The Corporations of the United States Essay Example
In the United States, there is a constitution which guarantees certain rights, one of those rights includes the right to privacy. Now through history, one would notice these rights that were made to protect individual citizens start to become rights of corporations. In fact, recently on, January 21, 2010, during the Citizen United vs FEC, the Supreme Court had decided that corporations could donate to political campaigns because money is a “freedom of speech“. So now we have big corporations taking over politicals because if money is freedom of speech corporations are shouting while an individual citizen is barely even whispering. Which brings us to the question should companies have the right to privacy? In the article, Rent Seeking and the Making of an Unequal Society by Joseph E. Stiglitz, the author discuss the problems of our inequality in the economy due to corporations avoid being transparent to their consumers. Also, another article is Mark Zuckerberg’s War On Free Will, by Franklin Foer, where he discusses the hacker mentality of sharing information as well as Facebook’s hidden experiment. Another article titled, The Ecstacy of Influence: A plagiarism by Johnathan Lethem, where it discusses the problem with copyrights and how it leads to companies having a monopoly, and prevent individuals from working creatively. Lethem also talks about the idea of a gift economy and giving to the public. The answer is no because if companies were given the right to privacy they will be taking away things from the public, as well as detrimental societal advancement and taking away the rights of individual citizens. We can also see how some of the companies we know and depend on are also taking advantage of us.
What would it be like to live in a world where companies would be transparent? In order to see that one would have to ask what it means for companies to be transparent. For a company to be transparent they would allow information and ideas to be shared through the public, where all individual have the right to access this information. Lehem explains that having this information would be in sense an economic gift “is in the sense of a public common“ (Lethem). Now you would maybe wonder what exactly is a common well “[a] commons belongs to everyone and on one, and its use is controlled only by common consent” (Lethem). By having things, such as information become commons it would be available to the average consumers and allow them to make a well-informed decision about the product they are buying. This also has the market because “the more transparent markets are, the more competitive they are likely to be” (Stiglitz). This is important because the United State has a capitalistic economy, this means that businesses are controlled by individuals, which means that individuals decide the price on the product. In order to prevent business from overcharging their consumers, there is competition, which is other companies trying to sell similar products to the consumers. Competition lowers price because in order to ensure that consumers are buying their products, companies, lower their prices. This leads to a certain industry to agree on a certain range of a price. This helps the entire because it encourages consumers to buy and circulate money. If there isn’t any competition than certain companies would have a monopoly on a certain industry. Now, you may believe that since the United States is a proud society they would have measures that would prevent companies from creating monopolies. Unfortunately, you are wrong the United States has little to prevent monopolies, in fact, they sometimes they help create monopolies. One way they do so is by copyrights. The idea behind copyright is to protect individuals artist views from being stolen but, nowadays copyright has become, “ monopoly rights [that] has always been counter to the public interest” (Lethem). Copyrights can be used as a monopoly because it prevents people from being influenced by the things around them. For example, if J.K. Rowling had made a copyright on the plot of kids going to a special school, we would have never seen the Percy Jackson series. This decreases competition because now there is a law stating that if someone is inspired by a certain work or product, and they try to make their own product they could by chance be breaking the law. Another way that companies have a monopoly is through the political systems. Due to the Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United, we have a political system where politicians are bought, into being more concerned about corporations rather than the American people. This leads politicians to use their power, “ not only to limit the extent of redistribution … and to extract from the public what can only be called a large ‘giftts’” (Stiglitz). Now we can see the faults in the Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United because politicians need to raise a certain amount of money for their political party, which is $18,000 a day. Now one middle-class citizen would not be able to pay that but, one corporation could easily pay that. Which is why when it comes to donations, politicians rely on corporations to help them achieve their goal of $18,000 but, why would corporations give money to politicians? The reason is that it would be an investment for these corporations if politicians want to continue receiving large sums of donations from corporations they need to to keep these corporations happy, these leads politicians to create legislation that does not benefit the general public but rather monopolizes these corporations to have a vast amount of power. This also shows how citizens are losing their rights because the people they elect for Congress is not looking out for their best interest but, rather the corporations interest. How ironic that Stiglitz describes these things that the corporations are getting considered a gift because this relates back to Lethem's gift economic. In Lethem's gift economics, the idea is that the general public is given a certain right to things, such as information or ideas, which would not be controlled by one particular individual or group and, Stiglitz's has shown how our Congress has failed in protecting our rights. With all these laws protecting corporations and preventing individuals from to these rights how would an individual obtain the information they seek. The answer is hacking, hackers are “heroes [that] were disrespectful of authority” (Foer). Hackers were a group of resourceful individuals who believe in sharing information because it would allow groups of individuals to input their ideas and possibly combine to make an easier and more efficient solution. Now bureaucrats, that worked in government and corporation also wish to find easier and efficient solution “but they were really small-minded paper pushers who fiercely guarded the information they held, even when that information yearned to be shared” (Foer). This hinders advancements to society as a whole because someone who may not be part of the corporation may have an idea on how to make a system better. Even Lethem goes on this idea when he is talking about research, and how a solution to a disease “can already be found in various scientific journals, waiting to be assembled by someone willing to read across specialties” (Lethem). If corporations were willing to give information to the public who could say what advancement in society would have already accord. As we can see, corporations have kept information and ideas from the general public, which has already hindered our society.
