Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Forget the Money: The Problem is Corporate Personhood

Don't be distracted by the hysteria about the billions of dollars corporations are pouring into political campaigns, both national and local.

First, it's not the majority of political money. Via Political Animal:

Nick Penniman and Wendell Potter wrote an op-ed in the LA Times today titled: Citizens United is Only 15% of the Political Cash Problem.
According to theBut Center for Responsive Politics, of the $3.7 billion spent in the 2014 congressional midterms, super PACs, nonprofits and other outside spenders made up around $560 million, or roughly 15%. In contrast, $1.5 billion, or 42%, was spent by candidates themselves, with the rest left to party committees.
Two other inside-the-Beltway terms — call time and the cash committee — illustrate why hard money is the core problem…
Overturning Citizens United or regulating super PACs would, alas, do nothing to free our politicians from this frenetic fundraising. That can only be accomplished by cutting the ties between lobbyists and legislators and redirecting politicians’ time and energy toward small donors. 
Far more importantly, the real harm of Citizens United is in its legitimization of corporate personhood.

The only way the corporatist conservatives on the Supreme Court could justify allowing corporations to give as much money as they wanted to political candidates - to literally buy elections - was to give corporations the same rights that the U.S. Constitution gives to individual people.

And the only way to do that was to declare - in violation of face of logic, common sense, biology, democracy, justice and the plain meaning of the First Amendment - that corporations are, indeed, people.

Yet such corporate personhood does far worse than allow corporations to buy elections. It erases all protections actual people have against the power of corporations. And it opens the door to abominations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has little to do with trade and everything to do with giving multinational corporations the power to eliminate national sovereignty by overturning any law that costs a corporation a penny in income.

That would be minimum wages, worker safety, food safety, clean water, clean air, anti-pollution, property rights, health care, education and even gun rights.  Anything that any company can claim reduces their profits by a single penny can be outlawed under TPP.  Thanks to Citizens United.

No comments: