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Discussing Occupy Wall Street Part 2: Are Corporations Really People?

How can donations by an inanimate object (corporation/union/lobbyist group) be protected under free speech?

This week I'd like to discuss the second grievance listed by the  Occupy Wall Street Movement.

2. Rejection of the Citizens United Case: The immediate abrogation, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic holding in the "Citizens United" case proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court. This heinous decision equates the payment of money by corporations, wealthy individuals and unions to politicians with the exercise of protected free speech. We, the People, demand that this institutional bribery and corruption never again be deemed protected free speech.

Campaign contributions by corporations, unions and lobbyist groups have always been questionable to me. As with point one when these large groups "donate" large sums of money towards a campaign  I honestly doubt it's out of the goodness of their hearts. They are buying favors from the person that promises them the most.  As for donations from wealthy individuals to me this is a little iffy because if a wealthy person wants to donate all their cash to a particular candidate well it is there money and who am I to tell them what to do with it.

However, corporation/union/lobbyist groups are not a person.  A person is defined as a human being, whether man, woman, or child. Last I checked, the groups listed above are neither man, woman or child, they are a legal entity that represents the interests of men, women and children but not one themselves.

Each individual has their own beliefs/values and should donate accordingly. Personally I would not want money that could be used for a better than a 2.5 percent raise every two years, going to a candidate that I probably don't even share the same same views with.

What are your thoughts?

