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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:I have just been watching "The Bank", a great Aussie drama which looks at the Australian and International Banking systems, and how to bring them down. It is a fantastic movie, however it uses a very simple device to get across clear messages. I was realising as I was watching it, that it uses an image of heads of corporations that is very stereotyped, very much the source of all evil, to make the message clear that "banks are bad, m'kay?".

It is really interesting how often this device is used in movies, the evil corporate type suppressing the artist. Film-makers do like to see themselves as the champions of the artistic/non-materialistic cause, artist as hero against all odds.

Whilst I love these movies, I would really enjoy watching something that addressed the more complicated reality of it. Yes, the artistic/non-materialistic cause often gets squelched by corporations, but more often than not it is not out of malice. It is out of competing priorities. Someone (usually the shareholders) is leaning on someone (usually the board of directors), is leaning on someone (usually the CEO), to make more money. And so they have to make decisions that hurt other people, or cut out the artistic integrity of some work or another. And more interesting still, how that person justifies the decision to themselves. Do they just ignore the repercussions of their decision? (lost jobs, crushed lives) Or do they acknowledge it and say "well, at least it is not me"? Or do they let it gnaw away inside?

A lot of us on this message board are fairly left of centre. How much of our collective knowledge of corporations is shaped by movies and such? Are they fair depictions? Or has it just become another simple myth to peddle?


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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poiaholic22


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Total posts: 531
Posted:

[ 11. May 2003, 21:02: Message edited by: ph22 ]


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Raymund Phule (Fireproof)


Raymund Phule (Fireproof)

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Location: San Diego California

Total posts: 2905
Posted:Unlike the person who posted above me, I will not bring usless banterings of politics into this thread. However, I will say this, the world revolves around money. Sad but true. Ohh true true, there are those few barter system communities or those that just share everything, or even the let system, but those are so rare and do not work very well outside of a small group.

You need money to eat, in one form of fassion or another. You need money to cloth youself, cause lets face it naked in the wind and rain just plain sucks. You dont have to be greedy to put somebody else down. You could buy the econimy car, but since you saved your money, you could have put somebody else out of a job.

Money is a double edged sword, and the other systems really dont work to well. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the bad.

Personally I would like to have enough money to where I didnt have to work anymore, so that I could travel where and when I wanted. I am sure we would all want that. There is nothing wrong with that either.

Money is not the root of all evil like some want us to think.


Some Jarhead last night: "this dumb a$$ thinks hes fireproof"

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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:Grrr, right both of you, this is my thread ( ), so I am finally able to tell both of you to quit it. You have both missed the point of what I am getting at entirely.

quote:but in real life most people are too evil and corrupted by money to care about anyone but themselves. This is a great example of what I am talking about. What I am saying is, is this an over simplification? Has the film-making industry shaped our ideas of how companies operate, making us believe that:

1. Money is the only motivation for corporations and individuals
2. Individuals at high levels in corporations are evil non-human, non-humane, bastards

Because I do not believe that either of the above is a universal law. I think the world is far more interesting and complicated than that.

Film-makers and story tellers use the stereotype to assist in conveying a very simple message. Because if they let in the reality of the world you may have some sympathy with the "bad guy" and therefore the message would be clouded.

However when operating in the real world, that paradigm ceases to be useful. Do you think you will ever, ever change the world and the things that companies do, if you label them as "evil" and refuse to attempt to understand how they do operate?

An organisation is just a bunch of individuals, most of them just like you and me. Individuals with a mixture of motivations, pure and base, ultruistic and self-centred.


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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poiaholic22


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Total posts: 531
Posted:To Raymund and Rozi I would like to apologize for my first post on this thread.I didn't think nearly long enough about it before responding.

You're right,money is not the root of all evil.Money however,creates greed which is a root of evil.

