The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Corporation

I believe in Capitalism to the extent that it is the best way to meet our needs, to achieve financial security, and to provide for our families. But is there anyone on earth who needs a hundred million dollars in order to live comfortably and raise his children well? An incentive-based, competitive economic market should bring out the best in individuals, but there is a point at which such pursuits cross the line into greed and inhumanity.

Is there any philosophy that can justify this kind of excess? How can it possibly be good for the individual to have such limitless wants? This is the basic objection I have to any philosophy that promulgates the values of material greed within the context of individualism. Capitalism is such a philosophy.

While people can place controls on themselves to limit their greed, corporations cannot. This occurred to me early this morning while I was meditating in bed. A corporation is an “individual” in the eyes of the law and has protected rights and privileges. But unlike people, a corporate individual, even though it’s run by human beings, is not itself human. This stunning realization convinces me that corporate capitalism (assuming there exists other kinds of capitalism) is fatally flawed.

Despite the fact that a corporation has a human CEO and a human board of directors, the corporate entity actually takes on a life of its own. And it’s not a human life!

That’s why a corporation can act without conscience, without remorse, without compassion. In those instances where a corporation does act humanely, it’s thanks to the employees who are able to override the corporate imperative, either momentarily, or over an extended period of time. But ultimately a corporation must assert its primary directive, that of maximizing shareholder profit without any human constraints. It is, thus, not surprising that big corporations have raped our environment and cruelly exploited low-wage employees and low-income consumer populations. They have no conscience – they are literally psychopathic! Like some alien monster, they share nothing in common with humanity.

This subject is explored with far better clarity than I can hope to show in this rant in the excellent documentary called “The Corporation.” Highly recommended.


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