28th Amendment

"Corporations are not people. They have none of the Constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity.  All elections must be publicly financed."

*Note: The finished legislation will be worded differently and have to account for inflation, etc.  This is simply to point the legislators in the right direction and make sure the final amendment accomplishes the goals we have outlined here.   

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commented 2014-05-06 22:31:36 -0400 · Flag
What about unions?
commented 2014-05-06 21:45:34 -0400 · Flag
@aidan: None of the actions suggested here would have any effect whatever on small corporations
commented 2014-05-06 21:30:12 -0400 · Flag
I fear this might adversely affect small businesses that don’t get involved in politics. Our targets are the big corporations that do lobby.
commented 2014-05-06 21:14:01 -0400 · Flag
@dan: “Simply removing corporate personhood is a terrible idea, it needs to be REPLACED”. At last, we find common ground. Yes; we have to decide how, as a society, we’re going to sanction non-human legal entities in such a way that they benefit society and can’t be used to concentrate financial or political power in the hands of unscrupulous predators. I think corporate charters deserve as much attention as the Constitution itself. I think my version is a good start insofar as prohibiting ANY U.S. corporation from participating in the conduct of government at any level. We could certainly add more universal “shalt-not’s” to the list of things artificially incorporated entities are forbidden to engage in, like publishing historical material of any kind or any kind of textbook. If certain prohibitions were included in every charter, according to the nature of the business, and it was a crime to violate the terms of such a corporate charter, it would be far easier to impose regulation on big corporations because the individual managers would have clear-cut legal guidelines to adhere to. Wouldn’t that make life simpler? No more Grays between the black and white. Let’s start with the central banks; what Prohibitions do the majority here think would be appropriate for ALL banks to be limited to? Should banks be allowed to own other banks? What would be an allowable reserve ratio? WE could answer ALL those sort of questions before a bank is ever sanctioned as a legal entity. Any manager that over-stepped the charter’s terms would be guilty of a very specific crime (and a new one in historical terms); the crime of “violating a corporate charter” . And they could be as draconian or mild as society makes them. But there would be logic, order, and consistency in the process. Wouldn’t that be a great place to start dismantling 300 years of Aristocratic business law? It should all go back to Latin anyhow.
commented 2014-05-06 17:32:53 -0400 · Flag
@william falberg That lawyers rationalize it that way is the problem, since laws are interpreted by lawyers and judges. Lawyers have been using that reasoning for over 150 years to justify why contracts corporations enter in are legally binding, why corporations can be sued, why property owned by an organization has protection from government intrusion, and a host of other issues that need to be considered. Simply removing corporate personhood is a terrible idea, it needs to be REPLACED.

However, the fact remains that corporate personhood is a complex issue that is only slightly related to electoral corruption. Focusing on corporate personhood and not even addressing the silly “money is speech” crap that in no way benefits citizens is the wrong way to go about getting money out of politics.

Complaining about how lawyers view things and wishing that the world worked differently is fine up to a point, but now that states are pushing forward it’s time to address reality and propose a version that would actually get money out of politics.

Wolf-PACs suggested amendment paves the way for corrupt politicians to drop the campaign reform section and just push an end to corporate personhood, which wouldn’t get money out of politics or help citizens, but would convince far too many people that the problem was solved.
commented 2014-05-06 16:28:33 -0400 · Flag
Who but a lawyer would attempt to rationalize a simple legal contract (i.e; corporate charter) in anthropomorphic terms rather than create a new class of legal entity and define that entity in terms of an artificial legal construct. Making analogies between humans and legal abstracts is guaranteed to totally cloud men’s minds with legal psychobabble; so, of course it’s going to evolve into the highly nuanced , subtle and arcane line of BS that you can spend hour after exorbitant hour debating with each other. What I’m saying is: instead of trying to compare individual peoples’ rights and responsibilities with organizations’ rights and responsibilities we create a separate class of legal entity that can sue and be sued, enter into contracts, etc. but that have no other human attributes to confuse those keen legal minds into thinking they have other constitutional rights like humans. The definition of “corporation” really needs to go beyond " a legal abstraction created by the various States" to define what all it actually comprises. Would you define human beings as “featherless bipeds”? Let’s get beyond describing what a corporation is NOT; We know what they aren’t; they’re not human.
commented 2014-05-06 14:39:42 -0400 · Flag
@william Falberg
It’s funny, here I am explaining how corporate personhood is more complex and nuanced than you and TYT treat it, and you are accusing ME of black and white thinking. Check the mirror, I’m talking about shades of gray and all you can see is black.

You aren’t making the basic effort to even read what I have written. You’ve simply decided that because I recognize that corporate personhood is a complex issue, you know everything else about my views, and are responding to what you think I am saying rather than what I actually said.

