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Corporate Despotism

Governments don’t have a monopoly on tyranny. Just ask Bank of America.

So I see that our descent into corporate dictatorship is proceeding apace. No, I’m not talking about Google—although there is plenty to be said about that. This time, it’s the Galactic Empire from Star Wars as embodied by the country’s financial sector. Or, as y’all might know it, Bank of America:

From the article:

Bank of America will end its association with companies that provide prisoner and immigrant detention services at both the state and federal levels. The move comes amid growing public concern about the nation’s border policies.

A spokesperson said Wednesday that Bank of America (BAC) has discussed the issue with its clients that provide those services. While the bank appreciates “steps they have taken to properly execute their contractual and humanitarian responsibilities,” it ultimately decided to “exit the relationships.”

By “growing public concern,” CNN is referring to the conditions at the country’s southern border that didn’t bother Democrats and their media cohorts while Barack Obama was in charge—the same conditions, by the way, that up until a few minutes ago they dismissed as a manufactured crisis, but are now so gravely concerned over that they want to open up the borders completely to every illegal immigrant who wants to come in.

Bank of America, meanwhile, which also had no problem with keeping kids in cages so long as Obama held the key, agrees with Democrats that the situation is now intolerable and cannot in good conscience do business with the companies that feed, clothe and shelter immigrants who are apprehended trying to sneak into the country. By that reckoning, you’d think that BOA would rather these poor people for whom they feel so much compassion sleep on bare floors or out on the open sun, with no food, water or sanitary facilities—but no, the truth is actually far more nefarious. In their all-encompassing corporate wisdom, company executives are toeing the Democrat line, and want the United States to cease enforcing its border completely.

And Bank of America is flexing its considerable muscle to make that happen.

Now, libertarians will rightfully make the argument that BOA is a private entity, and has every right to choose the companies with which it does business. However, what we’re witnessing here is a brazen attempt to affect public policy through direct action—which poses a whole new set of problems. That’s because our entire system of government is based upon a simple yet profound principle, as stated in the Declaration of Independnce: Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed. That consent is dependent upon the people having a say-so in how policy is formulated, which is carried out by representatives duly elected by the people.

But who elected Bank of America to have that kind of power?

The answer is, of course, nobody—which also means that the people have no recourse if they don’t happen to like how BOA is using that power. Oh sure, the libertarian argument would go, you can take your business elsewhere if you want—and I have no doubt that a good number of their customers will do just that. But your business is not the same as your vote. The former is a personal choice. The latter is a guaranteed right under the Constitution. And last I checked, the Constitution didn’t delegate authority to corporations that got so big their executives decided to become a government unto themselves.

This amounts to its own form of tyranny, plain and simple.

In times past, corporate interests were content to influence policy by supporting candidates through campaign donations. A lot of people think this amounts of legalized bribery, and it has led to a storm of criticism over the years about the corrupting influence of big money in politics. But at least those donations enjoy First Amendment protection, as corporations are entitled to free speech the same as any individual—plus they work to influence elections, in which all citizens have the right to participate. That’s not what Bank of America is doing here, though. The company is taking it upon itself to affect policy directly, making it difficult if not impossible for duly elected representatives—in this case, the President of the United States—to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress.

Perhaps this is perfectly legal. I’m no Constitutional scholar, so I can’t say for sure. But even if it is, the prospect of de-facto corporate governance should scare all free people—and make us rethink whether it’s a good idea for a company to get so big that it can assert this kind of power.

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