Legal & Policy Challenges

End Corporate Influence/Control of Our Government

Due to a clerical error in the Supreme Court header notes of a decision made in the late 1800s, corporations have been granted all the rights of people. Legally speaking, they've been given "personhood" and therefore are entitled to all the rights of citizens enshrined in the Constitution, except for the right to vote.

Consequently, corporations have been granted the right to "freedom of speech" which our founders had never envisioned. Furthermore, their ability to spend their economic resources in electoral politics has been determined to be an exercise of their free speech.

Because corporations hold far more wealth than all the human citizens of the U.S. combined, they have massive undue influence in our electoral and political process. As a result, government often acts to benefit corporations and at the expense of the public.

Over the years, giant corporations have continued to consolidate their power and control of our political system, our media, our educational system, our economy, our public institutions and even over the non-profit sector and our leisure and entertainment.

This has not been good for our society, for our livelihoods, or for our government. If this trend is not stopped very soon, we will reach a point where it cannot be rolled back.

The solution doesn't have to be complex. Revoking corporate "personhood" and enforcing existing laws would be a start.


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Similar Ideas [ 5 ]


  1. Comment

    This is a big one. See the DVD and the book by the same title, The Corporation. I have reviewed both at Amazon if you want a quick summary.

    Across America, "home rule" is joining Naomi Klein's NO LOGO and Jim Turner's "buycott" and Paul Hawkin's "true costs" in reining in corporations.

    I anticipate the day when corporations finally realize that only moral green behavior is sustainable over time. SOONER than this I anticipate the day when the various bar code and SMS systems come together and individuals can instantly, at the point of sale, find alternatives to anything they are looking at that is more socially and ecologically responsible.

    Glad you posted this. See Open Source Agency for an idea intended to help implement ideas like yours by creating a national "true cost" database with RapidSMS and cell-readable barcodes.

  2. Comment
    Fred Bauder

    You say "Due to a clerical error in the Supreme Court header notes of a decision made in the late 1800s, corporations have been granted all the rights of people."

    More likely the decision was intentional. If I remember, probably don't, the decision was roughly based on the fact that the interests of actual people stand behind corporate actions.

    I wonder though if some of the more bizarre interpretations of equal protection protection being extended to corporations were wise. After all the 14th amendment was obviously intended to deal with the problems of former slaves, not global corporations.

  3. Comment
    Steve Walker

    I agree, this is one of the most important issues facing us today. Things started to change during the Reagan administration.


    Reagan Administration deregulation under the leadership of FCC Chairman Mark Fowler. The number of television stations any single entity could own grew from seven in 1981 to 12 in 1985.

    "Fairness Doctrine" eliminated. 1987

    Chairman under President Reagan, Michael Fowler stated his desire to do away with the Fairness Doctrine.

    Now only a handful of multinational corps own and controle the majority of the news.

    Follow this story as a major smoking gun.

    Lynn Margulis, AB, MS, PhD – Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts. She is the recipient of the National Medal of Science, America's highest honor for scientific achievement, in 1999.

    "The 9/11 tragedy is the most successful and most perverse publicity stunt in the history of public relations".

    This could be the discussion that breaks the media hold on us. Research and follow the science.


  4. Comment

    We must have public financing of campaigns...period!

    I know you think you don't want to pay for it...but you already ARE!

    Every no bid contract, every unpaid royalty on an oil lease, every blocked piece of legislation that is supported by the majority because some committee head is paid off or intimidated into inaction, every blocked investigation...YOU PAY AND PAY AND PAY!

    You pay hundreds of times what you would to finance campaigns in A CORRUPTION SURCHARGE!

  5. Comment
    A kemler

    Nothing would go further to return the government to the people than this change. It is time for the American people to remember that corporations only exist because WE ALLOW them to exist within our borders.

  6. Comment

    Let's call campaign donations from lobbyist/companies what they are legal Bribes.

  7. Comment

    Your post and mine overlap nicely, sharing much of the same ground, and you express your sensible position well. As long as this incredibly important issue is addressed, I don't care who gets the credit for bringing it up. Thousands of informed people are aware of the problem. The question is, will those in a position to do something about corporate personhood actually be able to change the status quo enough to change the current climate. That's the rub. Let's keep on speaking out and hoping for the best!

