View Poll Results: Do you believe in corporate personhood?

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  • Yes

    3 8.82%
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    26 76.47%
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Thread: Corporate Personhood

  1. #31
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Very few people would be willing to invest in stocks if they were risking their entire life savings every time they plunked down $100 to buy a few shares of some corporate stock.
    Very few people would be willing to invest in stocks if they were personally responsible for the liabilities of the companies they own. Maybe that just means very few people should be investing in stocks

    It is absurd to suggest that proper course of action is to protect businesspeople from the consequences of their own actions. Yet, nonetheless, that is what you are advocating.

  2. #32
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    I like Kandahar's idea that liability should only be worth the investment amount. That makes sense since if it consumed the investment amount for all investors, the business would likely declare bankruptsy anyway.

  3. #33
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    A 65-year-old who saved for her retirement by investing in an index fund probably doesn't even know what the component stocks of that fund are.
    Yet, if that same 65 year old bought an unincorporated company and knew nothing about it, the law would hold him personally accountable. Should the government protect him?

  4. #34
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    I like Kandahar's idea that liability should only be worth the investment amount. That makes sense since if it consumed the investment amount for all investors, the business would likely declare bankruptsy anyway.
    That is the same system we have at the moment. If a corporation declares bankruptcy, its creditors are out of luck. If an unincoporated business goes bankrupt, its creditors can go after the businesspeople who made up the bankrupt business. That is the very definition of personal accountability. The extent of their investment is irrelevant, as, absent any coercive corporate regime, partners are jointly and severally liable for debts of the business.

  5. #35
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    I just want to observe the irony that we have three left-wingers here arguing in favor of corporate welfare.
    Last edited by Guy Incognito; 03-29-11 at 04:41 PM.

  6. #36
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Incognito View Post
    Very few people would be willing to invest in stocks if they were personally responsible for the liabilities of the companies they own. Maybe that just means very few people should be investing in stocks
    Businesses typically have only three sources of funding available to them: 1) Equity from selling stock, 2) Debt to banks, 3) Retained earnings from sales to customers. If you cut off Stream #1 by making it unattractive for people to buy stocks, then Stream #2 will dry up as well. As corporations scrambled to make up the loss of equity by increasing their debt, it would push interest rates sky-high and price most of them out of the market. And if Streams #1 and #2 have both run dry, then there is no way of increasing sales to customers in most cases, so Stream #3 would dry up as well.

    In other words, what you are suggesting is an effective way to bankrupt the majority of businesses, but it's not a very effective way to run an economy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Incognito
    It is absurd to suggest that proper course of action is to protect businesspeople from the consequences of their own actions. Yet, nonetheless, that is what you are advocating.
    You're using "businesspeople" here as a populist attempt to conjure up an image of an unsympathetic guy in a suit smoking a cigar. But in reality, you're also talking about teachers, secretaries, soldiers, construction workers, truck drivers, nurses, and waiters who may be trying to save for their retirement by investing in index funds. Or you're talking about 15-year-old kids who are personally interested in finance and maybe have a few hundred dollars invested in specific companies, just for fun.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 03-29-11 at 04:47 PM.
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  7. #37
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Haven't finished reading the thread, but it seems we're diverting from the concept of "personhood" (incorporation means "into a body") to the issue of limits on personal liability.

    Liability limits are a reasonable concern in our lawyer infested society.

    Corporate personhood confers the rights of a person onto entities that ARE NOT PEOPLE, and therefore CANNOT suffer the consequences for their actions that a person can. No prison, no death penalty, etc.

    But they obtain first amendment rights etc as if they are persons.

    This is the pertinent question.

    The other issues could be addressed by other mechanisms, ie limiting personal liability.
    Anyone wondering what I'm talking about start here:
    The Psychology of Persuasion

  8. #38
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Incognito View Post
    Yet, if that same 65 year old bought an unincorporated company and knew nothing about it, the law would hold him personally accountable. Should the government protect him?
    No. There's more of an expectation of due diligence and commitment if some guy approaches you and asks you for some money to finance his business, than if you buy a share of Apple stock just because you like the company.
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  9. #39
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    You're using "businesspeople" here as a populist attempt to conjure up an image of an unsympathetic guy in a suit smoking a cigar.
    You're making a straw man out of me and I do not appreciate it. My argument is not based on populism, nor am I indulging in a caricature of businesspeople, rather it is a principled libertarian stand in favor of free markets.

    I am well aware that a kid selling lemonade is as much a businessperson as anybody. You are the one who seems unable to follow that to its logical conclusion that liability should be equally applied to all businesspeople, regardless of their ability to purchase government influence.
    Last edited by Guy Incognito; 03-29-11 at 04:53 PM.

  10. #40
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Incognito View Post
    Yet, if that same 65 year old bought an unincorporated company and knew nothing about it, the law would hold him personally accountable. Should the government protect him?
    My goal in this was the idea wasn't so much financial but if someone was enough of an owner in a company to have some impact on decisions, than if one of their employees does something illegal and it was determined that part of the problem was a failure in adequate businesses processes to prevent such activity, those higher up the chain should be held personally liable. For example if the business was a bank and a loan officer commits fraud in the course of doing business than the business owners should have some liability due to a lack of oversight to prevent the fraud in the first place. Or if some company dumps a chemical, than a majority owner should possibly be liable for jail time or massive fines. But again, it depends on whether this particular stock owner has some input in the decision making process and isn't simply an investor who owns a few shares.

    Obviously it would have to have been preventable in the first place, but thats what courts are for, figuring that sort of stuff out.

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