Did you know there’s a class of legally recognized people that have minimal consequences for their actions? They can kill people, destroy property, steal amounts of money very few people will ever imagine having, and they get nothing more significant than a fine. They have no social consequences, no jail time, no reason to behave as a moral human being.
And it’s perfectly legal, and worse: It’s completely accepted by our society.
Here, let me give you a non-specific example:
Person A builds a car completely from the ground up. Cuts his own metal, does his own welding. He does the wiring, everything. He knows there’s a problem. It could be a faulty weld, or a weak screw or reusing old wires for the electrical system. He sells said car and it ends up in a crash and kills several people.
His consequence? Jail time and a record.
Person B does the same, but makes several cars. Same knowledge, same problem, same result.
His consequence? A fine. Jail time is never considered – it’s considered too much of a penalty.
Both are recognized under the law as being people, with the rights that all people have.
The difference, however, is that Person B is a corporation.
Corporations were given the rights of people about the same time black people did. They were (at the time) groups of people contracted to do a specific job, and when the corporation was done said job, the corporation was dissolved.
Because corporations were dissolved, and therefore a short-term entity, there was not any reason to put in rules about social responsibility, just about getting the job done and making a profit. If something went wrong, no one person was hung out to dry, it was the fault of the collective.
It made perfect sense at the time.
Over time corporations grew and spread. Today, the corporation is in charge of more people and resources than the government.
Times have changed, and the rules regarding corporations need to change as well. We, as humans, see the logic of this, but corporations will fight with everything they have against these changes if presented in / to the government.
We need to change corporations from having the sole purpose of getting more and more profits to acting like a proper member of society.
Corporations WILL fight these changes because being a reasonable and responsible person, and accepting the same consequences as a human would, will severely hamper their profits. It also, logically, means breaking up the super-corporations into smaller entities that are responsible for select jobs (this would minimize the “death knell” effect that freezing a large corporation would cause).
Imagine a corporation being proven to have killed thousands of people; and to have done nothing to have stopped / minimized the deaths. Imagine that same corporation getting the same consequences as a person: the equivalent of jail. All deals and details of their tasks being put on hold for 3 to 10 years.
If people in a corporation knew, and I mean KNEW that if they passed the buck to someone else to stop something risky / dangerous from happening they could completely lose their job and everyone they worked with could lose their jobs… what do you think their choices would be?
The people in the corporation would step up and stop the corporation from acting like a psychopath(1), and be willing to take on what it means to be socially responsible. People would start to work together in a workplace, instead of being mercenaries for money.
The changes to the laws need to be:
- Corporations no longer are completely focused on making profits and nothing else.
- They are responsible for researching the consequences of their actions.
- They are responsible for keeping track of the situation and for changing their actions to minimize / eliminate negative consequences to others.
- They are required to make all research public when it involves the health, safety or environment.
- Any and all research needs to be made public, regardless of the results (positive, neutral or negative).
- Corporations are limited in scope; they do not cross into other media / realms to limit economic impact.
- Resources that are vital to life (water, air, food) can never be completely privatized.
- They are responsible for all retroactive damage that they have caused.
- superficial charm (commercials, PR stunts, suppressing negative studies)
- self-centered & self-important
- need for stimulation & prone to boredom
- deceptive behavior & lying ( if laws are passed limiting behaviour in one country, move the work/company to avoid law)
- conning & manipulative
- little remorse or guilt (consequences are monetary and become the cost of doing business)
- shallow emotional response
- callous with a lack of empathy (emotional pleas have little to no effect)
- living off others or predatory attitude (intellectual property theft, forced mergers and acquisitions)
- poor self-control
- promiscuous sexual behavior (mergers, creating subsidiaries to avoid association of brands)
- early behavioral problems (false information given to buyers/partners/marketplace to gain sales)
- lack of realistic long term goals (very few corporations are truly sustainable)
- impulsive lifestyle
- irresponsible behavior (recalls are only issued if the lawsuits will cost more than the recall)
- blaming others for their actions (a manufacturer is responsible for contaminants, not the corporation’s quality control)
- short term relationships (often switching sources based on which has the lowest cost)
- juvenile delinquency
- breaking parole or probation (anti-trust violations)
- varied criminal activity (class action lawsuits)