The tagline of this blog, "Your wallet is a mouth," is aimed at individuals. You know, actual people made of flesh and blood. The idea being that we can use the power of our purses to encourage corporations to behave well and discourage them from behaving badly.
Unfortunately, for the past two years, that slogan has applied to corporations too. Thanks to the wrongheaded Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, companies now have the right to spend as much money as they want in order to influence political discourse around elections. Think of it as a tug-of-war game on a very steep hill, with people at the top and corporations at the bottom. Hmm, who's going to win that, I wonder?
To mark this infamous second birthday, today is a nationwide day of action in which protesters will remind the world that in actuality, corporations are not people—and money is not speech.
- The Supreme Court has ruled that money equals speech. The corollary is this: people who have money can speak, and people who don't, can't. This is a plutocracy, not a democracy.
- A corporation has millions of dollars, exists in many places at once; can live forever; and employs thousands to do its work around the clock.... A human being has little expendable income, lives in one place, dies, and must use her small amount of free time to work for causes she believes in.
- A human being needs clean air, clean water, food, and love to survive. A corporation does not.
- A corporation has no mind, no conscience, and no motive but to amass money. A human being thinks, tries to make ethical decisions, and is motivated by obligations to family and community. How could we say that these two dramatically different kinds of “persons” have an equal voice in a democracy?
- A person is a private entity with rights and sovereignty. A corporation is a public entity with obligations and responsibilities.
- Human rights are for humans. A corporation is not a human being.