Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

Occupy the Courts: Protest corporate personhood on anniversary of Citizens United

End corporate personhood. (Image Credit: Pamela Powers Hannley)

Today– January 20– is a date that has gone down in infamy. Today is the anniversary of the landmark Citizens United case.

To commemorate the Supreme Court case that struck down campaign finance reform, ruled that money is speech, and paved the way for obscene amounts of money to flood our elections, Occupy Tucson, MoveOn.org, and other groups nationwide will “Occupy the Courts”.

In Tucson, there will be protests all day in front of the federal court house. Here is basic information from the Move to Amend group that wants to amend the Constitution and fix campaign financing.

 LOCATION: Evo A. DeConcini United States Courthouse
405 West Congress Street at Granada (southwest corner)
Tucson AZ 85701

8am-5pm

Protesters are being asked to simply display relevant signs, support petitions to amend the U.S. Constitution, or register to vote early.

Planned activities include:
10:00 a.m.: press conference
12:00 noon: march though downtown Tucson
4:00 p.m.: rally with music & speakers
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: open microphone for comments and local entertainers

CONTACT: Danielle Rushford, dani7117@aol.com, Diane Dvoskin, ddvoskin@cox.net

32 comments on “Occupy the Courts: Protest corporate personhood on anniversary of Citizens United

  1. terese dudas
    January 20, 2012

    The good old Supremes just struck down the Texas redrawn congressional map; now, there will be something TIMELY to protest about.  The Arizona congressional map, as redrawn by the so-called impartial, non-partisian committee, is a debacle and may fall under the heel of this decision.  I sure hope so, as I don’t have a thing in common with the folks at the Utah border.

  2. mike
    January 20, 2012

    When are you occupiers going to start occupying the doctors? They are the ones charging so much for healthcare. If you want free healthcare, it starts with the doctor.

  3. eyeofthepigeon
    January 20, 2012

    of course corporations aren’t people.  Corporations are employees, investors, debtholders, customers, and partners.  None of those are people!  They are all inanimate words.  Words!  Concepts at best!  Screw the concepts!
     

    • tunkashila
      January 21, 2012

      And are any of those employees, investors, debtholders, partners, etc. held accountable when the company they work for screws over its customers and/or the taxpayers whose funds are stolen?  Nope, the partners get their golden parachutes and stock bonuses, the investors get a cut of the ill-gotten gains, the employees get a cut in pay and the debtholders go deeper in debt.  See, people get screwed in concept, theory and practice.  What does the corporation get?  A tax cut and legal immunity…screw that concept!

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        no cliches to see there.
        Nice way to generalize all corporations according to the behavior of a few.  You are a really sharp analyst, I can see. 

      • tunkashila
        January 21, 2012

        Nice way to avoid the fact that corporations are allowed to act in rapaciously fraudulent fashion while people are prosecuted if they do so.  Might not like the analysis, but you have no argument to counter it, I can see.  Thanks for setting me straight regarding debtholders, though.

      • otto
        January 21, 2012

        I’m confused. Did you want the stockholders to take the fall for Ken Lay?

      • tunkashila
        January 21, 2012

        Obviously you’re confused-stockholders took a massive fall for Ken Lay’s malfeasance when the value of the stock they held evaporated.  If you’re asking should they be penalized for being stupid/greedy enough to invest in the company, I’d say not unless they supported the CEO’s criminal decisions.  If so, they belong in the cell he would have occupied had he not conveniently died.

      • otto
        January 21, 2012

        So who didn’t get punished? Apart from the guy who thought he could evade justice by dying.

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        Ken Lay was prosecuted, convicted, and only avoided incarceration by dying of a heart attack.  Yeah he got off scot-free all right.

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        Otto, it is easy to become confused when the same poster one minu

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        sorry, I screwed up in the post.
         
        I meant: Otto is is easy to become confused when one minute the poster refers to “the investors get a cut of the ill-gotten gains” and then next post the same poster refers to those investors as the “stockholders took a massive fall”.  So yes, obviously you are confused, as would any intelligent non-amoeba by this contradiction.

      • tunkashila
        January 22, 2012

        Until the schemes fell through, those same investors profited from them, regardless of whether or not they knew what was going on.  Pointing out that they lost vast amounts of their money when the company’s plots were discovered is not a contradiction, merely an observation.  Perhaps once you advance to true, non-amoebic intellect this will become clear.

      • otto
        January 21, 2012

        Response from my phone got flagged for moderation. If it never shows up, my questions for tunkashila are:

        1) Who wasn’t punished that should have been, not counting the guy who thought dying would get him off the hook.
        2) Should we have laws against CEOs dying while awaiting trial? That’s pretty sneaky of them.
        3) Do you know what “take the fall” means?
        4) What eyeofthepigeon said.

