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“Modern society, in spite of all the emphasis it puts upon happiness, individuality, and self-interest, has taught man to feel that not his happiness … is the aim of life, but the fulfillment of his duty to work, or his success. Money, prestige, and power have become his incentives and ends.”(2)
“The mature, productive, rational person will choose a system which permits him to be mature, productive and rational. The person who has been blocked in his development must revert to primitive and irrational systems which in turn prolong and increase his dependence and irrationality.”(2)
“Don't be selfish” becomes one of the most powerful ideological tools in suppressing spontaneity and the free development of personality.” (2)
“The idea that egotism is the basis of the general welfare is the principle on which competitive society has been built.” (2)
“Not only others, but we ourselves are the “object” of our feelings and attitudes; the attitudes toward others and toward ourselves, far from being contradictory, are basically conjunctive.” (2)
The story of the software company Computer Associates vividly illustrates the gulf between those at the top who needed huge work incentives and the rest of their employees. In 1999 Charles Wang, CEO of Computer Associates topped Business Week magazine’s 1999 annual survey of CEO’s pay with a staggering 12-month earnings total of $655.4 million.
According to a New York Times report, in January 2001 the company began firing hundreds of workers for what it claimed were performance reasons, which allowed it to avoid paying severance pay. In an article that was published 8 months before Enron collapsed, under the headline 'A Software Company Runs Out of Tricks', the newspaper accused the company of 'accounting tricks' to cover up a 'mirage' of revenue growth. The report said that: ‘Over the years, it has gained a reputation as a callous employer that dismisses workers without warning while top executives take home eight- and sometimes nine-figure pay packages.
The number of active U.S. corporations is nearing 5 million, and they account for over $ 17 trillion in annual revenue - a figure that has been growing at a rate of about 2% annually.
In 1989, Union Carbide settled a civil suit brought by the Indian government by agreeing to pay US$470 million for damages suffered by the half million people who were exposed to the gas. The company maintained that the payment was made out of a sense of "moral", rather than "legal" responsibility since the plant was operated by a separate Indian subsidiary, Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL).
But the settlement, which has so far provided an average of less than $500 to each victim.
Small business employs more than half the non-farm workforce, including 38 percent of the private sector workforce in the high-tech industry, contributes 51 percent to the gross domestic product, is responsible for almost half the sales in the country and generates far more innovations than big business. Small businesses are responsible for such breakthroughs as the computer and the heart pacemaker. Companies such as Amazon.com and Microsoft started as small businesses.
"Small business is big business in America," Velázquez said. "When small business suffers, the whole economy feels it. That's why this study is so important." (1)
Our Hidden History: Corporations in America
Once upon a time, long ago:
When there was public control of corporations
For one hundred years after the American Revolution, citizens and their legislators controlled the nation's economy by controlling the corporate chartering process. Having thrown off English rule, the revolutionaries did not give governors, judges or generals the authority to charter corporations.
Citizens made certain that legislators issued charters, one at a time and for a limited number of years. They kept a tight hold on corporations by spelling out rules each business had to follow, by holding business owners liable for harms or injuries, and by revoking charters.
Globally, the 20% of the world's people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures. More specifically, the richest fifth:
* Consume 45% of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth 5%.
* Consume 58% of total energy, the poorest fifth less than 4%.
* Have 74% of all telephone lines, the poorest fifth 1.5%.
* Consume 84% of all paper, the poorest fifth 1.1%.
* Own 87% of the world's vehicle fleet, the poorest fifth less than 1%.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, there was a lot of buzz about the vulnerability of US chemical plants to terrorist attack, the fear being that an attack on a chemical plant would release large quantities of toxic chemicals that could devastate nearby communities. Indeed, the 1984 chemical-plant accident in Bhopal, India, which killed 15,000-30,000 local residents and permanently injured hundreds of thousands of others, showed the level of potential trouble for cities and towns near chemical plants. But in spite of the danger, the US chemical industry has used the political muscle it's gained through political contributions to thwart attempts by some in Congress to legislate tighter security and safety measures, claiming that the industry will take care of the problem on its own. But when company budgets for such efforts compete with quarterly profit statements, you can bet that some companies will fail to adequately meet the challenge.
