Thursday, July 24, 2003

"Death penalty"?

Yesterday Drudge pointed to a column entitled "BBC must not be a casualty of war". Fine. Once the idiots who set its contrary editorial policy are shown the door I'm sure everything will be fine.

What is it that gives some people the idea that for some of these things a corporation should be given "the death penalty"? They seem unaware that corporations themselves cannot be harmed, and they have no brains or morals. You can only harm their employees, pensioners, business partners and stockholders, and all of those might well be victims themselves. In any case, they are fluid, and there's no guarantee that the people who are harmed by a bankruptcy or other reverse are the ones who did the wrong or profited from it.

Symbolism can be important of course. I'm thinking that even if the National Socialist German Worker's Party still existed in Germany, no number of subsequent good works would have rehabilitated them. Hopefully some day the same fate will befall socialism and communism. But somehow I'm thinking that MCI WorldCom falls into a different moral category.

Now we have this, where people are questioning whether MCI should have any more federal contracts after the recent corporate shenanigans. They note that Enron and Arthur Anderson were both debarred from govt contracts - why not MCI too?

Well, for one, MCI controls valuable hard assets. Andersen did not, and I think Enron was organized such that hard assets were isolated from the divisions that did the mischief.

For another, it's easy to see if MCI is performing - did the call/data go through? Enron and Andersen OTOH depended on the trust and good will of their clients to stay in business - absent those, there was no reason to do business with them. (In particular, Andersen's business was credibility. The name had a long proud history, and a few years ago when their IT consulting business became a separate firm it tried to keep the Andersen name. Lucky for them they weren't willing to pay what the accountants wanted for use of the name. Goodbye Andersen Consulting, hello Accenture).

IMO the real reason why some are howling against MCI is that the Communications Workers of America want to unionize them. And like any other group dominated by the left, unions fight dirty - remember this? That's funny - I don't recall anyone suggesting that we put the United Food and Commercial Workers out of business even when they did things to endanger customer health so they could blame it on Food Lion.

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