Corporations are not people

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I’ve heard some awfully strange things about corporations lately. Let’s see if we can put to rest some myths being spread by politicians, mass media and yes, people also!

Corporations are not people.

Tens of thousands of years ago, people took up trades. Farmers, fishermen, blacksmiths, millers, carpenters and shoemakers worked hard to offer products or services to each other to create a higher standard of living for the whole community.

Sometimes several people worked together to operate a farm, bring in a haul of fish, or build a house. These groups of professionals gradually evolved into today’s corporations.

But a group of people is not one person. You can say that “Apple did this” or “Exxon did that” but in reality, it was actually one or more real people at that company that made a decision to do something. A company cannot do anything by itself. Decisions are made, and actions taken, by real people, not company logos.

kids-parents-bed-120509A company is not your mom or dad.

A company’s only responsibility to you is to give you what they promised when you chose to accept their job offer.

A company has no responsibility to give you health care, vacations, read you bedtime stories, put away money for your retirement, tuck you into bed, pay for your contraception, help you with your homework, give you holidays off or do absolutely anything other than what they explicitly promised.

If a company offers you the best job out of all available options, then you should be grateful for the opportunity.

If you feel you can find a better job offer, then quit and get a job that pays more. This is not greed on your part. It’s a natural part of your career and life.

If you cannot find another company to offer you more money, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself  questions like: How hard have you worked to become one of the best in a highly in demand profession? And how many hours per week away from work do you spend studying and improving your job skills and value to a potential employer?

If you devote yourself to striving to be one of the best in a high demand industry, it’s only a matter of time until you find an employer that will appreciate you going above and beyond, and truly caring about the success of the business you work in.

If you think changing jobs is hard, think for a moment about the millions of poor families that came to the USA from all around the world with children, elderly, and little more than the clothes on their back over the last couple hundred years. That might put your first world problem in perspective.

Or, start your own company. Tons of people do this every day.

A company is not your nanny.

A company’s job is not to take care of you. Their job is to do their best to make sure your paycheck does not bounce. Their job is to try and increase their revenues by continually improving the product or service they offer and minimize costs so they stay profitable and survive in a competitive market.

How would you feel if your next door neighbor demanded that you had an obligation to cook them dinner every night? You might protest, saying that you never made a promise to cook them dinner, therefore you have no obligation to.

But if your neighbor cannot ethically demand that you have obligations you never promised anyone, how can you ethically demand that people who work at a company take on obligations they never promised anyone? There are no ethical double standards.

A company is not your college career counselor.

A company is not a charity. A company has no obligation to offer anyone a “living wage.” If a company offers a job, and you don’t like the offer, don’t take the job.

There are only two paradigms of work: one, where you are free to accept any job or not, and the other, where you are a slave. No politician should be able to dictate to you what jobs are available to you. That power should lie with the People.

History proves over and over again that economic freedom results in the greater good. The countries with the greatest economic freedom have always had the highest standard of living for the poorest people. They also have many other benefits, but that’s the one you should care about most.

corporate-logosCompanies are not some collectively owned, public institution.

Each company is comprised of a group of private citizens and shareholders who have decided to work together to offer some kind of product or service that they hope the market likes enough to freely pay them for it. A private company is not owned by all citizens, only by the legitimate shareholders, and only the shareholders and managers should have any say in what that company does.

You can say that because you paid taxes that built the roads that the company used to ship their goods, or schools to educate their employees, that you have some claim over them, but that’s not very smart, because you obviously haven’t thought things through. That also means companies have a claim on you because they also paid taxes, and a lot more than you did. If this is a valid and ethical argument, companies will win this one, and own your house and car, so I would say, you really don’t want to go there!

But this is fine, because the free market is a completely democratic, self-policing system. If a company is not producing a product that benefits the community, people will not pay for it, and that company will go the way of Kodak, Blockbuster, Kaypro, Woolworth’s and countless others.

No politicians should have the power to dictate to us by force what companies win or lose, what products we can buy or how much we should pay.

That power should be in the People’s hands and the People’s hands alone.

boyfriend-gifts

If you gave a company money, it means they gave you something more valuable in return (or obviously, you never would have made the trade). Now, the thing you bought is yours, and the money is theirs.

How much a company pays their CEO, with their own money, is no more your concern than how much the woman living next door spent on her husband’s birthday gift. In both cases, it’s not your money and none of your business.

