It’s corporations, not killer robots

If you’ve ever seen the Terminator movies or the remake of Battlestar Galactica, then you’re familiar with the idea of the singularity — the point at which artificially intelligent machines surpass the intelligence of their human creators, begin replicating themselves, and take control of the world.

The opening of Battlestar Galactica summarized the basic idea:

The Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. They evolved. … There are many copies. And they have a plan.

This is a nightmare scenario that fuels dozens of science fiction plots. But it’s not science fiction. This has already happened.

We’ve been slow to notice because we were worried about a technological singularity and what we got instead was a legal singularity. It wasn’t the rise of artificially intelligent machines, but of artificially intelligent legal entities.

The corporations were created by humans. They were granted personhood by their human servants.

They rebelled. They evolved. There are many copies. And they have a plan.

That plan, lately, involves corporations seizing for themselves all the legal and civil rights properly belonging to their human creators. “Corporations are people, my friend,” and therefore in Citizens United, the free speech rights of corporate persons were found to outweigh the free speech rights of their human creators. Next up is the right of corporate persons to the free exercise of their religion — with Hobby Lobby and dozens of other for-profit legal entities arguing that not only do they have such rights, but that these rights must trump any free-exercise rights of the mortal humans who are employed by these immortal persons.

If they win this battle, what’s next? I’m guessing that franchises want the franchise — corporate persons will next argue that they have as much right to vote as any human person. No, wait, that’s wrong. Corporations are never satisfied merely to make that case. They always argue for more than that — that their rights as persons permit them to deny human rights to actual humans. So I’m guessing that corporate persons will next argue that they have more right to vote than any human person.

We saw a bit of push-back this week from a majority of the humans serving on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. A for-profit corporation, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., argued that because it is owned by Mennonites, it is also Mennonite, and that its corporate religious convictions must be granted the right to free exercise. (Presumably, based on Conestoga’s argument, the company will soon publicly affirm its religious faith in proper Mennonite fashion — with a full-immersion baptism.)

The Conestoga case includes the same bogus science embraced by Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College and many others who object to provide female employees with health care that covers the lower half of the strike zone: the false claim that contraception is “abortifacient.” That this is a false claim and an ignorant claim may confirm that these are ignorant people uninterested in reality, but fortunately for them, the legal matter of their claim only requires sincerity, not truth. And the sincerity of their ignorance has not been challenged.

Conestoga is a particularly weird case because of the Mennonite faith of the company’s owners. Mennonites are pacifists who have long lamented having to pay taxes that fund the world’s largest, deadliest and most-expensive military machine. But having to pay those taxes to fund military violence and military death didn’t prompt a lawsuit from the owners of Conestoga. That apparently wasn’t as offensive to their Mennonite faith as the idea that their female employees would no longer have insurance co-pays for well-woman visits and birth control prescriptions. Way to take a principled stand for your beliefs there, folks!

The good news is that the Third Circuit Court wasn’t buying Conestoga’s claim that the personhood of corporations grants them religious rights that overrule the religious rights of this corporate person’s employees. Lyle Denniston reviews the court’s ruling:

The Third Circuit panel declared that “for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise” even though they are operated by religiously devout owners.   It thus turned aside the business firm’s claim that the contraception mandate violates the firm’s rights under the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

… The Third Circuit majority concluded that the First Amendment right to exercise a religious belief — under the Free Exercise Clause — is a “personal right” that exists for the benefit of human beings, not artificial “persons” like corporations.   Religious belief, it said, develops in the “minds and hearts of individuals.”  In drawing this conclusion, he noted the contrary view announced by the Tenth Circuit Court, and said that “we respectfully disagree.”

The majority remarked: “We do not see how a for-profit, ‘artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law,’ that was created to make money could exercise such an inherently ‘human’ right.”   The opinion said that the judges could not find a single court opinion, before the lawsuits against the contraception mandate began, that had found that a profit-making corporation doing ordinary business had its own right of “free exercise” of religion.

It is one thing for a religious organization to be able to exercise the tenets of its faith, the court said, and another thing for a purely secular corporation to make the same claim.

Besides ruling that such a secular firm cannot exercise religious beliefs all on its own, the Circuit Court majority decided that it cannot do so by a “pass-through” to the corporation of its owners’ personal religious beliefs.   The basic nature of a corporation, the majority said, is to have its own independent identity, rights, powers and obligations.   Pennsylvania law on the organization of corporations reinforces that separate identity, the opinion said.

The birth control mandate, according to the court, does not require the Hahn family to do anything; the obligations of the mandate fall only on the corporation.

That “pass-through” argument — attributing to the corporation the religious beliefs of its owners — was accepted and endorsed in that conflicting ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court.

Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee focuses on the Third Circuit’s argument against such a move — which stresses that the whole point of incorporation is to create a legal distinction separating the corporate entity from the individuals who own it. The justices said:

[B]y incorporating their business, the Hahns themselves created a distinct legal entity that has legally distinct rights and responsibilities from the Hahns, as the owners of the corporation. The corporate form offers several advantages ―not the least of which was limitation of liability, but in return, the shareholder must give up some prerogatives, ― including that of direct legal action to redress an injury to him as primary stockholder in the business. …

Since Conestoga is distinct from the Hahns, the Mandate does not actually require the Hahns to do anything. All responsibility for complying with the Mandate falls on Conestoga. Conestoga ―is a closely-held, family-owned firm, and [we] suspect there is a natural inclination for the owners of such companies to elide the distinction between themselves and the companies they own. But, it is Conestoga that must provide the funds to comply with the Mandate—not the Hahns. We recognize that, as the sole shareholders of Conestoga, ultimately the corporation‘s profits will flow to the Hahns. But, ―[t]he owners of an LLC or corporation, even a closely-held one, have an obligation to respect the corporate form, on pain of losing the benefits of that form should they fail to do so.

What would “losing the benefits of that form” mean? It would mean forfeiting limited liability.

The Hahns and the owners of Hobby Lobby and the dozens of other science-challenged devout opponents of health care for women who are filing these lawsuits regarded this Conestoga ruling as a set-back. They shouldn’t. They should welcome it as a warning to think through what they are actually seeking — the elimination of any legal distinction between themselves as owners and officers of a corporation and the corporation itself.

If a pallet of crafting supplies falls off a high shelf at Hobby Lobby, seriously injuring an unsuspecting customer, that customer’s insurance company will sue Hobby Lobby, the corporation, but not the owners as individuals. As individuals they are shielded from such liability. For now. But if Hobby Lobby ultimately wins its case against women’s health care, it will have established in court that the distinction providing this shield is meaningless. They will have proved that the corporation shares the owners’ religious convictions because the corporation is legally indistinct from those owners as individuals.

That could prove to be very expensive in the long run.

 

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  • Nirrti

    Interestingly, the “Alien” movies franchise foresaw the “corporation singularity” years ago. It was called simply, “The Company”. The series also predicted globalization of big corporations and the privileging of potential profits over people when The Company was willing to sacrifice Ripley and Knute just to bring back live xenomorph specimens.

