Kinder Morgan [the zombie child of Enron]?
Imperial Metals [fanciful producers of the Mount Polley Mine disaster]?
Other companies that treat workers badly like IKEA or Rocky Mountain Railtours?
Capitalism is all about worshiping Frankencorporations that are immortal, legally a human being, limit the liability of owners if the company screws up, taxed much lower than real humans, and are designed to maximize shareholder wealth while minimizing risk to capitalists and maximizing consequences for others. Raping and pillaging is just an added bonus.
But what if a company, in its cancerous zeal for wealth, has a tailing pond disaster, or a pipeline leak, or an oil tanker sinking, or abuses workers or is generally a blight on humanity and the planet?
It turns out, that in BC the provincial government cabinet can simply decree that a corporation ceases to exist:
423 The Lieutenant Governor in Council may cancel the incorporation of a company and declare it to be dissolved.
And, some person may go to court to try to dissolve some such company for some reason:
324 The court may order that the company be liquidated and dissolved if… the court…considers it just and equitable to do so.
[emphasis is mine.]
I have never heard of a provincial government cabinet dissolve a corporation for bad behaviour or justice issues or in pursuit of societal equity. I have also never heard of some person going to court to have it dissolve a company.
Sure, I can sue a company if it violates my rights somehow. Or violates a contract, or some law. But as long as companies operate within the law [I know, I’m rolling my eyes about this too] they somehow deserve to exist.
But what if corporations, in their cancerous zeal to maximize shareholder wealth, end up being ultimately destructive to society or our symbiotic relationship with our world?
Big Macs [just because] or McDonald’s putting vinyl in chicken nuggets? High fructose corn syrup? GMOs? Hello Kitty [ok, I’m kidding here]? Cluster bombs? Automatic weapons marketed to citizens?
What would it take to present an argument in court that would win, or to the government?
Just what does a company have to do that is so heinous that a court or government would simply euthanize it?
And why aren’t we having this debate?
Read about the North River Sugar Refining Corporation and Unocal:
“The people mistakenly assume that we have to try to control these giant corporate repeat offenders one toxic spill at a time, one layoff at a time, one human rights violation at a time. But the law has always allowed the attorney general to go to court to simply dissolve a corporation for wrongdoing and sell its assets to others who will operate in the public interest.”
And read about Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County.
And even Adbusters has been getting into the charter revocation game lately. With a hashtag even: #KillCap!
So it’s time to think creatively. Think about whether as a society, we should be adding criteria to ensure that corporations deserve to exist. We should make sure that criteria is sound and well-understood and widely proclaimed. So that when we go after the first corporate charters, the low hanging fruit, then we can ensure corporations actually contribute to the public good.
And if that last phrase makes your chuckle, THAT’s how far we’ve let the corporate plutocracy rule us.
It’s our society. WE are the humans. Let’s take it back!