Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ""People"" -- and How You Can Fight Back [NOOK Book]


NEW EDITION, REVISED AND UPDATED Unequal taxes, unequal accountability for crime, unequal influence, unequal control of the media, unequal access to natural resources—corporations have gained these privileges and more by exploiting their legal status as persons. How did something so illogical and unjust become the law of the land? Americans have been struggling with the role of corporations since before the birth of the republic. As Thom Hartmann shows, the Boston Tea Party was actually a protest against the ...
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Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became

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NEW EDITION, REVISED AND UPDATED Unequal taxes, unequal accountability for crime, unequal influence, unequal control of the media, unequal access to natural resources—corporations have gained these privileges and more by exploiting their legal status as persons. How did something so illogical and unjust become the law of the land? Americans have been struggling with the role of corporations since before the birth of the republic. As Thom Hartmann shows, the Boston Tea Party was actually a protest against the British East India Company—the first modern corporation. Unequal Protection tells the astonishing story of how, after decades of sensible limits on corporate power, an offhand, off-the-record comment by a Supreme Court justice led to the Fourteenth Amendment—originally passed to grant basic rights to freed slaves—becoming the justification for granting corporations the same rights as human beings. And Hartmann proposes specific legal remedies that will finally put an end to the bizarre farce of corporate personhood. This new edition has been thoroughly updated and features Hartmann’s analysis of two recent Supreme Court cases, including Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which tossed out corporate campaign finance limits.
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Editorial Reviews

Hartmann is not trained as a historian, economist, or political scientist, but then he does not expect his readers to be either. He presents general readers an alternative story to the one they received growing up. To that end, he writes in the style of high school textbooks<-->difficult terms explained in parentheses, end notes not referenced from the text, and some simplification of historical and economic details. His fundamental message is that Americans have been fighting corporate power since the Boston Tea Party, and that even in these dark times it is possible to wrest rights back. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."—Paul Hawken, author of Natural Capitalism and The Ecology of Commerce

"Hartmann combines a remarkable piece of historical rersearch with a brilliant literary style to tell the grand story of corporate corruption and its consequences for society with the force and readability of a great novel. I intended to take a first quick glance and then couldn't put it down."—David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World

"Unequal Protection should be in the hands of every thinking American. If we do not awaken soon, democracy will be replaced by a new 'Third Reich' of corporate tyranny. To be aware of the danger is the responsibility of each of us. No one has told us the truth better than Thom Hartmann. Read it!"—Gerry Spence, author of Give Me Liberty

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605098395
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/14/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 316,508
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Thom Hartmann is the nation’s leading progressive talk radio host, heard on over a hundred stations, as well as on XM and Sirius radio, and seen on live nationwide television via the Free Speech TV network. He is the bestselling author of eighteen books, including Threshold, Screwed, and Cracking the Code.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Battle to Save Democracy 1

Part I Corporations Take Over 13

Chapter 1 The Deciding Moment? 14

Chapter 2 The Corporate Conquest of America 49

Part II From the Birth of American Democracy through the Birth of Corporate Personhood 55

Chapter 3 Banding Together for the Common Good 56

Chapter 4 The Boston Tea Party Revealed 63

Chapter 5 Jefferson versus the Corporate Aristocracy 84

Chapter 6 The Early Role of Corporations in America 94

Chapter 7 The People's Masters 116

Chapter 8 Corporations Go Global 130

Chapter 9 The Court Takes the Presidency 152

Chapter 10 Protecting Corporate Liars 162

Chapter 11 Corporate Control of Politics 170

Part III Unequal Consequences 187

Chapter 12 Unequal Uses for the Bill of Rights 188

Chapter 13 Unequal Regulation 193

Chapter 14 Unequal Protection from Risk 198

Chapter 15 Unequal Taxes 206

Chapter 16 Unequal Responsibility for Crime 217

Chapter 17 Unequal Privacy 222

Chapter 18 Unequal Citizenship and Access to the Commons 225

Chapter 19 Unequal Wealth 237

Chapter 20 Unequal Trade 249

Chapter 21 Unequal Media 260

Chapter 22 Unequal Influence 278

Part IV Restoring Personhood to People 285

Chapter 23 Capitalists and Americans Speak Out for Community 286

Chapter 24 End Corporate Personhood 290

Chapter 25 A New Entrepreneurial Boom 297

Chapter 26 A Democratic Marketplace 309

Chapter 27 Restoring Government of, by, and for the People 315

Acknowledgments 331

Notes 334

Art Credits 359

Index 360

About the Author 374

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Unequal Protection
The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights

Was the Boston Tea Party the first WTO-style protest against transnational corporations? Did the Supreme Court sell out America's citizens in the nineteenth century, with consequences lasting to this day? Is there a way for American citizens to recover democracy of, by, and for the people?

Thom Hartmann takes on these most difficult questions and tells a startling story that will forever change your understanding of American history. He begins by uncovering an original eyewitness account of the Boston Tea Party and demonstrates that it was provoked not by "taxation without representation" as is commonly suggested but by the specific actions of the East India Company, which represented the commercial interests of the British elite.

Hartmann then describes the history of the Fourteenth Amendment-- created at the end of the Civil War to grant basic rights to freed slaves-- and how it has been used by lawyers representing corporate interests to extend additional rights to businesses far more frequently than to freed slaves. Prior to 1886, corporations were referred to in U. S. law as "artificial persons." But in 1886, after a series of cases brought by lawyers representing the expanding railroad interests, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were "persons" and entitled to the same rights granted to people under the Bill of Rights. Since this ruling, America has lost the legal structures that allowed for people to control corporate behavior.

As a result, the largest transnational corporations fill a role today that has historically been filled by kings. They control mostof the world's wealth and exert power over the lives of most of the world's citizens. Their CEOs are unapproachable and live lives of nearly unimaginable wealth and luxury. They've become the rudder that steers the ship of much human experience, and they're steering it by their prime value-- growth and profit at any expense-- a value that has become destructive for life on Earth. This new feudalism was not what our Founders-- Federalists and Democratic Republicans alike-- envisioned for America.

It's time for "we, the people" to take back our lives. Hartmann proposes specific legal remedies that could truly save the world from political, economic, and ecological disaster.


Thom Hartmann is an award-winning author of more than a dozen books, an international relief worker and psychotherapist, a former business and marketing consultant, and the founder and former CEO of seven corporations that have generated over a quarter-billion dollars in revenue. The father of three grown children, he lives in central Vermont with his wife, Louise.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 23, 2012

    Must read for every American

    Have you wondered why politicians just don't get it? Perhaps they do, but they're listening to the demands of the largest 1% of corporations rather than the people they serve.

    This book gives terrific insight into how our system of government works, and reviews the historical events that led to an acceptance of corporate influence.

    Interesting and well written. I could hardly put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

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