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View Full Version : Dumbfounding (albeit predictable) comment- expansion of strike thread



theo
11-10-2007, 11:04 AM
I decided to post this note separate from the Writer's Strike thread simply so it would not get buried in a bevy of excellent opinion while also adding another dimension to the topic of Union/Corporate mindsets.

It took me a day or so to recollect where this comment was drawn from which is why I have not posted it sooner. I finally found this absurdity in the book 'Dynasties', written by David S. Landes.

Here is an excellent example of the disconnected corporate mindset facing worker/professional collectives and why these unions often are forced to strike:

Direct quote:

Alexander Trotman, chairman [of Ford Motor Company] from 1993 through 1998, thought passion for the product [automobiles!] was not the essence of car leadership: "I think it is important, but not vital. I'm very wary of people who profess to have gasoline in their nostrils, and all of that. I'd like them to have shareholder value in their nostrils more than I would a passion for gasoline. I'd rather someone tell me I'm going to deliver the right return for the shareholder than I'm going to produce the greatest Mustang that ever hit the street."

Now, I find this comment dumbfounding but utterly predictable. One of the world's largest car makers NOT finding it VITAL to produce the best vehicles it can.

This is the essence of corporation.

Many of us, particularly in the US, have been trained from birth to believe that corporation is golden. That the capitalist system and free markets are the savior and unions are the parasites. Not so.

Free markets are incredibly invaluable, as is capitalism, but not at the behest of ethics and justice in the workplace. Corporations are NOT paragons of virtue. It is in the interest of corporations to exploit or they die.

As a result of this, often, total disregard for the state of its working humanity, we absolutely need unions. And yes, we need unions that have the cahonies to strike. Call it natural balance of power, if you will.

When media moguls are generating hundreds of millions of dollars without meeting the compensation requirements of the very creative lifeblood that produced it I see this is as a despotic rejection of principled ethics that is so critical for the health and well being of the common good.

Exception
11-10-2007, 04:29 PM
Great documentary:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379225/

You know, corporations were created to serve the public good. The idea was that when publicly traded (in a town or city), the people could buy part of a company, profit along with it, and have a say in its operations. It was a very humanitarian idea. However, corporations now own the shares of other corporations since they are 'natural persons', and can own and act like real people do, but have far more capital, and are immune to personal criminal law by lack of a physical body. So they have the same rights, but not the same duties, since they are not expected to be capable of physically acting, like murder or theft. The frameworks in which these laws were created have turned out to be highly efficient profit generating strategies. There is only one output for an 'ideal' theoretical corporation, which is shareholder profit. Absolutely nothing else. Every single means that increases this will be applied. Because the systems do not have any ethical frameworks applied, this eventually turns out to be what we can now see happening all over the place. This is not saying companies are bad or good, they are what they are, they are a machine, like an egg slicer or a lawn mower, a machine that makes shareholder profit, by any means possible.

Great companies that were once the pride of the nationl (eg Pfizer, Roche, Coca Cola) walk a very thin line between criminal behavior and the grey area of the law on the one end and profits on the other. This results in medicines being released eventhough they are dubious in their working or sideeffects, because it will earn the company more money in sales than they have to pay in criminal charges (as a natural person, can you imagine having to pay billions of dollars in criminal charge suits each month? you'd be locked up for life. But you can't lock up a corporation since it is immune... so they just pay it off). Same for Coca Cola, where its african operations buy up local water wells from government (forced by the world bank to privatize all public operations) that were dispensing water to the population for free and then start charging money for it. It's not the president of Coca Cola that does this singlehandedly, nor is it anyone that works there, most likely, it is the machine that is the publicly traded company that beyond a certain size functions like the brain not knowing what the hands do, and can only see the intended result: shareholder profit.

It's a difficult circumstance to get out of.

StereoMike
11-10-2007, 04:54 PM
I hope I get that across (since english isn't my motherlanguage):
I read once that companies behave like a psychopath.
One may think with all the noble humans in it it must act as noble as these guys, but you can't understand it by using common sense. The motives and values of a company are totally different from the motives and values of it's employees (as Exeption pointed well out). A company will destroy lives when there's profit to make.
A company has a strong will to survive and way less moral concept than the average drug dealer.
And now?

mike

Exception
11-10-2007, 05:00 PM
I read once that companies behave like a psychopath.


