Sunday, April 6, 2014

Is Your BFF Named Inc?

Do you have a best friend whose name is Inc? I don’t. But somehow, in their great wisdom, the majority of the black-robed nine seem to think it’s okay if you do. In fact, they admire Mr. (could be Ms., but I doubt it) Inc so much that they have given him the exalted status of being human.

We went over this some time ago, I believe, when the Supreme Court decided that corporations, made up of many (often many, many) entities including humans and other corporations, had the same first amendment rights enjoyed by individual, living, breathing (though not necessarily thinking) "people." That’s as in "We the People." Now they have gone further.

Just recently, the nine justices handed down a decision saying that corporations have no limit imposed on the amount of money they can give to any political candidate. They again connected the decision to the first amendment.

I keep thinking back to a quote I unearthed many years ago when I was writing a television series about America’s workforce (called Americans At Work). One of the installments was about the American automobile industry. Each of the films in the series (more than 100 episodes) included some history of the industry and the workers who made it happen. There was even a story about the people who worked on Wall Street (on the trading floor, not in the executive suites). In exploring the history of the labor aspect of the industry (the series was sponsored by the AFL-CIO), the individual episodes recounted the reasons the relevant union was created or assumed responsibility for a particular workforce.

Now, you may have views about unions contrary to that portrayed in the tv series, but we dealt with history and present day (ca. 1960) work environments, not philosophy or politics. It was always my view that one needed to know both sides of a question before making a decision to support or reject a proposal or position. And that brought me to the quote I still find relevant to the arguments giving human status to corporations. The quote was from that icon of everything American about industry, Henry Ford.

"A corporation," Henry said, "is too big to be human." Like his conception of the Model T, Henry had it right. According to news reports, 8 out of 10 Americans agree with that, and disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Too bad is wasn’t 8 out of 9.

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