Colbert ad: if corporations are people, then Mitt's corporate raiding makes him a serial killer

The latest Colbert PAC attack ad points out that Mitt Romney says "corporations are people," but he also made his fortune as a raider buying up, gutting and killing corporations. Conclusion: Mitt "the Ripper" Romney is a serial killer.

Attack In B Minor For Strings (via Super Punch)


    1. Appears to be Comedy Central embed via colbertnation links from most sites, so could vary geographically for sure. Should hit youtube sometime soon.

        1. I would like to politely suggest that big sites like boing boing lead the charge to start identifying and not posting this geo locked content. If your not american I don’t think you see in the same way how insidious this is getting.  And I’m sure with proper market forces pushing back it would go away.

          1. have you considered adopting the American Dollar as your loca currency? Or producing the content domsetically? After that, try whining? Or moving. What is insidious is your entitlement.

        2. If anyone has ever wondered why much of the world has a low opinion of Americans,  you might be tempted talk about the illegal wars they start or their prison system, lack of universal healthcare etc. Or if you wanted to get a more honest impression of why, you could read mdhatter03’s comments here. He misspelled Canada, (maybe that’s funny?) thinks we should only watch Canadian programming, and accuses all of Canada of acting entitled – I guess because some of us want to participate in the discussion?  

          Nicely done. You’re a fine representative of the USA. Perhaps you’re a diplomat?

      1. I haven’t been able to make this work. A direct link to the tutorial would be great. (if that’s okay with mdhatter03)

  1. I hate to give them more nuanced parsing than they ever return, but when Mitt said ‘corporations are people,’ he meant corporations are MADE of people. More like Soylent Green.

    1. You know, thanks.    I’d never bothered to seek out the original context.    

      “We have to make sure the promises we make in Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are promises we can keep. And there are various ways of doing that. One is we can raise taxes on people,” Romney explained.

      “Corporations!” someone yelled.

      “Corporations are people, my friend,” Romney replied. “Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.”

    2. I rather doubt that — in case you’ve been sleeping the last couple years, Google Citizens United.  The (totally corrupt) US Supreme Court ruled that *a given* corporation has the same rights as *a given person* when it comes to so-called free speech in elections.
      Now that I’ve typed all that, I have the sad feeling I just got “whooshed.”

    3. I’m not so sure. What he said at the Iowa State Fair was:

      “…Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people…So…Where do you think it goes?…Whose pockets? Whose pockets? Peoples’ pockets!…Human beings, my friend.”

      So what he seemed to be saying was, corporations are made up of the people who financially benefit from them.

      1. But the whole point of a corporation is that it is an entity that takes all liabilities on itself instead of passing them on to people. That way a company that has unserviceable debt does not pass them on to the owners.  A tax on corporations isn’t a tax on people directly (and it can be argued not even indirectly). So Romney saying “Corporations are people” in that context only makes sense if he is talking about corporations _as_ people, not corporations _made up_ of people.

        1. It is pretty clear what he is talking about.  Clearly, Romney, as big of a douche as he is, doesn’t believe that corporations are people.  He is pointing out that if you tax a corporation some person is going to pay for it one way or another.  If you enact a 90% tax on airline flights, it means that the ticket costs are going to skyrocket and people who use that service are going to eating the cost, not that a CEO isn’t going to get his bonus check.  If anyone is going to be screwed, it is going to be the workers who will get laid off.

          This wasn’t Romney’s point, but there is some validity to realizing that taxing corporations is a shitty way to redistribute wealth.  Corporations tend to protect their profit margins zealously.  If you raise taxes they don’t  just shrug and decide to accept a lower level of profit or slash their top earners salaries to compensate.  They just raise their prices.

          If you want to attack inequality in income distribution, you need to hit people directly.  Taxing corporation is a shitty way to attack income inequality.  In my mind, taxing corporations only has two useful purposes.  

