John Hinderaker of Power Line writes what I wish I wrote about the inconsistency between the left’s objection to corporation’s being treated as people and their repeated accusation that corporations experience the human emotion of greed:
Lately, we have heard a lot from the Wall Street occupiers as well as more mainstream Democrats about “greedy corporations.” But wait! This is sheer anthropomorphism: if companies aren’t people, how can they be greedy? In fact, referring to a company as “greedy” makes little sense.
A for-profit company exists to make money for its owners, and secondarily to provide wealth and opportunity for its employees. The managers who run any company have a fiduciary duty to try to maximize returns for their company’s owners–that is to say, profits. If a company’s executives decided not to be “greedy,” but rather to operate their company at a break-even level so as to avoid profit, they would be violating their legal duties and would be subject to shareholder lawsuits. And properly so.
The same principle applies to taxes. Every company has a duty to minimize its tax liability–legally, of course. If a company’s management were to volunteer to pay more taxes than the law requires, it once again would be violating its legal duties and would no doubt be dismissed by its board of directors, and subsequently sued by shareholders.
There are two types of people who claim corporations are greedy:
- Those who have an agenda to diminish the power of the private sector and enhance the power of centralized government; and
- Those who are ignorant of the way corporations work.
Left-wing intellectuals occupy the first category. Occupy Wall Streeters, generally, the second.
In theory, the federal government has a fiduciary duty to taxpayers in much the same way a corporation has a fidiucary duty to shareholders. But in the case of government, this duty cannot be and is not enforced.
In short, taxpayers are the shareholders of government, but, unlike their private sector counterparts, they lack recourse when the entity they have invested in (i.e. the federal government) breaches it’s duty to them. They cannot fire government bureaucrats and cannot bring derivative lawsuits against the government.
The private sector, as imperfect as it is, is infinitely more accountable than the public sector. So, people, toss your anti-corporation signs and start toting ones that say,
STOP GOVERNMENT GREED!