Thought of the day

Corporations are government-created concepts. As such, whatever privileges they have are up to the governments that created them.

19 Responses

  1. Not really. The fact that they may be created by a government and that they must play by certain rules set by governments does not make them the sole product of some government action in the past.

    In fact, many governments “incorporate”, become corporations, and have done for a very long time. That indicates to me that the concept of a body of people in a corporation likely predates or comes from a similar or same beginning as the concept of governments themselves.

    Really a corporation is not all that different from a government. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A terrible question given the facts of evolution, a great question when it comes to governments and corporations. Given their structural and behavioral similarities and the fact they can exist independent of each other, “neither” is the answer that makes the most sense.

    Of course, if your goal is to try and say that people who join together must give up certain rights they hold independently, than good job.

  2. Are governments people too? Entities run by people are not themselves people.

    I’m glad Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are making a mockery of all this, though.

  3. Actually, governments are legal people as well. People have responsibilities, rights and can die, although they can also be immortal. (not biological people, but legal, moral and so forth people.)

    Did you miss the part about governments being practically the same thing as corporations?

  4. They are certainly composed of people, but so was that giant robot thing the Power Rangers used to form at the end of every episode. Didn’t mean it was itself a person.

  5. Certainly not, but no one was telling the power rangers that they could only exercise their rights while they were individuals, and not while combined in a big robot.

    Your assertion just doesn’t hold up in my view. Corporations in the abstract are certainly as old as trade, as is the abstract idea of governments. One doesn’t appear to come from the other, nor cease to exist in the absence of the other.

    Lets keep in mind that governments and corporations only exist because people have found it beneficial to group together and act as a body.

    If you still think that corporations are 100% subservient to governments, do you hold the same thing to be true of labor unions (many of which are for profit corporations themselves)?

    Can the government place endless restrictions on union also? Is it the case that union members shouldn’t be able to exercise free speech and so forth through their union? Unions were certainly not a creation of governments, and neither are corporations. There have been trade guilds as far back as there are records, and likely further.

    The government didn’t create the economy, nor did governments create those two great bastions of the free market, unions and corporations.

  6. Certainly not, but no one was telling the power rangers that they could only exercise their rights while they were individuals, and not while combined in a big robot.

    They also didn’t form the specific conditions, rights, privileges, protections, and concept of the big robot.

    If you still think that corporations are 100% subservient to governments, do you hold the same thing to be true of labor unions (many of which are for profit corporations themselves)?

    Insofar as unions are creations of government law, of course.

  7. Clearly there is going to be no reaching you on this subject. I’m always fascinated by the almost religious zeal some people have developed for governments.

    Corporations and unions are not government constructs, and further more they are all three almost indistinguishable from a distance. All three being simply a body of people working under agreed upon rules, conditions and towards common, often perpetual goals.

    But whatever. And you have lost me on the robot, it was a crappy analogy to begin with.

  8. You know, this is vaguely reminiscent of marriage. Would you say that marriages only exist because of governments? Or do they merely receive, appropriate or not, government recognition?

    While it’s true that corporations must meet certain standards to be recognized by the government as such, it is not true, similar to marriage, that corporations must be recognized by the government to be a corporation. Sure, a group of people who do not meet the governments established criteria may not be entitled to certain legal protections, but the question is, in issuing government recognition does the government have the right to strip away certain protections that are afforded to individuals?

    Last thing, and I don’t intend to keep arguing, I think we both know the only place to go from here is into the realm pure semantics, the purpose of corporate registration today is really a property rights issue. When forming a corporation, you are creating a contract among individuals, you file what is called articles of incorporation, these show how the corp. will run, the rules, etc, etc.

    Setting the stage for government adjudication in any future disputes. The protection of property rights is a basic and fundamental function of government. With the diluting of property rights comes only one thing, political oppression and/or economic collapse or stagnation.

  9. Marriage has two states. The first is by way of personal declaration by the person or people involved. That’s why, contra your constant claims, you can declare you’re married to an incandescent light bulb if you wish. The second is in the way that matters to most people, via the government. That is why people can be taxed different rates and have different rights.

  10. And when, I might ask, when are you going to make a convincing case that corporations, and unions, are a product, a creation of government? When are you going to make a convincing case that people can’t exercise their right to free speech and so forth as a group?

    I don’t think there is a case to be made, hence why I haven’t seen it here.

  11. Here is the first formal definition of a corporation in the US, from Justice Marshall in 1819:

    A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of the law.

  12. Nice of him to say so, but that isn’t really correct. Corporations have been around, whether called by that name or not, for a very long time. Only in recent history has the government inserted itself. The chicken didn’t lay this egg.

  13. You can believe that, but the facts are the facts. The government defines what constitutes a corporation, what it can do, what it can’t do.

  14. Well what the certainly cannot do is strip people of their rights, particularly here because it IS a 1st amendment issue.

    I’m not against a law that would require shareholder approval for political and/or lobbying expenses. On the other hand, corporations always require bylaws and as long as shareholders are informed before investing, that the company will not consult them before spending on politics.

    Maybe another interesting topic would be when does a human become human? The government sets that definition and the rules regarding it, yet Roe v. Wade established that the government doesn’t have the power to force one to give birth or to prohibit people from doing so.

    Children are not created by government fiat, and neither are corporations. They are both completely separate things from any government. So too are trade unions and employee unions.

    If the government were gone tomorrow, would corporations cease to exist? Uh, no. Unions? hmm, nope. Would they have to play by their own rules? Yes, I think so. There are many private associations that self police their members, often more effectively the the government could ever hope for.

  15. At any rate, enough of kicking this dead horse. PETA’s spy satellites are going to catch us and well be descended upon by ravenous, and likely rabid, hippies, and pretentious celebrities who have more in the way of notoriety than fame.

  16. I like a lot of what Nate is saying here, but I have to say Michael’s original post is 100% correct.

    Free markets are not anarchy and you need a government to establish and protect things like property rights. Yes, corporations are made of groups of people, but what those people create is a legal entity that represents them.

    This artificial being retains some of their rights, such as the right to hold private property. It does not retain their right to vote or marry.

    Where I disagree with Michael is his implication that the government can establish any and all rules for which rights corporations keep – and what’s more, the government can do so willy-nilly with no regard for the constitution.This is wrong and comes from a lack of understanding of the Bill of Rights. Just look what the ACLU has to say:

  17. My contention hasn’t been that the government can’t set rules, my issue here is with the idea that government somehow flows from the holy of holys and therefore may do anything. Since government is not required for a corporation to exist, I contend that the government cannot muck about in a limitless way.

    I also didn’t make a case that all rights could conceivably filter from individuals through a corporation. The right to do certain things can obviously only exist on the individual level, voting and marriage being good examples. I’ve been focused on the big one, the first amendment.

    But this insanity that nanny can bar people from speaking as a group and/or pooling their resources to make that speech more effective, is pure dictatorial bullshit.

  18. I don’t give a shit about this post anymore, what the hell has wordpress done? The whole interface is gone, replaced by some other crap. Is this a government project?

  19. You know, armies exist without government. Maybe we should restore all the rights back to the people who serve, especially those in charge. Who says General Joe Blow has to attack THAT enemy base? And who decrees that Private Suzie Q has to do what the president orders? Let’s bring these injustices to the Supreme Court.

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