“Capital” Punishment: For Corporations that Violate the Public Trust

Jeffrey A. Miller
(Your humble web servant)
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How did corporations obtain this power? Is this the role that we envisioned for business entities in an economic democracy? In this paper, we will look at the history of corporations and their assumption of power that is incompatible with a free society. While we will consider a variety of views as to the proper role for corporate entities, the position of this paper should be clear. We need to reform the role of corporations in our country. We should consider placing limits on the duration of corporate charters, or conditions upon their renewal. States should exercise the responsibility that has always been theirs’ — the oversight of corporate activity. If the states are unwilling or unable to provide responsible oversight, we should consider removing their oversight power, and federalizing corporate charters. Finally, if we are going to consider the corporation to be a person and afford it the same kinds of rights and freedoms that are extended to the individual, perhaps it is time to revise the methods by which we hold the corporate “person” accountable. We should impose the same kind of punishments that we have established for individuals. If a corporation is convicted in the courts for a violation of law, we should curtail its freedom to conduct business for a period of time. In the event of repeat offenses, the penalties should be increased. In those instances where a corporation severely violates the public trust, it should cease to exist. The corporate charter should be revoked, the assets seized and the corporation dissolved.

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Moral Leadership and Business Ethics

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“Conventional wisdom has it that two of the most glaring
examples of academic oxymorons are the terms “business
ethics” and “moral leadership.” Neither term carries credibility
in popular culture and when conjoined constitutes a
“null-set” rather than just a simple contradiction in terms.
The reason for this is definitional, but only in part. More significant
is that we have so few models of businesses and
leaders operating on ethical principles. Simply put, the
cliché persists because of the dearth of evidence to the
contrary. At best, both these terms remain in the lexicon as
wished-for ideals rather than actual states of being.”

Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

“100 million Americans shop every week at Wal-Mart to get ‘every day low prices.’ Some economists say Wal-Mart helps hold down the cost of living and boosts U.S. productivity. But critics charge that Wal-Mart is destroying good American jobs by pushing production of consumer goods to China. FRONTLINE Correspondent Hedrick Smith travels across the U.S. and to China to investigate Wal-Mart’s impact on American’s economic future.”

A Citizens Independence Movement

“In an era when even Business Week runs cover stories about runaway corporate power, few Americans today doubt that corporations wield immense power over our laws, governments, and almost every realm of civic society. Every day, thousands of organizations work to resist harmful actions by corporations and their myriad front groups, but how will citizens move beyond reactive struggles to enable genuine progress?”