Corporations Plunder … only Persons Create

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Corporate Rights and Responsibilities: Restoring Legal Accountability

Dr Dan Plesch & Dr Stephanie Blankenburg

[pg 4]

Giant corporations have the rights of a person, but none of the responsibilities.

Society needs successful businesses, but today business is taking over society.

51 of the world’s 100 largest economies are corporations

(Institute for Policy Studies, Top 200: The Rise of Corporate Global Power, 2001).

80% of the world’s industrial output is made by 1,000 corporations

(The Economist, 29 January 2000).…  (pdf)

Staggering Stats! from nearly a decade ago!

If were not careful, metaphorically at least, that world of Terminator 2 may indeed come to pass … that day “When machines rise up rule the world”.

It may already be too late — despite the Human Face, we like to paint on our neighborhood global Corporate Entities …

When Corporations Rule the World

by David C. Korten, published by Kumarian Press, 1995

GATT has served to create and enforce a Corporate Bill of Rights protecting the rights of the world’s largest corporations against the intrusion of people, communities, and democratically elected governments



One needs only look at the Massive Wall Street Bailouts of the last year, to understand, Corporate Entities get all the Rights, while real life flesh-and-blood People, get all the grief!

Has their recklessness been punished, either Economically or Legally?

Has ANY Wall Street Wizard been held Libel for the Harm, they’ve done to  Society?

It seems that by granting Corporations & Banks their legal charters, to exist — We the People have also granted them their License to take Unchecked Risks — their Corporate Right to “Limited Liability”:

A corporation is a legal entity separate from the persons who own it or the persons who manage or operate it.


The defining feature of a corporation is its legal independence from the people who create it. If a corporation fails, shareholders normally only stand to lose their investment, and employees will lose their jobs, but neither will be further liable […] This rule is called limited liability


Despite not being natural persons, corporations are recognized by the law to have rights and responsibilities like actual people. Corporations can exercise human rights against real individuals and the state, and they may be responsible for human rights violations.


Ownership of a corporation is complicated by increasing social and economic interdependence, as different stakeholders compete to have a say in corporate affairs.


Corporations are created by filing the requisite documents with a particular state government. The process is called “incorporation,” referring to the abstract concept of clothing the entity with a “veil” of artificial personhood (embodying, or “corporating” it, ‘corpus’ being the Latin word for ‘body’). Only certain corporations, including banks, are chartered. Others simply file their articles of incorporation with the state government as part of a registration process.

The federal government can only create corporate entities pursuant to relevant powers in the U.S. Constitution.


Once incorporated, the corporation has artificial personhood everywhere it may operate, until such time as the corporation may be dissolved.…

Egads @! What we have created?  

Behold the “Corporate Person” — It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

A external shell of a Person — but without the conscious, or liabilities, or values of a Person?

Corporate Rights and Responsibilities: Restoring Legal Accountability (pdf linked earlier)

[pg 5]

What does limited liability mean?

This means that if the company fails or causes damage, the shareholders only lose the sum of money they invested. […] A company can be prosecuted or sued if it sells defective products, destroys the environment or sells weapons to the enemy, but its shareholders are immune.

[pg 31]

Limited liability, as it stands, is an affront to the equality of all before the law, a feudal privilege of shareholder-owners.

As the report for Synapse Energy Economics, quoted above, shows very clearly, limited liability serves only one purpose:

To shift the cost of taking risks from those earning the profits, when things go well, to society, when things go wrong.

As seen, not only does this violate the basic legal foundations of a free society, it also encourages reckless free-riding and corrupt behaviour by the few at the expense of the many.

[pg 32]

Without limited liability, as it stands today, many of the guidelines for ‘good corporate governance’ – such as those recently recommended by the OECD and the EU parliament, amongst many other international organisations and institutions, and incorporated into the UK Companies Act 2006 -, would not be mere appeals to the goodwill of companies to abite by them, but could instead become legal standards.

Without the protection of “limited liability”, Corporations would be compelled to act as ‘Good Citizens’, instead of the miner of such Citizens.

