Monday, August 22, 2011

The Ugly Truth of Citizens United

The US Supreme Court has accepted the argument in the Citizens United case that corporations have an unrestricted right to use shareholder money to buy politicians. Why? Because "corporations are people". Yeah, sure.

Here's a reminder from an article written by Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and posted on the Naked Capitalist blog:
Unlike real people, corporations cannot be sent to jail. Corporate shells shield owners and managers from criminal prosecution for the wholesale frauds that have left Countrywide Financial, Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and other pillars of the banking community free to make civil settlements for deceptive policies without admitting wrongdoing. And whereas individual crooks need to pay their own lawyers, corporations pick up the tab for their managers, while contributing generously to politicians who rewrite the laws to decriminalize fraud and deceptive business dealing. The corporate-backed media applaud politicians who insist that families “take responsibility” for their unemployment risk, debts and health care – while bailouts free the wealthy from having to suffer losses on bad loans.
Funny how the same Supreme Court which couldn't bother to let the ballots be counted in 2000 to decide the election has been able to sift the tea leaves and discover that corporations are "people". Well, if so, let's start sending corporations to jail! Take the whole kit and caboodle off and lock them up right down to the night watchman.

If we make corporations accountable as "persons" then people will be more cautious about taking a job at a corporation. They will want bigger salaries for the higher risk that they can go to jail as part of the "corporate body" that did a criminal act. That might be salutary for everybody. Better wages. Slower growth for corporations. More workers ready to be whistle-blowers about corporate corruption and crime.

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