Sunday, February 19, 2006

on corporations

after the fantastic lisa jarnot, mel nichols & ken rumble reading, i was talking again to adam about the movie "the corporation" and the legal basis for giving corporations the same rights as persons coming out of the 14th amendment giving rights to recently freed slaves, i've found some decent web sources for general background (Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad) but have been surfing around trying to get a single book that's gonna go in depth into the legal reasoning and precedents.

Empire of Capital
by Ellen Meiksins Wood
is gonna be too historical and marxist (her book origins of capitalism is smart but too repetitive)

The Silent Takeover
by Noreena Hertz
is gonna be too contemporary and too multinational/global

The Divine Right of Capital: Dethroning the Corporate Aristocracy
by Marjorie Kelly
seems too focused on the actual functioning of corporations rather than their legal justifications

The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy by William Greider
seems to committed top sustaining and rehabilitating capitalism

Free Markets and Social Justice
by Cass R. Sunstein
seems like an at least plausible or entertainable compromise between socialism and capitalism

When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten
seems too contemporary and conspiracy theory

Unequal Protectionby Thom Hartmann
might be what i'm looking for: Was the Boston Tea Party the first WTO-style protest against transnational corporations? Did Supreme Court sell out America's citizens in the nineteenth century, with consequences lasting to this day? Is there a way for American citizens to recover democracy of, by, and for the people? Thom Hartmann takes on these most difficult questions and tells a startling story that will forever change your understanding of American history. He begins by uncovering an original eyewitness account of the Boston Tea Party and demonstrates that it was provoked not by "taxation without representation" as is commonly suggested but by the specific actions of the East India Company, which represented the commericial interests of the British elite. Hartmann then describes the history of the Fourteenth Amendment--created at the end of the Civil War to grant basic rights to freed slaves--and how it has been used by lawyers representing corporate interests to extend additional rights to businesses far more frequently than to freed slaves. Prior to 1886, corporations were referred to in U.S. law as "artificial persons." but in 1886, after a series of cases brought by lawyers representing the expanding railroad interests, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were "persons" and entitled to the same rights granted to people under the Bill of Rights. Since this ruling, America has lost the legal structures that allowed for people to control corporate behavior. As a result, the largest transnational corporations fill a role today that has historically been filled by kings. They control most of the world's wealth and exert power over the lives of most of the world's citizens. Their CEOs are unapproachable and live lives of nearly unimaginable wealth and luxury. They've become the rudder that steers the ship of much human experience, and they're steering it by their prime value--growth and profit and any expense--a value that has become destructive for life on Earth. This new feudalism was not what our Founders--Federalists and Democratic Republicans alike--envisioned for America. It's time for "we, the people" to take back our lives. Hartmann proposes specific legal remedies that could truly save the world from political, economic, and ecological disaster.

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