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Old 10-21-2014, 10:45 PM   #1
Thundercrack85
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Default Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Stuff about corporations have come up a lot this election. Corporate interests, corporate welfare, raising (or rather, not) raising the minimum wage, corporate influence on politicians, etc. One particularly horrible individual even said that companies are people.

But I do have to wonder. The way some corporations behave. Treat their employees like slaves, pollute, embezzle, even try to cover up human experimentation and murder...

What the hell is up with that? If they were people, well, we'd execute them for crimes against humanity.

I mean, granted, this is nothing new. From the Robber Barons to industrialists who enabled Nazi Germany (whose companies are still around, and doing great), corporations have always done dubious things.

Now not all corporations are evil. It's a short list, but there are some that go out of their way to have good policies for their employees.

But I just have to wonder, are the people running these things evil? Is it just deliberate malevolence?

I would just love to talk to the CEO of a fast food chain, and ask.

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Old 10-21-2014, 11:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Acting in your own best interest isn't necessarily evil. That's really what they're doing. Malevolence would imply that they are out to actively harm others, and I really don't think that's the case.

The intent isn't malicious, it's selfish. I think that's the important distinction.

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Old 10-21-2014, 11:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

But doesn't it cross a line at some point?

I mean, I want money, sure. But not at the expense of others. And after a certain point, I have as much as I will ever need, provided I made as much as some of these people.

How can you justify giving yourself a 9,000 dollar hourly wage while your workers struggle (hell, routinely fail) to make a living on a measly 7.25?

And when you fight tooth and nail to stop them from improving their lot, including everything from denying them a pathetic minimum wage increase, to health benefits, to me, that is malicious.

At a certain point, it becomes sociopathic behavior.

Granted, a psychopath would make an excellent CEO, provided your company only cares about making money, without any concern about the human cost.

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Old 10-21-2014, 11:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

It sounds like your issue is with the basic premise of capitalism rather than with the corporations themselves.

This discussion also hinges upon the implied definition of "evil."

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Old 10-22-2014, 12:19 AM   #5
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

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Originally Posted by Doctor Evo View Post
It sounds like your issue is with the basic premise of capitalism rather than with the corporations themselves.

This discussion also hinges upon the implied definition of "evil."
Indeed. This is an issue with the bastard version of capitalism that the US concocted. The corporations would not have been able to take advantage of the perks that were created without the consent and endorsement of the government and the people.

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Old 10-22-2014, 12:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

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Originally Posted by Thundercrack85 View Post
But doesn't it cross a line at some point?

I mean, I want money, sure. But not at the expense of others. And after a certain point, I have as much as I will ever need, provided I made as much as some of these people.

How can you justify giving yourself a 9,000 dollar hourly wage while your workers struggle (hell, routinely fail) to make a living on a measly 7.25?

And when you fight tooth and nail to stop them from improving their lot, including everything from denying them a pathetic minimum wage increase, to health benefits, to me, that is malicious.

At a certain point, it becomes sociopathic behavior.

Granted, a psychopath would make an excellent CEO, provided your company only cares about making money, without any concern about the human cost.
I think it's a case it's hard for them to look at faceless numbers on a state sheet as actual people. You make the assumption that if they don't like things as it is they will just get another job(if the pay sucks) or move(if you polluting the environment they live in).

I think it's less sociopath and more a lack of empathy, basically feeling they way they run their life is easily doable for everybody(ie if I have tons of money it's just easy for me to pick up and move somewhere else if I don't like the situation I am in)


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Old 10-22-2014, 03:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

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I think it's less sociopath and more a lack of empathy...
Isn't that one of the more important diagnostic features of sociopathy?

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Old 10-22-2014, 08:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

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Isn't that one of the more important diagnostic features of sociopathy?
It's one feature but not the only feature of a sociopath

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Old 10-22-2014, 08:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

It's not malice, it's indifference.

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Old 10-22-2014, 08:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Companies do not in themselves have motives, as they are artificial legal personalities. Their board members have motives, which should be aligned with the stated objects of the company, and will ultimately aim to pay a dividend to the company's members (shareholders).