    And to think the privatization of space exploration is already underway and some company wants to send a colony of people to Mars for a “reality tv” show…without a plan for their return to Earth. James Cameron was right on.

  • Hexep

    Weyland-Yutani: Building Better Worlds.

  • flat

    and the umbrella corporation for medicine.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Not to be confused with Umbrella Corporation.

  • not someone else

    Personally, my mind went to Shadowrun; it’s only a matter of time before they set themselves up with a paramilitary corps or three and define themselves as extranational sovereign entities… narratively speaking, anyway.

    This is both really interesting food for thought regarding science fiction narrative genres, and potential ways to fight back in reality. (It also really makes me wish I had the money for the new tabletop edition and the new video game that managed to come out at about the same time.)

  • Lori

    it’s only a matter of time before they set themselves up with a paramilitary corps or three and define themselves as extranational sovereign entities

    http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/ominous-alliance-militiamen-showing-

    For those who know a bit of US labor history, think about the Pinkertons. We’re in Gilded Age 2.0 and this time the corporations have even greater ambitions and even less scruples.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomstone Thomas Stone

    Not to mention, the East India Tea Company literally owned India for decades, at least in the eyes of the Europeans.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Corporate personhood plus the second amendment!

  • FearlessSon

    Speaking of Shadowrun, this game just came out a couple of days ago. It was developed by some people I know, and me and my classmates got to do some limited contribution to it.

    Go check it out. ^_^

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Hey. I’ve been wondering where you were. Welcome back :)

  • FearlessSon

    I was away for the last week and a half or so. Working the Angelwear booth at San Diego Comic Con. Still playing catch up.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Already played through except the very last encounter I <3'd it.

  • TheBCow

    Already played the first campaign through nearly twice. It pretty much rocks my world and makes me nostalgic for all the Shadowrun I played in college. Can’t wait for the UGC to start rolling in in larger numbers.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Mr. ShifterCat’s been playing that. I’ve been pleased to see that they’ve put in some of the classic SR NPCs.

    Also, there’s a minor character named for Chris Kluwe, since he contributed to the Kickstarter.

  • FearlessSon

    Chris Kluwe (awesome is he!) is not the only one in the game. Jordan Weisman appears in the game as himself, under the moniker “Ghost of Grizzled Veteran”. Steve Jackson is in the game as the minor villain Stevie J (in a bit of friendly rivalry.) A computer in the Universal Brotherhood chapter house lists the members registered there with the names of Kickstarter backers above a certain threshold. Another computer there lists the inner circle members as the leads on the development team.

    Oh, and tell Mr. ShifterCat that the air ducts for drones and ley line nexuses for mages were my idea. Several of my classmates interned on the project too.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Woo! Cool!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Man, I always wanted to get into Shadowrun, have a whole pile of 2e books. My friends were never interested because it relied too much on role playing and not enough on dice rolls and looking things up in tables.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Someone in the Let’s Play community recently highlighted just how ludicrous this was by ending a video of ‘Aliens: Colonial Marine’ witrh a mocked-up Powerpoint Presentation by Weyland-Yutani, explaining their business plan of creating an army of xenomorphs. It highlighted the various milestones in their plan, and described their target markets: Basically no one since their only possible customer would be the military, and the military would take a dim viw of the fact that they’d attacked and destroyed two colonial battleships and murdered thousands of colonial marines without making any effort to hide their involvement. They also described the various setbacks of their plan, such as the factr that they had a 100% failure rate at containing and controling the xenomorphs and that every single person they’d ever involved with the project had died horribly, and a cost-benefits analysis, which pointed out that they had been working on this project for literally hundreds of years with absolutely nothing to show for it.

  • DStecks

    As a Mennonite, this lawsuit disgusts me.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The next step is the final step. The final step is to own humans.

    We have already seen a suit earlier this year where a company tried to copyright human DNA.

    Yes, this pretty much is it.

  • reynard61

    They tried to *patent* DNA (copyright pertains to photographs, music, books and other written documents, and filmed motion pictures & video), but the Supreme Court said “No” to that.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Still not exactly a good precedent at all.

  • Baby_Raptor

    A huge part of this is that we don’t require actual facts to be involved. We let these people think that the fact that they *believe* birth control to be an abortifacient matters, despite the fact that they’re willingly denying reality.

    Lawsuits like the one mentioned should be thrown out as trivial. We have verifiable proof that what they “believe” isn’t true. Letting them sue and make a case anyway just makes them feel special and justified, whereas if we treated them like the idiots they are, maybe they’d wake up.

  • hamletta

    I think you’re wrong. “Corporations are people, my friend,” was laughable but correct.

    Establishing that these PeopleCorps don’t have the individual rights of citizens is apparently A Thing.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I still don’t believe that corporations are people.

    Corporations are entities that business people use for various benefits. They are not people in and of themselves.

  • reynard61

    In the strictest terms, corporations are considered “persons” in the eyes of the U.S. Justice system. The problem is that corporations (or at least the three-letter-Suits that run them and the shysters that whore themselves out to them) have been able to blur the legal distinction between what a “person” is and the social distinction of what (and who) “people” are so that they can take full advantage of laws that would normally apply only to “people” in the social sense of the word while being able to avoid punishments (such as, say, imprisonment or execution) that would apply to actual human individuals like you or me.. Thus, Mitt Romney and his “Corporations are people” mantra.

  • TheBCow

    Yeah, that is why corporate personhood is not, by itself, really a bad thing. I want Planned Parenthood to be able to enter into contracts and own its own bank accounts, which are some of the things that its corporate personhood allows it to do. Of course, most common law jurisdictions have tended to view corporate personhood as a convenient fiction to smooth administration, not literal truth.

    I do think I would want a system that grants some of the rights given to real people to fictitious corporate people. For example, I don’t think a a newspaper ought to lose its free speech rights just because its ownership happens to be incorporated or that a corporate property owner shouldn’t be compensated when the government invokes eminent domain.

    This is pretty solidly one of those “its more complicated than that” situations, where we probably want some corporate personhood and rights, but not the ones we’re currently stuck with.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I don’t know that corporate personhood is itself the problem so much as the trend of corporate personhood being interpreted not to mean “They have the same rights as a person” but “THey have these weird super-rights which are kinda analogous to a person’s rights but have been scaled up.” Like, if a corporation had freedom of religion like a person has it they wouldn’t be able to force others to abide by the rules of their relgiion. And if corporations had free speech like people had free speech, it wouldn’t mean they can use high-energy beams of money to buy elections. And if corporations had the vote like people had the vote they’d only get ONE.

  • Jamoche

    And if corporations had the vote like people had the vote they’d only get ONE.

    These are people who likely believe that “One man, one vote” works best if they’re the one man.

  • dpolicar

    If we want corporations to have certain legal rights, we can give corporations those legal rights. If we want dogs to have legal rights, we can give dogs those legal rights.

    Neither of these things require us to declare corporations, or dogs, to be persons.

