Yes, Corporations Are People

Mitt Romney’s statement yesterday that “corporations are people” briefly lit up the Left and triggered an immediate DNC attack video. While the news cycle has moved on, the issue is worth revisiting because it reveals the shallowness of the populist Left’s economic thinking.  

The bottom line is simple: Mitt Romney was right, in every way that matters. 

Putting aside the technical legal reality that corporations are considered “persons” under the law (they can sue and be sued, pay taxes, speak, etc.), the fundamental economic reality is that corporate successes benefit human beings and corporate failures harm human beings. In fact, the Left’s real beef isn’t with corporations at all but with people. They understand that people benefit from corporate success, but they don’t like who benefits. Their favorite bogeymen, Exxon and Walmart employ hundreds of thousands, but apparently they are the wrong hundreds of thousands, paid at the wrong wages. But is a janitor at Walmart worse off economically than, say, a janitor at the mom and pop hardware store (also likely a corporation) that closed after Walmart came to town? I know that Walmart has directly benefited my family (and not just because I sold guns and sporting goods at the Georgetown, Kentucky Walmart for one glorious summer in 1987) through lower costs and greater convenience. I think we’re people.

Critics complain that corporations are “hoarding not hiring,” but ask yourself this: Wouldn’t you want to work for a corporation that has the cash reserves to not only weather economic storms but also invest in future products or innovation? Aren’t real people benefiting even from “hoarding?”

The quest for jobs is really a quest for sustainable corporate health. Decades of failed socialist experiments should have convinced us all that governments can’t hire nations into prosperity. We can, however, create the conditions for entrepreneurs (people) to create corporations that employ workers (people) to make products that consumers (people) want or need. And if some CEOs get rich in the process, what’s wrong with that?

After all, rich people are people too.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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