Ming the Mechanic:
The Corporation

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 The Corporation2005-10-04 01:33
picture by Flemming Funch

I finally saw the movie The Corporation. I mentioned it previously here. It is a documentary about, well, corporations. Very well researched, about the history of the concept of the corporation, and about how (badly) corporations often end up behaving, following quite naturally from their foundation, from what they're defined as. In brief, a corporation is a legal person, but a person with often huge amounts of resources, and no need to answer to the same standards as regular humans. The obligation of the people who run a corporation is to make large and increasing amounts of money for the people who own it. They might be nice enough people on their own, but their job is simply to acquire as large profits as possible. It is quite harmonious with that aim to use child slave labor in foreign countries, or to let foreign armies eliminate protesters who object to the environmental record of their factories. Maybe not right, maybe not moral, but a corporation has no conscience. It luckily has some people running it, who sometimes have a conscience. But in itself it doesn't. So, if we evaluate a typical multi-national corporation as if it were a person, it would fit every criterion for being a psychopath. It can continously get away with all sorts of irresponsible and destructive behavior. Yes, it might get fined, somebody might get fired, somebody might even go to jail, but those are just expenses and minor inconveniences. The corporation itself typically goes on. Unless it somehow fails to make profits.

Another enlightening aspect is the economic concept of externality. It is basically when a business makes a decision that causes costs (or possibly benefits) to be incurred outside that particular organization. You make it somebody else's problem, essentially. For example, a corporation might cause heavy wear and tear on certain public roads, but might let the local city government bear the costs of that. Or it might pollute, and let somebody else worry about that. Or it might let some army clear the way for its oil business, or remove people who were standing in the way of their business. Externalities can be great for a company's bottom line, making great profits, but at high costs elsewhere. So that when we add up the total accounting, it is anything but a beneficial and profitable activity. I.e. it causes much more damange or uses many more resources than what good comes out of it.

It doesn't have to be that way. The movie provided some bright spots, although not all that many. Business leaders might start thinking differently, and some do. Thinking about how to run a sustainable business, where what they do actually is beneficial, also when we count the external influences.

Interestingly I saw the movie in a local business college. One of the professors had persuaded the school to purchase the movie, so she could show it to students. Which obviously would be rather controversial, as that's a place where students are taught to do exactly the kinds of things the movie warns against. But change starts by being conscious of what is going on, of course. And, most likely, corporations will change to the degree that somebody figures out a way for it to be profitable to be sustainable and ethical.

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4 Oct 2005 @ 05:31 by siavash @ : The corporation
Yeah, I saw that movie, at first it looked pessimistic, like we are passive beings against a phenomenon of social construct, but then, the solution that it offered: every one matters, and together they can make the problem matter...but , being a centrist who leans toward conservatism and capitalism myself, i still think the movie missed a lot of points...especially the analysis that leads to the psychopath, seems like a desperate attempt of some lefty tree-huggers to produce a lively image out of something that is not more than sum of smaller people who work in it, and consume its product
Influenced by the same movie, you talk about here, and a email debate on BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4201516.stm) I started a series of posts on my blog and I don't mind to have a dialogue going on. So if you want to drop ur token, by all means...

"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act"
George Orwell


4 Oct 2005 @ 10:06 by Andrius Kulikauskas @ : Demons, Genies and Patents
Hi Flemming, great post, and I put it here, too: http://www.openleader.com/index.php/Cyfranogi/Corporations I'm very struck by the thought that corporations have all the rights of humans but none of the responsibilities. They seem very much like the demons which Jesus drives out in the Gospels. Or like the jinns (genies?) in the Quran. I've been wondering about a form of Patent (for intellectual property) that would allow humans to use it without permission (and hence for free) but would require corporations to ask for permission with each use (and pay). That would be a way to harness the genies. I'm just wondering what's the practical way to do that.  

