A Few Modest Suggestions, revisited

A while back I wrote this thing which detailed some fairly radical proposals – most of which were to do with scaling back corporate power.


Turns out that these proposals weren’t as radical as I’d initially thought – many were in fact law in the US in the 1800s.

  • Corporations were required to have a clear purpose, to be fulfilled but not exceeded
  • Corporations’ licenses to do business were revocable by the state legislature if they exceeded or did not fulfill their chartered purpose(s
  • The state legislature could revoke a corporation’s charter if it misbehaved
  • The act of incorporation did not relieve corporate management or stockholders/owners of responsibility or liability for corporate acts
  • As a matter of course, corporation officers, directors, or agents couldn’t break the law and avoid punishment by claiming they were “just doing their job” when committing crimes but instead could be held criminally liable for violating the law
  • State (not federal) courts heard cases where corporations or their agents were accused of breaking the law or harming the public
  • Directors of the corporation were required to come from among stockholders
  • Corporations had to have their headquarters and meetings in the state where their principal place of business was located
  • Corporation charters were granted for a specific period of time, such as twenty or thirty years (instead of being granted “in perpetuity,” as is now the practice
  • Corporations were prohibited from owning stock in other corporations, to prevent them from extending their power inappropriately
  • Corporations’ real estate holdings were limited to what was necessary to carry out their specific purpose(s
  • Corporations were prohibited from making any political contributions, direct or indirect
  • Corporations were prohibited from making charitable or civic donations outside of their specific purposes
  • State legislatures could set the rates that some monopoly corporations could charge for their products
  • All corporation records and documents were open to the legislature or the state

Some key things

1) Zero corporate money in politics
2) CEOs go to prison if their company breaks the law
3) Democratically accountable govt can revoke corporation’s right to trade

I also like

4) corporations cannot own stock in other corporations
5) corporations cannot own land (I’ve extended that slightly)

and I’d also tax corporations at 60%… which is the rate that got us out of the 1930s depression. In the 1950s, ~60% of the US federal income was corporation-tax. Today it’s ~6%. This isn’t a recession, it’s a heist – and it’s rapidly sliding into fascism. We need to identify and isolate the people causing this.

Here’s some context

This video is 1 hour, 20 minutes long… but watch it. I’ll come back to it later

2 Comments » for A Few Modest Suggestions, revisited
  1. Tiffany says:

    Where did you get the photo at the top of the page?
    I would like to get the photo credit, please.
    Thank You.

  2. Nick Taylor says:

    The photo at the top of the page came from Tiffany… which I guess makes her what… about 160 years old?

    Doesn’t seem right – I imagine she scanned it from somewhere else, and somehow thinks that magically makes it hers… even though the original image is old enough that any IP-anality has long since expired.

    Cool. I must go take a photo of the Mona Lisa sometime.

    You there Tiffany? You can have anything and everything on this site for free. There’s nothing I can do about it, and frankly, I’d rather live in a world where all information is free, than one where you have to ask for permission for everything.

    Intellectual Property is for idiots. Give it up.