5.0 out of 5 stars Hartmann calls for a values based USA
Hartmann calls for a values based USA and less emphasis on big business in this book.He sets out to show how the way things are currently are inimical to economic growth of the ordinary folks of the USA. A must read.
Some other great books:
Fluctuating Life by Joshua Spencer
Quest for a Dream: A Life Committed to Progress by Joyce...
Published on Nov. 14 2007 by Joshua Spencer
3.0 out of 5 stars slightly off balance...
As some reviewers have mentioned, the writer is not a lawyer. While his consultations with lawyers may have been helpful there does to seem to be some basic misunderstandings of corporate law. As many reviewers note the book focuses, to some degree, on a Supreme Court case mentioning, in dictum, that the corporation is similar to a person. While this is nice to know...
Published on Aug. 4 2003 by Andrew
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hartmann calls for a values based USA,
This review is from: Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights (Paperback)Hartmann calls for a values based USA and less emphasis on big business in this book.He sets out to show how the way things are currently are inimical to economic growth of the ordinary folks of the USA. A must read.
Some other great books:
Fluctuating Life by Joshua Spencer
Quest for a Dream: A Life Committed to Progress by Joyce Buchanan
Let's Talk Africa and More
5.0 out of 5 stars Should Corporations be able to Vote?,
This review is from: Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights (Hardcover)Prior to the first century no court applied constitutional rights for corporations. In 1886, Santa Clara County verses Pacific Railroad, in a head note explain the case the author implied that "corporations were persons" as a reason for the court administering a 25 dollar fine to the corporation. The foundation for "personhood" gave rise too a constitutional claim of equal protection of the law for corporations. Using this precedence, Corporations were quick to fight for constitutional protections for 1. Free speech (1st amendment) 2. privacy protection (10th amendment) 3. Freedom from search and seizure (fourth amendment) 4. double jeopardy (5th amendment) 5. Self-incrimination (5th amendment) 6. and anti-discriminations (14th amendment). It seem corporations had done the impossible, they had received the same scrutiny or equal protection as race. Over the century, the vast number of 14th amendment cases has been equal protection claims against anti-discrimination policies for corporations. Corporations have established civil liberties and constitutional rights protected by law.
So why not let the corporation vote? One could argue, in a republican form of government a small governing body holds representation of power and decision-making; so, why not let corporations vote? Corporations represent the wealth, resources, and jobs of America. Further one may observe that the vested interests of the corporation could be represented, if they were given a vote. So why have corporation not been given the power to vote?
If corporations received the same protection as a person the democratic process would be destroyed. Apparently the founding fathers did not want to give corporations this level of power over the people, so no constitutional provision or implication was made to give corporations an elective vote for selection of a candidate or local law. Do corporation remain powerless or silent on this issue of voting constraint?
Corporations vote with money. In an election year politicians receive tens of millions of dollars to their party, which in my opinion is a loophole. Political campaigns were designed too be limited in the contribution amounts to safeguard against buying an election.
The magnitude of financial difference between corporate donations and people donations is staggering. Persons give hundreds or thousands of dollars too politicians, whereas, corporations give millions to politicians. This allows corporations too buy favorable legislation manipulation. However, the people still have the power too elect their government officials and this fundamental power gives the people the ability too prevent government representatives from being completely controlled by the corporations. If the elected official performs contrary to the people opinion they have the right the next election to select a different representative. The people have the power to select their representatives. The representatives have the obligation to listen to the interest for the people. The representatives are too account for good and moral decisions, while in office. It is the job of the people are too voice their concern, as poor legislation becomes law.
If corporations have constitutional rights, do they have responsibilities to other citizens? Corporations have migrated from state privileges to constitutional rights. Corporations are expected to act like good citizens: pay taxes, obey the laws, keep the environment clean, and pay a living. Citizens are expected to operate under moral constraints, whereas, corporations are expected to make money. A corporation is not expected to operate on moral constraints. What that means is the corporation may apply force since no moral guardian stands in the way from them achieving their goal of profits. If no legal constraint exists, the corporation plows forward to make money without consideration of any moral constraint. For example, the liberal media corporations claim the right to freedom of expression. This means the corporation is free to sell media with high levels of sexual content, violence, and degrading morality. The impact can span generations. The selling of produce can span many decades because a corporation exists in perpetuity.
The produce is subject to taxation, protection under copyright law, and free commerce between states and other nations. Laws and regulations force the media companies too have movie content rated. Since companies have similar protections as persons, the first amendment rights extend too the corporation.
