Wednesday, May 25, 2016

People Who Are People

A lot of conservatives have the idea that corporations are people … that they have the same rights as individuals. The whole Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision rests on the idea that corporations have the same rights to free speech as citizens, and that huge corporations spending millions on political campaigns are the same as you standing on a street corner with a sign.

Of course, most people find it pretty easy to tell corporations and people apart. Corporations are buildings full of paper and machines and cubicles with coffee mugs and sweaty running clothes. And people are … well, people, with flesh and blood, piercings and tattoos and sweaty running clothes.

On the other hand, if corporations were people, they might have a different opinion of what people are, so that’s a circular argument.

Corporations do not have the same interests and motivations as individual people. Corporations exist for one purpose only … to make as much money as they possibly can. People, in contrast, exist to eat junk food, have sex, watch TV AND make money. In many cases, those interests are in direct conflict.

But if corporations are people, aren’t countries also people? Surely countries and governments are made up of people, and countries’ interests align much more closely with those of their citizens, at least in theory. When countries interests are at odds with those of their citizens, we consider those failed states.

And if people have basic rights … the so-called “inalienable rights” … then so do countries. Countries, too, are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So what does “happy country” mean?

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