MetroWest Daily News

November 17, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney caused a stir when he told a crowd in Iowa that “corporations are people, too.” He went on to explain that corporations employ, serve and are owned by people, which is true enough, as far as it goes.

In Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court went further, decreeing that, since corporations are people, they are endowed with all the rights under the First Amendment, including the right to spend corporate money on political activities without limits.

The follow-up question we’d have liked to ask Romney is this: But are corporations American people? After all, today’s major corporations operate all over the world, wherever their corporate headquarters. Their employees, customers, shareholders and executives could be anywhere.

Examples abound: General Motors makes and sells more cars in China than in the U.S. ExxonMobil drills for oil everywhere and sells it everywhere. BP is headquartered in the United Kingdom, but drills (and spills) in the Gulf of Mexico. National Grid is also a British Corporation, delivering electricity to thousands of customers here in Massachusetts. Some of America’s iconic brands, like Budweiser, 7-Eleven, Gerber and even Ben & Jerry’s, are now owned by foreign corporations.

Global business is an inescapable fact, but it forces the question: If corporations operating in the U.S. are people, are they Americans? And if they aren’t Americans, why should they be allowed to influence American elections?
The concept of corporate personhood has reached the point of absurdity. And the only way to rein it in may be through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This week, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, introduced just such an amendment.

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