Last week we suggested the need for a Constitutional amendment declaring that a corporation is not a natural person and is therefore not protected by the Bill of Rights and the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Such an amendment would level the playing field somewhat, giving communities and individuals a greater chance of controlling anti-social corporate behavior. As we noted in earlier newsletters (RHWN #308, #309), corporations are now literally out of control. Shareholders cannot control them; boards of directors cannot control them; workers cannot control them; in a competitive world market, even managers have lost control. In some cases, of course, management doesn't care about the environment or the community. But even when managers, as individuals, want to do the right thing, the logic of corporate growth and short-term gain often dictates choices that do not serve the environment or the community. Since corporate behavior is at the root of nearly all environmental problems, stripping corporations of some of their rights (such as the Constitutional protections guaranteed to individual citizens, which the Supreme Court extended to corporations in 1886), would help communities assert control over corporate behavior. Merely DEBATING such an amendment would get people thinking about power in the modern world, asking who has a legitimate right to control what. Ask yourself: who ever gave private corporations the right to manufacture and sell products that can destroy the planet as a place suitable for human habitation? In suggesting such a Constitutional amendment, we omitted reference to the original source of the idea, author Richard Grossman.
For historical background on control of corporations, get: Richard
Grossman and Frank T. Adams, TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS:
CITIZENSHIP AND THE CHARTER OF INCORPORATION
(Cambridge, Mass.: Charter, Inc., 1992). For a copy, send $4.00 plus a
self-addressed, stamped envelope containing 52 cents postage to:
Charter, Inc., P.O. Box 806, Cambridge, MA 02140.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: corporations; constitution; us;