Unequal protection: The rise of corporate dominance and the theft of human rights — Thom Hartmann
An easy-to-read overview of how the founding fathers mistrusted corporations (the Boston Tea Party wasn’t so much about protesting taxes in general as it was about cheap tea was being taxed, forcing colonial merchants to purchase it exclusively from the East India Company; corporate charters were rarely granted at first, and they could be and were revoked by the issuing states when corporations exceeded their authority or corrupted government officials—Andrew Jackson ran on a platform of revoking the charter of the Second National Bank), and how corporations gradually achieved power in the U.S., primarily through the railroads suing for human rights under the 14th amendment, up to the present time, where corporations have created a serious inequity through global treaties which supersede federal laws, and through Supreme Court rulings granting them protections under the Bill of Rights (corporate donations to political campaigns are protected under “Freedom of speech”). I’m not convinced all of Hartmann’s facts are valid, and he often states his own theories for what transpired instead of relying exclusively on contemporary evidence.
The book concludes with the hope that rights never intended for “artifical persons” should be rescinded, and he offers sample laws and constitutional amendments which can be passed at the local and state level, with the aim of bringing a case before the Supreme Court in order to achieve rulings denying corporations human rights.
Truthout appears to have serialized the complete book on their web site.
Recommendation: While Unequal Protection provides a good summary of the rise of corporations in the U.S., Gangs of America by Ted Nace covers the same ground with even more history, and is also better researched. If you want to read just one book on the history of corporate power in America, skip Unequal Protection and go straight to Ted Nace’s book.