1. Hatchetfish says

    I particularly like him after, having watched several of these segments in a row a few days ago, I realized it was the most in depth and informative coverage of news I could remember seeing, ever. (Disclaimer; I’m 32. Murrow was a bit before my time.)

    GM’s cameo at the end brings up something I’ve wondered about for a while: How can we implement a corporate death penalty? There’s been some black humor about it, like this was, but seriously, how can a corporation be executed for its crimes? Fines clearly aren’t a deterrent to corporate sociopathy. Would, say, blanket removal of executives, seizure of their stock and related assets, and personal prosecution where appropriate be more effective? Dissolution of the entire company seems highly unfair to lower level employees who’d be hurt by it, but what options are out there for deterrents that aren’t a slap on the wrist but don’t harm the innocent?

  2. favog says

    Hatchetfish, the reason fines don’t work is they’re not structured correctly. It’s like traffic tickets. Rich people generally don’t worry about them as much as a poorer person does, right? They can afford it, after all. But there are places in Europe where the price of the ticket is determined not just by the offense, but by the income level of the person being ticketed. So they know it’s enough to make it hurt. Same problem with corporate fines. It’s the company’s legal obligation to make as much money for the shareholders as possible. So if my company can make 2 million dollars by violating a regulation that has a 1 million dollar fine attached, breaking the law nets my company 1 million dollars. The fine is a business expense like any other. Fines need to be scaled to where they always cost more than the violation brings in.

    Also, totally agree about the beets. Disgusting.

  3. jedibear says

    John Oliver is barking up the wrong tree with corporate personhood, and is clearly wrong about Taco Bell.

    I mean, I guess it was amusing, if you’re into that sort of thing, but it didn’t really do anything for me.

  4. Hatchetfish says

    Oh I’m well aware of that, favog. It’s very central to the corporate sociopathy. ‘Violate the regulation, screw the public, maybe get caught, maybe pay the fine, come out in the black’ is the exact behavior I’m speculating on how to deter. The problem is how to make it affect the people who decide these things, and not the ones who assemble the widgets they’re told to. I haven’t been able to think of a solution for that last part.

  5. jedibear says

    As far as death penalties for corporations, it probably becomes necessary at some point to recognize that the activities of a corporation are directed by natural persons who have discretion over them and that if a corporation has done anything criminal, that those persons are legally responsible.

  6. faustus says

    Reminds me of Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary:

    “CORPORATION, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.”

  7. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    Hi, I’m just here to say that I found this segment disagreeable for no other reason than to question the tastes of all those who enjoyed it. Being the god of comedy that I am, I am allowed to also make the declaration that this was most definitely Not Funny and was a triune: Banal, Boring and Buzzkill. I found myself regretting the time it took to click the play button and watch this, moreso than the time I allowed a badger to feast on some cashews in my back pocket. Please, take it from me, there is no real reason to me pointing this out except to declare how sophisticated and high-brow my humor should be, unlike you common heathens

    Someone in this thread sounds exactly like that.

    Jon Oliver’s bit was great. Not sure if its the writers or him, but I found it hit all my funny bones.

  8. unclefrogy says

    I agree that that measly fines are completely a joke not even a slap on the wrist.
    I also think that those who were in charge of those decisions should be held personally responsible for the results when they end up breaking the law they certainly take all the credit (and profit) for any successes that occur when they were in charge!

    Corporations are not persons!
    uncle frogy

  9. jedibear says

    No, unclefrogy, corporations *are* (legal) persons. In fact, that’s the whole bloody point of them!

  10. says


    No, unclefrogy, corporations *are* (legal) persons. In fact, that’s the whole bloody point of them!

    Do you understand that “legal person” is a term of art meant exactly the opposite from what is happening right now?
    The difference between natural and legal persons is actually the one about rights and duties. As the segment clearly shows, legal persons do not have the same duties as natural persons and they don’t suffer the consequences natural persons suffer.
    Why? Because they’re not people with a mind and agency of their own.
    Give you an easy example? In Germany, when talking about cars there are three different “positions”: The owner, the holder, the driver. One of them can be a corporation, a legal person.
    Because it makes sense that a car, a thing, can be part of a group of more things that are ultimately owned by people. The holder cannot be. Why? Because they are responsible for keeping the car in a condition where you can safely drive. How is a corporation as a person going to do that? And next: people can get driving licenses and drive cars. No matter how many cars GM builds, I want to see it do that.

