Corrente

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Corporations must no longer be persons

Nancy Folbre in the Times:

The emphasis on freedom as our top priority reflects a vision of economic actors as adult, able-bodied individuals unencumbered by responsibility for others. Professor Glaeser happily quotes Adam Smith: “Every man is, no doubt, by nature, first and principally recommended to his own care.” True for men perhaps, but not for babies, boys or girls.

We humans experience periods of dependency at the beginning of our lives that largely determine our access to resources – including the development of our own human capital – as adults. We remain subject to unexpected illness, disability, unemployment, accident and assault as adults, and if we survive these, we eventually become dependent on others in old age.

Individual freedom doesn’t necessarily conflict with the care of those we love, because love itself shapes our preferences, our utility functions. We often freely choose to sacrifice for others.

But preferences alone don’t provide a secure basis for the care of dependents. That’s partly why societies develop concepts of social responsibility and legal obligation that often infringe on individual freedom. ...

Many economists who prioritize freedom feel that corporations in the United States have no responsibility to help create jobs for American workers, regardless of the rate of unemployment. They admire Milton Friedman, who emphasized more than 40 years ago that the only social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.

... Many large corporations want to be free of us and have already moved out. They are angling for a no-fault divorce, with no child support or alimony. They don’t want to help pay for our education, our health or our retirement, and with offshore production and clever tax shelters, they won’t have to.

Their hearts are weak, and ours may soon be broken.

Except "large corporations" don't have "weak hearts." They don't have hearts at all.