Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Congratulations, neighbor. Even if you are an Artificial Person. . .

Corporations, Persons, Wisconsin Hospitality Group

According to WauwatosaNOW, the “Wauwatosa-based Wisconsin Hospitality Group, which owns 38 Applebee's and 82 Pizza Hut restaurants throughout Wisconsin, has been named a Wisconsin finalist for the National Restaurant Association Restaurant Neighbor Award.” 

This particular good neighbor, it seems, lives right down Potter Road. So I thought I’d send a letter of congratulations, take over a plate of cookies, invite them to stop by for iced tea or beer. Show a little neighborly hospitality.

Alas. Not a single person is named in the article. That’s because Wisconsin Hospitality Group (WHG) is a legal fiction, aka an Artificial Person: a corporation operating with the same rights we Real Persons have.

Okay: more rights than we have. After all, you can’t throw corporations into jail. They seem to have won the right to lie, which the Nike Artificial Person claimed was Constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment. And since you can't put one under oath, well, there goes the teensy problem of perjury. Artificial Superpersons, they are, who never even die as long as you treat them right.

Now, this is not to deride WHG, which employs 5,000 people and does impressive acts of charity, contributing over a million dollars to Children’s Hospital, Camp Heartland, and other great community service organizations.

But isn’t it weird not to name a single human being on the website? If "you" win, and I hope "you" do, who gets handed the award? Who do you high five or fist bump? Who gets the flowers or the bonus? (A little searching leads to the CEO's name, but since the Artificial Person has gone to some lengths not to reveal it,  I’ll respect the Real Person's privacy here too.)

This Artificial Person “holds to a fundamental belief that a business in the neighborhood must make the neighborhood its business.” Nice notion, that. But neighborhoods aren’t just streets and buildings. They are the people who dine in the restaurants, wait on the tables, cook the food, plot the business strategy.  

Corporations, however wonderful and useful they might be, just aren’t people. They're more like containers for people, ideas, money, energy, and material stuff. The notion that they are entitled to the same protections as people is deeply odd.

Anyway, congratulations to all the Real Persons--workers, managers, and CEO at WHG who strive to do well while doing good. Won't you introduce yourselves so we can say great job, Real Person to Real Person?

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