The major idea found in Hartmann book is that corporations govern the world we live in and try to exploit individuals in order to generate profits for themselves. The tremendous wealth and financial power of industrial life created widespread philosophical debates on the ideal relationship of industry to the government in the nineteenth century, ranging from Marxist socialism on the left to the laissez-faire libertarianism on the right. The former would want to completely nationalize industry and the latter would want to leave it completely unregulated.
Along this continuum is the issue of whether private corporations and partnerships are the same type of institution as publicly traded corporations, or whether corporations with public shareholders require substantially more government oversight. Hartmann suggests that the formation of the regulatory agencies after the Great Depression and the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act after the Enron scandal were meant to address this question. (Hartmann, 2004)
œThe United States and the rise of corporations have a shared parallel history. (Hartmann, 2004) Corporations proved they can produce railroads, cars, telephones, televisions, computers, airplanes and countless other products at prices that make them widely available. Large corporations using economies of scale and robots can produce some types of basic products for less money than small corporations or family businesses. They have become part of the landscape for modern pursuit of happiness of people, even if at times they have created a false sense of happiness by being made ends in themselves.
How to get anything you ever wanted for free... The 'system' is a series of checks and balances. It's an insiders club and unless you know the rules or are willing to break them, you'll probably never have a pot to piss in. Not.... Where does it say, we have to put up with, read about or watch on TV, the exploits of people like Donald Trump, Robin Leach or one of the 'Kennedy's'. Personally, I'm ...
However, according to Hartmann, corporations have one ultimate goal: profit. (Hartmann, 2004) They do not inherently care for their employees, their investors, or the nations in which they reside. The people that make them up, like other people, want to get the most they can with the least amount of investment. They will perform poorly if they are a monopoly, but perform well if they have to compete to provide the best service possible in a competitive market. They will pollute the environment and sell products that promote addiction if they are not restrained by the society that suffers as a result. They will treat people as objects for profit, labeling them œconsumers, rather than human beings. (Hartmann, 2004)
There is a role for the government to play with respect to corporations. It should police and referee. It should promote and enforce laws that motivate a free and competitive market, giving everyone a chance to achieve economic success by providing a valuable product or service to others. To the extent a municipality engages in development, it should do so using the people goal of development, not the developer. Developers could show competing plans to a city council, that transparently let the public choose the best for their own vision of the city in which they are a resident.
Based on Hartmann views, government intrusion into the free market comes from two directions, from civil society and from business. (Hartmann, 2004) Either way it is often driven by selfishness: the desire to get something one does not produce and does not deserve through the political manipulation of others. In this regard, the market is sabotaged by socialists and corporate capitalists alike. Redistribution is the goal of the non-producer, the dependent, and the non-achiever. And, it is not only Marxists who want redistribution from the rich to the poor. The rich often want redistribution from the poor to the rich, as is evidenced by the eminent domain issue.
When we study our past, we see what was and what could have been. Different times, different cultures, and their issues were often not so very different then our own in present days. If we pay enough attention to the past, and it s lessons, the future can be better. As we look toward the future, we must also look backward. History shows us man s failures and successes. If we hope to succeed in the ...
The United States™ founding fathers were especially sensitive to the misuse of political power in their day. But in modern large-scale industrial societies, money is power; it can–and does–buy politicians and armies. A two hundred year distance from the founding has allowed bending and twisting of their philosophy of the United States, the constitution they wrote to guide it, and the institutions they established to realize it.
œPeople around the world sense the hollowness of that proclamation as they watch the United States go to war in Iraq but not Rwanda, award contracts to Haliburton rather than offering free competition, or watch the passage of L1 and H1B visa legislation in secret sessions that give United States jobs to foreign workers. (Hartmann, 2004) Corporations can exist in both democracies and oligarchies. However, unchecked they will naturally tend to become oligarchs, just as many government leaders will tend toward becoming autocrats. If citizens of a nation have a vision of what their nation should be, they cannot allow others to define happiness for them.
We have witnessed a history of the interplay of three groups: civil society, the government, and the corporations. When the United States was founded, there were no corporations and business was part of civil society. The development of industry was the result of inventions and the ability to finance their manufacture. This was done through the creation of artificial œpersons called corporations. The people of the old economy generally opposed the benefits the government gave to corporations, while those involved with the corporate economy favored them.
In the United States there has been ongoing debate about whether corporations will create a future in which all will prosper, or whether they are devices for the rich to consolidate power and oppress the poor. Like the invention of the state itself, the invention of the corporation held out the promise of a better life. And like human faith in the state, an artificial œperson itself, human beings have placed great faith in corporations. On the other hand, abuses of the state were rampant in the twentieth century and millions were killed at the hands of governments. Will unregulated corporations cause similar chaos? Some fear they will.
What is Federalism? The United States has one of the most complicated forms of government in the world. With many levels and subdivisions, this form of government is called federalism. Within the United States, federalism is marked by a continuous change in the system of connections between the national, state, and local governments. At times, the different levels of government act independently ...
However, wishing the death of the corporation, like wishing the death of the state, will not solve the problem. Corporations are now part of the makeup of human life, and they have allowed for much greater prosperity and comfort for the average person of today than kings and princes of ancient times enjoyed. Before industrialized agriculture, over 70 percent of the population was subsistence farmers. Today, abundant food can be produced by 3 percent of the population. Similarly, in earlier stages of industrial production, a large number of factory workers were required to make automobiles and other products. With robotics and other advances, a smaller percentage of workers can produce a large amount of basic industrial goods, leaving more time for creative jobs and recreation.
1. Hartmann, T. Unequal Protection: The Rise Of Corporate Dominance And The Theft Of Human Rights. Rodale Books, 2004.