Let’s back up a bit first though and go over what exactly is a corporation?
A corporation is a sort of legal fiction, an “entity” that exists only on paper, created and sustained only by the laws that allow its existence, and designed to shield people from loss and liability so as to give them a way to do things they wouldn’t be able to (or wouldn’t want to risk doing) otherwise.
In order for this to work, corporations have to be able to do some of the things ordinary people do – borrow money, have credit, enter contracts, etc.
But lately, corporations have started to be able to do things that aren’t strictly necessary for corporations to exist – specifically, they can now participate in politics in ways that they weren’t allowed to before.
Now, corporations can’t vote in elections – thankfully things haven’t gotten that out of hand yet – but it’s getting close, because of the way corporations are now allowed to influence (i.e., give money to) politicians & political campaigns.
This isn’t, by itself, a bad thing. People band together for political reasons all the time, and they can gather money and contribute to campaigns & such – this is nothing new.
What’s new is that corporations are allowed to do this, on their own behalf.
The problem with this is that corporations are inherently immoral.
Remember – corporations are not people, even though we sometimes think of them as being like people. They exist to shield people from risk, and to make a profit. Corporations do not exist to be nice, or act in a moral manner.
Let me say that again: corporations do NOT exist to be moral, or be nice, or obey laws. While all (or some) of those things may be done by some corporations (especially when they are small), they are NOT the purpose of the corporation, and they can all be subverted to greater or lesser degrees in pursuit of the primary purpose, which is PROFIT.
This is true even if the people running the corporation are the nicest people, and the shareholders are all nice, ordinary people themselves – all of this is stripped away by the structure of a corporation, by its very nature.
Everything a corporation does is measured against a single metric: profit. Even adherence to laws is considered only insomuch as how much that disobedience would cost (literally), or how those individuals in the corporation would be punished directly by disobedience.
Now, don’t get me wrong here – I’m NOT saying that corporations are themselves a bad idea, or that these attributes of corporations make them terrible. There are problems with them, sure, but they have served us well over the years with various tweaks here and there, and I’m sure they will continue to do so in the future.
The problem here can be summed up like this:
- Corporations are inherently immoral.
- Corporations can now participate directly in politics.
- Because corporations are inherently immoral, their influence in politics will also be immoral.
Politics is a nasty enough business on its own, but now it is going to be much, much worse – which is why letting corporations participate in politics (a la the Citizens United decision) is such a bad, bad, bad idea.
This is akin to suddenly having large, sentient, carnivorous dinosaurs appear, and then giving them an almost equal vote in our political processes, and wondering why very soon it’s legal for people to be eaten by dinosaurs at any time, or have their homes stomped on, etc.
When corporations can participate in politics and government, the natural evolution will be for corporations to gain more and more influence, behaving like parasites, until eventually they merge with government itself, and you can no longer tell where one ends and the other begins.
Corporate participation in politics is, frankly, wrong, and it runs contrary to all the ideas of democracy that underpin so much of our society. If we are to continue to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people – and not a government “for the corporations” – then corporate participation in politics must not be allowed.