Thursday, April 7, 2011

Corporations are not human, that's why we have government (Rachel Maddow)

Last nights Rachel Maddow show ended with a powerful piece covering the ability of Corporations to commit evil, while the show started with a piece covering Corporate influence in skewing some politicians to benefit corporate interests.

There is a fiction in this country called "Corporate Personhood". That Corporations have various rights of persons and it's been skewing the United States ever since the late 1800's when this fiction was created. You look at a corporation and it's hard to see it as a person, but try driving down the highway and look at the cars on the road and also see that it's a human driving the car. We talk about that stupid car that cut us off almost causing an accident, when it's really the person who's operating the car. We also talk about evil corporations or stupid corporations or corporate influence on politics, without recognizing that there are humans operating the corporations. We also talk about overbearing, abusive or stupid government, when again there are humans operating those governments.

It seems true that when you gather enough humans into an organization, that the organization takes on a life of its own. The people operating the corporation are following certain rules which govern corporate livelihood. These rules include:

  • the pyramid shaped command-and-control paradigm allowing the board of directors and executive team to hold near dictatorial powers over the actions of their employees (or should we call them serfs?)
  • the laws of accounting, bookkeeping, finance, securities, investment, and so on
  • employee rights, marketing, etc

In other words - successful corporations behave within certain parameters. One of the parameters is cutting costs to have the best chance at causing profit. That ideal taken to extremes means cutting so many corners it endangers safety.

In Maddow's piece last night she showed a rapid fire sequence of pictures, airplane crashes, nuclear meltdown, exploding oil drilling rigs, and so on. She was incited by the owners of the exploding oil rig, Transocean, whose Board decided that due to their exemplary safety record (in a year where their oil rig blew up killing 11 workers) they'd award bonuses. This is an extremely shocking fact but the truth is the operators of corporations do stuff like this all the time. They're often able to keep it quiet because corporations are dictatorships with a shroud of secrecy surrounding them, and what's different about Transocean is the scrutiny they're under due to the exploding oil rig.

One of the big challenges of our time is Corporations, operated by people but driven by inhuman rules of corporate behavior, trouncing over all of us.

The history of Corporations has shown time and again that they are willing to sell crap poison products as food, that they are willing to screw everyone, commit any felony, any crime against humanity, in order to make their all-holy profit margin.

The cure Maddow proposes is one I largely agree with. That government has to be there to rein in corporate excesses. If corporations are going to be powerful, then the government which should be reining in corporate power should be as powerful as the corporations.

But ... there's a long rabbit hole of conversation which follows on from that thought, which is best left for another day, or for the comments boxes below the videos. Let me know what you think, below.

This first video dives into the political battle in Wisconson, a state suffering from leadership who's doing the will of corporate backers in trying to destroy unions.

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This second video goes over some of the political leadership in Wisconson, the conservative mantra that "government is the problem", and hence their hatred of government, and asking what happens when government hating conservatives get their hands on a government.

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This third video is the one mentioned earlier, going over Transocean and their idiotic safety record. The prior videos are great contextualization of this video.

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This fourth video was referred to from the previous video. The Transocean announcement awarding bonuses for their exemplary safety record in the year when their corporation killed 11 of their employees when their oil rig blew up, that announcement was sent on April 1. No fooling.

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