That rather banal description could lead to the impression that companies were soulless, predatory phantoms which are programmed to suck in wealth and regurgitate it into the coffers of a few cigar chomping fat cats. There are a few facts that should modify that view, however. The first is that companies have the same liabilities in law as human beings. If they break contracts, are guilty of negligence, or cause a public nuisance, they will be sued or prosecuted. Directors can and do end up in prison. The second is that companies are heavily regulated; obligations are put on them and their directors by statute, which curtail their behaviour and warn when they are not being well run. Thirdly, company members (shareholders) are not all Warren Buffetts or Donald Trumps. Many of them are institutional investors like pension funds and charitable trusts. These bodies are, on the whole, performing a public good, and it is in the public interest for their investment revenue to increase as the companies in which they invest make profits. Fourthly, companies can only make profits if they are doing something that most people want them to do. This may be heating homes, distributing food, or any number of other services on which we depend. If companies (and some other types of firm and traders) did not do these things, either governments would have to, or they wouldn't get done. In the case of non-essential goods and services (movies, videogames, cosmetics etc) the latter is more likely. Private enterprise enriches our lives, and gives us more choice as individuals. Finally, of course, a lot of people earn their living by working for companies.

So far, then, I would say that companies are a social and economic good. They do things that we deem necessary, they make profits in which we can choose to share as investors, they get into trouble if they do something wrong, and they might give us a job. Enterprise and limited (financial) liability have resulted in more human "progress", in my opinion, than any number of supposedly "progressive" acts of public policy.

Here is the caveat: very big companies get too powerful. Our elected representatives are eager to court companies, either for selfish reasons (campaign money), or for the good of their electorates (bringing jobs to their area). This can lead to companies paying too little or no tax, when loopholes are left open and rates are cut below what is reasonable. It can also lead to mis-regulation of sectors. I do not say "under-regulation", because regulation tends to balloon and reproduce like bacteria, but enforcement becomes almost discretionary as the regulatory burden becomes heavier. This leads to corruption, usually by unspoken "understandings" between big business and government. The consumer and smaller businesses- "the little guys"- get completely cut out of this, and the relations of companies with society break down. This was most evident in huge infusions of public money being used to prop up failing banks with negligent directors.

Short version: companies are not in themselves evil, and are broadly a good thing. But they get too big for their boots, at which point governments cosy up to them, giving them licence to misbehave.

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Old 10-22-2014, 02:34 PM   #11
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

I wouldn't say evil...I would say selfish and greedy.

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Old 10-22-2014, 04:56 PM   #12
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Delaware General Corporation Law. Companies aren't evil, but the law is set up in such a way that clever capitalists can get away with murder. No accountability and no oversight or responsibility is asked of companies.

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Old 10-22-2014, 05:03 PM   #13
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

The Delaware situation is interesting, and illustrates the phenomena of political bodies pandering to over mighty companies. A similar theme can be seen in the competitively lower rates of corporation tax applied through Europe.

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Old 10-22-2014, 05:08 PM   #14
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delawar...orporation_Law

The operational provisions are puke-worthy. Bar the obvious perks the way Delaware corporations can snake around tax and interest "nuisances" is borderline criminal. It's one of the worst manifestations of capitalism, if not the worst. I mean no corporate income tax...? Is that a ****ing joke?

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Old 10-23-2014, 12:49 AM   #15
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thundercrack85 View Post
Stuff about corporations have come up a lot this election. Corporate interests, corporate welfare, raising (or rather, not) raising the minimum wage, corporate influence on politicians, etc.
Because it's easy for politicians, both Republican and Democrat, to attack corporations. That's why it comes up a lot.

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One particularly horrible individual even said that companies are people.
Technically, corporations are people. The whole point of the creation of corporations hundreds of years ago was to create an entity that has the rights of a person. By giving corporations the rights of a person, creditors can only target the assets of said corporation, not the assets of the shareholders. Without the rights of personhood, a creditor such as a bank, can target any asset it wants of the shareholders if the corporation.

For example, lets say that you owned .000001% of Walmart. But then one day Walmart goes belly up (which isn't going to happen, but go with me here). With the rights of personhood, all the people that are owed money by Walmart can only target the assets that are owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Without the rights of personhood, the people that are owed money can just come and take your house to settle the debts because there is no distinction between you, the shareholder who owns shares of Walmart, and the corporate entity Wal-Mart Stores Inc. It's a necessary evil that is designed to protect people like you.