Yeah, true, a psychopath is basically a human machine with just a single goal and no conscience.

"# 1. Superficial charm and "intelligence".
# 2. Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking.
# 3. Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations.
# 4. Unreliability.
# 5. Untruthfulness and insincerity.
# 6. Lack of remorse or shame.
... and so on"

Sarford
11-10-2007, 05:15 PM
I don't totaly agree with you exception.

There are people leading those corporations, people that make those descisions. Shareholder profit increase means a very big increase in income and/or bonuses for them. Personal greed is a very big influence on discision making.

If you can't see the implications of your discisions as a board of directors, the company would very rapidly cease to exist. They very well know what they are doing, they just don't care.

ps: this was in reply to your first post.

Exception
11-10-2007, 06:13 PM
If you can't see the implications of your discisions as a board of directors, the company would very rapidly cease to exist. They very well know what they are doing, they just don't care.


Well, of course there are those too, but I'm just saying that the framework which we have created for our economy to exist in promotes and procreates these kinds of occurrences.
I'm not saying the heads of those corporations do not have any responsibility in an ethical sense, but they certainly don't in a legal sense.

No matter how good the people in a corporation, the entity itself will not benefit society. Anymore. The shareholder is usually not within its active domain (eg live in a village in africa), nor does the profit benefit the immediate domain of the company. Public tradec companies were just never meant for an inter-regional, let alone global, society, nor for the sizes some of the corporations have grown to.

Wonderpup
11-12-2007, 10:42 AM
Personal greed is a very big influence on discision making.

One of the things that always makes me smile is when I see company executives defending huge bonus payments on top of their already huge salaries by insisting that they need the 'incentive' to perform.

Yet these same people will complain bitterly that their employees, who earn a tiny fraction of their own basic salary and receive no bonuses at all, are not 'motivated' and don't have the 'best interests of the company at heart.'

It's a curious moral inversion that those at the bottom of the heap are expected to display a moral fibre and dedication that is not expected of those who are supposed to be leading these organisations, who are clearly seen as amoral mercenaries motivated entirely by personal greed and therefore need to be bribed to perform their already well paid jobs with additional 'performance related' bonus payments.

Red_Oddity
11-12-2007, 03:29 PM
Even worse is, that when they are caught red handed or screw up, they get sent away with a slap on the wrist and a hefty 'sod off' bonus, 2 weeks later they are part of the board of directors of some other large plebs grinding institution.

Verlon
11-12-2007, 04:59 PM
I don't totaly agree with you exception.

There are people leading those corporations, people that make those descisions. Shareholder profit increase means a very big increase in income and/or bonuses for them. Personal greed is a very big influence on discision making.

If you can't see the implications of your discisions as a board of directors, the company would very rapidly cease to exist. They very well know what they are doing, they just don't care.

ps: this was in reply to your first post.

No, the COMPANY doesn't cease to exist.....

Heads roll, but the company keeps on going.

"We blame this all on Rob. We pay the $20 million fine and net $75 million in profit." The people dying are unforutnate, but it is not cost effective to save them.

Far-fetched? This is EXACLTY the line of reasoning Ford used to not fix the Pintos in the 1970s (exploding gas tank issue). The court costs and fines were deemed less than the cost of fixing the cars, and so they kept making bad ones. The memo came out in court at some point (and can be found with google).


The trouble is that pieces of the corporation can be expended for the good of the whole, and this often leads to the lowest most unscrupulous ideas making their way forward. The more honest people leave when they cannot abide by the actions of the group, and they make room for more (even less virtuous) replacements.

So yeah, they can be pretty bad....

And sometimes I think you have to apply 'mob sychology' to boards of directors..

mrpapabeis
11-12-2007, 05:08 PM
One Corp I worked for got in trouble with the FTC. We all had to take "Ethics Training" as part of the "plea bargin". The CEO who screwed it up left with a big bonus. Then the President of the same Corp was politically incorrect...we all had to take a sexual harrasment course.


Bah!

GP

theo
11-12-2007, 07:37 PM
It is very interesting to note, also, just how uniquely positioned corporations and governments are to benefit each other, often at the behest of the 'citizen' or 'employee'.

