COMMENTARY:

Thinking About Fictions

by Fred Cederholm

Last week five of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court really stepped in a fresh pile. The US Supreme Court ruled that corporations, unions, and not-for-profit groups have the right to spend as much as they want supporting or opposing the election of a candidate, which gave added life to an earlier legal fiction, the corporation.

I’ve been thinking about fiction(s). Actually I’ve been thinking about corporations, the Supreme Court, the 2010 elections, barometers/pendulums, and the US economy. I love to read - books, magazines, newspapers, graffiti – you name it. If it is in print, I will more than likely give it a once (or twice) over and then TH*NK about it. I particularly enjoy histories, biographies, mysteries... – in essence I love what is created in print and is presented as being “real.” Anything written reflects a selection of what is the TRUTH from the perspective of both the author and only goes as far as the readers’ suspension of misbelieve will tolerate. (I have a high tolerance for fantasy by the way...)

You see fiction is what is made up (or conjured up) and put forth as being real. In some cases, it is actually presented as being what it is: a creation “from the mind of the author and any similarities between what is depicted and real events (or real individuals) is purely coincidental” – or so goes the cover-your-hind-portion disclaimer which is in, and of itself, a fiction! One might argue that all laws are fictions. They are the written creations coming from law makers/ legislators and the opinions of Judges in the courts. The Supreme Court of the United States pretty much has the last say here. Legal fictions evolve with the times and the whims of the courts.

Last week in their infinite wisdom, five of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court really stepped in a fresh pile. When the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations, unions, and not-for-profit groups have the right to spend as much as they want supporting or opposing the election of a candidate, they gave added life to an earlier legal fiction, the corporation. Corporations, including organized religion, were one of the earliest legal fictions. They were given almost human-like characteristics by the law. Yet unlike human beings, they are afforded limited liability and can live on forever – at least as long as they have tax returns, etc. filed on their behalf, but that is a whole different TH*NKNG for another time.

The good old US is a victim of a flawed election contribution system. Elections, even for incumbents, cost mega bunches of money. A House of Representatives race can cost MILLIONS, a Senate race can cost tens of MILLIONS, and a run for the White House now runs in excess of a BILLION! Candidates for public office begin their fund raising immediately after election. They might claim their focus is on the issues and serving the people, but they need bucks and realities suggest that it is easier to get a MILLION from one entity than it is to get that MILLION from a MILLION supporters. The quest for the BIG bucks, got much easier from last week’s ruling. Corporate and Unions players can now be free to contribute directly into a candidate’s coffers without the fiction of laundering their generosity thru a PAC, or other “non-partisan” fiction. In essence, not really much effectively changed.

The 2010 mid term elections will be something to watch. Just as Johnson’s Viet Nam gave rise to Nixon, Nixon’s Watergate got us Carter, Carter’ misquotes brought us Reagan, Papa Bush’s OOPSies got us Bubba, Bubba’s well-er-um... ushered in “W”, and “W’s delegations and faux pas” got us Obama. The coattail effects of the perceptions on the White House/President really extend down the food chain of politics to lesser candidates everywhere. This will become most evident in 2010. In Illinois our election travails have been compounded because virtually all candidates are running against former Governor George Ryan (a Republican now stewing in prison), former Governor Rod Blagojevich (a Democrat now waiting to star on Donald Trump’s Apprentice TV Show while he awaits his own trial). The Illinois primary is coming next week! I am truly looking forward to going to the polls...

Recent resignations at the governors’ level in a couple of states, BIG NAME incumbants’ announcements of not seeking re-election in November, and especially last week’s replacement of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat (you heard me “Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat”) in Massachusetts by a Republican has got the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress bracing for the worst come November. Fictions will play a major roll in what will happened this Summer and in the Fall. Trust me...

We are already seeing fallout developing in the equity markets (last week’s declines were the largest since March), the loss of jobs continues (Sam’s Club just announced 11,000 lay offs – so people can’t even afford wholesale?), big name national store will close, major national brands will shortly cease to exist, and the national real estate market is preparing for its bigger “double dip.” Even the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, announced that recovery is years away. And, he was not just talking about MicroSoft. Humm...???

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.


Copyright 2009 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at asklet@rochelle.net.




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This story was published on January 25, 2010.