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Let Friedman Ring

September 13th, 2006 · 1 Comment

Somehow or other, I never did get around to putting The Corporation (over two hours of lefty-licious propaganda in documentary form!) on my Netflix queue. Which, as it turns out, is too bad, since it includes this rather jaundiced but, at any rate, well-harmonized musical summary of Milton Friedman’s position on corporate social responsibility and school choice. You can watch the whole thing, full-sized, at Google Video.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Richard Garner // Sep 17, 2006 at 7:01 pm

    Hey Julian,

    My friend put on Corporation for about an hour before we went out last night, so I didn’t get to see the whole thing. But I think my reaction disappointed my friend. During it, when they mentioned corporate responsibility, my friend said that there was a “stupid” occassion in US case law where an officer of a corporation was taken to court for trying to promote environmental protection over the bottome line. I responded by pointing out that I would be pissed off if I had worked all my life to earn a good pension, and then found that it was a pitance because my pension company had invested it in a company that cared about the environment rather than the bottom line.

    Then there was the ridiculous bit in the film where they show that employees in the third world earn low wages and work under poor conditions. I was desperate to shout out, well, “what is that wage compared to the local average”? There was no attempt to answer the two obvious questions: Since low wages would normally attract competitors, giving workers a chance to bid their wages up to marginal product, one is this not happening, if not, why not? Does this not have something to do with the environment in which the corporation operates rather than the corporation itself? or, two, if this is happening, and wages are still low, might this simply be because third world producers are not as productive as first world ones? But no, there was the assertion that because workers earn very little, there is exploitation, and, since workers are paid by corporations, and corporations buy their products, it is the corporation’s fault.

    The same reaction with the whole bit on pollution. The showed the refuse of a paper mill floating down some New England river, and rabbitted on about how corporations naturally seek to externalise their costs. I was, like, well surely everybody naturally wants to externalise their costs?! Everybody would rather somebody else foots the bill for their little pleasures – you don’t have to be a corporation to seek to be able to externalise the costs. The problem here is not that there are corporations, but that they are able to externalise costs, because nobody owns the river.

    Naomi Klein was on the film, talking about de-nationalised zones. I recounted an anecdote from Johann Norberg about how he looked at Klein’s research on free trade zones in her No Logo, and found that she hadn’t actually been to any.

    I think I disappointed my friend who wanted me to be impressed.