Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Greedy Corporations

The term “greedy corporations” or its equivalent seems to appear regularly in commentaries about oil and gas prices, pharmaceuticals, energy, minimum wage, housing, the mortgage crisis, tax policy, etc. – just about every economic or social issue. 

“Greedy corporations” and, by implication, their “greedy” owners are said to be responsible for many of the ills that befall our society.  However, as Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy and they is us.” 


To begin with, corporations aren’t greedy or generous or socially conscious or anything else, for that matter.  They are merely a legal fiction, entities created by the state for the purpose of facilitating the conduct of business.  They can sue and be

sued in the courts, but they do not eat, breathe, love or hate, or vote, or any of the other things that people do.  So, how can they exhibit such human characteristics as greed?   And, if corporations can’t actually be greedy themselves, then perhaps

it is their owners and managers who are.


And, who might these terrible people be?  They are your friends, relatives, neighbors, church and community leaders, directors and executives of non-profit entities, school administrators - just about any leader of any enterprise, perhaps you yourself.  

No doubt you may think some of them are greedy, but certainly not all, or even most of them.  Who qualifies as greedy and who makes that determination?  You?  Or are others deciding for you?


Major corporations, such as the Fortune 500 companies, are generally owned by many thousands or millions of shareholders, often through union pension trusts, retirement plans, mutual funds and other investment entities, which assemble the power

of numbers to make large investments on behalf of their individual investors - “Us.”  However, for the most part, small corporations are businesses that don’t have enough economic power to influence anyone.  They are usually just vehicles for managing

the affairs of a business, providing a way for their owner-operators to make a living.  Their profits are often not much more than wages, and not too great a wage at that.  Are these the greedy corporations we read or hear about so often?


Out of a total of approximately 5.6 million corporate tax returns filed in 2004 (IRS Statistics: Number of Returns, Receipts, and Net Income by Type of Business), freerepublic.com reported that over three million small businesses were “Subchapter S”

(Sub S) corporations in that year. They pay little or no income tax on their earnings because they are treated like partnerships for tax reporting purposes.  These are referred to as “pass through” entities, which means they simply pass their earnings through

directly to the owners, who include them on their personal income tax returns and pay taxes on the corporate profits at individual rates.


Further demonstrating the extent to which “greedy corporations” are “Us,” in their “Outline of the U.S. economy,” www.usinfo.state.gov noted, “Fully 99 percent of all independent enterprises in the country employ fewer than 500 people. 

These small enterprises account for 52 percent of all U.S. workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)…By contrast, 47.7 million Americans work for firms with 500 or more employees.”


If corporations can’t actually be greedy, and if their owners are, for the most part, “Us,” where does the notion of “greedy corporations” come from, and why?  The obvious answer is from the media and other special interest groups, including politicians,

who want to influence the public’s view of various issues.


The public is continually duped into accepting broad brush character assassination that is intended to influence their perceptions for political purposes.  Just one example is the current situation with the financial crisis, which politicians are using in an effort to

enhance their own credentials as self-sacrificing crusaders for the public good who are trying to regulate the market for the benefit of their constituents.


No one ever seems to point out the fact that the very people who label someone else as greedy are, in fact, often guilty of the same behavior themselves.  Taxpayers are called greedy if they want to keep their own money, but politicians who want to take

it from them and spend it themselves are not.   Or, large corporations, as in drug, oil and energy companies, are labeled greedy when prices go up and their profits increase but not when prices go down and they lose money.


There are individual examples of greed that are so extreme that they cry out for justice,  however, in general it’s apparently Ok to lose money but it’s greedy to make it, unless, of course, we are the ones making the profit.


In the final analysis, greed is not bad but good.  It’s nothing more than self-interest at work, which provides the lubricant that makes the wheels of commerce turn, not just in capitalist America but everywhere in every type of economic system,

including socialism and communism.


© 2013 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved

Posted at 23:19 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Boredom and murder? Teenagers kill just for "the fun of it"

By Dr. Wendy J. James


Parents have a responsibility to raise their children to be productive, responsible, law abiding citizens.


Some things we know and some we do not know about this incident.


We do know they have a psychological problem.


What we do not know is why their parents, or the counselors at the school did not notice their problems and get them the psychological counseling they needed.


We do know is when more than one individual gets together there is a chance of a pack behavior leading to encourage each other to deviate behavior. A group exacerbates what one individual may not do. In psychology, we call this a convergence theory.


