and rewrite it somehow.

    This idea seems absolutely impractical, but I think it is an absolute key for allowing founders of businesses to imbue their organizations with purposes other than profit above all other outcomes.

    •  That's what regulations do. (6+ / 0-)

      Sensible, responsible business practice regulations that force businesses to pay the full costs of doing business - including environmental, public policy, public safety, and social fabric costs - rewrite the corporate charter.  The corporate charter is not just a contract between those who founded the corporation and their investors.  Government is a party to that contract as well, because the contract exists and has force only as a function of the "common wealth" of law.

      Corporations don't write in every operational detail of their existence, because they don't have to.  Most of that is a function of the laws governing corporations.  So We the People are already a party to the corporate charter - through the institution of law - and we have the legal authority to change it by changing the law through which it is interpreted and with which it must comply.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggggs::

      •  problem with treating companies as persons (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The problem with letting corporations lobby policy makers is that they can try to minimize regulations.

        I really like the idea of eliminating corporate campaign contributions to politicians, parties, PACs and issue campaigns.

        Good morning to you too! I feel much more awake now that I have dropped ms-citizen-in-training off at school.

        •  Well, my concern there.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Labor unions are corporations.  The ACLU is a corporation. and Orange-to-Blue are corporations.  If you eliminate corporate campaign contributions, you're eliminating all of the above as campaign contributors.  I don't think any corporation should be able to donate more to a single candidate - as a corporation - than any individual could donate.  The same, comparatively small limit for everyone.

          Then it doesn't matter if you're Mike & Mary Median (of the famous family income Medians) or Exxon-Mobil ... you can only donate up to that same, small limit, and it should be a limit that Mike & Mary Median can afford.

          And there are a whole lot more Mike & Mary Medians - seriously, you should see their family reunions, they close down the entire city park! - than there are of the big corporations.  If enough of us care enough to be involved on behalf of candidates we want, we will easily out-fundraise them.

          •  but why can't those organizations (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NCrissieB, Edgewater

            simply advise their members about where to donate, rather than serving as a funnel or intermediary between individual donors and campaigns?

            I like the idea of the same limit for everyone, but I think it would mean, indirectly, that some individuals could donate more than others. For instance, I could donate the maximum to a particular candidate, and then also to MoveOn so that they can donate the maximum to that same candidate, and also to my union... see what I mean?

            I'd be willing to continue donating to MoveOn so that they could pay staff to do the research and advise me on where to donate personally. I don't think they also need to be a funnel for donations.

    •  congress and the courts (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ms Citizen, NCrissieB, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

      can also do a lot.  It has become more and more difficult for a shareholder to bring a suit against a corporation.  There are shareholders out there with consciences that would like to keep the corporation in check.

      •  The "real" cost of doing business... (5+ / 0-)

        should include impact on society and the environment. Shareholders would not entertain a business proposal that does not include the cost of labor or materials. That goes without saying.

        It would be a more realistic assessment of the cost of doing business if businesses were required to pay for things like any envirmonental clean-up that became necessary and if they had to pay a living wage.

        What happens now is that taxpayers subsidize businesses by paying for situations created entirely by the businesses - envirnmental clean-up and social services for workers who are not paid enough to live on. Imagine if businesses expected their raw materials to be paid for by our taxes. It's really the same thing.

        "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time." - Terry Tempest Williams

        by your neighbor on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:17:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's exactly the problem. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ms Citizen, your neighbor, kktlaw

          That's why I wrote the section of the diary headed "I'm in the widget business."  Too many corporations are "in the widget business," and so far as their business model is concerned, they're only "in the widget business."  Environmental, public policy, public safety, and social fabric problems that arise from how they do "the widget business" are someone else's problems for someone else to solve and pay for.

          Wrong. Answer.

          If your widget business is creating environmental, public policy, public safety, and/or social fabric problems, they're your responsibility.  Dealing with and paying for those problems is part of being "in the widget business."

          Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggggs::

        •  there are some models that start to do this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NCrissieB, your neighbor

          in other countries, I think. For instance, I believe that Germany has a law requiring any company to take back any packaging materials that the customer receives. It's amazing how much companies innovate as the result of a simple requirement like that!

          I also think it's critical to require that companies that do business in the US also meet US regulations about impact on employees, communities, and the environment.

      •  I agree -- shareholder suits should be easier. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Of course the argument of corporations is that if you don't like what they are doing, you should just sell the stock. I don't want to let them off the hook that easily.

        What if we regulated stock ownership too, so that shareholders were required to hold their stock for a reasonable time period -- at least a year?

  •  Directors are supposed to exercise oversight. (7+ / 0-)

    Corporate personhood is key to the failings of the current system. I hope that as you continue this fascinating series that you will explore the implications of irresponsibility by boards of directors. That this irresponsibility extends beyond lack of consideration for the public good into disservice to shareholders may help with reform.

    For example, in the case of Bear Stearns, the the board of directors "encouraged" executives to take massive risks by increasing leverage to enhance a particular measure of "shareholder return". Should these directors ever be allowed on to sit on another board?

    Mr. Cayne never seriously considered raising the firm’s equity, which we now know was perilously low, nor did he seriously consider selling or merging it. Rather, he deliberately chose to take Bear deeper into the manufacture and sale of all those risky mortgage-backed securities, as well as into the business of doing trades with hedge funds. Why? Simply put, Bear’s board paid him and the other four members of Bear’s executive committee — including Mr. Schwartz and another former chief executive, Alan C. Greenberg — to maximize the firm’s "return on equity" calculation, which is Wall Street lingo for figuring out how much money one can make using as little capital as possible.

    It seems that the system of corporations governed by boards of directors may be so faulty that an entirely new system will need to be created. Perhaps events such as those that occurred at Bear Stearns, by enlisting the powerful force of shareholders' self-interest, will be a catalyst for a change that allows the interests of the public a place at the table.

    •  Shareholders can and do act in that way. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ej25, kktlaw

      There was a wave of shareholder suits demanding divestment in South Africa during the apartheid era, for example.  So yes, shareholders can demand that the corporations they own behave responsibly, have done so, and should be encouraged to do so.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggs::

  •  Steep Top-End Taxation: Best Single Regulation (7+ / 0-)

    The reason every one of the umpteen million possible individual corporate behaviors needs to be specifically regulated is that in a post agrarian economy, about which our framers and our system are completely clueless, businesses have the potential to make top decision makers super rich super fast.

    That's why the best single regulation we can impose is paradoxically not on the corporate persons but on the human persons that own and run them: progressive taxation with very high top ends once incomes get into the very low millions per year.

    Twice we've drastically cut those top rates, and twice fairly soon afterwards, the United States has plunged the world into global depression after first transforming its top-end economy into a giant casino.

    Yes we need lots of other regulations --especially market share regulations for any business we don't specifically structure as a protected-monopoly utility.

    But when we put the brakes on windfall jackpots to the human beings, we largely eliminate the temptation of cashing-out one's entire family from all dependence on the business and even on society itself, in exchange for a few years' or months' work in a short term project that may be disastrous for society long-term.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:34:33 AM PDT

    •  Steep top-end corporate taxes could also help. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ms Citizen, NCrissieB, kktlaw

      Monopolies and oligopolies do a lot of damage. A graduated income tax on corporations would discourage the creation of large corporations and encourage those existing now to split up. If "economies of scale" justified a mega-corporation, they would also allow those mega-corporations to pay the higher taxes. Of course, if the public good were served by the existence of monopolies or oligopolies, specific legislation could allow for them.

      I agree, however, that a steeply-graduated income tax on individuals (such as that which existed in the fifties) would be a very positive partner to a graduated corporate income tax.

    •  I agree absolutely. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirtfarmer, kktlaw

      When I talk about the gravitational effect of wealth, which I have several times in my diaries, I specify five counter-gravitational actors necessary to prevent wealth from inevitably concentrating in the hands of the wealthy:

      1. Anti-trust regulations to limit the size and thus the wealth of any single economic actor;
      1. Financial regulations to reduce speculation and profit-piracy by financiers;
      1. Business practice regulations to force businesses to pay the full cost of doing business;
      1. Trade unions to enable workers to negotiate together for a better share of the business proceeds; and the biggie ...
      1. Progressive income taxation, both to redistribute wealth and to fund the "common wealth" that we all share.

      Today's diary was about #3, but whenever I write that list, I always introduce #5 as "the biggie."

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

  •  Responsible corporations obeying the law (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirtfarmer, Ms Citizen, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    Lately, obeying the law by financial corporations has been somewhat akin to obeying the law by California freeway drivers.

    While regulating and relying on enforcement has its place in the overall scheme of thing, I believe there is also merit in setting up corporations that explicitly do NOT have profit for shareholders as their raison d'etre.

    We have precedent: 501c(3) corps, for example. Trade associations are also incorporated to provide non-monetary benefits to their "shareholders" or members. Municipal utilities set up as quasi independent entities with a mandate to provide electricity or water or sewer service to people within a certain boundary.

    There is a larger cast of characters here than just 2Big2Fail.Inc.

    These types of organizations also have the ability to innovate and to provide necessary services. They might even be set up to provide dividends to investors.

    The larger question, though, is whether providing dividends to investors is the highest and best use of our fiscal, labor and intellectual capital.

    Good morning, and ::huggggggggies::

    "You can't get something for nothing...It's time to stop being stupid." Bob Herbert

    by Orinoco on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:08:19 AM PDT

    •  There are alternative corporate models, yes. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orinoco, Ms Citizen, kktlaw

      And not all corporations are required to focus on profits for their investors.  But publicly-held, for-profit corporations are required to do so, by law.

      The question of whether our economy would function better without publicly-held, for-profit corporations is enough for an entire series of diaries.  I think there are valid arguments on both sides of that question, and the historical data are too slim to draw any certain conclusions.  But it's a question well worth asking and considering.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

  •  Not convinced, Chrissie. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don't think it can happen.

    I appreciate the effort, but it's not going to happen because they're as powerful as nation states with the rights of citizens.


    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:29:50 AM PDT

    •  Then propose an alternative. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      For two days, you've complained that my approach isn't right, won't work, etc.  Offer another.  Or just throw up your hands and say "we're all screwed."

      •  Revoke Personhood, give them some kind of other (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrissieB, Edgewater


        I don't mind the due process stuff, 5th, 6th and 4th amendments so much. I see where it's important.

        Figure out a way to give them the rights of a person without the rights of a citizen.

        I don't mind them being legal entities here, I don't think foreign people here on Visa should have to deal with unreasonable search and seizure and such, they should get due process.

        But the 14th Amendment is about equivalence under the law for citizens, that's why I think I'm so stuck on 1886.

        Can't we just create a new status for them? Something that is not a person.

        I just don't think that regulating them is going to work because they will find some silly loophole and their army of lawyers will blow it wide open.

        The first thing we need to do though is to get the pressure off of government as bogeyman and place it where it ought to be placed on rampant, unchecked corporate power.

        That's job #1, absent that, there's no regulation, no change in personhood status, no nothing.

        That's what was so problematic for me, and probably some of the other passionate people on yesterday's diary.

        You seemed to be saying corporate personhood or government run business, and without personhood, there would be no business.

        I see where you are coming from on the latter, but the former, I just don't get.

        There are now a bunch of people who really believe in you who feel that a little regulation is all we need to fix this problem of unchecked corporate power and corporate sponsored public policy.

        It's not going to work because they will use the constitution as a shield, particularly the 14th Amendment, crying about being singled out, about it being unfair to protect their ability to conduct business unfettered.

