What happened to the good old days, when the business world was a clean, shiny place where everyone played fair and worked together to create a stable, equitable dissemination of wealth?
Answer: NOTHING happened to it. Because those days never really existed. Business has always been a strictly competitive endeavor. Such competition— motivated by greed for personal gain— is the very basis for capitalism, the engine that makes our economic system go.
Lately it seems that fair play in business practices is a luxury few modern business owners are willing to afford. Our culture no longer seems to believe there is such a thing as “bad business”… to most, business is business. The result is that hordes of bottom feeders (formerly forced to confine their deceitful tendencies to backroom dealings or furtive parking lot agreements sealed with hasty handshakes) now consider their predatory manipulation of the system NOT an admission of poor business ability, but rather extol it as a badge of pride. I sometimes despair that all sense of decency has been abandoned in corporate America, supplanted by a desperate sense of conniving selfishness, eternally gnawing, rat-like, at the foundations of our cultural morality.
Our government, which some envision as a benevolent watchdog over American business, is so deeply involved with corporate excess they have become just another fox entrusted to guard the proverbial henhouse. Does the name Halliburton ring a bell? That company— just one of many— received billions of Iraq defense dollars in no-strings-attached government contracts while former Vice President Dick Cheney was their CEO. The Bush family, which produced two US Presidents, has a century of direct ties to the oil industry going all the way back to Rockefeller, which certainly explains some of the seeming irrationality of their foreign policy decisions while in office. And the entire Enron mess, not to mention our recent spate of tax dollar corporate bail outs, was only possible because of rampant government cronyism. Neither is it only a problem with any single political party or branch of government; in their time, Presidents FDR, LBJ, and Clinton all took a turn granting huge contracts and passing out fortunes in government cash to their friends and subordinates, as did Ike, Nixon and Reagan. These aren’t wild speculations— all of this is a matter of public record. That is simply what happens when corporations are legally treated as “people” and corporate money and politics are allowed to mix.
I’m not particularly paranoid or anti-government, just a realist who pays attention to history and understands how such things work.
If we’re looking for someone to blame for this state of affairs, I suggest we examine the recent influence-upgrade experienced by a class of shameless power brokers who bribe and manipulate our government every single day by lobbying, threatening, cajoling, and harrassing our politicians into going along with programs designed to benefit one group of people at the expense of the rest of us.
They are called “Special Interest Groups.” They invented “political correctness” by determining what words and opinions could best be blown up and plastered all over the media to cause a political candidate or office holder to self-destruct, essentially “weaponizing” ad strategy to further the special agendas of their corporate masters. They are the ones who dream up such inspiring patriotic slogans as Remember the Lusitania, Remember the Maine, Remember Pearl Harbor, Remember the Alamo…
But the Lusitania is seriously suspected to have been transporting illegal armaments, in violation of treaty. And the Maine, it is now known, most probably blew up all by itself due to a boiler malfunction. And FDR, it is now theorized, knew Pearl Harbor was about to happen and chose to let it. And one of the primary “rights” and “personal freedoms” being upheld by the men who defended the Alamo was actually their right to keep slaves, since the Mexican government had stated its intention to outlaw slavery in Mexican Tejas.
Catchy slogans might be an effective means to sway popular opinion, but they don’t always tell you the whole truth. You still have to pay attention to what’s really going on, and keep your eyes peeled for reasons why. Also, it’s a great way to ward off bouts of spontaneous rage-vomiting and suppress the urge to shove your head into an industrial table saw as an allegory for America’s failing educational system.
So have fun with it!