Now that we see the problems that these corporations have caused, it would be nice to finally put a face on these devious corporations, who have hindered the public. One of these corporations that is famous for their devious work is the big banks. They were one of the biggest cause with the 2008 recession. The reason is that these banks were not transparent with their transactions with consumers. So consumers take loans from the banks to pay for mortgages. Banks would give them these loans based on their credit score and if the consumer had a steady job. Usually, the banks would sell that mortgages to another third-party lender. But in the 2000s, houses in the United States were a low risk and high return investment because homeowners were paying high interest rates. Now many of these investments were not made for each individual person but, rather the bank bundled up together many mortgages together. During the 2000s house prices were going up so lenders believe that if someone could not pay for their mortgage the individual would just default and the lender could sell the house to someone for a higher rate. This led the banks to give mortgages to people with bad credit scores because even if the person with bad credit scores could not pay for their mortgages the lender would still be making money by selling the housing price to someone with a much higher rate. Here is where the idea of transparency is key because since “sellers are trading constantly, and buyers enter only episodically, sellers have more information than the buyers, and they use that information to their advantage” (Stiglitz). The banks knew these people with bad credit scores would not be able to pay for their houses ut still gave these peoples loans because the trend showed that housing prices would go up and lenders would make a ton of money. The individual consumer, are people buying houses, who usually are buying one house and may not understand the market at all, put their trust in these bankers to know what they are doing. But, as we all know eventually housing prices went down and all these investment people had made started losing money, which led to one of the biggest financial crisis in global history. One would think that after this crisis the banks would attempt to prevent another one, “but the banker resisted… for more transparency in derivatives and for regulations” (Stiglitz). Even today we see these corporations hiding information that may be crucial for the public. Another example is Facebook, now it may be known that “Facebook likes to boast of the fact of it experimentation more than the details of the actual experiments themselves” (Foer). Facebook likes to conduct psychological experiments on their users but, refuse to give that information to the public. There are many psychologists trying to understand human behavior and Facebook is the best laboratory but, if this company refuses to show their information how will these psychologists receive this information. By holding back this information it prevents psychologist from studying more in-depth and finding out ideas that would not be found anywhere else. Again we see how corporations holding back there information, detrimental to societal advancements. Lastly, a company we all grew up loving Disney. Disney has a “legacy of cultural sampling that Shakespeare or De La Soul could get behind. Yet Disney [has]... [threaten to take] legal action… against the artist” (Lethem). Now this is where we see corporations shouting verse individual citizens barely whispering. Corporations are able to define laws such as copyrights because they have all this money which they could pay for using other people’s ideas whereas average citizen would not. This really shows how much power corporation have power over the people and why they should not be considered as people. By giving these corporations rights that are granted by the constitution we, start to see how citizens right are being lost. These companies are only a few examples of how corporations are using the rights of citizens while taking away the same rights.
Should corporations be considered people? The answer is no because if corporations have the rights that are guaranteed by the constitution then, individual citizens would be losing their rights, it would prevent society from growing and it could lead to corporations to have a monopoly, which would be bad for the market. It is especially important that we continue to focus on the idea of a corporation being considered people because recently, during the Brett Kavanaugh trials, a group of activists told Susan Collins that if she votes yes for Kavanaugh, then they would create a PAC where individuals could donate money to her opponent in 2020. Susan Collins ended up voting for Kavanaugh, the PAC ended up raising about three million dollars and Susan Collins stating that this PAC made by citizens is considered bribery. Now here is where things get murky, the majority of Susan Collins campaign is funded by corporate money which, was allowed due to Citizens United which implied that corporations are people and considers money as a form of speech. Now if Susan Collins tries to get rid of that money by taking it to the Supreme Court and stating that people should not be allowed to give money to politicians but, corporations are, then we will finally see how much more power corporations have over an individual citizen.
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