Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Corporation: excerpt 1

anyone who reads beyond the daily newspaper must be aware that the environment is in deepening trouble worldwide - for example, year after year, Lester Brown and his colleagues at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, DC., quietly catalog the world's deteriorating environmental conditions: [1] clean water growing scarcer, forests dwindling, marine mammals declining,indigenous human populations disappearing, the oceans' fisheries collapsing, protein shortages emerging, productive topsoil diminishing, contamination by pesticides and industrial chemicals steadily growing, species loss accelerating, chronic diseases rising throughout the industrialized world - and this short list only brushes the surface.

increasingly, citizens are searching for root causes of the world's environmental decline, seeking pressure-points where focused attention might make a fundamental difference - here we examine the legal entity called the corporation -- corporations are legal fictions created by law to engage in business for the purpose of returning a percentage on investors' capital -this legal purpose requires that sufficient growth must occur each year (on average) to produce a surplus that can be returned to investors; and it requires that costs must be "externalized" (passed along to outside parties, such as workers or the general public) to the extent possible - as a former Ronald Reagan economist, Robert Monks, has said, "despite attempts to provide balance and accountability, the corporation as an entity became so powerful that it quickly outstripped the limitations of accountability and became something of an externalizing machine, in the same way that a shark is a killing machine - no malevolence, no intentional harm, just something designed with sublime efficiency for self-preservation, which it accomplishes without any capacity to factor in the consequences to others." [2]

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