Are Corporations People?

The left wing is all upset over last years Supreme Court case (Citizens United) that ruled corporations were seen as individuals under the eyes of the law. Of course, we have over a century of court precedent that affirms this. What the left is really trying to do is get an edge politically.

Even though the left says they are for free speech, they aren’t. They hate the first amendment. What they want is “their speech”. As long as the soundbites fill the air with their mantra, they are okay. When it’s not their form of speech, look out. The name calling begins.

Instead of listening to the platitudes of each side, it might be better to delve into the data. “Money talks and bullshit walks” as they say. First, one assumption. If every positive ion has a corresponding negative ion in physics, then my assumption carries over to this political debate. The corporation’s negative ion is unions, both public and private.

Those evil corporations have boatloads of cash. The political dialogue from the left assumes that they take all their profits and reinvest them in advertising. However, corporations have to answer to their shareholders. With any stock I owned, I would sell if I saw a large percentage of their profit stream being spent on political advertising. That kind of expenditure would tell me the executives of the company were more worried about who was in office than getting close to their customers and earning a profit. Any company that does that eventually goes out of business.

In 2010, corporations contributed 52% of their money to Republicans, and 48% to Democrats. In 2009, corporations sent 59% of their money to Democrats. Ironically, the corporate PAC I am a member of contributed 51% to Democrats, and 49% to Republicans in 2008. When you total up what corporations are spending per year on politics, it hardly makes a difference in swinging an election. Especially because the spending is so balanced between the two parties. Corporations in general are party agnostic.

The opposite charged ion, unions, are different. First, they don’t have shareholders. They have no one to answer to but their members. Because of the restrictions, it would be very tough for a member to buck the union and still have a job. Virtually impossible. As far as dues and spending, there is no choice for a union member. They can’t sell the union stock and take their profit. Union members are stuck and the spending of dues on political campaigns is centrally planned by a few people.

Further, when given a choice, 95% of union members opt out of paying dues and quit the union. Guess that’s why unions are anti-choice when it comes to economics and freedom.

Unions spend 95% of their money on Democrats. It has a huge impact on elections. Unlike corporations, unions never swing the balance of their donations to a different political party. They always give to Democrats, and by a huge margin.

When looking at total money spent from 1989 to 2010, you see the same pattern over and over. Unions outspent corporations by a huge margin.
Out of the top ten donors, two were corporations. One ($ATT) gave more to Republicans (55%-44%), the other ($GS) gave more to Democrats (58%-39%).

The largest percentage difference in favor of Republicans came from Amway. They gave 99% to Republican candidates, and it amounted to an average of $441,790 per year. Hardly enough to swing an election.

When you wade through the data, it helps to put the hyper ventilating speeches aside.

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  • Wcoburn

    There may be precident, but the Citizen’s United case was not a victory for limited govt advocates. One of our defining limited govt principles is that rights are endowed by our creator. It logically follows that rights are given to individuals, not groups. Groups are man’s invention. Would anyone argue that our creator endowed Microsoft with rights?

    Surely, members of groups have individual rights, but the group entity should not have rights. Assigning rights to groups is inherently collectivist, does not follow limited govt principles, and is neither “liberal” nor “conservative”. 

    The Boy Scouts is a different kind of group than Microsoft, and so surely groups have legal frameworks upon which to operate.  These legal frameworks denote responsibilities and priviledges. Rights, however are a separate situation.

    • Rick Caird

       I disagree with your analysis.  Corporate taxes are a tax on shareholders, not the corporation itself.  Those taxes are money that cannot be given to the shareholders or used to grow the business.  Likewise a ban on corporate political speech is a ban on shareholders banding together to speak with one voice.  Logically, if you are going to ban political speech by corporations, you are going to have to ban political speech by unions (they are incorporated) and political action groups since they are incorporated, too.

      • Wcoburn

        Rick, I agree the SCOTUS decision was the right one, but I think it was for the wrong stated reasons. I should have made that clear.

        I agree with you that the bans on corporate political speech were not appropriate, flowing logically on the grounds that we as individuals have the right to free assembly.

        The govt has the power to tax just about anything, including corporations. But that does not mean that logically “just about anything” should have rights associated… it means these entities have legal responsibilities and priviledges.

        Personally, I think that a conservative majority court does conservatism no favors when it abandons the principle inherent in the DOI that ” all Men are… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. That principle being that rights are endowed to individuals. Assigning rights to groups is inherently collectivist and will lead us down the path towards division and chaos. 

  • I had a real hard time understanding why anyone would want corporations to be viewed as people. Rick’s comment & your post brings a little bit more light to the situation, so thank you for that.
    I think the issue is that the corporations have a lot of money, and people believe that they should focus on their business and not the politics. On the flip side however, the outcome of the elections can effect their corporation positively or negatively. Why shouldn’t they have a voice? We are built on corporations after all. But, as you mentioned corporations have to report to their shareholders. They can donate $40B if they wanted to, but man would their stock price take a hit.

    My only hope is that the company would have to publicly disclose that they were behind the ad, or have some sort of transparency on who they are giving to. Is this something that is required by law? I’m assuming so because of the data chart you posted.

    I think this is one issue you might have changed my mind on to be honest. I can’t say I’m still a huge fan, but I can see the reasoning.

    • Robbie, the data says the corp do focus on business.  Unfortunately, with the growth of govt, they have to shift their focus to lobbying to stop govt from encroaching on their rights.  Facebook recently hired a lobbyist.  

      I agree on transparency.  Corporations should disclose publicly who they are donating to.  It is better for shareholders.