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Individuals produce corrupt institutions not the other way around

One of the most inaccurate statements ever made is the popular “Power corrupts…”. No, selfishness corrupts. Power just allows the selfish to do more damage than they otherwise could. Corruption begins in the mind of the individual long before they become powerful. A more accurate statement would be to say that power attracts people with corrupted mentalities. The notion that good people magically turn into bad people because they have power is among the most stupid ideas humans have ever come up with and it is pointlessly pessimistic to the point of only serving to encourage the corrupt to seek power and discourage the honest and those who are not corruptible from seeking positions of power.

Corporations are not people. Corporations are legal fictions controlled by people. The corporation’s structure and charter and shareholders and corporate executives and customers and regulators decide the behavior of the corporation. My point is that when corporations do bad things we should not allow the very real people behind those unethical, unjust, illegal, cruel, or irresponsible decisions to get away with it by blaming it on the institution. Institutions are run by people. They are not people. They are not good or bad, in and of themselves. They do not make decisions.

There are very real people behind everything bad or good that comes from every institution whether public or private. It seems that there is a myth on the libertarian right that all government is bad and a myth on the left that big business is bad. In my opinion neither one is true. Large institutions of any kind are not inherently good or bad. Being “anti-corporation” won’t fix corporate corruption anymore than being “anti-government” will fix political corruption. What is required is a robust and dynamic network on regulatory government agencies from international and national on down to state, county, and city levels that will not only police corporations but police each other to weed out the “revolving door” tactics of industries controlling their own reguators.

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