I work for a large corporation (Northeast Utilities) and I can tell you firsthand that the stereotype of what a CEO or stockholder or managerial type is totally incorrect.Their are some who do care about the people who work for them.Though often times it may be for reasons other than concern for their welfare(Saving face for the company,make themselves look good).Regardless,they do exist but the stereotype didn't create itself.For every one that does there are probably a dozen that can lay a hundred people off in a day and still sleep at night.Also when you have the ENRON's and the WORLDCOM's and the IMCLONE's it is kind of hard to dispell this stereotype.If they were to make a movie that dug deeper at this point some would see the truth but a lot of people might see it as trying to create sympathy for those who are totally unworthy of it.

It's like they say one bad apple spoils the bunch.The problem with stereotypes isn't that they exist but that people feed into them.If you can't think for yourself than of course you're gonna say all Corporations are the same.Personally I judge people on a person to person basis.

Again I would like to apologize for putting my foot down my throat.I'll leave it up to the topic starter if she wants me to edit that particular post.

By the way isn't that one wierd-ass looking face(the embarassed one)


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FireMikeZ


FireMikeZ

Laguna dude
Location: Laguna, California, US

Total posts: 1438
Posted:Rozi,

you're replacing me as complexity advocate?

perhaps i am becoming a better peace-maker.

(*side-smile*)

~ Mke


molten cheers,

~ FireMike

FireMikeZ@yahoo.com (personal messages welcome, no promo spam, please!)
Laguna, California, US

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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:If you ever want to hear a very crude interpretation of what the smiley looks like, send me a PM.

You are right, stereotypes are there for a reason. There are people in corporations who, as you have said, can lay off people without losing a nights sleep. And that in itself brings up a lot of interesting questions:

1. What sort of justifications do they make to themselves to allow them to do it?
2. What is it about the culture of the organisations that allows people to behave in this manner? And in fact reward it...
3. What is it about society that allows organisations to develop these cultures and behave in this manner?

To a certain extent I agree with Ray, that we live in a capitalist society and this is the way things work. However firstly I don't think it does "work", or at least for a small minority the current system works very well, but for the vast majority we are prepared to accept the payoffs from a system that does not in fact give us any real power or say.

Secondly, just because this is the way things are right now, I don't believe we have to be stuck with it. I think we can work to change it.

At some point in this thread I will post a really long bit about economic models and whether they are a reflection of reality, but right now I will leave those ideas to spark.


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:FireMike the third. Is this shouty enough for you?

It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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flash fire
BRONZE Member since Jan 2001

flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2758
Posted:Interesting question raised Rozi; and one that lies at the crux of my personal juxtaposition.

I'm an Executive Assistant and have worked at Director level in some really big companies - the highest level multinaitonal position I've been in was Exec Assistant to the Director of Finance at Vodafone. I'm currently working as the EA to a CEO of one of the few dot coms in the Asia Pacific that survived the crash. I wear a suit to work and enjoy a healthy pay cheque, however I spend most of my time presenting the image of a neo hippy with a large social consicence.

Faceless corporations are very easy to perceive as being heartless - but get to the core of executive teams running these companies and one very soon realises that they are human beings, most of whom sport a healthy conscience.

I was working with Vodafone when they laid off a quarter of the national staff in a day. My boss was the one that had to do it and was pretty much alone with the CEO in the painful duty of deciding who goes and who doesnt. It was farking unpleasant to say the least and I can assure you no one slept well for a while.

The current trend in corporations in Australia at the moment is to be recognised as an "employer of choice" - corps actually have to treat their employees as individuals and not nameless, faceless cogs in the gears of operation. When Vodafone laid off a stack of staff, they learned from mistakes, paid for expensive career counselling and job placement and offered the most generous redundancy packages I have ever seen.

Big companies can't run the risk of bad publicity any more.

Anyway - we are all human and in all my experience of the Corporate World, I can honestly attest to their being a very small minority of financially driven power mongers in positions of high authority.

But here's my juxtaposition and continual cause of confusion - follow my heart and be the stereotypical 'starving artist' or follow reality and my wallet and follow my dreams in my spare time....

anwyay, sorry for the rant. I hope it made some sense!


