As the Republican 2012 lineup jockeys for position, a familiar and all-too-misleading premise continues to be tossed around – that the United States Government should be run like a corporation.

I categorically reject this notion. It is dangerous and offensive to our citizenry and the American way of life. Let me explain why.

First of all, corporations are solidly and solely executive-based organizations. The policies of a corporation are not created by a legislature. They are handed down as edicts from the executive branch: Presidents, VPs, executive officers. Little to no input is taken from the majority of workers to establish these polices, even though they are the ones affected by them. From this perspective, I suggest that corporations are more like the military than our government.

Corporate policy is also not subject to scrutiny from an impartial panel like the judiciary. If it were, think of the scandals we could have avoided. Credit default swaps likely never would have been deemed legitimate by a judicial review (then again, in light of recent decisions, they might have). In fact, the entire system of checks and balances is largely, if not entirely removed from corporate structure.

Also, the workers do not select the executives who issue those policies. Rather, a club of current and former executives from other corporations, called a “Board of Directors”, selects them. Can you imagine if the President of the United States were not elected, but rather appointed by a group of leaders from other nations?

Here is where I expect to hear a correction from the proponents of this dangerous premise, “Citizens are the shareholders, not the workers. Their investment (which funds the company) parallels taxes (which fund the government) and their say in corporate votes is parallel to the votes of the citizens.”

On the surface, this seems a tenable argument. But there is one distinct difference, and there’s no getting around it. Shareholders are not ruled by corporate policy (though if they were, I expect we would see more humane and lenient policies put in place). Citizens, however, are ruled by government policy. If we, the citizenry, were simply watching a microcosm where government policy were put into practice I might liken us to shareholders. But policy directly affects our own lives every day. And it is this significant fact that makes the citizenry more like employees than shareholders.

I realize all of these arguments are really just pointing out the dissimilarities between corporations and government. And one could just as simply submit a list of similarities to counter it.

So here is the one factor that really closes the argument.

Governments simply aren’t corporations. And thank God for that. If they were, they would have one central purpose: short-term profit. And it would not matter how this was achieved, who was trampled in the process, or what long-term detriments were sure to result.

Fortunately, a different purpose was established for our government at the outset. Before creating Congress, or the Executive branch, and before the blessed Bill of Rights was even outlined, they made it clear that the purpose of our republic was not to profit, but rather to, “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”

Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that amazing?! I mean listen to that language! A perfect Union. Justice. Tranquility. General Welfare. We’re talking about things that never even occur to a corporation. We’re talking about unifying our people around a just and peaceful society for all, defending it, and striving to make their lives and their children’s lives better.

Name me one corporation on the planet that aspires to such lofty ideals or has such an inspiring mission statement. And notice how they never mention profit. Nor do they say that doing all of those things is contingent upon being able to pay for them. And what expense or bottom line can you put on such noble causes? At what dollar amount will you stop pursuing justice? What is the fiscal limit on promoting the General Welfare? With austerity as your mantra, what will be the budget cuts to securing the Blessings of Liberty? No, the responsibility created by that glorious opening is most certainly unprofitable, worth going into debt for, and above all else, necessary.

Thanks to the Preamble, our forefathers created the antithesis of a corporation. So stop trying to make our government out to be what it isn’t, and instead celebrate what it is. It’s worthy of that, and much more.

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