a reply to: desert
Thank you for the information. You bring up a very complex issue.
Stevens is correct; corporations are not people. Corporations have many similar rights to people, necessary in order for them to operate in commerce,
but these rights do not include the right to vote or to run for office.
But corporations are made of people who do have those rights. That is really all a corporation is: a group of people who have consolidated their
resources in order to provide a service to society. 10,000 people donating $1000 each gives a capital pool of $10 million without any of them
providing a massive personal investment, much easier to accomplish than expecting a single individual to risk that much alone. The corporate structure
also allows investors a chance to use their financial resources for an income production without also requiring time directly involved in the
corporation, and shields them personally from the legal aspects of what the corporation may do.
I would really like to see some changes made to the corporate structure to better reflect these realities. A sort of legal shield has developed for
criminal activity as well. A corporate executive can in many cases (such as in the hiring of illegal immigrants) violate law and the worst that
happens is the corporation gets fined. The tired old excuse of "I was just doing my job" needs to be rendered moot by enforcing law regardless of
corporate structure. People make decisions, not corporations, and people should be held personally responsible for those decisions.
I would also like to see a 0% corporate tax rate, at least on capital disbursed to the shareholders. These shareholders will pay tax on their
disbursements anyway, so why the double taxation? Finally, I believe a great number of the corporations in existence today are too large. One flaw
inherent in capitalism is that too much power in the hands of one entity leads to undue and unfair market manipulation. Anti-trust laws served us well
for almost two centuries, and we need to bring them back. "Too big to fail" = "Too big to exist."
When it comes to lobbying rights, the issue gets more complex. Theoretically, since corporations have no political rights, they should not be allowed
to participate in elections in any way. However, corporations, in representing their stockholders interest, have a vested interest in political issues
that affect them directly. Also, from a practical standpoint, can we prevent it? If a certain CEO has a strong political preference, what is to
prevent him from using his influence to get others under him in the corporate structure to contribute funds? He can give out bonuses, corporate funds,
to lower officers with the understanding that they will become individual contributions to campaigns. There is really no way to stop this, because
those under him are typically eager to please the boss to further their careers, and nothing is 'official.' Is it better to knowingly allow this type
of undercover behavior or to allow the corporation to contribute directly and therefore have it out in the open?
I can think of a very simple way to cut down on corporate contributions. When a medical ad appears on TV, the company is required to list potential
side effects... this causes the commercials to spend much of the expensive air time with side effects plastered across the screen or to hire a
speed-talking announcer. Why not do the same for political ads? Simply require that every political ad divulge in it, in a minimum specified font size
and for a minimum time duration, a disclosure of the name of every entity that has contributed more than $10,000 to that candidate, and the employer
if that entity is a person. That makes it crystal clear to viewers who is financially supporting that candidate, and increases the amount of air time
for the same commercial, increasing the cost. The same could be required of billboards. Bernie Sanders would have loved such a law!
I think personal yard signs should be exempt.
This, in one fell swoop of legislation, would expose hidden corporate contributions, discourage candidates from accepting funds from overseas
contributors, inform the public, discourage politicians from courting only high-level donors, and do so without any denial of any rights. It also
wouldn't cost the government a dime; all that information is already disclosed in official documents.