4 Oct 2005 @ 11:51 by lugon @ : contact Stallman's lawyers?
Hi Flemming and Andrius,

Maybe you want to contact http://www.gnu.org people?

(btw, did I tell you it's Flu Pandemic Awareness Week?)  

4 Oct 2005 @ 11:52 by lugon @ : fpaw
last comment should have linked to http://www.fluwikie.com - or follow the link in my nick here  

4 Oct 2005 @ 12:32 by Benoit Couture @ : Universal labour pain
Hi Flemming and Andrius, I am following a very interesting thread at the moment from Disrutive Mice, where I posted quite of a solemn set of thoughts. I then proceeded to paste it to Andrius and Minciu Sodas lab when I happen to see Andrius' letter titled: "Patents for Harnessing Demons." In fact, I am writing so soon here, after sending to Minciu via Loving God, that my letter has not made it yet on Minciu's home webpage.
My letter at Minciu opens with an intro as I do here, now, and I paste from Disruptive Mice what I had just posted and that fits like inter-locking thoughts of a pattern. So here is my DM posting:

"Either you're going to go along with your mind
& the truth, or you're going to yield to fear
& custom & conditioned reflexes.

With our minds alone we can discover
those principles we need to employ to
convert all humanity to success in a new,
harmonious relationship with the universe."

R. Buckminster Fuller

The "go along with your mind and truth" statement has a direct cross-reference at the very heart of the bible. The one known as the Master in the New-Testament says that "the Father seeks worshippers in truth and in spirit".

The "go along" part is where I wish to dwell for a moment by explaining that in the original Greek version of the New-Testament, the word for spirit is "pneuma". Depending on the context, pneuma can mean wind, current, breath, flow and spirit. Hence, to go along with the Spirit, is the experience of organic spiritual unity that drives me to live and learn since I was 16 years old, when I quit school!

"...or you're going to yield to fear
& custom & conditioned reflexes."

When I quit school, I also quit a promising professional sport carrer, drawing instant rejection against myself. I had to face the fear-rooted wrath of the investors in my talents and those with the economic spin-offs interests that were lining up to "support my personal success". Those who were getting their adrenaline fix out of me had to find other sources and in that regard, I was approached by a car racing driver who tried to tell me what I had done to him personaly by quiting and that taught me how potent is the stimuli of adrenaline in our commercial systems. It feeds off fear and transforms it into the illusion of capacity. Remove its production like I did by removing myself and boom, I became aware very intimatly of the"dominions, the principatities and evil spirits of the heavenly realm".

When the Spirit came to bring me along in His open flow of knowledge management, I did it without any consideration for the fear factor. The statement of Buckingham Fuller says: "custom & conditioned reflexes." The journey through this fear factor is the journey that is universally common to each one of the human race. When we adress the welbeing and welfare of 6 billion people, all faculies meet at the personal source of that divide between the governing instincts or the governing of Intelligenge.

Our constant is the ongoing choice to either react with the innate impulse of custom conditionings or to go on with the Flow of truth and Love, being transformed by the renewing of our mind where Objectivity and subjectivity are reconciled and freed up to be just with one another in the serenity of the universal travail of labor, until the completion of maturity. The apaisement of that fear factor comes before anything else can be done or nothing gets done.

In practice, this is why I am here and go on with my name and experiences with such personal intimacy. I have been and I go on calling upon the people who represent the highest levels of authority in the Western world, and I speak with the transcendance over fear to draw the attention of her majesty, Mr. Bush and of Vatican for the historical need and opportunity to assemble with the Wind Flowing in the Current in Canada's Breathing for the physical manifestation of genuine repentance, setting the present course of liberalisation in tune with the spiritual victory over stress and the compulsive nature of humanity.

"...With our minds alone we can discover
those principles we need to employ to
convert all humanity to success in a new,
harmonious relationship with the universe."

