Dead Birds In Ohio Leads To Record Fines

This story is really illustrative of what I consider to be the major problem with our current economic system, and it has nothing to do with pesticides or environmental issues.

For the record, I don't use any pesticides or herbicides on the farm, and find their wide use at all objectionable due to the high potential for chemical trespass. But that's not what got my blood boiling here.

If I, as an individual farmer, sold adulterated goods that resulted in this kind of damage I'd be sitting in a jail cell.

So why isn't the Miracle-Gro Company in the Big House? After all, corporations are people. So why isn't it (the corporation) doin' hard time?

How could you jail a piece of paper? The individual directors, shareholders and managers were not found individually liable, so we can't toss them in the block. The shareholders will (assumably) suffer some financial loss from the fine, but that's it. Me, I'd have to pay the fines and restitution in addition to being locked up.

And you can't exactly force the corporation into bankruptcy for every criminal misdeed - that would be the death penalty. So what do you do? If we are going to grant corporations rights, there must be a corresponding responsibility if justice is to be realized.

In the shorthand of the Net, IANAL, but I've got a suggestion here anyway.

An essential property of imprisonment for persons is the loss of the ability to perform economic transactions. Prisoners can receive very limited funds from outside, and make very minimal returns from prison jobs. Basic survival is assured with food and shelter, but that's all.

Why not sentence miscreant corporations to a total suspension of economic activity for a given period of time? Freeze stock trading, forbid bankruptcy, seal access to foreign accounts. Audit every transaction and freeze all profits into trust funds that will be released upon completion of the sentence.

A life sentence would be functionally equivalent to the death penalty since corporations are essentially immortal.

Of course, we could always start treating corporations like the peculiar partnerships that they functionally act like, but that would potentially place criminal liability on every shareholder (partner). Oh well - betcha we see some serious boards in place really quick, instead of the chummy clubs that pass for shareholder representation today.

If justice is to be served at all, we must decide if corporations are actually people or not.

If they are, we need to endow them with all of the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Imagine a real "corporate presidency" if you will, or a application of the Second Amendment to a Fortune 500 member. The "corporate vote", literally. Down that path lies madness... and grotesque travesties like this.

Scotts [Miracle-Gro Company] pleaded guilty in February 2012 to illegally applying insecticides to its wild bird food products that are toxic to birds, falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels and distributing unregistered pesticides.

(link) [WOUB]

21:12 /Politics | 1 comment | permanent link