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The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power Paperback – March 7, 2005
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- USA Today
"The corporation, according to Joel Bakan, is the monster that can swallow civilization -- greedy, exploitive, and unstoppable. We are all its potential victims, which is why we must all understand how the corporate form makes it so difficult to control its abuses."
-- Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix
"This incisive study should be read carefully and pondered. And it should be a stimulus to constructive action."
-- Noam Chomsky, Ph.D., professor of linguistics, MIT, and author of 9-11
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a striking conclusion. The so-called pathological personality in humans is well documented and includes serial killers and others who have no regard for the life and welfare of anyone but themselves. But is it really fair to label the corporation, managed and owned by normal caring and loving people, in this way?
Bakan thinks so. He begins with a little history showing how the corporation developed and how it came to occupy the dominate position that it enjoys today. He recalls a time before "limited liability" when shareholders were legally responsible for the actions of the corporation, a time when corporations could not own stock in other companies, a time when corporations could not acquire or merge with other corporations, a time when shareholders could more closely control corporate management.
Next he shows what corporations have become, and finally what can be done about it.
Bakan's argument includes the point that the corporation's sole reason for being is to enhance the profits and power of the corporation. He shows by citing court cases that it is the duty of management to make money and that any compromise with that duty is dereliction of duty.
Another point is that "corporations are designed to externalize their costs." The corporation is "deliberately programmed, indeed legally compelled, to externalize costs without regard for the harm it may cause to people, communities, and the natural environment.Read more ›
The corporation is compared to a sociopath. The sociopathic personality is "irresponsible, manipulating, grandiose, lacking in empathy, has asocial tendencies, refuses to accept responsibility for actions, and cannot feel remorse....Many of the attitudes people adopt and the actions they execute when acting as corporate operatives can be characterized as psychopathic."
Moreover, by the legal way a corporation is set up, its only motive is profit. Every action taken, no matter how altruistic it looks, has to ultimately be a search for profits. Otherwise, the corporation is subject to litigation by the shareholders. "The corporation is deliberately programmed, indeed legally compelled, to externalize (dump) costs without regard for the harm it may cause to people, communities, and the natural environment. Every cost it can unload onto someone else is a benefit to itself, a direct route to profit."
"Many major corporations engage in unlawful behavior, and some are habitual offenders with records that would be the envy of even the most prolific human criminals." Following this quote is a list of 42 heavy fines levied over 11 years to GE. This sounds akin to keeping a hardened repeat criminal under perpetual parole with minimal supervision and occasional hand slaps. A law professor is quoted, "The practical business view is that a fine is an additional cost of doing business....Read more ›
Indeed congress has gotten its piece of the action as corporate leaders share part of their profits with the very politicians charged with regulating them. Some politicians even own stock in the companies they regulate.
What else would explain why congress has failed to strongly intervene in the blatant corporate corruption of late? Is there any question that, were money not changing hands at the political level, corporate CEOs would have been allowed to form sweetheart deals with the very corporate boards charged with their oversight, when instead they should be protecting the shareholders? In virtually every congressional vote, one needs only to follow the money to predict its outcome.
Bakan has many good ideas for cleaning up the corporate system, but his (and any) proposed fixes simply will not happen under the current moneyed political system. Until we stop the cash that flows from those who want laws written to those who write them, corporate abuse of shareholders and the taxpayers will continue.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Business Ethics book. Bunch of trash how corporations ruin the world.Published 11 hours ago by Corbin Dallas
The concepts make a lot of sense. It's astonishing how much I can relate how corporations behave to what's happening in today's news and media (let alone the examples from the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Howie Chan
Finally, a person of courage who speaks the truth about the Hydra that is consuming us. We have all been victimized by business. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kindle Customer
Makes you think about things and starts conversation at minimum, that's the point.Published 7 months ago by Gerardo Mendoza Ramos
Tour de force of the problems with 1990s and 2000s style thinking about shareholder focused companies.Published 7 months ago by Hunter
Great read. I was assigned a few chapters for a Political Science class but read the entire book because it was so interesting.Published 10 months ago by Jared's mom
Fantastic exploration of the corporate system both in the US but also around the world. Highly recommended for anyone interested in business ethics, which should be everyone.Published 11 months ago by Claire