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politics and culture > Have Corporations been a good thing or a bad thing for America?

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message 1: by Ed (last edited Oct 17, 2012 05:39PM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments I've recently heard the argument that corporations have helped bring along racial equality in America. The argument goes that corporations, more than civil rights laws or anything else, have allowed blacks to integrate with whites. The only color that matters for Corporations is green - not black or white.

This may be true, but I disagree that this has made America better
I'd like to hear other's ideas about this though before I explain why.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

You might need to clarify. Being green here (Australia) means care of the environment, and the Green party. (As in: the only thing rednecks are in agreement about is their hatred of Greens). I suspect you mean $? I think the major world corporations are run by psychopaths, who don't give a toss about the world, and will suck it dry. The very structure of a corporation, allows them to pass the buck. Just look at James Hardy and their asbestos. Nah, not our fault all those old codgers are dropping like flies...


message 3: by Ed (last edited Oct 17, 2012 06:43PM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Right, by green I am referring to money. That is a fairly common expression in the US. Sorry for the confusion - Americans sometimes have a tendency to forget that there is anyone else on this planet outside of our borders...except for those pesky Mexicans who keep trying to sneak in and steal all our plum housekeeping and fruit picking jobs!


message 4: by Gary (new)

Gary | 134 comments I have heard of the "horseshoe" of politics, where the extreme left wraps around and becomes very similar to the extreme right. Does there exist a "horseshoe" of economics?

Capitalism is based on the ideas of supply/demand and competition to effectively "evolve" efficiency into the system, thereby generating wealth and rewarding said efficiency and rewarding innovation.

However unregulated capitalism swiftly leads to corporatism. Corporatism can then use the advantages of scale to actually swamp competitors without requiring efficiency or innovation and quickly the corporations become as bloated and inefficient as communistic organisations based on the exact same factors. A captive marketplace, zero competition and the corruption and greed of its leaders.

There are many surprising parallels between economics and evolutionary biology. What we do know from evolutionary biology is that innovation and rapid growth comes from a massive levelling of the playing field. This is why mass extinctions (and the economic catastrophe of a world war) lead to rapid growth, innovation and prosperity.


message 5: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Speaking of leveling of the playing field, the Left in America is usually characterized as the champions for such ideas. But I can't tell you how many times I hear Democrats displaying a protectionist attitude. Specifically they wave the flag and complain about good jobs going overseas.

We live in a global economy. We need god jobs in every country. The problem is that Free Trade DOES NOT equal Fair Trade. And possibly the ONLY thing I agree with Romney about is that China has to man up and start implementing the same workers right and environmental standards as the US has.


message 6: by Gary (new)

Gary | 134 comments What seems to be missing from political opinion nowadays is shame.

After WW2 the tax on the rich was incredibly high, and the rich did not earn nearly as many orders of magnitude more than the poor. Thanks to a bloody war, US and British people alike had a sense of civic duty and a proper sense of "we are in this together".

Now we have a cynically greedy system that actually taxes people less when they don't go out and earn money than when they do. Overseas slave labour is used while turning a blind eye, to ensure the fat profits of investors.

Then you get politicians saying when you take tax it's "their" money the government is taking. Yet this money is usually profits made by doing business with the very people that government is meant to be "of".

Tax isn't taking people's rightful money off them, tax is a reasonable charge to maintain the very system that you are profiting from.

The global economy is certainly a problem, but the worst part of it is the use of overseas labour to undercut prices at home. Yet it's also remarkably dumb in the long term, which again gets back to corporatism.

For example, a corporation outsources jobs to foreign nations, this allows the corporation to undercut its competitors who do not have the size to successfully implement this. The competitors go under, but at the expense of the domestic economy because you are sending money out of the nation and encouraging wages to be suppressed. Eventually the corporation has no competition that can break into its hold and the corporate investors profit at the expense of everyone else.