R. Buckminster Fuller

All fears are scripted in our biological fabric and known as our existantial fears. The King Solomon repeated all his life that: "The begining of wisdom is the fear of the Lord" and the apstle John says: "Perfect love casts out all fear."

All of the existantial source of our instinctice human impulse begins to find direction by focusing at the source of fear's reality. The greatest mistakes that keeps the rule of defeat going is to think that we can free ourselves out of our customized conditionings of existantial fears and that good intentions and good deeds will change that conditioning. Why is it a mistake? Because it is like a ballon full of water that you change shape by applying pressure at one end or both ends or any way you want. You will burst it before releive it of any pressure. That mistake is embodied at its highest level by ElisabethII, George Bush and BenedictXVI.

Each person must be individually transferred from darness to light and it is by humble service that the Spirit spreads, not by grand standings of the sort that they and we must get away from, as we move toward sustainability.

We need this vision to come alive on the BBC, watching Grey mouse and Guillian Bush for instance, to set the media pace from England to Washington DC, inspiring Canadians to accept our role as the bread basket to absorb the shocks of grand scale adjustments.

For more of this idea, join the folling thread on the EU KM Board. It is laying out to frame the deployment from the BBC to the Canadian BC and Australia BC. There, I propose that public broadcasters join us to train the infancy of open source KM to host diplomacy in the transparency from fear to wisdom: http://www.knowledgeboard.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=125675&d=1&h=417&f=56&dateformat=%o%20%B%20%Y

Peace with cheers,
Benoit Couture

So Flemming, from DM to Minciu to you, seems to be a thread of very deep significance, as I write from Canada, where "The Corporation" movie is issued from. Because of such depth of "coincidences", I hereby suggest that the time is here to consider the seriousness of your possible joining google as part of the KDN (Kingdom Deep Net) You can read about it at: http://www.openleader.com/index.php/LovingGod/KingdomDeepNet

As a fitting closure to what I pray to be a spark of heaven, I offer following "STArSHINE" as a common ground to meet upon and to ty all possible loose ends from DM to Minciu Sodas to Flemming to google and back to DM, where we could invite Mary Robinson, Ireland's President from 1990 to 1997, to surround herself with the likes of Bono and Chris Macrae and Desmond Tutu; all those who can walk the walk and carry the torch of Faith, Hope and Love of the Eternal...

Bono and all human "idols" are in danger of the illusion they project and of what people do out of it. To grasp the concept of STArSHINE as opposed to stardom, one needs to perceive it as the outcome of going from stardom to Glory. Stardom is the popularity that comes from being elevated to rise above one's peers. Glory is when the isolation of stardom gets to be healed in the Glory of unity like when Jesus prays: "Father, the glory which thou has given me, I have given to them that they may be one, like we are one. You in me and I in them." The STArSHINE is the glow that comes out from one who is known and who knows the open source of God. St-Patrick puts it this way:

I arise today, Through the strength of heaven: Light of the sun, radiance of the moon. Splendor of fire, speed of lightning, Swiftness of wind, depth of sea, Stability of earth and firmness of rock. I arise today, Through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me. From the snares of devils, from temptation of vices, From everyone who shall wish me ill, Afar and near, alone and in a multitude, by St. Patrick

In regards to Bono and U2 directly, I remember reading that for 3 years, the members of the band were all intensely in Bible learning. One indication of the fruit of the Spirit is alive with him, is the last time when the band U2 came to my city. When Bono came out of the 20,000 seats venue after the concert, he chatted with a few fans who waited on them. The chatting turned into a quiet party when someone brought out an accoustic guitar and he began serenading his new found friends.

In the Psalms it says: "Your procession has come into view oh God, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary. In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the maidens dancing and playing tambourines. Praise God in the great congregation and in the assembly."

There was a time when sovereignty was for enforcing the powers of command and order but instead, with music leading the way, sovereignty becomes the freedom of expression playing out under the straight and narrow governance of the expression of freedom's tuning with reality, from one another, in the symphony of humanity through time and space...just, serene and timely, oh yes...

