Uploaded by blgjmd2 on Dec 11, 2006
The major idea found in Hartmann book is that corporations govern the world we live in and try to exploit individuals in order to generate profits for themselves. The tremendous wealth and financial power of industrial life created widespread philosophical debates on the ideal relationship of industry to the government in the nineteenth century, ranging from Marxist socialism on the left to the laissez-faire libertarianism on the right. The former would want to completely nationalize industry and the latter would want to leave it completely unregulated.
Along this continuum is the issue of whether private corporations and partnerships are the same type of institution as publicly traded corporations, or whether corporations with public shareholders require substantially more government oversight. Hartmann suggests that the formation of the regulatory agencies after the Great Depression and the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act after the Enron scandal were meant to address this question. (Hartmann, 2004)
œThe United States and the rise of corporations have a shared parallel history. (Hartmann, 2004) Corporations proved they can produce railroads, cars, telephones, televisions, computers, airplanes and countless other products at prices that make them widely available. Large corporations using economies of scale and robots can produce some types of basic products for less money than small corporations or family businesses. They have become part of the landscape for modern pursuit of happiness of people, even if at times they have created a false sense of happiness by being made ends in themselves.
However, according to Hartmann, corporations have one ultimate goal: profit. (Hartmann, 2004) They do not inherently care for their employees, their investors, or the nations in which they reside. The people that make them up, like other people, want to get the most they can with the least amount of investment. They will perform poorly if they are a monopoly, but perform well if they have to compete to provide the best service possible in a competitive market. They will pollute the environment and sell products that promote addiction if they are not restrained by the society that suffers as a result. They will treat people as objects for profit, labeling them œconsumers, rather than human beings. (Hartmann, 2004)
There is a role for the government to play with respect to corporations. It should police and referee. It should promote and enforce laws that motivate a free and competitive market, giving everyone a chance to achieve economic...