        We need critical mass on people turning their guns from the government as bogeyman and training them on unchecked corporate power and corporate sponsored public policy as the real danger we face.

        Absent that critical mass, nothing changes - absolutely nothing.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:03:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You seem to be purposely misreading me. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          k9disc, Ms Citizen

          You seem to have set in your mind what I'm saying, and you've shrunk it down to a tiny, inconsequential dot, perhaps because it doesn't precisely mirror your own thoughts.  Anytime I try to explain why what I've written is not what you're criticizing, your reply tells me that you haven't read the explanation.  It's still just the tiny, inconsequential dot because it doesn't precisely mirror your own thoughts.

          I'm not talking "a little regulation."  I'm talking "a whole huge big onerous pile of regulation."  Most businesses as presently structured would fail under my proposal that businesses pay the full costs - environmental, public policy, public safety, social fabric - of doing business.

          That's "fail" as in: (1) change their business model; (2) leave the U.S. and do no business here; or, (3) go bankrupt.

          I'd prefer #1, but I'll take #2 or #3 over the way things are running now.

          In my system, WigiCorp can't ask a city to subsidize the costs of opening a widget plant.  Instead, the subsidies go the other way.  WigiCorp has to show how the new widget plant will improve the social fabric of the city, and subsidize any necessary changes, including relocating existing businesses whose customer base will dry up because of new traffic patterns, and subsidizing housing for people who might otherwise be priced out of longtime communities.

          The bigger WigiCorp and its business plan is, the more it's going to impact the environment, public policy, public safety, and the social fabric of communities.  That puts an indirect cap on business size, because at some point the full costs of doing mega-business would make it unprofitable.  Enough of mega-businesses busting everyone else.

          Corporations will no longer be able to act like locusts, feeding off of government and communities, then moving on to feed off of someone else, somewhere else.  They will have a serious financial investment in the communities where they operate, enough that walking away will crush their share prices because they'll have to pay those same costs in the new place.  And if they want to do business in the U.S., they'll have to pay those costs wherever they do business ... in the U.S. or in anywhere else in the world.

          "We'll just move the widget plant to India" won't be as cheap an answer, because if they're not fulfilling the same corporate obligations in India that they'd have here in the U.S., they can't sell widgets in the U.S.

          Does all of that sound like "a little regulation" to you?

          •  Sounds good. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Get it past the constitutional test, and I'm down.

            I just don't have any faith that we can overcome the personhood hurdle, but you're the lawyer, so...

            I wish we were hanging out over a beer, I'm sure it'd be a better conversation.

            I'm in a pretty bitter mood, a bit ornery.  


            Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

            by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:23:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We all get that way at times. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I've had to bite my tongue for two days, not so much because of what's happened in the diaries, but just because I had to get a new computer so I'm dealing with all of the frustrations of a new computer and a new operating system.  Tried to watch the Jon Stewart interview with Jim Cramer, and I couldn't because I had no sound.  Speaker cables plugged in, check.  Not muted, check.  Mixer to play sound from videos, check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  Check to the Nth.  Still no sound.

              Turns out that unlabeled, round indentation on the top of one of the speakers isn't simply decorative.  It's the "on" and "volume" switch at the speakers themselves.  Herself found it ... by accident.

              I'd figured all along it would turn out to be something trivial like that.  When you're learning a new computer and a new OS, it's always trivial stuff like that that they forget to mention in the "How to turn this on, for complete idiots" set-up guide.  It wasn't a major frustration, but it was one of a couple dozen trivial little frustrations that have piled on since my old computer just quit functioning on Wednesday.

              Anyway, I do understand.  We all feel that way at times.  No harm, no foul.

            •  As to the substance ... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              k9disc, Ms Citizen

              I don't think we have the President or the Congress, let alone the Supreme Court, to implement the scope of changes I'm proposing.  We won't until more folks agree with your previous post, and recognize that we simply cannot go on letting theoretical abstractions like "economies of scale" dictate that we must all be serfs to multinational mega-corporations, paying most of their true costs of doing business while they keep the profits.

