Corporations and Democracy

Corporations have accrued legal and political privileges that have no basis in the Constitution of the United States. Under cover of these extra-constitutional privileges, corporations accumulate vast financial resources, which they use to control our political, economic, and cultural life. They achieve this control by influencing and dominating the electoral, legislative, and regulatory processes of government, using their wealth to lobby elected and appointed officials and to manage the information media, thus subverting the democratic rights of the people.

A corporation exists only when the state government grants it a charter. Originally charters were granted for the promotion of the common good, not for the exclusive good of the corporation.s owners or executives. Many corporations today have abdicated their responsibility to the common good, and by exclusively pursuing corporate wealth and power they have become severe threats to the environment, to sustainable economies, and to democracy itself. In order to return political rule to the people, corporations must be brought under local democratic control, be required to serve the common good, and be made responsive to the needs of the communities where they make, manage, and sell their products and services.
It is inappropriate for the public policy decisions that shape our communities and affect our lives to be made in private boardrooms, at closed-door regulatory agencies, or in expensive courtrooms. Public policy ought to be made by elected officials in public forums with real and meaningful participation by citizens.
With regard to corporations and accountability to the people, smaller is generally better. Smaller corporations are easier to oversee and hold accountable. Corporations should be no larger than is minimally needed to fulfill its mission. The economies of scale sought by corporations to improve their profitability work to the people's detriment when those economies of scale are applied to labor. Policies to subdivide job responsibilities to the lowest common denominator through the creation of more low-skill, low-responsibility, repetitive jobs may help a company's bottom line and improve service standardization; but they simultaneously reduce workers to a replaceable commodity and strip them of their creativity and, thus, humanity. Such jobs do not serve communities. Smaller corporations tend to require a larger proportion of higher-skill employees, which is a community benefit.
The Green Party of California intends to end corporate rule and create real democracy, where "We, the People rule. In order to achieve this goal, we acknowledge that current law and judicial decisions have clothed corporations with more rights and freedoms than those of natural human persons, allowing corporations to illegally and immorally usurp political power. We categorically reject the illegitimate granting to corporations of the legal status of "person", based erroneously upon the Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railway (1886). Because of this and other erosions of our Constitution, we must now reclaim our sovereign right to define corporations, not just regulate them. To achieve these ends, the Green Party of California proposes the following actions.
To prohibit corporations from usurping the exclusively human rights reserved for citizens in the Constitution and its Amendments:
Eliminate the fiction of corporate personhood, through judicial review, legislative action, or constitutional amendment.
Modify or eliminate other corporate claims to constitutional protection, in clauses such as the Interstate Commerce clause, the Contracts clause, and the Takings clause.
Prohibit any corporation doing business in the state of California from paying or contributing, or offering to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any money, property or anything of value to any political party, committee organization or individual for any political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office.
To bring corporations back into the service of local communities:
Rewrite the California corporate code to confirm that a corporation's responsibility is primarily to its workers and to the community where it operates, and to reflect the historic principle that a corporation is a public entity and must act in the public interest or have its charter revoked.
Strengthen corporate law to allow for the charter revocation or banishment from the state of corporations which are deemed contrary to the public good, or which are convicted of repeated violations of law, including activities that would normally be considered criminal for any individual to conduct.
Encourage the partitioning of all corporations, through legislated incentives, to a size that supports the highest standards of living among the local populace where the corporations operate, and encourage higher proportions of stakeholders to become shareholders by promoting worker buyouts of corporations. Provide agency powers to force such changes on any corporation that is found to be in willful or negligent violation of any public statute, policy, or law by any level of government.
To restore a more democratic system of wealth distribution:
End corporate welfare such as tax havens, subsidies, and unmonitored government contracts for corporations run for profit.
Renegotiate or abrogate international trade agreements that do not favor people-oriented, sustainable economics.
Protect and strengthen the people's rights and control over their Commons, such as forests, water, air, radio frequencies, data formats, internet protocol, and electronic distribution, and to defend these public resources from commodification.