Corporate Tyranny in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

Corporate Tyranny in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

In this speech from 1936, Roosevelt explains that political equality is of little use unless there is equality of opportunity in the marketplace. Franklin D. Roosevelt: Acceptance Speech for the Renomination for the Presidency, Philadelphia, Pa.

I have for years struggled with the dichotomy of the American citizen, who is "free" in the political realm but goes to work every day from 9 to 5 working for a tyrant.

The American corporation is an instrument of tyranny. Ladder climbers, back stabbers, tyrannical bosses, I have seen it all. A corporation, in fact any organization, has no soul. Witness the Pope lambasting the Holy See last week. His criticisms were so valid they were universally applicable to all human organizations.

Chairman Mao noticed the spirit of his revolution waning, so he instituted the Cultural Revolution, a disaster in practice but a theory with some justification. Jack Welch hated the bureaucracy GE had descended into and so opened Crotonville in NY to revive the spirit of the start-up within GE. (which largely failed).

Hostess Brands may provide a blueprint for an effective revolution. The unions strangled the Pennsylvania company. It went bankrupt from expensive payrolls, inefficient factories stymied by years of antedeluvian resistance from union Luddites. So the company declared bankruptcy, sold the brand and recipes to a hedge fund, which re-started the company as a viable profit-making enterprise.

Why can't the business community agree to subject every company that has ossified from years of bureaucratic management to a restructuring where aged, inefficient factories are shuttered, workforces lacking vibrancy and entrepreneurialism are let go, and the company brand is then given a new lease of life with new management at a new location with new investors?

Instead of brands and recipes belonging permanently to a company, they can be rented for 10 years, after which time the right of those workers and managers to that intellectual property and branding expires and the crown jewels are put out to bid again for a new, more dynamic management to step in? Patents expire after 17 years. Even property ownership effectively expires in places like Hawaii and London, two of the most dynamic property markets in the world. Why can't ownership of brands and patents and secret recipes expire as well rather than living forever as a god-given right in the monopolistic hands of the inept and depraved?

These are not just theories. They are perhaps the most viable means in the modern world to achieve the aims of Jefferson and Franklin and Patrick Henry, whose theories of political freedoms have run into the wall of corporate and bureaucratic tyranny in modern America.

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