    What’s next? Voting rights for legal persons?

  11. David Utidjian says

    Giliell @ 12:

    What’s next? Voting rights for legal persons?

    Isn’t that what ‘Citizens United’, in effect, already gave to corporations/legal persons?

  12. unclefrogy says

    it is a legal fiction used to shelter money and responsibility of people from government and by extension the public. It is a convenience set up to more efficiently manage a business.
    It should no more shelter the people who work for and manage and own the corporation than I would be sheltered from responsibility if I engaged in a conspiracy by hiring someone to commit a crime.
    a corporation is not a person any more than a conspiracy is a person.
    uncle frogy

  13. Mobius says

    The more I see of John Oliver’s show, the more I like it.

    Sadly, I don’t have HBO. But then, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of bloggers linking to it.

  14. David Marjanović says

    Unintended consequences may lay bare the hypocrisy of the Right-wing and its agents on the Supreme Court.

    How would conservatives and their agents respond if a company with Islamic beliefs (however defined) decided to impose its religious values on white, Christian, American employees?

    Sharia hysteria would spread in such a way as to make the present day-to-day Islamophobia of the Right-wing echo chamber appear benign and muted by comparison.

    What if a Black cultural nationalist organization such as the Nation of Islam or the Black Israelites claimed that they possessed a “religious freedom” to actively discriminate against white people in the workplace or elsewhere?

    The White Right would explode with claims of “reverse discrimination” and “black racism”.

    That’s from here.

  15. says

    Just as expected:

    The day after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, a group of religious leaders sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he exempt them from a forthcoming executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people.

    The letter, first reported by The Atlantic, was sent on Tuesday by 14 representatives, including the president of Gordon College, an Eric County, Pa., executive and the national faith vote director for Obama for America 2012, of the faith community.

    “Without a robust religious exemption,” they wrote, “this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”[…]

  16. says

    Doctors and Nurses are not happy about the Hobby Lobby decision:

    The 5-4 decision was immediately criticized by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association (PDF), the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for allowing employers to meddle in the exam room.

    The decision “intrudes on the patient-physician relationship and will make it more difficult for many women to make their own personal medical decisions,” said Dr. Robert Wah, president of the AMA. “We encourage the administration to provide alternative pathways to secure coverage for patients unable to obtain these services as a result of the court’s ruling.”

    Each of the groups urged officials in Washington to work quickly to restore coverage options for all insured women, saying that limiting insurance coverage would force women to take additional steps or pay out of pocket for birth control—which affects low-income women in particular. […]

    Also here:

  17. says

    Hobby Lobby Wants to Stop Doctors From Talking to Its Employees About Contraception

    […] Hobby Lobby and their co-plaintiff, Conestoga Wood Specialties, are also objecting to insurance plans covering “related education and counseling” for contraception. In other words, these for-profit businesses aren’t just asking their female employees to pay for their own contraception, even though they are already paying for their own contraception by paying for their insurance coverage. These companies want to elbow their way into doctor’s offices and call the shots on what doctors can and cannot say to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood employees. […]

    This aspect of the story is also covered here:

  18. says

    Justice Alito’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case should not come as a surprise. Here’s some background on Alito that begins in November 2012, right after Obama won the presidential election.

    […] at this annual gathering of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, arguably the most powerful legal organization in the country, Justice Samuel Alito was defiant. […]

    Just a few months earlier, the Court had rejected a request that it repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, based on a tenuous reading of the Tenth Amendment that one prominent conservative judge dismissed as having no basis “in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent.” Justice Alito dissented in the Court’s health care decision. He wanted Obamacare gone. […]

    Referring to the text of the Constitution, Alito quipped that “[i]t’s hard not to notice that Congress’ powers are limited, and you will see there is an amendment that comes right after the First Amendment, and there’s another that comes after the Ninth Amendment.” He spent much of the rest of the speech criticizing legal arguments the Obama Administration had made in his Court. [A speech given at the annual gathering of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, arguably the most powerful legal organization in the country.]

