“Capital” Punishment: For Corporations that Violate the Public Trust

Jeffrey A. Miller
(Your humble web servant)
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How did corporations obtain this power? Is this the role that we envisioned for business entities in an economic democracy? In this paper, we will look at the history of corporations and their assumption of power that is incompatible with a free society. While we will consider a variety of views as to the proper role for corporate entities, the position of this paper should be clear. We need to reform the role of corporations in our country. We should consider placing limits on the duration of corporate charters, or conditions upon their renewal. States should exercise the responsibility that has always been theirs’ — the oversight of corporate activity. If the states are unwilling or unable to provide responsible oversight, we should consider removing their oversight power, and federalizing corporate charters. Finally, if we are going to consider the corporation to be a person and afford it the same kinds of rights and freedoms that are extended to the individual, perhaps it is time to revise the methods by which we hold the corporate “person” accountable. We should impose the same kind of punishments that we have established for individuals. If a corporation is convicted in the courts for a violation of law, we should curtail its freedom to conduct business for a period of time. In the event of repeat offenses, the penalties should be increased. In those instances where a corporation severely violates the public trust, it should cease to exist. The corporate charter should be revoked, the assets seized and the corporation dissolved.

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