Friday, May 13, 2005

Corporation = Person = Psychopath?

psychopath n. A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggresive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behaviour without empathy or remorse.

I rented a film called The Corporation and found it to be thought provoking, funny, insightful, and chilling. The film takes an in-depth psychological examination of the business corporation organizational model through various case studies. It examines the corporation as a person who's seen as a destructive psychopath without a conscience.

In one scene, they showed protestors visiting the former Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell's house. He came out and spoke to them about the environment, oppressive regime, and other concerns that he himself shared with the protestors. The protestors said it wasn't him, but the Shell corporation. He found the biggest difference between him and them is that he could make a contribution to change whereas they had nothing. I'm glad the film showed that executives are real people with real concerns.

The corporation is out there for one thing only and that is making the most profit. Investors don't care who the CEO is, as long as the company makes money. After the 9/11 attacks in New York, trade investors who bought gold would have first thought how much is gold up. As a result, clients who were in gold doubled their money. The attacks were a blessing in disguise. As devastating and heart breaking the 9/11 attacks were, the financial payoff was huge. It is a sad reality.

Another case study showed how corporations target children. Marketing companies have found that nagging was the key to turning profit. They would target children through television ads to make them want to buy a product. Parents would eventually give in to their childrens' wants. By starting young, corporations will have them when they're adults as consumers.

It's chilling how a company like Coca-Cola could reap profits during the second world war by inventing Fanta Orange as the coke of Nazi Germany when Coke had a falling out. While millions died, Coca-Cola was able to continue making money.

The film showed the Kathy Lee and sweat shop issue and how her public appearances actually exposed the issue to millions of Americans who now know of the problem. It actually made the Gap corporation install regulations for monitoring worker conditions and salaries which was a positive result. It's crazy to think that everything I own was pretty much made by some form of cheap labour.

I find in my own core meetings with my job at FedEx Kinko's that it's our duty to turn as much profit as possible. My manager talked about how we need to increase efficiency and land sales so that investors in the FedEx corporation can invest in FedEx Kinko's Canada. Apparently, Kinko's has never made money in Canada since it began operations in the late 80's. There is big pressure from the head office in Toronto for us to perform.

I feel like a slave serving my master (FedEx) and I have complained in the past of how frustrated I was with the company. But God continually shows me that I need to work as if I'm working unto Him, that my work be excellent. I'm reminded of why the Bible spoke of slaves serving their masters with diligence. I now see the connection as I serve my corporate master :) There will be better things to come.

I can see why it's such a big deal with the G8 and the Summit of Americas meetings involving free trade. I don't think I would want to be a protestor. I'd want to be directly involved in the business community to be effective. My goal is to learn and understand business and somehow apply it to benefit others so that I may glorify God. The path I take will be an interesting one for sure.



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