The Anti-Corporate Stance of Lou Dobbs

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Mother Jones has a feature article about Lou Dobbs conversion to an anti-corporate position. It's an interesting read, although I agree with very little of what Dobbs has to say.

"You have to understand," Dobbs continued. "I'm a guy who believed in the system. I truly believed that if a person was running a Fortune 500 company, that he was playing by the rules. That disappointment, that failure to live up to standards, is something I think we all share. It drove me ballistic."

Point taken. I consider myself fairly "anti-Wall Street" but I see no need to expand that to corporations in general. Just as those on the left would argue that you don't abandon the welfare system just because a portion of the beneficiaries game it, I would argue that you shouldn't hold all corporations responsible for the ethical lapses of the few. Sure, companies do lots of stupid things, but so do governments, non-profits, and any institution that is composed of people.

Corporate America puts up with lots of bad press, yet no one ever points out that these are the places most people work. If they go, so do the jobs. I mean, we can't all work for the government, as nice as that may sound to some pundits. The way to fix a system like this is to change the incentive structure, or to increase information flow so that interested parties can make better decisions. Laws and regulations too often fix one problem but cause a new one, which is why I say use the carrot, not the stick.

And anyway, there are plenty of young businesspundits like myself who see business as a noble calling – one that is fun and full of challenging problems. As we climb the corporate ranks, I think we will build a very different corporate culture over the next 20 years.