The Billings Outpost

Cobb challenges power of U.S. corporations

By JANE WHITE - The Billings Outpost

Political activist David Cobb entranced an audience of about 35 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on May 6, arguing that the concept of corporate personhood shows that the elite have hijacked the U.S. Constitution and legitimized takeovers of foreign countries through the U.S. legal system.

For more than 90 minutes, lawyer Cobb detailed how “corporate personhood is a fake idea of the courts and the linchpin of the ruling elite to exploit all of us.” He said that corporate personhood overturns concepts like environmental protection, public health and worker safety.

Mr. Cobb, who was born in Texas, was the Green Party candidate for president in 2004, receiving about one-tenth of 1 percent of the popular vote.

To counter the malevolent effects of the concept of corporate personhood, Mr. Cobb encouraged the audience to welcome a sense of “righteous anger, which makes you take action and heal.” Mr. Cobb encouraged the audience to take part in a “worldwide peace movement that might actually change things.”

“Power to the people!” responded some members of the audience enthusiastically, as Mr. Cobb revealed his background as the grandson of a Baptist preacher, well familiar with the technique of call and response. A former professor, he related today’s powerful corporations to the original colonies of the United States.

By taking the audience on a journey back to the 13 colonies, Cobb demystified how the modern transnational corporation, such as a U.S. overseas contractor, was created as an instrument of empire whose purpose was “to destroy natives, impose foreign rule and give the profits to foreign shareholders.”

He criticized the disingenuous use of the phrase “Age of Discovery” for the 15-17th centuries, instead calling it “The Age of Empire.” He said the exploitation of the Unites States’ colonies by the British parallels how the United States colonizes the world now.

“The original colonies were corporations, set up by the king, for his governors to plant, rule and govern as they saw fit on behalf of the King,” he said. The colonies were joint stock trading companies with corporate charters and appointed governors.

“Georgia was a penal institution, Pennsylvania was a land grant, and the English Parliament made laws to benefit themselves - they all owned shares in the East India Companies,” he said.

He briefly mentioned the Africa Trading Co., which bought and sold humans. 

The American Revolution

But the American Revolution rejected the English monarchy and the popular uprising diametrically opposed England’s corporate rule imposed on the colonies.

“Did the revolutionaries want a more socially responsible King? No!” Cobb emphatically said. Cobb said they wanted no king.

“When did they say to themselves, ‘Stop groveling, stop boot-licking and reject the structure of England?’” Mr. Cobb likened current political trends to the ones that then infuriated the angry 18th century revolutionaries.  

The public interest

During the Roman Republic, the Romans created the corporation. Roman rulers employed private funds to create public projects, like roads, bridges, aqueducts, universities and hospitals. They created complex projects that required diverse types of materials, labor and workers, but the corporation was one entity. The single entity vastly simplified the building of gargantuan public facilities.

But when the Roman Republic devolved into the Roman Empire, the corporations became transnational - soldiers and road builders went overseas to acquire resources to support the empire.

“All roads lead to Rome, and they really do in Europe,” because Romans built them, said Mr. Cobb. He said U.S. corporations are doing the same: expanding overseas via a militaristic method to acquire more resources for the nation’s ever-expanding appetite for energy.   

Importance of personhood

Legal personhood is the ability to assert rights under the law. People have rights. Corporations, more recently, received rights of personhood via Supreme Court decisions and under the recent Citizens United decision are allowed to contribute to political parties. One audience member on Sunday angrily exclaimed, “When corporations have zits, that’s when they’ll be people!”

Cobb added, “U.S. history is a series of struggles of actual human beings to be defined as a person under the U.S. Constitution: women, slaves, immigrants, colonists and more ... .”

Neglected majority

Externalized costs of the rule of corporations result in skyrocketing prices for consumers, not the ruling elite, in terms of transportation, energy, healthcare and war, Mr. Cobb said. Everyday people are being priced out of the market when they attempt to purchase gas, power, health insurance and pharmaceuticals.

“BP - whatever happened to our Gulf of Mexico?” Mr. Cobb asked. “BP destroyed it.” To appease the ruling elite, the United States sacrifices its natural resources and bodies of water.

“And Massey Energy,” Mr. Cobb continued, referring to miners who are forced into dangerous mines to seek resources for ever-increasing energy desires. Sick people are unable to afford health insurance or costly medications while massive food consumption enslaves people through disease, he said.

The court system

“Before, the courts were where you went for justice,” Mr. Cobb said. “Now, the ruling elites have hijacked the Constitution” by supporting the concept of corporate personhood. In the “” movement, members seek to rescind corporate personhood and return human beings to the only entities with inalienable rights.

“Corporations are not people, they do not have constitutional rights; they have legal privileges, but not rights,” said Cobb.

Forming a corporation

Today with $25 or so and an ID, an individual can form a corporation in Montana. To form a corporation in 1789, a person had to apply to the state House of Representatives, the Senate and the governor. Corporations’ charters were passed as laws. Such a process was “too difficult” for anyone not connected to the ruling elite.

“Unfair laws” were made by the English Parliament, said Cobb, whose members made laws to benefit only themselves. He asked: Is today’s global elite doing the same to the United States?

For more information, contact Democracy Unlimited, P.O. Box 610, Eureka, CA 95501 or go to


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