Should we abolish corporate personhood ?

Here is a brief conversation with David Cobb at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus. Cobb is an activist with and was the 2004 presidential candidate for the Green Party. formed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The organization seeks to amend the US Constitution in order to abolish the legal construct of corporate personhood.

“In order to build a democratic society, we’re going to have to address the unconstitutional legal doctrine of corporate personhood. Corporations are able to overturn democratically enacted laws to protect elections, to protect the environment, to protect our safety and health, to protect workers , our food supply, water, clean air…At the end of the day, this is not just a law (for abolishing corporate personhood). It’s a legal lynchpin. It is a key to being able to create the just, compassionate and democratic society that we deserve.”

I told Cobb that some ecological thinkers, such as Richard Heinberg, reject the idea that our environmental problems would be solved simply be reigning in corporate power.

“Well, there’s no doubt about that. Reigning in corporate power or even amending the constitutions will give us the tools we need to address the problems that we have. A key problem that we have is that we are literally destroying the planet faster than it can replenish itself

“The materialistic, consumer-driven culture that is dependent on burning so-called cheap oil for energy, transportation, and even to produce to food, is going to come to an end. And we don’t have anything on the horizon to replace it. So I agree with my friend Rick Heinberg that the party is over and it’s up to us to transition to a new way of being on this planet.

“I actually do that right now. I’m catching water off of my roof. I got backyard chickens and a fruit orchard and vegetable gardens. I grow raspberry bushes. But I understand that that also is not enough (on its own.)

“We got to act at the individual level and at the collective level to begin to change laws in order to create and usher in a new way of being that is actually ecologically sustainable. So, I don’t think it’s either/or. It’s both/and (regarding individual and community actions combined with governmental policy.)

I asked Cobb about public policies aimed at addressing the power major corporations have over food.

“Imagine, if you will, that the City of Columbus actually started, for all of its institutional food purchases, to stop going to corporate agriculture and monoculture, and instead, began to create land use policies that encourage more local, organic farmers, and then purchased from local, organic farmers, for the public school system, and for local hospitals…

“They(government officials) should not be using our tax dollars to support and buttress a corporatized food system…We can also change tax policy to actually encourage the protection of our rural lands and keep it in food production and dairy production, while reigning in sprawl. The problem is that we the people don’t control these institutions

“It’s up to us to build a broad movement. aims to actually democratize the United States of America.