Much later, another progressive, Robert Reich, articulated it well:
I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.For all I know, Riech's thinking was influenced by Shakespeare, whose Shylock exclaims in The Merchant of Venice:
If you prick us, do we not bleed?We people bleed, laugh, die, but corporations do not. We people have emotions. We are tied to geography. We identify with cultures, via the languages we speak, the foods we eat, the music we like, the sports we follow, the places we call home, and the countries that we fondly cherish as our lands. We are people who need people.
if you tickle us, do we not laugh?
if you poison us, do we not die?
A corporation is anything but all those. It is an imaginary concept to which we have ascribed human qualities. A corporation does not have any family, no friends, and no cultural identity.
Thus, a "corporation" can be here one day and vanish the next day. This imaginary entity can easily be packed up and sent across, whereas we real people are, for the most part tied down by geography. And now, we are increasingly held hostage by the threat of these artificial people moving to a different geography--another state or another country--if we do not give them what they demand, which is typically a regime of low taxes and regulations. These imaginary people called corporations behave like kidnappers demanding ransom.
You can, therefore, see why I am not pleased with this leader in the Economist:
Economic refugees have traditionally lined up to get into America. Lately, they have been lining up to leave. In the past few months, half a dozen biggish companies have announced plans to merge with foreign partners and in the process move their corporate homes abroad. The motive is simple: corporate taxes are lower in Ireland, Britain and, for that matter, almost everywhere else than they are in America.The piece begins with "economic refugees," by which you picture in your mind images of real people who move because conditions are horrible in their homelands and they are looking for something better.
In Washington, DC, policymakers have reacted with indignation. Jack Lew, the treasury secretary, has questioned the companies’ patriotism and called on Congress to outlaw such transactions. His fellow Democrats are eager to oblige, and some Republicans are willing to listen.
The proposals are misguided. Tightening the rules on corporate “inversions”, as these moves are called, does nothing to deal with the reason why so many firms want to leave: America has the rich world’s most dysfunctional corporate-tax system.
The magazine even provides the readers with an image of the artificial people with a "human face" so that you may then equate those emotional images with the imaginary people called corporations who are tied down by a ball and chain and want to flee from tyranny. What bullshit!
The problem has been exacerbated by countries that have bought into this idea that by slashing taxation rates they can then attract the imaginary people and real money to their respective geographies:
Twenty years ago inversions were rare. But as other countries chopped their rates and America’s stayed the same, the incentive to flee grew.The inversions--the movement of the imaginary paper people--were rare back then is an important fact.
Mr Obama insists that corporate-tax reform must also raise more money to spend on things like public infrastructure, which the Republicans opposeI suppose only we real humans who bleed, laugh, and die use public infrastructure and, therefore, the imaginary people do not need to be taxed at all!
I second the notion that "I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."