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poiaholic22


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Total posts: 531
Posted:As time passes also,the corporate entity is getting more and more conscientious.A big part of the stereotype is fueled by the past when you could get away with abusing your employees being that it was the norm.This is where the insertion of UNIONS has really helped make that change.The corporations can't take anymore bad publicity but at the same token people in some countries in some fields will no longer put up with the ways of old.Thus creating the mentality of "if you're not gonna take care of us we'll go somewhere else".

Fact:90% of the world's wealth is possessed by only 6 or 7% of its population.

To say that capitalism works is like saying communism works.One of the things that bothers me within the States is that we tell everyone else how to take care of their people when we can hardly take care of our own.The deficit keeps increasing,unemployment is on the rise,and the scandals got way out of control.Think of all the people in this country who lost everything they worked for in a day and then ask yourself why the corporate image is depicted as so.Though that's off topic.

Rather than take the bad with the bad why not work toward something better?True in fact you could save your money and still put someone out of work but then you have mega corps like GM or Nike who close up factories in the States and destroy entire communities to set up production overseas.They're not doing it to put people in China to work.The problem with capitalism is in a lot of cases it's fueled by greed.

Another thing I see as being part of the problem is a lack of education among the third world countries.A lot of companies I have worked with have full crews of minimum wage paid immigrants.Why pay an American 10 or 15 dollars an hour when you can hire someone who doesn't speak a word of english for minimum wage without benefits?Is it fair?No.Is it right?No but the bottom line is exactly that,the bottom line.Money does rule the world but it is the source of most of our problems.

BTW for anyone who thinks I'm a racist now,know that I'm a Hispanic-Asian-Caucazoid. I'm a construction worker who sometimes wonders if some day down the road I'm gonna have to fight for my job with someone who probably doesn't belong in this country.I'm one of the little guys.


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poiaholic22


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Total posts: 531
Posted:Oh by the way you would probably have to send me a PM.Though I can already imagine what you're thinking. This is very misleading.

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jim bombadil


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Location: bristol

Total posts: 142
Posted:I work for a corporation at present, I've been here about a month. I sit in an office and answer the phone. It's easy I sit and surf the net all day, read my book, doodle whatever. I get payed 170 a week and I can live, its easy. I spend the money on food, rent and drugs. I have to pay rent because otherwise someone will throw me out my house (despite the fact I'm sure they have a house of their own) I have to buy food and drugs because when I plant my own the council up root everything. So I have to sit in the office, doing nothing.

I have to move computers I'll try and get to the point in a minute!!


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jim bombadil


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Location: bristol

Total posts: 142
Posted:I've worked all kinds of jobs before and pretty much all of them have been as pointless as this one. If we didn't bother going in, nothing would change the world would keep turning no one would die, but I wouldn't have the wage. I don't like this lack of freedom, especially as in reality the system that decrees that I must sit in the office decrees that war shall be waged, plantlife will be destroyed and replaced by dead concrete and tarmac etc etc.
I understand that i would be nieeve to think that every person in power are completely evil of course not like you and me they can justify their position, they get a fair few rewards, but they still sit in the office everyday just another part of the system.

sorry got to go again carry on in a minute


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jim bombadil


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Location: bristol

Total posts: 142
Posted:thought I'd post this to finish from corporatewatch.org.uk

Some things you'd probably prefer weren't true about corporations:
Corporations aren't allowed to be nice Company directors are legally obliged to act in the best interests of their shareholders' investments - i.e. to make them as much money as possible. Genuine efforts to sacrifice profits in favour of human rights and environmental protection are off-limits. Even if a company's directors took the long view that environmental sustainablity is ultimately essential for economic sustainability, their share price would drop and they would probably be swallowed up by competitors. This is why corporate social and environmental initiatives can't really get beyond the marketing and greenwash stage.

