Not everything should be for sale. Corporations may be needed by society to provide some good, but they deserve to exist only as long as they are needed and they cannot make everything for sale. If they have to be controlled, it must be done. The means cannot become the end. This paper seeks to defend this position by responding to the following questions: “Do Corporations need to be controlled for the good of society?” “Should everything be for sale?”, and “Plato said that one does evil knowingly. If this is so, where does moral responsibility fit?”.
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Do Corporations need to be controlled for the good of society?
Yes, corporations need to be controlled for the good of society since there are just means to an end (Dewing, Stone, 1919). If they no longer serve the purpose of doing good for the society, then corporations have no reasons to exist. In practice, the definition of what is good to society is the hardest thing to have because what may be termed to be good may indirectly cause the creation of some evil. To illustrate, full employment may be good but the environment may suffer. Therefore an attempt to keep in balance what is good among many goals for society must be made.
Allowing corporations uncontrolled would be causing the minority to dictate their wills on the majority. Such would subvert the essence of democracy which essentially means the rule of majority. Consistency requires that people must give consent to what one does to another (Ciulla, Martin, and Solomon, 2006). If the government will give them much freedom, the government would itself be a victim to what it is trying to assert as matter of principle. This was seen in the film “The Corporations” (YouTube, 2009) where it was asserted that the seeming power of corporation to almost own anything except human being such as the possibility of patenting genetically modified organisms and privatizing water resources management. The corporate power could be inconsistent with democracy. Since the shareholders are minority compared to the public, corporate management and power is direct subversion of democracy or the rule of majority.
The alternative to controlling the corporation is regulation and it would seem to be a milder way to controlling. The same could be deemed as being done by the present government. In the film “The Corporation”, a corporation was created an artificial being or person that is managed by directors and to accomplish a certain purpose. An issue that is raised in the film is the unscrupulous advertising done on children so that if these corporations could influence the nagging of children to their parents, they have essentially effected a purchase of their product or service which are not needed in the first place (YouTube, 2009). Uncontrolled because they happened to be not repugnant of existing laws, these corporations are violating the original economic conception that the earth’s limited resources should be maximized to fill the needs of mankind.
Should everything be for sale?
It is argued by some that the solution to all our environmental problems is to have everything, including water and air, owned by corporations. As to whether they would solve our environmental problems or make them worse is matter of attaining what is the defined objective in solving the environmental problems.
The argument that everything can be privately owned by corporations implies that they could be subject of sale or they could be for sale. The same can be said when everything is patentable since what is patented can bestow private ownership and therefore may be objects of profits by business entities or corporations.
The economy uses money to quantify or measure value so that use of a limited resource is valued by how much it is worth in dollars in relation to another limited resource. The idea of private ownership has something to do with placing in the hands of private corporations the ownership of the production of goods or service. In film “The Corporations”, it was found out that the provision of services by firemen was originally handled privately but it was found out ineffective or inefficient because people who could buy were not avail of the service provided by private entities or corporations. So until this time, fire services are generally provided by agencies of government since they are believed to more justly satisfy the need of those who may not afford to do it. The same may be said with the unsuccessful continuation of the privatization of water in Bolivia. The people saw water as public need and to place them in the hands of corporations would be creating injustice as would cause the gap between those who have more money and those who have little. It was a good thing to see in the film the people of Bolivia realized the wisdom that not everything should be for sale. These people included the police, the military and government officials not resist any further the cause of not privatizing water (YouTube, 2009).
Plato said that one does evil knowingly. If this is so, where does moral responsibility fit?
When Plato said that no one does evil knowingly (Kekes, 2005), he may actually mean that man will not do a thing, when the consequence to himself is thought of as evil. What is evil to that man is therefore relative to him. However, what he considers not evil may be evil to others because others may know the evil consequences of the same act. There appears to be subjectivity of the concept of evil as far as Plato is concerned. This position is underpinned by the statement that injustice in a society exist because that all people are equal which cannot be proved. Plato was in effect saying the people are not inherently equal so that attainment of justice would seem to be insurmountable so long as the belief of equality is not corrected.
I agree with Plato in terms of what corporations are doing in society. Since the corporation is not a human person with a heart and soul but only an artificial being. It is meant only to attain a purpose which is generation of profits as a necessary result. For people in the organization particularly the chief executive, the most important is for the organization to attain its objectives of profit.
If Plato is correct, where then can moral responsibility fit in? Moral responsibility means the obligation of ensuring that something must be done or praising or blaming a person worthy or not worth of having produce something good for the society. Such of praising enhances possible repetition or preservation of what is good while blaming may mean causing the other person to be responsible or liable for the consequences of wrong done or cutting off what is evil. Using this definition, moral responsibility must come with knowledge of the consequences of an act and actually giving the award deserved when it is good or imposing the penalty deserved for such act when the latter is evil or bad. When not everything is made for sale, a moral responsibility is encouraged since this would mean that morals must be above love for money or profit.
Reasons that might disagree with position taken include the fact that man is presumed to be an intelligent and free agent and therefore he could be considered a moral agent at all times except under exceptional circumstances affecting incapacity of the person like when a per is insane. These reasons are however not entirely similar when human persons are placed in corporations where they will become servants of their masters or principals as represented by shareholders. Generally an investor risks invested money to produce return above cost of capital. If profits could not be delivered to investors, it would be hard to see how managers and employees could explain their being part of the corporations. Despite this however, not everything should be for sale. Government could make moral responsibility by linking corporate abuses and violation through legal consequences of immoral acts.
In conclusion, there is basis to say that not everything should be for sale. Though corporations are needed by society to provide some good, they deserve to exist only as long as they are relevant to providing the need. As corporations are just means to an end (Dewing, Stone, 1919), humans should continue to have power over things and not the other way around. If democracy is to be sustained as a government framework, all other structures including the control of corporations should follow.
Ciulla, Martin, and Solomon (2006). Honest Work – A business Ethics. Oxford University Press, USA
Dewing, Stone (1919). The Financial Policy of Corporations. The New York Public Library
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Kekes, John (2005). The Roots of Evil. Cornell University Press
YouTube (2009) The Corporation 1/23 to 23/23. Web.