Thursday, June 15, 2006
The Unpatriotic Corporation
Capitalism in the United States is not "free enterprise" nor does it represent a market economy, but is primarily domination of supply and/or demand by large oligopolies. These same large economic entities dominate the major business association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which, along with other corporate trade groups, greatly influence both houses of Congress and the White House, as well as the federal regulatory bureaucracy. Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national corporate-sponsored lobbying organization, state legislators in all fifty states are also wined and dined and provided the best "model" legislation money can buy to expand nuclear power, limit environmental protection and protect oil, chemical, tobacco companies and the arms and ammunition manufacturers.
Oligopolies appear to offer competition for consumers, but in a very limited way, principally by advertising campaigns carried out by corporate-dominated media outlets. How much competition is there between Exxon Mobil and Chevron, between Home Depot and Lowes, between Dow Chemical and DuPont, or between General Mills and Sara Lee? Most "competition" is between styles, not substance, as one examines advertising campaigns of those corporations mentioned above, or of General Motors vs. Daimler Chrysler, or Cingular Wireless vs. Sprint Verizon.
Our government is being privatized at a rapid pace, and most of our foreign policy is being driven by lucrative federal government contracts to mercenary-oriented security companies such as DynCorp and MPRI, as well as those in the pockets of the current administration, such as Bechtel, Fluor, Halliburton and Monsanto. Foreign aid per se is mostly military aid, and the prime contractors continue to be Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics.
Citizens of other countries identify the United States by our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, or by our corporate presence represented by McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks and Coca Cola. Corporate logos are recognized more in foreign lands than the flag of our nation, which is distinguished by Iraqi occupation, not humanitarian assistance or fair trade.
Corporate legal entities are not democratic, nor does corporate management necessarily believe in democracy or democratic institutions. Management is selected by self-nominated boards of directors and most are elected by a plurality of as little as one vote. Shareholders or owners can’t even vote "against" a self-nominated slate of directors. Corporations operate efficiently and effectively throughout the world under monarchies, dictatorships, single party rule, communist, authoritarian and totalitarian governments.
Transnational corporations are not patriotic to the U.S. government, nor do they necessarily believe in any of the political ideologies of governments under which they operate. Corporations believe only in manipulating governments based upon their own materialistic self-interest and advancing the interests of the corporation; but first and foremost, to advance the narrow self interests of its management team. If management believes it is in the interest of the corporation to manipulate state, federal and local rules and advance their own interests by stretching the rule of law, they will do so. Loyalty is only owed to the corporation, not sovereign governments, local communities or political democracy.
Management, which controls the corporation, is separate from ownership. Ownership is dispersed, diffused and weak. Control is centralized, unified and strong. Ownership can be comprised of international public and private interests, many individuals and numerous institutions. Management is not only separate from ownership, but is separated from communities. The corporation can be in literally thousands of locations and in hundreds of local communities, but corporate management at the top has no loyalty to any overall community of interest or to any local community. Its only interest is absolute power, control and maximizing its own materialistic self-interest, the interests of its board of directors, and possibly, the interests of its diverse and diffused owners, if it also serves corporate management’s self-interest. In fact, national interests and community interests may, and often do, run counter to corporate interests, or management’s materialistic self-interest. In this case, management’s loyalty by corporate charter and by-law is owed exclusively to the corporation.
Many national governments have determined that it is in their sovereign right to control their country’s natural resources to benefit the public or civil society. Such resources include potable water, as well as other finite natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals and timber. As corporations continue to threaten, dominate, or control national sovereignty for their own materialistic self-interests, governments should be required to exert national sovereignty on behalf of the public interest. There is no reason why the public should not protect their national resources through government action. National natural resources need to be protected in perpetuity and sovereign governments are within their legal rights to take any action necessary, including nationalization, to control and protect such sovereign resources from exploitation.
Governments are also within their rights under the rule of law to control corporate charters, requiring corporations to serve the public interest or civil society. Corporations are legal entities created by law. Corporations should serve civil society or they should not exist as legally protected entities with special rights and privileges. If this is not acceptable to corporate management, the corporation should not be allowed to sell their products or services in the sovereign nation or jurisdiction nor manufacture or produce their products or goods for distribution and sale.
National sovereignty and the rule of law should be sacrosanct. Voluntary corporate codes and codes of voluntary unenforceable corporate conduct are not sufficient or acceptable as an alternative to the rule of law by sovereign nations and sovereign people. The public interest and civil society should be protected from the excesses of materialistic self-interests and the unpatriotic corporation.