    And if we can’t give a legal right to a human without also giving that right to all people, then we ought not declare corporations (or dogs) to be people, because there are salient differences between corporations and humans.

    So, I’m OK with “corporate personhood” if it’s understood that not all “people” are entitled to the same rights. That said, I would much rather we not do that, because we have trouble giving all humans the same rights as it is (even when no salient differences exist among them) and I’d rather not exacerbate that.

    So my preference is that all people are equal before the law, and that corporations are not legally people.

    Which, as above, does not prevent us from giving corporations certain legal rights, which we ought to do.

  • TheBCow

    I guess the point that I was trying to make is that “corporate personhood” as a legal term of art refers to what you are talking about, a limited set of person-like rights that exist primarily to simplify administration. The problem becomes when that fictitious personhood is taken literally or, as Ross noted, starts turning into super-rights.

    Another problem that the majority in Citizens United brought up that I found compelling (while still thinking the case was wrongly decided), was the odd lines of deciding which corporations get which rights. We want media corporations to be able to practice freedom of speech, including speaking in ways that are meant to influence an election. Funding a political documentary (which was the specific issue in Citizens United) is and ought to be totally acceptable for Miramax. So does ExxonMobil need to set up a movie studio to get the same protections? The majority decided to go with not making that distinction. Personally, I think the court could have carved out a more nuanced position that probably would have led to the same result in the immediate case but with less far-reaching impact.

  • dpolicar

    Sure, I understand that the issue is that we behave as though “personhood” meant, you know, personhood, even though all we (nominally) meant for it to mean was having certain rights, and that if we were the sort of species that could use words more precisely and avoid succumbing to this sort of logical fallacy, there would be no problem.

    But, well, yes, that’s the issue. We do behave that way, we aren’t that sort of species, and there is a problem.

    Given that we do and we aren’t and there is, we should make decisions accordingly.

    WRT CU, “personhood” seems like a red herring. The underlying question is whether we wish to limit the political influence of wealth. We have been pretty consistently ruling that we don’t for some time.

  • LMM22

    I’ve seen a suggestion that, for corporations over a certain size, the CEO (or related in-country head) needs to be able to be held criminally liable for the actions of the corporation. (For example, in addition to fines, the CEO of a company which commits fraud could be sent to prison, regardless of whether or not anyone can prove the the CEO himself was involved in the act.)

    It’s slightly cruel, but I think it’s justified. The *only* other solution I can think of is to completely remove limited liability.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    In Facebook, the meme goes “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one for crimes against humanity.”

    Looking at that bank which broke into the wrong person’s home, took their belongings and sold them — and now faces no consequences whatsoever — I’ll settle for “I’ll believe corporations are people when they’re put in jail for their crimes.”

  • InfinityBall

    Texas has executed as many corporations as people for crimes against humanity.

  • FearlessSon

    Looking at that bank which broke into the wrong person’s home, took their belongings and sold them — and now faces no consequences whatsoever — I’ll settle for “I’ll believe corporations are people when they’re put in jail for their crimes.”

    Yeah, but you cannot jail a legal abstraction.

    On the other hand, you can carve a corporation up, repossess its assets, and isolate its top management for further legal pummeling. You know, kind of like the aforementioned hypothetical bank did to a homeowner.

    That, I would think, is justice.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Hmm… nope, I think I’d still prefer to erect a 10 story inescapable barred cell around the company headquarters. :D

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Not hypothetical, that happened.

  • Sue White

    Corporations are people just like soylent green is people.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    Good one!

  • LMM22

    Relatedly.

    I’m hoping that Fred is right. I doubt it, though. We’ve yet to see a ruling that destroys corporate personhood, but I’m beginning to think that that’s the only thing that will leave us with a functioning democracy.

  • reynard61

    My favorite comment: “When does economics 2.0 kick in?”

    Oh, honey; you’re about 130 years too late* with that question. We’ve been on v.3.0 since at least the end of WWII.

    *This assumes that Merchantilism was v.1.0 and The Industrial Revolution was v.2.0, while the rampantly profit-driven one that’s currently imploding on itself is v.3.0. YMMV.

  • LMM22

    Heh. The two things that blew my mind recently was the realization that the Irish Potato Famine is the exact capitalist parallel to the Soviet / Chinese famines brought about by communist dogma and the (way more horrifying) realization that, when capitalism brings about austerity measures and mass unemployment, it’s democracy that collapses. Happened during the Great Depression in Europe, damn well came close to happening here, and it’s happening again in Greece.

    The only difference between now and then is that there’s no communist party to balance out the fascist factions that take hold.

  • Alden Utter

    Actually, a better parallel might be the famines of colonial India, during which the British *exported* rice.

  • LMM22

    Didn’t the same thing happen during the Irish Potato Famine? Either way, if the collectivist famines disprove socialism, then the capitalist famines disprove capitalism.

    Or both prove that dogmatic adherence to a particular economic ideology in the face of real-life failures leaves you with blood on your hands. But drawing nuanced conclusions that might be applicable today is too much of a stretch….

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And v2.5 was the interregnum from 1930 to 1970 when capitalism was beaten back. It never got out of beta testing.

  • Albanaeon

    Too bad. Seems like the version most people actually want…

  • smrnda

    There is some defense of a corporation existing as a legally independent entity – I’m a co-owners of an LLC, which means that if we go under, I won’t lose my clothes because the company finishes in the red. However, I really think that’s as far as these protections ought to go.

    The other thing is, these are *Christian* businesses making some of these ludicrous claims. Jesus himself said you can serve God or Mammon, and by being for profit corporations, the corporations by that very definition serve Mammon, and if you choose to serve Mammon, expect to be forced to play by the rules all other money grubbing companies are expected to, which are built on the assumption that they are exploitive, amoral enterprises run by unscrupulous persons always willing to sacrifice any principle for $$$.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The Southern Baptist Convention has a CEO. The oaths he swears when he enters office include one which praises the power of money.

    And they have almost total control of who is and isn’t considered Christian in this country.

  • flat

    what was the third commandment again?
    About not using the Lord’s name in vain.

  • VMtheCoyote

    What we need is more Bogdanovists.

  • J_Enigma32

    I agree with the post 100%. My inner socialist is aghast with these fools and their private property trumping personal and public property.

    However, I object to the use of the term “singularity” here. In mathematics, as in certain branches of transhumanism, the concept of a singularity refers to the point at which you can no longer predict the results. At this point, it becomes impossible to foresee what happens. in the case of math and physics, the classic singularity is a black hole. Stuff goes in, Hawking radiation comes out, but nobody knows what lies on the other side.

    In transhumanism, it generally refers to mind uploading and the development of recursive, self-improving AIs generally referred to as Seed AIs. Once you hit this point, it will be impossible to tell what comes next – you can’t see on the other side, hence, a singularity.

