THE BLOG
01/29/2016 05:19 pm ET Updated Jan 28, 2017

America Inc?

For some time now, there has been a constant stream of nonsensical assertions about the nature of and proposed course for America's future, from people in political and business "spheres of influence." They suggest that American policymakers should run the country as would some unidentified, assumed omniscient, and infinitely wise, business executive. This idea is one which, while appealing to many, has no real grounding in constitutionally-inspired economic policy creation, nor in social policy management. However, in the current election cycle, this notion of "America as a business," tacitly resonates throughout the process.

For purposes of clarification, it should be noted that the United States of America is a "Democratic Republic," operating under a centralized set of overarching rules. Early efforts at establishing a central set of governing rules, were eventually replaced by a formal "Constitution," including the "Bill of Rights," which most Americans should be familiar with. The principles employed in creating the Constitution were established long before the end of the eighteenth century. The completed constitution did not, and does not, establish the United States of America as a "private business," or any other type of "publicly chartered corporation." The Constitution is the core of American policy creation and law. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that its language, and the interpretation of that language, defines the nature of American governance.

In point of fact, the word "business" is used only once in the entire length of the Constitution. It is used in reference to a required quorum of senators and/or congressional members necessary to establish a legally binding vote on any given issue or action under consideration. This effectively defines the members of the House and Senate as being little more than voting machines. They present, vote on, and argue over, proposed laws and expenditures, enforce the rules of conduct in both chambers when they argue or present, and oversee the activities of the executive branch of government. These issues are of importance to all inhabitants of the United States of America, and often, the world.

No matter what rhetoric or bluster the various candidates might employ, in the end, each one gets only one vote on each issue before them. Additionally, any President of the United States can only issue a de facto, "vote," by either signing a bill sent to them into law, or refusing to sign it, thereby "vetoing" the bill or budget. Even the much discussed "Executive Authority" of the President of the United States of America is subject to judicial review, and/or challenge by laws created by the legislative branch.

Beyond this, the Constitution is the document of origin for all laws established in the United States of America. Nothing supersedes constitutional authority. In fact, a court decision called Reid v. Covert, ultimately decided in 1956, established that no international treaties can supersede legal principles established by the Constitution - business-related treaties included. The following phrase from "the plurality of justices" that wrote that decision, more precisely defines this idea, "There is nothing in this language which intimates that treaties and laws enacted pursuant to them do not have to comply with the provisions of the Constitution." To date, no definitive challenges to this concept have been fully adjudicated. However, the case Bond v. United States, could potentially have overturned this precedent. However, in Bond, the Supreme Court sidestepped that challenge, leaving the controversial issue of the scope of international treaties for a later date. So, as it stands now, the Constitution trumps any lesser or subordinate laws created domestically, or via international treaty, that do not comply with accepted constitutional principles.

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), is an advisory document which has been evolving over the years since it was first proposed in 1890 by members of the American Bar Association. Over the years, states have adopted various parts of the UCC as formal laws. However, there is nothing in the UCC that does not comport with all relevant enumerated or interpreted elements of the Constitution. Therefore, nothing in the UCC would give any indication that business interests have superseded the overall scope and vision of the Constitution.

Of key importance in asserting whether the United States of America is a "business" or not, is the question of what the Constitution governs. If the Constitution solely governed economic matters, mainly money or exchange of resources, a narrowly reasonable argument could be made that, functionally, the U.S.A. is little more than "supersized corporate-like entity." However, the Constitution also governs matters of social policy, moral fairness (as legally defined), ethical issues, and other issues not directly related to conducting "economic interactions." Further, the structure of the branches of the federal government does not ideally resemble any chartered or legally recognized form of private enterprise.

Therefore, references made to forms of governmental activity on the part of elected officials as simply "business-like in nature," are vastly overstated. Governmental bodies can, and do, oversee issues of economic interest to all citizens and residents of the U.S.A., to be certain. However, that is not the primary definition of government, by any rational or legal standard. The Constitution, and all the powers and laws flowing from it, are multipurpose in nature, and not dedicated solely to economic concerns.

So, when we hear any candidates in this election cycle referring to wanting "run America more like a well-oiled corporation," we are hearing something that is a mockery of both legal, and substantive reality. It is reasonable to expect "efficiency in operations" as a goal. However, the United States of America is not a corporation, nor any other type of private business entity. It is a group of diverse people, animals, their properties and environs, governed by a formalized, central Constitution, whose individual and collective interests are supposed to be of substantial importance to all elected officials. Beyond that, it is also an intangible set of ideas, beliefs, and other things that escape definition. But, America is not, and never should be seen as, simply a "business."