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Corporate spending: Here come the corporations

Posted: February 6, 2010 4:36 p.m.
Updated: February 7, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
Although the exact future impact of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited political spending by corporations is unknown, the wide-reaching detrimental effects on local election campaigns will be inescapable. That is, unless something is done to change it.

The five-member Supreme Court majority just became the worst example of activist judges ever by asserting unrestrained “corporate personhood” and undoing more than 100 years of existing laws designed to curtail corporations’ financial/political influence on lawmakers.

Corporations being treated as people? What’s next? Allowing corporations to vote in elections? Oh, they don’t need to vote, they can just buy the votes.

What about corporations running for Congress and eliminating the middlemen? Oh, one is already doing that. Do a Google search for “Murray Hill, Inc. for Congress” or visit www.MurrayHillincForCongress.com.

During the last City Council election, many people were outraged because a corporation that wanted a specific vote on a specific issue (medical office building/hospital expansion) was credited with spending about $30,000 on Laurie Ender’s election campaign. With no restrictions on corporate political spending, that will seem like chump change.

Corporations will be empowered and emboldened by their newly acquired political clout. They will use their money to promote candidates who agree with their positions, and even worse, they will denigrate any candidate who opposes their positions.

And as everyone knows, it’s much easier to malign and defame a candidate in a voter’s eyes than to build one up. So we can expect dirtier and dirtier campaigns.

In Santa Clarita, 10 corporations that like the current council’s “see no evil, hear no evil” attitude toward development could easily pitch in $25,000 each to make top challenger TimBen Boydston seem like a scum-sucker to the voters. Corporations really don’t like a council member asking too many questions.

The effects in state government could be even worse. Corporations, having no soul nor conscience, could push for electing self-serving candidates who will happily vote for repealing any laws restricting a corporation’s ability to make more money.

That means there will be very few health, safety or environmental laws — after all, they are an impediment to corporate greed.

OSHA and Cal-OSHA would be things of the past. Collective bargaining would be outlawed. Endangered species (living, breathing and feeling, but lacking corporate personhood and corporate backing) would cease to exist.

Expect to see laws limiting corporate liability for damages caused by their actions or products.

Insurance companies will assert that individuals must purchase insurance to protect themselves, and that the limit an individual could receive for damages would be set in their insurance policy. Good for insurance companies — good for business.

Now, about the possibility of enacting laws to limit a corporation’s political spending, some are in process now, but I have my doubts they’ll succeed, given the current Supreme Court.

Corporations are now accorded the same free speech rights as people, and the court has determined that money equals free speech.

I fear any congressional attempt to restrict corporations’ political spending will be overturned. Still, we must try, and do whatever it takes.

Bruce McFarland is a Newhall resident. His column reflects his ownn views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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