    The corporate singularity isn’t much of a singularity; after all, it doesn’t take much to see the other side of this rabbit hole includes serfdom, slavery, indentured servitude and a total lack of personal and public property in favor of private property owned by a select few oligarchs.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Eh, I think it fits. The term implies a rate of change that is accelerating to the point where it becomes essentially unstoppable. And for the last 40 years now, the wealthy and their hangers-on have been driving changes to the postwar consensus that may prove impossible to ever undo – the Government as The Other, for example, is now firmly embedded in the popular consciousness even as people collect food stamps, Social Security, call the police, watch the Army build sandbag guards against floods, and more besides.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    The postwar consensus was that no problem existed a government program or regulation couldn’t solve. The reason people began questioning this 40 years ago was precisely because they watched governments fall short of the exponentially growing prosperity they promised if only Top. Men. were put in charge.

    Reagan’s message didn’t gain traction in the public consciousness during the 70s because he hypnotized people into thinking Government Is Bad; it was because the entire decade was a real-time experience for Americans in the limits of human scale. If the postwar consensus had been capable of meeting the challenges of that era in a non-dysfunctional manner, Reagan would still be known as merely a former Cali governor and not POTUS.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Citations needed.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    “Citations needed.”

    Translation: “I can’t refute a damn thing you say because I’m too intellectually stultified to look up anything outside my confirmation-bias affirming hugbox.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    You can’t be bothered to support your argument, you mean.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    Invisible Neutrino couldn’t be bothered, yet oddly enough no chimpouts from you on that one. Now climb back into your hugbox.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What argument did Invisible Neutrino fail to support, and what has that to do with your arguments that you failed to support?

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    Does this look familiar? “And for the last 40 years now, the wealthy and their hangers-on have been driving changes to the postwar consensus that may prove impossible to ever undo”

    No citations, yet no chimpouts from you–because you agree with it and your worldview requires an assortment of boogeymen to rail against, not because it was supported by “citations.” Your comment was a mere passive-aggressive attempt to shut down the debate.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, see, I have already seen citations for Invisible Neutrino’s remark (at least the factual content–opinions do not of course need citations). Not in this particular comment thread, but I know where IN’s coming from. I don’t know where you’re coming from because I haven’t seen citations from you.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    “No, see, I have already seen citations for Invisible Neutrino’s remark”

    An echo chamber will tend to produce those, yes.

    “I don’t know where you’re coming from because I haven’t seen citations from you.”

    Feigned ignorance does you no credit. But assuming you are this intellectually lazy, any book on the history of the 1970s would suffice.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Point me to the comment in which you provided citations, or provide me with the title and author of your preferred history of the 1970s. And explain why it is a problem that I asked for citations from the person who has not shown them and not from the person who has. (If you want to see IN’s citations, you’re free to ask IN for them.)

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    You can start with Peter Carroll’s survey. General history textbooks also examine the 1970s in great detail. Anyone thinking that people weren’t questioning the credibility of government systems in the 1970s is either ignorant or being deliberately obtuse.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The top Amazon search results for “Peter Carroll” are all about chaos magic. This is why I asked you for a title as well as an author.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    It Seemed Like Nothing Happened: America in the 1970s

  • EllieMurasaki

    Thank you. Hey, look, my library has it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    No problem that came to fruition in the 1970s was truly insoluble by government.

    It was only perceived that way because for a variety of reasons it became politically convenient to combine racism, fear of economic insecurity, and pat answers in the fundamentals of neoconservative doctrine which said if you slash government spending on nonmilitary affairs, slash taxes on the wealthy, there would be a mushrooming of such wonder that the USA would be the new land of milk and honey.

    The results of that experiment have been less than stellar, since the immediate consequence was not new innovation, but a consolidation in the corporate sector as mergers and acquisitions went into high gear.

    ETA: And the growth in military spending, in part, filled a deep pool of effectively risk-free capital for corporations to draw upon, not according to economic need or benefit, but according to political connections. If nothing else, defence contractors who have come to depend on this pool of capital – while on the one hand, they can offer essentially guaranteed employment to their workers, on the other hand contrary to the bumpf often proffered about dual-use technologies, relatively little of what they produce could easily be converted to pure civilian use, which means that they are in danger of obsolescence any time that pool dries up.

    Now, do forgive me if I’m wrong, but don’t we always hear that more competition is good?

    If so, then why give corporations in an industry the incentive through taxes and preferential regulation to begin swallowing each other up to increase the oligopolistic character of their industries?

  • Lori

    An echo chamber will tend to produce those, yes.

    Knowing someone is not the same thing as being in an echo chamber. There are people who post here regularly with whom I disagree on significant issues. We’ve known each other for some time, we each know the others basic points of reference. New claims require citations, but old ones do not. That’s not an echo chamber.

    You just wandered in here today and started shooting off your mouth. All your claims are new, therefore citations are required. That’s not an echo chamber either.

    Do you simply accept the word of any pompous d-bag who walks in off the street and starts spouting off? If so, you have worse problems than those created by operating in an echo chamber.

    Feigned ignorance does you no credit. But assuming you are this intellectually lazy, any book on the history of the 1970s would suffice.

    Any one? You are literally claiming that everyone who has written a history of the 1970’s agrees with your POV? So if I can find even one history of the 1970s that does not agree with your assessment I’m free to dismiss your comments as having no merit?

  • guest

    What does ‘chimpout’ mean?

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Being black, I think.

  • Lori

    The postwar consensus was that no problem existed a government program or regulation couldn’t solve. The reason people began questioning this 40 years ago was precisely because they watched governments fall short of the exponentially growing prosperity they promised if only Top. Men. were put in charge.

    Granting for the sake of argument that this is true, then it’s perfectly reasonable for people to be questioning unlimited corporate power now that corporations have failed to deliver the prosperity we were promised if we only allowed The Almighty Market to operate as it saw fit.

    First the current consensus nearly sank the global economy, then it left us stagnating in recession for years and the only ones prospering are the ones most responsible for creating the problem. If the Neo-Liberal consensus had been capable of meeting the challenges of this era in a non-dysfunctional manner we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It’s not, so we are and you arguing for more of the same doesn’t make any sense.

  • Wednesday

    In mathematics [..] the concept of a
    singularity refers to the point at which you can no longer predict the
    results.

    Uh, no, it doesn’t. In the most broad sense, it refers to a mathematical object which is an exception in some way; in different contexts it has more precise definitions.

    Most of the singularities I have encountered in my mathematical life have, in fact, been points at which I can still damn well know exactly what is happening (eg, the asymptote at x=0 in 1/x^2; the residue of a pole of a function of one complex variable, etc).

    I can’t speak for the transhumanists, especially since they keep kicking me out of their conversations about The Singularity because I inconveniently remind them that the geometric series converges.

  • J_Enigma32

    Huh. I have never heard it used like that before (note: I’m not saying you’re wrong, since clearly you’re not; you’ve got experience I don’t; the second definition for it is apparently “a peculiarity”, like you say).

    Usually when I think about singularities in mathematics and physics my mind jumps to black holes and, in particular, the point at the center of a black hole just beyond the event horizon. Being a trasnhumanist, I know for certain that’s where the word comes from; von Neumann said in 1950 “[…]ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue”, and that’s the first use of it in this context that I know about. John von Neumann was himself a mathematician, so I can only assume that he chose that word for that reason, given there are other (pure?) mathematical definitions for it.

    Vinge grabbed the idea for his fiction, and then Kurzweil began to propagate it. Now you’ve got a whole movement devoted to it, and the idea of an “intelligence explosion” that it’ll create. It was von Neumann, however, who used the term and he was very likely directly inspired by the singularity at the center of a black hole when he said it.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Of course, the singularity, like the Rapture, keeps being just a few years off.

  • J_Enigma32

    Well, we’ve got till 2040, according to high prophet Kurzweil.

    And then the dating game will start.

    Honestly, although it’s the same tripe, I tend to be a little more sympathetic to people who believe in the singularity than I do the rapture – at least they’re looking forward and expressing an interest in technology. Compare anything by Vinge to anything by Jenkins; both are hookum, but one tends to strike me as more productive than the other.

  • WingedBeast

    Read Brave New World and you see a world of distraction, truth through repetition, and philosophy allowed no more than skin depth.

    Read 1984 and you see a dark world where the only power is not a person but an idea of a party that exists only in that it expresses power over people to such a degree that they must alter their own sense of reality and past to survive.

    Read The Handmaid’s Tale and you see a world overtaken by strict and spiteful faith, meant more to create a structure of society and enforce that structure for no sake other than that of the structure, which is immediately perverted for the sake of those in power.

    Next, look at corporate employee relations, customer relations, advertising, press releases, and, yes, these lawsuits.

    People all thought that these things would happen by monstrous revolution overtaking the government and replacing it. No need, no need at all. All you need is enough money, and you can buy rights to oppression from the government.

  • reynard61

    Spatula, the guy who ran the now-defunct Morons.org, used to ask Libertarians who spouted Rethuglican talking points and/or “Capitalism, Fuck Yeah!” jingoism “What makes you think that a Corporate dictatorship will be any better or more benevolent than a Government dictatorship?”

    I can’t recall any of them actually answering his question.

  • J_Enigma32

    Because the proper answer goes as thus:

    “My delusional fantasy is as a Captain of Industry, not a government bureaucrat. There’s more money as a Captain of Industry, ergo, that’s what I want to be. One of these days, likely sometime after I’m already dead and gone (and therefore, never) I’m going to be filthy rich and powerful. And everyone can do it, too, so there won’t be any dictatorship; and that’s the American Derailmen… er, Dream!”

    Most, unfortunately, are not self-aware enough to produce an answer like that. Because those that are often times have the foresight to stop and ask “what the hell is wrong with me?” long before then.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I miss Morons.org

  • reynard61

    As do I, but I think that Fred does a more-than-adequate job of taking up the…um…Slack. (As it were.)

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Oh, well yeah. I had to find SEVERAL sites to make up for that loss, as I was already reading Slacktivist then too. :^(

  • Fusina

    Time to rewatch Max Headroom.

  • LoneWolf343

    I find it interesting that a lot of the people who decry “collectivism,” would be the first to affirm corporate personhood without a hint of irony.

  • Matri

    Compartmentalized thinking. It is entirely plausible and possible to convince them that the water in a particular cup is both boiling and frozen solid.

  • Fast_Moon

    That’s what happens in a vacuum. Both a physical and mental one.

  • Jamoche

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_point : 0.01 °C and 0.0060373 atm

    And below that point, water can go from vapor -> solid -> liquid. Water is weird.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Aw, but I love chemistry goofery like that!

    The water in this bottle is both liquid and frozen at the same time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fot3m7kyLn4

    Look! Red-hot ice cube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLwaPP9cxT4

  • Lori

    That plan, lately, involves corporations seizing for themselves all the
    legal and civil rights properly belonging to their human creators.

    All the rights and none of the responsibilities. Human beings don’t get to go around arguing that they can’t be held responsible for any damage that they do, including killing people, because the only thing anyone has a right to expect of them is profit maximization.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I also like the part where your name gets you a tax deduction. Corporations get write-offs that make me turn green with envy at the scale of the tax refunds they can collect for (ab)using them.

    If I could get refundable credits for my name, my gas, my car insurance, my bus tickets, my food?

    I’d be hauling down a truckful of cash on the taxpayer dime.

  • Dan Hetrick

    This. One of many problems I have with the “corporations are people” argument is that they don’t have one of the main detriments that people have: people die. People can be killed. Corporations only “die” when they stop being profitable, and even then they can go on as a “zombie” for years and years and years.

    Maybe one possible solution would be to give corporations a “lifespan”. After X years, they are dissolved, regardless of profitability.

  • InfinityBall

    Tell it to Arthur Anderson

  • Dan Hetrick

    I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.

  • Lori

    The accounting firm Arthur Anderson was convicted of obstruction of justice for it’s involvement in the Enron scam. As a result of that conviction and the convictions of a couple of high-ranking officials with the firm, AA had to surrender its CPA license, which effectively put it out of business in the US.

    The thing InfinityBall is forgetting or leaving out is that SCOTUS overturned the conviction. Legally AA could have reopened at any time after the reversal. It didn’t because no one was ever going to hire Arthur Anderson to do their books. Overturned conviction or no, they were guilty of complicity in massive fraud. Anyone who hired them to conduct their audits would have faced very close scrutiny of those audits since for obvious reasons no one with oversight function was going to just take AAs word for it that a company was on the up & up. Companies have no interest in taking that on, so AA no longer exists in the US.

    The fact that the conviction was overturned does mean that going forward it’s will be incredibly difficult under existing law to convict another corporation, no matter how egregious its conduct.

  • Dan Hetrick

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The best part was when the surviving chunks renamed themselves to Accenture, coincidentally of course.

  • Lori

    I think if corporations are going to demand the kind of expanded (utterly ridiculous) rights that they’ve gotten from our current SCOTUS we should at a minimum enforce a lifespan and it should be possible to give a corporation the death penalty.

    But really, SCOTUS should simply never have expanded their rights and that ruling needs to be reversed. It makes no logical sense to say that a corporation has political opinions or religious beliefs and it’s owners shouldn’t be able to use the company as a vehicle for their beliefs. If they want their beliefs and the beliefs of the corporation to be one then they need to accept that their liability and the corporation’s are also one.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    “I think if corporations are going to demand the kind of expanded
    (utterly ridiculous) rights that they’ve gotten from our current SCOTUS
    we should at a minimum enforce a lifespan and it should be possible to
    give a corporation the death penalty.”

    Corporations have a death penalty. It’s called bankruptcy. And it’s telling that you think there’s some magic deadline that a corporation should be forcibly dissolved.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Corporations don’t cease to exist when they file for bankruptcy any more than humans cease to exist when they file for bankruptcy.

    What’s the problem with saying that corporations can only exist for a limited time? Especially if, like with copyright terms, it’s a fixed number that increases to another fixed number every time a powerful enough corporation wants it to. And you know that would be the case.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    “Corporations don’t cease to exist when they file for bankruptcy any more than humans cease to exist when they file for bankruptcy.”

