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A Rapid Fire Rant On Controlling Corporations

Posted by libhom Sunday, March 22, 2009

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lab.drwicked.com


Blue Gal has found an excellent toy. Dr. Wicked's Write or Die is a system of nagging you to write faster. I decided to try out the system and see what fun I could have. I set it to 200 words in ten minutes. I had to deliberately stop longer than I needed to see the negative reinforcement that is used to push you to keep typing. I think it would be more difficult if I had decided on the topic of ranting before I started typing. Anyway, it was fun, and I may use it again when I get bored.

There is one caveat. You really do need to copy and paste your work elsewhere before clicking "Done" because the Dr. Wicked system doesn't preserve paragraph breaks.

If you get blogger's block (or you are addicted to the latest geek toys like me), you might want to try it too. Here's what I produced in a short period of time.
What is the point of forced progress? Forced progress sometimes is necessary. Big Oil isn't going to change and become socially conscious on its own. It will need to be forced. That means tough laws. It may also mean changes to its terms of incorporation.

The corporation originally was meant to give a special privilege, limited liability to shareholders which means they only lose the money they invested, in return for doing a public good. This often meant that corporations produced public works projects such as toll bridges.

Over time, the need for public good was whittled away. A farcical Supreme Court ruling even gave corporations legal "personhood." No, I'm not making this up. A government construct meant to give investors special treatment became a constitutionally protected "person."

Things have gotten so bizarre that corporations actually can be sued by shareholders if they do something in the public interest that reduces profits. Investors not only get limited liability, but they also get an absolute obligation to maximize profits no matter how society is damaged in the process.

We don't need to passively accept this. A publicized campaign on the absurdity of corporate personhood could well force a future Supreme Court to reverse that dubious 19th Century ruling. Then, the government could put conditions on how corporations conduct their affairs.

It's past time that we got control of corporations. Our government created corporations. We have every right to exert control over them.

7 comments

  1. Mauigirl Says:
  2. Great post, I can't believe you did it under such pressure! ;-) I agree with you completely, that is what is ruining our country. The idea that only profit is what matters not only skews priorities in terms of what projects get done but it also ruins business itself by encouraging short-term gains over long-term planning and strategy.

     
  3. Here's a relevant video of a talk on corporate personhood by Mary Jo Long, who is a lawyer and who ran for Attorney General of NY on the Green Party ticket:

    http://essentialdissent.blogspot.com/2004/03/corporate-personhood-part-1-of-2.html

    She goes into the history of how we got into this mess, and why it is imperative to take back control from the corporations.

    Recommended reading: When Corporations Rule the World, by David Korten.

     
  4. GDAEman Says:
  5. One of our generation's most important subjects is "controlling corporations." Future historians will rank this multi-generational struggle among great struggles of challenging slavery, women's rights and sexual rights.

     
  6. two crows Says:
  7. hi--
    NOW I understand why every CEO and president of a company trots out that homily about "responsibility to the shareholders"!

    and now the peanut company that shipped out salmanella and crossed its fingers, AIG playing fast and loose, Citigroup ditto, Enron, etc. etc. etc. all are beginning to come into focus for me.

    thanx for the insight. I think.

     
  8. Allan S. Says:
  9. Rant on brother, rant on! Hallelujah!

     
  10. Christopher Says:
  11. I wish more people would rant about the greed and excess of corporate America.

    But I also understand how damned worn out most Americans are today.

    From the realities of unemployment, to worries about their housing and concerns about losing health insurance.

    The country is in a bad way and the real victims are regular folks like us who have to make choices each day as in, what bill gets paid first and will the HEEP allocation cover the cost of the utility bill before the warm weather finally arrives.

     
  12. two crows Says:
  13. I agree with Christopher. I'd much rather see rants like this than Robert J. Samuelson's article in the WaPo today that played apologist and warned that "Capitalism is under siege" from angry "populists".

    Excuse me, but WE have been under siege from the corporations for far too long. And when Ronnie-the-god dismantled every regulation he could get his hands on he set the stage for today's fiasco. And, yes, both Bushes and Clinton followed his lead.

    So, now we're in a quagmire and Samuelson is blaming US. Isn't that just like his Wall Street masters?

     

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