Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Humboldt Co, CA Said No To Corporate Personhood

In 2006 Humboldt Co passed Measure T, which bans non-local corporations from participating in local elections and further denies that the artificial entity "corporation" has a claim to First Amendment Free Speech. Well, I'd like to know how I missed it until now. My tip off came from AlterNet and Loaded Orygun and I won't mess about with their work.

I have long wondered how exactly it came about that the fictional entity status of corporations designed to allow them to enter into contracts and participate in the legal arena morphed into the concept of personhood. I suppose if I had time (and a real driving curiosity) I could dig into the SCOTUS and find what they claimed, but philosophically I'm a bit conflicted.

Now I run an S Corp, which has about as much relationship to MicroSoft as the stone in your yard does to the moon, but I have to understand what it is that I own. Mostly that's to stay out of Court and to know what my accountant needs for what. What I own is a paper thing that can make contracts, pay bills, own stuff, and sue or be sued - which leaves me (mostly) personally out of that fray and I enjoy certain tax benefits. Now I certainly don't view that S Corp as more than a business convenience. The S Corp exists because the State allows it to through a registration and a fulfillment of certain requirements, it is a creature of the State. It was born of paper and ink and exists only in that realm. It has certain assets and individual/s involved in ownership but it certainly has no blood or thinking processes of its own. How it qualifies for the natural right to freedom of speech is beyond me, it is a wholly artificial construct.

I suppose that the crunch comes when people band together to create a political activism construct and begin to put together an infrastructure. A speech organization with property has to have some mechanism to own it, pay bills, and possibly enter into legal activities, and that is what a corporation is about, allowing a multiply held construct to engage as a singular entity. Having 1o,000 members sign a check would be rather troublesome and a contract with all those signatures might be a bit unwieldy. Most of the "free press" are corporations.

Hmmm. I wonder what you have to say? I'm kind of stuck on this one.

5 comments:

Fred said...

Humboldt County's Measure T was simply an attempt by those on the Left to try and control political activity by businesses. Unions, even from outside the county (assuming they had at least one member living in county), weren't affected by Measure T.

KISS said...

Keeping outside money from decaying local politics was the intent of measure T. Look to Sam, the scam, to benefit from outside corp.[ possibly from tram, rail and trolley car manufactures] money in his bid for mayor. Same goes for union money. Thank a well paid supreme court for the "money equates to free speech"crap.

Chuck Butcher said...

I understand the thrust of Huboldt's "T" but I wonder about the fallout if taken farther. That is what my question is about. I'm taking no stand on this, mainly because I do not know where it would go.

dartagnan said...

Only real people should be allowed to contribute to candidates or PACs, just as only real people are allowed to vote.

It's that simple.

Chuck Butcher said...

I understand your position and tend toward agreement, but what do you do with NARAL or MoveOn or NRA? The specific purpose of such organizations, non-profit Corps is to engage in political advocacy. The have the same business problems that all Corps do, a need to write checks for bills and have an entity responsible for their actions.