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The Corproation

Page history last edited by Nour Ghamrawi 12 years, 6 months ago



The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

Final Draft The Corporation.docx





(Still to be edited by partner on wiki for Thursday night submission) 


A corporation, a legal entity that is created under the laws of a state designed to establish the entity as a separate legal entity having its own privileges and liabilities distinct from those of its members (Wikipedia). Joel Bakan, has written a book titled The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. Joel begins by stating that the Corporation has become a creature of its own and is living above the law. Through the use of logic, ethos, and pathos Joel discusses what a corporation is and the bottom line, corporations are simply here to make money.
            Some of us have mixed opinions about corporations some us value and cherish their righteous acts and some of us have shame and embarrassment due to their wrongdoings. Joel Bakan, a Canadian lawyer who has received his masters degree in law from Harvard University, goes back one hundred and fifty years ago when corporations first humbly began to the monster it is today. Joel Bakan uses logic beginning from the legal construction of corporations and claims that a corporation is incapable to be anything other than a money making machine. Profitability to the corporation and its shareholders is the only motivation for a corporation to succeed; pursuing any other action is illegal.
            The law has been created to treat and punish everyone equally. The law is what keeps people in line and punishes people for their criminal and wrongful acts. With the corporation in place it seems that it is above the law. There have been many corporations caught doing unlawful acts some have received a slap on the hand and others minuscule fines. Joel brings up “the bottom line” over and over again throughout the novel, and what that bottom line means is that at the end of the day no matter what, when, where and how the primary interest of a corporation is to make money. Corporations have been involved in leading sweatshops, vandalizing the environment, fraud and many more various criminal acts. The punishment was either a small fine or an order to repair or recover the damage, however if the punishment was too large a corporation could simply declare bankruptcy, or dissolve and sell of its assets and simply start a new one. In almost all cases this is done simply with no affect to the shareholders. No other being can do what a corporation does and get away with it as simply as a corporation does.
            Everyone loves being in control and in the novel Joel Bakan stressed over and over again that corporations are in full control without us even knowing. Through advertising and marketing campaigns corporations dictate what we buy, where we live and how we live. An example of this is outsourcing, as stated earlier the main priority of corporations is to make profit. Corporations need the place they reside in to remain “attractive” to them, or else they will simply pack up and leave. This means that corporations want lower taxes and special accommodations so that it remains in the country, and with the economy’s history and the increase of jobless people the government has no choice. Corporate control even exists through politics through extensive lobbying. You hear about various corporations donating millions of dollars to political parties, then months later you hear that a bill has been passed in supporting actions or movements related directly to a certain corporation, coincidentally the same corporation that donated millions of dollars. It hasn’t stopped there, now corporations are starting to own things that were originally government owned and operated, things like health care, street maintenance, parks, beaches, and even schools. Edison a for profit organization that now owns schools is a great example, when the corporation wasn’t doing well financially, staff was laid off and their duties were divided amongst the students as volunteer work.
            On and on throughout the novel Joel Bakan constantly stresses “the bottom line,” making profits is what it is all about and why it is happening. Joel showed us the history of corporations and told us how it began, which at first it seemed like a good idea, major projects like train tracks needed funding and creating corporations with shareholders was the perfect solution to grow quickly. However, it hasn’t always been good, it lead to things like the great depression, recessions, foreclosures, and repossessions. So what happened? Why are most corporations suddenly out of control and seem to be doing nothing positive to the society? Joel Bakan blames it on us and the law, the law forbids leaders of any corporation to make any decision or participate in actions that don’t produce profit to its investors. No matter how little or how much, corporate capital can only be used to gain more, if a CEO wanted to donate or be more ethically responsible he or she would have to do it from their money rather than from the shareholders. However there is more to it, a majority of the general population have some sort of financial involvement in corporations. Whether it is owning stocks within certain corporations, working for them, or even having a tension plan tied within them, at the end of the day we want those corporations to make as much money as possible. Therefore the bottom line doesn’t just apply to corporations, it applies to us to, and the only way things will change is if we want it too.
            The corporation is our creation; Joel refers to it as our Frankenstein. The purpose of it was to increase prosperity and wealth, which it has accomplished. While doing so it has done a lot of serious damage. Joel stated a perfect example in relation to General Motors (63), the company was aware of the possibility of fuel fed fires when it designed certain models of cars. The reason being was the location of its gas tank, in result what the company did was calculate its cheapest solution. GM concluded that in order to fix the problem it would cost $8.59 for each of the 41,000,000 automobiles, however if they didn’t fix it each fuel-fed fatality would cost GM $2.40 for each of those automobiles. Therefore GM opted out of fixing them since they would save $6.19 per automobile if they allowed people to die. That was one of the most shocking statistics I’ve ever seen in my life. It isn’t just GM though, that was one of the many examples, IBM a famous computer company actually aided Hitler with concentration camps. IBM provided the technology, service, and maintenance to assist in murdering millions of people, but to IBM it was never about Nazism, it was simply about profit. As shocking as it sounds all these stories are true and still happen until today, we just don’t hear about it until a lawsuit comes up.
            Bias isn’t in Joel’s dictionary he did go on commend corporations who gave back to society and were ethical, there just wasn’t as many. Pfizer, is a major drug company that always gives away free medicine and immunizations to people in need. Although it may cost them close to nothing it’s still a very ethical action. People may argue that companies do this only for publicity, however if they get supported for supporting the world then why not? Corporations were created by us, we gave them their rights, Joel believes and I share his opinion that soon corporations will be under control. Corporations are asking for less regulation, which means less government involvement but we can’t allow that, we need to enforce it and instill more regulation. Joel ends off with a great point, “its about us as human beings…our role on the earth…how we come together with other people to govern ourselves…to live in harmony with other creatures on the earth, to live in harmony with the earth itself, to live in harmony with future generations..including the children of men and women who work in corporations.” (167) Joel and I are both optimistic to the future of corporations, because it really is about us.


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