I am advocating for more regulation on corporations than you are. Removing corporate personhood without understanding all the regulations and laws that depend on it is dangerous, and the version proposed above points towards in the wrong direction. We should be focusing on election reform and ending the terrible “money is speech” bullshit.

Keep on believing that you are right and ignore all evidence and facts to the contrary. God forbid you learn facts or change your views on something. I guess your willful ignorance is more important to you than actually reigning in corporations.
commented 2014-05-06 11:04:51 -0400 · Flag
@dan:Who are you trying to BS? Any attempt at regulation is already toothless. I think what you’re trying to say is that less is more and good is evil. I’ll further add that black is white and faster is slower just to show I understand your philosophical viewpoint. Wink-wink.
commented 2014-05-06 07:03:41 -0400 · Flag
@william Falberg: no, actually by removing corporate personhood you are helping corporations get away with illegal actions and making nearly all regulations toothless. Without the legal fiction of corporate personhood, corporations cannot be sued. If you think such an arrangement is in the interest of the public you are insane.

I suggest you actually research the reasons why we have the corporate personhood in the first place. Corporate personhood is a complex issue with only a minor connection to voting rights and election corruption. It should not be the focus of any proposed amendment. Plus, the syntax of their version doesn’t match the syntax of constitutional amendments, and having a hard dollar-level limit will never be included in a final version as adjusting it in the future would require a 2/3rds majority.

While clearly any final version will be altered, include language that would disempower citizens and leaving the entire wording and limits such that it will be changed by corrupt politicians elected under the current system is dangerous. I would much rather a more solid and voting-focus proposal be endorsed, such as:

“Voting being the foundation of democracy, the right of citizens to vote shall not be infringed upon for any reason. To ensure fair and free elections, all elections must be publicly financed, with contributions from any person or entity limited to 1% of national median income for the previous year.

In recognition of the fact that money is currency not speech and while corporations, unions, and nonprofits have the same obligations as citizens they do not necessarily have the same rights as citizens, such entities are not allowed to give money to any political campaign nor can they fund ads endorsing or attacking any politician."

While the individual limit would be higher (1% is about $520 right now) having a set limit that increases the more the wealth gap closes would serve to encourage politicians to increase the median wage, while providing a limit that will adjust for inflation automatically rather than require editing the constitution every time would also be beneficial.

In addition, this version would provide a constitutional guarantee of the right to vote, ending voting suppression efforts. It would also provide a more comprehensive ban on political influence from third-party organizations while preserving corporate liability. Currently, while ads running in favor of politicians are banned ads attacking politicians were allowed, which in a two party system floods the airwaves with attack ads that end up directly endorsing one candidate.

Regardless of how you feel about corporate personhood, we should be pushing for voting rights and election reform, NOT focusing on such a complex and thorny issue.
commented 2014-05-05 10:24:59 -0400 · Flag
@dan: Take your time Dan, think it through. You’ll find a deterrent somewhere in there; eventually. Meanwhile, the rest of us are trying to hold corporate managers responsible for illegal actions in behalf of their legal abstraction. I can’t believe there’s another Romney in the world.
commented 2014-05-03 18:45:54 -0400 · Flag
@william falberg that is exactly the current system allowed with corporate personhood. The company as a whole is fined for crimes the company commits, affecting every employee, stockholder, and subcontractor. Removing corporate personhood without creating a new way to hold companies liable for breaking the law would undermine every regulation that exists today.
commented 2014-05-03 17:56:05 -0400 · Flag
@robert walker
yap
@william Falberg
nope. Everything would have to be taken in to account (so i agree with you both), its just like how english works: to get your specific point across it takes brains & time, without either of those things your message has a high chance of being misinterpreted.
commented 2014-05-03 15:46:17 -0400 · Flag
lol publicly financed? what a joke. I can see the corporations & union limits but private individuals have the right to spend as much money on anything they want. Anything stopping this is 100% illegal & bogus.
commented 2014-05-03 11:50:22 -0400 · Flag
@dan LalaLande: "you need only prove that a company knowingly broke the law to hold the entire company accountable. " I like that idea. We not only fine every employee, but every stockholder and subcontractor and we can throw them all in jail for tax or accounting fraud as well as political interference. Does that include deliberate political mis-information and journalistic sponsorship of propaganda favoring their own special interest to skim the nation’s wealth and cheat the Treasury? What about the janitor? Throw him in jail, too? If a corporation commits treason or enters us into a war, can we just shoot them all? Some things might be hard to prove. Who’s going to make the effort to prosecute? Another corporation? Sorry; but corpocentric reasoning leaves me with more questions than answers. I think we also need to re-examinine how SCOTUS is selected. Exactly HOW are they insulated from politics?
commented 2014-05-03 11:43:16 -0400 · Flag
We need to keep the government out of our lives as much as possible, so elections should not be publicly financed if “publicly financed” means government. The 28th Amendment should 1. Restrict political donors to being registered voters. (no corporate donors, no PAC donors. Why should an entity that can not vote be able to contribute?) and 2. Set a cap on the size a donation can be. (yes account for inflation) and 3. Require prompt, complete and public disclosure of all donations received. Besides both major political parties fighting a 28th Amendment, the media would do everything they could to kill it because much less money would be spent on political advertising. The smucks running for office might have to go back to shaking hands on the street corner and knocking on doors.
commented 2014-05-03 09:25:52 -0400 · Flag
@paul – removing corporate personhood would not address the influence of money in politics. Worse than just not solving the problem it is supposed to it creates new problems by removing one of the key methods of holding corporations accountable for crimes.

