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“Corporations Are Artificial, Too”: Modern Corporate Capitalism Is Anything But Natural

One of the reasons it’s difficult for liberals to easily and effectively win arguments about economics with conservatives is that conservatives have a very simple mantra: let the natural forces of the market do their work. Government is seen as an interloper and distorter of Darwinian forces that would otherwise ultimately let all goods and services achieve their perfect prices with maximum efficiency.

There are a number of gigantic problems with that worldview, of course. The free market refuses to pay for a wide variety of crucial infrastructure items and investments in public health and safety; consumers are at an information and power disadvantage against unscrupulous companies; and human life and dignity are unacceptably cheap on the open market.

But there’s another key lie in the conservative “natural economy” story, which is that modern corporate capitalism is anything but natural. It’s an artificial system encoded arbitrarily into law and interpreted in a specific way that tends to give maximum advantage to executive and shareholders at the expense of society. Kent Greenfield examined right here at Washington Monthly one way in which that is true: the Dodge v. Ford case that explicitly denied corporations the right to engage in more socialistic practices and demanded that they only serve the bottom line for their shareholders. The corporate veil itself another artificial legal construct, as is the notion of corporate personhood.

Our society is built on rules and regulations, all of them socially and legally built out of artifice. That is just as equally true of business as it is of government.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 24, 2015

January 25, 2015 - Posted by | Capitalism, Corporations, Free Markets | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Vultures’ Picnic, In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores by Greg Palast. Petroleum pigs are pipeline inspection gauges which are inserted into pipelines to search out flaws that may cause spills. They cost as much as $1 million per mile to operate. Some pipeline operators figure it is cheaper to clean up a spill and the possible loss of life than to maintain their pipelines. Palast’s writing style is similar to Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo journalism.

    In this book, he states that safety violations are industry-wide in the petroleum and nuclear power industries. Profit is more important than people. Government regulation is a very small step in the right direction, but money trumps safety all too often. It is inherent in the present system and will not change. We need a new system that puts people first. It may be necessary to eliminate the profit motive entirely. I am not sure if that is possible or how to do it, but I have an interim solution.

    We should require that CEOs and the top echelon of corporate management and their families live on the sites of drilling, mining, power plants, toxic waste dumps and others that emit hazardous gases. They should be compelled to eat the food, drink the water and breathe the air that currently are the lot of the less fortunate among us. I believe that step will cause a speedy change to a better and safer environment for all of us. We currently are poisoning the world in which we live. That cannot continue much longer.


    Comment by walthe310 | January 25, 2015 | Reply

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