“Fascism should more properly be called ‘corporatism’ because it is the total merging of corporate and state power.”
~ Benito Mussolini, the Founding Father of the Fascist State
So corporations are “people”, with “certain unalienable rights”? You’ve got to hand it to Reagan and the two Bushes. Thanks to their atrocious appointments to America’s highest court, the damage they’ve done to our democracy will be felt for generations. The recent decision by the Supreme Court to strike down two precedents (including McCain/Feingold) which limited the obscene amount of money a corporation could use to influence the electoral process is a case in point. According to the Supremes, a corporation is “a person” entitled to take advantage of the First Amendment just like any other “person”. It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Here’s the good news: Justice Antonin Scalia is looking a little worse for wear these days. Just check him out in the photograph posted above. The guy looks like he’s going to keel over at any moment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not wishing for him to die – oh, perish the thought gentle reader! That’s certainly not my style! I’m just speculating that he may retire in the near future for reasons of health. Then again, it would be just like the hideous old bastard to stay on the job till he drops.
Predicting where the Justices would stand on this issue was as easy as predicting that the sun will rise in the east this morning. Stevens, Breyer, Ginsberg and Sotomayor stood with the people. Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Uncle Thomas (all appointees of either Reagan or the Bushes) once again voted to thrust a dagger into the heart of Democracy.
Not since Plessy vs. Ferguson or Dred Scott have the Supremes gotten it so wrong. On one of these points I am just a tad sensitive. The Chief Justice who wrote the Dred Scott Decision, Roger Brooke Taney, is a relative of mine. Trust me, this is not a particular point of pride within my family. Personally, I would rather have been related to Joe McCarthy. At least he was known to have had a sense of humor.
Ascribing humanity to a corporation, to a company like Exxon or Disney for example, raises too many questions to even list here. But let’s at least attempt to ask a few of them, shall we, boys and girls? Here goes….
Are corporations really persons?
Do corporations think?
Do corporations weep?
Do corporations fall in love?
Do corporations grieve when a loved one dies as a result of a lack of adequate health care?
Do corporations have loved ones?
Are corporations even capable of loving?
Do corporations sometimes lose sleep at night worrying about disease, violence, destruction, and the suffering of their fellow human beings?
Do corporations feel your pain?
Can a corporation run for public office?
Is a corporation capable of having a sense of humor? Is it capable of laughing at itself? (EXAMPLE: “So these two corporations walk into a bar….”)
If a corporation ever committed an unspeakable crime against the American people, could IT be sent to federal prison? (Note the operative word here: “It”)
Has a corporation ever walked into a voting booth and cast a ballot for the candidate of its choice?
We all know that corporations have made a shit-load of cash throughout our history by profiting on the unspeakable tragedy of war. But has a corporation ever given its life for its country?
Is a corporation capable of raising a child?
Does a corporation have a conscience? Does it feel remorse after it has done something really bad?
Has a corporation ever been killed in an accident as the result of a design flaw in the automobile it was driving?
Has a corporation ever written a novel or a dramatic play or a song that inspired millions?
Has a corporation ever risked its life by climbing a ladder to save a child from a burning house?
Has a corporation ever won an Oscar? Or an Emmy? Or a Tony? Or the Nobel Peace Prize? Or a Polk or Peabody Award? Or the Pulitzer Prize in Biography?
Has a corporation ever performed Schubert’s Ave Maria?
Has a corporation ever been shot and killed by someone who was using an illegal and unregistered gun?
Has a corporation ever paused to reflect upon the simple beauty of an autumn sunset or a brilliant winter moon rising on the horizon?
If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise if there are no corporations there to hear it?
Should corporations kiss on the first date?
Could a corporation resolve to dedicate its life to being an artist? Or a musician? Or an opera singer? Or a Catholic priest? Or a Doctor? Or a Dentist? Or a sheet metal worker? Or a gourmet chef? Or a short-order cook? Or a magician? Or a nurse? Or a trapeze artist? Or an author? Or an editor? Or a Thrift Shop owner? Or a EMT worker? Or a book binder? Or a Hardware Store clerk? Or a funeral director? Or a sanitation worker? Or an actor? Or a comedian? Or a glass blower? Or a chamber maid? Or a film director? Or a newspaper reporter? Or a deep sea fisherman? Or a farmer? Or a piano tuner? Or a jeweler? Or a janitor? Or a nun? Or a Trappist Monk? Or a poet? Or a pilgrim? Or a bar tender? Or a used car salesman? Or a brick layer? Or a mayor? Or a soothsayer? Or a Hall-of-Fame football player? Or a soldier? Or a sailor? Or a butcher? Or a baker? Or a candlestick maker?
Could a corporation choose to opt out of all the above and merely become a bum? Living life on the road, hopping freight trains and roasting mickeys in the woods?
I realize that this is pure theological speculation on my part but the question is just screaming to be posed: When corporations die, do they go to Heaven?
Our lives – yours and mine – have more worth than any goddamned corporation. To say that the Supreme Court made a awful decision on Thursday is an understatement. Not only is it an obscene ruling – it’s an insult to our humanity.
A film by Mark Achbar
Happy birthday in Heaven to Ernie Kovacs (photo left) who would have turned ninety-one today. Ernie died on the night of January 13, 1962 – ten days before he would have turned forty-three – when he lost control of the Corvair station wagon he was driving and wrapped it around a utility poll, killing him instantly. Due to a major flaw in its design, the Corvair was later deemed, “Unsafe at Any Speed”. After a lengthy and protracted battle with General Motors (the corporation that manufactured the vehicle) Ralph Nader was able to have it banned forever from America’s roads.
I Hope you’re sleeping well, Ernie.