Counterpoint

Let's pause and consider Jay Ambrose's commentary on why corporations are people ("Corporations are people? Yes, count the ways," Aug. 31).

Instead of putting our palms together for the classic children's rhyme ("Here's the church, here's the steeple ..."), as Ambrose suggested, please sit on your hands as you read this.

Ambrose's lines of reasoning defy sensibility. (Uh-uh ... leave those hands where they are, please.)

In the first place, he's right that corporations are not reptiles, but if that's all it takes to make them people, then the newspaper that you're reading right now is a person, too, because it's not a reptile.

Second, while it is certainly true that corporations are associations of people, that does not make the association itself a person.

A pyramid is just a large conglomeration of stones, but a pyramid is much more than just a stone. A building is not the same as a brick, and a locomotive or an automobile is not just a piece of steel.

Third, size is not just a difference in degree. It is a difference in kind.

A beehive is not the same thing as a bee, and a swarm of five bees is not the same as a swarm of 10,000. If you are attacked by the former, you will have a story to tell. If you are attacked by the latter, the story will be about you. 

Corporations and people do have some things in common, particularly in the realm of legal rights, but a corporation's rights are, and ought to be, limited. Some corporations have far larger net worth than the wealthiest real people in the world. That makes them more like the 10,000 bees than the five.

Corporations are not citizens; they cannot vote. That being the case, a corporation that is regarded as a person is more like a foreign national. As such it should not be allowed to influence elections at all, much less in an unlimited way.

How would you feel about communist North Korea or Iran running ads for political candidates?

Finally, let's talk about the topic that Ambrose only hinted at: Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations to spend freely on political advertising.

It must be overturned, and if you still think otherwise, you must be doing your thinking with the part of your anatomy that is right now pressing on your hands.

* * *

David M. Perlman, of New Hope, is a mathematics instructor at Herzing University.