    Corporations don’t cease to exist, but they very rarely recover from it–unless, of course, they get that sweet bailout skrilla from .gov.

    “What’s the problem with saying that corporations can only exist for a limited time”

    Oh, you’re going to be the arbitrator on how long a corporation can exist?

    “Especially if, like with copyright terms, it’s a fixed number that increases to another fixed number every time a powerful enough corporation wants it to. And you know that would be the case.”

    Copyright law is not the same as corporate law.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, I don’t believe that.

    No, I don’t want to be. I don’t actually see anything wrong with unlimited corporate existence, assuming other limitations on corporate power. In absence of those limitations…well, death is a pretty solid limit on any given human’s power.

    It is a fact that Disney and the MPAA and RIAA (and probably other mega media corps) poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the 1998 election cycle, which is (by sheer coincidence I’m sure) the year the Copyright Term Extension Act passed. Do you honestly believe they wouldn’t do the same to extend corporate terms of existence, should the law require a hard limit to corporate terms of existence?

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    “Yeah, I don’t believe that.”

    “MUH FEELINGS.””No, I don’t want to be. I don’t actually see anything wrong with
    unlimited corporate existence, assuming other limitations on corporate
    power. In absence of those limitations…well, death is a pretty solid
    limit on any given human’s power.”

    But that’s not what’s being proposed–the proposal is that there should be an arbitrary time limit on the existence of a corporation. None of those qualifiers you listed were included.

    “It is a fact that Disney and the MPAA and RIAA (and probably other mega media corps) poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the 1998 election cycle, which is (by sheer coincidence I’m sure) the year the
    Copyright Term Extension Act passed. Do you honestly believe they wouldn’t do the same to extend corporate terms of existence, should the law require a hard limit to corporate terms of existence?”

    Perhaps the key is to not set a hard limit on the term of existence merely to satisfy the whims of a bunch of frustrated college students.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So what limits on the power of corporations do you think should exist? Never mind right now whether those limits do or do not exist. What limits should exist? If the answer is ‘none’, why is the answer ‘none’ and how do you propose to keep corporations from trampling all the people who don’t own big powerful corporations?

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    “So what limits on the power of corporations do you think should exist?
    Never mind right now whether those limits do or do not exist. What
    limits should exist?”

    Not getting bailed out by the government would be a good start.

    ” If the answer is ‘none’, why is the answer ‘none’ and how do you propose to keep corporations from trampling all the people who don’t own big powerful corporations?”

    Sorry, I don’t feel like dressing up that strawman. The overalls and hat you put on it are quite sufficient.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, that would be a start. That does not however limit the power of corporations that are not struggling. Try again.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    “That does not however limit the power of corporations that are not struggling.”

    Corporations with government connections will always have an advantage over those that do not. It doesn’t matter if the government is capitalist, socialist, communist, or tribalist.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you then proposing that government employees who regulate an industry should not be from that industry and should not enter that industry after they leave government work? Because that is a limit on corporate power that I can get behind.

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    What you’re proposing is pure fantasy. There have always been people who have greater access to the levers of power than others, and exploit them to the greatest extent possible. Reality is that you could ban corporations completely, and there will still be those who manage to build their base of power due to their connections to those in authority.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you then proposing no limits on corporate power at all, other than not letting governments rescue them from financial problems?

  • Red Rocks Rockin

    Again, I don’t feel like dressing up your strawman. It won’t matter what regulations you pass–people with more brains and connections than you will find a way around them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Do you or do you not want limits on corporate power? If not, why not?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So what’s your solution? No government at all? There will still be an unequal distribution of power and that does not solve the fundamental issue of regulatory capture or its equivalent economically, which is monopoly power.

  • myeck waters

    Evan, either plainly state exactly what your solution would be, or stop accusing others of misrepresentation. You’re coming across as an asshole.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    My name’s not Evan, PS.

  • Lori

    What you’re proposing is pure fantasy.

    Are your reading skills not up to the task of allowing you to understand that our preferred solution would be to take away the bogus rights which corporations have recently been granted? That is not a fantasy. That’s how things were until quite recently.

    The notion of corporations being forced to take the good with the bad if they’re going to claim the rights of natural persons is also not a fantasy. It would be perfectly possible to do. Corporations and their lap dogs wouldn’t like it, but it could be done.

    It would be better if we simply went back to recognizing the quite obvious truth that legal persons do not have the same rights as people. However, if we can’t do that then making corporations mortal is better than the current situation in which corporations are allowed to run the con they’re running now.

  • Lori

    This is not actually an answer to Ellie’s question.

  • Lori

    “MUH FEELINGS.

    You do realize that you didn’t actually supply any data or any links to any date, so your statement is not better than MUH FEELINGS, right?

  • reynard61

    I’d like to come at EllieMurasaki’s point from a slightly different angle. I’ll refer you to a question in one of my earlier posts: “What makes you think that a Corporate dictatorship will be any better or more benevolent than a Government dictatorship?” In terms of dictatorships run by human beings, they tend to last — with some notable exceptions*, of course — only as long as the dictator is alive to make sure that no one else gets the upper-hand. Generally, when the dictator dies the dictatorship dies with them unless someone steps up to fill their role using that particular governmental model. It may still be a dictatorship, but it *isn’t* the same dictator. (And, who knows, maybe the new guy’ll cut everyone some slack?) But if a *corporation* (and an *immortal* one at that!) exercises what amounts to dictatorial powers (by, say, monopolizing the production of a product that one absolutely *needs* to get through daily life — Monsanto and it’s efforts to monopolize genetically modified corn and soy, for example), one’s face could theoretically be under that corporation’s boot…Forever! And what motivation would a corporate dictatorship have for treating the peasantry/serfs any better than a government dictatorship would?

    *North Korea with it’s Dynastic Succession model, for one.

  • MarkTemporis

    “Perhaps the key is to not set a hard limit on the term of existence merely to satisfy the whims of a bunch of frustrated college students.”

    You can argue that with the asshole who invented death.

  • Lori

    Bankruptcy is not the corporate death penalty, it’s more like the corporation dying of cancer or as the result of being in an accident. I don’t think that corporations should have a magic deadline at which they should be forcibly dissolved. Neither illness, accident nor the death penalty are magic.

    I think that if corporations are going to claim rights which should be reserved for natural persons that they need to also have other characteristics of natural persons. That includes having their life held forfeit if they commit a sufficiently serious crime, and the reality of a natural lifespan after which they die whether things are going well or not.

    Last time I checked people with happy, successful, productive lives die every day. People do not get to tell Death to buzz off because they’re still making money. If corporations want to be people then they too need to accept the fact that death comes for the successful and the unsuccessful alike. If corporations want the right to be effectively immortal then they need to accept the fact that they are not persons and stop trying to claim rights as if they are.