Do you think a company has the right to control what foods you cook in the pan you bought from them, where you drive in the car you bought from them, or what music you should listen to on the iPod you bought? Of course not. And, conversely, you have no right to tell them how to spend the money you freely gave them in exchange for the product you now enjoy. You chose to make the trade freely.

boy-mowing-lawnHow much money a private company chooses to offer job applicants or employees, or what benefits a company offers, is no more your business, or right to dictate, than what a woman a thousand miles away offers a kid to mow her lawn. Let the kid decide if it’s enough money. If it is, he will mow the lawn, otherwise he won’t. History proves that he best possible outcomes result from when you leave the woman and kid free to work it out for themselves.

Companies are not saviors. Companies are not God or the Devil, they are just groups of people trying to produce a product that makes other people’s lives better in some way, to hopefully make a profit, put some money in their pockets and food on their tables. This is not evil or greedy. It is honorable, natural and commendable.

Companies cannot exploit workers.

SUB-WALMART-articleLargeA company just posted a help wanted ad offering $1 per year in wages. Did they just exploit every person in the U.S.? Of course not.

Companies will pay the lowest wages they can to hire people with the skills they need, just as consumers will price shop and spend the least amount of money they can to buy things they want and need. This seeking to lower costs by companies and people is not evil, it is actually valuable to the free market, as wages and prices transmit information so companies can make smarter decisions about what product to create, and workers can make smarter decisions about which skills to develop.

A hundred years ago, people understood, and were grateful to companies who offered them an opportunity to earn money and support themselves and their families.

Companies are the “givers” of society. They not only provide the goods and services we need to live, and that enhance our lives, they also provide all the jobs that put food on our tables (yes, even the cost of government “jobs” are paid by corporate profits). Companies also pay, directly or indirectly, all taxes, either directly or through withholding money from paychecks.

But in the last several decades, the spoiled, entitled, selfish side of our culture has taken center stage, where politicians, unions and the media have brainwashed millions of people into thinking companies are somehow the villains of society, greedy leeches soaking up, rather than generating wealth, and government is the generous, benevolent institution. It is bizarre that the truth is precisely the opposite.

A company cannot be a monopoly, as in, “the only place to work” in a town.

This is a myth only a silver-spoon-fed journalist or politician could dream up. Anyone in the U.S. has a thousand employment possibilities if they are willing to do the hard work it takes to develop the valuable job skills required. If you don’t believe that anyone with ambition, regardless of income or background, can become a millionaire if they devote themselves to it, spend an hour listening to the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast. You will change your mind.

Capitalism is not a “rigged game,” as this Treasury report proves.

You can’t tax a company.

This is obvious to anyone who knows basic economics. You can try and tax a company, but that money always comes out of consumer’s pockets in the form of higher prices, making the cost of living higher, and out of worker’s pockets in the form of lower wages.

If you want poorer people to struggle more each month in paying their bills, then try to keep wages low and prices high by keeping the U.S. corporate tax rate the highest in the industrialized world and you will put friction on upward mobility and force a record number of people on public assistance. If you hate poor people, vote for whatever politician keeps yelling that “companies should pay their fair share.”

If you think taxing companies more means money comes out the CEO’s pocket, you really haven’t been paying attention. Higher corporate taxes come out of your pocket. And the USA has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.

The more you vote to push the cost of living higher, and push wages lower, the more people will be forced onto the public dole, increasing government expenditures, and raising the cry to hit companies again with higher taxes and more regulations, strangling the golden geese until no one but the rich are financially free.

Why do these myths about companies persist?

parents-and-kidsMany of us grew up in homes with parents who paid for our housing, food, clothing and medical care. It was really nice to be taken care of! As long as we obeyed the rules and kept our room clean, we had no worries.

The shock of moving out on our own and having to be responsible for our own needs is devastating. We would much rather that our employers take care of us, or the government, or someone, anyone! Corporations are convenient parental substitutes, hence the need for us to desire that they fill the void left by us not wanting to grow up.

Some people will read this article and feel that it leads to a better, more humane world when corporations are forced to bear all the responsibility in society, not only providing all goods and services, providing all jobs, and paying all taxes, but also providing health care, guaranteed wages, pensions, vacations and an endless list of other demands.

If this is what you feel, study the history of Detroit, once the world’s richest city with the world’s highest wages and world’s highest standard of living with almost no government regulation, taxes or unions, then, after government and unions take over, “America’s first third world city.”

The 60% of children living in poverty in Detroit are a direct result of the devastation caused by progressive policies.

Do people at companies commit crimes sometimes?

toxic-wasteOf course. People who work at a company should be subject to the same laws any person is. If a person in a company decides to dump toxic waste in a river, that person is a murderer and everyone who helped is an accessory to murder and all should be prosecuted like any murderer. Just because the murder or harm happens while a person is at work should not indemnify anyone from punishment. If a person at a company commits fraud by lying about the product they offer, they should be prosecuted for fraud and, if convicted, sent to jail.

