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Hightower writes: "When a corporate and governmental cabal makes such a power play that the very idea of it becomes a national joke, both the idea and the cabal are in trouble. That's the case with the comical claim of 'personhood' for corporations."

Texas' progressive political curmudgeon, Jim Hightower. (photo:
Texas' progressive political curmudgeon, Jim Hightower. (photo:

Repeal the Farce of 'Corporate Personhood'

By Jim Hightower, Jim Hightower's Blog

19 January 12


he Powers That Be constantly try to pull the wool over people's eyes, but sometimes the wool blinders are so itchy that people rip them off and clearly see the scam.

One of the itchiest ever is the Kafkaesque fiction, put forth by America's right-wing power establishment, that corporations are "persons' with the Constitutional right to control our elections with their bottomless troves of corporate cash. This is an absurd perversion of nature itself. A person, after all, has a navel. Where's the corporate navel – or its heart, brain, or soul?

Also, if a corporation is a person, shouldn't it be subject to front-line military duty, to jail for its criminal violations, and even to the death penalty? As a reader pointed out to me in a recent email, many states do not allow persons under 18 years of age to marry (or, in corporate terminology, to merge). Plus, such young persons are subject to curfews and cannot legally be served alcohol. If you see a young corporation violating any of these teen laws – call the cops on them!

When a corporate and governmental cabal makes such a power play that the very idea of it becomes a national joke, both the idea and the cabal are in trouble. That's the case with the comical claim of "personhood" for corporations. All across the country, beneath the radar of American's clueless elites, a savvy and scrappy grassroots coalition is mobilizing to overturn the anti-democratic effort by the Supreme Court, corporate front groups, and political sell-outs to enthrone corporate money over the people. On January 20th and 21st there will be two national days of action to rally public support for a Constitutional amendment to reject the farce of corporate personhood.

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+67 # Tippitc 2012-01-19 17:06
I remember the day that I heard that 'citizens united' had been passed by the subversive court - I almost sat down and cried - what little shred of hope I had for this country VAPORIZED!!
So far, I have not participated in any Occupy events, but I will be there for this one!! I better get busy on a protest sign.
+21 # Barbara K 2012-01-20 07:18
I must admit that I felt the same way you did on that day, Tippitc. It was a low, sad, day for our country and her people. I agree: Repeal the Farce!
+61 # Kayjay 2012-01-19 17:50
Count me in, as it's time to get back to "We the people," not We the Corporations of America. Take those logos off our flag!
+3 # James38 2012-01-20 18:22
Can someone find any reason why we should not just eliminate the special status of corporations altogether? Let the officials and the board and the accountants etc take the full responsibility personally for the actions and mistakes of the organization. If the corporation wants to "insure" them against some of the liability, fine, but the responsibility would be clear, and the money would come from the organization. No more wall of corporate insulation to protect the perps.
+36 # barbaratodish 2012-01-19 22:04
The next person who asks my name will be told my first mame is "Cor" and my last name is "Poration"! lol!
+24 # grouchy 2012-01-19 23:27
I am still trying to find a corporation to marry. If they are persons, this should be legally possible, right? Thus I would like to live in the style which I would like to become accustomed! Then I'd have the option of getting a divorce and taking a big chunk of their money with me! Now, how to do the deed. If I can pull this off, it should make it possible for many to do so too, and I'm wondering if a corporation can marry more than one person. Now that holds great possibilities for many of us!
+9 # John Locke 2012-01-20 09:38
It would have to be a Utah corporation
+7 # AndreM5 2012-01-20 09:53
You just described exactly what Bain Capital did for years.
+7 # maddave 2012-01-20 11:06
If the Corporations can **** you, then you ought to be able to marry one . . . or at a minimum get a kiss & a cigarett when they're finished. Where's the problem? .
+5 # janetjan 2012-01-20 14:37
Of course, you could only marry (merge with) one corporation at a time, and would be required to divorce that corporation before you could marry another. The BIG fact is that sale, purchase and ownership of corporations (which includes sale, purchase of stock since stock holding is ownership of the corporation) has been illegal since the end of the Civil War, if corporations are persons. Sale, purchase and ownership of persons is, obviously, slavery. Do the Powers That Be want that?
+23 # grouchy 2012-01-19 23:30
Oh, hey, let's sign them up for the draft too! Send all the high honchos to Afghanistan and to the front lines where the real people are stationed! Wonderful thought.
+28 # maddave 2012-01-20 00:03
I'll not accept corporations as "persons" until Texas executes one of them.
+20 # vitobonespur 2012-01-20 02:09
Moreover, where is the corporate anus? Oh, wait! He served his two terms in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
+18 # Nominae 2012-01-20 02:10
Corporations are people, money is speech, Giant Sequoias are Ice Cream, and the Moon is Green Cheese.

