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Very good discussion on corporate speech

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  • Very good discussion on corporate speech

    As some of you may know, the Supreme Court is resuming casework early this week in order to pick up a case on campaign finance and corporate speech that was (somewhat surprisingly) held over from the last session. This is a pandora's box of a case, and one in which the outcome has the potential to significantly alter corporate political speech in American democracy.

    On Sept. 4 Bill Moyers had what I though was an excellent discussion on this case with two individuals who are involved with it. On the one hand (from Abram's view) this is broadly a free speech case, and corporations should not be barred from engaging in free speech whether it is political or not. On the other (Potter's view), corporations are in fact "creatures of the state" who not only have a very different and limited interest (pure profit) and tremendous amount of power (money) when compared to the average citizen of the democracy. How do these come to bear in discussions involving political speech when put into action (as in the case with this 'Hillary' movie, which was a political hate piece and is the center of this case). Should corporations really be considered to have all the constitutional rights of an individual (free speech), or only the economic rights under law?

    The video and transcript can be found here:
    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/09042009/profile.html

  • #2
    Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

    Is it just me or did the sandbox used to take stuff like this on? Oh well.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

      It's an intriguing topic but one I have no solid opinion for.
      sigpic




      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

        The idea that corporations are individuals with the same rights is a horrible idea and has created all kinds of problems.

        A corporation is a state created thing, it is an entity based upon laws. Having a state created entity compete with true individuals can't do anything except distort the state and it's focus.
        Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
        - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
        - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
        - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
        - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
        - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
        - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

          Well the whole argument is whether the 1st amendment protects only the individual or a group of individuals such as a corporation. But corporations are for-profit entities chartered by the goverment, and their sole intention is to make money. I would say that they should not recieve the same rights as the normal citizen as far as the 1st amendment is concerned.

          One thing that people never talk about is the fact that capitalism and ethics are not synonymous. I support the free market, but some restrictions must be put forth to control the amount of influence that corporations have in the election and legislative process. This is a tough issue to get a handle on. On the one hand I'm for goverment staying out of both business and personal matters. But, If you give the corporations carte blanche in regards to the way they wield their power financially into goverment matters, it will only lead to even further corruption. I guess I would be in favor for leaving the law the way it is for now.
          Last edited by mp40x; 09-09-2009, 08:48 PM.
          |TG-X| mp40x



          Register for the Forums! | Get on Teamspeak! | Play Squad! | Join Discord! | Support Tactical Gamer!

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          • #6
            Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

            In the US currently corporations get the same rights as individuals (property ownership, copyright, etc) with none of the penalties for it's employees (the company can be sued but employees aren't jailed for the actions of a company). A company also doesn't ever have to pay an estate tax since it doesn't have to die, among other benefits.

            Corporations don't deserve most of the rights they have, and shouldn't have anything listed in the bill of rights such as free speech (among others). The individuals of a company should have a right to be safe in their possessions for example, but a company should not. Individuals should have the right to free speech (and possibly be held accountable) but the company itself should not but should still be held accountable for the actions of it's employees while they are speaking on behalf of the company. This double standard is because corporations are not individuals, and I have different standards for them because of their increased ability to have influence on the public due to their nature.
            |TG-6th|Snooggums

            Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

              Originally posted by snooggums View Post
              The individuals of a company should have a right to be safe in their possessions for example, but a company should not.
              That's a sort of bizarre statement. That company is owned by individuals -- should those individuals not be safe in their possessions which are invested in the company?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

                Originally posted by Kerostasis View Post
                That's a sort of bizarre statement. That company is owned by individuals -- should those individuals not be safe in their possessions which are invested in the company?
                I think there is a difference between a right and a law. A right cannot be taken away even by a law. Rights supersede laws.

                Good laws would help protect individual investors rights. So a the state might take back from the corporation money it legally earned to protect those rights. Good laws would also protect the corporation from individuals so that the investors have a better chance at recouping their investments.

                But in the end once the individual invests in a corporation they are just making a regulated bet. The individual can invest however they want but the state cannot guarantee the investor will not loose their money, even if the loss comes at the hands of the people.
                Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

                  Originally posted by Kerostasis View Post
                  That's a sort of bizarre statement. That company is owned by individuals -- should those individuals not be safe in their possessions which are invested in the company?
                  In that case a single stock holder should be able to give permission for police to search all of the company if it is an extension of the individual's inherent rights. In addition a company is generally owned by the investors in most cases, so everybody owns part of the company's possessions.

                  Gringo has it right, companies can currently have their assets searched without a warrant, where as an individual would have to have a warrant issued to have their assets searched. This is how companies are treated now for the most part, government regulatory commissions can gain access to company documents without a warrant in most cases. For free speech the limits of that speech should be described in law for a company, the company should not have an inherent right to that speech like an individual.
                  |TG-6th|Snooggums

                  Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

                    How is this right being extended to the corporate entity?

                    The 1st is a restriction on the Federal Government (and through the 14th's extension, a restriction on the States) to not interfere in speech, assembly, association, and religion. (It's not exactly "free speech". It doesn't give everyone a right to the means of speech. You're not entitled to use my press, for example.)