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Andrew B. Herzman November 05, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Hence, the OW protests!
Chris Wendt November 05, 2011 at 08:12 PM
The Constitution does not get amended just by protesting, in a park, in The City. One of the problems with localized discussions of national or global issues is the insular nature of our collective experiences and knowledge base, particularly the dearth of our knowledge and understanding of the mindsets of people in the Midwest, the Southland, the West and the Pacific Northwest. Those people all have much more in common among themselves than we have with any of them and their demographic/psychographic groups. OWS provides a model for getting things off your chest, but I don't sense any cohesion, any articulation of collective thought through the greater "Occupy This" movement. Do you?
Yankee Man November 05, 2011 at 09:00 PM
We can now add the 2000 election to the list of things that piss Andrew off!!!. LOL.. The ow crowd should take a shower and go get a job !!!
Andrew B. Herzman November 07, 2011 at 03:19 AM
When Martin Luther King marched and protested, lots of things changed. To just brush off the OW protestors as lacking a collective thought is short sighted. There are many issues involved, not just one. You really think they are out there day after day for something they can't agree on?
Andrew B. Herzman November 07, 2011 at 03:20 AM
Dan, are you one of those who says the unemployed are not working because it's their own fault? Since when can you force somebody to hire you?
Andrew B. Herzman November 07, 2011 at 03:22 AM
If the 2000 election doesn't "piss you off", Dan, then YOU are part of the problem. It's not about who won, it's about HOW they won!
Chris Wendt November 07, 2011 at 03:33 AM
I'll reserve my response until April or May. Let's see how far and wide this spreads, does it grow diffusely or will they articulate some legislative or electoral objectives in New York, California, DC, or wherever else they take to the municipal park lands. The more pressingly imminent question will be, do they last through the winter in NYC? You failed to pose any hypothesis of your own concerning what it is that you think they agree upon. What is your 'take' on some collective thought? And I am NOT asking what they don't like. That is in print already. I am asking this: HOW do you think they want any of it fixed and by whom?
Chris Wendt November 07, 2011 at 04:00 AM
The 2000 election doesn't bother me. Did you have some other constitutional way they could have decided it? If you are still bothered by this after 11 years, then I think the platitude you offered, "It's not about who won...", may have been disingenuous. The 2000 election demonstrated clearly that the machinery of our government is capable of functioning effectively in many unanticipated situations. But I can't seem to connect the dots between several of your posts in this thread with the subject of the thread, which is: " Are Corporations Really People?"
James M. November 07, 2011 at 05:59 PM
I would say the 2000 Election showed how flawed the election system is. This should never have been decided by the Supreme Court and should have remained in State court since these were State Election issues. The Supreme Court made an arbitrary and capricious decision that is still felt today. Similar to what they did with the above decisions by making the definition of an "individual" too broad and the inability of Congress over a century to address a fundamental flaw in the ruling. THe Supreme Court is not the end of the line it is a cog in the process but Congress has dropped the ball each and every time to correct these errors while threatening at the same time to create amendments and have weeks of debate for the life of one woman or the slogan on money, or whether to increase daylight savings time. THe important issues Congress passes by to get reelected and get more donations from the same corporations.
James M. November 07, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Dan Nap thanks for adding Zero to the Conversation. Your comment was useless and naive to the issue, but thanks for playing.
Chris Wendt November 08, 2011 at 01:58 AM
Of course there is Congress and many people like myself who would disagree with your characterizations of these decisions as being "flawed" or "errors". Congress does not "drop the ball" just because they haven't legislated certain issues to your personal liking. Their action or considered inaction on any issue is called doing their job.
Tanii C. November 08, 2011 at 01:51 PM
So Mr. Wendt do you think that corporations are people and should be affords such rights? This isn't about what the law currently is, it's about discussing what as person you feel is right. Actually it's about discussing the views of the OWSM and deciding if they actually have any merit. And while I am jaded beyond belief and highly doubt they will indeed change the United States they are here, visible and keeping topics such as corporate greed, unemployment etc... on people's mind rather than how many women a presidential candidate has allegedly sexually harassed. Whether you (not you personally Mr. Wendt) agree with them or just think them smelly and need to get a job, they are providing a collective voice and letting the everyday person know it's ok to be mad at the powers that be and they have the right to make their voices heard. (and seriously if I write a blog shouldn't I automatically receive updates? I didn't know all this was going on)
James M. November 08, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Chris the decision should have never been made by the Supreme Court. I said the system is flawed if we are having 7 people decide a national election. I never said the result is flawed because the result is what it is based on the current system. Congress had Campaign Finance reform in place and the Supreme Court struck it down based on ancient decisions. It is Congress's job to pick up that legislation and fix the system. Obviously the Congress at the time Campaign Finance reform passed felt the corporation had too much sway of the elections and legislated a solution. Now they need to legislate a reversal or modification of the "Corporation is an individual" ruling. That is their job. When someone at work has done work that the boss wants and legal comes back and says there are issues with the contract you usually don't scrap the deal but sit back down and make it work. By not sitting back down and making it work, Congress "dropped the ball". You are assuming congress's motives are altruistic for not pushing campaign finance but would you limit the amount you can get paid, especially when your biggest donors all had record profits and their ready to pass on millions of dollars in contributions to your new campaign?????
