Movie Review: The Corporation (2003)

The Corporation is a thought-provoking documentary that brings many disturbing facts to light about the history of the modern corporation, especially corporate abuse of public welfare via "externalities" (side effects of a business transaction that affect people not directly involved; things like pollution).

This was shocking, and I think more people should know this information. However, I disagree with the documentary's assertion that the proper way to deal with this is by using government institutions to exert greater control over corporations.

The way to solve the problem, I think, is to have a perfectly informed customer. In this way, the customer can decide what is important to them. Another good solution is to provide customers with ways to aggregate their concerns: frankly, I think companies would act a lot better if there were more class-action suits.

I have a lot more to say about this movie, especially the irony I felt watching it on my IBM laptop having ordered it through Netflix, and knowing that a "corporation" provided virtually all of Noam Chomsky's wardrobe, the movie cameras, and every technical aspect of the filming. How is it that a man (or woman) who sees a need and creates a product or service to meet that need is not evil and yet when that person creates an organization it becomes evil? Why is the freelance masseuse advertising on craigslist any better than GM or BMW? (In short, they are not: it's just that they are less of a risk; they weild less power and therefore even if they make immoral decisions they will have little effect. Furthermore, they are criminally liable for their 'companies' acts, although it still doesn't address the "externalities" problem. Good heavens, that masseuse is, like, totally polluting when they drive their VW bug to your house, not to mention that VW was Hitler's creation.)

The bottom line: good cautionary info, but bad conclusions. The government is not a magical entity is just like normal people but smarter, more moral, or more effective. It's an organization just like the corporation and in many ways even worse: after being funded, a government has NO accountability, not even to "shareholders".

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