RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Gibson writes: "We all know corporations aren't people. The mere suggestion that an entity with an unlimited lifespan - that doesn't eat, sleep, make love, or even have a measurable pulse - is a legitimate 'person' is laughable. So here's an easy way to prove that laughable concept to local law enforcement, and more importantly, your local judge."

Corporations are not people. (photo: Chris Winter)
Corporations are not people. (photo: Chris Winter)


An Easy, 4-Step Method to End Corporate Personhood

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

07 May 13

 

f you knew you could end the concept of corporate personhood at the local level, and that everyone all over the country was doing it too, wouldn't you try it? All you need is $50 to $100 depending on what state you're in, a vehicle, and a carpool lane. A briefcase is helpful, but optional.

We all know corporations aren't people. The mere suggestion that an entity with an unlimited lifespan - that doesn't eat, sleep, make love, or even have a measurable pulse - is a legitimate "person" is laughable. So here's an easy way to prove that laughable concept to local law enforcement, and more importantly, your local judge.

Step One: Form Your Own Corporation

It's incredibly easy to form your own limited liability company, or LLC. Even though an LLC isn't officially recognized by the IRS, you can classify it as a partnership or an S corp. can walk you through the entire process. All you need to do is go to your local Secretary of State's office and request incorporation paperwork for your own LLC. The fee is generally $50 to $100 to form your own corporation. You may also need to request an Employer Identification Number from the IRS to make your corporation official. Once your corporation is formed and approved by your Secretary of State's staff, move on to step two.

Step Two: Drive in the Carpool Lane During Rush Hour Most major cities have a designated lane for carpools, where vehicles containing two or more people can ride to bypass heavy traffic. This part is where a briefcase will come in handy, to give your corporate "person" some personality. Once your corporation's paperwork is safely secured in a briefcase, fasten the seatbelt for both yourself and your corporate "person." Drive in the carpool lane with only yourself and your briefcase in the car. Make sure you signal appropriately, drive the speed limit, don't drive with any incriminating substances, and abide by all traffic laws. If you're lucky, you'll be pulled over by law enforcement.

Step Three: Perplex Local Law Enforcement

When you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror, signal and pull over. If you have a smartphone or any sort of recording device, turn it on and record your conversation with the officer pulling you over. The cop will most likely give you a ticket for driving solo in the carpool lane. This is where you explain to the officer that you indeed have two people in your vehicle - yourself and your corporation, which the Supreme Court says is a person for all legal purposes. The cop likely won't buy it, and you'll be issued a traffic ticket and a court date. Now, don't fret, because this is a win-win situation for you.

Step Four: Get Out of a Traffic Ticket/Abolish Corporate Personhood

Your court date will likely be at least a month in advance, so you'll have plenty of time to prepare. Wear professional attire to your court appearance, and make sure you bring your corporate paperwork with you - again, a briefcase would be beneficial here. When you see the judge, explain your situation just as you did with the cop who pulled you over. The cop should be in the courtroom with you, anyway (and if not, you automatically get out of paying your ticket and court costs). The judge has two choices. He can uphold corporate personhood, agree that your corporation is a person and that the two of you can legally ride in the carpool lane. Or, the judge can force you to pay the ticket and the court fees, while laughing at the suggestion that your bundle of paperwork in your briefcase is a living, breathing person.

While the second option would probably cost you at least three figures and increase your insurance premiums, you have the greater victory of a lower court striking down corporate personhood, and simultaneously contradicting both the 2010 Supreme Court ruling as well as the 1886 ruling, which first established the concept of corporations as people.

Imagine if judges in all 50 states abolished corporate personhood in such a way! The Supreme Court wouldn't dare appeal or ignore the decisions of lower court judges in every state. And all it takes is a little rebellion and devious thinking on our part to get it done.



Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+1 # Inspired Citizen 2013-05-07 08:47
These suggestions are a symbolic waste of people's time.

If you want to abolish corporate rights, get involved with the movement to do just that. Go to movetoamend.org and sign the petition.

That will give you the opportunity to plug into a movement of activists and concerned citizens. That is much more worth your time than any of these four shallow ideas.
 
 
+66 # bmiluski 2013-05-07 09:56
Why not do both?
 
 
-14 # Inspired Citizen 2013-05-07 14:39
Because what Gibson is suggesting is singular, and we need a movement. We know how to amend the Constitution, and extra efforts can waste time and crucial energy we need for the long haul.
 
