The News Pauper: On the Unfortunate Evolution of Corporate Personhood

By W.B. Dunne

Once upon a time, a person that made something of his life in this country was made to feel compelled to give something back. When a robber baron would endow a library, or form a foundation to benefit some cause, his name would be attached to said cause and down the ages that name would take on the philanthropic association and the nature of the man who made the thing would be forgotten.

The great corporations that now plaster their logos and company names all over our stadiums and charities never seem to garner the same graces the old regime got. In spite of the groveling of the team players theyve populated their offices with, human beings at large will never identify with a brand as they do with a name.

CEOs do not and cannot understand that they are humans like the rest of us. Leaders of all ilk’s have tried to elevate themselves to the status of deities since before written history. They all have one thing in common: ultimately they fail.

The News Pauper never holds himself above the lowest of the low. Perhaps this is the reason he is often graced with some insight that eludes others that dig and dig. No grand company association protects me or gives my opinion more power. The only thing that I have going for me is that not a penny will ever taint or compromise the position I take. I am curious as to what compelled the robber baron of old to assuage his conscience with philanthropy. I doubt it has much to do with the people that received the blessings of the largess. I would be impressed if the same formula would apply to the greedy boards that control the functions of our great corporate super-persons.

If I were a great CEO, I would see the writing on the wall. I would see that the only hope for my future would entail my turning my members of the board upside down. I would drive the agenda to insure the company was known not for how many skyboxes it had, but how much good it had accomplished through sacrifice for the good of the community that supported it.

If I were granted the position of a super-person, I would do something great with it. I wouldnt squander it on a house in the Hamptons or a big party with all the celebrities I could gather. I would make my own product obsolete if it would move the world in a better direction. I would make homes for people that needed them; I would bring drugs to those that needed them. I would make the hermits and monks blush at their excess in order to educate and feed the next generation.

Who knows, perhaps theyll begin to get it. Things are changing in tone and fact for many around us. Heres to hoping.

Contact the author at WBDunne@ltsaloon.org

2009 W.B. Dunne. All Rights Reserved.