A simple technic that came to me spontaniously at 15 when I was first asked for my autograph by 2 ten years old boys, I first declined as it made me feel so awkward to be elevated but such request. They insisted and so I said to them: "You each give me your autograh and I'll give you mine, how's that?" And I skated away. When I returned, I stopped by them and they gave me the thumb up sign. They understood that my star is no brighter than theirs. I carried on with this aproach for the few years of stardom I had after that. Perhaps, this idea could make its way from this DM blog and reach the University of Superstars, from Bono, U2 and on to Live 8 people.... Benoit Couture
PS: Thank you for the inspiration you provide Flemming. Keep on being real, we can sense it when we read you, peace, Benoit  

4 Oct 2005 @ 14:06 by ming : Corporation
The thing is that Corporations rise from some particular laws, maybe seeming innocent at first, but which open the whole can of worms. It could very well be different, if the ground rules were set a little differently. Of course it can be a good thing that groups of people can engage in a venture together, and act in a unified manner. Which was the original form of a corporation. A group of people engaging in a project for the common good, with a very specific target, and disbanding when the project is finished. Like, building a dam or a a bridge.

Or, if a corporation truly were judged as an individual person, everything would be different too. You do something sufficiently illegal, you go to jail, and your operation is shut down. The corporation current escapes that because it usually will just be some individual employees who get held responsible, and they go to jail, and the corporation maybe gets an insignificant fine. It is kind of like if I shoot somebody, and the gun and the bullet get judged and destroyed, and a get a bill for the damage, and then I grab another gun and shoot somebody else. Which is essentially what a sufficiently large corporation can do.

Or, if I as an individual released 50,000 tons of dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere, somebody would lock me away rather quickly. If a corporation truly were treated as one person, it should be the same. It is no excuse that it is a large corporation. If we were playing fair, it should have the footprint of one person, just as it has the legal right of one person.

Corporations get out of a lot of tight spots because they make money. If they make lots of money for some influential people, who flow some of that money to their local community, and into the pockets of politicians, then they buy a get-out-of-jail-free card. In an entirely different way than a real person possibly could. Because they "keep the economic wheels turning". If we take away that blanket cover, it would be very different.

Big corporations can be powerful machines driven forcefully towards particular aims, within particular boundaries. The aims and the boundaries are in principle defined in the laws that allow corporations to exist. If those laws put in stone that a corporation has to be sustainable and beneficial, all corporations would just have to adjust to that. Doesn't really change business as such. Just different pieces to play with.

The thing to change in our minds is that it is in any way acceptable to externalize costs and damage. The accounting needs to add up. The whole accounting. If you cause a trillion dollars worth of damage, billed to somebody else, in order to make a hundred billion dollars for yourself - that's very bad economy. The only reason everybody doesn't look at it that way is that the external costs are accounted for badly. Or they're accounted for as the costs of removing/stealing something, as opposed to the replacement costs. Or as the likely fines for damage caused, as opposed to the actual costs of fixing it.

All of it can change, if enough people want it to, of course. Laws can change. And corporations are in the hands of their customers, whatever it might seem. If some corporations play by more sustainable and beneficial rules, and we know that, we're free to buy their products, and ignore the products from criminal corporations that have ripped off the value from the commons in the first place. They can only go on for so long without customers.  

4 Oct 2005 @ 14:21 by ming : Free market
Siawash, what I mostly have against capitalism is that it generally isn't a free market. What I would want would be a free market where people can make their own choices, economic or otherwise, without corporations or governments creating monopolies that enforce certain choices, just because they make a few people a lot of money. Corporations running the show, in collusion with governments, is basically the definition of fascism. Which isn't much different from communism, other than in who calls the shots. It is a top-down thing, the few controlling the many. I'd rather see a free and democratic society, with a free market. I'll drop by your blog and see what is going on.  

