Corporations, Constructed Strictly

The President says he wants Supreme Court justices who will interpret the Constitution as it is written, not according to what they wish it says. It’s a good speech line, but I don’t think the President really means it.

People on the Left generally assume that “strict construction” is Right Wing code for overturning Roe v. Wade, environmental protections and the like. And indeed it is. But it’s also more. Ideologically the doctrine cuts both ways, because “judicial activism” has cut both ways. It was a blatant act of judicial activism, for example, that took the protections of the Bill of Rights, which Jefferson et al intended for real people, and extended them to artificial persons called corporations.


Is the Corporation Obsolete?

Colossus: How the Corporation Changed America Ed. Jack Betty
Book Review

Washington Monthly
July 1, 2001
By Jonathan Rowe

It is a sign of immersion that the thing immersed doesn’t notice. The fish, famously, is not aware of water. Dick Cheney and George W. Bush cannot see past their allegiance to the oil industry because it’s all they know–their water.

So it is with the corporation. Over the last century and a half, the corporation has become the dominant institution of American life, the “envelope of existence,” as one writer put it. It defines work, entertainment, politics, transportation, the way people think about their bodies and the world. Increasingly it dominates the cognitive environment of daily life. For all the kvetching about government, the corporation permeates our lives in much more basic ways.


Reinventing the Corporation

Corporations benefit from the public, so it is fitting that the public should expect something in return from business. The current climate of greed, cynicism and corruption is discussed, along with ways of holding business more accountable.

When an act of simple human decency appears heroic, it’s time to ask some basic questions about the culture in which that act takes place. That’s what happened last December in an old mill town in Massachusetts. AT&T had just announced it was laying off 40,000 workers, even though profits and executive pay were soaring. U.S. corporations had inflicted over three million such layoffs since 1989, and there was a depressing new litany on the evening news: jobs down, stock market up. (More recently, it’s been the equally revealing counterpart: jobs up, market down.) The new Republican Congress was giving these corporations the store. Yet the more they got, the less they seemed willing to give back in return.