A person is a person

by Wolf Pascoe on January 15, 2012

When I started this blog I swore that I would tell stories about my son and keep my opinions to myself. But that was before I had the opinion that a corporation is not a person.

There, I’ve said it. I am of the opinion that a corporation is not a person.

A person is a person.

Somehow, I like saying that.

You can’t be on the Internet very long before figuring out that a lot of people have a lack of money on their minds.

You don’t even have to be on the Internet. You just have to have a kid.

“Dada,” Nick said to me last week, “Do we have enough money?”

“Dada has a job,” Nora said. “We’re very lucky.”

I can’t say I found medical school enjoyable, but I’m not complaining about having a job.

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MONEY IS NOT SPEECH

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Monkeying with the Constitution is not a thing to be undertaken lightly, which is why it’s not an easy thing to do. Constitutional amendments have sometimes had effects unintended by their framers, witness Prohibition and the rise of organized crime.

But I can’t look at the economic cliff we seem to have ridden the train off of without recognizing that the country I now live in is not the same as the one I grew up in. Not when banks can foreclose on un-mortgaged homes.

You heard it here. Home owned outright, paid for in cash, no mortgage, deed free and clear. Foreclosed on anyway by some bank.

Banks sixteen-trillion, taxpayers zero. Something is seriously out of whack.

Enough, I thought. What is needed is a restoration of balance. Which is why I like the sound of the proposed Amendment above.

I like the sound of, “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.” And “The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.”

What all this language means is that Congress can make laws limiting campaign spending, and no court can declare such limits in violation of free speech.

“Money,” says the Amendment, “is not speech.” Speech is speech.

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ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM

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Picking Nick up from a play over with his friend Jay the other day, I found myself in a conversation with my friend Eduardo, Jay’s dad.

Eduardo is a Libertarian.

Libertarians generally believe government shouldn’t mess with people, except, I suppose, to secure the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“What do you think of this?” I said.

I showed him a copy of the proposed Amendment, which I just happened to have in my pocket.

He read the last part aloud: Nothing in this amendment shall be construed to abridge freedom of the press.

“That’s cute,” he said. “But the whole thing is backward.”

“What do you mean?”

“You can’t stop the money. Money will always find a way. It’s like Prohibition trying to limit booze.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Limit government. The reason the lobbyists are too powerful is that government is too powerful.”

Then he gave me a book to read about twelve Supreme Court decisions that messed everything up by giving the government too much power.

This is the problem with getting into a discussion with a Libertarian. He gives you homework.

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WE THE PEOPLE

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What I needed was to talk it over with Nora, who is smarter than me.

I went home and showed her the book.

“So we’re supposed to let the corporations do whatever they want?” she said. “Just get the government out of their hair and they’ll be fine? What does he think, it’s the government that makes them greedy?”

“Yeah,” I said. “How are poor people supposed to protect themselves from rich people?”

“It’s not that,” Nora said. “How are honest people supposed to protect themselves from dishonest people?”

I thought of a book I used to read to Nick, the line we’d to say over and over to each other. And I knew what it was I liked about this Amendment.

“Yeah,” I said again. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

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RELATED POST:

The Story of Stuff

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YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. He meant what he said and he said what he meant. An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent.

Citizens United (i.e., Billionaires United) vs. Federal Election Commission (i.e., the rest of us):

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Move to Amend. Try democracy here.

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EXPRESS YOURSELF!

Exercise your rights! Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

shelley January 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Thanks for writing about this. It’s the most important issue the people of the United States are facing right now, and the more people thinking about it and talking about it, the better. “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.” I couldn’t agree more.

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Wolf Pascoe January 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Thanks, Shelley. So glad that you dropped in. Spread the word!

