Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Lunatic You're Looking For

"Corporations are people, my friend...every (thing) that big corporations earn ultimately goes to people."
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the Iowa State Fair, Thursday, 11 August, 2011.

"Dear friend,

Did you see what Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney said yesterday? He actually told an Iowa crowd that 'Corporations are people.'

Corporations are people? Could the GOP be any deeper into the pockets of big business?
This is a perfect example of the crazy ideology we’re up against, and what our Emergency Media Campaign is designed to fight. We need to raise $50,000 by midnight to send this message from coast to coast: Corporations are NOT people. People are people, and we must put the needs of the American people – not multibillion-dollar corporations and their tax loopholes – first. Will you help us?"
The Democratic fundraising e-mail that landed in my inbox on the 12th.
Sigh. Here we go again. I don't think that it takes too deep a reading of Governor Ronmey's comments to understand what he was trying to say. Rather than referring to any sort of literal or even legal "personhood" for corporations (which has already been established by the judiciary), he was making a more or less valid point. Corporations are comprised of, well, people. Including those shady shell corporations that people and businesses set up to hide their activities from scrutiny. All corporations are effectively simply legally recognized groups of one or more people. And, up to a point, the money that is made by corporations does eventually wind up in the hands of people, although Mr. Romney seems to forget that corporations can and do hold assets in their own names, sometimes precisely because those assets are therefore not controlled (in a legal sense) by the people who run the corporation. (And perhaps more importantly, Mr. Romney left out the fact that when the money "ultimately goes to people," it's in a very skewed distribution.)

In my opinion, a more salient criticism of Romney's statement would have used the entire context, not just a convenient snippet. Of course, this isn't the way that political fundraising works. It's about hyping the idea that the Opposition of made up of unhinged ideologues who must be fought to prevent them from victimizing us all. But, for the sake of argument, let's say that Mitt Romney IS actually crazy. As in should be in inpatient treatment for psychotic disorder crazy. So? How does telling me that obligate me to believe that whatever candidate or group of candidates needed $50,000 by midnight last night is any LESS crazy and ideological? Or simply even a better option? The basic logic of a false dichotomy - Republicans are crazy, so you'd be better served to vote Democrat (and give them money to convince others to do the same) - is on full display here. And of course, the Republicans likely do the same thing in their mailings - them = bad so by process of elimination us = good.

Of course, this is nothing new. But the unthinking regularity of it all makes it ever more tiresome.

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