America is not a corporation

Corporate Governance

Image via Wikipedia

America is not a corporation, but there are uncomfortable similarities between corporations and the way we are being governed now and the trend for the future.


Corporations, in theory, are owned by the shareholders and are to be run for their benefit. In actuality, many corporations are run by and for the benefit of the top managers, particularly the CEO. The shares of large corporations are mostly held and managed by mutual funds, insurance companies, pension plans and other similar organizations. Those organizations are principally concerned with increasing the value of their investments, quarter by quarter, and year by year. If corporate management delivers steadily increasing profits, the holders of shares in those companies are satisfied to let management do whatever it wishes.


We, as citizens of America, are the owners of this country; we each have a share. We hire managers for the country using elections to do so. We either confirm the present management or we fire one group of managers and hire another. However, our choices are severely limited, and there is no Federal Trade Commission to help ensure truth in labeling or advertising. Once in office, our Congressmen and women are largely outside of our control and influence. They respond to the lobbyists who are right there on the scene. If the lobbyists and donors of large campaign donations are satisfied, then members of Congress, like managers of large corporations, are largely free to do as they please.


What should we do to change the situation? I think that we should start with reforming corporate governance since one problem feeds off and is sustained by the other. Reforming corporate governance is probably the easier of the two problems to address. Once we have that reformed, then we can tackle the more difficult issue of making our government responsible to the people once again.