Sunday, August 14, 2011

Corporations Are People, Too

Last week Mitt Romney made headlines when he said, “Corporations are people, my friend!”

Actually, it would have been totally cool if Governor Romney had gone all Shakespeare on us. He might have said, “Hath not a corporation hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Is it not subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a dude is? If you prick Halliburton, does it not bleed? If you tickle ExxonMobil, does it not laugh? If you poison BP, does it not die? And if you wrong Goldman Sachs, shall it not revenge?”

Frightening prospect, that last one.


Hath Not a Corporation Tentacles?

Actually, the one quality that all commercial corporations have in common is a structural dedication to sucking in as much of our cash as they possibly can. The Governor helpfully pointed out that this money winds up in the pockets of actual People, but the Corporations themselves are not so much People as the shell games that wealthy People use to make themselves wealthier.

Exhibit A: Enron. Some of the People behind Enron got caught and paid a price for that particular shell game, but not all of them did. Some got off scot free with their pockets well stuffed.

Exhibit B: Halliburton. Who can forget the billions that Halliburton’s People raked in through the Bush administration’s no-bid contracts? Governor Romney is asking a lot to encourage us to be kind and thoughtful toward those shysters and spinmeisters. Maybe we could begin to see the humanity in Halliburton if its actions didn’t reek of belligerence, callous greed and utter contempt for the public’s well-being. People like that we don’t need, even though I’m sure Governor Romney finds them just dandy.

Mr. Cheney is People Too, and Governor Romney Will Thank You to Feel His Pain!

(From Jesse's Cafe Americain)

Exhibit C: AIG, Citibank, and the rest of the Wall Street stage props that Romney’s People relied on to siphon our money into their pockets. These Corporations were like kabuki costumes that strutted across the public stage, both huge and feeble, while crying out to be saved – for they were “too big to fail.” But weren’t the People wearing these logo-crested costumes, the same People who continued to pocket fat bonuses out of the money we gave them? Are they too big to jail? And now, does Governor Romney really want us to seek them out in their Park Avenue apartments and Connecticut mansions and - if we can get past their security guards – step forward to offer our condolences for the pain and suffering they’ve endured in this collapse? Some of them, after all, were once worth billions by virtue of the Corporations they hid behind, but having to rely on direct taxpayer donations, they’ve seen their fortunes dwindle down to mere hundreds of millions.

Maybe Governor Romney could suggest the proper way, according to the People in his class, for expressing sympathy in such situations. Are there special Rich People’s Hallmark stores with sympathy cards that say things like “So Sorry to Hear about Your Being Reduced to a Semi-Billionaire. But Don’t Despair – President Romney Will Restore Your Life to Its Former Fullness!”

Notice how the People that Governor Romney loves have not been held accountable for wrecking our economy and throwing millions of us out of our jobs and homes. The Governor seems to want us to hate President Obama for doing nothing more than saving the economy that Romney’s Corporations blew to smithereens. But since Obama only saved the economy from total destruction and did not, in fact, make things perfect again, Romney and the other Republicans are ready to string him up.

It is true that President Obama was not adequately aggressive in forcing accountability on these ruthless, greedy, and irresponsible Corporations and that select group of People they serve. For this he can be criticized. As far as I’m concerned, however, there is room for a degree of forgiveness here because, first of all, he is not in a position to do everything he’d like to do. Pro-corporate Republicans like Mitt Romney are still powerful enough to stall and undermine his efforts. Recently they succeeded in blocking the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the new United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Commission, for example. In that position she would have been an ideal defender of consumers’ rights, but for that very reason Romney’s Corporate People hate her. And so they blackballed her. I wonder if Governor Romney recognizes that the consumers and taxpayers who have been getting screwed by the Corporate People are also People? Or do People only count in the Governor’s book if they’re hiding behind Corporate Logos?

In the money-saturated arena that is American electoral politics, even well intentioned leaders like Barack Obama are sometimes obligated to restrain themselves to avoid being cut off entirely from any chance of re-election. If all the big money sources available for political contributions go to Romney’s Corporate People, then those People will win virtually every election and we will find ourselves living under the authority of an undemocratic Corporatacracy. In fact, this is what the Tea Party and other right-wingers seem to be striving for.

As I have argued in an earlier posting (Lie to me – September 4, 2010), our political leaders would be much more responsive to voters, particularly those voters who don’t have tons of Corporate Cash to throw around, if we could make them less dependent on private money in their campaigns. Most private money is, after all, Corporate-filtered money, and its influence in the electoral process is downright corrupting. But then, those benefiting from this corruption are People; specifically, they are Governor Romney’s favorite People. And, these People, by virtue of their access to Corporate money, have “hands, organs, dimensions, etc.” that are a whole lot bigger and grabbier than what the rest of us people can bring to the table. They have pricked us well and good, all right, and we are still bleeding.