So when people like Mitt Romney say that corporations are people too. They are indeed correct. Legally speaking, corporations are people. And people who say that the Supreme Court made corporations people with Citizens United v. FEC are people who don't know what they're talking about. Things like this don't sound nice, but it's the reality and the way it has always been.

And that's the thing, when something is endowed with the rights of personhood, that includes all rights, including things like free speech. You can't just cherry pick rights. It's a bit of a shame because a corporation isn't a person. They can't feel anger or compassion or think or appreciate rights the way a real person does. And that is where people have problems with the idea of corporate personhood. But as I already said, it's a necessary evil.

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But I do have to wonder. The way some corporations behave. Treat their employees like slaves, pollute, embezzle, even try to cover up human experimentation and murder...
In god damn China where there isn't respect for basic human rights to begin with. But in today's Western society, that's a bit of an over-exaggeration.

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What the hell is up with that? If they were people, well, we'd execute them for crimes against humanity.
No we wouldn't.

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I mean, granted, this is nothing new. From the Robber Barons to industrialists who enabled Nazi Germany (whose companies are still around, and doing great), corporations have always done dubious things.

Now not all corporations are evil. It's a short list, but there are some that go out of their way to have good policies for their employees.
Here's the thing that people have to understand to whom corporations are ultimately responsible for, corporations are not responsible to their employees or to their governments or whatever. The only people they are responsible to are their shareholders who demand that the corporation makes as much money as humanly possible. The sole reason why these people invest in these corporations is to make money. That is the legal and genuine responsibility of the corporation and its board of directors. If said corporation failed at that one duty, the shareholders have every right to revolt, sell their shares, get the board of directors fired, sue, etc.

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But I just have to wonder, are the people running these things evil? Is it just deliberate malevolence?
Doctor EVO and Schlosser said it best, they're not being malevolent. They're being indifferent.

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I would just love to talk to the CEO of a fast food chain, and ask.
You don't have to, I can answer for you.

This part of how I personally feel is going to make me come of a bit cold and callous and even a bit malicious, but the people who are attacking the fast food industry over low pay, do not know what the hell they are talking about and I wish they shut up.

My passionate anger over this issue comes from my own personal experience since I am a person who works in the food industry in a real restaurant. If there was a caste system of the food industry, fast food workers are essentially the equivalent of the untouchables. We really do not have much respect for their jobs. While we make real food, they just warm up premade crap and throw things in a fryer. The fact that there are some fast food workers who are trying to get paid more than me just boils my blood. Now I'm not saying that they're lazy good for nothing welfare moochers, but the non-existent skill level in their job does not equate to them deserving more money than me, someone who actually makes real food over horrible tasting fast food crap.

Now move on from the morality of higher pay (and why I hate it) and into the economics of pay in the fast food industry and why it's just bad policy.

First of all, the overwhelming majority of people who own fast food establishments are small business owners, not corporate billionaires. The vast majority of fast food restaurants are franchises whose owners really cannot afford the higher wages as opposed to the actual corporations that make billions of dollars. The McDonald's Corporation only owns and operates 15% of their establishments. Burger King Worldwide Inc. is transitioning itself to where it will eventually own and operate none of its establishments and be 100% franchised. Yum! Brands, the largest fast food company in the world, owns about 20% of their establishments. The majority of people who work in fast food restaurants are not working for the actual fast food corporations and are not actual employees of McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, Wendy's, etc., but are the employees of people who make far, far, far less money.

Second, let's look at the overall dynamics of fast food. People really only eat fast food for two reasons: 1. It's cheap. 2. It's quick. The reason why the food is cheap is because the labor is cheap. People are not eating fast food because it's good (nutritionally, digestively, or flavorly). Take away the cheap factor. Take away the cheap food that is propped up by cheap labor and people just aren't going to go to fast food restaurants. Why go to a fast food restaurant if they offer food at prices similar to restaurants that serve good food instead? Case in point, McDonald's, which has gotten rid of the dollar menu and has increased their prices by 3% this year, is seeing their profits declining. The low quality of food at higher prices is driving customers away to slightly higher quality restaurants such as Denny's, IHOP, Chili's, and Applebee's because they offer slightly higher quality food at similar prices to what McDonald's is charging now.

