Sunday, September 7, 2014

Incorporation is an Inalienable Individual Right. Public Funding is Not.

A New Jersey Star-Ledger correspondent left the following comment regarding the Hobby Lobby case. The Supreme Court ruled that forcing a corporation to provide abortifacient health insurance coverage against the owners’ religious convictions violated their right to religious freedom. The Star-Ledger noted in an editorial that many organizations that cheered the ruling receive government funding. The correspondent offered this "solution":

If these owners want to be treated like an individual, then treat them as such. Take away the 'Corporate' protections for legal issues so these owners can be sued individually. Take away any government provided Grant money or loans, since I don't want my Religious beliefs trampled on by this company doing things I don't agree with, and that tax money is my money too.

I replied:

Very true: People have a right not to be forced to fund people or businesses that contradict their beliefs. But you also don’t have the right to support “government provided Grant money or loans” to people or businesses whose practices are consistent with your beliefs, but that may violate other people’s beliefs. So, the only just answer is to end all “government provided Grant money or loans.” What moral right do government officials have to seize money by force from some citizens (taxes)—thus violating their right to spend their money as they judge best—and hand it out to other citizens? You provided the answer yourself.

However, I find your suggestion to “take away” Hobby Lobby’s “corporate protections” to be morally horrendous and un-American.

People have an inalienable individual right to do business under terms that limit their personal liability as owners. This right is derived from the right to freedom of contract (which is a derivative of freedom of association). Incorporation is simply a streamlined legal process by which the government upholds and protects that right. If customers don’t want to contract with a business under those terms, they are free not to.

The government’s proper purpose and sole reason for being is to protect individual rights, which precede government. Incorporation is a right, not a privilege or gift from government. Incorporating doesn’t negate individual rights; nor relieve the government of the duty to treat corporation owners “like an individual.” As with rights to speech, property, and conscience, it is the duty of government to enforce the rights of all individuals at all times, however they contract with each other and regardless of their beliefs. If the government can simply rescind its protection of a right for anyone who does not follow its dictates, then we are not sovereign citizens with inalienable rights, but mere subjects who live at the pleasure of an omnipotent imperial power.

Related Reading:

Corporations—The Capitalism Site


Mike Kevitt said...

I advocate that everybody read, IN DEFENSE OF THE CORPORATION, by Robert Hessen. I read it a long time ago, but I should re-read it. It's not a very long book, but it got me beyond the basics, a little, enough that it was well worth reading. I found it very enlightening and interesting.

Michael A. LaFerrara said...