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THE CORPORATION [3/23]

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[A Legal "Person"] Everybody makes a mistake once in a while but I just can't be personally responsible. That's one of the weaknesses of a partnership isn't it Sid? Well maybe you'd better incorporate the store. Incorporate? Yes. Incorporating would give you the big advantage of what you want right now. Limited liability. You start with a group of people who wanna invest their money in a company. Then these people apply for a charter as a corporation. This government issues a charter to that corporation. Now that corporation operates legally as an individual person it is not a group of people it is under the law a legal person. Imperial Steel Incorporated has many of the legal rights of a person. It can buy and sell property... It can borrow money. It can sue in court and be sued. It can carry on a business. Imperial Steel along with thousands of other legal persons is a part of our daily living. It is a member of our society. Having acquired the legal rights and protections of a person the question arises What kind of person is the corporation? Corporations were given the rights of immortal persons. But then special kinds of persons, persons who had no moral conscience. These are a special kind of persons which are designed by law to be concerned only for their stockholders. And not say what are sometimes called their stakeholders like the community or the work force or whatever. The great problems of having corporate citizens is that they aren't like the rest of us. As Baron Thurlow in England is supposed to have said, they have no soul to save and they have no body to incarcerate. I believe the mistake that a lot of people make when they think about corporations is they think you know corporations are like us. General Electric is a kind old man with lots of stories. Nike... Young. Energetic. Microsoft... aggressive. McDonald's... young, outgoing,enthusiastic. Monsanto... immaculately dressed. Disney... goofy. The Body Shop... um... deceptive. Very lovely. Do you know what the body shop is? Nope. They have feelings, they have politics, they have belief systems, they really only have one thing, the bottom line: How to make as much money as they can in any given quarter. That's it. Of course they make a profit and it's a good thing. That's the incentive that makes capitalism work. To give us more of the things that we need. That's the incentive that other economic systems lack. People accuse us of only paying attention to the economic leg, because they think that's what a business persons mind set is. It's just money. And it's not so because we as business people know that we need to certainly address the environment but also need to be seen as constructive members of society. There are companies that do good for the communities. They produce services and goods that are of value to all of us that make our lives better and that's a good thing. The problem comes in the profit motivation here because these people there's no such thing as enough. And I always counterpoint out there's no organization on this planet that can neglect its economic foundation. Even someone living under a banyan tree is dependent on support from someone. Economic leg has to be addressed by everyone. It's not just a business issue. But, unlike someone under a banyan tree, all publicly traded corporations has been structured through a series of legal decisions to have a peculiar and disturbing characteristic. They are required by law to place the financial interests of their owners above competing interests. In fact the corporation is legally bound to put its bottom line ahead of everything else even the public good. That's not a law of nature that's a very specific decision. In fact a judicial decision. So they're concerned only for the short term profit of their stockholders who are very highly concentrated.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 47 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: MARK ACHBAR and BART SIMPSON
Director: MARK ACHBAR and JENNIFER ABBOTT
Views: 130
Posted by: rafaelmatheus on May 30, 2010

The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future of the modern business corporation and the increasing role it plays in society and our everyday lives.

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