4 Oct 2005 @ 14:46 by Benoit Couture @ : Corporate culture from personal touch
More and more, the grooves of times are leading, dragging and/or forcing all geo-politidal forces into commerce and trade liberalisation.
The version of liberalisation is where the hic-ups are. It is becoming more and more obvious that the defining lines are the 2 versions that are facing each other. One is the liberalising forces of China that we see in Tibet and the other is the US version of freedom and justice that we see in Iraq. The corporate world is the one who needs both China and the US to go on producing profit at the expense of all populations, including their own.
The 3 are engaged at pullintg tighter and tighter in conflicting self-preserving modes.

The scene of that equation tells me that humanity's sustainability calls all who care, to build the recovery road from self-destruction to self-control to communal self-government. I use many different angles to describe this nessecity. I call one of them: "From Brown to Green" and it can be seen at: http://www.openleader.com/index.php/LovingGod/FromBrownToGreen


4 Oct 2005 @ 15:25 by siavash @ : my Comment follow ups
True, there are laws that corporations can play with, there are fines that are only seen as economic costs, getting caught is seen to have a risk and a probability which makes would make obeying the law worth it or not...BUT still, we have to see, that it's still the government, Not the corporation, that sets the laws, so there is hope, philosophically thinking, competition can make better out of worse, and it does, not only for the market, and for the corporations, (which is not controlled hard enough) but also for the governments. If one government fails act up properly to supervise, (notice I didn't use Control) the market against those who harm the environment, people would choose a new government. NOW...
What if people don't know...if the government is doing good or bad...what if the news, and the media, that were our hopes for national awareness are themselves a part of corporations...what then: Surely, It would be time to act, to raise awareness, and blogs, are small part of that ... Surely, there is still a hope, and surely you can't blame the whole system...I'll finish up with an example...When you get to have good summer, or a good cell phone offer: there is good and bad together, we would, protest the disadvantages. We would try to improve our choices as to have a better summer next year, or to find a better cell phone plan next time, But we certainly wouldn't and shouldn't call the whole thing as a failure...
What if people don't know...if the government is doing good or bad...what if the news, and the media, that were our hopes for national awareness are themselves a part of corporations...what then: Surely, It would be time to act, to raise awarness, and blogs, are small part of that ... Surely,there is still a hope, and surely you can't blame the whole system...I'll finish up with an example...When you get to have good summer, or a good cell phone offer: there is good and bad together, we would, protest the disadvantages. We would try to improve our choices as to have a better summer next year, or to find a better cell phone plan next time, But we certainly wouldn't and shouldn't call the whole thing as a failure...  

4 Oct 2005 @ 15:29 by ming : Double-speak
Part of the problem is that words are used to say roughly the opposite of what they mean. Freedom, liberalization. The freedom we're talking about in trade liberalization and free movement of capital is the freedom of multi-national corporations, to not have to pay much attention to governments or to what people actually want in any particular area. It is the freedom to maximize profits across the borders and boundaries that otherwise separate people. And the freedom to force populations to go along with it, no matter what their local customs or laws are.  

4 Oct 2005 @ 15:36 by ming : Information
Siavash, yes, I think what is the bright spot is the potential for the availablity of information. If we're informed and aware enough, things will change. Because, no matter how much power any particular organization has, it still all flows from the individual choices we make, and the collective effect of those individual choices. And most people aren't dumb or mean. If they have good information, if they're aware of what is going on, they will choose accordingly. And that's the basic of a free economy and a free society. Many people making many informed decisions.

That's where I have the highest degree of hope. Our ability to access information is increasing rapidly. There's a bit too much of it, but it is very likely that tools appear along the way that will allow us to better understand what we're looking at. It is not possible to keep us in the dark forever.

And, yes, the power to change what a corporation is, and what its boundaries are, is still with the governments. They can change the laws, and even the most powerful corporations have to go along. OK, unfortunately, most governments have submitted themselves to some trade agreements that limit their ability to regulate corporations, but there's for sure still ways.

