Proposal For A New Constitutional Amendment: A Separation of Corporation and State

by Nova Spivack
Originally published on July 28, 2004; Updated on October 10, 2011

Should there be a Constitutional Separation of Corporation and State?

Today our American democracy faces a new threat to its integrity, a threat even greater than terrorism in the long-term. This threat is the corporation. In this essay I propose that it may be time to introduce a new principle into our democracy and a new amendment to our Constitution – a formal “Separation of Corporation and State.”

To illustrate this point, consider an earlier “separation” that has been essential to our democracy — the Separation of Church and State. What would America be like if the Constitution did not provide for the separation of Church and State? Would it be a nation that protects and celebrates freedom, equality and pluralism? Or would it be a nation, not so unlike those presently under the sway of fundamentalism, run by religious lobbies, religious police, and fanatical extremists?

I have nothing against religion – in fact I am religious myself – but I don’t think religion should have anything to do with government, or vice-versa. This is in fact one of the key ideas in our Constitution. Many of our Founding Fathers were deeply religious, but they recognized the need to make a clear distinction between their religious ideals and their political ideals. Thus over time a Constitutional separation of Church and State was formed — a separation that would not only protect the integrity and objectivity of government, but also that of religious institutions.

However, although they were well-aware of the risks of mixing politics and religion, our nation’s early Constitutional scholars were not as concerned with the risks of mixing politics and business. And why should they have been? At the time corporations were not nearly as independent or influential as monarchies and the Church. They were not considered threats. It would not be until later in the Industrial Age that corporations became a serious political force to reckon with. But one might well wonder whether our Constitution would have included protections against corporate influence had corporations been more of a force at the time it was devised.

Today corporations are becoming the single most powerful force shaping our societies and governments. While corporations have great potential to benefit society and even governments, they are entirely selfish entities – they have no accountability to the public, and no responsibility to ensure the public good. A government that is influenced by corporations can easily become a government that caters to corporations, a government that is effectively run by corporations. Such a government is not representative of its people anymore. It is therefore not a democracy.

Corporate influence on government, if not carefully regulated, is a threat to democracy. It is a threat to the American way of life. This threat to democracy may not be as dramatic as terrorism, but in the long-term it may be far more damaging to society. In fact this threat was foreseen by some of our most visionary leaders:

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Because this threat was impossible to envision at the time our nation was formed, our Constitution was not designed with specific countermeasures and as a result our leaders, our government, our democracy, and our citizens, are presently without protection from political influence and manipulation by corporate interests. The danger of this is that our government may be run by corporations, or at least key decisions may be based on commercial interests. But is it democratic for national decisions to be driven by corporations that are only responsible to their shareholders? Are We The People represented by the corporate decision-makers and politicians they fund?

Are we living in a true democracy when many of our highest elected officials continue to receive money from, and hold stock in, large corporations they formerly worked for, or may work for when they are out of office? Are we living in a true democracy when our leaders are able to award lucrative no-bid contracts to their former employers? Are we living in a true democracy when public policy is influenced by corporate-backed political lobbies that spend millions of dollars to influence key decisions and elections? Are we living in a true democracy when the same people who start and run our wars also benefit financially from lucrative military industrial contracts? Is this ethical? Is this what our Founding Fathers intended, or is our Shining City on the Hill starting to get a bit tarnished?

I ask you then: Is it time to modify the Constitution to specifically provide for a formal “Separation of Corporation and State” in our democracy? And if we don’t take action, can our democracy survive?

One viewpoint on the matter is that we should not enforce a specific Separation of Corporation and State but rather seek to provide ethical guidelines to corporations and politicians — in other words, we should simply trust politicians and business people to maintain ethical boundaries and act appropriately. But can we really rely on them to self-regulate? Can we trust the foxes to guard the hens? After all if politicians require corporate endorsements and funding, or at least the absence of corporate interference, to win elections and stay in power, and if corporations in turn require political influence to cut costs, increase profits and beat the competition, can we really trust them to not do deals with one another?