5.0 out of 5 stars How Corporations Came to Rule,
This review is from: Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights (Hardcover)How is it that corporations have come to exert so much power and influence over our everyday lives, to have rights and privileges unavailable to individuals, to take so much from, and return so little to, the general wealth both of this country and the rest of the world?
Thom Hartmann traces the history of corporations from their Elizabethian inception in the East India Company to the present; he describes in some detail the changes in the relationship among corporations, their governmental patrons and their societal prey. Historically corporations were granted charters by governments subject to their being monitored, controlled and mandated to provide for the general good in exchange for specific commissions and concessions. In America's early history, this principle was understood and effectively implemented to control the excesses of corporate behavior. Then in 1886, the US Supreme Court ruled on arguments in the case of Santa Clara County[CA] v Southern Pacific Railway. A clerical misstatement in the court reporter's notes, separate and distinct from the formal decision, led to the interpretation that the Bill of Rights was intended to apply to corporations, not just individual human beings. Although Jefferson had cautioned specifically against the power of corporations unrestrained, thenceforth their lawyers have succeeded in prizing successively greater concessions from and precedences over the rights of individuals.
Acceptance of corporations as 'persons', entitled to the same rights and restrictions as human beings, has come to be capriciously applied. Corporations buy, sell, trade, dismember, even kill other corporations - the corporate equivalent of slavery - without being held accountable as they would if corporations were human beings. There are other glaring inconsistencies in the logic of corporate 'personhood' but our law is governed more by precedent, than by logic, or common sense. Once entrenched and established, no matter how egregiously erroneous, the tradition of corporate personhood would take an act of Congress, or an amendment to the Constitution, to rectify the mistake.
There are a number of fallacies in the assignment of 'person' status to fictitious, fictional entities such as corporations. A principal function of good government is to level the playing field between the weak and powerful, to protect the weak from the predatory ravages of the strong. Although all 'men' are presumed equal, in rights if not in innate abilities, corporations are clearly, intrinsically, manifestly vastly more powerful than any one man or small group of men. As Hartmann shows, this difference in power is important yet our present governance fails utterly to protect the populace from the ravages of corporate rapacity and indifference to the plights of its victims.
Although the purpose of government is to provide for the general good, while minimizing harm to the weak and minority interests, the purpose of corporations is to accumulate wealth for its management and stockholders without regard to the source of that wealth. The wealth of a few individuals is not coincident with the general good. Nor are the managers and stockholders of a concern, a tiny subset of the general populace, coincident with the general population. Thus the purposes of good government in general do not coincide, indeed are often at odds, with the purposes of any given corporation.
Further, the activities of corporations in the aggregate - concentrating and focussing wealth for their individual stockholders by taking it from the general population - does not result in general good for the population. The myth that entities acting in unrestrained pursuit of their self-interests somehow produce the greater general good is amply disproven by the history of the American experiment. Rather the general wealth and good is redistributed, concentrated and focused to the benefit of the most powerful and the detriment of the least. Left to themselves, corporations parasitize the general population, suck the wealth out of it for corporate gain while often degrading the environment and denuding the resources employed to accumulate that gain. Corporatism results not in shared wellbeing for the general population but concentrated and focussed wellbeing for a few in a sea of general deprivation.
In other chapters, Hartmann describes the effect of Free Trade and the supranational World Trade Organization: to ravage national economies for the benefit of Corporations, to degrade the wellbeing of the middle class and workers in developed countries, only minimally to improve that of those in developing countries, while enriching the beneficiaries of corporations. Wealth and wellbeing are transferred from those who need it, to those who have it already.
Mussolini defined fascism as the merger of state and corporate power. It appears that America, indeed the entire planet, is well on its way to becoming a fascist state. Ruled by corporations, our 'elected' leaders and representatives are beholden and accountable principally to the interests of their various corporate contributors, only secondarily to the public. It is perhaps ironic that Hartmann, a self-confessed 'founder and former CEO of seven corporations that have generated over a quarter billion dollars in revenue', concludes this fascinating book with proposed grass-roots intiatives to unravel the tangled skein of corporate dominance. He offers no alternatives to the corporate model for the management of production and the distribution of wealth and wellbeing. Rather he advocates the return of effective control and regulation of corporations to the people, making them less the victims of corporations and more their overseers and regulators; and he and offers model actions to be pursued at the local level. But the present processes of government from legislatures to the courts are seemingly similarly enthralled to business interests intent on maximizing profit, not the general welfare. Whether or to what extent anything can be done to reverse this state of affairs is unclear. Readers will be provoked to wonder whether there are other means of advancing the general good and wellbeing than increasing the disparity in both for the general populations. Rather than a definitive solution to the problem of corporatism, this book provides a clear, readable and provocative depiction of the extent of that overwhelming problem.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ascent of the Artificial Person,
This review is from: Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights (Hardcover)The story that Hartmann tells is one that everyone should know, but nobody does: how the corporation came to have the power it now has as an institution in the United States. Normally, when activists or the general public confront the sheer, imposing bulk of the corporatocracy, we get diagnoses of greed and corruption, with antidotes of regulation or resignation. But what Hartmann uncovers is the very specific LEGAL history of how corporations came into being in their modern incarnation. There are a handful of pivotal Supreme Court decisions that laid the tracks for the freight trains of abuse and audacity that then rolled on through, and all over regular citizens.
