AFTER WATCHING MITT ROMNEY OPEN HIS MOUTH AND STICK HIS WHOLE LEG INTO IT LAST WEEK, AND GET HECKLED FOR HAVING DONE SO, I'VE BEEN INTERESTED TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING TO BE SAID FROM THE BLOG SPOTS. HERE'S ONE OF THE BEST: DON'T YOU JUST LOVE THOSE SHINY, HAPPY CORPORATE PEOPLE?
BY RJ ESKOW
Mitt Romney got a lot of press for telling a heckler at the Iowa State Fair that "corporations are people." He did not go on to sing that Patti Smith song, "People Have the Power."
But corporate "people" certainly do. Their power was on display this week, both in Washington and among the Republicans campaigning for the nomination.Ordinary People
Here's Romney's quote in context:"Corporations are people, my friend... of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People's pockets. Human beings my friend."
There's an interesting parsing of language going on here. Corporate money does eventually go into some people's pockets, of course, but Romney said "everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people." "The people" is a phrase that refers to everyone -- the citizenry, the polis, the masses... Romney's implying that corporate earnings go to all of us. The truth is that executive compensation has never been greater when it's compared to worker pay or average family incomes. That's one reason why we've been experiencing a massive transfer of wealth from the bottom 90 percent of Americans to the top 1 percent.
But that's not the sort of thing you want to say at a state fair, is it? In that setting it's better to speak of corporations as "people" -- or, if you prefer, as "jes' folks."
But if they're people, why don't you ever see them at state fairs? After all, people love fairs, so why don't they ever go? And when they do go to the fair, shouldn't they be allowed to participate in fun events along with all us other people? Halliburton should be able to swing that big mallet and make the bell ring. Exxon Mobil should be able to enter the 4H drawing and win a side of beef. And Blackwater should be able to shoot the popup prairie dog and win a stuffed animal for its date.
And if you don't feel that way, Mitt Romney's implying you're a bigot. You think some people are better than others. You don't want to be a bigot, do you?Power to the People
Funny thing is, Romney's questioner wasn't asking him about corporate personhood. He was asking why Romney wants to cut Social Security while preserving corporate tax breaks. It seemed as if Romney had already memorized this little speech and was looking for a chance to trot it out. He probably had.
Here's the paradox in this whole concept of "corporate personhood." When it comes to rights, Republicans say corporations are people. But when it comes to the responsibilities of personhood -- like paying taxes, being sued for negligence or criminal manslaughter, that sort of thing -- their response is "Are you crazy? We're talking about corporations here, not people."MORE AT THE LINK, INCLUDING THE EXCELLENT SUMMING UP: Our corporate personages need help. And they get it -- from their servants in the Republican Party, and from the many Democrats who are also eager to pitch in. It's a good thing for the corporations they have so many friends in Washington. In fact, it's just like that Barbra Streisand song, isn't it? People who need people really are the luckiest people in the world.