A friend commented:
Is that ‘corporations’ per se or is it the tendency of a free market to mortgage the future for profit now? Are the corporations you blame really straw men, an effect of an economic system that would lead to this sort of destruction even if corporations didn’t exist? Extending that, if you criticize corporations in general, do you not also have to give them a nod for making it possible for our planet to support seven billion people?
The thing is, that ever since we threw off the animal skin of our hunter-gatherer ways, and entered civilization we’ve had to develop other ways to put beans on the table besides being on the front lines of gathering, shelling, and cooking said beans. And those other ways include corporations – Large, sophisticated social constructs that allow people to do things other than gathering beans yet have those things valuable enough to the bean gatherers to get some of theirs. It is particularly unrealistic, and unpragmatic to dispense with the idea of corporations altogether. Besides, most everybody I (we) know work for corporations, and those people I know are good, decent, moral people. And even more besides… isn’t it hypocritical to live off the fruit of the profit-making while disparaging it?
But I see Americans caught in an unsupportable myth. We wish corporations were all George Bailey, running some kind of ultramoral business to be kindly, not to make money, or, if the libertarian dream of a total free market existed, we at least wish corporations were the objectivist John Galt, who is selfish but has an internal morality of trying to be the absolute personal best they can be.
However, I think more and more there is no escaping how utterly amoral corporations are. Their only motivation for existence is not to make as fine a product as possible and live amongst us a fellow citizens, but rather to plunge a pipeline of money directly though a chopped hole in your house, running from pool o’ money to wallets o’ major shareholders.
When we cringe at Quakers, Shakers, and Muslims who put an external supernatural world above our country, I wonder why we have such an accommodating feeling for these traitorous large corporations who strike me as putting their needs and theirselves above the very country they reside in.
It is this very amoralness that, I believe, erases any hypocrisy of criticizing the corporations. People are not amoral, and they are not sitting around trying to profit at the expense of each other. But my friend did ask some questions, so I will give my humble opinion. Does the free market system mortgage the future for the present? Yes. It is the tragedy of the commons. Are corporations straw men for a system that would fuck shit up even if they didn’t exist? I don’t know. But I contend it doesn’t matter – they exist, they’re amoral, and they’re fucking shit up. Do we have to give them a nod for making it possible to allow 7 billion people to live on this planet? Yes. I don’t see how we could do it without some organized application of technology. And I could see that as being an alternate definition in the dictionary: Corporation, noun, an applyer of organized technology.But damn. If they just weren’t so mind-boggling amoral about it…
The same friend also offered some fine examples of other shit fucked up by corporations (see updated list), and reminds me of the poster boy for the whole sorry mess:
After Enron left its employees bankrupt, robbing them and then going out of business, I read that no major business schools included ethics in the curriculum. Holy crap! It never even occurred to these business teachers that ethics was relevant, and we’re surprised to discover that top business managers behave unethically? Good golly.Shit our business schools ruined: corporations.