If Corporate Persons were held accountable for their Actions, legally, morally, and ethically, — like real life flesh-and-blood People are — they could switch their Modus Operandi, from constant plundering of resources, to the creative enhancement of those resources — just like Real life People must do.  

Real People face the consequences of our Actions. So too, should the Corporate incarnations of people.

Real People create Real things, Value-Added Products. A loaf of Bread, a Bike, a Car, a Computer, … a Book.

Corporate Persons have instead become adept, at creating things of “virtual value”. A Loan, a Leveraged Buy-out, a Derivative, an Insurance Policy, … an Investment Vehicle.

Agenda for a New Economy: from Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth

David C. Korten identifies the deeper sources of the failure: Wall Street institutions that have perfected the art of creating phantom “wealth” without producing anything of real value.  Its major players engage in speculative trading, buy into asset bubbles, create debt pyramids, and engage in predatory lending practices.

Their seeming success created an economic mirage that led us to believe the economy was expanding exponentially, even as our economic, social, and natural capital eroded and most people struggled ever harder to make ends meet.…

Good Insights, and a Good Book too!

Like I asked before:

Has ANY Wall Street Wizard been held Libel for the Harm, they’ve done to Society?

They created Billions and Trillions in Phantom Wealth, by leveraging other people’s work and money. They cashed in on their Risky Derivative plays, and they left others — real life tax-paying people — to pick up the pieces. To pay their tab.

“Whatever the market will bear”, is their Motto.

But their windows for Risk, Speculation, and Exploitation, is decidedly short-term.  The Market may “bear it” — but the Members of Society can’t!

Unfortunately there is nothing in their Corporate Charters, nothing in their Corporate “Bill of Right” — that compels Corporate Persons to invest in the long-term well-being of Future Generations

Unlike what Real-life People must do, each and everyday.

How out-of-control speculation is destroying real wealth

afghanvoice – May 22, 2009

In a healthy market economy, enterprises are human-scale and predominantly locally owned. People bring human sensibilities to bear on every aspect of economic life–resulting in self-organizing societies that maximize human freedom and minimize the need for coercive central control.

Capitalism, by contrast, is about using money to make money for people who have more than they need. It breeds inequality. Though capitalism cloaks itself in the rhetoric of democracy, it is dedicated to the elitist principle that sovereignty resides in property rather than in the person.

A real market economy creates real wealth. Global capitalism creates out-of-control speculation, which destroys real wealth.

– It depletes natural capital by strip-mining minerals, forests, and fisheries, and by dumping hazardous wastes that turn productive land and water into zones of death.

– It depletes human capital through substandard working conditions …

– It depletes social capital by uprooting factories on which communities depend–leaving society to absorb the family breakdown and violence that result.

– It depletes institutional capital by taking tax dollars through public subsidies and tax exemptions, and real wealth by weakening environmental standards essential to long-term societal health.…

Corporations mine the world for all its worth. They plunder the Earth, for whatever hit-and-run profits it may bear.

Unbridled Competition demands it. To do less, is to face Corporate death.

Well, that kind of corporate ruthlessness, is definitely unpeople-like!     It does seem Corporate Person’s have taken on Economic Struggles, uniquely their own. How will mere flesh and blood people, ever reel in such economic juggernauts?

Corporate Rights and Responsibilities: Restoring Legal Accountability (pdf linked earlier)

The balance of rights and the socialisation of risk

[pg 31]

In more general terms a clear understanding of the special status enjoyed by shareholders should make it easier to argue for balancing rights for community groups, elected governments and trade unions.


There are two basic solutions to rectify this open invitation to abuse: First, balance the special protection extended to shareholder-owners by the special protection for other interest groups, such as trade unions, elected governments, and consumer organisations.

Second, socialise risk, not by using the ‘corporate veil’ to secretly shift it from profiteers to taxpayers, but by using democratically established collective institutions to assess which risks society wants to take at what price, and which risks it doesn’t want to take at all. Put differently, replace limited liability with an insurance system with clear and socially agreed upon criteria

Once again, as in the Environmental Front, the USA may need to borrow a page from our EU pace-setter friends, in this battle front to restore Corporate Responsibility, too:

In the report for Synapse Energy Economics, referenced earlier, the authors explain in stark terms the inherit problems of Limited Liability Corporate structures. In short, this touchstone of Corporate ambition, allows Corporate Persons to systematically transfer the costs of their Corporate Risk, (of any Failure), from themselves, to the likely victims of their Failures — and ultimately the citizen Taxpayer …

Such Hidden Transfers of Risks, and their Costs, must one day stop — if a truly Democratic type of Economy is to take hold, and grow.