Funny it never occurred to the Founders of this nation to install protections against the possibility of inane, insane, moronic gibberish being enacted into Law by The Highest Court In The Land.

That this nonsensical drivel has actually become the Law of the Land is all the proof necessary in demonstration of the degree to which the systemic rot is now endemic in "Our Government".

No one any longer makes the any pretense that the U.S. Government has the slightest connection to "we the people", and they obviously don't care who knows it ! "We" were factored out of the equation so long ago that we are little more than an annoying memory.
+3 # AMLLLLL 2012-01-20 18:03
This all started when the 14th Amendment was written without the simple word,'natural' before the word person. One word...but if we all raise enough Hell, we can get an amendment passed to reverse this sorry state.
+7 # ER444 2012-01-20 02:46
I have forgotten who made this vomment, but I liked it..... "I'll believe that corporattions are people when Texas executes one". How's that for Amuricn logic.
+10 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-01-20 02:48
Was it you, Mr. Hightower, that said "I'll believe corporations are people when the State of Texas executes one?" It sounds like you, or maybe you were channeling the late and dear Molly Ivens.

We should all write to the SSA and ask them when our favorite corporation got their SS#!

I've heard that the SSA gives a SS# to every new born baby, once they are able to see their belly button. And, in keeping with the idea of extreme data surfing, it is duly noted whether said belly button is an inney or an outey.
+19 # TomDegan 2012-01-20 03:46
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?

Our lives - yours and mine - have more worth than any goddamned corporation. To say that the Supreme Court made a awful decision in Citzens United v FEC is an understatement. Not only is it an obscene ruling, it is an insult to our humanity.

Tom Degan
+13 # James38 2012-01-20 04:15
Have any of the Supremes who voted for this obviously absurd law been honest or aware enough to say they made a mistake? If not, this should be seen as proof that they are unfit to continue to serve on the court.

This law is an obvious statement in favor of wealth ruling the country. Who do they think wields the power of the "Corporate Person"? It is obviously the few humans(?) at the very top of the corporate structure. The law makes them Super Citizens, with vastly more power than the rest of us.
+19 # aalauf 2012-01-20 04:48
one thing I have been wondering : if a corporation is now a person, isn't it illegal to own it, i.e., slavery ? shouldn't the corporations be freed, and taken away from their masters ?
+14 # VaOtter 2012-01-20 05:23
If you can agree that Jim nailed this one, please take a minute to sign Senator Bernie Sanders' petition to repeal "Citizens United" Look for the "Sign the Petition" link at:
+5 # Klanders 2012-01-20 09:47
I agree. I've signed Senator Sanders petition, and I am committed to getting other grey-haired folks to do the same. We can make a difference!
+12 # Bluegrasser 2012-01-20 05:51
Oh, now maybe you're being too hard on these "corporation personhoods"! Think about it, if they are truly "persons", and the law is NO RESPECTOR of persons, then GE et al (who pay nearly no taxes) would have to, like us, file a Form #1040 and use our tax tables (without loopholes, etc.) to pay their taxes!
Maybe then the National Debt would be paid off sooner!!
+16 # feloneouscat 2012-01-20 07:08
If corporations are people then, by the Bizarro world mechanics of Right Wing thinking, people are corporations.

I wonder how the IRS would feel if millions started filing as corporations for lower taxes?
+8 # Cambridgemac 2012-01-20 08:40
As Leona Helmsley said, "Taxes are for little people."