Looking out on his company's Christmas party last December, the 34-year-old CEO couldn't help feeling a pang. Just one year earlier, his software-services firm, Spirian Technologies Inc. (#62), in Chicago, had launched a major product after reporting the best financials in its five-year history. The company celebrated richly, flying its employees and their families, as well as some customers, on an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World in January 2000. But midway through that year, many of Spirian's customers abruptly halted projects, throwing Wasserberger's company into a cash-flow crisis.
By Christmas 2000, even though Spirian would draw record revenues of more than $8 million for the year, Wasserberger had restructured the company. He adopted a new business plan focused on profits and let go of 11 employees. The day of the layoffs was the hardest of his career, Wasserberger says, adding, "These people's kids call me Uncle Al." To help keep costs down, employees celebrated the holidays that year with only a potluck supper held in the office. www.inc.com...
I have to ask how discussing small business ethics will prevent another Bhopal?
I feel that limiting discussion solely to my opponent’s narrow field is an insult to the debate.
Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs).
The Top 200 corporations' sales are growing at a faster rate than overall global economic activity. Between 1983 and 1999, their combined sales grew from the equivalent of 25.0 percent to 27.5 percent of World GDP.
A full 5 percent of the Top 200s' combined workforce is employed by Wal-Mart, a company notorious for union-busting and widespread use of part-time workers to avoid paying benefits. The discount retail giant is the top private employer in the world, with 1,140,000 workers, more than twice as many as No. 2, DaimlerChrysler, which employs 466,938.
The Industrial Labour Organisation acknowledges a prevailing trend: "In comparing the health and safety performance of home-based [TNCs] with that of the subsidiaries, it could generally be said that the home country operations were better than those of subsidiaries in the developing countries." The case of the German TNC Bayer's chromate production factory in South Africa is illustrative. Chromate is a corrosive compound which can cause respiratory illness including lung cancer.
In 1990, a trade union learned that several workers had developed lung cancer, although none had been informed that the disease might be related to their employment. Chrome Chemicals management refused the union's request to review the plant's industrial hygiene records, and in 1991 the firm shut down much of its operation and laid off most of its workers.
Now if 5% of the corporate workforce amounts to 1,140,000 workers, then global corporations would employ 22 million 800 hundred thousand people.
Originally posted by Ycon
A corporation is different from a business
There are 236 other countries, just 10 other countries at 5 million employees more then double your 22.8 million.
I even agreed that the corporations should value society first.
The corporation becomes a person separate from those who own and run it. They don’t worry about their employees or customers because they are not liable anymore. They focus on profits. That’s why we see more immoral acts by corporations then we do businesses.
This was a tough debate topic, but both participants did an exceptional job handling it. I commend both their efforts and time. Great Job.
This one was difficult to judge for the fact that they never really met in the middle and, for the most part, chose to make their points at opposite ends of the spectrum. It could have gone either way, as both made their arguments very well.
I placed my vote with Ycon because I felt that she presented an argument that offered a more convincing and reasonable point of view. I felt that she showed that the responsibilities and ethics that apply to a billion dollar corporation dealing in deadly chemicals differ from those that apply to a small business selling vacuum cleaners. Both have a responsibility to themselves and to society, however, the impact each has on society has to be taken into account. Well done.
There was a great deal of energy expended by the combatants in this debate on the size of a business. On the surface, it would seem moot; big or small, sole proprietor or multi-national corporation, it's a one-size-fits-all logic, right? That would be a wrong assumption. The debate was won by the con argument because of the realities at play that were illustrated: a large corporation's abandonment of ethics for increased profits is a grander scale malfeasance ( thus proofing the debate statement)....that leads to cripples & death.
While a corporation does become a legal entity, it's not a microbe in a Petrie dish manifesting a single cell Darwinistic perogative. It is an entity not enjoying the 'kill or be killed' license us other organisms share.
agent47 gets my vote on this one. when you're able to use your opponent's words to prove your own point, that's a pretty secure win. that basically sealed the deal, since both debators did an excellent job.
The debate started very good, but in the end went too much into semantics. The last few posts seemed mostly concerned about whether we should include corporations in our judgement of all businesses. But let's focus on the arguments instead of the semantics. Ycon basicly said that businesses are good in origin and will make more ethical decisions if you leave them to make their own decisions instead of forcing certain rules. Agent47 showed that corporations are not always good. Ycon agreed with that. I think Agent47 then made the final winning argument by saying that those corporations influence us the most and that it is not right to set a double standard depending on the size of a business. My decision is that Agent47 has won this debate.