While many are debating the competance of government, how are we not debating the incompetence of multi-national corporations?
After Obama’s State of the Union address, the debate about the competence of government started popping up again, even on the Daily Show, as to whether or not Government can be used to improve our lives. Yet since the very existence of civilization, that is what government has been, more or less, designed to do for over 5000 years, while the existence of big multi-national corporations, an entity that is less than 150 years old, has ties to numerous nations, conflicting interests and is designed simply to extract wealth, is not debated.
Perhaps it should!
In his SOTU response, Rand Paul gave a rambling rant on how “government isn’t necessarily inherently incompetent, though it’s debatable.” Yet his belief is based on the purity of the ‘invisible hand of the market.’ An Adam Smith concoction of the late 18th century, a time when his own Great Britain was meddling with prices, taxes, tariffs, business leadership and other market factors that are virtually unthinkable today, even in socialist countries. Indeed, sometimes it is best for the government to just let the marketplace do what it needs to do. This was a time of butchers and bakers and candlestick makers. It was a time where the Industrial Revolution was just getting underway and the existence of mills and factories was really just starting to occur. Adam Smith also wrote a book about the essential nature of ethics and morality and it seems hard to believe that he would have even fathomed the multi-national corporate economy that began to emerge in the late 19th century, let alone what we have today.
Today, of the 100 largest economic entities, 51 are corporations (49 are countries) that easily eclipse the 3rd World and many of the emerging industrial nations as well. They have been involved in decisions for the past 100 years that have overturned numerous governments, dictated military policy of nations like the United States and the United Kingdom and written bills that were passed into law (such as the 1913 Federal Reserve Act).
A Corporation is designed to make money and is even legally held responsible to maximize profits. That means that anything goes as long as the dividends come in. It is not democratic, despite having to answer to its investors, it is an aristocracy, a form of government the rich know very well and approve of (since an aristocracy is the governance by wealth). Investors have a voice, but it’s the Board that carries the day and big deals are made at the top without the input of Granny Smith with her 20 shares of the company. Workers also have zero voice, despite actually doing the work that makes the company profitable in the first place. They are all subject to the (in)competence of the board. Sure they can take their stock and go home, yet it’s their money and those at the bottom need it more than people with billions in the bank. Selling at a loss could be the loss of their retirement. Sure they could find another job, though as been proven in the past 6 years, easier said than done.
So when Enron cooked the books, bilked the state of California by creating rolling blackouts and then lied to their 401k holders, their own employees, and told them that everything was on the up and up, despite the fact the CEOs and board were selling their own shares because the company was losing billions, the accumulation of the executive incompetence manifested itself as a scramble to hide said incompetence (which since the two top CEOs were found guilty, was also apparently, incompetent) and it hit home in a big way, ruining the lives of long-time employees and investors alike.
Then of course there is the example of when the banking industry created financial instruments like mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps that were so confusing, its own sales people didn’t understand it, nor did the customers (mostly cities in places like Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland and even America). When these junk packages of underwater loans began to actually show profits, the idiots in the banking industry bought in their own BS. When the whole thing went FUBAR, the banks lost their ass.
Guess who bailed them out? That’s right, the Government of the People, by the People and for the People. Maybe we should change that last one to corporations, since they are the ones who seem to be reaping the benefits.
Corporations have also proven to be huge consumers of government welfare, which are projects that will enrich the company. Contracts for equipment, building projects, even Medicare all feed into the pockets of enormous corporate hands. They love these “subsides” and eat them up. When the pro-corporate Tea Party Republicans want to cut government spending, they don’t mean military defense contracts, prisons or even building projects; they mean education, public hospitals and other things that don’t directly put money in their pockets, even if many of these do so indirectly.
Of course, the biggest abusers of corporate welfare are Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, because they use the government to pay for things they don’t want to, like health care and food. Their employees are paid so little that they end up on Medicaid (or using the Emergency Rooms) and Food Stamps, yet they are working, often two jobs! These are not teenagers living at home; they are middle-aged people with children. Nearly half of the top 10 richest people in the world are in the Walton family, owners of Wal-Mart, and they can’t pay their employees a decent wage? So we have to pick up the slack? What do we get for it? The food stamps go right back into Wal-Mart, so they profit double. What a disgrace! What an unethical, immoral boondoggle! What a waste of money!
So, “We the People” are subsidizing many of the largest corporations, just so that they can get richer. What a bunch of “TAKERS!” Yes, we are LITERALLY subsidizing oil companies, the most profitable businesses in human history, the fast food industry, the big box retailer industry (which is well known for its small business destruction) the aerospace industry, the automobile manufacturing industry, Big Pharma, Big Hospital, Big Ambulance and Big Coal. I would like to point out that Libertarian and Tea Party leaders, the Koch Brothers, love to attack the poor as “takers”, yet they profit from not only government contracts, they have allegedly pushed for laws to “privatize” oil and coal energy use under a private municipal monopoly in backroom dealings, meaning you have to pay the corporation and there is no competition, in places like Wisconsin (making the millions they spent defending Gov. Paul Walker a whole lot more sensible). They have also taken tens of millions of dollars in subsidies themselves! So these people who have argued that Medicare and a Minimum Wage lead to dependence on government are the biggest hypocrites in the bunch!
Oh and guess who cleans up after Coal companies spill toxins in the water supply, as they did recently in West Virginia? That’s right, WE THE PEOPLE! Guess who pays for clean up to uranium mining? Toxic-waste? Pollution? That’s right! We the suckers.
So Government may really be incompetent, only because it is made by “the People” who are constantly falling for the lies and deceit of its more aggressive and sociopathic brother, the corporation, who’s incompetence is far better documented, and has affected negatively, far more lives in a current society than the government does.
So should we blame all corporations for the rampant culture of incompetence that seems to be occurring? Probably not, though it does suggest that the government is being too lenient on them and that corporations are easily swayed toward corruption and incompetent behavior. This is why debating the coherence of government is being talked about by corporate shills like Rand Paul, because in the end, he’s just their tool to distract you from the runaway crimes they are committing for which they will likely never be punished, held accountable or even used as precedence to prevent future crimes.
As long as you are worried about how your tax payer dollars are not providing a top notch education system, as long as you are worried about pot holes, or how the Obamacare website didn’t work for a few weeks, you will not notice that far more of your taxpayer dollars are subsidizing the largest theft in US history: the hijacking of the middle-class, the abuse of the poor and the systematic hijacking of our resources, our labor and our nation’s soul.