Saturday, October 15, 2011

A short rant on corporate greed, impact on society

Resurgence in progressive movement isn't about ideology, but rather tackling corporate influence in society

Let's get this straight: I don't hate corporations. I think that some corporations, even most, do a lot of good for our society. They provide the products we use, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and so forth. Those taking part in the Occupy Wall Street movement certainly utilize some of corporations' greatest technologies when they update their actions daily using smart phones and social media. Corporations aren't the enemy -- at least, some of them aren't.

This movement you're hearing about isn't about changing our economic system, isn't a call for socialism or anarchism or anything like that. Are there some socialists and anarchists among the crowds in New York and elsewhere? Sure, but they're not a majority. Even if they were, however, this is not what this movement is about.

This movement is about removing corporate greed and influence from certain aspects of our society.

Allow me to define that: there is a big difference between corporate greed and a corporation seeking to maximize profits. In the latter example, a corporation seeks to grow its consumer base by listening to their customers, creating products or performing services that they prefer, and cut costs when they're necessary to cut.

Corporate greed, on the other hand, is much more devious. A few examples might be in order to better explain it. It's when a health insurance company collects money from its customers and then denies them coverage based on acne a person once had or a rape that a victim once went through. It's when a business decides to reward its CEO and other members of the board with large pay raises when it requires its own workers to take pay or benefit cuts. It's when corporations openly lobby Congress or take part in our democratic process under the auspices of "free speech" in order to lessen restrictions on air pollution laws or child labor standards.

In short, corporate greed is different from a corporation trying to advance itself in that it seeks greed for the sake of profit in the short-term (without regard for their customers or others), and not for the sake of improving its product for the consumer and therefore its image in the long-term.

A corporation that makes it easier for the deaf or hard of hearing to hear their own voices is acting in a way that's going to promote their business in a healthy way; a business that raises the prices of life-saving prescription drugs in order to squeeze a couple hundred dollars out of grandma is not.

This isn't rocket science -- this is general knowledge, things that everyone should know and work to improve in our society. Sensible regulations on corporations, to restrict their influence in our elections and on our legislators, won't impede on their ability to collect a profit. If some within the corporatist right want to argue that "corporations are people," then those people within corporations, not the corporations themselves, should seek out their lawmakers as individuals, just as the rest of us do.

We don't need to fear socialism because that's not the issue here -- this isn't about socialism, liberalism, conservatism, or any ism (except maybe corporatism). It's about reasoned approaches to corporate influence in our lives, about how much a business or group of businesses, large or small, should take part in our discourses within our democracy. There are appropriate ways this can be done and there are inappropriate ways.

What we're witnessing in our society today is a plethora of inappropriate influence on the part of corporations. Again, not all corporations -- just the greedy ones.

1 comment:

  1. The problem with corporations is not enough regulation and oversight. We, the people, should be in control,making the rules and setting the playing field for these entities to do business.