Millions of Amuhrikans - in the 1% - already pay little or no taxes. Mitt, after all, pays at a rate of 15% - on the income that is not hidden in offshore tax havens.
+12 # humanmancalvin 2012-01-20 09:26
Yet another reason for Obama in 2012. This activist Supreme Court does not need another Republican extremist on its bench to join Roberts, Scalia, Thomas. For the sake of our country, we better work hard to ensure that only Democrats nominate justices. I'm thinking Elizabeth Warren would look good in a black robe?
+7 # Klanders 2012-01-20 09:46
As is usual, you have hit the nail squarely on the head. Thank You, Jim, for proving that there are folks in Texas that are thinking, questioning, and intelligent. Given the most dominant image(s) of Texans as portrayed by our presidential nomination seeker Governor, you are a bright light in an otherwise dim horizon. The issue of Corporate Citizenship needs to be redressed and soon; and it is up to the little folks in the USA to seize the day and to act publicly now to get our voices heard in large enough numbers to get this Supreme Court ruling over turned before any more damage to our Freedom and Democracy suffers further eroded. The "Establishment" sees the Little folks as being disorganized and otherwise preoccupied with issues like survival. Let's show them that we did learn something in school, and that we can apply the lessons from our education to bring change to a downward trend. I all in, and am begging others to join in the fight. Time to give a damn!
+6 # Hank 2012-01-20 09:47
Attempting to define the term corporation is moot.

What about the use of shareholder money to support politicians, without the direct approval of those shareholders?
+4 # davidhp 2012-01-20 09:56
All I can say is rise up, the people have the power to end this fascism storming into our nation, if they choose.
+3 # James38 2012-01-20 11:54
Vote for intelligent Senators and Representatives . This local action can change the government. Get busy on this level in every state. If you can recall one of the Teabaggers, do it, or run a decently aware person against them. The logic is unassailable. The people will listen. Get the non voting disaffected folks to realize their vote can get rid of the insanity now gripping politics.
+6 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-20 10:17
The Supreme Court’s pre-Citizens United analysis that money equals speech is obviously flawed. Anyone can speak anywhere as much as they want, for free (fire/theater excepted). It costs nothing, not even the vaunted lives of servicemen. We have a Constitutional Right to free speech.

But all that speech is worthless if the speaker is not *heard*. Money does not equal speech. Money equals being heard.

Those without money are not heard no matter how much they speak (unless they speak with the Second Amendment, which may be the only language, other than money, which the 1% might understand), and those with money are heard no matter how little they actually speak. So, in essence, while the founders meant "one man, one vote", the Supreme Court has decided it is "one dollar, one vote." The more money you have, the more votes you get. After all, the corporations would not be spending all that money if it didn't work.

To be continued:
+3 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-20 10:17
Continued from above:

What the Supreme Court has done is activist legislation from the bench, ruling there is now a Constitutional Right To Be Heard. That is not in the Constitution but no one is listening to those without money so it doesn't matter. The Supreme Court might argue that if the people don't like it they can vote the bastards out. But again, those corporations wouldn't spend all that money if it wasn't buying the people's votes with intellectual capture (Stockholm Syndrome), as well as buying the bastards outright.

But the people deserve this. They will deserve better when they reacquaint themselves with the pitchfork, or better yet, the guillotine, or even better still, Thomas Jefferson and the Second Amendment.
+5 # Regina 2012-01-20 10:30
When I see a corporation bleed blood (not money!) when stabbed, vomit when exposed to a nauseating substance, and soil its pants when delayed en route to a lavatory, I'll accept it as a person.
+8 # Becbeq 2012-01-20 10:36
Well, seems to me after 10 years behind a tax desk, if these corporations are "persons" then they should be taxed as a person. Any US citizen pays income tax on **world wide** income. Corporations have a variety of loopholes that allow them to shelter income overseas and not pay tax on it.

