Very fine corporate persons

Corporations are people too, the U.S. Supreme Court says so, over and over. They have a right to speak on political matters, an unlimited one, beyond the First Amendment rights of the individuals who make up the corporation. They have a right to infinite wealth, if they can get it. They have a right to lock customers they injure out of the courts with clever, binding arbitration clauses, developed by legal geniuses like our current Chief Justice John Roberts. They have a right to use negotiated loopholes in the tax code to pay zero tax, no matter how many billions in profits they make. Some of the wealthiest, like the fossil fuel industry, get generous cash subsidies from taxpayers, . It’s easy to condemn some of their practices, heck, most of them, but try being a corporate person– not so easy.

From the New York Times, almost a year ago:

When Bayer, the giant German chemical and pharmaceutical maker, acquired Monsanto two years ago, the company knew it was also buying the world’s best-known weedkiller. What it didn’t anticipate was a legal firestorm over claims that the herbicide, Roundup, caused cancer.

Now Bayer is moving to put those troubles behind it, agreeing to pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of claims while continuing to sell the product without adding warning labels about its safety.

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Ten billion is a mountain of money, unless you do the math and view at it as a tiny percentage of Bayer’s profits (which I am too lazy at the moment to look up and calculate). Maybe the article sheds some light on this further down… no. But this will give a sense of scale:

Bayer, which inherited the litigation when it bought Monsanto for $63 billion, has repeatedly maintained that Roundup is safe.

I had a friend who spent years in federal court, on behalf of organic farmers Monsanto somehow countersued in connection with alleged unauthorized use of Monsanto products (which the organic famers hated, were suing to stop the use of and certainly had no motive to use themselves). Monsanto sent an army of brilliant lawyers, including one of Antonin Scalia’s spawn, to fight these cases brought by environmental groups trying to get the EPA [1] to enforce its laws against Monsanto. They fought most of the environmental suits to a draw. Monsanto has always been evil. Now they are owned by Bayer, which has also nakedly embraced evil whenever it had the chance.

When the massive work/death camp Auschwitz was constructed in occupied Poland after Mr. Hitler’s conquest of Poland, Bayer’s parent company, I.G. Farben (Bayer joined the giant chemical conglomerate in 1925), built a factory there, serviced by disposable prisoner workers they rented from the SS for $1 a day. The deal worked out great for pharmaceutical giant Bayer and also for the Nazis. Arbeit Macht Frei, indeed.

Of course, powerful corporate persons taking advantage of puny human persons is not limited to those who love the Nazi way of looking at things. The ostentatiously philanthropic billionaire Sackler family, certainly no Nazis, in the strict sense, (they’re Jewish) have done a lot of killing too, many tens of thousands of Americans have died at their own hands using Sackler products the Sacklers knew the dangers of — and lied about– as they aggressively distributed these powerful, highly addictive products — marketed as safe– under the corporate veil of Purdue Pharma. You can sue the hell out of Purdue, if you want, and they will declare bankruptcy (as they have) — but there seems to be no way to hold the Sacklers themselves responsible for decades of deliberate lying and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of American deaths. The corporation did it, you see, not them! Only a small proportion of the $35,000,000,000 in Oxycontin profits the Sacklers made are reachable by prosecutors.

The great Bill Moyers once said “I’ll believe corporations are people when the state of Texas puts one of them to death.”

You don’t think a corporatist 6-3 Supreme Court majority, the last three selected directly from the corporatist Federalist Society list, plus a billion dollar army of professional lobbyists in Washington, makes all the difference in the world? Think again.

Headline news recently about corporate giant Facebook, the brainchild of the arguably psychopathic Mark Zuckerberg, one of our most stable and successful American geniuses, dithering about possibly banning Trump for life from the popular platform. After Facebook gleefully collected dump trucks of ad money in 2016, from bad actors, including big buys from Putin in support of Trump, and played a huge role in the political rise of Trump, and QAnon and other pernicious fever dreams of sick minds, they decided that in urging his most rabid fans to storm the Capitol and take care of the weak, disloyal Mike Pence, the former president had gone too far.

After arguing in Congress, during the lead up to the 2020 election, that Facebook wouldn’t stop false political ads because Americans are smart enough to separate truth from a torrent of targeted, self-reinforcing lies constantly beamed to their computers and phones, Zuckerberg vowed to do more to control the wild (and hugely profitable) flow of dangerous lies on Facebook.

Zuck, we should note, is the same cuck who seethed, during an in-house address to his executives that one recorded and released, that if the US government tried to regulate Facebook, if it threatened something as “existential” as his right to make as many additional unlimited billions as fast as possible, “YOU GO TO THE MAT” and call out your armies of litigators. You don’t want to sue the US government, God forbid, but every corporate person has its limits.

If corporate persons had faces, this would be what they’d look like

So “Facebook” decided yesterday to revisit the question of Trump’s lifetime ban from Facebook in six months, presumably once MAGA-man learns the lesson Senator Susan Collins earnestly promised us all he’d learned after his first impeachment trial, a trial that exonerated him of all wrongdoing as strongly as Bill Barr had, as Barr promised to do when auditioning, by legal memo dismissing the Mueller Investigation as a partisan stunt, for the job of enthusiastic Trump gunsel [2]. Six months to clean up his scandalous act, and, of course, Mr. Trump has given us all every indication that he can learn another trick besides the reflexive doubling down on self-serving lies he learned as an abandoned, enraged, born-entitled two year-old.

[1]

The EPA:

The Environmental Protection Agency ruled last year that it was a “false claim” to say on product labels that glyphosate caused cancer. The federal government offered further support by filing a legal brief on the chemical manufacturer’s behalf in its appeal of the Hardeman verdict. It said the cancer risk “does not exist” according to the E.P.A.’s assessment.

Then in January, the agency issued another interim report, which “concluded that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen.”

This week, a federal judge in California referred to the agency’s pronouncement when it ruled that the state could not require a cancer warning on Roundup, writing that “that every government regulator of which the court is aware, with the exception of the I.A.R.C., has found that there was no or insufficient evidence that glyphosate causes cancer.”

Critics have countered that regulators based their conclusions on flawed and incomplete research provided by Monsanto. Several cities and districts around the world have banned or restricted glyphosate use, and some stores have pulled the product off its shelf.

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[2] Dashiell Hammett (whose life would later be destroyed by the House Un-American Activities Committee*) snuck this one by the censors when he had Sam Shpade tell the heavy, in 1941’s The Maltese Falcon, to tell his gun-toting “gunsel” to back off. Hammett was referring to this definition:

Noun. gunsel (plural gunsels) (slang, dated) Synonym of catamite: a young man kept by an elder as a (usually passive) homosexual partner. (slang, dated) Synonym of bottom: a passive partner in a male homosexual relationship.

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The word today, of course, is defined: a criminal carrying a gun.

*The HUAC was created in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having fascist or communist ties.

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Harkening back to that quaint, Hitlerian era, when patriotic Americans still opposed fascism, rather than opponents of fascism. From Wikipedia:

In 1939, the committee investigated people involved with pro-Nazi organizations such as Oscar C. Pfaus and George Van Horn Moseley.[15][16] Moseley testified before the committee for five hours about a “Jewish Communist conspiracy” to take control of the US government. Moseley was supported by Donald Shea of the American Gentile League, whose statement was deleted from the public record as the committee found it so objectionable.[17]

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