With corporate personhood, you need only prove that a company knowingly broke the law to hold the entire company accountable. Without it, you can only punish whatever individuals you can prove were involved, which means management is nearly impossible to indict and corporations wouldn’t even get a slap on the wrist fine.

What is needed to actually end corruption is a stop to the “money as speech” legal reasoning as well as a fix of the speech and debate clause of the constitution that Roberts is abusing to limit the definition of bribery. Corporations having free speech wouldn’t be a problem if money was not considered speech.

By addressing the legal precedent of corporate personhood which has both positive and negative aspects while leaving behind the far more damaging legal precedents of money as speech and nearly all evidence of bribery being inadmissible in court, this would only make the problems of corruption worse. The evidence that could be used in bribery cases would remain nearly nonexistent and legal challenges to campaign limits would come down to a fight between the first and 28th amendment if money is still considered speech, which leaves enough room for another 5-4 supreme court ruling.

The first two sentences are dangerous and pointless, and if they get put into a final amendment it would be disastrous. It is really frustrating to see how much focus is being put on corporate personhood while the real issues are ignored.
commented 2014-05-02 12:51:24 -0400 · Flag
I understood the link after taking in to account various things, most notably are:
1. People will always try to get what they want without thinking fully how to get it.
2. Because of no.1, confusion, lies & rummours are spread.
3. Its no secret that people who hold a lot of money hold a lot of power, those that hold a lot of power hold a lot of influence. Influence is the most powerful thing a person can have.
4. Could someone brush me up on what Amendments actually do? From what i know they set rights / laws that are permanately in place and in full effect.
5. If no.5 is true then Id love for an amendment that takes care of Americas internet bandwidth caps.
commented 2014-05-02 05:23:09 -0400 · Flag
Dan: unless and until the influence of money in political campaigns is removed, people can and will continue to give money to politicians, and expect the politician to defend their interests in return. This is legalized bribery, and it’s what you and everyone says has to stop. Agreed, making a legal distinction between legal entities and the people who run them does not by itself solve the problem. I don’t think anyone argues that and that’s why all the 28th amendment language you see out there calls not only for a distinction between corps and people, but that monetary influence be removed from the election process. How to successfully achieve that goal is clearly the big question.
commented 2014-05-02 00:48:14 -0400 · Flag
The first two sentences need to be removed for two reasons:

1. The problem is not that corporations can give money to politicians the same way people can, the problem is that PEOPLE can legally bribe politicians! Removing corporate personhood, particularly since the McCutcheon ruling, wouldn’t fix the problem.

2. Corporate personhood was originally created to give corporations the same legal obligations as people. Removing corporate personhood without addressing that makes corporations nearly impossible to regulate or litigate.

Instead, we should be pushing for wording blocking the concept of money as speech. That would not only solve the same corruption problem as removing corporate personhood without the downside, it would also address bribery from individuals.
commented 2014-04-29 21:07:23 -0400 · Flag
Aidan: I’m sorry but I found the article at the link you posted difficult to understand. Honestly, I don’t know what the author is trying to say! So therefore I cannot comment on whether we should move in the direction he is describing or not.

I very much like these words of yours, “However, the law needs to be changed so that corporations are obligated not only to their shareholders but to all of their stakeholders, including employees, consumers, and Mother Nature.”
commented 2014-04-29 00:06:21 -0400 · Flag
We obviously need different and separate kind kinds of laws to govern corporate entities because they can and do commit crimes that would be hard to define in human terms. Most people couldn’t relate to an accounting crime. But if a corporation’s accounting rules were determined by The People and laid out unambiguously in a binding charter, any executive who violated those rules could be found guilty of THAT, a crime in itself, and a crime that any jury COULD relate to. The trouble with our current system is that you can’t understand how the crimes are being committed unless you’re an accountant. It’s like turning the lights on in a roach-infested kitchen.
commented 2014-04-28 22:11:01 -0400 · Flag
William: you’ve hit on exactly why the current system of “everyone out for him/herself” with the government acting as watchdog supposedly keeping all these greedy corporations (whose primary interest in any situation is how they can exploit it for their stockholders’ gain) might work until the government itself gets corrupted by the monetary influence of the rich corporations (bought out, in other words, which is what has happened). The result of this inevitable progression is the situation we currently find ourselves in.

