Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Corporation Runs for Congress

I mean, they're persons, right?


Blogger Jim Bales said...

So, let us make them register for the draft. Then draft them. They can devote their efforts to support of our nation (just like any other private), our nation would take the fruits of their labor (just like any other private), and they would be paid $1447.20/month (just like any other private).

Then, when their tour is up, we can issue a stop-loss order and keep them working for us.

Privates Microsoft, Wal-Mart, GE, and Exxon-Mobil alone would make a dent in the deficit --without raising taxes!


2:17 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

That is the best idea I've heard in a long time, Jim.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Make that the best idea by far. I stand in awe of the goodness of that idea.

If a human being can be asked to give his one and only life--and asked to do so before it has even really begun in earnest--then corporations oughtn't complain about giving a few years of service on the home front.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...


Thank you for your kind words! It boils down to -- if corporations are people, treat them as people. And yes, a few years once every lifetime spent in the service of the nation is a reasonable thing to ask of any "person."

Of course, a corporate lifetime is not limited the way our flesh-and-blood lifetimes are. So, let us pick a duration to be the corporate lifetime, perhaps 75 years -- close to the lifetime of a flesh-and-blood person. Then, we draft each corporation once every 75 years.

Being a "person" includes, IMHO, being subject to any applicable three-strikes laws.

I would propose that any corporatation that is convicted of three felonies over a 75-year window (comparable to the lifetime of an individual) be subject to all relevant three-strikes laws.

Since imprisonment is meaningless to a corporation, for corporations we should replace imprisonment with something that comparably limits the freedoms of the corporation. For example, the board-of-directors could be replaced by a court-appointed board, and all dividends paid directly to the relevant government (i.e., the government that would have imprisoned the corporation, had it been a person.

* The stock holders would continue to hold stock (but have no say in how the corporation is run, just as prisoners have no say in how their lives are run).
* The bond holders would continue to be paid as set forth by their bonds (just as prisoners must still pay their debts).
* The employees would (except, perhaps, for senior managemnt) contiue to work, for there is no benefit to the dislocations that would be caused by shutting down the corporation.

When the first of the "3-strikes" convictions became 75 years old, then the "lifetime" would be up. The stockholders could elect a new board of directors and resume collecting dividends. And, one suspects, they would take much greater care in controlling the actions of their property (the corporation)!

Similarly, if a corporation were to be convicted of a capital crime (remember Bhopal?), it would simply be nationalized. The corporation would cease to exist, just like any other executed criminal.

The alternative to all of this would be, of course, to recognize that corporations are not people, and thus they must work within certain limitations (e.g., limitations free speech, not being allowed to vote) in exchange for certain liberties (e.g., not being subject to the draft, three-strikes laws, or capital punishment).

I will insist, however, that any corporate "person" that is real enough to shelter its owners from liability for its actions is also real enough to be taxed.


11:53 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I'm 100% with you, Jim. If corporations are going to be conceived of as a person, and if they are going to have the rights and privileges of persons, then they must also be thought of as having the obligations of persons.

This is such a clear and excellent--and, some sense, obvious--point that I would dearly loved to have thought of it myself.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...


Feel free to spread the point far and wide! This would (IMHO) be a useful meme to establish. (I'm not certain I care for the word "meme", but it seems to be a good fit here.)

In fact, I just emailed the draft idea to the company running for congress, with the suggestion that some young man of draft age file suit to force corporations to register for the draft as well.


9:13 PM  

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