Politics Magazine

Persons Owning Persons

Posted on the 12 August 2013 by Adask

Persons Owning Persons

“Persons . . . persons who OWN persons . . . are the GREEDIEST persons . . . in the world.”

I recently received the following email:

Hi Alfred,
After reading your blog and others I have been doing some thinking. I was on a long drive yesterday and I came to a realization. If corporations are people and enjoy the privileges of being people then how can they own other corporations?  Isn’t that the textbook definition of slavery?


I replied, in part, as follows:

Hi Christian,

That’s an interesting insight, but it’s mistaken in this regard:  Corporations are not “people”—they’re “persons“.

I.e., you and I are deemed to be flesh and blood “people” under our “Declaration of Independence,” State constitutions and the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States.  However, under the 14th Amendment (“All persons born or naturalized . . . ,” adopted A.D. 1868) we are presumed to be “persons“.  Later, in some Supreme Court case, the Supremes implied that corporations are also “persons”.

Nevertheless, you’re right.  It’s intriguing to see that at least some “persons” (living, flesh-and-blood, like you and I) can own other “persons” (corporations and other legal fictions).  The fact that at least some persons can be owned, bought and sold indicates that at least some “persons” (fictions) are things rather than “people” (men and women made in God’s image and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights).

More, in addition to living “persons” owning fictional “persons,” some fictional “persons” (like corporations) can also own other fictional “persons” (like corporations, partnerships, etc.).

This implies that all fictional persons can be owned, bought and sold by both other fictional persons (corporations, etc.) as well as living “persons” like you and me.

If some “persons” (corporations; legal fictions) are things that can be owned, bought and sold in commerce, does it necessarily follow that all “persons” (including living persons like you and I) are presumed to be things that can be owned, bought and sold?

No, it does not necessarily follow—but it is possible.

Presumably—but not necessarily—it’s only the legal fictions (corporate “persons”) that are treated as “things” while “living persons” (you and I) cannot be deemed to be “things” and cannot be owned, bought or sold.

So, let’s suppose that, under the 14th Amendment, all “persons” (both fictions and flesh and blood) were deemed to be “things”.  Would it follow that (under the 13th Amendment ) subjecting “people” to political slavery is now unconstitutional—but under the 14th Amendment all “persons” could be owned, bought, sold and virtually  “enslaved” under the guise of commerce?

We know that living “persons” (like you and I) can own fictional “persons” (like corporations.)   We also know that fictional “persons” (like corporations, etc.) can own other fictional “persons” (like corporations). What we don’t clearly understand is whether fictional “persons” (corporations, etc.) can also own living “persons” (like you and me)–and that’s a very important question.

If all “persons” (both living and fictional) can be virtually enslaved (owned, bought and sold) in commerce, it would suggest that while the 13th Amendment helped eliminate the political slavery of people, the 14th Amendment may have helped establish commercial slavery of persons.

This conjecture may be unlikely.  Still, it would be ironic if the 13th Amendment ended political slavery of the “People” while the 14th Amendment helped create a new form of slavery—commercial slavery for the “persons”.  If that were true, then the 14th Amendment would be a kind of “repeal” of the 13th Amendment.

I.e., if the 13th Amendment (A.D.1865) prohibited all political slavery of the people, did the Powers That Be quickly respond with the 14th Amendment (A.D.1868) that allowed virtual “slavery” of persons by means of commerce?

Is it possible that “Alfred Adask” (one of the People) can’t be legally subjected to political slavery, but “ALFRED N ADASK” (one of the “persons”?) is presumed to be a “thing” that can be owned, bought, sold and virtually enslaved in commerce?

If it were true that “political” slavery for “people” had been supplanted by “commercial” slavery for persons/things, there’d be at least one fundamental difference between the two varieties of “slavery”.  Political slavery would be primarily involuntary and achieved by force.  One man or group would enslave another man or group by virtue of superior power.  You could be enslaved politically without your consent.

But commercial “slavery” (being owned, bought or sold) might have to be voluntary.  I.e., you might not be subject to commercial “slavery” unless you consented or were at least presumed to have consented by your silence and/or failure to effectively object to being treated as a “thing”.

If I use the name “ALFRED N ADASK” without objection or qualification, have I thereby created sufficient evidence to allow the presumption that I’ve consented to act in, and be treated in, the capacity of a person-thing in commerce capable of being owned, bought, sold and virtually enslaved?

Watcha think, reader?

Do you see any significance or worthwhile insight in the fact that at least some “persons” can own, buy and sell other “persons”?

Do you think that all ”persons” (both living and fictional) are capable of being owned, bought, sold and virtually enslaved in commerce?

Or is it only the legal fictions (corporations, trusts, etc.) that are the kind of “persons” that are “things” and therefore subject to being owned, bought, sold and enslaved—while “living persons” (flesh and blood) are still exempt from being treated as “things” and therefore not subject to being owned, bought, sold or commercially enslaved?

Inquiring minds . . . .


[Incidentally, for those of you who find significance in numbers, this article is the 1,234th post on this blog.]

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