I do not know what the best answer to sending jobs overseas is, but slashing workers rights, lowering wages and then cutting welfare to force people to be taken advantage of is not the answer. It only helps those cutthroat people who skillfully profit from everyone elses losses.


message 7: by Harry (new)

Harry  (Harry_Harry) Let's ask Rock Ism what he thinks.


message 8: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments The answer to keeping jobs in the US involves a new direction in US policies.
It involves empowering people so that they can start their own small business.
It involves changing the education system.
It involves changing the US's addiction to plastic.
It involves changing the entire mindset of the corporate consumer culture.


message 9: by East Bay J (new)

East Bay J (EastBayJ) I think it also involves a change in the US's addiction to petroleum/coal/natural gas/nuclear/dirty energy. Small business definitely needs to be encouraged. And I can't agree more about the education system. The more educated the citizens, the stronger the country and the better the country will be as a player in the world arena. The phrase, "You're only as strong as your weakest link" comes to mind.


message 10: by Ed (last edited Oct 18, 2012 06:00PM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Exactly right.
And here's another thing about jobs going overseas, especially manufacuring jobs. The overwhelming majority of AMericans do not want to work on an assembly line in some hot sweaty factory.

Those shitty manufacturing jobs that are going overseas are mostly jobs that Americans wouldnt do anyway unless they get paid HUGE ASS salaries. So to be honest, we arent really losing much from those shitty jobs going overseas - ANd actually we can get frickin robots can do those jobs and pay some guy to monitor the assembly line and man the 'abort' switch if neccessary.

I'd personally like to see AMerica go away for the Big Corporation business model that our laws and tax codes and economy favors and instead start seeing an emphasis put on building up small businesses again.

ObamaCare is a step in the right direction in that regard for sure.


message 11: by East Bay J (new)

East Bay J (EastBayJ) ObamaCare definitely removes the burden of affording health care from both small business owners and the employees of those businesses.

This may be off topic, but another effect of big corporations on this country is a massive homogenization of culture. WalMart is the easiest example because it's the most visible and obvious. I grew up in a time when there were a wide variety of retail businesses, each with its own identity generated by the owner/proprietor. Now, everywhere you go, there's a WalMart. Mom and pop stores, interesting shops run by interesting people, small businesses thriving based on their individuality and the quality of their business have become more of a rarity. Never mind that WalMart drove all those people out of business, killing jobs in every community all over the country. And I don't buy that the jobs WalMart created make up for those they destroyed. We still have mom and pop stores and cool, independent businesses but, as a witness, I can tell you it's not the same.

I don't buy the idea that corporations have helped bring about racial equality in the U.S. That sounds like rhetoric to me.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

The thing I like best about ObamaCare is that Romney thought it up first!


message 13: by Ed (last edited Oct 21, 2012 05:57PM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments I don't buy the idea that corporations have helped bring about racial equality in the U.S. That sounds like rhetoric to me.


Corporations almost ALWAYS like to give the impression that they are Poltically Correct. Alot of corporations have some sort of program or even a department where employees who feel they are descriminated against based on race, gender, etc can go to file a complaint.

These departments/programs give the appearance of confronting issues of inequalilty, but we have seen for years that there is a lack of blacks and females in the highest paying positions.

Is this the fault of the corporation? Is it just a reality of our society/culture? Or is the corporate consumer culture so engrain in our society that the two are nearly interlocking?


message 14: by Gary (new)

Gary | 134 comments J wrote: "Never mind that WalMart drove all those people out of business, killing jobs in every community all over the country."

Exactly. Which means that corporatism is actually anti-capitalism because it uses size to eliminate competition and once competition is eliminated the whole point of capitalism is eliminated.


message 15: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Yeah, this idea that our corporation culture is in harmony with the free market is totally bogus. If that were the case then corporations would not get big subsidities.


message 16: by Gary (new)

Gary | 134 comments It's no accident that the "cyberpunk" movement featured an imagined future where corporations ruled directly. I think that was finally reality in the US with "citizens united".

