Corporations are above the law

On September 2, 2009, the transnational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer pled guilty to multiple criminal felonies. It had been marketing drugs in a way that may well have led to the deaths of people and that definitely led physicians to prescribe and patients to use pharmaceuticals in ways they were not intended.

Because Pfizer is a corporation—a legal abstraction, really—it couldn’t go to jail like fraudster Bernie Madoff or killer John Dillinger; instead it paid a $1.2 billion “criminal” fine to the U.S. government—the biggest in history—as well as an additional $1 billion in civil penalties. The total settlement was more than $2.3 billion—another record. None of its executives, decision-makers, stockholders/owners, or employees saw even five minutes of the inside of a police station or jail cell.

Most Americans don’t even know about this huge and massive crime. Nor do they know that the “criminal” never spent a day in jail.

But they do know that in the autumn of 2004, Martha Stewart was convicted of lying to investigators about her sale of stock in another pharmaceutical company. Her crime cost nobody their life, but she famously was escorted off to a women’s prison. Had she been a corporation instead of a human being, odds are there never would have even been an investigation.

Yet over the past century—and particularly the past forty years—corporations have repeatedly asserted that they are, in fact, “persons” and therefore eligible for the human rights protections of the Bill of Rights.

In 2009 the right-wing advocacy group Citizens United argued before the Supreme Court that they had the First Amendment right to “free speech” and to influence elections through the production and the distribution of a slasher “documentary” designed to destroy Hillary Clinton’s ability to win the Democratic nomination. (Some political observers assert that they did this in part because they believed that a Black man whose first name sounded like “Osama” and whose middle name was Hussein could never, ever, possibly win against a Republican, no matter how poor a candidate they put up.)

– from “Unequal Protection”: The Battle to Save Democracy
by: Thom Hartmann
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
© 2011
This entry was posted in Corporate abuse, Corporatons aren't people. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Corporations are above the law

  1. Paul Fife says:

    This insanity has to stop now.Congress must cut its criminal ties with these crooked dangerous,poisonous,murdering corporations and Wall Street banksters.Bring back the corporate death bill.Make them pay for their crimes against everyone and everything.They are the real Terrorist,the Cancer on our planet that must be removed before they kill off its host.

  2. K.B. says:

    I agree, this is exactly what has led to the demise of the middle class in the US and the poor American economy. We can’t rely on the rich to stoke our economy. Only the middle class can do this, and we have to get that muscle back into the hands of the people who can pull us out of this recession.

  3. Of course corporations are “people” – sociopathic people.

    The Citizen United ruling is the ultimate sellout of the American citizen – or at least the American citizen that has any political and economic self-respect remaining. It may also be an end to any semblance of respectability the American public can muster for the US Supreme Court.

    Corporate personhood is simply another way to perpetuate the growing American plutocracy.

    The Los Angeles City Council could make a very positive democratic statement by saying NO to the bogus right wing corporatacracy power ploy known as the “corporate personhood” scam.

    Ralph Boschert
    Arrowhead Asset Management
    Wimberley, TX 78676

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