And, again, governments will have to go along, if enough people start thinking differently about things, and they demand changes.  

4 Oct 2005 @ 21:28 by Benoit Couture @ : Calibration of profits with benefits
The solution is to calibrate the profits of corporations by investments in the collective benefits of education health and the environemnt as prescribed by the personal, local and geo-political needs of activities.

People of democracies must implement the impossibility for corporations to get away from transparency with our own contribution from self-destruction to self-control to community self-government.

As we do, there must be the steady conversion of weapon production into the tools needed for the Spirit justice, peace and joy to spread across the earth.  

6 Oct 2005 @ 20:31 by Hanae @ : Don't Be Evil
"...no matter how much power any particular organization has, it still all flows from the individual choices we make, and the collective effect of those individual choices we make, and the collective effect of those individual choices. And most people aren't dumb or mean."
---4 Oct 2005 @ 15:36 by ming : Information

True, people aren't dumb or mean - no one in their right mind would condone what they perceive as truly "evil." [i.e. That which is regarded as morally bad, intrinsically corrupt, wantonly destructive, inhumane, or wicked. In most cultures, the word is used to describe acts, thoughts, and ideas which are thought to (either directly or causally) bring about withering and death —the opposite of life http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil ]

No, "evil" is a slow seduction. It's a gradual slipping, blindness, turning away, and following the path of least resistance. It's a morning-after "how did we (I, corporations, our world, the planet, etc...) get this way?" not a gleeful, villainous "bwah-ha-ha!"

(How did Hitler's Germany got the way it got?)

"Our ability to access information is increasing rapidly. There's a bit too much of it, but it is very likely that tools appear along the way that will allow us to better understand what we're looking at."
---4 Oct 2005 @ 15:36 by ming : Information

To that regards, "Don't Be Evil" just so happens to be the informal corporate {link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_Be_Evil|motto for Google}:

"There has been significant criticism of companies that promote their corporate social responsibility, since many economists and business leaders believe that a corporation's first duty is to maximize shareholder value. This point of view holds that corporate social responsibility is either cynical and empty self-promotion (if the company's social responsibility claims are false), or detrimental to shareholder value (if the claims are true). Google claims a third position, that a ‘Don't Be Evil’ culture is a prerequisite to building shareholder value in the long term for a company that requires public trust to achieve its mission."

Apparently, every Google engineer is encouraged to spend 20 percent (20%) of their work time on projects that interest them. Sometimes one of these ends up as Google services.

"Our ability to access information is increasing rapidly."
---4 Oct 2005 @ 15:36 by ming : Information

Still, I find it significant that some of the most innovative and wide and far reaching progresses in this area, in so far as the internet is concerned, have essentially been the result of the centralized, and sometimes very private and confidential, activity of, yet once again, a multinational corporation, like Google, rather than the manifestation of something more open and less centralized, like the collaborative efforts of, say, some kind of world wide web grass root intelligence.  

1 May 2016 @ 22:47 by Buffy @ : zqKpVduugvJojfNuQsxD
There are certainly a whole lot of particulars like that to take into consaderition. That could be a great level to convey up. I provide the thoughts above as normal inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where crucial thing shall be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged round issues like that, but I am certain that your job is clearly recognized as a good game. Both boys and girls feel the affect of just a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.  

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Other stories in
2010-07-10 13:01: Strong Elastic Links
2010-07-08 02:27: Truth: superconductivity for scalable networks
2010-06-27 02:28: Be afraid, be very afraid
2008-07-06 23:20: Laws of social networks
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2008-05-06 13:57: Why can't we stick to our goals?
2008-02-21 21:16: Open social networks
2007-11-08 01:49: The value of connections
2007-11-07 00:51: Diversity counterproductive to social capital?
2007-07-13 23:42: Plan vs Reality

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