Look at GE as an example. They showed a loss inside the US, thus garnering a tax benefit from the federal government while they had a record profit year outside the US, which was not subject to taxation. If they are, in fact, persons, then that income should be subject to taxation, just as it would for you or me.
+5 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-20 10:39
The corporation itself is a creature of the State with no independent rights under freedom of association. It was designed as a limited liability vehicle (called the "Limited" in the UK). But what is "limited liability"? Isn't it really limited responsibility? And I thought the greatest mouths of capitalism were all about personal responsibility, and an absence of State involvement?

Limitation on responsibility means "externalizatio n" of costs, which is socialism.

So here we have government interference in the free market allowing some people to limit their responsibility and socialize their costs; all so these so-called (physics-defyin g) bootstrapping, self-made, rugged individualist, swash-buckling men of daring-do can pretend they carry the weight of America on their shoulders. WTF?

Capitalism is great, if only these assholes would practice it by internalizing ALL their costs like a true risk-taker would. Barring that, and when society agrees to allow them some leeway, you'd think they would not whine so much about taxes for social programs designed to pick up the mess they leave behind.

Where is the "Elizabeth-Warr en-style" education, one-liners, and bullets on this, speaking to all the Joe The Plummers of this country? Mr. President?
+4 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-20 10:54
Limited Liability: Why is my down-side capped at my investment, while the up-side is unlimited?

If I can make a $1,000,000.00 off a $100.00 investment, then why should I not also be held strictly, jointly and severally liable for the full amount if my $100.00 investment results in $1,000,000.00 in damages?

I'll tell you why: Because the government says the people shall bear that $1,000,000.00 in damages, all so the cowards will free up the $100.00 for capital investment. We all get to breathe shitty air, drink shitty water, eat shitty food and otherwise suffer shitty cost externalization s to boost the economy.

But at what point in time did we all actually agree to sell our air, water, food, etc. in a free, fair, open, arms-length, negotiated transaction in a true capitalist market? Was it when we voted? I think not. Especially when crap like Citizens United is the result.

Voting is the new opiate of the masses.
+4 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-20 11:12
One last rant on Corporate person-hood:

Capitalism abhors true value in a vacuum.

It is the job of capitalism to take that which is valuable, free and abundant and reduce it in quality and/or quantity to the point were it can be sold for profit. And that's okay with unnecessary shit like a widget.

But space, air, water, food? Notice the inverse order of attack? First they went after food, next water (I can remember when people did not buy water) and pretty soon they will be selling clean air. And we'll pay for it. We won't have a choice. Then they will charge us for existing in "our" (?) own cubic feet of space.

So, regarding Citizens United, what else used to be free and abundant? How about speech, and a vote? Is it any wonder they are after that too?

Mark my words.
+6 # bugbuster 2012-01-20 11:13
Where have you been hiding, Mr. Hightower?
Seems like we never hear from you any more these days. It's good that you showed up at the party. Now don't go hiding away for so long again. Give 'em hell!
+1 # madmainer 2012-01-20 11:15
I propose that we replace election day and that "voting" stuff with donations made on or before election day to a new government office, one that combines the Federal Election Commission and the IRS. Donations would be made in name of the candidate and the candidate having the most money donated in his or her name would be the President, or whatever elected office was being voted on at the time - this could be applied to elections at all levels, federal, state, and local, with the equivalent of the federal office receiving the funds.

Just imagine the benefits! Now candidates would have to choose between hammering us with another campaign ad full of lies and distortions or having money go to the "election office" to bolster their chance of winning. From the perspective of the 99 percent, a donation to the candidate or PAC that goes to a TV station for a campaign ad is just funneling more money to the one percent! If you send it directly to the Election Office on behalf of the candidate of your choice, you avoid giving it to the one percent and give it instead to the government which is, technically, all of us, 99 plus 1.
+5 # fredboy 2012-01-20 11:15
Or, based on the "ruling", repeal all corporate tax loopholes and subsidies and make them pay based on individual income tax rates.
+4 # James38 2012-01-20 11:33
I went to the Bernie Sanders site and read the amendment. Here is a quote:

"SECTION 1. The rights protected by the Constitution
of the United States are the rights of natural persons and
do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability
companies, or other private entities established for business
purposes or to promote business interests under the
laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state. "

