The other day I watched Shooter with Mark Wahlberg, which was an enjoyable show, lots of shooting, lots of skill, lots of cunning trickery. I enjoyed it. It got me to thinking though, the antagonists in the movie were a powerful group of oil barons who had rolled over an african village to put in an oil pipeline. These barons had the government by the short-and-curlies and were not being held accountable for their actions. So ol' Markie dispenses justice to them from the barrel of a gun, very satisfying.
I didn't miss the subtle message though, the big money companies are controlling the government, and a good deal of the atrocities that go on are happening because of them. Corporations are a great villan these days, a corporation has no face, no family, no life. Just a few over-rich corrupt folks sitting in a board room pulling strings from their ivory towers. And so our hero, like Robin Hood, must even the scales, show these men that "someone" holds them accountable.
The reality though is much more insidious. The western legal system gives coporations the same rights as individuals, they have the same legal status as a living, breathing person.
But they aren't.
Corporations do not have morals and feelings like people, one can argue business ethics, and accountability but they can't deny this fact. The accountability is to the shareholders, and the primary law is that it's illegal to not be profitable for more than 3 years consecutively. Corporations don't feel bad when someone working for them dies, but they feel it in their insurance rates. When another corp beats another competitively it hemorrages money, not blood. The people working within the corporation are not evil, they just want to keep their jobs, so they do their jobs to the very best of their ability so their morgage gets payed and their children's college tuition cheques don't bounce.
The men in the board room aren't responsible for the terrible acts a corporation commits. They simply stamp strategies for growth and profit. Halfway across the world it's the job of an individual overseer who might not have even met the corporate moguls before to make sure the job gets done. If the job is profitable, then little-boy overseer gets another, and if no one is crying foul his methods will never be questioned.
So how do we prevent these literally-soulless corporations from inflitrating our government's highest echelons and influencing policies that aren't benefitial to us as citizens?
Well for one, we've got to eliminate executive privelage of our governments. Democracy is not democracy when the government's actions are not accountable to the people. We also need to be able to see what our leader's families are up to. I know this sounds intrusive, but these people are giving their lives for their country, having their wives (or husbands as the case may-be) buy into companies or recieve huge donations for the charities they run needs to be transparent. We'll never stop the rich from doing everything in their power to stay rich, but we as a people need to be able to see what the people in power are doing and be able to cry foul. Whether or not this will do anything to curb the absolute power corrupting scenario in our powers that be is anybody's guess though.