The British Parliament had levied a tax on tea imported into its American colonies. Many of the American colonists objected to this exercise of power; they viewed it as illegitimate because the colonies taxed had no representative in the British Parliament.
The Boston Tea Party occurred in 1773. The “party” was when a group of white Bostonian men sort-of dressed up as Indians and went aboard a ship to throw the tea into the harbor. Thus, the tea could not be off loaded and subject to the tax.
But the British government did not own the tea. The tea was owned by the British East India Company, a corporation created by and under the authority –and protection- of the British government. The tea tax, and the resulting actions of the British Army, were in protection of their laws AND their corporation.
What is a corporation? The beginning of the definition of corporation in Noah Webster’s classic 1828 American Dictionary Of The English Language is as follows: “A body politic or corporate, formed and authorized by law to act as a single person; a society having the capacity of transacting business as an individual…”
Basically, a corporation is a legal entity chartered /created by the state. It came be a political entity (town), a non-profit public good entity (like a charity or incorporated church), or a business corporation. Most Americans associate the term with the latter of these three types.
Because of taxes and legal liability, many small businesses in the present day U.S.A. have incorporated themselves –as opposed to operating as an unincorporated entity. These small businesses are legally corporations, but are a far cry from the massive publicly traded conglomerates that do business today.
When we speak of corporations, most people, myself included, think of large corporations that are usually publicly traded/sell stock -and often multinational in ownership or operations. This (obviously) includes medical, automotive, technological, food, and petroleum concerns.
The state chartered these corporations, and receives tax revenue from them. Large corporations often receive subsidies from the tax payers, or a protected monopoly –like the “right” of a power company to be the sole electricity provider to an area, or of a TV station to use a certain area/channel of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Government and corporations often work hand in hand, as they did back in the days of the Boston Tea Party.
Think of automobiles for a second. The state charters a corporation to build factories. The factories get electricity from the power gird, ran by the state or its corporations. They manufacture a car or truck. The car or truck is made to (unconstitutional) Federal specifications, including in the area of how much emissions can come from its tailpipe. To use this car requires nice roads built and maintained by the state at taxpayer expense. The car will not move without gasoline, which is crude oil often refined and transported by multinational corporations. To drive said car on public roads requires a government issued photo ID driver’s license and a license plate for the car. The license costs a fee to the driver, and is made on technological equipment manufactured by a corporation –perhaps overseas. Further, the government will not allow you to drive the car on its roads unless you have purchased liability insurance –from a government chartered insurance corporation. I could go on and on.
It is sometimes difficult to see where the state ends and the corporation begins. Corporations can be an enemy of the people, the same as the out-of-control state that chartered them.
So my readers, who owned the tea?
Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.