This is a very important insight. Since the corporation's power is fairly narrowly and legally based, it can be undone as well. The notion that we can regulate big companies into being good "corporate citizens" is nonsense if we don't withdraw the legal basis of their recognized rights. Constitutional protections should be for natural citizens only, period. We should be able to hold corporations to whatever standards we want, since they are simply artificial profit-machines with no inherent legal standing vis-a-vis the rights of natural citizens.
As always, Hartmann's writing is engaging, precise, and exciting. Buy this book!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the book, then judge it....,
5.0 out of 5 stars Response to that Moron "danieleclark",
By A Customer
Get an education!
Our political system isn't a true Capitalistic-Democracy. If we have a welfare sytem, social security, subsidies for people attending college and running farms, etc, it all points to a form of socialism. Let's face it, our society can't be built on one econimic model, hence we are a socio-democracy.
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Hartmann milks curious teethers.,
I believe Thom is tackling the subject of globalization and corporate tyranny because he feels his heartstrings being pulled in that direction. I assume he believes corporate dominance and the direct connection it has to the destruction of our natural resource base is probably the most urgent and most serious problem the world faces. I commend him for trying his best to educate himself and inform the largely naive public about this veiled, yet very worrisome, threat.
The book is divided into 4 separate parts, yet there are only three major divisions one will notice in the book:
>A general outline of how corporations usurped power from the individual
>The problems a corporate-dominant world poses
>Alternatives visions and solutions
The historical overview, although very informative, can be a very laborious read at certain points. I think Thom took up far too much pagespace outlining the history of the corporate rise to dominance in America - about 160 pages are used to articulate it. Many will probably find parts of the overview to be quite boring and unnecessary. For instance:
"In 1788, Jefferson wrote aobut his concerns (regarding corporations) to several people. In a letter to Mr. A. Donald, on February 7, he defined the items that should be in a bill of right."
"ON February 12, 1788 Jefferson wrote to Mr. Dumas about his pleasure that the U.S. Constitution was about to be ratified, but also expressed concerns about what was missing from the Constitution"
"By midsummer of 1788, things were moving along and Jefferson was helping his close friend James Madison write the Bill of Rights."
"The following year, on March 13, he wrote to Francis Hopkinson about continuing objection to monopolies."
Does it surprise anybody or help illuminate the present-day debacle that is corporate domination by telling us over and over again that Thomas Jefferson wrote letters and had various conversations showing he was against corporate monopolies. I would hope most people would have a basic understanding of the Revolutionary mindset of the late 18th century in America if they are reading this book.
I found very little appealing about most of the historical overview. The nature of consolidated power versus individual rights has been a perpetual once since the dawn of civilization. Understanding a nearly transparent film of history doesn't allow the uninformed reader to have a true grasp on the nature of the problem or a sagacity of thought from a more timeless perspective. I wouldn't expect most people to agree that a 200 year historical outline is as short-sighted as I see it, so please, feel free to reject my criticism as it only reflects my personal tastes.
The book immediately begins to deliver where Thom mercifully lays to rest the bland, and mostly obvious, timeline of American corporate dominance. Where Thom begins to deconstruct the modern inequalities John Edwards would describe as "separate Americas", he begins to shine. He draws on his own common-sense with demonstrates sagacity, along with powerful thinkers and economists of our time including David Korten, Joseph Stiglitz, George Soros and even takes a line from the Iroquois Constitution to demonstrate how the actions of today can be of ill-effect to generations down the road.
Yes, there is plenty of recycled, fairly obvious rehashings in this 360 page book, so I won't recommend it to all of you (as I did in a previous review of this same book).
