Friday, August 12, 2011

on the nature of people

Dear Republicans and conservative members of The Supreme Court,

Corporations are not people. Corporations can't feel. Corporations can't laugh. Yell the most disgusting insults you can find on at a company's articles of incorporation. Tell the stone and steel of a company's corporate headquarters that you can't live without seeing it smile every morning. Sneak up on a corporate logo and jump out at it from the bushes with a frenzied yell and an airhorn.

None of them will flinch. None of them will blush. Corporations can't feel shame, embarrassment, or fear because they're not people.

In 108 years, no one has ever given PepsiCo a hug. It's not because there aren't people that love Pepsi. It's because PepsiCo is nothing tangible around which arms can be wrapped.

General Electric has never felt bored as it sat for an hour after school in detention.

Since 1839, Berkshire Hathaway has never felt the pangs of hunger or yawned inappropriately in a job interview because it had been so nervous the night before that it didn't get enough sleep.

Exxon doesn't know what it's like to lie in bed at night with the fading wet marks of a kiss on its forehead and tears drying on its cheeks, wondering if it somehow is responsible for its parents' divorce.

When AT&T expressed interest in merging with Cingular, it didn't pull Cingular's hair or awkwardly throw at it the special Valentine's Day card it had spent half an hour searching for while its mom was busy in Target's housewares aisle.

Corporations don't know what it's like to burp, to bleed and fear the sting of its own mortality, to watch their father's aunt slowly forget her life piece by piece from the rolling destruction of Alzheimer's.

People do. People who sit on the board of directors do. People who work in the mail room, or Security, or Facilities, or IT do. People who hate their commutes to work every morning or people who have been laid off, fired, or downsized do. People who make millions of dollars each year or vacation in the south of France do. People do these things because these are the things people do.

Boeing may have some of the fastest vehicles on Earth, but Boeing has never gone joy riding and while Carnival Cruise Lines are a staple of tropical vacations, Carnival has never felt a Jamaican breeze in its hair or the buzz from a great appletini.

People are people. People have dreams and loves and secrets and affairs and slack off at work or push themselves to make their grandmothers proud. People are weak and fragile. People are brave and inventive. People smell bad. People breastfeed, break-up, propose, and busk for money in public. People believe in magic, science, religion, UFOs, angels, and rooting for the underdog.

People run companies, work for companies, buy products and services from companies, and dream of starting their own companies.

But once they do, those companies are never people.