Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Inc. God We Trust

The Colbert Report
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How much crazier can this get? In Citizens United, the five Republicans on the Supreme Court held that corporations were people, too, with the same right to freedom of speech that we have. The practical effect of this was to legalize the sale of our politicians to the highest bidder.

Now they want to decide that corporations have freedom of religion, too? If you're a Christian, do you think that McDonald's has an immortal soul, then? Are you going to meet Enron and Countrywide Financial in Heaven? (Or in Hell?)

All five Republicans on the Supreme Court are Catholic (one of the four Democrats, too). Does the church have no problem with this idea? Did Jesus die on the cross so Kentucky Fried Chicken has a pathway to Heaven? Are they going to start recruiting corporations to serve as priests? Will News Corp. become the next pope?

It's just incredible, isn't it? Corporations aren't people. They're run by people, they're owned by people, but they're not people themselves. And note that the people who control corporations aren't necessarily the same people who own them. (Ownership and control are two entirely different things.)

A corporate CEO might have a particular religious belief himself, but that's unlikely to be shared by everyone else who works for the corporation. And the people who own stock in the corporation, or who own stock in mutual funds which own stock in the corporation, are even less likely to share the same religious beliefs.

But this was one of the big problems with Citizens United, too. A CEO might give the corporation's money - your money, if you owned any stock or mutual funds - to a politician, in order to get political favors, but you wouldn't even know about it, let alone have any input. The CEO was probably most interested in buying tax cuts for himself, but that probably wouldn't be your priority, would it?

The corporation itself couldn't think anything, because a corporation doesn't have a brain. The corporation itself couldn't want anything, because a corporation isn't an entity which can feel desire. It's not the corporation which has a need for freedom of speech but the people who run the corporation. And they've already got freedom of speech.

In fact, given the fact that the owners of the corporation - technically - might have no control over any of this, you are actually violating their freedom of speech by allowing someone else to use their money in ways which might well be the exact opposite of what they'd wish, themselves.

But the five Republicans on the Supreme Court allowed this (over the objections of the four Democrats), and they may well decide that corporations have freedom of religion, too. So the corporation you work for might have a different religion than you do,... and even the corporation you own, at least in part, might also push some other religious belief than yours. How will you like that?

Of course, it's not actually the corporation which has that belief, which pushes that belief, but the guy running the corporation. Corporations can't have religious beliefs, because they don't have minds, they don't have emotions, and they don't have souls. Of course, with regard to the latter, neither does anyone else.

But if you think that people have souls, do you really think that corporations do, too? Do you expect to see these corporations all sitting beside Jesus in Heaven? Or, heck, I don't know, maybe you're Hindu. If so, do you think that Enron has been reincarnated as Twitter, maybe? (And is that for being good or being bad?)

What's next, corporations running for public office? Will Microsoft become our first corporate senator? Will Google become our first corporate president? When will Texas execute its first corporate prisoner? When will the Catholic Church name the first corporate saint?

Sorry, but corporations aren't people. People are covered by the Bill of Rights, not corporations. In particular, corporations can't have religious beliefs - or beliefs of any kind. Corporations don't have a brain, so they don't have a mind.

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