The Nutural Artificiality of Capitalism and Corporation
Posted 11/15/10
When I finished my multidisciplinary research on family-based business and the implication of the family, I came to a rather shocking conclusion that challenged me to reconsider my previously upheld conceptualization about the human socioeconomic that is their families, their family interactions, and the human essences of selfishness and selflessness. I'll post the result in the next quote for your observation:

Law

Mattera, P. (Fall2010). The Dark Side of Family Business. Social Policy, 40(3), 48.
Summery: The Dark Side of Family Business by Phillip Mattera is an article about how some family business that grew into corporation tend to become aggressive human rights violator, or affluent political backer with radical right-wing politics. He used two companies in existence to illustrate his point: the White County Egg company owned by the DeCoster family and the family-owned oil company Koch Industries respectively. The White County Egg company had a history of conducting sweatshop operation, pollution, health and safety violation, and child labour. The Koch Industries had used their profit to bankroll environmental deregulation and global warming denial, while disguising their operations as philanthropies in order to gain social influence and respectability. The keyword of “denial” towards man-made climate change and the selfish attitude towards exploitations, gave me a certain family profile and its particular subjective sense of socioeconomic reality being reflected upon its family-owned for-profit corporation. But it lacks an alternative view in the sense that not all families are this oppressive and deceiving, thus the picture is incomplete.

Philipps, L. (2008). Silent partners: The role of unpaid market labor in families. Feminist Economics, 14(2), 37-57.
Summary: This article focus on those family members who are supporting the family business in the background, but aren't being legally recognized by the laws as individuals with socioeconomic status and thus should get paid for their labour. The author illustrated this fact by applying the labour and taxation laws in various developed nations, and Canada is no exception. She argued that there's a “conceptual blind spot” making the Canadian taxation law unable to tax any formal business operations done by family members that's not being paid with money, especially when the revenue authorities seek to characterize these as personal, family, or even leisure activities. Examples of such case are Cullen vs. Canada (Tax Court of Canada 1985a) and Wessell vs. Canada (Tax Court Canada 1985b), where both taxpayers claimed that they carried a business partnership with their wives, who are therefore entitled to report a share of profit. I think this illustrates that there is actually a socioeconomic contribution coming directly from the family members acting as “executive spouses”, but our current legal concept of a family unit doesn't recognize this fact.

Heffern, R. (2002). FARMERS: Get big or get out. National Catholic Reporter, 38(30), 13.
Summery: This article explained how the 1996 US farming program called the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act(FAIR), aka the Freedom to Farm act, had forced the family farmers to either being controlled by corporate farming, or else they simply couldn't survive. The act itself was designed to expose the farmers themselves to the free market, while subsequently reducing government regulation. Overall this act was a failure for costing the federal government to consistently bailout the farmers with more funding each year. The 1998 bailout was roughly $15 billions, by 1999 however it had grew to $23 billions. The market price was artificially created to in favour of the corporate farmers, while the family farmers were left-out from the market and returned to a state of depression, which ironically had the federal government to create the New Deal farm program that was in placed before the FAIR act. Which led to the farmers calling the new FAIR act “Freedom to Fail” act, and demanded a new program called the Food Circle; a more community controlled and valued base system that promotes self-reliance and sustainability. I think the challenge of selfish corporations is becoming a reoccurring theme.

Economy


Castaldo, J. (2007). The duty of wealth. Canadian Business, 80(24), 19.
Summery: Facing with the fact that there are now more than ever family billionaires in the Canada's Rich 100 list, and even those near at the bottom of the scale are easily half a billion worth. A web survey conducted by Compas Inc asked 166 Canadian CEO's and leaders of mainly small to mid-size businesses what do they think about allowing family children to join the family business, and how should they divide their profit for philanthropy in what sort of ways. The survey showed that only 7% of them will allow the children to join the family business as soon as they completed their own education, and they believed on average 40% of their profit should be set aside for charity, while the family can keep the rest for themselves. This illustrated that although they do practice the business ethic of impartiality by various degrees, they don't show the same amount of care towards their charitable donations. In other word, I question why aren't these rich families managing and organizing their charities towards poor families as efficiently and profitable as they are with their business; the fact that they're constantly giving away 23% of their charity towards children from disadvantage families is proof of it.