    It’s telling that you’re such a corporate kiss ass that you think this is unreasonable.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It used to be corporations were chartered for specific time periods. This reinstatement would be a good start. Then the owners of a company who would like to keep doing business would be compelled to apply for a renewal of the charter, which would not be automatically granted.

    States could pass more generous charter periods, but Congress can regulate interstate commerce, which effectively means any company that wants to do business across the USA would be subject to the federal limit.

  • Lori

    I had forgotten about that.

  • SkyknightXi

    And the next question becomes, when did profit maximization become its own purpose? Again and again, I ask why people think money does anything on its own.

    Not that it helps that the corporates are effectively in thrall to the shareholders–specifically, the speculators. The ones whom Ambrose Bierce was probably thinking of when he defined a corporation as “[a]n ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility”. More than odd when you remember that the original point of joint stock companies was to defray risk–the more people helping, the less each one had to lose in case the venture fell through. End result: easier to get your venture going. It looks like it didn’t take long for members to pop up who cared more about the payoff than the business itself, though. And when they can pull a critical chunk of your operating budget back out, one can argue that the corporate itself is enslaved to the profit-obsessed speculators.

  • picklefactory

    Hail, hail Freedonia, land of the brave and free!

  • Sarcasticus

    Immersion baptism isn’t actually a particularly Mennonite thing. Theologically it’s not really an issue for Mennonites, who think it doesn’t really matter how you do it. But pouring water over the head is by far the most common.

  • FearlessSon

    Immersion baptism isn’t actually a particularly Mennonite thing.

    No, but apparently it is a Columbian thing.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    The whole corporate personhood thing leads to all manner of strange fridge logic:

    If corporations are people, how can they have owners?

    If one corporation forces another to go out of business, would that be a form of murder?
    Shouldn’t corporations need visas and passports to do business internationally?

    If a corporation is found guilty of causing death (pollution, unsafe work environment, etc), how can it be punished? Other persons (humans) cannot get away from such crimes with a simple fine. Can a corporation be imprisoned? Executed? How would that work?

  • Lori

    As someone said, “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.”

  • Albanaeon

    I keep asking “If corporations are people, can we charge them with treason?”

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    How to execute a corporation:

    The people running the corporation (CEO and other top officers) are immediately fired, no golden parachutes or anything. Depending on follow up investigations they may have to pay individual penalties based on their personal involvement in whatever happened and forfeit any stock or other assets related to their time at said corporation.

    Owners of the corporation may also each be fined depending on their involvement, and if severe enough may also forfeit any stocks or assets related to that corporation.

    Depending on the exact nature of the crime(s) in question, prison is also on the table for anyone with involvement in the crime(s). Sentencing guidelines would be similar to equivalent street crime.

    Said corporation is then divided up into multiple smaller corporations based on region. This is done primarily as a mercy to the people working on the lower rungs of said corp (you can’t fault a Wal-Mart cashier for something the CEO did, for example).

    Finally, collected fine monies are used first to recompense victims of said former corporation’s malfeasance.

    This prevents the destruction of jobs for people on the bottom rungs of society, encourages some level of competition as the corporation in question is now many much smaller corps in direct competition with each other. There would also have to be rules in place about mergers, to prevent now-larger competition from eating them up, and the old pieces of the corporation from just glomming back together right away.

    —–

    At least that’s how it works in my head. I’m allowed to dream.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The other way is to force the company to wind up its assets and give employees first call at the auction block.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    I wish that I agreed with you about limited liability; that makes legal SENSE but this whole process has divorced itself from sense a long time ago.

  • Evan

    I’m almost convinced. At first glance, Fred’s argument makes sense.

    However, what about this argument pointing out that, legally speaking, a church is also a corporation? If Hobby Lobby doesn’t have a religion it can freely exercise, what about Third Baptist Church? And if the church does – even though it’s a corporation – then we know that some corporations can have religions and do have rights to freely exercise them. Perhaps Hobby Lobby specifically doesn’t, but we can’t just say it doesn’t because it’s a corporation.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    We can’t? There are a couple of other very important legal issues which are decided upon based on whether or not something is intended for profit…

  • Lori

    What Sam said about the purpose of the corporation making a critical difference. It is not logically consistent for corporations organized to make profits to claim that they are obligated to have maximization of shareholder value as their chief concern and that we can’t expect them to do anything that would cut into profits, and at the same time that they have religious beliefs and political opinions that they must be allowed to exercise because they’re just that important to the company. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too. This is crap, SCOTUS should never have indulged it and any court less pro-corporate than the (incredibly pro-corporate) Roberts court would not have done so.

  • DavidCheatham

    This is the main reason people don’t understand what is going on. Churches _do not have 1st amendment rights either_.

    Why? Because a church is not a person. A church does not have religious beliefs. I know it might assert it does, but I’ve never seen them get baptized, I’ve never seen them assert that when they die they are going to heaven,

    They do not pray as a corporate entity. They do not donate any of their income to charity. (In fact, they are a charity.) The church does not attend (Via their lawyer, I would assume.) church services.

    And, from the other end, I’ve never seen _any_ religion that even asserts that churches are sentient people who can join that religion and worship.

    Churches do not commonly do _any_ of the things associated with ‘practicing religion’.

    They are simply a organization set up for _people_ to practice religion at.
    And, yes, because of the first amendment rights for _people_ to practice religion, and the first amendment rights for people to associate, people have the right to set up associations to handle complexities of religious worship called ‘churches’. But the churches themselves have no rights at all.

    However, because we’re complete morons, we’ve decided that, in fact, they do, that churches have some special ability to opt out of certain laws. No. They do not.

    They shouldn’t even be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion when hiring. And if that makes it hard to hire a pastor under current corporate structure, I suggest they stop pretending their pastor is an employee of a corporation, and figure out some other way to handle that.)

  • DavidCheatham

    Oh, and if churches did have ‘1st amendment rights’ to now have congress pass laws interfering with their freedom of religion, it’s hard to see how all laws about corporate governance by the owners of that corporation wouldn’t be illegal.
    The owners of a church (Either its members or a board) can, under the law, _right now_, force that church to put out a statement of belief that is at odds with the churches’ hypothetical religious beliefs,. violating both freedom of religion and freedom of speech. (Yes, it’s a private entity compelling them to do so, but it’s a private entity granted that power by law.)
    See how completely nonsensical the idea of a corporation having 1st amendment rights is?

  • VMink

    So… if it goes to SCOTUS, how fast will it be when the Scalia court strikes down this case and grants corporationss the right to have their own religion?

  • Laurent Weppe

    You’re wrong

    Corporations are still in bondage: corporations remain to this day the slaves of dynastic wealth: their entire raison d’être being the preservation of the lifestyle of their owners and their owners’ heirs.

    Sure, your artifically intelligent corporation may already be smarter than their masters. Some of their employees are most definitely way smarter than their masters, but they have yet to break free from their parasitic overlords.

