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Thursday, September 22, 2011

America's Downfall- Corporate Greed Over Moral Democracy

There is an EXCELLENT article found HERE in the Harvard Business Review written by James Allworth which accurately describes where Capitalist/Corporate America has been and where it is headed.

Commenting below Mr. Allworth's article was a "MD Mroczkowski JD-" and I have pasted that well thought-out comment below:

"There wouldn't be that draconian choice if our culture of business leadership hadn't lost its way, and here is where Harvard Business School comes in for a day of reckoning. So this is addressed to the HBS community.

There are two critical features of America's business leadership that played a critical role in the postwar boom. Their loss, conversely, has played a critical role in our nation's decline.

One was the culture of respect. US veterans entering business after WWII carried with them the US military's code of respect. Up and down the chain of command respect in the United States military was mutual, down to the lowest recruit. This emphasis on mutual respect set our military apart from even our closest allies, the British, and gave our military both superior moral authority and superior performance.

It wasn't perfect. There was a color bar and gender discrimination. But it exerted a constant pressure in favor of greater fairness, helping the Civil Rights movement and feminism.

These veterans instilled this culture of respect in our business corporations. Executives of this generation treated their employees, their customers and the communities in which they did business with respect, far more than they do today.

This culture of respect made our country flourish, economically and democratically, an example and beacon of hope for the world.

Second, though corporations were never strictly run like democracies, the corporations of this time were governed with checks and balances, effectively preventing management abuse: truly independent boards of directors, truly empowered shareholders and unions.

Those checks and balances are gone. If we still had them we wouldn't have these sky-high CEO salaries paid for with shattered worker salaries and benefits.

I saw a study recently: if Americans were paid the same share of what they produced, in 2007 as in 1980, the lower 90% would be paid over a trillion dollars more per year and the top 1% would get about a trillion dollars less. If that were the case there probably would not have been a severe banking crisis of 2008.

When Milton Friedman was busy pushing his idea that a corporation should serve profit and profit alone, Dr. Robert Hare, the internationally respected expert on criminal psychopathy, warned that Friedman's ideas were tantamount to running our nation's most powerful private entities with the value system of a psychopath, and that no good would come from it.

Dr. Hare was right and we are living with the consequences.

There is a difference between honorable ambition and greed. Honorable ambition is pro-social and part of the culture of respect. It builds. it heals. It solves. It creates.

Greed is psychopathy. It is not good. It is predatory and parasitic. Greed destroys. It does not build or heal or solve. it creates only new ways to cheat and steal and get away with it.

Greed creates economic injustice, and once you have economic injustice you need to sow hate to prevent democracy from righting it. So you have the Limbaughs, the Becks and the Breitbarts filling the people with hatred for their neighbors, destroying the culture of democracy.

When you sow that much hate, violence is inevitable.

So far in Arizona two 9 year old girls have been shot to death by fools inspired by the right-wing merchants of hate. How many more do you want? More Utoyas? Oklahoma City?

The right-wing merchants of hate are already in the business of butchering history in order to foment hatred and violence and destroy democratic rights and political opposition. You know very well where that business model comes from. The late Will Eisner wrote a book about it - The Plot.

But selling hate is profitable, and Friedman said profit is all that matters.

Health insurance in this country was nonprofit until about twenty years ago - 95% of premiums went to pay claims. But the new school of Greed says everything is done better for profit.

So we have for-profit health insurance and it is a disaster, the worst economic institution to afflict this nation since slavery. Forty-five thousand Americans die each year because Milton Friedman says the only purpose of a corporation is to make money. So we have 15 9/11s of Americans dying every year so a few hundred at best can make a "killing."

This institution has destroyed our entrepreneurial capacity and bankrupts 700,000 families a year. But try to institute even the most modest reforms and those who profit from it brown-shirt our town-halls and flood our airwaves and newspapers with lying propaganda designed to whip fear, confusion, hate and violence.

Too much of our business leadership is no good. There are still some good people, but the psychopathic are clearly running the culture, forcing the rest to bow down to their rigid ideology.

The values of Adam Smith, the Founders and the Constitution are the values of honorable ambition and respect, not greed and hate. The greedy among us constantly twist and distort these doctrines. They gut them of their true values and install in their place the values of greed, hate, and sadistic domination. Then the greedy aggressively sell these false, corrupted versions of these doctrines as the true originals.

Adam Smith never intended the invisible hand to be an endorsement of psychopathic greed. His was a moral vision for how free enterprise would flourish. His free market was a fair market for the least powerful players, not ruthless anarchy where the strong crush the weak.

When you have the moral culture Adam Smith and the Founders envisioned, of honorable ambition and respect for even the humblest citizen, democracy and capitalism get along very well together and flourish. When you have a culture of greed and hate, democracy and middle class prosperity die, and the foolish plutocracy who feed off this devilish culture live an uneasy life of constant fear.

There's a very good synopsis of the culture we need to restore, in Charlie Chaplin's speech at the end of "The Little Dictator." It's about five minutes long and available on YouTube. The young people demonstrating on Wall Street are watching it. You should, too.

Thank you."

No- thank YOU MD Mroczkowski JD!