          The first use is to discourage bad behavior and force them to pay for externalities.  Taxing oil companies makes sense to pay for dealing with their environmental damage.  Taxing coal plants makes sense to pay for the crap they are pumping into the atmosphere.  That increases their operating cost which results in a price bump for everyone, and pays for cleaning up their mess.   You could tax big box stores in an attempt to make them pay for local economic damage.  In doing so, you make it so that operating the store is more expensive and the prices have to be hire, and so they are less able to compete with local stores. 

          The second use is to capture wealth that is being shipped out of the country.  If you think wealth is leaving to never return, a tax on it will capture part of it.  The inverse of this is to tax things as they come in, order to make it harder for stuff coming in to compete with local options.

          I guess my point is that Romney, in his own deluded way, is right.  When you tax a corporation, someone pays, and it is generally whoever is using the service or buying the product.  It isn’t a worthwhile method of getting at rich people.  It is a method of discouraging behavior and capturing wealth that is about to depart.  If you want to attack income inequality, you actually need to tax people directly.

          1. Corporations are taxed on their profits in order to make the indefinite deferral of taxes by real people more difficult. If you are able to invest through or in corporations without having the profits taxed until they were passed back to the real person, you run into timing and deferral issues.

            It’s clumsy and has been recognized as clumsy by tax policy people since the Carter Commission or before, but no one has a better working solution.

            [edit] Actually, you can get a nice plain language explanation of corporate tax policy here(starts at page 17 of the pdf):

          2. I once worked for someone who drove a porsche, ate out every day, paid for his clothes with his corporate card and entertained lavishly, all expensed by the business he owned.  He certainly didn’t own a huge corporation, but it was clear money coming into the company was being funnelled into his lifestyle, and was not counting as his personal income.  I didn’t see his business taxes, but it was clear that if his company’s profit was decreased by his expenses that he could claim to make a lot less than he was clearly getting, and have a much lower tax bill.  I’d be ok with his company being taxed more heavily, as it was largely just him.   I think this happens on the small and the big scale.

          3. Czak ivanovic and Snig, you are both right, but the point is that it is a hamfisted way of doing it and results in mass collateral damage. If you were to theoretically tax airline travel 200%, it certainly would, in the end, harm the lifestyle of some CEOs in some way (they would still be very rich), but not before you laid off tens of thousands of people and made Airline travel inaccessible to most Americans.

            It is just a shitty way of attacking income inequalty that leaves too much collatoral damage. I’m all for taxing corporations, but I want it to be for the right reasons. If you want to attack income inequality, the way to go about it is to go after the actual people making the money. Our current tax law does a shitty job at this. I would rather see tax law that goes after individuals get fixed, than applying the bludegon of coroprate taxes which harms everyone.

            Save corporate taxes for charging for externalities, capturing wealth escaping the country, and punishing and discouraging things we dislike. Fix individual income tax to go after income inequality.

          4. “Corporations tend to protect their profit margins zealously. If you raise taxes they don’t just shrug and decide to accept a lower level of profit or slash their top earners salaries to compensate. They just raise their prices.”
            Say there are two companies in a free market economy.  One does what you says, the other one accepts a lower margin,  slashes the top earners salaries and doesn’t raise prices.  Which of the two will get better market share? 

            Also, I agree with you that to attack income inequality, you need to tax people directly.  But many people will have less stated personal income, but will hide it in the business, as in the example I gave.
              Romney’s suggested tax plan includes provisions that will likely increase current income disparity by giving those in higher tax brackets even more breaks than those in lower ones.  So while he feels corporations aren’t people, he also feels the people who own corporations should be less taxed than they are, which I understand is likely the opposite of how you feel.


            So he apparently doesn’t feel that income disparity is a bad thing.  I know you’re not here as an Romney apologist, you just want to address this point. 

