I recently received the following email:
After reading your blog and others I have been doing some thinking. I was on a long drive yesterday and I came to a realization. If corporations are people and enjoy the privileges of being people then how can they own other corporations? Isn’t that the textbook definition of slavery?
I replied, in part, as follows:
That’s an interesting insight, but it’s mistaken in this regard: Corporations are not “people”—they’re “persons“.
I.e., you and I are deemed to be flesh and blood “people” under our “Declaration of Independence,” State constitutions and the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States. However, under the 14th Amendment (“All persons born or naturalized . . . ,” adopted A.D. 1868) we are presumed to be “persons“. Later, in some Supreme Court case, the Supremes implied that corporations are also “persons”.
Nevertheless, you’re right. It’s intriguing to see that at least some “persons” (living, flesh-and-blood, like you and I) can own other “persons” (corporations and other legal fictions). The fact that at least some persons can be owned, bought and sold indicates that at least some “persons” (fictions) are things rather than “people” (men and women made in God’s image and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights).