Am I a Corporate Shill?
It has always been my view that corporations are groups of people united for various purposes, often to benefit from a business venture guided by competent management. Initially, I worried little about either the legal details or even about the legal history. A bunch of people incorporate or form a company to achieve certain perfectly acceptable, even admirable goals. Sometimes this can be done via a partnership, sometimes by incorporating, sometimes for profit, sometimes not.
Then I started to study political economy and found that there is a whole lot of hostility toward these outfits, mainly from Leftists but also from some so-called left-libertarians. I am not sure why from the latter. I figured why from the former, though; namely because promoting one's economic prosperity either alone or in the company of a large number of others had to amount to ugly greed. And that I found to be way off course, just the sort of nonsense that they tried drum into me in my native Hungary back in the lovely days of Stalinism. Promoting one's prosperity has a bad reputation, never mind it is no more morally objectionable than promoting one's health. (I call it wealth care!)
These days, for example, if you are not falling in line with the anthropogenic global warming message, it is very likely that you will be labeled by the true believers a shill for corporations, even a denier (a really vile comparison with those who denied the Holocaust). Sure enough, a while back I sent some numbers and analyses to someone I know who is an AGW champion because I get along with him reasonably well (although we aren't friends, merely pals, perhaps) and because I always hold out hope that people will consider arguments that go against their beliefs and support mine.
I received an email from this bloke dismissing what I sent to him as the production of corporate shills, specifically people funded by the Koch brothers, Charles and David. The Koch brothers are indeed wealthy from doing very solid business in oil-refinement (I think, but I am not sure). I know both of them just a tad, enough to know that they are honestly convinced of whatever they claim to believe and don't put the cart before the horse by manufacturing evidence, arguments and research so as to buttress their pet notions or personal or economic interests. As with me, so with them, if I recall right, the convictions in the sphere of political economy came way before the chance to make some money from working in support of them. Indeed, I became a libertarian and a defender of the free market system of economics, first and then I did make a few bucks – amazingly little – from speaking at some conferences, publishing, etc. While I certainly wish I could have made much more money from all this, I didn't and the idea of holding beliefs about something not because I thought them reasonable and true but because they supported some prejudice of mine would be self-debasing – I could not do it.
Nonetheless, the pal of mine had no trouble implicating me in selling my soul to corporate interests. Just how does he know this? And how does he know that the Koch brothers do not sincerely believe in libertarianism but support it merely because they see economic benefit from it? (A recent charge is that they would benefit from the tax policies of Romney and Ryan.)
Now, it is true that even some libertarian economists are reductionists and hold that everything someone does comes from the belief that it will promote one's economic advantages. On this score Marxists and some free market theorists see eye to eye.
But whatever the source of the idea, it is bunk. Most of us haven't much of a clue about whether holding certain beliefs will advance our prosperity. We may come to accept that there is more hope for us being libertarians than being communitarians or Marxists but no one can be sure.
In my own profession, as a university educator, I am pretty sure in retrospect that I would have made out much better financially and in terms of holding a prominent post had I never found libertarianism convincing, had I joined the bulk of academic political philosophers and theorists who tend mostly to be located on the Left.
I suppose when you have no arguments it is then very tempting to impugn your adversary's integrity, to try to besmirch those whose arguments are sound. It's a coward's escape, I believe.
Posted by billfalberg on 10/23/12 05:00 PM
Being in the "trees" makes it difficult to see the "forest" and those who work in the context of an institution have myopia where the dynamics of collectivism are concerned. Admittedly, it takes a couple extra steps of logical progression to see the financial, political, and cultural dynamics taking place when humans incorporate into special-interest collectives. The result is truly greater than the sum of its parts and takes on a separate, distinct identity with goals and methods not representative of the humans who created it. Privately held corporations are another matter; as are distinctions between for-profit and not-for-profit: but they all serve to "game" the system in some way (tax benefits most often). It's not that big corporations are evil; it's that evil corporations have the potential to overwhelm the system. To that end, our best interests, as a culture, would be to limit the terms and conditions under which any artificial legal entity can gain a government charter; lacking an intrinsic sense of morality, corporate charters should fill that void with appropriate prohibitions (Commandments, if you will). The first step is understanding the nature of incorporation - both government and business; and asking why the former is feared and democratically controlled, while the latter is not.
Posted by Danny B on 10/22/12 08:50 PM
A corporation is like a firearm. They are often used to do evil. They have no brain of their own. When someone evil controls them, they do evil deeds.
Lee Iacoca comes to mind;
Click to view link
You had all better PRAY for a return of global warming. The average inter-glacial period lasts just 10,000 years. The Holocene has been nice and toasty for 11,000 years and counting.
Posted by Bosco Hurn on 10/22/12 02:59 PM
"It has always been my view that corporations are groups of people united for various purposes, often to benefit from a business venture guided by competent management."
Then your view is flawed. Corporations are more than just "groups of people". They are groups of people with state sanction to skirt common law. No state, no corporations. Groups of people, yes, but not corporations.
In short, I'll believe a corporation is a person when Texas executes one.
Posted by Friend_of_John_Galt on 10/22/12 02:14 PM
On the issue of global warming, I can suggest Steve Milloy's Junk Science. Click to view link Much like Drudge, Junk Science aggregates articles that display the political and legal misuse of science.
The AGW hoax is actually pretty well debunked, though the politicians haven't let go since it is still considered an effective fear based meme that can be used to manipulate the weak minded to give up liberty to the state.
As for the "evil" of corporations and the implications of their being considered "legal persons" -- this is mostly just a leftist means of finding another bogey man to surround with additional fear based memes. Having worked in several corporate organizations, ranging from huge to tiny, I can observe that these enterprises are all simply made up of a multitude of individuals.