      • tunkashila
        January 22, 2012

        1)  Who wasn’t punished?  All the middle managers who went along with the scheme and helped execute it, of course.  The Nuremburg defense of “I was just following orders” cuts no ice with me-these people knew what they were doing was wrong when they were doing it but did it anyway.  When they actually do some jail time for their actions, then your question might actually make sense
         
        2)  No, but we should have laws to strip them of their assets when they defraud customers…oh wait, we do.  For some reason, prosecutors in this case refused to utilize forfeiture laws.  Think it had anything to do with the defendant being a rich, well-connected business executive or am I just mistaking Christian charity for corruption?
         
        3)  I know my definition-have no idea what yours consists of.
         
        4)  Was that a question or just simple hero worship?

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 22, 2012

        To #2, Enron executives were ordered to pay $630 million dollars in fines.  Prosecutors can hardly be said to have not stripped assets in that case and in many other cases where it was justified.  They were rich and well-connected.  Do you just enjoy making stuff up as though no one will notice? 

      • tunkashila
        January 22, 2012

        No, I just enjoy sending status-quo defenders such as yourself into foaming apoplexies on your keyboards, no prevarication necessary.  
         
        Your missive is quite telling for how it states the issue: ordered to pay.  The reality is that the amounts were substantially reduced upon appeal (helps when you can afford competent legal assistance rather than a public defender, doesn’t it?) to less than 5% of the $630 million amount and the vast majority of that amount still hasn’t been paid due to the defendants  continuing their appeals ad infinitum, which is their strategy.  In the end, they might have to cut a middling check, but they’ll never see the inside of a jail cell for their crimes.  And if a poor person steals a six-pack from Circle K, they are apprehended, arrested, prosecuted and then incarcerated.  But remember, there’s no separate justice for rich and poor or corporations vs. individuals, right?

      • otto
        January 22, 2012

        “Take the fall” means take the blame. In the case of criminal activity it means face arrest and trial. This isn’t just my definition, it’s everyone’s.

        If you can point out someone who knowingly and willfully committed fraud who went unpunished, I will probably agree with you that that person should have been punished. This won’t affect my rebuttal of your premise that corporations are freely allowed to engage in fraudulent activity.

        Believe it or not I disagree with eyeofthepigeon about corporate personhood. I think his first post misses the point. The nature of the parts does not dictate the nature of the sum. I’m not going to deal with the IRS or traffic court as if I’m dealing with a person. I think Citizens United is a bad decision. But believing this doesn’t require saying that corporations can commit whatever fraudulent activity they want. I detest these kind of all-or-nothing arguments, which are often a way of diverting attention from the failings of government, and I’m not too proud to pick and choose who’s making the most sense regardless of what “side” they’re on.

      • tunkashila
        January 22, 2012

        I must concede that some individuals have prosecuted for committing crimes in their company’s name.  Similarly, you must concede that others have escaped culpability, likely due to their wealth and influence. Even the companies themselves are insulated from the consequences of their actions.  For example, the Justice Department dismissed a conspiracy case against UBS AG (UBSN), Switzerland’s biggest bank, after the expiration of an 18-month deferred prosecution agreement with the Zurich-based bank.  This doesn’t mean that they didn’t commit crimes, only that they cut deals to avoid responsibility. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-01/goldman-too-big-to-face-prosecution-over-mortgage-securities-hintz-says.html)  Would you or I receive similar treatment?  I doubt it. 
        You make a good point about all-or-nothing, though it’s my feeling that justice is often an all-or-nothing proposition.  If two entities (corporations vs. persons) commit the same crime but are administered different punishments (arrest and incarceration vs. investigation and fines), this, to my mind,  negates the concept of justice.  And when this happens, it removes all legitimacy from the system. 

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        If corporations are caught in fraud, they are in fact punished.  There have been dozens of high profile cases in the last decade.  Are some corporations getting away with fraud and not getting caught?  Sure.  There are also ordinary citizens committing fraud and murder and other crimes and getting away with those too.  There’s no separate exclusion for corporations except in the mind of deranged people.
        Furthermore, not all corporations engage in fraud.

      • tunkashila
        January 21, 2012

        No, not all corporations engage in fraud-neither do all people.  Should we then do away with all laws or accept their unequal application on the foolish basis of “not everybody does it”? 

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        Why would we do away with all laws?  I didn’t say we should.  You suggested that they aren’t punished when in fact they are, as they should be when they can be.  There’s no double system of laws as you claim.  If you selectively block out the corporations that have been punished for fraud then that’s not something any amount of logic is going to change.

