Yes, as Mitt Romney so happily reminded us, thanks to numerous court rulings, including most recently, Citizens United, corporations really are people. At least as far as having the right to spend money on politicians. No reason a corporation isn’t entitled to the most favorable legislation money can buy, just like the rest of us. At least, those of us who have lots and lots of cash.
Now I do admit to a certain sympathy with the concept of corporate peoplehood. Like, say if we were to reinstate the draft. Then we could draft General Electric—he wouldn’t even have to change his name—and put him to work building a new electric power grid (yeah, I know they don’t have anything to do with electricity anymore). Although, maybe we don’t want to make General Electric a general (he has enough power as it is), maybe just a private—one who does lots of push-ups. Corporations would go along with this draft, of course, because they know that along with their rights as people come responsibilities. Including the responsibility to serve their country, which is what people have to do from time to time. What’s that? They wouldn’t? They don’t buy into that part of peoplehood? Oh, they’re not really people people. They’re fictional, financial-type people—people for the purposes of buying and selling things. Well, I guess that’s all right, because as financial-type people they could at least participate by helping support the country financially. You know, like by paying taxes. So how has private General Electric done there? Well, according to ABC news, General Electric paid no federal taxes in 2010. And according to Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) in a March 2011 press release, over the past 5 years, GE made $26 billion in profits and got a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS. I think General Electric owes us some serious KP (oh, that’s right, we don’t have soldiers on “kitchen patrol” anymore because we outsource food services to private companies).
Well, there’s always one piece of something rotting in the fridge. Maybe it’s just GE that doesn’t pay taxes and all the other big corporations pay the 35% “confiscatory” rate that conservatives love to rail about. Not according to Sen. Sanders. Some other culprits (I mean “financial wizards”) include ExxonMobil, with $19 billion in profits in 2009 and a $156 million rebate, Bank of America with $4.4 billion in profits in 2010 and a $1.9 billion refund, Carnival Corp with $11.3 billion in profit over 5 years and paying 1.1% tax, and Chevron, with $10 billion in profits and a $19 million refund (serious problems in Chevron’s accounting department. Only a $19 million refund? Somebody’s looking for a new job). So anybody can pick and choose. Oh, yeah, over the last 5 yrs, Boeing 4.5%, Southwest Airlines 6.3%, Yahoo 7%, Prudential Financial 7.6% (NY Times). What about all corporations? According to Reuters, a Govt. Accounting Office report in 2008 said 57% of US companies paid no income tax for 2 or more years in the period between 1998 and 2005. Hmmm, more than one bad apple in the fridge.
Hey, so what if corporations buy politicians? I mean, somebody’s got to, right? How else can candidates pay for all those tv ads and trips and robocalls? A little favorable legislation here, a few contracts there? That’s just fair trade. The voice of the marketplace. Wonder what it would be like if our elected “representatives” didn’t have to spend half their time begging for money and the other half passing legislation to “pay” for that money? I do. Maybe it’s time for public financing of political campaigns!