  8. Comment

    Key reasons why "personhood" status should be revoked from corporations:

    - Because corporations can be created, and un-created, at will. people cant. (not LEGALLY, anyway. it's called "murder")

    - Because you cant put "a corporation" in jail

    - Because you cant grant the unalienable rights of "life, liberty, and property", to something that does not have life in the first place.

  9. Comment

    I agree. This is the most important issue facing our nation today.

    According to the 2009 Global Corruption Barometer released yesterday, "55% of respondents in high-income countries report common for bribes to influence policy-making process!"

    Is the US Lobby system a form of authorized bribery?

    The Lobby System disenfranchises all citizens by allowing corporations to essentially write or re-write favorable legislature.

    Is this corruption? State Capture by powerful oligopolies?

    Antitrust laws have been severely weakened by these oligopolies monopolistic tactics and by the strength of perpetual corporate immortality and its rights as citizen.

    President Obama must follow through on his promise to reform (remove) the Lobby System that legitimizes corruption and undermines democracy world-wide.

    To possibly re-enact Sherman-Antitrust-Act or Clayton-Antitrust-Act and to definitely repeal corporate personhood.

  10. Comment

    Hard to do since the government and big business are tied together like two humping dogs.

    I know it seems counter-intuitive, but removing government (and the corresponding government protections) from companies would go long way to limiting government power.

  11. Comment

    What do you think the chances of this passing are...with corporations being the biggest donors in washington? We need public financing of campaigns. None of this other stuff happens without it.



    We must have public financing of campaigns. I know you think you don't want to pay for it...but you already ARE!

    You pay hundreds and thousands of times what you would if the politicians actually answered to you and not greedy corporate criminals. You pay thousands of times more in a CORRUPTION SURCHARGE!


    Every no bid contract, every unpaid royalty on an oil lease, every blocked piece of legislation, every blocked investigation, every effort to get healthcare for all, every blocked attempt for a living wage, every needless nuclear warhead that will never be used, every mountaintop removal mining permit OK’d, every case of cancer caused by lax environmental rules or enforcement, every prison built instead of a school...YOU PAY AND PAY AND PAY!

    And to add insult to injury, where do corporations get the money they give politicians in order to insure they can roll right over you whenever they want? FROM YOU! The cost of these payoffs is passed on to YOU the consumer!


    Whatever you think is the most important issue facing the country…forget about it. It’s going to be decided in favor of those in power. It will be watered down in favor of those who finance campaigns and control corporate media sources.

    You think the health care debate is going to come out in your favor or Pfizer’s? You think we are really going to cut military spending when more than half of the military budget for the entire world is being lavished on some of the biggest campaign contributors there are? How about Bank reform? Wall Street? Big Pharma? Iraq? The environment? Just exactly how do you see any of that working out in your favor in our current system?

    Our system is broken. Our government does not work for the people. It works for – or in fear of – people who can spend a lot of money, access a lot of media, or have a lot of power in society.


    What people don’t understand is that it is not necessary to buy off the whole government in order for corporate, big money interests to get its way…every time. You merely need to control either the moderates and/or the committee heads in order to assure that whatever compromise is reached it will ALWAYS benefit BIG MONEY!

    In Congress, you have partisans on either side, in safe districts, with entrenched interests who won’t compromise and are at no risk of being voted out.

    Then you have the folks in the purple districts. They could get the ax anytime. Their elections could come down to which candidate has a few thousand more to spend. If Big Money goes their way they stay, if it goes to their opponent they are out.

    These are the people you count on to forge the compromise between the two extremes and these are the very people who are most vulnerable to big money coming in hard and heavy against them.


    The current system assures that any compromise between the partisan extremes will be concluded in favor of big money. Even the most conscientious moderate politician in a contested state MUST cater to big money or they will not stay in congress.


    Do you wonder what has happened to democrats in congress over the last 8 years…the spinelessness and cowardice evidenced by these people?

    This is the result of what happens to an organization over time when anyone who fights big money gets weeded out…even if it’s only one or two per election. Eventually you are left with …well, what we have now…a bunch of corporate lap dogs.