Yunus, M. (2010). Building Social Business. Philadelphia: PublicAffairs.
Summery: The author of this book was the inventor of microcredit/microfinancing; a banking system created for lending small amount of money to poor people collateral-free, while the poor people themselves became collective owners of their own finance system. He described how his invention was only the necessary first step to create what he called the “social business”; for-profit organization with its sole aim is to provide social needs for the poor and subsequently eliminate poverty, which he believes is an artificial construct that preexisted before the poor people were put into this situation. He explained how this new form of capitalism is different than the conventional setup of corporations under the old capitalism, which he described was only portraying the human selfishness. His idea of a social business is based on the human nature of selflessness, which reflects itself with two of his 7 key characteristics of social business; the investors get back only their investment amount, while the profit stays with the company for expansion and improvement. He then proved that how this type of social business really does exist, and is in fact both profitable and sustainable, with the Grameen family of companies financed by the vary same microcredit banking system that he helped created: Grameen Bank. What's also promising is the fact that his microcredit system can exist even in developed nations, where there's preexisting yet complicated banking system that's not serving the poor. I think he just proved how welfare is universally sustainable with a new application of capitalism, and that's very profound when it comes to ridding the world of poverty.

Sociology

Marger, M. (2001). The use of social and human capital among Canadian business immigrants. Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies, 27(3), 439-453.
Summery: This research illustrated that some Canadian immigrant entrepreneurs has enough human capital within themselves, they can adapt and sustain their family business without themselves relying on preexisting social capital. Such as the usual ethnic networks or family ties that formed a socioeconomic niche within their host society. The researcher interviewed 70 entrepreneurs between 1993 and 1995, who had entered the province of Ontario under the Canadian Business Immigration Program(BIP). And they revealed that these entrepreneurs had done extensive market research independently, without themselves relying on their host society's social capital. They don't purchase preexisting firms, and most of them had enough business skill to start their own business from the ground-up. They used their own personal savings to finance their business. They hired mostly immigrant workers that aren't of their own ethnicity. And most of them don't even belong to an ethnic business association. This level of skill and complexity provides their business the diversity to compete and trade in the boarder mainstream market of their host society, and its operation is universal enough to transfer itself from one society to another. They also managed to avoid the negative aspect of themselves relying on social capital, such as the obligation to provide family or co-ethnics with jobs or other resources. In other words, they can operate freely from the restrains that typically comes from within ethnic-communities. The only place where social capital ever came first before these entrepreneurs was when they risked their personal success at their original society for the sake of their children in a better environment. I think this illustrates that strength and safety in the quantity of ethnic homogenizing pales in comparison to the quality of diversity.

Literary item


Munro, A. (2004) Boys and Girls. In R. S. Gwynn and Wanda Campbell (Ed.), Fiction: a pocket anthology (pp. 217 -230) Toronto: Pearson Education Canada Inc.
Summery: Boys and Girls by Alice Munro is a short story about one girl's growing up with her younger brother together, and how the two are treated differently in a family of fox farmers. Who supply the fur trade companies with silver fox pelts, by the whole family working together raising the animals in captivity, feeding them with retired farm animals bought from other farmers, and later on killing them for their furs during fall and early winter. The girl had a desire to work with her father by herself helping alongside him tending the various aspects of the fox raising business, from feeding and watering the animals, to other works on the field. She felt great personal satisfaction and fulfilment, along with parental assurance and approval from working with her father. While at the same time she found work with her mother on domestic labour mostly undignified, stifling, and depressing. During this time she would be playing with her younger brother by themselves engaging with children songs, and she had hopes and dreams for all sorts of exciting adventures. However on her eleventh winter she felt the family had begone instilling the gender role of “girl” on her person, and subsequently made her feeling more and more reclusive from expressing her desire to be with her younger brother; the then “boy” in the family as he grew physically stronger than even her, thus being valued as more suited in the relatively more bloody business of killing the farm animals in order to feed the meat to the silver foxes. While at the same time in her own fantasy adventures, she noticed how she had begone fantasizing herself depending on “boys” rescuing her. Finally, she was mocked by her own father for sympathizing with farm animals at the end of the story by being “just a girl”. I think this provides a cultural reference of where and how human selflessness begins to be devalued by the rest of the society.

