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Entities Not Electors

I don’t like the concept of corporations for the very simple reason that I am, and always have been, a confirmed capitalist and corporations violate the very core of capitalism, risk. If you are in business as an individual and mess up you can lose everything you own, be forced into bankruptcy, and end up in prison. If a corporation messes up its liability is limited to the value of the stock, most states have limits to prevent awards that would force a corporation into bankruptcy, and there is no possibility of prison.

Individual are citizens of nations, and owe allegiance to those nations, but corporations have no such restrictions.

While corporations can’t vote, they are afforded a sterling opportunity to influence votes and elected officials.

Karen at Peripetia has more information on the Legal Fictions that are corporations, and Dave Johnson at Seeing The Forest has an article on corporations in elections: Phony Mailers From Tobacco and Oil Companies.

If you compare a corporation with a communist country, there isn’t a lot of difference between a stock certificate and a party membership card…well, the communists do tend to have funnier hats.


1 Steve Bates { 11.03.06 at 12:25 am }

I want my funny hat.

Seriously, while several of my contracting buddies have incorporated their businesses to insulate themselves in just the manner you describe, I have not. Neither do I carry E&O insurance. If I screw up, it should be my responsibility, and mine alone. If a client ever sues me… unlikely, I think, but in this day and age, anything is possible… I’ll ask them what they think I owe them, and we’ll talk about it from there.

I also have this bizarre notion that I should pay my fair share of taxes on my well-gotten gains. What a concept… and not a concept many of today’s corporations seem to have grasped. The idea that corporations are responsible exclusively to stockholders and not at all to the society in which they exist is a pernicious one.

I don’t have any employees at present, but if I did, or when I do, you won’t find me forcing them onto the public dole because I paid them too little, or provided too few benefits, to allow them to support their families at a reasonable basic level… unlike one private, family-owned corporation I could name without thinking about it. Privatizing profits while socializing losses is hardly something a self-proclaimed capitalist should brag about, though some of them do so.

If I recall correctly, our founders were very suspicious of corporations, and for the most part chartered them for specific purposes and… here’s the point… for limited time periods. The notion of a “virtual person” with an effectively unlimited lifetime is, from an actual capitalist’s perspective, offensive to the notion of investing and competing on a level playing field.

I’m not much into -ism’s. As I once told a conservative friend, capitalism is a good starting point, but it doesn’t exist outside a societal context, and it is virtuous only to the extent that it serves the society in which it exists. I am a capitalist as a starting point, but I insist that any economic philosophy must serve society at large, not just those born to wealth. Unlike my coffee, I’ll take my capitalism with cream and sugar, please.

2 Bryan { 11.03.06 at 12:43 am }

The whole justification for making a profit is that you are taking a risk. If your risk is limited by law, then so should your profit. The market can’t function in the absence of risk, because that is what keeps people honest, whether they want to be or not.

I had E&O in California because it was cheaper than the bond required to bid on certain contracts, but corporations weren’t required to list either on their bids, which ticked me off. All of the rules were different. It wasn’t a level playing field and more than once I had corporations that won jobs I had bid on try to hire me to do the work below their bid price.

The present system is really not market oriented, and certainly not capitalism. Without the special laws and favoritism Enron, Tyco, and the rest wouldn’t have been possible.