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Barbara S. January 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Those poor people – I hope they win their suit against Bank of America! But technically B of A didn’t intend to foreclose on them – they just had the wrong house (doesn’t excuse how far they screwed up though!)
In theory, I agree with Libertarians. I think when government gets its hands in too many areas, it becomes a mess of red-tape and inefficiency and wasted money… very similar to how B of A acted with those people! But I also agree that there are too many greedy people out there who’ll step on anyone to make another buck. Unfortunately, the banking industry doesn’t have a monopoly on those people. Some of them are in charge of the press and media… more concerned with making a buck, swaying public opinion, etc. I’ve gotten to where I look for the hidden agenda in any news story and if I have time, double check its veracity with several sources.
Where does regulation begin and does anyone know where it should end? It’s easy for me to say the banking industry should be regulated, but the press? As a writer, that’s a tough one. But essentially, they’re all business, too, with the goal being to make money. Yes, a person is a person no matter how small. In reality, can anyone protect them before deciding at some point that they know more than that small person knows about what’s good for them?
Ah, Wolf, why did you get me started? 🙂
I do love the wording in that amendment, though
Barbara S. recently posted..Friday the 13th

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Wolf Pascoe January 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm

It’s Dr. Seuss’ fault. It should be called the “A person’s a person no matter how small” Amendment.

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jeff skorman January 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm

very nice good to stimulate the mind

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Wolf Pascoe January 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm

thanks for that jeff

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BigLittleWolf January 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I like anything that helps the Little People. (Perhaps this is part of the Monster Shoe trend? So we can defend ourselves a bit more against the Big Non-People?)
BigLittleWolf recently posted..The Rightness of Reading

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Wolf Pascoe January 16, 2012 at 2:46 am

Monster shoes are clownish, like a Fellini film. So be it. We’re in a Fellini film.

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Privilege of Parenting January 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Mr. Webb: (Tolerantly) Well, I dunno. I guess we’re all huntin’ like everybody else for a way the diligent and sensible can rise to the top and the lazy and quarrelsome sink to the bottom. But it ain’t easy to find. Meantime, we do all we can to take care of those who can’t help themselves.

(from Our Town by Thornton Wilder, set in 1901, first produced in 1938, making me cry today.

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Wolf Pascoe January 16, 2012 at 2:49 am

God save the diligent and sensible from the lazy and quarrelsome!

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Jim Parkevich January 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Wolf,
I wish I could find some phrase, soliloquy, quotation or better to express myself about the issue, such as you have made known. And actually, this happened just a few weeks back..The worst case scenario are: Wells Fargo, Ally and Bank of America… each a national bank that FORECLOSED on nearly 5000 American Soldiers serving in active combat in the theaters of Iraq and Afghanistan…These men had no way to help their families while their homes were being emptied to the streets by the local sheriff’s department…..AND IT IS AGAINST FEDERAL LAW FOR SUCH DAMNABLE ACTS AS THESE…..So the one guy got a foreclosure notice on his fully paid for home…hilarious, because it shows the total stupidity of our banking system….5000 GI’s loosing their homes ??? This is a disaster for all America to wake up to and scald Congress and the banking system.

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Wolf Pascoe January 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

To paraphrase Billy Jack, when a policeman breaks the law, there is no law. To paraphrase Rumi, this is the edge of the roof.

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Cathy January 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm

And now you know why I use a credit union. I remember when I was fresh out of college, I couldn’t get a checking account with BofA for free unless I had an average of $1,000 minimum. Um, hello, this was the early 90s. I had a husband in grad school making now money and I was making $8/hour. Go away BofA.
Cathy recently posted..growth

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Wolf Pascoe January 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Let’s all withdraw our money from Bank of America!

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Kate January 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Ah, and here is the problem… What is a person? Because, you see, a person is not always, in all places or times, the same thing as a human being. In another lifetime, I studied a bit about psychological anthropology or anthropological psychology (same thing) and though we use person to mean human, it is often a legal definition – someone with rights – someone who can speak and be heard in court/by an assembly. How does age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation affect personhood? Who can vote? Who is considered to get assests in the case of no will?
That said, I feel strongly that personhood here should be conferred to all humans. And no matter what, corporations are NOT human. They may be made up of people, but that doesn’t make them persons. Sadly, money will buy influence. And corporations will always have more money. I’ll point my finger at our elected representatives who listen to money instead of the small voices.
If only we could find many many Hortons to elect who would be patient and attentive and listen for all of us little whos.

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Wolf Pascoe January 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Horton for President!!

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Pamela January 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Youbdpbhave a smart wife. And this is not the country I grew up in either.

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Wolf Pascoe January 20, 2012 at 1:32 am

I married up.

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