Documentary video


Payrastre, D. (Director). (1998). The Third Heaven [Documentary]. Canada: National Film Board of Canada.

Summery: The film was about the Chinese Canadian businessman Michael Lam, how he tried to establish his social capital between Canada, Hong Kong, and China during 1997. Thus forming the cohesion of three Chinese ethnic-networking based on a Chinese proverb of “the shrewd rabbit has three burrows”. I think he was forced into this situation because of the 1997 Hong Kong handover from British to China had created a lot of uncertainty for him, and he perceived this as an unsafe environment. So he tried to establish a sense of familiarity by himself relying on the strong Chinese cultural and family ties.

Synthesis


I don't think capitalism and corporation are essentially neither bad nor good, they're merely neutral powers and tools that can reflect the human essence of those who apply them. Furthermore, just like how human nature is nurture in sociology, both human selfishness and selflessness can be artificially constructed by how we conceptualize and critique our situation. And we do so by how we construct our value system through our laws and regulations.

However, while I think human selfishness can be useful as a short-term solution for self-preservation. This mechanism isn't a good fit for long-term operation of human flourishing. Thus how to integrate between the two system properly during which situation becomes vital in our continual survival. And this all starts from socialization within the family between each members.
Posted 11/16/10
This is a challenging topic. Too bad there are so few of us here that can keep pace.

Every economy needs its cheap labor. All the work forces in the world can agree upon the most inexpensive help possible. Drive costs down while maximizing profits gained from selling an overpriced product made through the blood and sweat of common people.
Posted 11/16/10

Mr_Entropy wrote:

This is a challenging topic. Too bad there are so few of us here that can keep pace.

Every economy needs its cheap labor. All the work forces in the world can agree upon the most inexpensive help possible. Drive costs down while maximizing profits gained from selling an overpriced product made through the blood and sweat of common people.
That's exploitation by taking advantage on the poor, which is why loan-shark and sweatshop exist and operate irregardless of human rights and dignity. While social business is the solution to this problem.

I'll be writing my contemporary social movement paper on Grameen Bank, which ironically has a successful branch in America.
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Posted 11/18/10
Interesting critique, I especially like how the synthesis states selfishness is useful for short term preservation but how it exploits in the long term. Clear and too the point, just how I like it haha. Thats a similar theme Jean-Jaques Rousseau wrote about in "A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality." He takes it a little further and connects the exploitation of workers all the way back to the beginings of human civilization. Its a good read, if you have the time after or between research I highly recomend it!
By the way, is Building Social Buissness a book or an srticle? It looks intruiging.
Posted 11/18/10

vatoL0c0 wrote:

Interesting critique, I especially like how the synthesis states selfishness is useful for short term preservation but how it exploits in the long term. Clear and too the point, just how I like it haha. Thats a similar theme Jean-Jaques Rousseau wrote about in "A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality." He takes it a little further and connects the exploitation of workers all the way back to the beginings of human civilization. Its a good read, if you have the time after or between research I highly recomend it!
By the way, is Building Social Buissness a book or an srticle? It looks intruiging.
Thanks for the comment, like I said I was trying to be impartial and unbiased after I decided to place corporation and capitalism in a neutral position; I can't be angry on an imaginary concept, it has no human emotion whatsoever.

Building Social Business is indeed a book that just came out this year.
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