|In the days of our founding fathers, the idea of a corporation lobbying Congress or having any influence on our government was unthinkable. Up until the late 1880's companies could incorporate only if they could prove they would provide a service to benefit the common good like building a road, bridge, canal, shipping port or railroad. Charters of incorporation had time limits of 5-10 years, at which time the corporation would dissolve in order to prevent them from crushing smaller businesses and creating monopolies. Each state had all the power to regulate corporations and could yank their charter without cause at any time.
Creating a corporation is a way of accumulating wealth, while avoiding personal accountability and from the very beginning, the wealthiest, greediest few worked persistently to change the rules. Thomas Jefferson warned us and tried to prevent it from happening. Eventually corporations achieved the status of "legal entity" and later "Corporate Personhood" which allowed them to claim access to the same human rights our founding fathers fought and died for.
Conservatives often claim Thomas Jefferson as one of their own because of his views on "limited government" but Jefferson's position was based on an agrarian vision of America that would consist of mostly gentleman farmers. Jefferson was very much opposed to the corporate, free trade direction conservatives have led us into because of the potential abuse and suppression of Democracy. Here are a few quotes from Jefferson on the subject:
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Under a separation of state and economics, especially with laissez-faire capitalism [Free Trade], the state no longer has a role to play in protecting the people and assuring their happiness. Laissez-faire means capitalism is outside the regulatory control of the state and that the people are entirely at the mercy of the capitalists."
-- Thomas Jefferson
The idea that corporations would have more power and access in our government than we the people and would actually be invited to write legislation as they do today, would have appalled all of our founding fathers. And yet, the people complaining today about health care reform are defending and protecting the very corporations who actually have dismantled the original vision of our founding fathers. It's so twisted and backwards, it's hard to deal with. I know it's not easy but let's try to inform people when we can.
More on Corporate Personhood:
A Concise History of Corporate Personhood
Unequal Protection - The Rise of Corporate Dominance and Theft of Human Rights - by Thom Hartmann