Friday, November 09, 2007

It's like, the corporations man ...

This is another one that's been kicking around for awhile. I never saved the link to the article that inspired my line of thought here, but really, the article wasn't all that important. Just imagine what your standard, know-nothing, college-educated do-gooder would have to say. I'll post a few quotes with my response, but just keep in mind that my point in writing is to point out how ignorant people are of the fact that the more you regulate business, the more business will have vested interest in embedding itself in our government. Or in other words, the problem of large corporations having so much influence on our government is precisely because they are subject to so much government oversight in the first place. Shall we begin ...

I would start by changing the legal definition of a corporation. Currently, a corporation is legally defined as a human being, and therefore it possesses all the liberties that go along with being a member of the human race.

That definition is clearly absurd--a corporation is little more than a profit-making machine formed by a loose collective of human beings. It is not entitled to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, or any other amendment of the Constitution for that matter.

This is just another one of these things the college kids like to say that not only means nothing, but also shows just a complete lack of understanding of how our world works. If you think about the fact that a corporation actually is an association of human beings, then if you want corporations to have none of the rights we have as individuals, you need to articulate either why corporations should be treated differently than other organizations or why associations of human beings are somehow entitled to fewer rights than individuals. This is particularly difficult given the fact that freedom of association is right there in the Constitution.

And then you really think about it, and you wonder, exactly what rights should corporations- or other organizations for that matter- not be allowed to exercise. Freedom of speech? Due process? Freedom from search and seizure? The Bill of Rights would be meaningless if we lost our right to speak or to be protected from government intrusion the moment we organized with other people. And for anyone who wants to tell me that corporations are different because unlike political organizations, corporations are just about making money, then I'd like to hear about where in the Constitution such an idea could be found.

And let me just add- because the 14th Amendment is mentioned- that 14th Amendment protection is precisely what we do need in regards to corporations. It's really almost non-existent today with the deferential rational basis scrutiny applied by the judiciary, but the fact is that without the 14th Amendment protections of due process and equal protection, government would be free to pass laws blatantly favoring one business in favor of another - and I hardly thinks that's what anyone wants.

And then we have these thoughts ...

Additional regulation on corporations is also a must. While this includes environmental statutes, something that nobody seems to be discussing is how to regulate corporate America's human rights abuses abroad. In other words, if Nike is abusing workers in Indonesia, what can we in the United States do to make sure that ceases?

This is one of those ideas that's nice in theory, but absolutely impractical in the real world. The biggest problem is defining just what constitutes abuse in the first place. We can all agree that cutting off your workers fingers is abuse, but beyond the obvious, what about 14 hour work days? Or cramped, unclean working conditions? Or even child labor for that matter, in the case of child labor in poor countries where children work in order to put food in their mouths and avoid starvation?

The problem with this whole idea of enforcing standards for work conditions overseas is that the standard of living overseas is no where near to what we have here in America. Everything from standards of cleanliness to the amount of time people spend working is going to vary country to country, culture to culture. Personally, I would argue that those who would impose standards from the outside- standards based on our standard of living and how we currently live our lives- are the real imperialists.

The biggest problem leftists tend to have is the equating of economic and political power. It is true that today, large corporations hold a great deal of political influence. Leftists like to claim this is the result of "unregulated capitalism," but the truth is that this is the result of regulated capitalism. There are so many laws and regulations that impact corporate bottom lines that corporations need to be involved in politics. Additionally, because regulation has become so ingrained into our conception of government, corporations seek to influence the political process in order to help craft regulations that institutionalize their economic interests and provide themselves competitive advantages. Again, business becomes involved in politics because politics becomes involved in business. Just imagine an unregulated company with a low tax burden- why would they want to waste their money on politics?


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