Monday, January 18, 2016

Religious Beliefs And Piercing Corporate Veils

Some religious folks claim they have a right to intermix their personal religious views with their corporations' commercial activities.

But there is a long standing legal principle that when the owners of a corporation intermix their finances with those of the corporation, the owners lose their limited liability* for the corporation's obligations and debts.

This principle is called "piercing the corporate veil."

It seems to me that the same principle should apply when thew owners of a corporation intermix their personal beliefs with the business of the corporation - deny them the limited liability of stock ownership.
= = = = * A bit of history: before corporations were "invented," one could do business as a sole proprietorship or as a partnership. Under either, as an owner one was personally liable for all of the obligations of the business. (That rule still holds true today.) As the industrial age developed, people were reluctant to take such huge risks necessitated by industrialization. I might be willing to take the business risk of losing the amount I have invested, but I don't want the risks of, say an industrial accident or of the purchase price for a 747 should I own one share in an airline. So the idea of limited liability of owners of a corporation was developed and became part of the laws which govern us. Each shareholder's liability is limited to the "par value" of the shares owned. And the liability is for the obligation for that par value to have been paid into the corporation when the shares were issued. So when I buy a share of a corporation from someone else, as the general rule, I have and can have no financial obligations arising from the corporation's activities. That limited liability is lost when the corporate veil is pierced.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The No Fly List And Firearm Purchases

Many folks (including all of the liberals I know) think it is absurd to allow folks on the federal No-Fly lists (supposedly of suspected terrorists) to purchase firearms.

As a liberal, I have some concerns with the idea they should be barred from exercising any constitutional rights.

My concern starts with the "no fly list" itself. How has it been created? What sorts of checks and balances are there regarding people who get listed? Are there any due process protections? Say, a right to know the evidence on which the listing is based? (Those charged with crimes have the right to "be confronted with the witnesses against him;" should those on the no-fly list have lesser rights?)

Let's look at the use of the no-fly list when it comes to other constitutionally protected rights*

Let's say 'you' somehow end up on the no fly list. Should your right to free speech be negated? Your rights against unreasonable searches and seizures? Your right to peaceably assemble with others? Your right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

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* Note, I personally don't think the constitution confers an individual right to own arms, but the Supreme Court has declared otherwise.
And I recognize a certain absurdity with not allowing some folks to fly because they are potentially dangerous but letting them buy whatever firearms they want.

As 'they' say, "hard cases make bad law."

Perhaps this is an example?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Starbucks War On Christmas. Real Or Fantasy?


Regarding the Perceived Starbucks War On Christmas.



Some of my fellow Christians are upset about the 2015 Starbucks “Christmas” cup - a plain red cup with just their logo.  Apparently they feel this choice is an attack on Christianity.

I am mystified by the idea that this choice (1) is seen as an attack on Christianity and (2) that Christians could possible be afraid of this perceived attack, this perceived shadow of death.

Come on folks, you’re embarrassing the rest of us.  Scripture repeatedly tells us: “Be not afraid, I am the Lord.”

As a refresher, let's run through the 23rd Psalm again:

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

King James Version (KJV)

Seasons greetings to all.

Regarding the Perceived Starbucks War On Christmas.



Some of my fellow Christians are upset about the 2015 Starbucks “Christmas” cup - a plain red cup with just their logo.  Apparently they feel this choice is an attack on Christianity.

I am mystified by the idea that this choice (1) is seen as an attack on Christianity and (2) that Christians could possible be afraid of this perceived attack, this perceived shadow of death.

Come on folks, you’re embarrassing the rest of us.  Scripture repeatedly tells us: “Be not afraid, I am the Lord.”

As a refresher, let's run through the 23rd Psalm again:

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

King James Version (KJV)

Seasons greetings to all.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Texas Teacher Self-defense Bill

I was prepared to go all liberal-postal, and figured if I read the actual Texas bill, I'd get some really good stuff.

But I found that the Texas bill just clarifies that existing Texas "self-defense" law also applies to teachers on the job - a clarification that doesn't really seem to be needed, although one would have to look to how the courts have actually applied the existing law

(If you read it, note that each section of the bill laying out the availability of the self-defense rule cross-references existing Texas law as applicable to teachers.)

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/84R/billtext/pdf/HB00868I.pdf#navpanes=0

OTOH - to the extent that Texas law already allows use of deadly force to defend property strikes me as pretty strange values.