          5. Companies need to operate at a certain level of profit. When they don’t, they get eaten. What happens when prices go up in an industry? They slash jobs and, as a whole, raise their prices to maintain their profitability.
            Except in a few rare cases, it pretty much ALWAYS follows that if the cost of business goes up, so does the cost of what the consumer pays. Going after income inequality by increasing the cost of business to the point where you hope that the disparity in income lessens is delusional. This is why our economy implodes every time time the price of oil goes up. High oil prices causes an across the board increase in the cost of doing business across the entire economy as transportation and energy prices increase and the costs of literally everything goes up (everything either needs energy or transportation). In fact, it acts exactly like a corporate tax, only the US government never gets the benefits. When oil is at $150 a barrel, doesn’t result in a suddenly more egalitarian society where top earners are suddenly paid reasonable wages. It results in massive layoffs, unemployment, and massive economic destruction that disproportional hammers the middle and lower class. Sure, you might make a few CEOs less rich, but for every CEO that can’t afford to buy an extra private plane, you cause dozens of layoffs. It isn’t worth it.Corporate taxes are absolutely no different from high oil prices. They hurt everyone. That isn’t to say I am against corporate taxes, but realize that there IS a price to them that we all pay, and workers more than anyone else. If your goal is income equality, you are using the wrong tool and hurting countless other people in the process. Corporate taxes are for discouraging things and paying for externalities. If you want to go after income inequality, it means that you need to go after the target directly. Yes, that probably means a change in tax law so that it is harder to hide and conceal wealth.

            As far as Romney, fuck Romney. I suppose he is better than ol’ frothy, but that is like saying I like dog shit better than cat shit.

            This kind of sums up my opinion of the GOP in general:

        2. If you look too closely at the context of Romney’s speech, it does sort of kill off the comedic value of Colbert’s video. :-)

          On the other hand, it’s worthwhile to understand what Romney’s point was, especially since he’s a contender to become our next president.

          The context was, a guy in the audience asked Romney if Social Security should be taken off the table in the budget negotiations. Romney’s response was that Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security make up half of the Federal deficit. (That needs a fact check.)

          Then Romney spouted some politician’s bullshit about how it was important to keep the promises we made to people (e.g. when we told them they’d get Social Security) at the same time we balanced the budget. Then he said that he wasn’t willing to raise taxes on people or corporations (since corporations were people, too) in order to pay for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

          So what were the alternatives he would consider? Raising the retirement age, and putting higher wage earners on a graduated scale for getting benefits. At this point, he cut off the Q&A period and left.

          Executive summary: Taxes bad. Taxes: must not raise. Not even to take care of our own people. Standard Republican fare.

          1. Fact check: In 2010, the US ran a deficit of $1.29 trillion, and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid constituted $1.44 trillion out of a total budget of $3.55 trillion.  (FY 2011 ended in September, and the official deficit for that year was $1.3 trillion, but I could not find actual numbers for either overall expenditures or those mandatory spending categories.)

            Of course, money is fungible, so those three areas were not specifically the reason for running a deficit.  On the other hand, they make up 40% of the budget, so one would need a really good argument to take them off the table very early when balancing the budget.

    4. Which makes Mitt kind of like a kidnapper who cuts off random bits of their abductee then releases them on a roadside where they may or may not bleed out.
      I don’t think that’s much different.

    1. The only capital offense for corporations is unprofitability, and corporate raiders are the hangmen.

    1. Thank’s for going through the trouble to post that. Usually when something is blocked in Canada, I can’t be bothered to search around for an alternate source.

    1. He just needs to win a delegate so he gets a seat at the convention?  Even a die-hard Romney fan (are there any) should support that.

  2. Well, this is not about Romney presenting an original argument that corporations are made up of people, of course… It’s a debate that goes back to the Bill of Rights, the First Bank of the United States, etc., over whether corporations should have “legal personality” or “corporate personhood”. And this was central to the Citizens United decision that led to Colbert’s creation of this PAC as a device for satire.

    I just thought the point was just a reductio ad absurdum of the idea of corporate personhood… Iain Banks wrote a novel called  “Transition”, kind of predicated on the “many worlds interpretation”, where the acceptance of this idea in early US history is what screwed our whole planet.

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