The (top) managers range from outright crooks (Enron), to highly competent entrepreneurs (Apple/Steve Jobs), to moderately incompetent (General Motors), etc. Gosh -- they're just like people. A corporation is doing the most "public good" when it focuses on generating the highest return (profits) for its investors in an ethical fashion under the discipline imposed by free markets. In this case "ethical" refers to the efforts being performed without fraud (like Enron) or theft (like Madoff).
For a long time, the left has attacked all sorts of studies as being inherently "inaccurate or biased" due to the funding source. But should we not consider that such studies funded by left-leaning universities and statist government bureaucracies might be similarly biased, except in a different direction?
The scientific method offers a way out -- "good" science involves creating a hypothesis then testing that hypothesis. After publication of the methods and results, other scientists can attempt to recreate the tests and see if the results are valid in supporting or refuting the hypothesis.
With AGW, the most famous "hockey stick" chart was based on highly manipulated input data that was never released in its raw form. This prevented other scientists from testing the data against the hypothesis. However, AGW alarmists did make a variety of other predictions ... not one of which has occurred under the specified conditions -- and we now have not had any (repeat any) global warming for the past 16 years.
[Click to view link]
Posted by Hoss on 10/22/12 11:36 AM
Objections to the corporation as a creature of state are entirely separable from ad hominem and shooting the messenger.
As to the latter, the accusations fly both ways. On AGW however, it is demonstrable fact that with government takeover of science, you bend the data to support the orthodoxy that screams for megalomaniac control of the world, or you don't get funded. So in this case, it's projection, accusing you of what they are guilty of.
Posted by Don from the Republic of Lakotah on 10/22/12 10:14 AM
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts." Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics. Climate-gate also revealed expert liars in scholar's clothing.
The asymmetrical funding advantage enjoyed by the AGW hoax clearly indicates the support of Power Money. The AGW hoax receives tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollar-equivalents conjured up by government whilst opponents struggle with one thousandth that amount, mostly raised by contributions from private industry.
Posted by wikispooks on 10/22/12 08:14 AM
BTW - further to my 7:33 comment: I agree with you on the subordinate issue of AGW used to illustrate the substantive one of shilling for Corporate/Establishment interests. It's just that those interests are far more subtle than evidenced in your piece.
The Left, in fact the bulk of humanity have indeed been successfully recruited by 'The Church of Climatology' en-mass. But the point I am making is that your own apparent position is hostage to more insidious forms of Corporate/Establishment social and cultural conditioning.
Posted by wikispooks on 10/22/12 07:33 AM
"Am I a Corporate Shill?"
Short answer: "Yes"
Longer, though still inadequate answer (since it would require a simlar length article):
"Granted not with malice aforethought but, for all manner of reasons connected with aparent ignorance of the implications of:
* legal corporate personhood and the progressive abandonment of independent external corporate oversight
* a finacial system that requires perpetual 'economic growth' (on a finite planet) for it's very existence
* mandatory, globalised fractional reserve banking and usury, controlled by interests that are fundamentally unaccountable to any claimed 'democratic process'
and a good few more - YES, "a naive Shill."
No individual (unless uber-wealthy and therefore by definition likely representative of a competing corporation) can successfully stand up to a large Corporation or Establishment where said Corporation/Establishment's self-defined fundamental interests are concerned.
A couple of examples from what is a deeply disturbing subject - for those with the stomach to research it honestly:
1. Arpad Pusztai's career destroying research into the effects of Monsanto GM potatoes on rats.
2. Dr Andrew Wakefield's career destroying research into the possible connection of the MMR triple vaccine with the modern epidemic of autism
And an ongoing example from a Left-leaning physics professor and scathing critic of AGW who, by no stretch of the language or imagination could be labelled a 'corporate shill' - Denis Rancourt.
In his case, he is also up against a clearly corrupt Canadian legal Establishment that knows it can safely ignore the rules when dealing with a self-represented defendant in a spurious defamation case financed to the tune of tens of thousands of Dollars by the plaintif's university establishment.
You'll be OK Dr Machan; until the day you find yourself on the receiving end of determined corporate hostility, then maybe you'll wake up.
Posted by Mots on 10/22/12 06:10 AM
You complain about "corporate shill" and "I suppose when you have no arguments it is then very tempting to impugn your adversary's integrity" and go into your standard "left" vs "right" and "Stalin" and "Marxist" vs "free market" crap and drone on "whatever the source of the idea, it is bunk. Most of us haven't much of a clue about whether holding certain beliefs will advance our prosperity," Well, how about this: why dont you study reality, learn some chemistry and analyse "global warming" not from politics or your "philosophy" but instead from the real world. The MAIN DIFFERENCE between those who "believe" (or understand) global warming and those who dont is NOT political, but instead it is all about understanding chemistry. Those who understand chemistry get it and understand (or you might say "believe") those who dont understand chemistry, simply dont get it. Dont need to make it a left vs right thing, although the latter lends itself to endless editorials. Chemists dont have a problem with global warming (regardless of their politics) and I note that the only "chemists" or "scientists" who argue against global warming are mathematicians, who again, are out of touch with reality. Why not argue the facts of existence instead of your own feelings, philosopher?
Posted by Joe on 10/22/12 05:45 AM
"Then I started to study political economy and found that there is a whole lot of hostility toward these outfits, mainly from Leftists but also from some so-called left-libertarians. I am not sure why from the latter."
Corporations use limited liability laws and the state to capture markets and create oligarchies, monopolies and cartels.