Mar 062013

The leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

Breaking new ground in the movement to give corporations the same rights as people, the state of Texas has become the first to impose the death penalty on a corporation. On midnight of February 1, Lone Star Diesel and Fixins’ had its Articles of Incorporation blown to pieces by shotgun fire, in the first known state-sanctioned execution of a non-human entity.

Illustration by Christopher Epling.

Illustration by Christopher Epling.

The execution took place in a specially prepared section of Big Ted’s Gun Shop and Firing Range in Austin. In what eyewitnesses described as an awe-inspiring scene, officials of the Texas Department of Treasury proceeded into the execution chamber bearing Lone Star’s Articles of Incorporation. The paper human silhouette 20 yards downrange was removed, and Lone Star’s Articles suspended in its place by what appeared to be a gold-plated clothespin. A minister held a microphone in front of the document, asking if it wished to exercise its right of free speech through any last words.

Next, five state accountants silently filed into the execution chamber, wearing matching grey business suits and carrying police-issued Remington 870 shotguns. Wails were heard in the chamber as the Associate Director for Business Revenue Compliance intoned, “Ready…Aim…Fire!” Instantly the Articles exploded into paper shards, pulverized from close range by four 12-gauge shells. One shooter appeared to lose control of his weapon and fired into the ceiling, sending onlookers diving to the floor as pellets ricocheted around the small chamber. No injuries were reported.

“I just couldn’t believe they would go through with this,” said a visibly shaken Ike Eisenberger, former CEO of Lone Star, shortly after the execution of his company. “My last quarterly filing was only three weeks late, and that was because they had somehow sent the form to a chicken farm out in Lubbock. The Texas Supreme Court refused to grant me a stay. Lone Star had a difficult childhood—its parent corporations had a very traumatic divorce when it was young, and its tax compliance staff never really recovered. Yes, its sloppy paperwork has wrecked a lot of lives…but it had such a good heart underneath!  Why can’t they see that!”

The move to authorize the corporate death penalty in Texas breaks new ground in the national trend towards granting corporations the rights of persons. In its 2010 Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that corporations could contribute unlimited sums to political campaigns. The Court reasoned that political contributions were a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment, and that corporations enjoy the same free speech rights as people.

At a campaign stop in Iowa during the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney added momentum to this movement, remarking, “Corporations are people, my friend!” It has since been revealed that Mr. Romney was actually addressing this remark to his close friend Des Moines Financial Services, Limited, who was in attendance at the campaign event. Romney is also said to be on intimate terms with Wells Fargo and Archer Daniels Midland, and has been spotted dining in public with his particular friend UnitedHealth Group.

Texas is expanding its initiative to grant the rights of personhood to corporations. The Defense of Corporate Matrimony Act (DOCMA) was recently signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. “DOCMA allows any unwed corporation in the state to marry the firm, partnership, proprietorship, or consortium that it loves,” said Governor Perry at the signing ceremony.

Since DOCMA prohibits same-sex corporate unions, the statute creates a commission for determining the gender of each corporation in the state. The guidelines are complex, but appear to determine corporate gender based on conventional community standards. For example, technology companies, investment houses, and manufacturing firms are male; day care centers, hair styling salons, and interior decorator concerns are female. No provision is made for sex change procedures.

DOCMA has stimulated a great deal of speculation on the Texas financial scene. In the weeks since DOCMA passed, Marathon Oil has proposed to J.C. Penney, and ConocoPhillips is rumored to be dating Kimberly-Clark.

The state may be considering taking the corporate rights movement one step further by allowing corporations to run for public office. Texas Instruments is said to be considering a bid for governor in 2014.

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