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Comments about ‘A return to the three-fifths compromise’

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Published: Thursday, July 3 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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ordinaryfolks
seattle, WA

Great comment. I have rarely seen the idea of corporate "personhood" skewered better. And never seen its resultant effects better described.

I am sure the Tea Party Republicans will attack this point of view with vigor. However, they will never convince me and many others that a corporate entity has any rights other than the right to conduct business as licensed by the state into which they are incorporated.

Pops
NORTH SALT LAKE, UT

I guess that's one point of view.

I work for a large corporation. Every now and again Congress considers actions that will harm our business. I don't believe Congress intentionally wants to hurt our business, but Congress does like to meddle in the marketplace and sometimes doesn't consider all the side effects of their actions. My employer responds in a variety of ways, much of which would be considered political speech. It is financed by a corporate PAC. Donations to the PAC by employees of the company are entirely voluntary. Membership in the PAC is not a factor in performance evaluations. I don't think membership information is even available to supervisors.

So, according to Ms. Barker, what my employer is doing is somehow evil and bad and threatens to undermine the Constitution. I don't see it that way. In my view, the money spent by my employer to influence Congress - and the voting public - is a defense of the business and the employment of thousands of Americans, and an expression of the combined voices of me and my fellow employees. I think it is entirely appropriate and is in no way elitist or corrupt.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

IMO, the Right's support of the Citizens United and Hobby Lobby cases puts the lie to its claim to a deep regard for individual liberty. These rulings undermine individual rights in favor of corporations and religion. They will need to be undone. The sooner the better.

Esquire
Springville, UT

@ Pops, I think you have misunderstood the point of the writer. Your large corporation may not be pushing the boundaries. The one for which I work does not, but it is engaged in political matters in a very measured, responsible way, always in the interests of the shareholders and the employees. It never acts based on the religious views of the senior leadership, and it bends over backwards to accommodate the varied interests of the employees. There is a difference between companies like Hobby Lobby and others that are not religious oppressors in the sense of whether senior leadership seeks to impose their own religious standards on employees hired to perform purely secular functions. Oddly, the majority of the Court has given Bill of Rights privileges to corporations that are really nothing more than a legal fiction, organized solely to perform a particular business function and given certain privileges to accomplish those business purposes. Unfettered free speech and religious rights are not within the scope of those business purposes. This current court, the majority of whom preach the concept of original intent, would be horrifying to the Founding Fathers.

Nate
Pleasant Grove, UT

@Mary Barker

Answer me one question, so that I can know whether you are serious: are labor unions people?

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

@Nate
I'll answer for Mary. Yes, "labor unions are people" because they are democracies (demos = people, -cracy=power), governed by the votes of their members. With rare exceptions, corporations are not democracies. They are not governed by the votes of their employees but by fiat from above.

GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA

“ . . . it’s only in fiction and Citizen’s United that some people are more equal than others.”

Actually, it’s only in fiction, and Citizen’s United, and the proto-fascist reality given to us by “Conservatives” that some people are more equal than others.

Yes, the nation is moving toward a corporatist, fascist state. If Romney had his way, we would be there already. And if the Republican Party had its way, that would be the case.

The tremendous power STOLEN from American citizens by the ridiculous Citizens United decision cannot be over-estimated.

America citizens can eventually regain that power . . . As crotchety old “Conservative” Supreme Court justices die off and are replaced by Presidential appointment, but that can only happen if we keep a Democrat in the White House .

The solution is simple.

NEVER vote Republican.

E Sam
Provo, UT

Beautifully written and reasoned.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

I think corporations can be considered 'people' when one of them, in its' entirety, is imprisoned when it (he? she?) kills someone.

SG in SLC
Salt Lake City, UT

The great political and social struggle of our day isn't primarily Liberal versus Conservative, or Authoritarian versus Libertarian, though it is often framed that way by those who want to obfuscate and misdirect from what is really happening; no, the great political and social struggles of our day is really all about Institutionalism versus Populism, where institutions (primarily corporations) are the vehicles used by the elite to amass wealth and wield power and influence.

I believe we are entering a new "Gilded Age", where the robber barons of today are not Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, Hearst, and Vanderbilt, but rather Gates, Buffett, Walton, Ellison, Bloomberg and others (notably, Koch & soros).

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Another winner by Mary Barker.

About three decades ago, Kirk Hart and Bill Scott, professors at BYU and the U. of Washington, respectively, identified what is possibly the most powerful force in the world. It is a simple idea they labeled the "organizational imperative." Basically, this is the idea that since all the good things in our lives come from large organizations (primarily corporations), it is imperative that these organizations not only survive, but thrive. This assumption turns traditional morality on its head, since it is really just another way of saying that things are more important than people. It explains pretty much everything in our modern world: the authoritarian system of governance we see in business, putting profit above the environment, the influence wielded by corporations and their masters over government, the assimilation of almost every aspect of society into the all-powerful "market," and on and on.

This idea is so prevalent that most people just accept it as an obvious truth, regardless of its destructive force. And some are so converted to this notion that they go to great lengths to protect corporate power, something that would have abhorred the nation's Founders.

Ford DeTreese
Provo, UT

The whole notion of corporations as people actually goes back at least to 1886, when an obiter dictum attached to the Supreme Court decision in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (a simple property tax dispute) established a rather amazing legal fact: corporations are actually “persons” and are therefore protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.

