Two days ago Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney shot himself in the foot and the head with his “corporations are people, my friend” comment. I really think he’s killed his candicacy with that remark. Because one of the key seminal concepts of the aughts, articulated by Joel Bakan‘s “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power” (’05) and the 2004 documentary of the same name and recognized by every person on the planet with an IQ over 50, is that corporations are not people — they’re sociopaths.
Bakan’s book (which oddly came out after the doc) is basically about putting corporate behavior under psychological examination. What he found is that corporations behave like your boilerplate clinical psychopath or sociopath.
The sociopathic personality is about antisocial tendencies, “me, me, me and mine,” manipulation, inflated grandiose visions about destiny, “who, me?”, a lack of empathy, a refusal to accept responsibility for antisocial actions, and an inability to feel remorse. This is precisely the attitude and modus operandi of your typical corporation.
Corporations are solely about profit. As one guy said in an Amazon review, “Every action taken [by a corporation], 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 and legally compelled to externalize (dump) costs (pollution, for example) without regard for the harm it may cause. Every cost it can unload onto the general public is a benefit to stockholders — a direct route to profit.
“Many major corporations habitually engage in criminal behavior with records worse than even the most prolific human criminals. GE collected 42 heavy fines over 11 years, which is akin to a hardened repeat criminal receiving occasional hand slaps while on perpetual parole. Corporations don’t mind chalking these fines up as a cost of doing business, and then delegating a committee to figure out how to cover their tracks better in the future.
“Within the past 20 years corporations have really gotten in bed with government in the United States. Billions in PAC money is spent every year for lobbying and political contributions. Grateful politicians find reasons to vote for causes supported by their benefactors. How can virtually unfunded (by comparison) watchdog groups compete with this machine aimed toward sugar-coating their industries and de-regulation? ”