                    A corporation is made up of individuals. Can you restrict what a corporation says without also violating the rights of its owners or board? Were I a stockholder in "Obama for King, LLC", wouldn't any limits placed on OFK be unconstitutional limits on my rights?
                    Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                    snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                    Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

                      Originally posted by ScratchMonkey View Post
                      A corporation is made up of individuals. Can you restrict what a corporation says without also violating the rights of its owners or board? Were I a stockholder in "Obama for King, LLC", wouldn't any limits placed on OFK be unconstitutional limits on my rights?
                      The owners can always say what they want, just like any other individual. And an owner can spend all the money they want (not donate, spend) to support their own campaign. But that money has to be their money, not the corporations.

                      If I understand it the current case is asking if a corporation can spend like an individual. If it gets the same rights.

                      A corporation is different in that many individuals make it up but very few of them have any real say in what happens. It is the board and the CEO and a handful of top level managers that actually make the decisions. If a corporation is allowed individual rights then those top level individuals take over the voice of all the other people that make the corporation work and give it it's power.
                      Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                      - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                      - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                      - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                      - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                      - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                      - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

                        A corporation sounds a lot like a political party. The rank and file have virtually no power over its direction. Should a party be similarly restricted?

                        Corporations tend to be very sensitive to criticism. Just look at how spineless the movie studios and TV networks are, when faced with any kind of objection to "objectionable" material. Do we really need to fear them? Aren't they at the mercy of their customers?

                        Perhaps the issue here is that the corporation is representing its customers' agenda. And those customers, like voters, are often highly ignorant. (In some cases, rationally ignorant.) For example, a tobacco company represents the wrong-headed desires of smokers, most of whom don't care about the ill effects of tobacco, but would love to dump the cost of their own bad decisions on someone else (like their supplier).
                        Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                        snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                        Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

                          Originally posted by ScratchMonkey View Post
                          A corporation is made up of individuals. Can you restrict what a corporation says without also violating the rights of its owners or board? Were I a stockholder in "Obama for King, LLC", wouldn't any limits placed on OFK be unconstitutional limits on my rights?
                          A corporation is a company that is invested in by several people and therefore is not an extension of an individual, but an entity that uses those investments to further business opportunities.

                          Business does not deserve rights. A personal car parked at a business should be treated different than a company car for example. If a business has it's assets seized for debts, the investors don't have their assets seized. If it was an extension of the investors then they should have their assets seized too in that situation.

                          Business functions at the will of law, not because of rights. That's how it should be.
                          |TG-6th|Snooggums

                          Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

                            Originally posted by ScratchMonkey View Post
                            A corporation sounds a lot like a political party. The rank and file have virtually no power over its direction. Should a party be similarly restricted?

                            Corporations tend to be very sensitive to criticism. Just look at how spineless the movie studios and TV networks are, when faced with any kind of objection to "objectionable" material. Do we really need to fear them? Aren't they at the mercy of their customers?

                            Perhaps the issue here is that the corporation is representing its customers' agenda. And those customers, like voters, are often highly ignorant. (In some cases, rationally ignorant.) For example, a tobacco company represents the wrong-headed desires of smokers, most of whom don't care about the ill effects of tobacco, but would love to dump the cost of their own bad decisions on someone else (like their supplier).
                            Political parties are specific companies and should have specific regulation for their purpose, which could allow them political speech that would not also be available to Wal-Mart since Wal-Mart is not a political party.

                            Corporations are mostly for profit, and therefore do serve the will of their customers so a company that caves to pressure from their customers about content are actually following the profit model correctly for most customers (if most customers are opposed). This doesn't have anything to do with the topic.

                            Tobacco lawsuits are based on the tobacco company lying about the health effects of tobacco, which is why only some people get the lawsuits and not everyone that smokes. Of course they are being double penalized since they have to pay the states and individuals although the state cases were supposed to limit private cases. To be honest if the tobacco companies just came out and said hey, "We know our product is bad for you, if you buy it then it is at your own risk" new users shouldn't be able to sue. Just like you shouldn't be able to sue McDonalds for making you fat since they do publish their health information.
                            |TG-6th|Snooggums

                            Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Very good discussion on corporate speech

                              See, here we go. I knew the Sandbox crowd still had it in them to debate a supreme court case.

                              The corporation-as-an-individual debate is a divisive one in and of itself, and plays a role in this case. The fact is, corporations are made up of individuals, and to a certain extent it makes sense that those individuals retain their rights as individuals to act as they wish - under law, of course. The problems come in, at least in my mind, when corporations act as a kind of super-individual and begin to weild an unfair advantage over other individuals - or even other collections of individuals as in the case organized labor. This particular case is only interested in the question of corporate political speech, but there are many other areas in which it could be argued corporate speech is given an unfair advantage. When applied to the logical argument that corporate motivation is of a unified vector - profit - and will speak out against any viewpoint that threatens that motivation, the imbalance between the citizen's individual view and the corporation's individual view becomes quite apparent. Under law, the two are given equal rights yet in society they are clearly imbalanced both in terms of power (money) and motivation (profit vs. fairness).

                              The effects of this unchecked imbalance can be seen in almost any piece of congressional legislation or election where the public interest is matched against the corporate interest - just look at the health care debate and how disfigured it has become as a result of corporate speech.

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