James M. November 08, 2011 at 03:30 PM
"Congress does not "drop the ball" just because they haven't legislated certain issues to your personal liking. Their action or considered inaction on any issue is called doing their job." Chris that's the point of protesting because Congress didn't do what these people and there non visual supporters want them to do. I've met a number of elected officials through my life and they are not smarter than anyone else and have the same fears of losing their job as everyone else.
Chris Wendt November 08, 2011 at 03:55 PM
I am intrigued and even hopeful beneath my skepticism of the OWS movement. How do I feel about corporattions being afforded rights and protections under the law, as though they were people? I had taken an oath to support and defend the Consitution and uphold the laws of the United States. I stand by that oath and the law, which shapes my view entirely of this matter. By way of full disclosure, I have worked for corporations for more than forty years and still do..
James M. November 08, 2011 at 04:46 PM
But it is not in the Constitution. It is an interpretation of the law. The check and balance is congress has the power and right to say "The supreme Court is wrong and this is the new law". If you rely solely on the Constitution for your guidance than you have supported slavery, segregation, anti-suffrage and various other interpretations of the Constitution through it's life. The Reason the constitution is a living document is because it can be changed by Congress, changed by the people. If we the people sit back and accept these interpretations as the last word because the Supreme Court said so we are heading down a much scarier road. IT was the Supreme Court that supported Jim Crow Laws. I t was the Supreme Court that supported segregation. It was the Supreme Court that agreed that only white men could vote. All of these interpretations changed with either a new Court or a change in the law. We are stuck with the Ultra Conservative Court we have now for the next 30 to 40 years. We must turn to the body that can overturn the Supreme Court and that is the Congress. We must turn to the representatives of the people and tell them we want the laws to change. The OW people are trying to wake people up to this very issue and get people informed and moving, instead of sitting by and hoping someone else will make the change. Hope is not a plan.
Chris Wendt November 08, 2011 at 05:08 PM
The Congress cannot say "The Supreme Court is wrong...." The Congress has a couple of choices, presuming the majority want to change the Law of the Land as interpreted by a Supreme Court decision: 1. Amend the law to comply with the SC decision, as in the case of the death penalty; 2. Try to amend the Constitution in accordance with the will of the majority. In the first option, they need to pass an Act in both houses and get the President to sign it into law (and hope the Supreme Court may find it Constitutional if challenged again). In the second option, a Constituional Amendment would first have to clear Congress and then be ratified by the states. That is a tall order. My fealty to the Constitution in this conversation is in regards to the issue of corporations' rights and protection, the subject of this thread. Please do not go out of context and off on a tangent with slavery and other non-current issues.
James M. November 08, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Chris the analogies are appropriate and not off on a tangent. These are representative decisions where the Supreme Court ruled one way for a long time and then changed based on a new Court or Act of Congress. You are claiming that it is a part of the Constitution and you are somehow beholden to the Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution and it is not in the Constitution nor is the Supreme Court the last say in anything. If for some reason the court changes in the next five, ten years to a moderate or even liberal majority the constitutionality of many of the current decisions may be challenged and reinterpreted or changed. There are many instances in Supreme Court cases of a future Court disagreeing with a previous ruling and therefore changing the interpretation of the Constitution. THese protests are to make people understand they have more power then they have been led to believe. Your own interpretation of this is the second option, a Constituional Amendment would first have to clear Congress and then be ratified by the states. That is a tall order." You are starting with the idea it can't be done but the same was said during the Civil Rights movement by liberals who said "it's a tall order to get rid of Segregation in Schools" but they did it. The same was said by men and women during the suffrage movement "it's all tall order to allow women to vote" but they did change the law.
James M. November 08, 2011 at 06:28 PM
You have to start somewhere and stopping a change based on the past is why these people are protesting. In 5 years there may be an amendment. In 5 years the justices could have a change of heart. In 5 years the laws could be re written to change the system but to start with "it's a tall order" is not what made this country great.
Chris Wendt November 08, 2011 at 07:45 PM
An Act of Congress cannot overturn a Supreme Court decision. What an Act of Congress can do is amend a prior Act of Congress so that its effect complies with the latest Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court is the last say for interpetations of current laws vis-a-vis the Constitution. Constitutional amendments are perfectly fine, once you get them passed and ratified. Certainly a tall order, even for exceedingly "popular" initiatives, as was the case with the Equal Rights Amendment which failed ratification in 1982 and thus expired and died. Dead. Buried. I was asked for my opinion about corporations enjoying rights and protections as if they were people. I stated my position and my reason for that position in support of those rights and protections for corporations. You cannot change my opinion, my position on the matter, or my reasoning behind my opinion and my position. I presume you understand that fact. And you are correct, slavery is not tangential to this discussion, it is history, and it is behind us. So far behind us that it cannot be considered relevant to what we are talking about here, not even as a tangent. Slavery was ended by the Emancipation Proclamation and then by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.