It crosses the line into the area of total madness that such a statement needs to be made into a constitutional amendment. What this says about the mentality of the Supreme Court Justices who voted for this absurdity is so devastating as to leave me bewildered. What on Earth are these people thinking about? What are their values? Can they be considered sane at all?
+2 # Regina 2012-01-21 00:01
We need that amendment to dig us out of the absurdity decreed by a barest maximum of justices, who were appointed by extremist presidents and approved by a bought-and-obli gated Senate after a farcical hearing marked by evasiveness. We now need an amendment to avert further betrayal of our democracy.
+4 # James38 2012-01-20 11:37
To continue my previous comment:

I have similar confusions about the corporate "leaders" of large gas and coal and oil companies (obviously among those "Super Citizens" who control the "Corporate Personhood" of their energy companies), who are putting profit before the survival of the Planet-wide ecosystems we all depend upon for our survival. There is a massive chasm between sane and obvious understandings of reality and the image these people have of their purposes as beings. They are spending huge amounts of their (functionally untaxed) corporate profits on advertising that flies in the face of hard science and obvious evidence of Global Warming. This is not a game. They will drive us all into disaster.
+7 # noitall 2012-01-20 11:51
The scary part of all this is that it was our highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, that made this determination! It seemed suspect and a reflection on the SS when important issues to our way of life were being decided by a 5/4 vote of the Supreme Court. You'd think that such important issues would be a consensus of these "deep thinkers". Didn't each of them take an oath of office too? What is it with these oaths of office, do they mean nothing?!
+3 # giraffee2012 2012-01-20 14:13
Quoting noitall:
The scary part of all this is that it was our highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, that made this determination! It seemed suspect and a reflection on the SS when important issues to our way of life were being decided by a 5/4 vote of the Supreme Court. You'd think that such important issues would be a consensus of these "deep thinkers". Didn't each of them take an oath of office too? What is it with these oaths of office, do they mean nothing?!

It is known that Scalia/Thomas are on the "take" from Koch brothers - published online and in the news! Never denied by them. The House is supposed to start impeachment if a Supreme has political or monetary connections - and "person hood" is a motion by the Koch Brothers! THANK YOU GOP/TP
Vote 2012 - Vote DEM on all -- even if not all DEM are "totally clean" -- WHY? Want a government full of "W" + Cheney + "person hoods"?
+4 # Singletaxer 2012-01-20 12:00
Ok! What's to keep us from setting up an economic democracy except our own lame indifference?
+2 # giraffee2012 2012-01-20 14:03
Bernie Sanders against Supremes' "Person hood"
1. 1/20/2012 Tonight: Watch Bernie and Bill Moyers discuss the ruling on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher »
2. Today: Listen to Bernie on The Thom Hartmann Program at a special time: 2 pm ET, 11 am PT »

3. Read Bernie’s column in The Guardian »

4. Read Bernie’s column in U.S. News & World Report »

5. Petition: Show your support for the Saving American Democracy Amendment »
What do you think? Was the court right or wrong. Take the poll »
+3 # sheila Cee 2012-01-20 21:08
Of course corporations can marry. It's called a merger. But if corporations merge with many other corporations It is polygamy.
+2 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-20 23:01
Quoting sheila Cee:
Of course corporations can marry. It's called a merger. But if corporations merge with many other corporations It is polygamy.

If they are in the same business, would that be illegal in some states? Just sayin'
+2 # Carbonman1950 2012-01-21 01:04
I've repeatedly heard people say, and I'm sure they believe, that the Citizens United ruling was merely an expansion of the SCOTUS' Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision of 1886.

BUT let's be clear... it is NOT. Citizens United was actually the very first time the Court ruled that corporations are persons for purposes of the 14th Amendment.

The fiction that Citizens United is merely an elaboration and expansion of some venerable earlier ruling is camouflage, a rather stupid and transparent attempt to create the appearance of some sort of historically based legal continuity.

The only place in the 1886 ruling mentions that corporations are people is in the header. The header was not written by the Court. The header, which is not part of the ruling and has no legal status was written by the Court clerk who has no legal authority what-so-ever.

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