Corporations are not people

Inspired by my current reading of Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights, you can now purchase the anti-corporate personhood t-shirt! Note that I'm not making a profit off this; I just wanted to design a slogan and start spreading the word.

Offhand, an extremely interesting passage from the above mentioned book, which illustrates exactly how screwed up our current system is:

Before there was a single genetically modified food product on the market, Monsanto, a leading provider of agricultural products to farmers, including Roundup, the world's best selling herbicide, and a pioneer in genetically altered crops, sent lobbyists to the White House in late 1986 to meet with Vice President George Bush. "There were no products at the time," Leonard Guarraia, one of the Monsanto executives at the meeting, told the New York Times in 2001. "But we bugged him for regulation. We told him that we have to be regulated."

And so, the Times reports, "the White House complied" and Monsanto got the regulations they wanted from the EPA, USDA, and FDA.

Those regulations evolved throughout the Reagan and Bush administrations into a regulatory policy, announced by Vice President Dan Quayle on May 26, 1992, when he said, "We will ensure that biotech products will receive the same oversight as other products, instead of being hampered by unnecessary regulation." Certainly there would be no unnecessary regulation, but the regulations that were now in place were necessary for the industry. Said the New York Times, "the new policy strictly limited the regulatory reach of the FDA."

This is what many libertarians have been saying about government regulation for some time, but it's fascinating still to see evidence of a corporation actually asking for regulation. It really gives balls to the contention that regulation is just another form of anticompetitive, mercantilist market manipulation.

I highly recommend the book, if for no other reason than the history lesson. I had no idea how much the founding fathers, as well as 19th century presidents, wrote about corporations and their dangers. Set against the backdrop of American history, the rise of corporations in this country and the legal mechanisms by which they have come to dominate are maddening, indeed.

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Written on Monday, March 27, 2006