Corporations are doing with political power exactly what they do with competition. Stamping on the majority to serve the lucky ruling elite who are their shareholders and CEOs.


message 17: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments I wonder if corporations will rule the future - like nations have in the past, but even more absolutely - where they dictate every single facet and every movement and every thought of the human population.

Can this future be prevented though?

If so, then how?


message 18: by Gary (new)

Gary | 134 comments Ed Wagemann wrote: "I wonder if corporations will rule the future - like nations have in the past, but even more absolutely - where they dictate every single facet and every movement and every thought of the human population."

That's assuming that they don't already do so.

Ed Wagemann wrote: "Can this future be prevented though?

If so, then how? "


There was an interesting article about a scientist I read recently (I will have to find out his name again). Apparently he was a mathematician and physicist but then he decided to move into history.

His move into history wasn't well received in some academic circles as the standard practice of history is to look at individuals, groups and events and then to base hypotheses on why a particular event happened based on these reasons. The problem with this is that the hypotheses cannot be tested or confirmed because each point of history was unique.

Instead this scientist approached history scientifically, which meant looking at data and then trying to make a model that fits the data. What he has already found is interesting, compelling and somewhat scary.

What he found were predictable cycles of civil unrest and conflict. One cycle in the region of about 50 years the other cycle in the region of about 200. His model suggested that the cycles were based on 2 influences.

The 50 year cycle had a simple possible explanation in that this is around two full generations, and one could surmise that a generation that grows up in a time of conflict seeks stability and one that grows up in a time of stability feel safer about being contentious.

The second cycle appeared to be somewhat linked to economic inequality with a slow build up in inequality leading to a violent conflict after which the equilibrium would be returned.

Now the cycles aren't exactly 50/200 years and they are trends rather than rules, but they do suggest times when conflict will be more likely and more violent.

Interestingly enough the last time the cycles aligned in the US was in the 1860's (the US Civil War). Since then the World Wars equalised the economic imbalances a lot, but then quickly they have returned to the same imbalance levels they had 200 years ago. This means that we are approaching the time when another alignment of cycles and therefore violent civil disturbance or even War could break out.

Now the hypotheses is not "proved" but the scientist is working on the data, but it is a relatively new field of study. What is certain though is cultures eventually implode when there is sufficient inequality.

How can we prevent the corporate dominated future? Vote Romney, let him gut the welfare for the masses to pay for tax cuts allowing the elite to take ever more money, at the same time inflating the debt by refusing to curb defence spending or seek sources of revenue to lower the debt. Then either when China reaches the point that they can no longer loan money out economically because of their internal development, or when the 47% realise that they are faced with a stark choice of no food or no medical care...

...then hopefully the state that arises out of the ruins will learn the lessons of turning the government of "We the People" over to "We the People who have"...


message 19: by Ed (last edited Oct 24, 2012 07:12AM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Gary, I've thought about that same scenerio - or variations of it. Sometimes it seems like the only way to get things to change is to let everything go to hell in a handbasket and then Restart from scratch. Let corporations run rampant, with no regulations, until they are not only exposed as the forces of greed that they are, but that they literally destroy everything else in the world that isn't capable of feeding their appetite for power and wealth. Only then will people stand up and fight to the death against it.

But on the otherhand, I have small children. I dont want them growing up in a world like that. So I still hope for humanity to eventually conquer the corporate consumer culture in a peaceful manner. If Obama gets re-elected I hope that he will be able to take on some more of the corporate big wigs - I feel like ObamaCare has already taken a swipe at the corporate health care system, if not Big Pharma. I think Obama is sincere in moving toward green energy and I hope he has not given up on a plan to build a national green energy grid (although I dont hear him talking about it much anymore). I think that might put some controls on the Big oil and big energy companies. I also think Obama is going to take some swipes at the military-industrial complex. And lastly I hope he tackles Wall Street reform.

I don't know how much he can get done in 4 more years. To truly change the corporte culture that dominates the world will take more than 4 years and it will take more than just an American effort. It will have to be done on a global scale.


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