The US Supreme Court has just ruled that corporations have more of the rights as “legal persons” that “natural persons” enjoy than was previously thought. In particular, that they’ve many of the rights of political free speech. They’re allowed to spend money on advertising for and against political ideas and even politicians. This of course has created all sorts of screamin’ ana wailin’ from those who regard companies as the earthly spawn of Beelzebub himself.
Well, no, because as my liberal friends all seem to be indignantly announcing in the aftermath of the Citizens United ruling, corporations aren’t really people! They’re creatures of statute, and “corporate personhood” is just a convenient legal fiction.
And that argument I’m afraid rather leaves me in giggles. For of course it’s exactly the argument that we around here have been using about companies over taxation. You can’t tax companies because they’re just a convenient legal fiction. The tax will end up being paid by people, for only people, not legal fictions, can pay tax. Which rather means that, taking both together, those who are arguing that as “legal” not “natural” persons, corporations don’t have the right to political speech should agree that we should abolish the corporate income tax.
For who can tax a legal fiction?