If you are salivating for a revolutionary book which will put a spark under your activist heinie, this book is certainly not for you. If you are looking for a broad, well-researched yet independent-minded tome on globalization and corporate-dominance supported by facts and not necessarily by flair, this book will probably be of interest to you. It reads much like a textbook throughout and is brought forth in a very controlled manner. Other books on this subject sometimes let the reader feel the passionate indignation and frustration of the author - which I enjoy. This book most certainly does not.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read.,
4.0 out of 5 stars More accurate than I wish.,
After I'd been dismissed from a job essentially for corporate disloyalty--after spending months pleading for ways to increase my performance--my interest in this volume increased substantially.
The text starts with the REAL reason for the Boston Tea Party. It wasn't as much a political maneuver, to quell British oppression, as it was a commercial maneuver. It seems the East India Company had a monopoly. The colonists had had it with that monopoly and revolted. (Ironically, I think it was the same corporation the literally owned India until 1947 when the Indians too revolted!)
The main premise of the book is that corporations gained too much power when, in 1886, Chief Justice Morrison Remick, a former railroad (corporate) attorney as were most of the Supreme Court justices of his day, chose on his own to attribute the rights inherent to humans, as defined by the constitution's fourteenth amendment, to corporations. Indeed, the author feels that such an interpretation may very well have been done--misinterpreted--by the clerk of courts who may have been under the influence of another justice, yet another railroad attorney. However, it seems, correct interpretation or not, since subsequent courts have interpreted it that way, the decision stands. Interestingly, even before the 19th century was over, there were judges challenging how many times corporations had used it to protect their rights, as opposed, say to the individual humans whose protection was to be ensured by the amendment.
I like the structure of the book. It had its chronological elements, which made it easy to follow. From the Boston Teaparty, the text moved historically to various economic developments and other court decisions. Then it proceeded to the Waite "decision," then to modern day economics. And I agree with most of what Hartmann said. For instance, few of us without our heads conveniently buried can deny the rebirth of a feudalism, in which we serfs are subject to treatment we hoped had ended with abolition of slavery. The "rights" that a corporation has in surveillance and dismissal of employees are uncanny.
One of the bottom lines is that big business clearly dominates our whole culture. And that has its consequences. For instance, since the media are big business, what we hear is pretty exclusive the big business position on anything, including itself. So cultural mythology includes the premise that it takes a nearly genius acumen to run a business, even though the one for which I recently worked couldn't even compete in the "market." The corporation had enough money to operate incompetently for a long period, while dismissing the serfs who weren?t buying company doctrine. That exemplifies the "trust" portion of the text. There actually were anti-trust regulations, the best known being the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. But they've been watered down over the years to the point that they're essentially powerless and the trusts are gaining ground by the day. In the meantime, smaller businesses can't hope to survive, no matter how well the are run. Indeed, Hartmann does a superb job of demonstrating that by examining what happens in his neighborhood. What happens, he asks, if he goes to some local businesses, with the money he's spending? Sure, it ends up in a local bank, and is then, in effect, reinvested in the community. If, however, he were to go to a some of the megacorporations--say Walmart, for the sake of the discussion--the money goes to a major bank out of the area. And local store owners can't compete with the larger vendors and go under. So little if any money stays in the community.
Anyway, Hartmann eventually leads into what we can do to solve the problems with corporations getting too large and stealing our rights, again, a logical concluding part of the book.
Again, I agree with almost everything Hartmann says. And my own experience--and that of countless others, whether they admit it or not--offer clear examples of the truth of the text. And that's not even counting those who've tried to run a business but were driven out of town by the big corporations who offer at best minimum wages to employees. (I think of a friend of mine who works for a national chain. Their profits are already ten times (!) what they were a year ago, but the chain has cut the hours of the few employees who were full time, thereby reducing the costs they incur for the meager "benefits package" they need not even offer the part timers.) My only challenge is that I HOPE the author has over-simplified the issue to a degree. I think the personhood of the corporations may be at the root of the problem, but I think it?s actually a more complicated issue than he makes it. If not, why have more people not done more to curb the corporations? I think because it is pretty difficult an issue. Frankly, Mr. Hartmann, I hate to say that because it appears as if I'm all but defeated already.
Despite that, I will follow Hartmann's advice and work with state legislators and the like to curb corporate dominance. Hartmann offers model ordinances and constitutional amendments specific to each state, and that's a major step to change--a major task he provided for each of us without having to do that work ourselves. But overall I think it may only be a beginning.
Don't allow that to discourage you. There's a lot to learn from the book, and some you might, like me, learn the hard way. Get started by reading it, and following the steps Hartmann suggests.
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book,
He then also lays out the solution and what steps to take to change it.
People need to be educated about who rules the world with such unfairness.
I know some many still don't know or don't understand what is going on.
Spread the word.
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Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights by Thom Hartmann (Hardcover - Oct. 4 2002)
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