Thursday, July 7, 2011

Slavemakers III - A Clarification

A comment from my smarter younger brother prompts me to say a further word or two about corporations. Given my professional experience in not-for-profit organizations, both religious and secular, it might be surmised that I maintain a more positive assessment of such ventures. Nay, not so. Whereas for profit corporations make no bones about existing for the profit of their stockholders, nonprofits craft lofty mission statements that easily distract the uninformed into believing that they exist to serve higher purposes. The naked truth is that the overriding purpose of all organizations, including nonprofits, is to continue their own existence, mission be damned.

If churches just had access to more resources they would be able to... do much more of the little to which they already aspire. Witness the Crystal Cathedral. Churches spend the vast majority of their resources on staff and facilities. Vast. Given more money, they expand staff and facilities. Liberal religious groups generally act as if this is not true of them, but that is only because they are inept at attracting the numbers of members and dollars that more conservative groups leverage.

My brother's comment to the effect that corporations simply reflect the sorry human condition raises a significant question for me. Who is responsible for, or even responsive to, the question of the greater good? Corporations in the U.S. and the world do exactly what they say they will do, which is maximize the profit of their shareholders. They utilize their power and resources in the public sphere in that pursuit. Rather than blaming the corporations, I should ask why we allow any group that is not committed to the greater good to exercise such influence. And what is the greater good? And who the hell are we?

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