FINANCIAL INSECURITY: The Increasing Use of Limited Liability Companies and Multi-Tiered Holding Companies to Own Nuclear Power Plants

August 7, 2002

Over the last ten years, the ownership of an increasing number of nuclear power plants has been transferred to a relatively small number of very large corporations. These large corporations have adopted business structures that create separate limited liability subsidiaries for each nuclear plant, and in a number of instances, separate operating and ownership entities that provide additional liability buffers between the nuclear plant and its ultimate owners.

The limited liability structures being utilized are effective mechanisms for transferring profits to the parent/owner while avoiding tax payments.

They also provide a financial shield for the parent/owner if an accident, equipment failure, safety upgrade, or unusual maintenance need at one particular plant creates a large, unanticipated cost.

The parent/owner can walk away, by declaring bankruptcy for that separate entity, without jeopardizing its other nuclear and non-nuclear investments.…

Such intentional shifting of Responsibility from oneself to others — seems decidedly “Inhuman” to me — be they the shifts of Nuclear Responsibility, or that insane chase that last drop, of Cheap Oil — instead of shifting to long-term renewal sources of energy.

Someday, we as a Society, must start Investing in OUR Collective Long-term Futures!

Tell me again, WHY Corporations are granted those Rights of Personhood — why they are entitled the “rights of humans” before the Law, with numerous escape clauses for avoiding any real “Human Responsibilities”?

So they can run from Liability of their actions, and remain Profitable?

So they can shield their own Wealth, from any Damage claims, they might face?

So they can hide behind the many shells and legal facades, that feign Responsibility — while at the same time shirk it at every turn?

Real Life People must face the Consequences for our actions, both the Rewards, and the Losses. Our Decisions have consequences.

Artificial Corporate Abstractions, as they are currently enabled, must face the Consequences of just one main thing, their constant extraction of New fresh Profits, quarter-in and quarter-out.    Their Shareholders expect results.

The long-term well-being of Human Society has very little to do with it.  (Since the real Costs are hidden and externalized to others — then Profits can become their only ‘Yardstick’!)

To these Corporate Titans, us pesky Humans are merely, a means to an ends … a cold, calculating ends $$$$$$ ….

Plundering Profits is hard work, Corporate persons DON’T have time to Create a Better World!     THEY barely have time to exploit the world we got!      (and WE barely got time to let them.)

thanks for reading, this essay — if you made it this far

you must be of the living, breathing, real-life variety!

PS. please check out jcullen’s most excellent post, today, which provided the inspiration for this very lengthy essay:

Reject Corporate Personhood

by jcullen

also posted on dkos


    • jamess on September 28, 2009 at 01:47

    I cash a paycheck —

    Therefore, I am.

    • jamess on September 28, 2009 at 14:45

    Network – Money speech

    You have meddled with the primary forces of nature, Mr Beale, and I won’t have it! Is that clear?

    You think you merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have take billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tide and gravity. It is ecological balance.

    You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no Third Worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems. One vast and imane, interwoven, interacting, multi-varied, multi-nanional dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rands, rubles, pounds and shekels.

    It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic, and sub-atomic and galactic structure of things today.

    And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And you will atone.

    Am I getting through to you, Mr Beale?

    You get up on your little twenty one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T, and DuPont, Dowe, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.

    What do you think the Russians talk about in their Councils of State? Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, mini-max solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.

    We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bye-laws of of business. The world is a business, Mr Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.

    And our children will live, Mr Beale, to see that … perfect … world in which there is no war nor famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company for whom all men will work to serve a common profit. In which all men will hold a share of stock.

    All necessities provided. All anxieties tranquilized. All boredom amused.

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