Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Corporation: excerpt 3

because corporations cannot feel pain when the corporation hurts someone or damages the environment, the fundamental constraint on human behavior (personal pain) is missing from the corporate form -- this is a point worth emphasizing - it is principally through pain that humans learn to control themselves and civilize their behavior - a baby tries to crawl through a solid door; the resulting bump on the forehead teaches something fundamental about limits imposed by the external world - later, the baby wants someone else's ice cream cone, takes it, and gets punished - a painful but important lesson on the limits of personal behavior - as we grow, we develop an individual conscience; anti-social behavior begins to hurt us because we feel guilt and remorse - thus do we learn to control our selfish impulses.

because corporations cannot feel pain after they grow to a certain size, no penalty or fine can effectively hurt them - they simply pass the cost on to shareholders and customers - even if a handful of executives are put in jail, the corporation itself goes on, largely untouched -- you can think of a corporation as a smiling giant that has perpetual life, cannot feel pain, must constantly grow larger (doubling in size every decade or so), must deposit its excreta in public places and do everything else it can to make its neighbors and compatriots pay all its costs of living - its legal form requires the corporation to spend billions hiring armies of talented specialists in law, public relations, media manipulation, and the science of persuasion, all aimed at making the corporation appear as nothing more than an ordinary concerned citizen - this smiling colossus is a frightening alien indeed.

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