As America and the world enter the twenty first century there appears to be a blurring of the distinction between capitalism and democracy. Many Americans, let alone others around the world, may not even be aware that there is any distinction at all! In fact, capitalism is not a form of government – it is an economic framework while democracy is not an economic framework, it is a social system. They are not one entity, they are two complementary systems. While they are often found together and have the potential for profound symbiosis (and in fact cannot really thrive without one another), neither is a sufficient substitute for the other.

For example running a corporation exclusively according to the rules of democracy is probably not good for the bottom line, but neither is running a nation exclusively according to the rules of capitalism good for society. These two forces must be balanced appropriately. In a corporation, democracy must take second place (although I argue elsewhere that perhaps corporations should be at least more democratic than they presently are). In a society however, democracy must take first place; it must never be overwhelmed by capitalist interests.

If there was no separation of Church and State in America, both our government and religious institutions would suffer. Similarly, in the case of the tension between capitalism and democracy, the only viable, sustainable, and effective path is to maintain a very precise balance. If this balance is not maintained, neither democracy nor capitalism can function with full effectiveness and everyone loses in the long-run. Short-term thinkers may gain temporary benefits by taking advantage of imbalances of this nature, but only at the expense of the many, and ultimately even at their own expense.

From the perspective of John Stuart Mill, who advocated the philosophy of “the greatest good for the greatest number,” we must not give in to the temptation to seek short-term gain at the expense of long-term sustainability. Ensuring that this does not happen is essential to the sustainability both of democracies and free markets. Unrestrained capitalism is a cancer – ultimately it consumes everything in its path.

At the same time, unrestrained democracy can easily devolve into socialism and economic gridlock – the death of the free market economy, and stunted growth. Only a very delicate, precise, and carefully enforced balance between capitalism and democracy can ensure both long-term homeostasis AND growth – a sustainable civilization.

The issue of the Separation of Corporation and State runs deep – it is not only our problem, it is everyone’s problem because America is now leading the world. Our American democracy is the template for new democracies, an example for others to follow. And now that we are in the business of seeding new democracies it is even more important that we practice what we preach. What kind of democracies are we really making in other countries? And what kind of democracy are we ourselves really living in now? What kind of standard – what kind of a template – are we providing for others who would emulate us?

What makes this nation so great is that it stands for something – it always has. We stand for freedom, we stand for equality, we stand for justice, we stand for tolerance, we stand for opportunity, we stand for human rights, we stand for democratic principles – and in fact, we stand for balance.

Balance between opposing agendas, opposing priorities, opposing points of view, has always been the heart of our nation’s underlying philosophy. This willingness to live by, and fight for, these basic rights and principles is what has made us great, what has given us moral authority on the world stage. It is also what has made the idea of America – our cultural meme – so contagious. If we forget this balance or fail to preserve it, we may lose everything we have worked for, everything we have attained, and the whole world will lose alongside us. What a lost opportunity that would be.

Americans need to think about this issue carefully. The very heart of American democracy and capitalism is balance. To preserve this balance, we must adapt and evolve our nation in the face of change. Today that balance is threatened – some would argue it is already gone – due to corporate influence over the political process. In other words, our nation is at risk of losing its heart.

The question is not therefore, “should there be a Separation of Corporation and State” but rather “how can we realistically and practically ensure a Separation of Corporation and State?” Should we add new protections to the Constitution in some way? Should we legislate? Should we simply “let the market sort it out” or trust our leaders and corporations to self-regulate and do the right thing?

I am a dedicated capitalist; I have benefited from the free market and I believe in self-organization, creative chaos, and bottom-up emergent solutions to complex distributed problems. So I would not advocate restraining capitalism to such an extent that it loses its edge. Capitalism is a reflection of nature, of evolution itself – a basic creative process that leads to innovation, growth, optimization, and development that can benefit individuals and societies in incalculable ways.

Without capitalism democracies lack energy and cannot thrive, grow, innovate and reproduce. Yet at the same time, I believe deeply in democracy and the basic principles that America stands for. Without democracy – true democracy – capitalism becomes malignant, destructive, and cannibalistic.

