Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Strange Bedfellows Are Resistant

Quicksilver asked a question:

Unfortunately, U.S. legal doctrine treats the corporation as a person. So, the more libertarians work to expand the rights of individual private property, the more they expand the claims of Exxon, WR Grace, Dow, Halliburton, and other multinationals to be “liberated” from government regulation and oversight. Can we both protect individuals from big government and, at the same time, empower big government to restrain and regulate industrial businesses?
The answer: No. To express it in Jewish terms, we cannot muzzle the ox while it treads out the corn. To express it in leftist terms, until all of us are free, none of us are free.

I noticed an attempt at smuggling in the idea that corporations aren't human. This permits leftists to attempt to persecute the people who own or run corporations while imagining that they're only harming a type of robot.

Corporations aren't robots; they're made up of human beings. The Supreme Court said that corporations have rights but those rights are derived from human rights. Any restraint on a corporation is a restraint on human beings. Any corporate tax is paid by human beings.

Addendum: I just remembered I had already blogged about the connection between robots and collections of human beings.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought provoking post. At my site (Quicksilver) I saw only your reference to the muzzling ox, to which I responded as follows:

In other words, can we muzzle the ox while it treads the corn?

"Good point and allusion... Oxen were very valuable in antiquity, but oxen also can cause a wide range of problems. Your point about muzzling the ox concerns a potential loss to the owner alone. In Talmudic literature, the owner also needs to be responsible for damage/loss caused to others by productive assets. Three categories of damage can be represented by the ox: goring by its horn (qeren), trampling by its feet (regel), and unauthorized grazing (shen). In modern parlance, the latter two categories reflect externalities that arise from ordinary business operations. Trampling is like predictable pollution from which the company (ox) does not benefit, whereas grazing might be like a hazardous product from which the company benefits without the consent and at the expense of others. Goring is a potential harm that is not expected; but a beast that gores repeatedly ought to be put to death. Owners who don’t know how to take proper care of their raging bull could soon be owning a carcass instead. Government agencies obviously don’t deal that way with repeat corporate offenders, though sometimes the market itself is quite harsh."

Now I see how you put this point in the context of your post. At best, it seems to me that if we think that corporations need to be as free as humans, then don't we also require them to fulfill the duties and responsibilities that we attach /correlate to human freedoms? But it's my sense (on environmental damages) that corporations are not being held accountable. In any case, one key raison d'etre of the corporation is to shield humans from liability. Given the resources and powers of Exxon/Mobil vs. Joe/Jane Doe, it may be a bit reductionist to characterize companies as merely made up of human beings. Anyway,
I'll think about this and try to comment more later. Thanks.

12:33 AM  
Blogger David said...

Corportations are totally unaccountable; except to their stockholders, customers, employees, board of directors, a bunch of regulations that apply to them exclusively, whoever they're renting their headquarters from...

There is no component of a corporation that is not a tax paying human being, subject to all the same laws as everyone else.

4:58 PM  

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