 
+6 # Arden 2013-05-10 13:55
I think it is a brilliant, creative idea. 50 judges? Surely there are 50 brave judges who want to help change the current system. It's hardly wasting your own time or crucial energy because it is not something that just anyone could accomplish, but many people could, and just might, given merely the suggestion. And it could work. At the least, it exposes the absurdity of corporate personhood to more people.
But try both approaches. Yours is the rational one, but there are others worth doing.
Is there any reason it would be unwise to abolish corporate personhood? I really don't know the answer to that, but I think not.
 
 
+3 # Michael Lee Bugg 2013-05-09 17:59
What I don't get is why these corporate "persons" get to donate more to political campaigns than I can presently? Did the "Citizens United" ruling change that also or do the corporations just donate shareholders' money to the 'Super Pacs'? Remember how Republicans used to screech about labor unions donating to Democrats without the universal approval of the union members, many of whom vote for Republicans for a variety of reasons?! Maybe stockholders should revolt while profits are very high along with stock prices, and dividends are small to nonexistent?
 
 
+17 # 666 2013-05-07 10:44
are "traffic court" decisions recognized as "legal precedents"? I'm not a lawyer, but that seems a bit far-fetched to me... but I'll give you credit for the spirit of the idea.
 
 
+9 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-05-07 13:01
This idea of a corporate passenger in your car may sound foolish but it just could work. Tho, states could pass a law that requires you to have a "living" passenger rather than a "paper" passenger seated in that passenger seat. But, who knows. Could cause judges to realize that a "paper" passenger fronting as a real person is silly and strike down the corporate idea that a "paper" passenger as being a real human.
 
 
+7 # RLF 2013-05-09 05:28
Your an idiot! This is brilliant, simple, and funny. Get in a movement which is totally ignored by everyone but gives you the satisfaction of saying "I working to better my world...Whoopee e!" If you haven't noticed...not one such movement has done crap in the last 20 years...like the mass protests against going into Iraq...that was effective. The long haul is going to be an explosion when something wakes people up like a draft to send their kids to Syria.
 
 
-1 # ChefDave 2013-05-12 13:57
Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black to me. I have long felt that idiots commonly do not use proper grammar. YOU'RE welcome.
 
 
+44 # grouchy 2013-05-07 09:12
But first I want to marry a rich corporation, then divorce it after the appropriate waiting period and then get to live on my half share of their wealth! After I accomplish this, then do whatever mischief you want with them!
 
 
+4 # bmiluski 2013-05-07 09:56
Only if your name is Koch.
 
 
+21 # MsAnnaNOLA 2013-05-07 10:40
So now we need marriage equality for corporate persons. Maybe taking it to that extreme will put this to an end.
 
 
+11 # BradFromSalem 2013-05-07 11:28
Better be careful not to F other natural people so that your divorce claim about how your corporation spouse was out F'ing everybody. I am sure if you married a bank for instance it would be pretty easy to find others that would testify in court that they got F'ed by you soon to be ex.
 
 
+5 # RLF 2013-05-09 05:30
Have to show that the marriage was consumated! Stains on the paperwork?
 
 
+23 # tswhiskers 2013-05-07 09:22
I don't know why people are shocked to find that legally, corporations are people. I discovered this fact years ago when I began a business as a sole proprietorship and found I could not collect unemployment but my sister, who had an incorporated business, could. I found out then that corporations are people. Does it make sense? Hell, no! But big business has always had many friends in high places, so it should not be surprising to find another perk that benefits them. However since courts seem invariably to support big business at the expense of small business, I doubt the judges would be the pushovers that Mr. Gibson imagines them to be.
 
 
+19 # HeidiStevenson 2013-05-07 09:47
Sounds good, but it's rather disingenuous to suggest that it will only cost you the amount of incorporation. It doesn't include the cost of that ticket and the increase in insurance.

The reality is going to be that the judges will simply ignore your rational logic and rule against you. Nothing will be accomplished, in spite of the idea being ever-so-reasona ble in spirit. The fact is that the legal system has largely become a fact and reason free zone.
 
 
+27 # Majikman 2013-05-07 09:49
Carl, I love your idea, and I can see how young people would get behind it...lots of people in several states and not just one time either. If they could alert their local nsp. of their court date, they might even get some publicity.
The law hates being laughed at...and richly deserves it in this case.
"moveto ammend" is not the only venue to challenge corporate personhood.
 
 
-15 # HowardMH 2013-05-07 10:06
Until there are two hundred thousand (OK I will concede there are not that many that even understand what is going on in Washington DC, much less get pissed off about it so lets say 5 thousand really, really pissed off people on Capital Hill all at the same time – with base ball bats, or 2 x 2s) raising some serious hell against the Lunatics, and idiots absolutely nothing is ever, ever going to happen to these totally bought and paid for by the richest 50 people in the world that are becoming more and more powerful with each passing rigged election thanks to the stupid people.