I would not want to live in a non-capitalist society – how boring, how complacent, how uninspiring and uncreative that would be. But neither would I want to live in a world controlled by corporations that are solely conditioned by profit motives – that would be a world raped of every natural resource, polluted to the point of being uninhabitable, commercialized and dumbed-down to the point of total conformity and cultural decay — a world completely for sale and thus completely sold out.

Because neither of these extreme futures — democracy without capitalism, or capitalism without democracy, is acceptable, I believe it is time to really address this issue of the Separation of Corporation and State as a society, and as a marketplace. Because if we don’t find a new balance between capitalism and democracy we will lose both.

But is it too late? Is it futile to address this issue? Some would argue the Great Sell-Out happened long ago. Others might even go so far as to suggest that it is not even a meaningful question anymore — that nations are no longer the primary actors in the world, but rather that we have already begun evolving a new world order that transcends nations altogether – a world governed by interacting transnational corporations – what we might call corpocracies that are the new units of civilization. But I hope that’s not the case. I believe we still have a chance at restoring the balance we’ve lost.

It is not too late to save democracy. We can and must evolve our democratic system to adapt and survive in a world of giant global corporations. While it is impossible to prevent interactions between government and corporations, or between our political leaders and corporate entities, we may be able to find ways to protect governments and politicians from corporate influence.

What would be some concrete steps to implement this proposed separation of corporation and state? As a first step, I think there should be a serious effort to revise or eradicate the concept of corporate personhood.

Beyond that, we could perhaps require that government officials sever their financial relationships to corporations while they serve in office, and perhaps even for a year or more after their service ends (provided the government still pays them during that grace period). For example it might be considered unethical and unacceptable for a top government official to leave office and immediately go to work for a major lobbying firm, or to receive huge payments for speaking or doing other favors for corporations, at least within some period of time after they serve in office.

In the case of certain high elected or appointed officials such as presidents, vice-presidents, members of Congress and the House of Representatives, cabinet members, chief regulators, and Supreme Court justices, the rules might even be a bit stricter. For instance, in the case of Supreme Court justices for instance, it might be time to require that not only they, but even their spouses, should have no financial connections to corporate influences.

A more moderate approach would be to allow financial connections to corporations while serving in a top government role, but simultaneously to more tightly regulate and monitor them — even for some time after a person serves at a high level in government.

We could also apply stricter controls to corporations and how they fund political lobbies and campaigns, and how they promote and sell products and services to the government. What these controls might actually be, and how to police them, is a topic for further thinking and debate.

These are just a few example ideas, and I’m sure much better solutions could be proposed. Beyond merely pointing out the imperative we face, and providing some examples, I do not have the answer, I do not know the formula for the balance we need to create. This is a question for people far more qualified and knowledgeable than myself to address – a question for our political leaders, our business leaders, our political scientists and Constitutional scholars, and our community activists.

But one thing is certain: The separation of corporation and state, or lack thereof, is an issue which will have the most profound effect on our nation, our society, and the rest of the world. It is perhaps the key challenge that America must address as we enter the twenty-first century.

Social tagging: > > > > > > >

33 Responses to Proposal For A New Constitutional Amendment: A Separation of Corporation and State

  1. Separation of Corporation & State: an idea before its time

    Novak Spivak’s put up a post on Minding the Planet proposing a Constitutional Amendment defining a Separation of Corporation & State. Philosophically I think it’s a great idea; corporate concentration of power & authority, decoupled from accountability…

  2. Separation of Corporation & State: an idea before its time

    Nova Spivack’s put up a post on Minding the Planet proposing a Constitutional Amendment defining a Separation of Corporation & State. Philosophically I think it’s a great idea; corporate concentration of power & authority, decoupled from accountability…

  3. liam says:

    I think this is a fine idea, but one that needs to be implimented on a global scale. As corporations expand and cross the planet, they are redefining the borders of countries on economic measures and forcing governments to change laws via organizations like WTO and IMF.
    This is where the separation and reorganization must occur – on the level of international governing bodies. Perhaps separation within a single country like the US is a good start, but if it is to be effective it must also occur on the international stage.

  4. Greg says:

    Liam, I don’t think it needs to be internationalized on the scale of the WTO or the UN or the EU. Unfortunately(or, fortunately, depending on your views), as the US goes, so goes the world. When the US didn’t ratify the Kyoto Treaty, what happened? It’s in limbo until the US does something about it.
    What will happen in Sudan? More genocide, unless the US steps in, as France, who is (and should be, given its close ties with African nations) the main foreign player, has cold feet due to its own oil interests in the country.
    When the US sets trade standards, such as shipping regulations and such, many countries will be soon to follow, because they need that American market.
    However, things of this sort would be hard to do on international level, as you can’t take a machete and whack through governments getting rid of corporate influences. That may be easy (well, easier) in the US, where the State doesn’t have corporate arms, but what of the countries where the state controls different companies, such as media outlets, fishing concerns, oil companies, and such? That would be harder, cutting tentacles from vendors, customers, business partners, etc.
    This would have to be undertaken on an individual basis. But don’t look for it to happen here first.

  5. moska says:

    a very simple & great idea!
    i’ll read you more often!
    hello from russia =)

  6. The Ladder says:

    Un nouveau type de laïcité ?

    Dans sa proposition d’amendement, Nova Spivack nous suggère qu’une nouvelle séparation des pouvoirs est nécessaire. Après la séparation des pouvoirs de l’Etat et de l’Eglise, c’est maintenant le Marché qui menace l’exercice du pouvoir politique. …

  7. CenterFeud says:

    The Constitutional amendment they’re not debating, but perhaps should be

    Spivak’s proposal is predicated on the separation of Church and State, arguably the most important feature of American democracy.

  8. Blue says:

    It’s a good idea, but there are a lot of questions to answer before proposing something like this.
    1. Calcification. Governments and beauracracies have an inherent tendency to create more laws and rules, bloat the laws they have, and divide the laws further from the reason that they were made in the first place. Corporate lobbyists add an element of dynamism, sometimes acting like an acid on the laws, dissolving ones that are vulnerable. For example, President Nixon proposed the nationwide 55 mph. speed limit in reaction to high gas prices, but the law stayed on the books because of false ideas about safety and because speeding fines became a revenue generator. However, trucking lobbyists in cooperation with groups like the National Motorists’ Association pushed Congress into finally getting rid of that harmful law. However, the NMA isn’t able to get enough money to support its own lobbyist anymore. So the question is: will private efforts, less organized and funded, be able to fill the gap if corporate lobbying is made illegal?
    2. End-runs. How will we prevent the Government from regulating corporations through government contracts, underwriting (such as FMNA), taxes, the FED, or other indirect means?
    3. Limits. How much interaction between gov. and co. is too much? How much is not enough?
    The separation betwee church and state is simpler: the government has no direct stake in what afterlife people believe in. (indirectly, it has huge impact–the Christian Coalition, one of the most powerful lobbyist groups out there, is a testament to that.) Capitalism is a horse of another color: money is both directly and indirectly one of the primary concerns of government, and corporations are its stewards. How would you go about separating it from government?

  9. Nova Spivack says:

    Hey let’s not forget that the Church is one of the wealthiest organizations on the planet, and at one time (if not currently) the Church used that financial might to wield tremendous political influence. It wasn’t really that different from corporations today in that sense. Governments certainly did have a stake in what the Church thought of them (and many would say that is still the case). This is one of the reasons for the separation of Church and State, besides just the freedom of religion issue. As for a specific proposal for how to separate Corporations and State, I think for one thing high elected officials need to agree to never go back into corporate life after they serve. Another thing we could propose: No-bid contracts cannot be awarded to corporations, by government officials under any circumstances. Furthermore, we could propose that high elected officials must not have worked in any officer role for any corporation within 5 years prior to being elected.

  10. Help Make Blogs More Visible!

  11. Help Make Blogs More Visible!

  12. Proposal For A New Constitutional Amendment: A Separation of Corporation and State

    I am not sure how I missed this one by Nova Spivak. It is a great idea and I would go even one further The Separation of Government and ALL Lobbyists in the same Amendment! Source: Minding the Planet Should

  13. Tom Vilot says:

    Fundamental problem: The corporation in the U.S. has rights, much like an individual citizen has rights. This was formalized in the notion of Corporate personhood which allows corporations to have “inalienable rights” (sometimes called constitutional rights) just like (human) persons.
    As flawed as I believe this “corporate personhood” concept is, it is formally enshrined in our laws. You are proposing stripping a “citizen” of certain “inalienable” rights. That’s quite a fundamental change …

  14. Nova Spivack says:

    Interesting point Tom, however, if that is the case then an incorporated nonprofit Church would have the same rights — would that then contradict the separation of Church and State? The concept of Constitutional rights and the separation of Church and State are two different things. Similarly I think the same is true for the proposed Separation of Corporation and State. A Corporation cannot be elected President for example — a Corporation cannot vote, etc. The rights of Corporations are not exactly the same as those for human legal Persons.

  15. Help Make Blogs More Visible!

  16. Patrick Meuser says:

    What concerns me about a state in which seperation must be explicitly defined is that in order to enforce such an ammendment, it would now likely create a ‘super-nation’ in which the freedoms of the individual are evaluated even more or less in terms of the state, as opposed to a state in which its ideals can be freely asserted; in other words are we at a stage where such ideals can be assumed without consequence? The question is, if such is constitutional, how should such an ammendment be implemented without affecting the freedoms of the state within the corporation, and how could the state be free to make future ammendments regarding the coroporation?
    Although, at first glance the idea seems a logical extension of the basic freedoms that we know, it can confuse the corporation for religion in favour of what could be allowed instead of afforded.
    However, much can be argued in favour of such an ammendment, mainly that the corporation shall satisfy certain individual guidelines where the state should not be concerned. Also, that the individual should remain free to set such guidelines without confliction. This would seem to reinforce the concept of a free society independent of a corporate identity, which may not neccesarily be inevitable. Whenever this is or is not implemented, such would not compromise the proprietorship and franchise at the same time.

  17. Pierre Wolff says:

    There’s a book written by Thom Hartmann called “Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights”, that could add much to your thoughts here Nova. He goes over the history and the specific judgment made by the Supreme Court case (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad) that resulted, erroneously, in corporations being granted equal rights to human beings. What’s most fascinating is that the Supreme Court actually didn’t rule this at all, as usual they avoided the tough question, but because the court reporter wrote up the headnotes as such, and no one read the full decision, the precendent was set and our destinies forever changed as a result. Sad but true 🙁
    Now if we could only turn back to the law that s/b because it was never really changed, perhaps all would be better today 😉

  18. Pierre Wolff says:

    Nova, a friend and I have been exchanging e-mails re: this topic since I forwarded him a copy.
    At the end of the day, I believe we both agree that in all parts of corporate abuse you have people involved in the process and they are the ones abusing the system, especially since corporations are only “artificial persons” as defined by law. Hence, it’s the people that run these, own these, and influence these that are to be held accountable and that can be done w/o a Constitutional amendment.
    If you consider an area that corporations have gotten a lot of slack for being the outsourcing of jobs, then the point becomes clearer. A corporation’s mission and purpose is not be charitable nor to make the lives of people better (though hopefully if its products do the corporation will be more likely to succeed). It’s mission pure and simple is to generate a ROI for its investors/shareholders/owners. How it does this is its business. Hence, if one way of enhancing its bottom line is by farming out jobs to reduce costs, then that’s exactly what the corporation should do. If that makes people mad, then it’s the corporation’s owners that are to blame since that’s the directive of their company. Why aren’t shareholders being hounded about the “Oursourcing of America”?
    Now, shareholders can come in all diff sizes and shapes. For example, there are many shareholders which are themselves corporations (ie. Pension Funds, Mutual Funds, etc.). This obviously complicates matters in terms of who you go after, but at the end of the day, somewhere in this pipe there are people making these decisions and that’s where the issue needs to be focused. We do have laws in place to address people doing the wrong thing or being negligent, we just need others w/the resources to begin going after these people. As well, pension funds are closely tied to labor unions, and that s/b another target since they are indeed investors.
    What you’ll see happen however is that when taken fm this perspective, and w/everyone seeing themselves as a shareholder that wants to make a ROI, the noise will abate and all of these probs will continue. Why? Because no one wants to be the one to give up making money in our society 😉 Cynical, but true.
    I bet you if you changed the liability structure of corporations so that such liability flowed down to the shareholders, you’d see very different behaviors and attitudes. Again, not something that would require a Constitutional amendment.

  19. Nova Spivack says:

    Pierre, I like your suggestion of changing the liability structure of corporations. But that would not really help to stop undue corporate influence on the political process. Again, I think the situation is identical to that of the separation of church and state. Why should corporations be treated differently than the church with regard to how they relate to government?

  20. Pierre Wolff says:

    Good question Nova, let me give it some more thought, but one difference I could point to off-hand is that religious organizations are tax exempt whereas corporations are not. Hence, there’s an inherent interest here that any constituent (tax paying) needs to have. Given that corporations are treated as “artificial persons” then they are afforded all of the rights that “natural persons” are, and this includes influencing gov’t.

  21. Media Mammon – A Stock Market for Ideas

    While browsing around Google for additional resources on memes I stumbled upon
    Minding the Planet (Nova
    Spivack’s journal of unusual news and ideas).
    I was

  22. BJ Peters says:

    About thirty years ago, I was sipping Bloody Marys with friends on a Sunday afternoon talking politics when a light bulb moment hit. I shared with my friends what has turned out to be a prophetic statement: Our forefathers were very intelligent and created three powerfully balanced branches of government, ensuring that the previous powerful institution of religion would not ever be able to share any of that power with the US government. What our founders could not forsee, however, was the power that would be yielded by corporations.
    Today, corporations do, indeed, rule the world. They have taken over the fourth estate and have major influence on American policy both domestic and foreign. They have shifted our national values from compassion to greed, from spiritual to material.
    Someone earlier suggested that it is individuals making corporate decisions. While this is of course true, corporate policy is what dictates profits are the only bottom line that matters. So our planet is dying, the gap between rich and poor (and middle class) is widening, science is being obscured, truth and integrity are lost, citizens are working longer hours for less pay and benefits, personal freedoms are being eroded, the American Dream is a fiction.
    I don’t know if a Constitutional Amendment is in order or a grass roots National Dialogue is what’s needed. But something is…

  23. Michel Ickx says:

    Brilliant post. You certainly present and analyse the issue very well. However the solution seems difficult and some of your readers doubt the possibility to solve it through a constitutional amendment. Possibly your metadata and mirror approach (memes) will do more to change the paradigm and correct the actual situation. Let us hope so…

  24. IvanT says:

    In regard to the case of separation of the Church and the State: an individual can retain religiousness without actively serving the religious organisation. What is the equivalent of individual religiousness in the case of separation of Corporation and the State?
    I guess we have to a) answer this question very well, and b) address the eventual practical problems that will become clear in the light of the answer.
    This might be the main obstacle to the actual separation.
    I guess that social solutions are never really accomplished by the acts of prohibition and their enforcements. They are rather about making people aware of ways of doing things superior to the undesirable ways.
    I’m from non-EU Europe.

  25. Greed is Myopic

    An interesting description of the core problem facing US, but short on solutions.
    I think one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in our country will be the legal precedents set in misguided judicial rulings that appear to favor the stockholder on th…

  26. GCsaMan says:

    “this is a question for people far more qualified and knowledgeable than
    myself to address – a question for our political leaders, our business
    leaders, our political scientists and Constitutional scholars, our
    community leaders.”

    Lost me here. I was reading along waiting for the proposal that never came. Leaving it up to these so-called “leaders” is exactly how we arrived here. The entrenched elites of the state support the status quo. Leaving it up to those who are most wedded to corporatism to solve it? Good luck.  I really doubt even 1% of those “leaders” are more knowledgeable than the author in any way. The author is an intelligent guy with ideas and a better track record of actually doing something than anyone in government. We don’t get anywhere when those with ideas defer to those who create and nurture the problems.

    • Nova Spivack says:

      I’ve updated it with some proposals, albeit only initial ideas. This is a hard problem and will require input from Constitutional lawyers and policy makers, neither of which I am.

  27. Rich Gibson says:

    Awesome sound bite with  ‘separation of corporation and state’  – truly, I hate the corporate domination of politics –  but what does the statement actually mean?  

    Separation of Church and State is a limit on the government, not on Churches.  It means government allows Churches to do more or less what they want, even when Churches do fairly f’d up things.  And while Churches are not allowed to campaign against individuals they are allowed to support political issues – see the Mormons and California Prop 8.

    I am sure that isn’t what you mean about corporations and state, but what do you mean? 

    Clearly as a start we need to limit the legal personhood of corporations, but what else?


  28. CopyOwner says:

    If we followed the separation of church and state formulation, the amendment would say that the government cannot establish corporations. But since corporations are fictional legal entities, they cannot exist without state establishment (unlike churches).

    I suggest a different approach: (1) Declare that corporations are not people, and do not enjoy any of the protections of the Bill of Rights. This provision might still allow, say, the corporate bookstore to have standing to sue against a prohibition on selling certain books, but that standing would be derived from the interest of its human patrons, and not the corporation itself. 

    (2) Declare that no corporation may be given any treatment more favorable to that given a human. In practice, that means legislatures cannot continue the practice of allowing corporations to testify first at hearings, or of allowing only corporate entities into certain negotiating sessions. It also means that “5% corporate discounts” would be treated like “5% discounts for white males”, except that corporations could be given less favorable treatment (e.g., “5% human discount”).

    (3) Invigorate criminal punishment for corporations akin to what humans might suffer. Corporations tend to get away with mere fines (plus the rare personal prosecution of some managers). Fines are the cost of doing business for corporations, who owe a duty to maximize profit for their shareholders. If shareholder profit is greater under “bad act + fine” than under “no bad act”, they will choose the bad act. When the family’s breadwinner is incarcerated for 6 months, no salary is earned, the family suffers, and the mortgage holder might not get paid. The same should happen to a corporation: Get a 6-month sentence in which the shareholders get nothing and all profit goes to the public.  

  29. Scott McCarthy says:

    I have proposed just such an amendment:

    Amendment XXVIII

    Reformation of Campaign Finance and Elected Office.

    Section 1

    Corporations, business, unions and other equivalent organizations are not people. As such, they do not enjoy the rigthts, freedoms and protections enumerated in the Constitution of the United States of America as they are reserved solely for the people.

    Section 2

    Any person seeking elected office shall only receive financing, either direct or indirect, from a person. Any contribution to a campaign shall not exceed the equivalent of ten thousand dollars per person per election cycle.

    Section 3

    Any person duly elected to federal, state or municipal office is required to take an oath of office. Said oath much include: “I will properly execute the duties and responsibilities vested in me as …” and “I do solemnly affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

    Section 4

    Violations of Section 2 shall be removed from consideration for office and make the candidate ineligible to hold elected office for a period of ten years from the date of violation.
    Violations of Section 3 shall require a minimum prison sentence of 7 years and makes the individual ineligible to hold elected office for the remainder of their life.

  30. SeparationOfCorpandState says:

    I find these truths to be self evident and agree with your main premise that
    Corporation have to much control of our government and create a conflict of
    interest. I suggest that the reverse is also true.
    The award
    winning documentary film ” Inside Job” sheds light on the financial meltdown and
    why it happened (Greed). The main point is that Government has no business being
    involved in Corporations and Corporations have no business being involved in
    Our government of the people, by the people, for the people,
    shall not perish from the earth (Not a government of corporations, by
    corporation, for corporations). Just as we found there was no place for
    Government involvement with Religion and visa versa, we have the 1st Amendment
    “Separation of Church and State”. Therefore we should move for another
    Amendment of “SEPARATION OF CORPORATIONS AND STATE”! There is no room for one
    meddling in the other. The governments role is to create laws to protect the
    people from Greedy Corporations that steal our money and livelihood.