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In 1913, Henry Ford wrote the following as the directors had been reaping the rewards of profits - "The wages we pay are too small in comparison with our profits. I think we should raise our minimum pay rate".

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A couple articles and thoughts

Thom Hartman does a pretty good job of explaining the "Corporation" - with a lot of explaining about different evolutions of government.  He starts off with a quote from 1912 by William Jennings Bryan:
A corporation has no rights except those given it by law.
It had always been so, right up until the Right-wing corporate stooges on the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.  This brings up another idea... "corporations are legally obligated to focus on nothing but profits"  I find no actual proof of such a concept.  One article has a quote :
The social obligation of business is to sustainably maximize long-term profits for shareholders. Nothing more. Nothing less.
and another :
That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with [the owner's/stockholders] desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom. 
Those quotes contradict the whole premise that the article puts forth, that "Profit" is the only motivation for a corporation.  The quotes it supplies actually supports my idea of "Ethical Capitalism."

There is no separation of "Social" and "Business" interests.  A business can not "sustainably maximize long-term profits"  if it is at the same time destroying the economic base of the community it operates within.  It can not maintain long-term profits if it is destroying the environment.  Those practices sets up short term profits and long term failure.

If you own a company whose purpose is "maximized profits at any cost" then you are a criminal and should be shut down and locked up.  If, however, you are a business owner who wants to have a profitable, long-lived business within a community or state or country, then it is in your best interest to cultivate and help sustain the economy of the area you are operating in.  That ensures the "long-term" part of your profits.  I don't see how anyone could imagine otherwise.

I find this to be most reasonably achieved by paying your workers well.  You help grow the local economy and fund the local government and lower corporate taxes at the same time.  Ah, taxes.  It would be wonderful if corporations actually paid the taxes they are supposed to.  An ethical company should pay it's fair share to sustain the environment in which it prospers - roads, law enforcement, fire fighters, schools and other structures of government.

In an blog entry on Buzzflash, we find one researcher not enthused about doing his taxes, so investigates corporate taxes - and what he found out.

Ethical Capitalism can Save U.S.