Big Business in America Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Christina Cui

Ethics in Business

The Nature of Corporation

The evolution of democracy is such that it periodically conditions the environment to "create a system that makes the participation of some citizens count more than the participation of others" (Shriffin as cited in Alzola, 3). Today, a wealthy elite and the deep pockets of corporations have unduly influenced the checks and balances on which the American version of representative government was established. Even though each American citizen is entitled to one vote, citizens of ordinary means and circumstances have essentially been decoupled from true representation. Massive amounts of money are poured into lobbying and electoral activities, hobbling any effort to ensure equality in voice or vote. This paper will first argue that the current political and judicial climate is incompatible with the ideology of the demos or common people. Following, the discussion will provide a counterpoint argument in which the current political and judicial environment provides benefit to the citizenry. The third section of the paper will address the objections posed regarding the moral impermissibility of allowing powerful individuals and corporations to overtake the intent of the law and individual rights. Finally, conclusions will be drawn to definitively demonstrate how ultimately, the government has a strong duty to better regulate big businesses and big corporations so that they better defend the little guy.

Over a period lasting more than 100 years, Congress has variously legislated to limit the influence of corporations on elections, policymaking, and associated socioeconomic outcomes. A minimal goal of this legislation has been to temper hegemony with social responsibility. However, less than five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that corporations shall be considered to be entities accorded the same Constitutional rights as individuals. The seeds for judicial interpretation of the Constitution as conveying rights on corporations were sown at least as early as the 1970s, when campaign and lobbying expenditure ceilings were determined to be unconstitutional. In the mature form of democracy now in evidence in the United States, political and financial power are so unequally distributed that government teeters on the brink of plutocracy.

Critical theorists refer to the constructs structural violence and cultural violence, in which a society is set up or functions in such a way that certain groups of people are kept from achieving basic needs or from participating in mainstream society. These conditions are established to ensure and maintain certain privilege, position, and power, and are generally subtle. More overt efforts still consistently occur -- such as the current wave of laws that restrict opportunities to vote, do occur. To bring about change in the status quo, people must first recognize -- through what Paulo Freire referred to as critical consciousness -- that the constraints they experience are often deliberate . The capacity of those with greater wealth, organizational capacity, and resources to curtail the democratic participation of those less well equipped is a form of structural violence. It is a form of modern day bullying where those with more assets and capabilities throw their weight around and stomp their metaphorical "heavy boots" around, making decisions on whim and in ways that only benefit their own selfish desires. Iris Young asserts, "Persons who benefit relatively from structural inequalities have special moral responsibilities to contribute to organized efforts to correct them" (287). While this is true, it very rarely happens. [1: ]

A close examination of the work of Scherer and Palazzo reveals that the politicization of corporations stems from the corporate need -- and responsibility -- to go beyond conventional assumptions about "societal norms and expectations" to actively shape these dynamics in the right way (1108). The argument presupposes inherently moral leadership as an extant condition of…

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