The existing Texas law is what should have people alarmed, IMO.

Also- some observations regarding 'Stand Your Ground' laws: see, http://rjw-progressive.blogspot.com/2014/02/stand-your-ground-laws.html.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stand Your Ground Laws

I ran across this post in a Facebook conversation:

"Self defense is a God given right."


I agree, but the way we implement that right is critical - literally a matter of life or death.

Today's "stand your ground laws" seem to reflect a value that a person's pride is more important than a human life.

Through centuries of Anglo-American experience and development, we came to a collective, societal  decision that two criteria are needed to prevent self-defense principles from becoming a killing field, a license for murder.

The first was requiring retreat before using lethal force - I believe based on the idea that human life is more important than pride.

The second was the development of use of an objective standard in deriding whether the 'defender' acted reasonably - whether the defender was truly acting in self-defense.  With the objective standard we ask - "would the 'reasonable person' in the shoes of the defendant have felt his life was in danger?"

These "stand your ground" laws mostly use a subjective standard - "did this defendant feel his life was in danger?"

The trouble with the subjective standard is that, in the real world, it is no standard at all - all we have is whatever the defendant decides to say.  In operation, that is no standard at all.

Yes, an objective standard is, in the real world, somewhat hazy and difficult to establish - but it is still better than a meaningless subjective standard at all, which factor is neglected by these "stand your ground" laws. 

Again, today's "stand your ground laws" seem to reflect a value that a person's pride is more important than a human life.

And I think that is huge step back into lawlessness within our society.

= = = =
Note: These thoughts are based mainly on what I remember from my one crim law course in 1978.  There are details I'm sure I have forgotten, and nuances I've passed over.

I believe, however, that these two issues are at, should be at, the center of the discussion. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Post Offices As Banks


Senator Elizabeth Warren* has proposed empowering post offices to do consumer banking and lending (as is done, I believe, in several other industrialized countries.)

How would that help people?  Let's look at how consumers are treated by today's established banks.

Here's some history.  Up until the 70s, at the larger commercial banks, consumer banking was considered a necessary nuisance, a backwater in the banking world.  Consumer bankers were generally not held in high regard because the profits from consumer banking were low.

Then came the soaring interest rates of the 70s which resulted, in large part, from the OPEC oil price increases.

Interest rates soared on loans to all banking customers, corporate as well as consumer.  Rates soared so high that the states had to repeal the previous "usury rate" limitations which had kept interest rates low.

As oil prices came down and as our economy adjusted to the new realities, wholesale and corporate interest rates dropped to levels near those from before the interest rate run-up.

But banks found that the consumer market didn't pressure them to lower consumer interest rates nearly as much as the corporate markets did - consumer interest rates stayed relatively high - well above the rates which had just a few years earlier been considered criminal usury.  (I did legal work for a large US bank, so far as I am aware, there was no collusion among the banks on these rates.)

Because of the increases spreads between the rates banks borrowed at and the rate they charged consumers, profits from consumer lending soared and consumer bankers became the heros of the commercial banking world.

Incidentally, those rapacious rates were the reason banks were able to survive the huge losses they incurred from the LDC debt crisis - the loans to the lesser developed countries which had to be largely written off.  For example, the large bank I represented in the restructurings sold off $7 billion in LDC loans for about $2 billion - a loss of roughly one  sixth of its total assets.

That $5 billion dollar loss (for a bank of about $30 billion in assets) did not sink the bank only because of the massive profits they had begum making on consumer loans.

Are you upset that we the people had to bail out the banks in 2008?  Bet you didn't know that we the consumers unknowingly bailed them out in the 1980s.

Banks still make huge profits on consumer banking.  Credit unions offer one alternative, consider the value for consumers if our postal service could be expanded to provide another low cost alternative to the current banking system.

= = = =
I very much support Senator Warren (as well as Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown and Al Franken.)

I disagree, however, with the impression Senator Warren is creating about the so-called "$83 Billion Bank Subsidies."  Those "subsidies" are the lower costs of borrowing banks have because of the core central bank function of "lender of last resort" of the Federal Reserve - which not only provides stability to the banking system, but which keeps interest rates lower for all elements of the economy.

See my last post at http://rjw-progressive.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-so-called-83b-bank-subsidy.html