              I probably should have written more about that aspect, and may do so in another diary.  Sensible, responsible business practice regulation, where businesses must pay the full costs of doing business - environmental, public policy, public safety, and social fabric - would mean those costs rise faster than do the cost savings of economies of scale.  At some point, businesses would get too big to be profitable, because those other costs would take over any scale advantages.

              That is not an oversight in my proposal.  It's not an unintended consequence.  It's one of the primary intended consequences.  If a business is too big to pay the full costs of doing business, the economics should force it to carve itself up and sell itself off into smaller, independent parts that can remain profitable.

              Basically, unless your business is very green, needs little or no policy help, is very safe, and is inherently beneficial to communities where it operates, you'll have to stay small in order to keep those presently "external" costs manageable.

              Goodbye, Big Agribusiness.  Hello, family farms.

              Goodbye, Mega-retailers.  Hello, mom'n'pop shops.

              Multinational mega-corporations are only profitable because We the People subsidize those costs they've decided are "externalities."  Enough of doing that.

              Be green, need minimal policy help, be safe, and be good for the community ... or stay small enough to freight for the ways you're not.

              •  Where was the first paragraph in your diaries? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                The language is poor for the masses, but it hit the sweet spot with me.

                I hope you get that, it's not unlike the transactional money language meta stuff I hit you with earlier.

                Lose the polysyllabic mumbo jumbo, give it some populist flair and some values, and it's a wiener!

                If something like that were in either of your diaries, I'd have been much more receptive, and I'd imagine that several other detractors would have been as well.

                That would have given the noobs to the concept something to chew on instead of an easy out and ratification of the status quo.

                I hope that made sense, as I'm a bit in the bag. Mmm... Two Hearted Ale is special!


                Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

                by k9disc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:18:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Those inconsequential dots.... :) (0+ / 0-)

                  It was, as I suspected, a case of my not making my points in exactly the language you were expecting and most familiar with from other progressive writers, so you (and some others) shrunk what I wrote down to a tiny, inconsequential dot.

                  Psychologists have a lot of terms for it - perceptual filtering, pattern filtering, confirmation bias, etc. - but essentially it means rejecting stimuli that do not match with previously held beliefs or frames.  We all do it.  That's how two people who agree can end up "talking past each other."  They're saying essentially similar things, but each from a different frame, and the frames are different enough that one or both think the other is disagreeing.

          •  In order to do what you want the US (0+ / 0-)

            would have to pull out of the WTO:

            The World Trade Organization is the most powerful legislative and judicial body in the world. By promoting the "free trade" agenda of multinational corporations above the interests of local communities, working families, and the environment, the WTO has systematically undermined democracy around the world.

            In the ten years of its existence, WTO panels composed of corporate attorneys have ruled that: the US law protecting sea turtles was a barrier to "free trade"; that US clean air standards and laws protecting dolphins are too; that the European Union law banning hormone-treated beef is illegal.


            Unlike United Nations treaties, the International Labor Organization conventions, or multilateral environmental agreements, WTO rules can be enforced through sanctions. This gives the WTO more power than any other international body. The WTO's authority even eclipses national governments.

            World Trade Organization

            I'm all for that but I don't think there is a snowball's chance in hell of that happening.

            "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

            by Edgewater on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 05:30:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Can you check Aquarius again? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NCrissieB, kktlaw

    I'm pretty sure chocolate is a food group.  Or my mid-section's in trouble...

    •  I just rechecked. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, winterbanyan, kktlaw

      Ironically, this observation was made by noting the slow but steady spread of Orion's belt, which makes me wonder if ol' Orion isn't using the Big Dipper to get into the chocolate chip cookies rather than out hunting stuff with that bow.

      But seriously, chocolate is in a food group - it's a vegetable, actually - but is not itself a food group.

      Just to remind you, the food groups are: (1) coffee; (2) pizza; (3) vegetables; (4) junk.

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