But this notion, which the railroads and other corporations had been lobbying for for some time, created a definitional conflict, because it is recognized that corporations are not just persons; they are property too. They can be bought and sold like any other piece of property.

So which are they? Persons or property? If they are both, they must be slaves, which is illegal in America. So are they an illegal form of organization? The courts really need to sort this out. Any thinking person will quickly recognize that corporations are not "persons." This was a huge mistake by an early Supreme Court that has done horrendous damage in this country that claims to revere freedom and democracy.

GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA

Pops -

In your view, " the money spent by my employer to influence Congress - and the voting public - is a defense of the business and the employment of thousands of Americans."

How would you feel if a corporate competitor to your company successfully gained enough government influence to wipe out the company you work for.

Would you still think "it is entirely appropriate and is in no way elitist or corrupt?"

Citizens United removed restrictions on corporate money in politics, thereby neutralizing much of the work done through the years that limited the influence of pressure groups on public policy.

Money is power.

Money can buy a lot of votes, the more money the more votes.

That's not democracy.

Our "Conservative" supreme court (via its decisions in both Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission) has taken votes away from citizens and has given those votes to dollars.

Noodlekaboodle
Poplar Grove, UT

@GaryO
I'm glad you touched on my huge problems with this. Which is that companies should not be allowed to use the government to dole out punishments for them. It happens on anything from a local scale, anyone who has a neighbor who uses the police to officiate any dispute they have is a good example, on a national scale, successful companies use regulations(passed by bought and sold politicians, on both sides of the isle) to stifle their competition. On any scale it's wrong, and IMO the most serious threat to freedom in America today. Citizens United makes it even easier for these large companies to buy politicians, which in my mind is the major problem.

SCfan
clearfield, UT

Esquire
What about unions? Would you take away their political contributions and free speech too? If yes, then at least you are consistant, if no, then Houston, we've got a problem. Because business and unions are made up of people.

Noodlekaboodle
Following on to Esquire, do you think it is OK for unions to buy politicians? Because that has been going on for decades in American elections. In my view, it should be equal for business and union. Same same. Both want political influence. And both buy it. Stop one you should stop both. And I especially include public unions in that, because they use taxpayers money to buy politicians. Now THAT is a real threat to freedom in America today.

Pops
NORTH SALT LAKE, UT

@GaryO

The PAC organized by my company is based on pragmatism, not principle. Corporations compete in a variety of ways, including in the political arena. Is that they way it ought to be? Probably not. But most people spend all their energy attacking the symptom rather than the real problem.

The symptom is that corporations spend money to influence politics. Will passing laws against the practice prevent it from happening? Of course not. It will only drive it underground.

The root problem is that politicians have something to sell. Whenever a good or service that is considered desirable is offered for sale, it will be sold even if the sale is illegal. The original intent for the federal government was not to have it involved in picking winners and losers or tilting the playing field. But it has devolved to that.

If corporations were stripped of their political voice, then only corrupt corporations would be involved in the buying of political influence, leaving ethical corporations at a disadvantage. Is that really what we want? Because if we don't address the real problem, the Law of Unintended Consequences will create worse problems than those we're trying to solve.

JoeCapitalist2
Orem, UT

Irony Guy: "labor unions are...governed by the votes of their members."

Yea, right....Unions always ask all their members before they give money to liberal politicians, donate huge sums to the Democratic party machine, and line the pockets of union bosses from the dues of everyday workers. Right? They give all their workers a say in whether or not union dues go toward causes those workers oppose. Right?

In your world, corporate executives make decisions against the will of the workers and union leaders only do what the workers want. Yea, right...

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

The Op Ed was ridiculous. Corporations cannot vote. Corporations are not counted when Representatives are allocated to the States. The 3/5ths rule enabled the South to have greater representation in the House. NO ONE is claiming that corporations be counted as people when reapportionment takes place.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

The Founders would be appalled by the fact that corporations have the power to influence government; that they can exist in perpetuity; that their incorporation & continuation is not subject to the will of the people or states (thank you Delaware); and the sheer size and power of these conglomerates.

Don’t take my word for it – go to the source(s); read what they said.

In many ways, the size of our Federal government (which conservatives hate) is a direct result of the size and influence of corporations, as government is the only power we have to keep them in check and make them promote the general welfare.

If modern conservatives have their way our world will soon resemble the worlds of Blade Runner or Rollerball.

Big 'D'
San Mateo, CA

I agree with the overall sentiment of the op-ed, despite my libertarian leanings. However, the commenters who point out the hypocrisy of not opposing political contributions by labor unions (especially public labor unions) are absolutely spot on. I didn't ask to join a union. After I was hired, >50% of my fellow UC postdoc comrades voted to form/join a union. (This is when I learned that we scientists are not always the smart, independent thinkers we purport to be.) According to state law, that meant that 100% of us were now in the union, whether we liked it or not. The UAW heisted us into their organization, and began taking a few hundred dollars per year out of my paychecks. I never got one good thing from it. None of my working conditions or compensation improved on account of UAW's feigned "negotiations" with UC in our behalf. What a joke! I and every other postdoc still negotiated my own terms directly with the director of the lab I worked in, both before and after being forced into the union. But now some of my money was being pocketed by union bosses--and democratic campaign coffers--against my will.

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