Sunday, August 08, 2004


Some of the biggest corporations in this country are in the media. And who are some of their favorite whipping boys? Large corporations.

The WaPo published this today, speaking of fear of corporations. We see this:
Think of the first global corporation -- the Catholic church -- with its offices in many countries (monasteries and churches), language peculiar to the institution (Latin), aggressive takeover methods (the Crusades), vigorous marketing campaign (missionaries) and competition-killing strategy (the Inquisition). It took 1,500 years and Martin Luther's entrepreneurial spirit to create a viable alternative for consumers.
Right - there were no alternatives to Roman Catholicism anywhere on the planet at the time, right? And in this age of Islamists, who have spread their faith by the sword since Mohammad himself, he chooses the Catholic church as an example. And more silliness:
From the Catholic church sprang the Knights Templar, the Crusades' elite soldiers and the world's first international banking system, as the knights transmitted money along the pilgrims' path from Europe to the Holy Land. As such, they had the power that went with wealth, and were viewed with such suspicion and envy as to be eradicated by France's Philip IV, something of a medieval trust-buster.
Trust-buster my eye - he saw a rival and dealt with it. Likewise for Teddy Roosevelt - he wanted to be the biggest BSD around and certainly wouldn't tolerate corporations powerful enough to tell him off.
Omnipotent organizations form in power vacuums. For those who think Rupert Murdoch is too powerful, look back to the end of the 19th century, when the federal government's regulatory authority was so small it would be unrecognizable to us. In those times, sprawling, self-interested corporations filled the void. And they weren't just depicted in the media -- they often were the media.
Oh yeah, we get the example of Rupert Murdoch for excessive power. This wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that he's not a flaming liberal, would it? Why don't we ever hear anyone complaining about lefties like the obscenely rich head of Viacom, Sumner Redstone? Or Ted Turner?
On the other hand, Michael Moore's 1989 "Roger & Me" details the devastating consequences of General Motors' decision to pull a manufacturing plant out of Flint, Mich. No one accuses former GM chief executive Roger Smith of intending to turn Flint into an urban ruin where people eat rabbits to survive, yet it happened when the GM plant, and its 30,000 jobs, left.
He's hit bottom. Ye gads, the writer is treating Michael Moore as someone with intelligent responsible commentary!

GM did not adopt the workers when it hired them. If Flint had too many eggs in one basket economically, then that's a local problem. If they had insisted upfront that GM take extraordinary responsibility for their workers before the plant had been built, certainly GM would have gone elsewhere. Would Flint have been better off if the jobs had never been there?
United Fruit, for instance, with its close ties to the Eisenhower administration and the CIA, was Guatemala's largest landowner and employer and its de facto government, writes David Halberstam in "The Fifties."
Does Halberstam, a liberal, have a problem with this? Surely he's not suggesting that the biggest "corporation" of them all, the US government, would ever do anything sinister? Oh, I forgot - Eisenhower was a Republican, and the opposition in Central America typically was Marxist.
Just last week, reports surfaced that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether four major U.S. oil companies bribed the dictator of Equatorial Guinea.
Interesting. It takes two parties to a bribe, and both are unethical, yet somehow it's only the corporation which is seen as wrong. At least the briber from the corporation is working to advance the interests of his stockholders - the one who takes the bribe is putting his personal interests ahead of those he nominally serves.
In many ways, today's corporations are more powerful than nations and much more modern. Corporations are borderless nation-states, many of which have higher economic output than most sovereign countries. Ethnic infighting and border hatreds rarely affect their ability to form alliances. They are not shackled by the history of the regions in which they operate.
What a shame that governments can't be run more like corporations...

How is it that people who fear corporate power can believe that government power is better? Which one has the guns and the prisons? And if corporations manage to get control of those via control of the govt, that's only because of the powers given to the govt, so if you would limit the power of corporations, maybe you ought to take a look at limiting govt power.

But in the final analysis the article can be dismissed out of hand. After all, the author works for a corporation...

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