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Author Topic: Constitutional amendment proposal
Lisa
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quote:
Corporate Limitation Amendment

1) The provisions of the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, guaranteeing equal protection of the laws to all persons within its jurisdiction, shall apply only to individual human beings. Corporations shall have no legal standing outside of the contractual rights and obligations entered into by the persons who own them. The ability to bring suit or to have suit brought against one shall be limited to human beings, individually and in the aggregate.

2) All debts owed to a corporation or by a corporation shall be owed to or by shareholders of that corporation according to the proportion defined in the bylaws of the corporation. If no proportions are defined therein, debts shall apply to shareholders in direct proportion to their ownership of the corporation.

3) No corporation shall own another corporation. Any corporate ownership of a corporation at the time this article goes into affect shall be transfered to shareholders in the parent corporation according to the bylaws of the parent corporation. If no proportions are defined therein, ownership of the child corporation shall be transferred to shareholders of the parent corporation in direct proportion to their ownership of the parent corporation.

4) The provisions of this article shall apply equally to corporations and any other legal structures of ownership. The provisions of this article shall apply equally to corporations based in the United States and corporations based outside of the United States.

3) The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

What it would do:
1) Prevent the ownership of capital and resources from being concentrated in an increasingly smaller set of hands.
2) Protect investors and lenders from the unjust concept of "limited liability".
3) Encourage individuals to take responsibility for enterprises they are funding.

What it would not do:
1) Outlaw companies and joint economic ventures.
2) Prevent employees of corporations from being protected by the 14th Amendment. As individuals, they contribute to political campaigns and have freedom of speech and the like.
3) Destroy our economy. Yes, it would make current forms of investment a lot more risky. And some forms of investment would be viewed as too risky. But that isn't a bad thing. It's risky and reckless malinvestment that was a big part of the recent economic crash. Ultimately, creating goods and services is the only way to increase aggregate wealth, and people are still going to find ways to invest, because that's the only way they're going to make money.

(And yes, I know I posted a version of a corporate limitation amendment here previously, but (a) the feedback I got here and elsewhere resulted in a substantial rewrite, and (b) I couldn't find the previous thread.)

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Sean Monahan
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Was it this one?
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Alcon
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While I agree with the sentiment it would have to be something that was global in order to work. Also, seeing as this amounts to a drastic restructuring of the economy and seeing as it hasn't been tried before it is impossible to predict what sort of effect it would have. No one's ever had an economy with rules like this. There's no telling what would happen. It's as likely as not that a huge number of global corporations would simply cease to operate in the US rather than have to function in the US under this set of rules while being able to function globally under the current corporate rules.

Also, you don't want individuals to be able to sue a corporation? Not that individuals win very often, but if you remove that tool of the individual against the mass, what recourse do people who get screwed by the majority have?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The provisions of this article shall apply equally to corporations based in the United States and corporations based outside of the United States.
I'm not sure how you'd enforce this. What do you envision?
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Alcon:
Also, you don't want individuals to be able to sue a corporation? Not that individuals win very often, but if you remove that tool of the individual against the mass, what recourse do people who get screwed by the majority have?

They would bring suit against the shareholders either individually or as a body, or possibly against the CEO.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
The provisions of this article shall apply equally to corporations based in the United States and corporations based outside of the United States.
I'm not sure how you'd enforce this. What do you envision?
Simply that foreign corporations would also not be treated as individuals under the law. They wouldn't be able to bring suit, and they wouldn't be permitted to borrow or lend under US law.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Alcon:
While I agree with the sentiment it would have to be something that was global in order to work. Also, seeing as this amounts to a drastic restructuring of the economy and seeing as it hasn't been tried before it is impossible to predict what sort of effect it would have.

I don't agree that it'd have to start off being global. I think there are other nations who would follow suit once they didn't have to worry about the US flexing its muscles to protect corporate interests.

And I'm not sure why you say it hasn't been tried before. The idea of a corporation as a legal individual is barely more than a century old.

quote:
Originally posted by Alcon:
No one's ever had an economy with rules like this. There's no telling what would happen. It's as likely as not that a huge number of global corporations would simply cease to operate in the US rather than have to function in the US under this set of rules while being able to function globally under the current corporate rules.

I don't think they'd have that option. Some might try it, and others might threaten it, but ultimately, they'll still have more freedom here than in most other places.

quote:
Originally posted by Alcon:
Also, you don't want individuals to be able to sue a corporation? Not that individuals win very often, but if you remove that tool of the individual against the mass, what recourse do people who get screwed by the majority have?

What KoM said.
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fugu13
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quote:
1) Prevent the ownership of capital and resources from being concentrated in an increasingly smaller set of hands.
How?

quote:
2) Protect investors and lenders from the unjust concept of "limited liability".
So, investors who were previously not liable for many things are now liable for them . . . but they are being protected by becoming personally and fully liable for any actions taken by any corporations they own part of? How is that being protected?

quote:
3) Encourage individuals to take responsibility for enterprises they are funding.
I suppose that's one way to phrase it.

quote:
3) Destroy our economy. Yes, it would make current forms of investment a lot more risky. And some forms of investment would be viewed as too risky. But that isn't a bad thing. It's risky and reckless malinvestment that was a big part of the recent economic crash. Ultimately, creating goods and services is the only way to increase aggregate wealth, and people are still going to find ways to invest, because that's the only way they're going to make money.
Yeah, it rather would. Investment would drop to a small fraction of current levels (or rather, corporate ownership would; almost all investment would turn to non-ownership vehicles, which would concentrate power in an even smaller number of hands who were able to shield themselves most effectively from liability).

Lets see, other consequences:

Governments would be able to regulate what newspapers could publish. Similarly, they can be harassed at will, since there's no protection against search of corporations (and corporate offices aren't a place where the individuals in it have an expectation of privacy).

quote:
Corporations shall have no legal standing outside of the contractual rights and obligations entered into by the persons who own them.
Ah, corporations can't buy anything now, only individuals can. So, to purchase property, every shareholder of a corporation shall have to go on the deed. Whenever someone stops being a shareholder, they'll have to be removed from every deed, and similarly when added.

This is, of course, all ridiculous. A corporation is only treated as a person because it is a nexus of contracts between people. That makes it convenient to treat the bundle of individual rights as the rights of the corporation. This proposal would only stifle economic activity to no benefit, concentrate economic power in the hands of even fewer people, and generally make it harder for people to conduct business in ways that don't make the least bit of sense.

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