Corporations are people too
They may not have human feelings, they may be bloodless and soulless, but in the eyes of the law they are 'persons' with many of the same rights as flesh-and-blood humans. Corporations can claim, for example, the right to freedom of speech, the right to sue, the right to 'enjoyment of possessions' (problematic in planning and environment law). They even have a number of advantages over ordinary people - specifically, corporations can be in two or more places at once (so cannot be jailed) and can divide themselves to dodge liability for their crimes. It is normal, for example, to transfer ownership of a dangerous cargo to a distant subsidiary while the cargo is at sea, so the parent company is not liable if it causes a toxic spill. Also, corporations are ruthless in claiming their rights - after all, they can afford the best lawyers.

Corporations are benefit scroungers
In 1997, British Aerospace (BAe) demanded 120m from the UK government to build a new jet. If the money were not forthcoming, BAe would fund the project itself - abroad. In 1998 the government paid up, and in March 2000 handed over a further 530m for another model. This is routine corporate behaviour. If individuals did it, it would be called blackmail. On the other end of the equation, corporations pay less and less tax. It is estimated that Rupert Murdoch's media empire in the UK paid no net corporation tax in the twelve years to 1999. This means they're living off the services paid for by everyone else - they rely on publicly funded roads to move goods and staff, on the police to protect them from crime, on the NHS to treat sick workers and the education system to train new ones. But these essential services are paid for predominantly by individuals and small businesses.

Corporations are persistent offenders
In the UK, commercial corporations emerged in the 17th century, as a direct result of merchant groups breaking the laws banning corporations from making a profit. From 1825 a few legal companies were set up - initially restricted to building canals and waterworks. After 1844 companies could be established to engage in any business activity stated in their constitution. Even this wasn't enough - up until 1965 corporations consistently broke the law by engaging in other activities not in their articles. In 1965 this law was repealed. On a day to day level, this 'battle to free corporations' continues; in tax and labour law, health and safety and environmental protection corporations consistently break the rules then lobby government, often successfully, to say the rule shouldn't have been there in the first place. Imagine if ordinary criminals had such opportunities…

Corporations are as rich as countries
In 1999, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, 51 of the world's 100 largest economies were corporations. To put this in perspective, General Motors is now bigger than Denmark and three-and-a-half times the size of New Zealand; the top 200 corporations' combined sales are bigger than the combined economies of all countries minus the biggest 10. Is it any surprise that they are able to dictate terms to many countries? National governments are often of a dubious moral character, but corporations are by their nature (see above) greedy, inhumane and parasitic, as well as lacking even a veneer of democratic control. Moreover, they share a common hatred of people interfering with their profits and 'rights'. This means they lobby to the same ends and can have massive effects - just look at the current US government.

But what does all this mean
Corporations would like us to believe that they are the pinnacle of economic evolution and we should get down on our knees and thank them for condescending to sell us their products. But despite their power, which can sometimes seem overwhelming, corporations are scared to the point of paranoia. Like totalitarian governments, they feel the need to control the theory as well as the practice of our society - the corporate-dominated mainstream media is roped in to reassure us that corporate capitalism is 'like the weather - and you can't change the weather' [from Channel 4 News - after Mayday 2001] - there is no alternative, and the place of the people in a democracy is to choose which corporate puppet clone to vote for once in five years, then go home and consume in peace.

What can we do about it?
Corporations need to be first tamed, then dismantled and replaced by structures people can control. In order to do this we need to understand how they work, to recognise their real motivations and methods, to unpick the captivating rainbow veils spun by advertising and PR and to document the abuses of humanity and nature that occur at each point of the corporations' activities. Corporate Watch does not subscribe to any rigid ideology - we do not claim to be Marxists or anarchists or socialists. Our core belief is simply that society should be run in the best long-term interest of all human beings and other species - not for the short-term gain of transnational corporations.


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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

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Posted:So here is something interesting, we have corporations and other organisations, which are at there hearts people. These people are human, with all the mixture of motives, beliefs and values that entails. And yet the corporation is something that is larger than the sum of all the people in it. It has a life beyond those people, and in many cases, it exerts an influence that limits or harms the lives of individuals in it (such as Flashfire's example, the corporations need was to get rid of people, this was a need not really shared by the individuals in the corp).

We have constructed a way of making the world operate. Have we constructed our own cage here?


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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