Punishing a legal fiction: The company or the individual

Just in the context of recent news regarding VW and the scandal regarding the manipulating of cars to pass environmental tests which reminds me of the whole debate regarding ‘corporate personhood’ along with a conversation running around the same time where some were questioning why shareholders should be getting punished by having the corporate pay a fine when it isn’t the company who made the decision but it was individuals within the company who made the decision. This makes perfect sense given that the whole concept is corporate personhood was created to hold companies liable but that assumes that companies are actually a living entity when in reality it is merely a collection of individuals (employees) that come together to accomplish a task and receive compensation in the form of salary or wages for their labour. Companies don’t make decisions, individuals within organisations make decisions and if you prosecute the company but not the individuals who made the decision then what is the worst that can happen? A few shareholders get pissed off and demand the said person is fired? will that really act as deterrent to others in the future if people know the worst they can expect is a slap with a wet bus ticket akin to being give a light smack on the bum and told “don’t do that again”?

As a side note, I was reading yet another example of an American whining about corporations dodging tax whilst he goes on about ‘states rights’ how big federal government is ‘bad’. It is funny how so many haven’t cottoned onto the fact that a decentralisation of revenue collection results in a race to the bottom as states compete with each other over who can cut taxes, reduce regulations and basically just burn their environment to the ground for the sake of winning businesses over to move to their neck of the woods. If you want to decentralise administration then sure, that makes sense, but to decentralise the collection of revenue all because of some mythology that federal government is ‘bad’ but ‘big state government’ is apparently good then you’ll keep seeing the same messes come up in the US of states like Mississippi sit at the bottom of almost every social development index available. Oh well, it appears that you’ve got to leave someone to keep stubbing their toe before they realise that maybe it would be best to move the coffee table and turn on the light before going into the lounge room.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s