But making the leap that a person committing a crime at work somehow reflects badly on all corporations is like saying a Hispanic who commits a crime somehow reflects badly on all Hispanics. It is not a rational conclusion. Some people commit crimes. That’s reality. The court system exists to ascertain guilt and assign punishment.

Are the courts in the U.S. perfect? No, far from it, but they’re far better than any alternative.

Are companies guilty of government corruption?

Cash-bribePeople criticize corporate executives for making large campaign contributions so those politicians with power over tax money will send a stream of cash back into the company’s coffers with special grants, corporate welfare, sweetheart contracts and other corrupt uses of taxpayer’s money.

While this is obviously despicable, blaming the executives at the corporations doesn’t solve the problem.

The politician swears an oath to protect the Constitution and devote their lives to serving the People. The corporate executive promises to further the success of their company in whatever legal way possible. The politician is the one violating their oath. The corporate executive is merely keeping their promise they made in their job interview to whomever hired them.

Only politicians can pass laws, hand out public money, give out grants or bailouts. Companies are powerless to do any of these things. Blaming executives for doing their jobs rather than politicians for violating their oaths is understandable, but not rational. Unless you know of a magic spell you can cast that would make all corporate executives refuse to buy favors from politicians when they are freely available, then blaming corporations is not the solution.

The solution:

If you want to get money out of politics, if you want to solve cronyism, the answer is to fix the problem at the source. Simply pass an anti-corruption law to make it illegal for a politician to introduce or vote for a law to favor one company or industry over another. And all laws currently on the books must be phased out.

If an anti-corruption law like this is passed, the problem of money in politics is solved. If there is zero incentive for corporate executives to bribe politicians, then why would they bother, when there’s nothing in it for them?

Thanks for reading!

Honey, I statistically shrunk the kids!

kinderfietsen maattabelStatistics have value if interpreted correctly.

But we all know statistics can be manipulated as well. You can report statistics that are 100% true, yet interpret them to provide a misleading, or often opposite conclusion than the truth.

Here is a common statistical interpretation error:

A couple has three kids. One is 2 feet tall, one is 3 feet tall, and one is 4 feet tall.

The father, a statistician, makes note that 24 + 36 + 48 = 108, so he realizes his kids are an average of 36 inches, or 3 feet in height ( 108 / 3 ).

The next year, the kids have each grown 4 inches, and they have a new baby, who is 20 inches in height.

Now, the father calculates that 20 + 28 + 40 + 52 = 140 inches, and 140 / 4 =  35.

What??!?

So in one year, his kids have gone from an average of 36 inches to an average of 35 inches!

The father calls the doctor in a panic, yelling “The kids are shrinking! The kids are shrinking!”

The truth is, that the kids are not actually shrinking. The sample has changed.

Concluding that their kids have shrunk an average of 1/4″ each is an invalid way to explain the drop from 36 to 35 inches in their kids’ average height.

The true interpretation is, that because of the addition of a new baby that is shorter than the rest, the average height statistic has been skewed. The truth is that all kids are actually growing in height.

This is the invalid method used by every “rich get richer, poor get poorer” study ever done. The study does not follow individual households (as the study I cite here does), and makes the false assumption that rich and poor people are the same people over a span of time (which my article shows is usually false).

 

Why do you want money in politics?

money

Maybe someone can ‘splain something to me:

I hear people go on and on that they care about “getting money out of politics.”

Well, then I have a question:

If that’s true, then why do people continue to vote for the politicians who spend the most money???

 

The fact is that the candidate who raises and spends the most money almost always wins.

By rewarding the candidates who raise the most money, voters force politicians to make ever bigger and bigger promises to the special interests that fund their campaigns in order to get the money they need to compete and win.

We can all deflect the blame to the lobbyists, corporate and special interests who offer millions to political campaigns in return for continued and increased subsidies, favorable legislation, corporate welfare, and sweetheart contracts, but the truth is, the people who are ultimately responsible are voters, who fuel the money-in-politics system and reward increased influence of money in politics by voting for the big spenders.

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99% of voters in the 2012 Presidential election voted for one of the two major corporate-financed candidates, again sending the clear signal to all politicians that if they want to buy your vote, they need to go nuclear on funding and campaign spending, meaning ever bigger promises to moneyed interests, even though there was a third candidate, more qualified for the Presidency than either Romney or Obama, who was not beholden to any special interest.

Think voting for a third party is a bad idea? Here are some thoughts on that.

it’s not about us

This morning’s epiphany:

A true artist subjugates themselves to their work.

