Do Corporations have Constitutional rights?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mcrain, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #1
    If so, then how do you reconcile that with this:

    13th Amendment

    Do you own shares in any corporation? What does that make you under the 13th?
     
  2. SwiftLives macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    #2
    So can we subject future Enrons to the death penalty?
     
  3. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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  4. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

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    #4
    I don't understand either.


    Are you calling everybody who owns shares in a company slaves?
     
  5. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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    #5
    Are you making this thread because of the recent Supreme Court decision saying free speech is free no matter where it comes from?

    I think it's the other way around: corporations are slaves to the shareholders.
     
  6. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #6
    Correct. If courts hold that a corporation is a legal person, and slavery is defined as the ownership of persons, then owning shares of a corporation is fractional slavery. It's an interesting argument, but wouldn't hold up, because it does subtly invert the ownership relationship. The alleged personhood of corporations derives from the fractional interests of all the individuals who invest in the corporation, not the assets those investors leverage to their own collective benefit. When a corporation's speech is protected as that of a person, it is because the corporation is collectively representing the individual interests of each shareholder qua shareholder. The "personhood" is thus that of the owners, not of what is owned.

    Disclaimer: I am here addressing only this particular argument against corporate personhood. This should in no way be taken as support of the idea otherwise.
     
  7. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

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    #7
    Because....they are owned by shareholders? :confused:


    Okay, lets free all the 'slaves'. Make it so that no company ever exists again. See that Macbook Pro you're typing on? Yeah, doesn't exist. Because Apple doesn't exist. Since Corporations don't exist. Because they were deemed as being slaves.


    If I'm understanding correctly....what? :confused:



    Also, then..I can't own a house either, right? Since that would also be deemed slavery. Nor my phone. Nor..anything. Welcome to socialism?
     
  8. diamond.g macrumors 603

    diamond.g

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    #8
    Corporations are seen as persons, and since no one can own a person (slavery) no one can own a corporation. Or corporations aren't seen as persons.


    I subscribe to the idea that corporations are not persons even though Gelfin explained (very eloquently) why they are treated as such.
     
  9. Surely Guest

    Surely

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    #9
    I think you missed the point.
     
  10. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

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    #10
    I think I missed the point before I even thought about what to respond with.


    -super confused-.
     
  11. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #11
    And I think the slaves are those that don't hold shares in publicly-held Corporations.

    Now, where do we go from there? :rolleyes:
     
  12. bassfingers macrumors 6502

    bassfingers

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    #12
    Why bother asking when no one adheres to the constitution anyway?
     
  13. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #13
    Don't corporations have to go through a lengthy paperwork and approval process before they can sell shares to shareholders? So the ownership of stock of the corporation is sold by the corporation to the shareholders, so the corporation is asking to be owned, right?

    That being the case, the 13th Amendment doesn't apply; it doesn't address ownership, it addresses involuntary servitude:

     
  14. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #14
    An LLC has the same legal "personhood" standing for most activities as a corporation and it doesn't have to "sell itself" to be owned.
    Technically that's the same thing. To own a person means to make them in your servitude. Even in modern contract law you cannot sell yourself to anyone. Such a clause would be struck or ignored if anyone tried to sue over it.
     
  15. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #15
    But you can hold someone in servitude without "owning" them as you would company stock. The Amendment itself acknowledges forced servitude in the event of being convicted of a crime. So "owning" and "involuntary servitude" aren't quite equivalent.
     
  16. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #16
    Yes, but that's why the amendment also outlaws slavery, which is in the amendment. ;)

    I should correct what I wrote before: the amendment does address ownership via the slavery clause.
     
  17. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #17
    The fact that there is a debate on the issue at all just goes to show how silly the idea is that corporations have any constitional rights. They are a legal fiction, and exist only pursuant to a charter that can be revoked.

    It's time to very simply amend the Constitution to either add the word "natural" before the word person everywhere rights are granted to people, or specifically say corporations are not people and as such have none of the rights granted to people.

    (edit) Alternatively, and what I think would be better, would be for every corporate charter to automatically expire after 364 days. At that time, all assets of the corporation are distributed and the shareholders take a proportionate share (paying appropriate taxes on any appreciation in the value of the assets). New corporate charters would be easy to obtain, and shareholders would have the option of transferring ownership from corporation A to NewA, taking their share of the assets (or value of such assets in the event of NewA formation).

    That would make even small, closely held corporations far more liquid and thus encourage investment.
     
  18. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #18
    Precisely.

    My choice, and, my reason is simple: all those court decisions that stipulate that corporations are people need to be canceled out. But, I also think that the constitutional amendment needs to explicitly make corporations a Federal entity, so that corporations can't pick the rules they want to operate under, whether it is North Dakota, Delaware, or the Cayman Islands. One of the largest responsibilities of the Federal Government is to work towards a level playing field. (I think Jimmy Carter was the last president inclined to look at that issue.) You can't have a level playing field if corporations can pick and choose different state rules.

    I'm not sure I follow you: it seems to me it might be just the opposite, and discourage investment. Maybe I don't quite understand how this would work. In any case, I think the Federal rules, both tax, and corporate governance, should be changed to encourage long-term investment. Maybe we need multiple corporation types, clearly identified, with different rules for short-term and long-term. If someone wants to create a company to sell iPhones and Pet Rocks (here today, gone tomorrow), fine -- maybe they should have different rules from a company that sells internet routers and whose investment needs to stay steady while profits follow the business cycle.
     
  19. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #19
    You could achieve the desired effect by taxing all corporate profits at 99%, with exceptions for research and direct building/constructing expenses. Shareholders would then have an incentive to create a corporate structure with high dividends each quarter. Eliminate the distinction between capital gains and income taxes, and you basically solve the problem while allowing the one strength of corporations to continue: the pooling of enterprise talent, risk, and capital.
     
  20. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #20
    Going off on a tangent here..

    So would this mean that if corporations are people, is its gender based off of the CEO of said corporation? If so, then when you have two corporations whose CEOs are male, and they merge, would that be gay marriage?

    If so, it's shocking that a such a right is granted to a nonliving 'person' but not someone of flesh and blood.

    BL.
     
  21. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #21
    Not necessarily - I've worked for companies that simply distribute their profits to employees as bonuses. It shows up on the income statement as zero income for the company, and the individuals pay the taxes on it.
     
  22. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #22
    Ok, then we need a Constitutinoal Amendment that caps the maximum salary any natural person can recieve as 100x the poverty level. Simple.
     
  23. diamond.g macrumors 603

    diamond.g

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    #23
    What about when companies give stocks as bonuses?
     
  24. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #24
    Perfectly legal, but it would have to fit under the cap. Simple.

    (edit) To ANYONE who argues that this somehow reduces the capitilist view, all the value would be in the ownership of the company, which is freely transferrable. If you are brilliant, you would be rewarded through the appreciation of your ownership interest.

    If you want to live in a 15 million dollar mansion, you can sell your interest, or a chunk of it.
     
  25. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #25
    Well sure, but that side-steps shareholders who are probably not going to want to give away their capital for nothing.

    However, if such a thing were to happen, I would be the last person to complain. In either event, the corporation would have no cash at the end of the year to do with as it pleased; it would either have to end up with shareholders or employees.
     

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