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Are corporations evil?

October 13, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors have chosen a silly name, because when they gather in cities other than New York they obviously can't be occupying Wall Street, and so far they haven't managed to live up to their name even in New York. They're still bottled up in Zuccotti Park, messing up the place so thoroughly they've even started pooping on police cars.

So the name is silly.

Sillier yet is the lack of purpose. Ten protestors are liable to give ten different answers about what they want: green energy, more jobs, the end of capitalism, forgiveness of student loans, a "call to action against banks," closing of nuclear power plants, more trees, less bigotry and hate, no more bailouts, health insurance, more spending on infrastructure, lower pay for CEOs, organic food, open borders, tariffs on imports... the list is long and metastasizing.

A desire for the end of bigotry and hate is probably what the guy who pooped on the police car was expressing. Or he misunderstood the open borders issue. Or he was trying to jump start the organic food industry. Who really knows?

One guy carried a sign that said, "Queer kids: why kill yourself when you can kill your parents," a lovely sentiment that doesn't have much pertinence to Wall Street, but probably makes Justin Bieber's mother uncomfortable.

The one issue which seems to unite the protestors is the notion which has been a staple of leftwing nuttiness since Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels huddled furtively over their goose quill pens in 1848: evil corporations. "DOWN WITH EVIL COPORATIONS" blares the OWS headline. "JOIN US AS WE ORGANIZE AGAINST COPORATIONS."

That corporations are evil is treated as axiom on today's college campuses, something the professors don't bother discussing or proving. They just serve it up as fact, and ridicule any poor slob who dares question. Consequently, kids come out of their education experience puzzled and angry that their parents and non-college-educated peers don't share their hatred for corporations. "Why don't you understand?" the OWS protestors are wailing, "Corporations are evil and we march against them for you, for all of us, for the 99%!"

(I've always maintained that liberals don't comprehend numbers, and the 99% figure is another example. Do they seriously think 99% of Americans are fellow whack jobs?)

A corporation is simply an association of people, which is why corporations have many of the same rights and responsibilities. Nothing gripes liberals more than the treatment of corporations as people by the judicial system, and when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, "Corporations are people, my friend," to a leftwing protestor at the Iowa State Fair back in August, liberals went berserk. They thought he'd said something stupid and uttered a faux pas which would hurt his campaign, but in fact he was legally correct.

There are all kinds of associations, and it's a darn good thing we don't lose our "people" rights when we form those associations because, if that was the case, nobody would dare associate. Imagine a world where only individuals had property rights, for instance, so anything owned by a corporation or a partnership – or a church – could be confiscated by the government.

By the way, is the unincorporated church good, while the church that incorporates is somehow bad? Is that in the Bible somewhere?

Labor unions are essentially the same thing as corporations, but organized for a slightly different purpose. Are labor unions therefore evil?

It's puzzling why the left specifically chooses corporations to hate. If two people hire a lawyer to form a partnership, are they somehow better than two people who incorporate? What about a lone doctor who incorporates himself for liability purposes? Does that make him a bad doctor?

For that matter, what about associations of protestors like the Zuccotti Park crowd? Should Occupy Wall Street have "people" rights like, say, the right to free speech?

In fact, the Founders thought so highly of the need for Americans to freely associate that they included it in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
It's important to remember that whenever liberals complain about corporations they're attacking the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and attacking the right of free association which is internationally considered one of the most fundamental rights of free people.

The more this notion of evil corporations is examined, the sillier it gets. Any association of people will take on the character of the people involved, good or bad, regardless of whatever legal form the association takes. Furthermore, if it's about size – "Only the big corporations are evil," liberals will say – then the largest associations on the planet, and the most powerful, and the most oppressive and dangerous to ordinary people, are governments, not corporations.

When they get specific with their accusations, the issues are never about the corporation alone, because a business enterprise merely produces something valuable and then sells it. There's nothing inherently evil about business.

The evil arises when the government gives taxpayer money to favorite corporations (Solyndra), or gives preferential treatment to one corporation (GE) in tax policy, or rescues one corporation (Goldman Sachs) while letting a similar corporation (Lehman Brothers) fail because the former is politically connected, or tells the public which corporation's (GE again) light bulbs they can buy, or enacts price controls (on debit card transaction fees) forcing corporations (Bank of America) to increase other fees (debit card monthly fees) to compensate, or forces mortgage lenders to give loans to people who are bad credit risks thereby driving the entire nation into financial meltdown.

Government, not corporations, is the evil ingredient in the social stew.

"Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." – Thomas Paine

From Reno, Nevada, USA       

September 1, 2012 - I have written an article, "Are Corporations Seriously Evil?" from a different perspective. Corporations and governments are only as good or evil as the individuals who run them. - M. Varn Chandola, Las Vegas

October 14, 2011 - Great article a liberal teacher of mine went ballistic when I critizied the OWS ever notice how liberals will scream stupidity or racism the second you expose an opposite opinion? - Devin C., Boise

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