Because this kind of behavior has become the norm, the crooks are rarely caught. So other than the rare cases that made the news, I can’t cite you examples of corporate executives being held criminally accountable. 99% of the time, corporate rip-off is just business as usual. The system is so rigged in favor of corporate profiteering, that only the most egregious offenses come to light. The few honest “whistle-blowers” left in government have to have an absolutely bullet-proof case against them or they don’t stand a chance against all the high-priced shrewd corporate lawyers hired to defend the corporation. When the crooks are caught, it’s big news (Bernie Madoff, etc).

This is the reason I made the sweeping generalization that this country needs a more equitable economic system, one that discourages profiteering and encourages equity for all concerned.
commented 2014-04-28 15:48:35 -0400 · Flag
“For-profit corporations are in fact run by people who are in fact held criminally responsible for the corporation’s actions.” Can you give us an example, besides the most egregious Bernie Madoff case, of that actually happening in the midst of the Mortgage Meltdown, LIBOR Scandal, or any of a dozen other scandals brought on by corporate crooks who were never indicted? That was a rather sweeping generalization, Paul. Can you back it up with any evidence? Facts? Truth?
commented 2014-04-28 15:42:54 -0400 · Flag
There’s an interesting article about the emergence of “social capitalism”:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/haydnshaughnessy/2012/01/23/the-emergence-of-social-capitalism-adaptation-or-threat/

Someone commented that the emerging system is more capitalistic and more free than the current notion of “free market capitalism”. Perhaps this is the avenue we’d like to promote.

Responding to what Paul said, we don’t need to replace the corporate legal structure entirely, as it’s the exact same structure used by nonprofit organizations. However, the law needs to be changed so that corporations are obligated not only to their shareholders but to all of their stakeholders, including employees, consumers, and Mother Nature.
commented 2014-04-27 22:38:04 -0400 · Flag
Kirk:
My first reaction to your post is to your depiction of corporations as under the current set-up, corporations are some kind of mindless, immoral monster operating outside the law because that is simply not true. For-profit corporations are in fact run by people who are in fact held criminally responsible for the corporation’s actions.

The problem as I see it is that the people who run corporations are given the wrong incentives under the current economic system. By that I mean that the chief executives and board of directors of a for-profit corporation in the US are REQUIRED BY LAW to place stockholder interests above any other concerns in the decision-making process. In other words, since a stockholder’s primary interest is to make a profit, and management MUST place stockholders’ interests above all others, then guess what, management’s primary duty is to make a profit. All other considerations are secondary.

I see this as out of balance and as placing the interests of the business AHEAD of the interests of the people who work at the business, its customers, its suppliers and the society in which it operates, instead of BESIDE the interests of other concerned parties. I think this country has outgrown this economic model and needs to find a more balanced economic structure.
commented 2014-04-27 19:06:10 -0400 · Flag
People have the ability to act morally and ethically, corporations don’t. A corporation will dump toxic chemicals into oceans, lakes, and streams which contaminate water supplies, or it will fund an unnecessary war for nothing more than profit. A corporation receives no death penalty, or prison sentence for it’s actions, therefor it can not be counted as an American citizen…for it has no conscience. An American citizen must be able to serve a sentence for their crime, and a corporation cannot.
commented 2014-04-26 21:27:44 -0400 · Flag
Get money out of politics now! Does my vote even count? I could donate every penny I make and it doesn’t matter, some billionaire will come along from out of state and buy off the other candidate. I want to throw up.
commented 2014-04-26 01:30:42 -0400 · Flag
Paul:I question whether America has ever practiced real capitalism. I think there’s a big difference between capitalism and corporatism. But we can’t be sure, can we; because we’ve never tried the pure/non-corporate version. What would it be like; having a lot more companies actually competing with each other?
commented 2014-04-26 00:10:24 -0400 · Flag
The alternative is socialism, but Americans seem not to accept it especially after the whole thing with Russia and all the propaganda our government put out during the Cold War. (Anti-communism in America was all about what the corporations wanted.) Even today, many people I talk to don’t understand socialism/communism and its merits.
commented 2014-04-25 23:06:43 -0400 · Flag
For what it’s worth, I think America has outgrown its need for free-market capitalism and needs to move into a more balanced and mature economic paradigm.
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