Some time back, our US Supreme Court ruled a corporation is a paper person, having all the rights and privileges of a flesh-and-blood person. But the Court didn’t address the issue of responsibilities, did it? No, it did not. As no coin has just one side, I propose we treat corporations just like people, but in all respects — rights and responsibilities. Let’s look at an example.
When a corporation kills someone, like underground miners rooting out coal, it should be punished like a person. If, through callousness, expedience and greed, you or I let someone die from our malfeasance, we be charged with manslaughter at the very least. If convicted, we’d do serious prison time.
Now as we can’t lock up a corporation, we need to do the next best thing: Strip it of some assets. Take all its cash, maybe. Or its real estate. Perhaps a key operating division. These assets would be auctioned off to the highest bidders and the proceeds split between Uncle Sam and the employees. Employees who aren’t executives, that is. Nor among the shareholders, for shareholders are like pit bull owners — strictly liable for the damage their creatures do to others and must not profit from their laxity.
Should the corporation purposely kill someone (not unheard of), then the corporation needs to put to death. Now we can’t hang a corporation as we did Charlie Campbell, but we can revoke its charter and auction-off 100% of its assets, dissolving it completely.
Further, if corporations are to be people, we should treat them as people tax-wise. For example, like people, corporations should be subject to an Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), making sure they do not skate on their responsibilities. Boy, just think what this will do for the old deficit!
I like this idea so much I’m going to sit right down and write my congressional delegations.
Let the Teabaggers howl.