James M. November 08, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Chris Below are a number of ways to change or work around the Supreme Court Decision. The US Supreme Court reverses a decision on an earlier case by making a contradictory decision on a current case. Congress and the States can overturn a decision by amending the Constitution. Sometimes the Executive Branch obstructs or fails to enforce a decision. Sometimes Congress rewrites legislation to bring it into compliance with constitutional guidelines. Sometimes Congress strips the Supreme Court of its appellate jurisdiction over certain types of cases to deprive them of the ability to overturn a law or policy. Sometimes states pass laws that clearly violate Supreme Court decisions, forcing someone with standing to challenge the new law's constitutionality. Meanwhile, the law can be enforced even if violates established civil rights. State legislatures do this with the hope of overturning, or slipping around, precedents set by earlier Courts. I am trying to change your opinion. I have been known to change my opinion based on a good argument. I am also trying to get many people on this board that read these comments to understand that the Supreme Court is not the end of legislation if a piece of legislation is defeated.
James M. November 08, 2011 at 08:54 PM
You stated your position on following the consitituion. I have stated why I believe that opinion is unsubstantiated based on how previous decisions of the Supreme Court were overturned and a how a moral belief as in the case of Civil Rights Movement and fighting with the Supreme Court is more important than blindly accepting the Courts ruling as the end of discussion. In the 18th Century there were 11 Amendments, in the 19th Century there were 4 Amendments and in the 20th Century there were 12 amendments. By my Count there are Amendments every 9 years or so. Maybe we are due for an Amendment that takes away the power of CEOs to determine the fate of the country by contributing millions to politicians. Or the Union supporting a candidate even though there own members are split. Or even a millionaire contributing any money they want to a politician. Our politicians should be above reproach and all we hear is how they wallow in the muck with their contributors. Maybe we are due a change to what is right from what has been accepted for all these years.
James M. November 08, 2011 at 09:15 PM
It's Not DEAD yet The ERA in Congress 112th Session (2011-2012) On June 22, 2011, ERA ratification bills were introduced in the Senate (S.J.Res. 21) by lead sponsor Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and in the House of Representatives (H.J. Res. 69) by lead sponsor Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). On Mar. 8, 2011, Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced H.J.Res 47, which would remove the ERA’s ratification deadline and make it part of the Constitution when three more states ratify.
Chris Wendt November 09, 2011 at 03:45 AM
You cited two Democrat initiatives in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. This is going nowhere, fast. H.J. Res 47 is dead on its face; the ratification deadline passed and ratification failed. The Amendment has expired, and along with it any prior state ratification votes that may have succeeded.
Andrew B. Herzman November 09, 2011 at 02:16 PM
If you are "intrigued and even hopeful", you should be out thee helping them. Onlookers don't accomplish much.
James M. November 09, 2011 at 02:21 PM
For the people that support these initiatives there is still hope for a better future. For some people the loss of hope is all they have to hold on to now.
Andrew B. Herzman November 10, 2011 at 01:07 PM
"Did you have some other constitutional way they could have decided it?" Um. yeah. Count the votes! The ONLY constitutional way they could have decided it. Where in the Constitution does it say the Supreme Court gets to decide who is president? Your vote didn't count and you aren't bothered? YIKES! It may have been "effective", but it sure wasn't constitutional! Nothing disingenuous about being upset that my vote didin't count, even after all this time. If it doesn't bother you, how about we just let the Supreme Court decide who the president should be all the time? That would save us a the bother of going to vote. BTW Here are the dots you couldn't connect. Corporations=People=Voters=Elections=2000 Election It's not that difficult.
Andrew B. Herzman November 11, 2011 at 01:46 PM
1. Have the rich and giant corporations pay their fair share of taxes. (Same PERCENTAGE without loopholes) 2. Make it illegal for corporations to donate money to politicians 3. No more bank bailouts with tax money 4. Fine corporations for sending jobs overseas. 5. Tax imports so things made overseas aren't cheaper to make. 6. No more letting China export to us without letting us export to them.
Andrew B. Herzman November 11, 2011 at 02:06 PM
"The 2000 election doesn't bother me". Sad and scarry! Most Americans aren't "bothered" when their rights are taken away. Their right to vote, The Patriot Act, the abolishment of Habeus Corpus, illegal phone taps, random bag searches. tickets based on traffic light cameras, peaceful protestors being arrested...Most Americans don't care about much of anything except football scores and celebrity gossip. No wonder America is no longer number 1 at much, except, number 1 in teen pregnancies! The government wasn't "functioning effectively" in 2000. The vote count were illegaly stopped. The Supreme Court had no business getting involved....and it doesn't "bother" you? WOW!
Andrew B. Herzman November 11, 2011 at 02:15 PM
"I have worked for corporations for more than forty years and still do". It is next to impossible for anyone who works for corporations to EVER reach the 1% level. The playing field isn't level. People who earn their money by working have an unfair disadvantage compared to the people who make their money on tax loopholes, inside stock trades, massive layoffs, job outsourcing, denying medical insurance claims, jacking up oil prices, profiting from wars, giving out mortgages to people who can't afford them and all the other corrupt things motivated by pure greed and evil intents.

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