    So, when Chief Justice Roberts opened the final session of the Supreme Court’s term on Monday by announcing that Justice Alito would deliver both of the Court’s remaining opinions, liberals immediately knew that they were about to hear some very bad news. In quick succession, Alito dealt sharp blows to public sector unions and to women whose employers object to birth control. […]

    Hobby Lobby is also the latest in a series of decisions Alito has handed down diminishing the rights of women in the workplace. Prior to Hobby Lobby, his most famous decision was undoubtedly Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire, the pay discrimination case that Congress overturned in the very first bill President Obama signed into law. […]

    Last year, in an opinion with potentially much further reaching consequences than Ledbetter, Alito gutted a core protection helping prevent workers from being racially or sexually harassed by their boss. […]

    unlike the many partisans in Congress and other elected positions, Alito cannot be voted out of office. His appointment to the Court lasts for his entire life.

  19. rrhain says

    Another reason not to get on too high of a horse: While it is true that full-time employees earn substantially more than minimum wage, most of their employees aren’t full time. Full time work only goes to the managers. The vast majority of their employees earn less than $10/hour.

  20. ck says

    jedibear wrote:

    As far as death penalties for corporations, it probably becomes necessary at some point to recognize that the activities of a corporation are directed by natural persons who have discretion over them and that if a corporation has done anything criminal, that those persons are legally responsible.

    And I want a pony! Sadly, that isn’t going to happen either.

    Let me tell you how this happens in the real world: Let’s take the example of the GM automobiles. There, you have dozens of managers each trying to cut costs and secure their own bonuses. So, manager A demands that corner a be cut, which would have no effect on safety as long as b, c, d, e, and f remain uncut. Manager B, who has no direct connection to manager A, cuts corner b to save money for his division. Manager C cuts corner c. And so on. No single manager is entirely responsible for the disaster, so do we sentence to death 1/6 of each of these managers (lop off a couple limbs or something)? And how do you get at these manager’s directors who were very careful to not have full knowledge of what was going on?

    Or hell, take the fact that LLC stands for “Limited Liability Corporation”, which is a legal construct to protect stakeholders from having culpability for the actions of the corporation (generally a good thing so that smaller startups can secure funding, but is also easily abused). That’s not even getting to the legions of lawyers companies employ to make sure they’re not liable for anything significant.

    So, unfortunately real life is messy and complicated and the libertarian idea that you just hold the person responsible for the misdeed criminally/civilly liable for the misdeed usually breaks down once a company gets beyond a certain size (which is also coincidentally when they also get big enough to cause grievous harm).

  21. dragon says

    @ jedibear #11

    No, unclefrogy, corporations *are* (legal) persons. In fact, that’s the whole bloody point of them!

    If they are persons, corporations can not be owned as property. We outlawed slavery. Unless the corporation was ‘duly convicted’ of crimes.

    Let’s indict David Green for enslaving Wahabi Lobby.

  22. says

    Conservatives are explaining the backlash against the Hobby Lobby decision as, basically, whores and sluts want to have consequence-free sex.

    n the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, conservatives couldn’t resist making a ruling officially about religious liberty into how women will no longer be able to freely have sex on the government’s dime.

    Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh held nothing back on Wednesday when criticizing liberals for considering birth control to be part of preventative care for women.

    “Pregnancy is something that you have to do to cause. … Yet we treat it as a great imposition that women need to be protected from. It’s a sickness, it’s a disease, it’s whatever, and there’s gotta be a pill for it,” he said on his show. “Yet they wouldn’t have the problem if they didn’t do a certain thing. It’s that simple.”

    Red State’s Erick Erickson boiled the Hobby Lobby case down to religion versus “consequence free sex.” […]

  23. says

    Nice action from moderate christians:

    A group of clergy handed out condoms to customers in front of an Illinois Hobby Lobby store on Wednesday, staging a creative, faith-based protest against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant the craft store giant religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. […]

    Think Progress link.

  24. sambarge says

    …corporations *are* (legal) persons. In fact, that’s the whole bloody point of them!

    “If the law supposes that, the law is an ass.”