I think, at times, this arrangement does have its positive impact on society but one can't help but wonder if this arrangement should, in fact, be far more useful and beneficial than it currently is or has been.

Without the atrocity of almost constant war punishing the planet one has to wonder if government/corporate relations would otherwise be forced to be far more responsible and ethical in their pursuit of power/money.

WITH the atrocity of almost constant war punishing the planet comes blatant enrichment for the most powerful, which comes at a very high price.

Even Einstein lamented the lack of ethics in his day and the sordid pace of selfish pursuits (which tend to be embodied in an extremely condensed form in government and large corporations). And this was postulated in a wholy non-religious sense...

Why try to better humanity with a sense of passionate devotion to life and community when predacious tendencies will always remit far greater results in the material sense. Empathy is weakness. Ethics cannot compete. All true in the purest fiscal/power-gathering sense. Sad, but true. Wall Street true, that is.

ChrisBasken
11-15-2007, 06:45 PM
Many of us, particularly in the US, have been trained from birth to believe that corporation is golden.

Which US did you grow up in? My entire life, it's the Evil Corporation™ that's behind it all in nearly every single movie and tv show produced.

I can't remember the last time an overt capitalist was even portrayed as neutral, let alone as the hero.

Verlon
11-15-2007, 07:55 PM
Which US did you grow up in? My entire life, it's the Evil Corporation™ that's behind it all in nearly every single movie and tv show produced.

I can't remember the last time an overt capitalist was even portrayed as neutral, let alone as the hero.

How about "The Aviator" or perhaps you've heard of Batman's alter-ego, Bruce Wayne (or Tony Stark, or Oiver Queen or any of zillions of billionares leading secret crimefighting lives in the world of comic books).

Just to name one or two..

StereoMike
11-15-2007, 08:13 PM
Haha, the I guess nowadays almost every government is based on greed via the corporations that support them and therefore demand certain favors from them...
I don't know if the US-citizens know how deep into oil their gov is? I guess the ppl on this board know, but the rest? The guys in the back-country?

In the past, the church had the power behind the curtains, today it's the corporations and their greed.

mike

ChrisBasken
11-15-2007, 08:17 PM
How about "The Aviator" or perhaps you've heard of Batman's alter-ego, Bruce Wayne (or Tony Stark, or Oiver Queen or any of zillions of billionares leading secret crimefighting lives in the world of comic books).

Just to name one or two..

Okay, I've thought of a couple more, too (Charles Morse in The Edge and Hopkins' other character in Meet Joe Black). So I exaggerated, but I still have trouble seeing how anyone growing up in the US in the past half-century could have been indoctrinated into the virtues of capitalism. It's vilified far more than it's glorified, at least in my experience.

theo
11-15-2007, 10:37 PM
Okay, I've thought of a couple more, too (Charles Morse in The Edge and Hopkins' other character in Meet Joe Black). So I exaggerated, but I still have trouble seeing how anyone growing up in the US in the past half-century could have been indoctrinated into the virtues of capitalism. It's vilified far more than it's glorified, at least in my experience.

This is an interesting point you make.

I have been surrounded by business my entire life. My father owned a company. I have owned my own company for most of my life. Almost all of my associates are business people.

I tend to put little value on subtle or overt messages that come from Hollywood films, whether supportive or critical of capitalistic entreprise. This probably explains why I did not focus on the Hollywood effect.

If one is not in business, nor is associated with the business world I guess it makes sense that the next best thing in terms of developing perceptions would be Hollywood.

The point of my post was not to villify business, whatsoever. Capitalism is a great thing as long as a solid foundation of ethics and concern for humanity is a significant part of the business strategy. Unfortunately, this is normally the exception rather than the rule.

One of the most remarkable employers I have ever met in my life is my father.
He is the most compassionate and giving businessman you will ever meet. His employees love to work for him because he respects and rewards each and every contributor to his success.

Most corporate heads pocket almost sinful bonuses while the general, working-stiff employee is literally squeezed even harder to produce more while making less. Affecting the employee's bottom line in a negative fashion while costs of living skyrocket is nothing less than unbridled contempt of the working class, in my view.

The planet just appears exceptionally materialistically inclined and power-hungry to the point of pathological excess, it seems to me.