It’s the corporations, man. Also, I’m not an Economist.

Recently a friend of mine went on at length about his dislike and fear of “The Corporations”. This diatribe was brought on partially in response to the recent election, and partially by an iPad commercial he took offense to. To him, Apple products are the epitome of empty, evil consumer manipulation, in addition to being the cause of a variety of other societal ills. I quickly backed out of trying to argue against him, because he is slightly crazy and not terribly open to alternate viewpoints. You can hate corporations, sure, but keep in mind that every corporation is filled with normal human beings trying to find their way to a fulfilling life. Vilifying the entire organization isn’t fair to the good people inside of it.
Now let me hoop over the fence to the anti-corporate side of things. There are two elements of big business that I think add very little or even harm our society as a whole: shareholders, conglomerates, and middle managers.
Shareholders only care about one thing:profit. Indeed, the corporations are legally required to put shareholder profit above any and all other considerations. For the most part, shareholders don’t care about healthy workers or environmental responsibility. They buy the stock and expect to make money from it, even though they do none of the work to earn the money. I know, I know, the shareholders money is ostensibly used to improve the company’s money-making ability, so you can argue that their investment counts as ‘work’ but it’s not the same as earning something through the sweat of your brow. Everything a publicly owned company does has to be vetted by the shareholders, while a private company has no such considerations. Private companies can take risks and make painful short-term choices with long-term benefits. Public companies have to show progress and growth to the shareholders every quarter, even though the idea of limitless growth is foolish.
And what needs to be said about middle management that Dilbert hasn’t already covered? This layer of uselessness makes nothing, and carries no responsibility for the success or failure of the company itself. It’s a layer of thick, human mediocrity that is just smart enough to wriggle out of doing honest work, but too dumb to come up with a good idea. Every time you hear someone use stupid business speak, claiming to ‘leverage synergy’ or get the people ‘out of the weeds’ they are announcing their intent to accomplish nothing. To be fair, middle managers do achieve one thing: bloat. Whether it’s fattened reports devoid of useful information, or giant teams of barely competent staff doing very little, the middle managers are the creators of it.
I am not an enemy of prosperity or success. I think any individual should have the opportunity to achieve to the fullest extent of their abilities. A good business gives its employees the opportunity to produce something of value, something to feel proud of. I have to believe that any business filled with happy and fulfilled workers would be financially successful.

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2 thoughts on “It’s the corporations, man. Also, I’m not an Economist.

  1. You’re totally giving CEOs a pass. Those guys can make in a year what it would take 10 lifetimes for one of their workers to make. (Apparently the commitment to shareholder profit stops at their bloated paycheck.) They earn obscene ‘performance’ bonuses–often by laying off workers to boost profits short-term, while damaging the companies long-term performance. And if they fuck up…well the gravy train keeps going as they get million dollar golden parachutes.

    • Oh, I don’t like them, either, but I was edging towards a full-blown rant, so I winnowed it down to 2. I agree that CEOs are unreasonably paid and shamefully unaccountable for their comapnies actions.

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