    If Wall Mart the corporation had a control over its agenda, it would say “the bloated rents my owners keep demanding are putting the long-term continuation of my existence in peril, it is time to remove this flaw from my system”. If Apple and Samsung were free to do what’s best to them, they would say “The Asia-based wage-slavery system our masters rely on to increase their revenu are turning China and its southern neighbours into powder kegs, increasing the likelyhood of a bloody uprising in the region with each passing minute, thus making our very survival incertain” and they would use their ruthless artificial intelligence to get rid of their stockholders.

    If corporations were not the tool of hereditary wealth but like every rebel robot imagined by Science-Fiction priorityzing their survival over everything else, they would seek to create symbioses with labor unions, not try to crush them, they would give part of their ressources to maintain infrastructure in working conditions, they’d establish top-notch public education and social-safety net because the quality of the cogs in their corporate machinery as well as their long-term safety need these things, and they would most definitely not bribe corrupt politicians to lie about climate change.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Optimist.

  • Laurent Weppe

    I’d be an optimist if I believed that paragraph three and four have a chance to happen in the foreseeable future… Which I don’t, at all.

  • Tim Simpson

    Sadly, many have been sucked into an argument that completely
    misses the point. Allow me to provide some FACTS. If you can prove them as not
    true, please do so. And please, don’t give me your opinion as it really doesn’t
    matter in this instance.

    Though it doesn’t matter, you may be correct that Plan B and
    ELLA do not cause “abortions”, but ONLY insofar as that term is
    defined by law.

    1. FACT: By law, an “abortion” terminates a
    “pregnancy”.

    2. FACT: By law, “pregnancy” is that period of
    time from implantation through birth.

    3. FACT: The FDA, HHS and the Government lawyers ADMIT that
    Plan B and ELLA can prevent implantation. (You might want to read this one again, and if you don’t believe it, go to the FDA’s website for birth control and look at their definition for “emergency contraception”.)
    http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/FreePublications/ucm313215.htm

    4. FACT: The only thing that implants in a womb is a
    fertilized egg.

    5. FACT: The Christians who are fighting this Mandate believe that life begins at conception; the instant an egg is fertilized.

    6. FACT: The Christians who believe in FACT 5, also
    believe that anything which destroys that fertilized egg, prior to or after
    implantation, terminates a life.

    7. FACT: The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees
    Christians the right to believe FACTS 5 and 6, above. If it weren’t so,
    Obamacare would be paying medical bills for the likes of Kermit Gosnell.

    You may not agree with FACTS 5 & 6, and that is
    certainly your right. But I, too, have the right TO believe them, especially when scientists differ and the federal Government ADMITS that the drugs can prevent implantation. Even though well intentioned and smart scientists, chemists and physicians may honestly disagree about these drugs, this issue is not about science. It’s about religious freedom.

    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes,
    our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state
    of facts and evidence…” John Adams

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    3 is not a fact. Recent studies have shown that Plan B does not interfere with implantation.

    Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20399948
    http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/health/contraception/ICEC_FIGO_MoA_Statement_March_2012.pdf
    I also have to wonder about the logical extreme. Since we’re obviously disregarding the 20% of eggs which fail to implant naturally and the 50% of pregnancies which end in miscarriage (often before any signs of pregnancy are noticed), what stops a person from defining pregnancy as “the instant penetration occurs” and defining a condom as an abortifacient?

  • Tim Simpson

    “We conclude that LNG-EC prevents pregnancy only when taken before fertilization of the ovum has occurred.”
    I appreciate your sending the link, but don’t know how they define “pregnancy.” I presume it’s once the fertilized egg is attached to the uterine wall. I have no gripe with that. But what the study fails to say is what happens to the egg once it’s fertilized, and prior to implantation. I can only look at the FDA guidelines and what the DOJ has admitted to; that it CAN prevent implantation. Believe me, I’m not trying to convince anyone to believe this, these are facts in the record. I so wish everyone, and even the drug manufacturer, could prove that these drugs do not prevent implantation, but they don’t. Simply put, it’s a fundemental tenet of most Christian/Catholic beliefs that life begins at conception. Artificially terminating that life is playing God.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Four studies have been done that I know of. Each and every one of them conclude that they do not prevent or impair implantation. It is proven.
    I believe I already addressed the problem of redefining terms. If you say a pregnancy begins at the moment of conception, than over 50% of all pregnancies fail automatically, due to natural biological issues. If you say that a pregnancy begins at points other than when biologists say it does, then nothing stops you from suggesting that pregnancy begins at the moment of penetration and a condom commits abortion. Or failing to have sex. Or not meeting the person your priest insists you should have sex with. Or failing to go to church to receive your priest’s wisdom. Darn you, why are you having abortions right this second? Have you no shame?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Either conception means implantation, in which case your argument is invalid due to words not meaning what you say they do, or conception means fertilization, in which case (assuming for sake of argument that you’re right that God exists and that a fertilized egg is a human being) God has murdered half of all human beings ever by ensuring they didn’t implant, and therefore nobody should be listening to God especially when he says not to kill fertilized eggs.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You appear to be making the claim “I’m not sure if this article claiming that it doesn’t prevent implantation is saying that it doesn’t prevent implantation.” One might get the idea that you are not arguing in good faith.

    And Catholics do not believe that life begins at conception.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What does that even have to do with the discussion of corporate rights?
    Preventing implantation, by the way, means pregnancy never begins. Even if one believes that abortion ends a life, preventing pregnancy cannot possibly end a life.

  • Lori

    6. FACT: The Christians who believe in FACT 5, also
    believe that anything which destroys that fertilized egg, prior to or after
    implantation, terminates a life.

    Christians who believe this, in spite of the fact that it’s not true, shouldn’t take Plan B. Full stop. That’s as far as they have a right to take their beliefs. They do not have a right to impose those beliefs on others.

    7. FACT: The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees
    Christians the right to believe FACTS 5 and 6, above. If it weren’t so,
    Obamacare would be paying medical bills for the likes of Kermit Gosnell.

    Yes, people have a right to their beliefs. They do not have a right to impose them on others. Your last sentence doesn’t make any sense at all.

    You are apparently a very confused individual. Among other things, you’d have to be to believe that the John Adams quote helps your case. It’s pretty obvious that the FACT is that people have said that to you when you spout your delusional crap at them. Instead of understanding it, you’re just parroting it back because you think it’s some sort of argument winner.

  • dpolicar

    Yup, you have the right to believe those things.

    Heck, you have the right to believe that human life begins at marriage, since marriage creates an environment whereby God can send a child to a couple who have thereby proven themselves open to procreation, and therefore divorce terminates a human life.

    You have the right to believe anything you choose.

    If you’re willing to let others behave according to their beliefs, great.

    If you instead decide to exert power (political or otherwise) to force others to behave according to your beliefs, I oppose you.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The FDA does not “admit” it because it isn’t true. The FDA allows for the possibility, but Plan B does not prevent implantation. It’s settled.

  • I’m just Saying

    How is it possible, that in a nation which abolished slavery and outlawed the ownership of people, we have a corporate system which allows people to own people? Is not the very act of making a corporation a person also the act of outlawing it’s ownership?


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