Basically, if you move fast food employees up to a living wage that many are calling for, it's essentially going to be the end of fast food or speed up the process of automation, which we are seeing right now. Which means that millions of people aren't going to have jobs anymore. Now which is worse? A crappy paying job? Or no job at all? The fast food industry just cannot support the higher wage that people are demanding.

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Old 10-23-2014, 01:48 AM   #16
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Those things are easy to say when you're not (I'm assuming) on the business end of poverty. "A necessary evil"...corporations being legally equal to people gives those corporations exactly the kind of loopholes necessary to abuse and manipulate variables so that the average employee gets out only what is minimally required by law, and the shareholders make off like bandits with tens of millions of dollars each. Capitalism is precisely like Communism - it's a nice theory.

I can't extensively suggest an alternative, but I can recognize the faulty solution capitalism is.

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Old 10-23-2014, 05:19 AM   #17
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Capitalism is the best system there is, overall, because it represents the freedom of contract in a macroeconomic scale. In a truly free market, wages would be more stratified, right down to some people working for food and shelter, but equity between demand and supply for labour should mean that most people were paid well. A problem with the minimum wage is that it prevents a genuine bidding-war for labour, because there is a fixed entry level that results in some people being overpaid and some being underpaid. Employers don't feel the need to offer any extra for a potentially very good employee to do an ordinary job, because all competitors in the sectors will pay roughly the same. Similarly, it reduces overall employment and disadvantages small start-ups, because taking on a first employee is a massive financial risk for a sole trader or small company (employment regulation and taxes like national insurance have the same effect).

That isn't to say that wages should not be higher. I think that they should. Here in the UK, we are experiencing healthy growth at the moment, but wages are remaining depressed, which is keeping inflation and tax receipts too low, as well as necessitating very low interest rates which dissuade people from saving. Confusingly, employment is also high. The basic equation is that growth and high employment should mean that demand for labour begins to outstrip supply, leading to higher pay. But it isn't happening. One reason may be that immigration is spiking massively, as we are one of the few growing economies in Europe. Another may be that skilled jobs are rarer.

To lead this back to companies/corporations: companies should not under-invest in their employees if they have confidence in their operations. Government interference, however, makes the labour market more stagnant and gives big business an advantage over small businesses in taking on workers. This may keep wages lower, though other factors will always be involved.

Edit: This piece on disabled people's right to work for lower pay is relevant.

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Old 10-30-2014, 12:00 AM   #18
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

I'm gonna put it like this:

Banks, McDonalds, Walmart, and the people at the top of those companies who make billions per year while the people who bust their asses to help that money get made are payed chump-change in return... EVIL.

I don't care what you do for charity when there are reporters in front of you, I care about what you do on a daily basis for the people who work for you. One day of charity does not make up for a calendar year of treating your employees like ****, especially when most of them have nowhere else to go to make money.

BAIN CAPITAL... also EVIL. Buying companies, purposely letting them fail, and then pocketing the financial ashes while leaving everyone else in the dust... That's ****ed up, and severely lacks of moral decency.

If Mitt Romney somehow gets a hold of Larfleeze's ring, the world is ****ed!

(I know I may just be rambling now, but it's midnight, I'm hungry, and it's been a long day, so cut me a break.)

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Old 10-30-2014, 09:38 PM   #19
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gov. Jesse Ventura
I don't care if it's the ditch digger or the biggest financial planner on the planet. If you put in a 40 hour work week, you should be able to live without government subsidies, without food stamps, without welfare, without anything like that. Your wages should be high enough to accomplish that.
While I agree with him, the problem is a company like Wal-Mart won't give their employees 40 hours a week (as a cost cutting measure). And that, my friends, is EVIL!

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Old 10-30-2014, 09:41 PM   #20
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

Not often I agree with Jesse Ventura.

But livable wages used to be common sense. Either wages have to be livable, or there need to be more entitlements.

Conservatives can't have their cake and eat it too. Well, they can and are.

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Old 10-31-2014, 07:10 AM   #21
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Default Re: Are these corporations deliberately evil?

There must be some kind of cartel element between these employers, if they can offer such a low wage without people going elsewhere. Or else welfare payments have allowed the companies to pay less than a living wage, knowing that it will get topped up anyway. In those circumstances, governments should just send the employee's welfare bill to the employer.

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