improperly cooked: the pottage sure is a mess

It's a strange world, and getting stranger by the minute. If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.

I don't know what the solution is, but we all know what the problems are. And if people of good will and goodwill put their heads and hearts and hands together, we can help steer the doomed Titanic of human culture out of the path of the iceberg of human greed and selfishness.

IMHO many of the problems are the direct result of the actions of large corporations, especially 'multi-nationals'. Below are a couple of ideas to (hopefully) spark some debate.

SOPA was one victory in an ongoing war encompassing many battles. But SOPA was a partial and temporary victory. No rest for the wicked! Onward and upward. I think the following key tactics should be employed as soon as possible, which will be very difficult but game-changing if done successfully.

  1. Remove the protection corporations enjoy by virtue of their status of 'Legal Person'.

    It's not a god-given natural state of being, that corporations are persons. No, in fact the opposite. It's a get-out-of-jail-free card that we gave them roughly a couple hundred years ago, a bizarritude that enables corporations to have all the benefits of being a person, but without the responsibilities. And what we gave, we can take back.

    Corporations have the right to sue at law other corporations as well as flesh and blood people. If the corporation wins the legal battle, it wins. And if it loses, it's only a draw not a loss, thanks to another egregious item of legal protection enjoyed by corporations (see 2 below).

    And even if a corporation is sued, and loses, and damages are awarded by the Court, the only people who pay the penalty are shareholders, not the actual people who made the bad decision(s) -- management/directors -- or the people who implemented the decisions (employees).

    After all, doesn't everyone check their personal values in at the door when they enter the workplace every morning? Replacing those personal values with empty and meaningless buzz-words and -phrases like: "integrity", "quality", "customer service", "work/life balance", "respect for the individual", "teamwork", "innovation" etc

  2. Remove the protection offered by limited liability of directors (as in "PTY LTD").

    Under limited liability, directors of a corporation can't be held personally liable -- legally or financially -- for the decisions they make, including decisions that result in real harm to real flesh and blood people ("externalities" in economists' jargon) or to the environment (an "externality"), or the local economy (yes, also) or community (yes, also).

    Oh, and while we're about it, do we really need economists? Well, maybe we should keep those who understand that GDP is not and can never be an effective measure of health or happiness

It's your turn: any ideas for saving the world?


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mgeorge said...

As I said in The Evolution of Ideas essay (without suggesting answers), the key is fascism - politicians in bed with capitalists. This is Mussolini's original vision, and subsequent definitions of fascism are misleading. Until Hitler nominated himself for Baddest Guy, many national leaders and multinationals openly supported this as the way to stand up to the Evil Empire of that era, though history has since been rewritten. Without fascism, the feet of clay of capitalism would be exposed. On the other hand, without moolah, only saints would stand for elections. Their kind are in short supply, and if they won, we may not get policies that are any more rational.

The current approach of manufacturing enemies and poverty (an underclass comes with the dogma), terrorising the populace to silence dissent and disenfranchising those who are likely to vote "unwisely" are all historically establised. Even as the climate clock ticks, every leader is trying to appease the almighty "market" and restart the growth (production and consumption). The only debate is on whether the right medicine is austerity or incentive (monetary or fiscal management).

masterymistery said...

mgeorge, excellent analysis. Intuition tells me that at the current point in the cycle, we'll take a "game-changing" quantum leap into a much better or much worse future, but what we won't see is steady change in small increments.

I think it was Churchill who said of free market democracy FMD that it has many flaws but is the best of a bad lot. I'm not sure I agree with that any more -- I'm moving to the view that FMD doesn't stand out from the rest, but rather can take its place alongside all the other bad mad and sad systems / political structures.

One of the "positives" of the mess we're in is that it has thrown the spotlight on the flaws and inadequacies of disciplines such as economics, finance aND others. Hopefully the spotlight will result in positive change.

Thanks for your comment.

Cheers, MM

masterymistery said...

mgeorge, building on what you wrote in your comment, I think our "modern" capitalist democracies are in effect fascist except that instead of 1 Hitler or Mussolini, we have roughly 100 or fewer multinational corporations playing the same role as H. and M.

And one more thing: I'm waiting patently for your next knol. There's much subject matter out there!

mgeorge said...

IMF used to be one of the dieties in the heavens, reigning thunderbolts on hapless 3rd-world countries. Of late, its contradictory statements remind me of someone trying hard to come up with a justificaion. In a person at that point, you may see some rapid eye movement.

This article I just read is good as any on the topic of our current plight:

masterymistery said...

mgeorge, thanks for link, I'll check it out.