Quick pair of questions to start off: How big is big enough for a company/corporation? How big should it get?
Another quick pair: Who is a company/corporation responsible to? Who should they be responsible to?
Both sets of questions ask first, a what question followed by an ought question. First question asks about the nature of what is. Second question concerns itself with the nature of what ought to be. The first question is factual, the second question is moral.
Here's the format for today's post: I'm gonna spew out my answers to these questions and then pontificate. You will read. You... WILL... read. Or not. Intimidation doesn't work very well over the internetz.
Anyhow, first the answers to the ought questions:
The company should be responsible to do right by its customers first, then by its employees and the community it is in.
The size doesn't matter, provided the company is properly fulfilling it's responsibilities per above.
Now for the what is questions:
Companies are responsible primarily to their investors. The stock holders.
Due to the responsibility to turn profit for the investors, their is no upper limit to growth. Keep growing at all costs.
I'm gonna just come right out and say it now:
The the stock market by it's own nature is gluttonous.
It will not be satiated. Big enough is never big enough. In order to attract investors, the companies must grow. The investors require continued growth to make a profit, or they leave and go invest elsewhere. The only way to maintain investors is to grow continually. No company is big enough, has profits enough. If downplaying the well-being of employees or the safety of customers leads to more profit for investors then so be it. Investor profit is the first responsibility.
It is easy at this point to think the problem lays with the "big bad Wall Street people" and the UberBanks. The high-rollers in the stock market casino. But the problem is just as much you and me.
Our current retirement strategy is to invest long and hard enough in the stock market. If you do it right you then obtain enough profit on which to live comfortably for the rest of your life. We like to point fingers at rich CEO's and greedy corporate execs when some corporation poisons the drinking water of a local community or rigs the test to pass emissions laws or lays off veteran employees in favor of younger, cheaper, labor. But they are just serving us. The American dream. Work hard for 30 years and then never have to work again. We have become our own slave-masters.
I don't have the answers to this problem.1 Is the solution to pull your nest egg out of the stock market and put it back under the mattress? Maybe. I dunno. It could be. I haven't done it. Yet. Maybe I will? Maybe I should? Maybe you should?2
I am no expert in economic theory.I am dabbling in waters that run deeper than I know. If I state something amiss, please do tell me so. ↩
I also want to make it clear that ultimately the system itself isn't the problem. People are the problem. People are broken. This stock market system we have would work just fine if people were good. Then they wouldn't take advantage of others to advance their own ends. But then, any system would work if people were good. The problem we have to face is: what to do with a system when the people in the system are the kind of people that will hurt the well-being of others in order to advance their own? If you create another system, but don't fix the people, they will just find new ways to pervert the system. Ultimately the goal is to fix people. In meantime we must try and find a system that produces the least amount of damage until such a time as the people are fixed. ↩