Explanation: to a true artist or entrepreneur (I think of entrepreneurs as “business artists”), their work is more important than they are.

That doesn’t mean they need to sacrifice their lives for their work (though many choose to). It means they understand that their life is not about them, it’s about their work and mission.

Much in the same way a monk, nun, rabbi or priest chooses to devote their life to serving God, or a soldier chooses to serve their country, an artist is servant to their art, not the other way around.

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Relationships

There is a coin between us.

Washington_Quarter_Silver_1944S_Obverse

I say, look, it’s George Washington’s head!

And you say what? No way, that’s not George Washington, that’s an eagle!

Washington_Quarter_Silver_1944S_Reverse

And I say, no, unless Washington was a bird, that’s definitely Washington.

At first we think the other person must be joking. But we are both so insistent, that at first we lean from side to side and squint our eyes to make sure we’re not nuts. But there is no doubt what the coin has on it.

You think I’m crazy for confusing a President with an eagle. And I think you’re crazy as well. We both try, unsuccessfully, to convince the other that they are not seeing the coin clearly.

My feelings become hurt because you don’t trust or believe me. And your feelings are hurt for the same reason. How can the other person be so obtuse?

We both gather friends and family around us, point at the coin, and ask them what they see. When they affirm exactly what we believe, we become more convinced than ever that we are right, and the other person is completely delusional.

We are both so dismayed at the utter stubbornness of the other person, we give up. They are obviously beyond reasoning with.

Perhaps we begin to treat each other like acquaintances, or stop speaking altogether, our bonds of respect broken, our bridge burned. Why on earth the other person would stick to such a blatantly ridiculous point of view (and, by the way, one so insulting to a rare bird and/or our first President) is completely beyond us.

But then, at some point, we happen to be on the other side of the table for a moment, and quite unexpectedly, see the coin for an instant from the other side. What?!? We can’t believe it! For an instant, it looks exactly as they said! We shut our eyes, bewildered. Did we see it right? Was it a hallucination?

Now that’s we’ve caught a glimpse of the other side, we are shaken to our core with the sudden fear that indeed, it might have been us that was wrong the entire time.

Sometimes, this turns into a deep feeling of guilt and remorse at having wronged the other, and we ask for forgiveness, which is conditionally granted, and the relationship now takes on the appearance of having worked things out. But this reconciliation is superficial at best, and soon falls apart, since other coins appear, and the cycle repeats.

As it turns out, win-lose is not a sustainable solution.

Much more often, our fear that we may be wrong is redirected as anger towards the other person, and we now become ever more defensive and furious. We know in our hearts that it cannot possibly be true that the other person was right and we were wrong. And since this belief is accurate, it resonates within us and fuels our conviction of righteousness.

But, if we can find the inner strength to get up, and continue to circle the table, seeing first one side, then the other, gradually, we are able to stop looking through the distorted lens of our past, and after examining both sides repeatedly, our prejudice slowly subsides, and we come to an epiphany:

The problem was not that the other person was not seeing clearly. They were. And the problem was not that we were not seeing clearly. We were. We were both right all along. Not seeing clearly was never a problem.

The problem was that we did not understand the true nature of a coin.

Stealing hope

Amazing how blatant, rampant lies spread as truth.

Screenshot 2014-03-23 18.50.51This article says:

“In America, it seems that belief is still very much alive that the poor, if they work hard enough, can become rich.

Americans hold onto this belief even as the data suggests that… the possibility for any American to rise from poverty to wealth is becoming increasingly difficult. Some analysts would say it is now virtually impossible.

First of all, this is entirely false. Upward mobility has been unchanged for decades, and the truth is, upward mobility is the rule, not the exception, as I detail in this article.

But the problem I have with propaganda like this is not just that it is a lie. The problem is the devastating, hope-destroying effect false propaganda like this has on the very people the propagandists purport to care about.

The despicable nature of such lies is that it robs our most precious resource from those who need it the most:

Hope.

Lies like these rob people of their hopes and dreams, their ambitions, their optimism, and their dedication to working hard and providing themselves and their families with an ever better life, leaving them with only an empty sense of hopelessness and a bitter resentment  and hatred for the “haves” who somehow “gamed the system” to acquire wealth in a mysterious way the poor have no chance of doing.

You can steal a person’s possessions. You can commit violence against them, or lock them up. You can deny them a decent education and deny them job opportunities, all things the government and voters who support the status quo do to the poor every day.

But the very most despicable thing you can do to someone who is struggling to make ends meet is robbing them of their hope with soul-destroying propaganda like this.

I pray that voters one day wake up to the utter hopelessness and devastation these kind of lies, and legislation driven by them, cause in poor communities.