How much success have you had with the TOTALLY NON VIOLENT protests over the last few years?

I’m no fan of Sarah’s but this comment is just so appropriate. So how is that Hopei, Changie working out for you now?
 
 
+15 # m... 2013-05-07 10:07
There are definitely more than a few Wall Street Corporate 'Persons' that belong in Prison. There are maybe even a few Corporations around that deserve the Death Penalty...

Now tell me how that could/would happen...And why if it cannot, should those 'Persons' be above such legal sanctions all other REAL Personas can be subjected to.
 
 
+7 # 666 2013-05-07 10:47
"maybe"??? come on, get real
 
 
+2 # Stay Calm 2013-05-07 10:11
If I were the judge I would declare that the incorporation papers are not the corporation, just as a person's birth certificate is not the person. So, just as having your friend's papers strapped into the passenger seat would not entitle you to the carpool lane, having your corporation's papers would likewise leave you alone in the car.
 
 
+5 # theory≠opinion 2013-05-07 15:28
Well, then you could argue that the corporation is everywhere and therefore you don't even need the papers to establish their presence in the car.
 
 
+7 # Charles3000 2013-05-07 11:02
I prefer seeing corporate "persons" jailed for breaking laws. That would be all of the officers and stockholders I would suppose. It would fill the jails quickly.
 
 
+4 # m... 2013-05-07 19:07
Perhaps you might find major allies for your 'jailing preferences' within the now Corporate-Priva tized-Incacerat ion-Industry.
If you could convince them that your ideas could lead to further filling those profitable beds and cells of theirs with more 'Persons' ..., maybe they would be happy to assist you in your efforts.., maybe even provide you with a Lobbyist or two to go in there and convince those 'Representative s' (of theirs) to start sticking Corporations in Prison too simply because it might actually be good for business just like the Drug War. ... ;-)
 
 
0 # randrjwr 2013-05-09 09:10
Quoting m...:
..., maybe they would be happy to assist you in your efforts..


They wouldn't even have to build new facilities--jus t turn all the big banks into prisons and not have to move anybody.
 
 
+8 # kalpal 2013-05-07 11:04
An old saying, "You can't fight city hall," is accompanied by but you can bribe city council and get your way.

So long as its legal to bribe legislators in this nation the average citizen will remain screwed.

We need to stop letting candidate go out and beg for money which leaves them beholden to the guys who supply the money. Anyone who tells you that votes are not bought is either a politician, a lobbyist or a guy who buys votes.
 
 
+8 # frnelson 2013-05-07 11:34
Please let people know when your court date is! Traffic court is a barrel of monkeys laugh to watch when people plead their case - so much so that the judge has had to bang the gavel to stop the laughter.

BTW, the traffic court in NJ is as serious as a heart attack - real aggressive prosecutors and judges that pass out arrest warrants. In MD, not so much. Be very careful of which jurisdiction you get busted in.

As a side note - ALWAYS take the day off and go to court to fight a traffic ticket - odds are 50-50 that the arresting officer won't show - and you get off. (that's how I won both times - not for my judicial talents)
 
 
+5 # djnova50 2013-05-07 12:41
This was funny. Not long ago, after additional cuts to my disabled sons' insurance, I mentioned that maybe if we became a corporation, the state would take care of us. I was joking when I said it, though.
 
 
+3 # ladypyrates 2013-05-07 12:46
...practically speaking, a "published" opinion at the appellate court level would be what it takes to cause the system some judicial grief. If memory serves me correctly, the corporate "personhood" concept wasn't the result of a ruling...rather it was the errant reporting of a clerk that was taken as gospel.
 
 
+6 # AMLLLLL 2013-05-07 16:07
Part of the problem stems from the 14th Amendment, which has been perverted to include 'ficticious persons' like corporations. First it mentions 'natural born or naturalized persons', which SHOULD have made it clear, and then it says all 'persons having equal protection under the law', but they once again should have said,"natural persons", not imagining the perversion brought about by that court clerk (Davis), who took license with a non-decision in the ruling, which had to do with tax law, not personhood. The fact that justices keep company and intermingle with tycoons has NOT helped us.
 
 
+9 # dkonstruction 2013-05-07 14:50
Step 5 needs to be that if corporation's are now "people" and this country still has capital punishment (which I am in general opposed to but that's another discussion) then corporation's need to be subject to the death penalty and when convicted of committing, oh, let's say financial or environmental "crimes against humanity" they should be sentenced to death i.e, put out of business...thei r assets seized and the business turned over to the workers to be run as a worker-owned cooperative (unless the business that the company is engaged in is so heinous in and of itself that it should just be shut down period).
 
