If Corporations Are People, Can We Get Restraining Orders Against Them?

Michael Nabert
7 min readJun 1, 2021

You can’t social distance from the planet’s most dangerous psychopaths.

Photo by Beth Hope on Unsplash, cropped by author

Over the course of a decade, the General Motors corporation sold vehicles that it knew contained a dangerous flaw. A faulty ignition switch could suddenly shut off the car while it was being driven, disabling the power steering, power brakes, and air bag at the same time, even in the middle of high speed traffic. The problematic part itself was inexpensive, only $0.57, but the cost of a recall would somewhat reduce their profits, so it was decided by executives that it would be more cost effective to just let some of their customers die. At least 124 of them did. If you or I killed a dozen people, we’d likely never see the outside of a prison again. When GM killed ten times as many, no one spent a day in jail. No executive responsible was inconvenienced, and the corporation paid a fine smaller than a single day’s gross profits. A US citizen working full time at the federal minimum wage loses a bigger share of their annual income to a $30 parking ticket than GM paid out of their multi billion dollar earnings for committing mass negligent homicide.

Families who lost loved ones because General Motors decided their lives weren’t worth replacing a fifty seven cent part can’t even opt out of seeing targeted ad campaigns for GM cars. They can be blindsided by a reminder of corporate callousness towards human lives completely out of the blue any time they sit down to watch a movie trailer. They have no recourse if they’d prefer *not* to be reminded that their beloved’s killer faced no meaningful consequences.

That’s just how our world currently is. Corporations are designed by law to behave like clinical psychopaths, and we mere humans pretty much have to bend over and take it. Pundits and courts say that corporations are people, but if so, they are a very special kind of people. Rich individuals can pour dump trucks of money into legal representation to potentially get away with murder, but compared to corporations, their immunity to consequences is strictly amateur hour. Instead of thinking of corporations as people, vampires provide a more appropriate metaphor. They don’t age or feel, and they don’t need to eat or breathe, so they don’t have…

Michael Nabert

Researching a road map from our imperilled world into one with a livable future with as much good humour as I can muster along the way.