Individual responsibility

We ran across an interesting passage the other day.  The author was writing about the emerging use of corporations to control businesses in the 1860’s:

No other event has had so practical a bearing on our politics and our economic and social life as the advent of the corporate device for owning and manipulating private business.  For it links the omnipotence of the State to the limitations of private ownership; it thrusts the interests of private business into every legislature that grants charters or passes regulating acts;

Then he wrote about circumstances that most of us deal with every day:

it diminishes on the other hand, that stimulus to honesty and correct dealing which a private individual discerns to be his greatest asset in trade, for it replaces individual responsibility with group responsibility and scatters ownership among so large a number of persons that sinister manipulation is possible.  Samuel P. Orth

We deserve better


7 Responses to Individual responsibility

  1. As his readers would say in 1860, “Hear! Hear!”


  2. Don't Cherry Pick Quotes says:

    Random, out of context, cherry picked quotes from a long out of print book. The book is called “The Boss and the Machine” and can be found in the Google Archives. The author is describing the issues after the Civil War and the Tammany Hall “machine” in New York City as well as other scandals of the day. It is an interesting from a historical perspective, but it is also slanted, and reads more like a long opinion piece, rather than a true history. Sort of like a book by Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity.


    • Chico says:

      Agree or not … the piece raises a critique of corporations. why not question it on its merits/weaknesses? versus just name calling?

      I don’t necessarily agree fully with the quote … but it is worth noting that the banking scandals of the last decade were such that “scattered ownership” allowed many to profit when their performance was sub-par.


    • Reality Checker says:

      Those quotes are not at all out of context. Even if they were, both of those excerpts stand on their own and are more true and relevant today than ever.

      Corporations and their lobbyists “own” congress (the parties) and are feeding at troughs of money given to them by congress. That’s why most corporations donate to both candidates and both parties in almost every election.

      Corporations have the best of both worlds; they claim to be individuals and insist on having the rights of individuals when it affects their ability to influence elections and control government. When it comes to accountability or the legal system, however, they use the corporation as a shield to protect the corporate executives from personal accountability. That’s why no GM executive was charged individually after GM executives covered up the fact that faulty ignitions were killing people. More than 120 people died.

      Since you want to nitpick, the book is not out of print. You can order a reprint from Amazon. Plus, the source you reference is called Google Books, not Google Archives. If a book is available in electronic form, it’s not out of print.

      Don’t Cherry Pick Quotes almost sounds like Deputy Dawg.


    • Pray Tell says:

      Since you’re the expert rhetorician, please enlighten us on how and why these quotes are out of context.


  3. The worst development in corporate behavior is the contemporary practice of separating risk takers (share holders, consumers, and employees) from money takers (nomadic managerial class). We need to discontinue rewarding failing executives.


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