BP could have prevented the oil spill with a little more safety equipment, but failed to do so. Massey Energy sent workers into unsafe mines while fighting regulatory fines. Goldman Sachs made money by selling sure losers to “valued” customers.
The list goes on and on. Corporate farms fail to prevent manure from fouling streams. Toyota takes the cheap way out on repairs. Insurance companies target breast cancer patients for rescission.
It’s not their fault. They are doing their jobs.
The lion’s share of the evil done in this country is done by people simply doing their jobs, working for corporations. They are doing what they are supposed to do, polluting, denying, cutting corners on safety. It is aimed at making money for their employers.
And we can’t blame the corporations, either. They are doing their jobs, which is to make money. That is all.
Corporations are inhuman. Literally, they are an artificial entity created by legislatures for the purpose of making money. Here is the dry statutory language that serves as the genesis, as the Frankensteinian spark of life, as the coital means of conception, for Missouri corporations.
The rustling dry paper of statutes gives life to literally inhuman artificial organisms designed solely to make money and to preserve the assets of their owners. If I, myself, negligently sell you an apple pie that is poisonous, you can sue me and gain all my assets. If I do it after setting up Gonemild Pie Shop, Inc., though, you can only get the assets of the corporation, whatever they may be. I am freed from my personal responsibility.
That inhumane freedom grows exponentially in the hands of employees. Your engineering friend designs damns that block beautiful rivers, and takes pride in doing a great job of it, because that is what s/he is paid to do, whether or not s/he wants to see a reservoir flooding the green valley. Your health insurance company friend applies the letter of the contract to deny a single mother coverage, but feeds stray kittens in his/her spare time. Your upper management brother-in-law calculates the cost of a recall and decides how much safety is cost-effective.
BP looks at the cost of installing another “fail-safe” system, and decides to save the money. If you’re the one who made that decision, you did your job to the best of your ability at the time. It’s not your fault.
The corporation’s job is to make money. Your job, as an employee, is to help it make money, within the bounds of the law. If you go around tossing millions of dollars into safety equipment that is not required by law, your company will be out-performed by a company that uses the money to pay shareholder dividends.
The manager of the Walmart down the street would like to pay his/her employees a living wage, but it’s against corporate policy.
Corporations did not always exist. They were initially created with lots of limitations, including a limited lifespan, for specific, high-risk purposes, with perceived public benefits, such as colonizing America.
Now, multi-national corporations have outgrown even the countries that created them. Governments are granting them additional rights, such as the right to make contributions to candidates. Corporations control our food supply, and more.
The human beings at BP took a gamble on behalf of their corporate employer that the additional safety equipment would not be needed. It was, at the time, a reasonable economic decision on behalf of a statutorily created, non-human entity whose only reason for existence is to return value to its shareholders.
For years, we will argue about whose fault it is and the extent of monetary liability and the ability of regulators to have prevented this environmental tragedy.
But nobody will question the fundamental wisdom of statutorily creating paper beings whose sole purpose is to make money. The discussion will not be raised in corporate newspapers or discussed on corporate TV.