This week’s column is obviously a continuation on the thread of the last one, “Why are Republicans so cold-hearted?”
Since one third of Solano County voters are registered Republican, I expected someone to jump to their defense with a passionate, well-researched letter to the Daily Republic editor. Alas, even though I received more than my usual amount of hateful emails and one letter was published here, nobody even tried to contradict my main point, that Republicans are cold-hearted.
Apparently, Republicans being cold-hearted is a universally accepted fact, so let’s move the conversation forward and talk about why corporations are so cold-hearted.
“But,” you might say, “corporations are inanimate legal constructs, how can they be cold-hearted?” Well, according to the conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, corporations are not only people, they have religious beliefs, and money is how they speak. But are they cold-hearted?
Corporations are money-making machines. When people get together and form a corporation, they are typically not doing so to make the world a better place to live, but rather, they are joining forces in order to make money. Private corporations can do whatever the owner wants to do. They can invest all their money in cute, cuddly kittens if they want, but executives of publicly traded corporations are saddled with the prime fiduciary responsibility of making their shareholders as much money as possible.
Many business writers have argued that corporations are not immoral, but rather, amoral. I would refine that by saying in the moral framework of the corporation, the concept of good and evil is simply replaced by profit and loss. Thus, according to Gordon Gekko, greed is good.
We all bear witness to the unparalleled exodus of American jobs to foreign lands as American corporations seek ever-higher profits for their shareholders. The American worker has been degraded from a valuable corporate “asset,” to a “work-unit,” to a disposable, easily replaceable cog in the machine. The two-way street of your grandfather’s corporate loyalty has become a one-way, downward spiral of overwork, break, discard and replace with a cheaper, foreign part.
Joel Bakan and Mark Achbar created the documentary film “The Corporation” 10 years ago. The film asked the question, “If corporations are people, what kind of people are they?” In the film, they go down a psychopathic checklist and cite actual, corresponding examples of bad corporate behavior. Sociopaths and corporations share numerous unpleasant traits, including no sense of guilt for their behavior, treating people like objects, feeling justified in their desires because they see them as their rights, and a lack of empathy with their victims.
Next time, let’s discuss what we can do to encourage multinational corporations to re-invest in America. Please share your thoughts on the Daily Republic website.
I’d like to leave you today with a thought from economist John Maynard Keynes: “When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for 200 years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession, as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life, will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semicriminal, semipathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.”
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at [email protected]