We do know that a firearm was used in the commission of this murder.


What we do not know is where did they get the gun? 


We do not know, if they obtained a gun from one of their homes. If they did, we know the parents were negligent and irresponsible for not securing the firearm in their house.


We know that one of the murders bragged about the killing on Facebook.  As a psychologist, there are many theories on the problems of extensive use of social media. 


There is a general agreement among mental health professions that extensive use of social media leads to societal isolation.


What we do know, is that they are being tried as adults.


What we do not know is, if they had a history of deviant behavior, violence, drugs or alcohol problems.


As a psychologist, in situations that involve shooting, there is a noted underlining psychological problem that had not been addressed.  What is disturbing for me is when we allow mental health issues to be the norm and do not respond to abnormal behavior as parents, school counselors or as a community.


As a result, we are becoming more fearful and aware of individuals with psychological problems, who wander unidentified in our society.
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Stossel Gets It Right
In a recent article, “Are We Rome Yet?” John Stossel makes a compelling comparison between ancient Rome and modern day America.
Stossel, whose political persuasion is Libertarian, reported that “A group of Libertarians gathered in Las Vegas recently for an event called “FreedomFest,” where the participants “debated whether America will soon fall, as Rome did.”
Wikipedia defines Libertarianism as “a movement promoting individual liberty and minimized government. The Libertarian Party…asserts the following to be core beliefs of libertarianism:
Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence.
Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties…
In the United States people commonly associate the term libertarian with those who have ‘economically conservative’ and ‘socially liberal’ political views (using the common meanings of ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ in the United States).”
According to Stossel, “Historian Carl Richard said that today’s America resembles Rome,” by citing the following comparisons:
“The Roman Republic had a constitution, but Roman leaders often ignored it.  ‘Marius was elected consul six years in a row, even though under the constitution (he) was term-limited to one year…
We have presidents of both parties legislating by executive order, saying ‘I’m not going to enforce certain laws because I don’t like them,’…That open flouting of the law is dangerous because law ceases to have meaning…
I see that today…Congress passes huge laws they haven’t even read (as well as) overspending, overtaxing and devaluing the currency.”
“The Romans were worse.  I object to the tens of millions of dollars spent on President Obama’s recent trip to Africa, but Nero traveled with 1,000 carriages.”
“To pay for their excesses, emperors devalued the currency. (Doesn’t our Fed to that by buying $2 trillion of government debt?”)
“Nero reduced the silver content of coins to 95 percent.  Then Trajan reduced it to 85 percent and so on.  By the year 300, wheat that once cost eight Roman dollars cost 120,000 Roman dollars.”
“…to appease angry voters, emperors gave away or subsidized olive oil, salt and pork…People lined up to get the stuff.”
“As inflation increased, Rome, much like the United States under President Nixon, imposed wage and price controls. 
When people objected, Emperor Diocletian denounced their ‘greed,’ saying, ‘Shared humanity urges us to set a limit.’” 
“Doesn’t’ that sound like today’s anti-capitalist politicians?”
“Diocletian was worse than Nixon.  Rome enforced controls with the death penalty – and forbid people to change professions.”
“Eventually Rome’s empire was so large – and people so resentful of centralized control – that generals in the outlying regions began declaring independence from Rome.”
“At FreedomFest, Matt Kibbe, president of the tea party group FreedomWords, also argued that America could soon collapse like Rome did.”
“The parallels are quite ominous – the debt, the expansionist foreign policy, the arrogance of executive power taking over the country,” says Kibbe.  “But I do think we have a chance to stop it.”
Stossel concludes with the following observations:
“The triumph of liberty is not inevitable, though.  And empires do crumble.”
“Rome’s lasted the longest.  The Ottoman Empire lasted 623 years, China’s Song, Qing and Ming dynasties each lasted about 300 years.”
“We’ve lasted just 237 years so far – sometimes behaving like a republic and sometimes an empire.  In that time, we’ve accomplished amazing things, but we shouldn’t take our continue success for granted.”
“Freedom and prosperity are not natural.  In human history, they’re rare.”
It’s not too late for Americans to pull the fat out of the fire, but time is rapidly running out.  The tea party movement, along with the resistance of some members of Congress are hopeful signs.
© 2013 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 17:11 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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