 
+6 # AMLLLLL 2013-05-07 16:09
Believe it or not, that used to be the case; corporate charters were not in perpetuity; they had 'term limits' and were accountable. And then, of course, that changed.
 
 
+7 # ladypyrates 2013-05-07 16:13
Amen...When corporate charters were first issued, they were for a specific purpose and had expirations attached. Monsanto might be a good example of a corp that needs "owner adjustment.'
 
 
-2 # ravext 2013-05-07 15:51
There seems to be a complete lack of understanding of the concept of legal personality. What the author suggests doing is most definetely a criminal offence and the ploy devised is laughable. First of all there is a distinction between legal and natural persons. In this case "riding" in a car is a physical action which a legal person cannot undertake therefore no defence can logically succeed. I know it sounds legalistic yet the principles of corporate personality have developed over the last 200 years to serve many social needs and are far more complex than the simplistic view expounded by the author. Now people today see multinational corporations as the source of all evil and thus equate this with the whole concept of legal personality. Yet ever since the decision in Salomon v. Salomon where the concept of legal personality was firstly established legal personality has offered a remarkable mechanism by which groups of people form a united whole which operates as a living breathing organism allowing progress through creativity and camaraderie. The merits and demerits of legal personality however are a long discussion and undoubtedly there are many instances of abuse of corporate structures. And this is where the author fails dramatically by not justifying exactly why "legal personality" should be abolished by conducting an unbiased weighting of the pros and cons. Instead we see just another variation of sticking it to the man without real substance.
 
 
0 # egbegb 2013-05-07 16:29
It should be remembered that Mr Gibson is not a lawyer and cannot explain the law. Otherwise, his plan sounds fun.
Have you done it yet, Carl?
 
 
+4 # tanis 2013-05-07 16:46
This article is designed to make people THINK not criticize. Maybe any one of us can have an idea that someone else can add to. Inspiration, don't dis it!
There was a man in the worst part of Detroit who painted every ugly ruin he could with colors of the rainbow. He was arrested and taken to court where he faced a judge who simply said, "Stop it!" His reply - "I can't." They released him anyway.
Move to amend is in progress, join that too.
 
 
+2 # Kathymoi 2013-05-07 16:58
This makes me think of the guy who was dead for a week for tax purposes. Corporations are "people" for financial purposes, and to protect the actual people who own and run the corporation from legal liability for their decisions and actions.
 
 
0 # dascher 2013-05-09 13:29
Quoting Kathymoi:
Corporations are "people" for financial purposes, and to protect the actual people who own and run the corporation from legal liability for their decisions and actions.

I get it... spending corporate money to influence elections does not really have anything to do with 'free speech rights' of corporate "people"; it is merely a financial transaction.
 
 
0 # MichaelSSmithNJ 2013-05-07 17:10
Interesting idea but I see one flaw in it I believe he says that you incorporate that means you and the corporation are one and the same and are not two person now if you form a corporation that consists of other persons in it like members of you family then that may work
 
 
+4 # JAJ 2013-05-07 18:29
Interesting idea, but it's been tried and the court merely danced around the issue instead of choosing one of the author's two outcomes (see story from January SF Chron: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Corporation-not-person-in-carpool-lanes-4173366.php).

But there is another alternative to amending the Constitution. Corporations are defined in state laws. The Citizens United SCOTUS decision says that given how corporations are defined (by states), they are people. So, we can pull the rug out from under Citizens United by changing the definition of corporations in each state so as to make it impossible for corps to make campaign contributions or otherwise act as people.
 
 
0 # sj-ias 2013-05-07 18:44
Tell us about it again once you've already done it.
 
 
+1 # Kimc 2013-05-07 22:55
This has been tried. I don't think it worked.
See the comment from JAJ 2013-05-07 16:29 that has a link to the article about it.
 
 
0 # judyh 2013-05-08 11:19
It seems to me some group should set up a fund to support the costs of people doing this. That way, you'd get plenty of volunteers.
 
 
-1 # brux 2013-05-09 10:21
This is a joke, and not a funny one either, just a waste of time mind game. We need solutions not nonsense like this. As a post above mentioned this has been tried.
 
 
-1 # 2lilluc 2013-05-12 06:38
This article, which I will call "serious mockery," is a statement of the total ridiculousness of calling a corporation a person. As we fight the fight it is good to remember to laugh sometimes.
 
 
-1 # Dr Binky 2013-05-12 16:39
corporations aren't people and neither are unions. Let's stop both corporations and unions from giving political donations.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN