Goverment by corporation

February 13, 2010

The Bush administration managed to reach out of the shadows with the recent Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited spending by corporations on election campaigns. The assumption by five justices (including two Bush appointees) who pushed this decision through is that corporations are entitled to free speech just as individual citizens are. This issue was not on the public radar prior to the ruling and represents the kind of "activism" that President Bush railed against.

The belief that corporations had previously been denied free speech is flawed. Corporations are made up of individuals. Each of those individuals, from the CEO to the janitor, has always been entitled to free speech. The officers of these companies have always had disproportionate power within their companies when compared to the rank and file. So it is within the confines of private enterprise. Employees are free to seek new jobs. Outside of the workplace, in greater society, all citizens are entitled to free speech. From power comes wealth, which has always allowed for greater influence and is in itself power. Government is to be of the people, by the people and for the people. The intention of our government has always been to provide an equal voice for all people. This decision was a stunning shift of power away from the masses to those who are already privileged. Corporations are not people. They do not have opinions. What passes for opinion are the collected viewpoints of company officers and shareholders. These individuals have always had the right to free speech.

I don't mean to suggest that businesspeople are bad and politicians are good. We all know there are no absolutes here, but the fact is that corporations are motivated by profits, not the common good. Government is intended to serve the common good. The checks and balances between commerce and governance are truly more important to democracy than the separation of church and state. This decision allows corporations undue influence in the decisions that affect us all.

I urge everyone to write your representatives in order to attempt to reverse this decision.

Brian Sweeney, Baltimore

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