Actually, it should be beasts, plural. A while back in a discussion with an otherwise lovely person, the issue of national policy came up, how I cannot remember. I objected to her staunch defense of corporate America and stated that it appeared that corporations and the rich were coming closer to owning the president. Angry, she asked me what would be wrong with that. You know how it feels when something is so obvious that a direct challenge leaves one flabbergasted? Well, that was me. I could think of no response and the group we were in shifted topics. Unhappy, I continued to think of how I might have responded; here it is.
We live in a free society, what is this about “taming beasts?” There are, certainly, laws that constrain our behavior but they exist, at least the ideal is to make it possible to act civilly. I suppose the devil is in the details but there is little chatter about their necessity even though some are wrong and often rectified.
We all have differing motives that guide our behavior so that the over-arching impact on society is diffuse. But, what happens when a person or an organization has only one motive? There is a great potential for misery. Consider Major Hasan, he so imbued with religious zeal that he fired upon American soldiers about to embark for combat. When a person has only one purpose, watch out.
The same is true for a variety of institutions in society; they are defined by the specific purpose for which they exist. The military services for example exist for the specific purpose of killing people. The security of our country depends upon how good they are at doing just that; and we love them. The police, their purpose is to catch and-or control miscreants; we want them to do just that and are happy when they succeed. Large corporations are the same, with their specific motive of earning money.
The problem is that left to their own devices, permitting them to act without restraint leads to a society which all reasonable people decry. Unrestrained organizations are ultimately destructive of their society and their leaders and their leaders, well, they lead to the bottom line.
There are significant restraints on the military, there are significant restraints on police but the argument persists about how much restraint of free trade is appropriate.
Keep in mind that corporate deciders worry about the bottom line, for example they hate to pay wages. They decry unions and prefer to conduct their work outside our country where wages are a pittance compared to ours. They are eager to build but care not a bit for the environmental consequences. In Appalachia, where strip mining is the most efficient way to extract coal whole countrysides were torn to shreds and deserted when the effort was no longer profitable. This, if profit is the only motive makes sense but it does not make sense when considering what they leave behind. They have left behind polluted waters, rivers that burn and environments where the water is so contaminated as to sicken those who move there. Even now, there is the struggle over the pipeline from Canada. From one point of view it will provide jobs. Huzzah! From the other point of view it would destroy the environment; and destroying the environment means damaging our lives.
This is not, I repeat, not, a screed against free enterprise; we need it as much as we need a military and the police. It provides the economic engine which has done so much to advance the American quality of life providing jobs and providing goods which are important to many of us.
Still, unfettered free enterprise has caused and will cause, without regulation, considerable damage to our society. Without proper regulation corporations run wild and damage us all. Those of you who have looked at history know about the “Robber Barons.” From whom did they steal . . . our forbears.
Obviously for the police, the military and corporations, regulation is necessary, but too much stifles their ability to perform their necessary functions. Now we are caught up in a social struggle over how much is too much? Do we have enough regulation or too little? The coming election will decide in which direction our country will go. I hope we get it right.
The urge to amass lots of money
Is surely, not very funny
Corporations are fine
With their wretched bottom line
If you don't give a damn for the country.