OHHHHHHH THEY DID NOT! So there’s this new movie coming out entitled “The Corporation,” and from the trailer it seems like it’s all about how the corporation is an evil thing because it is driven by profit and not, I suppose, some concern for the greater good of humanity. If you’ve read Atlas Shrugged I would just ask you to refer to D’Anconio’s argument on the morality of money. Or John Gault’s lengthy speech. For those of you who haven’t, allow me to try to convey my problems with the anti-corporation view of the world.
First of all, idealists are offended by the idea that profit is a motive for anyone. “How dare they. Those immoral bastards,” they say. And on the surface, sure, it’s all sorts of “immoral,” if you define morality in the terms of helping out other people. However, if you define morality as instead giving those people the means to help themselves, then the corporation is very moral. I had an argument with someone the other night in which I argued that everything should be privatized, and he pointed out that some regulation was necessary. Fine. But only a minimum, to say you can’t cook your books and to say you can’t pollute that badly. Beyond that the corporation is self-regulating. Why?
Because they need you to buy their products for them to make a profit. Now, it used to be that you didn’t have many choices in a product. But now, as inherited wealth becomes less of a deterrent to capitalism, competition has succeeded in that we have a choice when buying most of our products. There are dozens of oil companies to buy gas from. Several fast food chains. Several airlines. Several insurance companies. And so on, and so on. You have choices, and as the consumer you should choose the company that you feel offers the best product at the best price. Simple, right?
Oh no. Because the corporation is out to make *money*. And so they *charge you for that product!* GASP! SHOCK! Of course I’m being facetious, and the problem most anti-corporates (I don’t care if I don’t speak proper English) is that companies make too much of a profit, by over-charging for a product and paying their workers far too little. Fine. No one wants a return to the company store.
Thus we have a national minimum wage. And companies that want a better workforce are willing to pay more. Thus the person becomes a product. Corporations are moving more and more to developing countries, where labor is much, much cheaper. Why? Well, unions, for one thing. Many of them keep demanding more money for their non-working workers. If you can move your plant to China where people would happily work for 1/10 the salary you pay to the Americans, and the Chinese will put forth more effort because they appreciate that job more, then why not move the company? What’s the problem?
They point to the fact that American workers suffer. Well, maybe American workers should do a better job of selling themselves to the company. Try working harder, not demanding an undeserved raise all the time. It sounds harsh, but it’s still easier than working in the fields from sunrise to sunset like we all used to have to do. It’s progress. Besides which, we have a more educated workforce nowadays and the mix of corporations in America is changing to reflect that. We are less and less the place to manufacture goods, and more and more the country that does everyone else’s finances and marketing and all that other white color stuff. It’s a natural economic transition.
And the same will eventually happen in developing countries. As more people get jobs at these American factories in these foreign countries, the economy will pick up for these people as well as their level of education. But still the anti-corporates point to those low, low wages. A: This is more than these people have ever been paid. B: It only seems low when compared to the salary of an American. C: They’re being paid, for the most part, for the extent of their contribution to the process. I used to bitch that CEOs make too much money. And yeah, in America, maybe it’s still a little off. But still, the CEO should make several times the salary of lower employees because the CEO makes the big-money decisions, and is thus paid according to the level of his or her contribution to the company. The person stitching shirts for Nike in Malaysia may be paid in pennies an hour, but they’re only stitching shirts in a huge factory, not designing those shirts or marketing those shirts or other higher-level, and thus higher-paid, activities. Plus I’m assuming these people are being paid something quite comparable to the going labor rate in their particular country.
Finally, I’d like to say this. To those who rail against large corporations because they don’t put the greater good ahead of profit, consider this: what if I gave you a jug of water, and told you that you should trek 10 miles every day to a well to get water for the town. Further, you should do this not for a large profit, but for a smaller sum, and you should be grateful that you’re helping the community, and serving the greater good. Now have five people, each carrying jugs to that well, and competing with each other to deliver to the town the best quality water, quicker and cheaper than the next guy. Which system is better? If you still wanna hate corporations, I’ve got a jug for you.