- America Needs a Complete Political Overhaul
- Separation of Corporation and State
- Instant Runoff Voting
- Approval Voting
- Proportional Representation
- Elimination of Gerrymandering
- Elimination of Earmarks
- Voting Advice Systems
- Reclaim Corporate Governance
- A Progressive “Flat Tax”
- Constitutional Amendment for an “Equal Opportunity” Tax
- The Campaign Contribution Solution
America’s founding fathers wisely enshrined the separation of church and state in the Constitution. Eliminating religious control of government created a unique new culture of religious tolerance and individual freedom. The result was a nation that people flocked to, from all around the globe. Those areas of the world in which there is no such separation tend to vividly remind us of the wisdom of that principle.
Originally published 2004
But our nation’s founders had no way to foresee the rise of the modern international conglomerate that owes allegiance to nothing beyond its own profitability. Lacking that superhuman foresight, they failed to establish the separation of corporation and state.
The separation of corporation and state is, in fact, simply a more general version of an already-established principle. The separation of church and state establishes the idea that when a powerful social organization becomes intimately involved in the political process, directing its activities and enacting legislation that furthers its interests at the expense of others, the result is harmful to society. The separation of corporation and state is merely an extension of that principle.
To achieve the separation of corporation and state, the following principles must be established:
- A corporation is not a person. Corporations do not have rights. Individuals have rights. Corporations have privileges granted to them by government, which was formed to act on behalf of the people.
- A corporation’s charter can be revoked. Whenever it is deemed that the corporation is not acting in the public interest, it’s charter can be revoked. Potential bases for such revocation include, but are not limited to, excessive pollution, profiteering, or failing to care for the welfare of its customers, its neighbors, or its employees. Examples: knowingly selling foods that present a long term threat to health, selling tobacco products that have been enhanced to make them more addictive, over-charging the government millions of dollars in time of war.
- Corporations can be taxed individually. In addition to the ultimate sanction of charter revocation, government needs more fine-grained mechanisms to modify corporate behavior. Fines and penalties are one mechanism, but since they tend to be one-time costs, they are of limited value in the long term.Corporations improve their profits by failing to be responsible for pollution or the welfare of others. That gives the least responsible corporations an unfair advantage in a competitive marketplace. To redress that balance, government is free to tax an individual corporation to the degree that it burdens society — both with direct costs and with the costs of inspection and enforcement that would be unnecessary if the corporation were acting as a conscientious contributor to the public good.Government can then set tax rates to promote the general welfare, lowering the tax rate for particularly conscientious corporations, and raising it for corporations that seek to profit at the expense of the public.
- Corporations cannot contribute to the political process. Corporations wield enormous financial power, and have proven themselves capable of effectively running government — and of doing so in their own interest to the exclusion of others. For that reason, corporations must be barred from the political process. It must no longer be the case that thousands of lobbyists tread the halls of congress. It must no longer be the case that corporate lobbyists write virtually all of the legislation that our representatives vote on. It must no longer be the case that elected representatives owe a greater allegiance to corporate sponsors than to the public they serve.
For more on this subject, see:
- Corporate Personhood
- Hostile Takeover : How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government — and How We Take It Back, by David Sirota
- Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich — And Cheat Everybody Else, by David Cay Johnston
- Unequal Protection: the Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights, by Thom Hartmann
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