Make-Believe Villains and the Pursuit of Happiness
I’m on another toot, so hold on -- our national bandwidth is so clogged with faux-thinking that I’m gasping for a good, clear, lung-cleansing breath. Let’s open a window and see if we can get some air in here.
Let’s shake out the ugly myth of Corporate Greed, our national, make-believe villain, which is assumed to be worse somehow than the greed of those trading carbon credits in Chicago, raking in trillions from the global warming scam. Corporate greed is also evidently morally inferior to the personal greed of those slurping unnecessarily at the public trough like the women in Detroit who had waited in line to get some of what they called, “Obama’s stash.”
Let’s take a deep breath of reality and stop pointing propagandized fingers. Let’s look at some economic facts:
- Corporations are not moral entities – they are legal entities. Like families, they are made up of individuals who may or may not be moral. If my fourth cousin, twice removed, embezzles money from the head shop where he works on alternate Thursdays (when he’s not too stoned) it’s not my fault. It would be wrong to stigmatize my whole family for his idiocy, and it is equally wrong to throw a blanket of blame over an entire industry because a few people weren’t adequately diligent in their duties, or because they were trying to work with new technology.
- Corporations are groups of people who invest, design, build, package, distribute and market most of what we eat, wear, drive, sit on, live in, and enjoy. Corporations make life not only possible, but pleasurable. I nearly choke on the hypocrisy of those who drive around in their Volvos, wearing their Abercrombie jeans, sipping a Starbucks while they text away on their I-phones about corporate greed. Give me some air.
- Corporations are only dangerous when they get in bed with government. Look at the eminent domain mess in New London, Connecticut. Business conglomerates don’t have power over our lives; government does. A business cannot arrest you, try you, imprison you, confiscate your property, or execute you. Government can. A huge corporation is a powerful entity, but it’s buying public has ahold of the reins; if a business can’t sell its product, it’s dead. If, however, it successfully sidles up to government, then we’re all in trouble. Look at the tax money that’s been swallowed up by GM and all they have to show for it is an electric car no one wants to buy. (GM has sold only a few thousand Volts despite tens of billions in government support.
- Corporations exist to make a product the public wants, and to make a profit doing so. The profit made by a corporation goes to its shareholders – ordinary people who have invested in that company hoping to come out ahead -- to add to their Social Security, to send a kid to college, or start a new business. An old high school friend – a staunch and verbal liberal – was bemoaning the other day his difficulty in finding companies in which he could invest, companies that suited his higher-than-normal moral standards. He seemed to be trying to find companies that used no natural resources (i.e. green), created nothing that would last (i.e. green), and, in the end, made no evil, capitalistic profit. I swear, I can’t breathe.
- Corporations don’t pay taxes even though they are taxed – at the highest rate in the world – 35%, but knowing that their shareholders will not readily give up 35% of their dividends (only to be re-taxed on whatever income they have left), corporations do several things:
- They look for and utilize loopholes, and tax law is so convoluted that it’s filled with them.
- They move their operations to a less tax-heavy location.
- They pass the tax on to their customers.
If they are going to go on producing what their consumers want to buy, which requires the capital their shareholders provide, they have no choice. There now, doesn’t that feel better? Breathe.
- Corporations, in the current mythos (I love using liberal words), are the antithesis of Benevolent Government. But government, like the corporation, is built of individuals – who often have no knowledge of or respect for business and who may or may not be moral. One can be as greedy for power as for money – aren’t they just two sides of the same coin? Why would we assume that the official put in charge of overseeing the corporation would be morally superior to those under his power? After all, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – thank you, Lord Acton.
- Corporations – of all sizes – and the people who run them, work for them, and invest in them are the only human thing that stands between us and complete financial ruin. Those who hamper corporations, hamper us; those who attack them, attack us; those who attempt to destroy them are, whether they know it or not, attempting to destroy the only country that ever gave a rip about the pursuit of personal happiness. There. I feel better. How about you?