Saturday, January 23, 2010

Soylent Corp is People!


Well, if you ask me, It is a conflicting issue, morally, but oddly enough, the supreme court is spot on this one, legally. Corporations are people, as odd as that sounds to the voting populous, and they have the rights of men. The work "Incorporated", literally means "To make flesh." I can't say the [insert group of people renown for X interest] can't donate money to a candidate, because they will only support candidates that support their own interests, after all. Well, Duh, those are the only candidates anyone supports, really. That would be an abridgement of their first amendment rights.

Morally, however, it is quite troubling that corporations (more than they already do) will be able to continue shape the electoral process, and essentially nullify the amount of influence any given individual, or great number of individuals, can have. A government for the people by the people, where any man can make a difference or shape the destiny of his home, land, and country, but the fact is, money talks. The question is, if corporations are going to replace our own influence over our world, are their interests the same as ours, or do we concede that as people, with the rights of individuals, do we concede that they have the right to overrule our own interests? The argument is made that as a crucial part of the free market, that these corporation must be allowed to shape that market, in a way that ensures their continued success, as otherwise, like any disenfranchised minority, they might be oppressed by an active majority, who could legislate them into virtual slavery. But, if given a majority of influence do they have the ability to do the same to the individual? In short, the problem is, we know they act in their own interests, and will those interests bring great evil, to the individuals who's interests they supplant?

Corporations aren't inherently evil, no, but they aren't actually related to the free market either, they are government protectionism extended to a fictional entity so as to distance that fiction from legal and civil obligations that other members of the free market must endure daily. They would not exist in any real form, without government intervention in the market, and while they provide jobs and an aggregation of investment into a single large goal, which is useful for establishing a stable cohesive economy, (a large influence working to progress in a single direction, instead of potentially several small interests working against each-other, unable to pool the resources to bring real technological or economic progress) they generally aren't sustainable models, which then mandates growth as the primary goal of a corporation. They must return investment, or they fail. This "growth at all costs" model leads to lower and lower ethical standards, and the government protectionism granted by government incorporation (which has always been to give it the rights of people, going back to 1819) makes it all but impossible to be held to any real level of responsibility.

A corporation cannot be put in prison. If you stole millions of dollars from the pentagon, and gave that money to a foreign military, you would go to prison. GE did it, and will not. People die, in incidents like Union Carbide killing an entire city, and that corporation can be held civilly liable, but never criminally. There is no one responsible if a corporation does the wrong thing, and further, no one cares if you royally fuck up, as long as it continues to return investments, the corporation's self interest is never threatened by contradicting the rights or rules of society at large. The free market would use Partnerships, and Single Owner Businesses, naturally, as these are entities which operate with the motivations of individual actors, who, can then be held responsible for their actions.

So no, not evil, but saying the actions of Corporations are troubling is not exactly the same as railing against business, or claiming that the Free Market brings evil, as many people today do (mistakenly, i think.) The fact is, the creation of these legal protections are undermining the ability of the free market to self regulate and adapt. You can not go out today and start an insurance company, you cannot go out and start a bank, more and more of the economy, is being moved into a corporate only playing ground, regulated by government, and influenced by only a handful of big businesses. As these businesses continue to act without the self regulation of a free market, you can see greater and great moral hazard, and more and more economic falsities, things that wouldn't happen in a true free market. Expect more failure, like the banking collapse of last year, and with more influence given over the state (an agent of force) expect more bailouts to be taken from you, to correct it. Expect more mandatory product purchases, as are being discussed in the senate, today. And that's only one aspect of the evil that can be done, as corporations continue to exert influence.

You took a monster of monetary influence, you told it to grow at all cost, no matter what, you removed any personal loyalties it might have had, or even nationality in some cases, and then you said, oh, by the way, you can never be held criminally responsible for your actions, have fun. There can be some bad things in there, and monopolies are a problem, as in most cases, individual actors, or partnerships, can rarely compete with that monetary influence, or even try to hold them responsible civilly. And, with all the moral hazard that entails, you have to let it continue to exercise its rights, as granted by the constitution.

Ive often said that "There is no 'left', there is no 'right', there is only the corporate fascist state." Corporations have been exerting influence for years, again, which is probably their right, and the overturning of a relatively new finance law, really doesn't change much, but maybe, will highlight some of the hazards of granting government protection to a new aspect of democracy that does not have the same personal responsibility that the individual does. Democracy has always been a troubling cesspool of "vote your own interest, at the expense of others" which is precisely why this country was created knowing that was an unsustainable model, and instituted the legal balance of a Republic, preventing one group of "people" from oppressing another. If that model was more closely guarded today, many of these issues would never have been allowed to spawn. And if we continue to shift, philosophically, towards a democracy, we can expect nothing more than the oppression of the weak, by the strong; the minority, by the majority, as that is how it has always been, throughout history.

Hopefully the late George Carlin was wrong, as he said "When fascism comes to America, it won't be wearing arm bands and black boots marching. It will be wearing Nikes and Ipod's and we won't even fight it, we'll demand it!"

Saturday, January 2, 2010