      • tunkashila
        January 22, 2012

        If corporations are fined for committing the same acts that individuals would be jailed for, then it’s obvious that they aren’t being punished in like fashion and two separate systems of justice exist.  When CEOs or whoever cooked up and/or executed the fraudulent schemes in the first place are jailed rather than fined, then you can claim they’ve been punished.  Until then, you’re merely parsing words and defending the indefensible.

      • leftfield
        January 22, 2012

        “no cliches to see there.”

        I see a cliche here:  “Business good, government bad; free market good, regulation bad”.

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        incidentally, Tunkashila, in order to not come across as an idiot in the future when discussing corporations, I’d advise not making this ignorant mistake: debtholders (another word for bondholders, as I am sure you already knew) of a corporation are not the ones who are in debt, and so they cannot go “deeper” in debt.  It is the corporation that is in debt to debtholder, not the other way around.  I’m sure you were just so eager to school me that you made this mistake by accident, so I’m sorry if I am wasting your time offering you this advice.

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        incidentally, could you provide me of an instance where any corporation stole money from taxpayers?  I don’t mean cases where the government stole it and then handed to a corporation (like, for example, General Motors a couple of years ago).  I mean where a corporation committed the theft itself.

      • tunkashila
        January 21, 2012

        Incidentally, you’ve apparently missed Bank of America and Goldman Sachs looting the US Treasury via interest-free loans, but since you’d probably characterize that as “the government stole it and handed it to them” rather than “they committed fraud by lying about the purposes for which the loans would be utilized”, I’ll simply list one drop in the ocean since you asked for “an instance”: United Healthcare (a private corporation) defrauded Medicare by falsifying reports of how they handled phone inquiries.  (http://mathiasconsulting.com/cases/2004/US/united)
        Care to explain how that’s not a theft?  Oh, and feel free to show where anyone within the corporation did a scintilla of jail time rather than the company paying a pittance of a fine compared to how much was stolen and still claim there’s “no separate exclusion for corporations except in the minds of deranged people”. 
         
        Apparently, “deranged people” includes judges and prosecutors, because had you or I stolen money or committed fraud, those same judges and prosecutors would throw the book at us.  In the case of United Healthcare and similarly powerful corporate entities, they merely convene an investigation and then levy a trivial fine, punishing nobody.  Still want to tell everybody about how no separate systems of justice exist in terms of people vs. corporations?  Sell that bovine excrement to someone dumb enough to buy it….

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 21, 2012

        I didn’t miss anything.  BOA and Goldman weren’t the ones who forced the money to be taken.  The government committed the theft, and then turned around and gave them the money that the government had stolen.  I’m not endorsing BOA or Goldman or GM or Solyndra, but ultimately the theft was done by the government, and the companies were simply happy recipients of some of the spoils.
         
        In the case you cited above, United Healthcare paid a settlement, which if they are guilty is as it should be.  It’s a little weird that you previously were stating that corporations were above the law and now you are using a case where the law worked as it should.  Which is it?  Are they above the law or aren’t they?  If they aren’t, then why did United Healthcare make this payment?  Are they philanthropists?  How did you determine that the $50 million was “trivial”, particularly since it includes both actual damages and punitive amounts?
        Fraud is obviously bad, but it is not theft, nor is it as bad as theft.  Here is why I don’t classify it as theft.  Theft is forcing people to submit to payment whether they like it or not.  Nobody was forced to do business with United Healthcare.  That some people were too lazy or ignorant or felt (incorrectly) that they had no option but to do so does not mean they actually had to.  There is no business in the country you have to give money to.  None.  And you can’t be fined or incarcerated if you don’t.  If businesses had such powers, or could send thugs to your house to force you to pay, then I’d agree.  But they don’t.
        You have believed plenty of bovine excrement yourself in your time.  Try maturing beyond the 9th grade at some point.  It will help you, and realize why I found your original cliche-ridden post so childish and stupid.
         
         
         
         

      • tunkashila
        January 22, 2012

        Wow, where to begin?  As a matter of fact, former Goldman Sachs executives (Paulsen, Geithner, et al) were the ones who forced the money through the system to their old company after being appointed via the politicians they spent years buying off with campaign donations.  That’s how the system has “worked” for years-these clowns just ramped it up to unprecedented levels.  If you can still claim the govt., apropos of nothing, just made them take the money rather than admitting that their former executives in places of power helped them game the system, then that’s your perception and not the reality.
         
