March 2015
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Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at jw@bway.net. I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. I have gotten into the habit of leaving out full names and email addresses; I have had too many people think better of something they said fifteen years ago. If you want your name and email included, let me know. Flames, however, will be published with full name and email address.


Dear Jonathan:

The movement to overturn Citizens United often uses the idea "Corporations are not people". Of course they are not, but this is too facile of an observation. Corporations are the same as people in some ways and different from people in other ways. The issue is: should corporations have the same rights to speech as people. Since corporations are created by the state, they can have, or not have, whatever attributes the state wishes for them to have. Insofar as a corporation is a business, its speech is business speech, or commercial speech. Commercial speech is already a different category of speech from personal speech. But even if there could be some fair rule that corporations could not engage in political speech, and that corporate money could not be contributed to political campaigns, there would still remain the problem that some people, and some organizations, have a great deal of power, are able to warp political space, and bend truth. Concentration of power used to be addressed by trust busting, and concentration of wealth used to be addressed by the tax system. I think that in that direction is a better democracy, though it is hard to see how a state could move in that direction.

Martin Gugino