commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for the ‘business’ Category

“Corporate Greed”: a useless simplification

I see a lot of people complaining about corporate greed, as if a legal charter given to a group of people somehow acquires the very human attribute of greed. Corporations don’t have greed. They can’t. As Sir Edward Coke, sitting as the King’s Bench, put it in the Sutton Hospital Case of 1612:

“They may not commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicate, for they have no souls, neither can they appear in person, but by Attorney.”

Corporations do not have greed. People have greed, which is often more successful when hidden behind a for-profit corporation. Using the phrase “corporate greed” buys into the very denial of the I-thou relationship that the greedy people have. Calling it “corporate greed” aids and abets the glamorie that the owners of the corporation use the corporation for: there’s no people here, it’s just a corporation, it’s freedom, what’s your problem anyway? With a corporation, an individual human can only have an I-it relationship, eliminating any chance of dialogue and real change.

In order to break down the walls in society against I-thou relationships, people opposed to massive accumulation of wealth by individual persons need to initiate such connections, instead of attacking the phantom of “corporate greed”. One philosophical song that I see as addressing the desire to attack the greedy as opposed to the need to first make an I-thou connection with a particular person in hopes of establishing a resonance is T. Thorn Coyle’s “Hey Mister” (from her Give Us a Kiss! CD):

“Hey mister,it’s really not my place to put you down
Hey mister, it’s not in my theology.
Hey mister, I shouldn’t run your name into the ground
But I seem to do it anyway!

Hey mister, I know that I should see the God within
Hey mister, but in your eyes she doesn’t seem to play;
Hey mister, I suppose I ought to listen not defend
Hey mister, but I just don’t see the world your way.

All I see are your big cars,
And the way my neighborhood has changed;
It makes me want to shout you out:
And pull my hair like I’m deranged!
I want to bring salvation back;
I really want us to evolve –
But I don’t know how to see a thing
The money, opposition and false power.”

“Hey mister”: it’s a phrase one-to-one. It derecognizes the phony personhood of the corporation and tries to initiate a conversation with an individual, human, person who wields money and power behind the corporate glamorie.

Attacking “corporate greed” has gotten practically nowhere. Perhaps it’s time to look at another strategy; a humanistic strategy; a strategy of finding connections to those hiding behind “corporations”. Perhaps it’s time to try to see the world the way corporate owners (not managers unless they are also major stockholders) see it; it’s the only way to establish a slow resonance in dialogue to ultimately change the frequency.

Corporations have no souls, no greed, no lust, no passion. Attacking corporate greed is a symbolic action so divorced from the actual people who wield power and money, and an action so divorced from humanistic and social justice I-thou traditions, that it wastes energy that could be better used in addressing the actual people of power and money.

Quote updates 12/9

Bill Schneider:
“An Obama job approval rating of 79 percent — that’s the sort of rating you see when the public rallies around a leader after a national disaster. To many Americans, the Bush administration was a national disaster.”

Honorable William O. Douglas, U.S.S.C. (1898-1980):
“We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.”

Sandra Lee Dennis:
“We begin to resacralize sexuality by acknowledging its shadow side of destruction and death, the dark Eros whose importance we may yet grasp.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ):
“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt, many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight that I will do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join not only in congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and honest effort to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences.”

William Jefferson Clinton:
“We just had the biggest redistribution of income upwards in the last eight years since the 1920s, and we know how the 1920s ended.”

Ban Civil Marriage

Civil marriage – marriage regulated by the State – should be banned completely in the United States.  Marriage is a matter of way of life and belief, and should be left to the religious and philosophical spheres.  Including marriage as a civil structure simply brings the United States one step closer to a theocracy.

Test all children for parentage at birth (eliminate the “marriage presumption”) and eliminate all governmental monetary ties to marriage.  Have social security cover minor children of decedents, and allow people to designate one and only one adult to receive survivor’s benefits based on a decedent’s work record.

Allow adults living together at one address to either file one tax return for all residents or else to file all singly (single filing required for persons at government institutions such as prison halfway houses.)  Better still, adopt the Fair Tax instead of the Income Tax and there is no problem with filing at all, since there’s no filing.

Of course, this would put a lot of family lawyers out of work, not to mention loophole accountants…

Netflix can’t maintain queues; can they be trusted with credit cards?

I received the following notice in my email today, from Netflix, a web-only movie rental company:

Important News Regarding Netflix Profiles

We wanted to let you know we will be eliminating Profiles, the feature that allowed you to set up separate DVD Queues under one account, effective September 1, 2008.

Each additional Profile Queue will be unavailable after September 1, 2008. Before then, we recommend you consolidate any of your Profile Queues to your main account Queue or print them out.

While it may be disappointing to see Profiles go away, this change will help us continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers.

If you have any questions, please go to or call us anytime at 1 (888) 638-3549. We apologize for any inconvenience.

– The Netflix Team

This is my response:

(Also published as an open letter on my blog.)

Dear Netflix,

I wanted to let you know that if you go through with eliminating Profiles, the feature that allows me to set up separate DVD queues under one account, I will likely cancel my membership with you.

It is disappointing to see Profiles go away, and I don’t see how this will improve your website – or your business. I do know that if you can’t manage to hire web programmers to maintain a feature that’s worked successfully for so long, I really don’t see how I can trust your remaining web programmers to keep credit card and other information confidential.

If you have any real explanation other than shoddy programmers or being unable to pay enough to programmers to run a web-only business, please feel free to contact me.