        No, if the law worked as it should, then some people would have gone to jail for their fraud rather than the organization paying a fine which represents a fraction of what they stole ($3.4 million fine in the link provided-no idea where your $50 million figure comes from).  And yes, you can commit theft via fraud, which is what happened and happens every day-interesting that you would say it is not as bad as theft.  Also interesting that you demanded to know of a single instance, which was easily provided, and now you facetiously claim that the law “worked as it should” and the example proves nothing as the company paid a fine.  When fraud and theft occur, the people who instigated it should go to prison rather than be able to walk away after paying a fine-end of story.
         
        Now, on to your absolutely imbecilic contention that “Nobody was forced to business with United Healthcare”.  First, when you’re on Medicare or any insurance company, you are de facto forced to do business with whoever is in your provider network.  If you can’t afford a supplemental plan (and most can’t), then you have no choice but to go with whatever company will accept basic Medicare, which was United Healthcare in the example provided.  Obviously, the company didn’t have a gun in Medicare or the patients’ faces, but they still initially forced it to pay through the billing process, thus stealing the funds.  I’d say that more than qualifies as “forcing people to submit to payment”, even if it’s the govt. paying and not the patient directly.  Not sure what moral lens you’re viewing it through, but it really doesn’t matter: you still haven’t refuted a thing I’ve said, merely called names and moved the goalposts when your challenges were so easily met.  It’s obvious to all who the childish and stupid one is in this equation.

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 22, 2012

        The United Healthcare case in question was $50 million.  The smaller amount you cited above referred to one employee in particular and a few other co-litigants, and the $50 was for additional litigants.  You should check more sources on that case.  I don’t know what the amount of the actual fraud was.  Do you?  Identifying whether $1 million, or $5 million, or $50 million is a pittance or a lot obviously depends on the amount in question.  Since you feel so strongly, you must obviously know how much $$ in fraud we are talking.  Please inform me.
        Fraud is bad, but it is not the same thing as theft.  That’s why it has it’s own word and set of legal codes.  Your refusal to recognize that is not my problem.
        Again, show me where any company has ever forced an individual to give it money.  You have yet to do that.
        You are not forced to use any specific provider in your provider network.  Furthermore, you are not forced to use Medicare.  One’s life choices of all kinds that put themselves in a situation where they felt forced to use Medicare does not mean they are actually forced to use it. 
        I have eviscerated most of your original post.  You are too blinded by your hatred of corporations to see that.  That wouldn’t be my problem, except that you have the power to vote and believe the government should be used to force organizations of people (corporations) to your particular worldview’s wishes.  As far as that goes, I agree with you only up to the point of prosecuting fraud.  I don’t happen to believe that fraud is as rampant and unpunished as you seem to believe but somehow I doubt that you and I will ever agree on this.  But I don’t think fraud is theft.  I don’t think companies force people to make payments to them (only government does that).  I don’t think corporations are either good or evil inherently, and if I don’t like them I will simply not patronize them, unlike government which I have no choice but to comply with.  I find your lack of anger at our government in light of your presumed outrage over actions of theft to be bizarre in the extreme. 
         

      • eyeofthepigeon
        January 22, 2012

        one last thing before dropping the beaten dead horse.  In the case above, if you ignore the fact that a patient is not actually forced by anyone to use Medicare (which undercuts your whole point, but let’s pretend that it doesn’t for a moment), if you are forced to go with whatever company it is that will accept basic Medicare, ask yourself: who actually is the agent of force in that case?  It is Medicare itself.  United Healthcare cannot force you to give them money.  If you don’t, you won’t go to jail or be fined.  If Medicare’s rules and structure and wrong (I’m not saying they aren’t), then the problem lies with Medicare, and not with the various medical insurers.  And the fact that you think that because the providers bill the government for services rendered amounts to forcing a customer into having taken the services in the first place is nonsensical.  It is Medicare that makes the contract to the patient. 

      • tunkashila
        January 22, 2012

        No, United Healthcare forced the government (read: taxpayers) to pay by exploiting the billing process.  And if you cannot afford any other insurance options, whether through life choices or just plain bad luck, you are indeed forced to use Medicare.   Plus, you utterly ignore the fact that this was a case of fraud-the phone services were never rendered to begin with, so your argument that a customer ever asked to take the services doesn’t even begin to jibe with the facts.  As to the amount of what was stolen vs. the amount fined, you’ve obviously looked deeper into the case already, so do your own research and put up the results or drop the dead horse already.
         
        You don’t think fraud is theft, fine.  But fraud enables theft, which is why there is a legal category of “Theft by fraud”.  When you steal via chicanery, you are no less a thief.  Just as when you defend a business’ right to steal via chicanery you are no less a prostitute to their interests.

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About

The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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