Stop the greedy giants!

We have a bug in our legal system: we grant unlimited rights on property to fictive persons while demanding only limited responsibility for the risks of their activity.

On this page I explain that bug and launch a call to fix it. Let’s stop the greedy giants!

Greediness is a good thing

Capitalism makes greediness legal. That’s it’s basic advantage compared to communism. That’s why pure communism can’t work. We cannot expect humans to do make efforts if they don’t get some reward for their work. And money is the only reasonable reward you can get for your effort because you are then free to choose how to use it. Capitalism itself is not the bug. I am not promoting communism.

Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights confirms this when it says that “everyone has the right to own property”.

Note that article 17 adds “alone as well as in association with others”. And article 23 (4) gets more concrete when it says “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

Here is where it gets slippery. This is the place where the authors of the declaration obviously didn’t think about the long-term consequences of not making a difference between humans and trade unions.

A “trade union”, as far as I can see, is what I call a private corporation.

Yes, another great thing with us humans is that we can collaborate. We can create corporations that enable us to achieve things that need more than one human life to get done. That’s an important feature. That’s not the bug. Corporations are not our problem.

Our problem is that we are also giving these corporations the right to be greedy. We give them a name, personify them as legal persons and grant them certain rights like entering into contract, introduce a law suit against others, having secrets, and making profit.

We believe that the freedom to pursue your own profit is a human right, yes, but please let us stop to believe that it is also a right for private corporations.

Being greedy might be okay –at least tolerable– for small and medium trade unions. The problem starts when these private corporations get more powerful than the national government who created and controls them. That’s the bug. Theoretically it should be easy to fix. Once more I say Stop the greedy giants!.

The main difficulty with this bug is that it is a fundamental change in a complex system. The majority of the relatively few humans who understand it won’t want us to fix it because that would deprive them from a convenient source of income they have gotten used to. And most of the many humans who would benefit from it don’t have the expertise to defend it.

How to do it

Basically we just need to change the legal base we used when creating them.

Here is one idea: force every private corporation to convert into a foundation when its size exceeds a given limit.

Any private corporation can convert into a public foundation at any moment by simply deciding to buy back all shares. The price to be offered per share is to be determined by legally regulated rules, based on the corporation’s available reserves. There must be a balance between giving to the owners what they deserve and keeping the corporation’s activity alive for the next months so that those who believe in its usefulness can collect public funds and donations in order to continue their job.

TODO: the above idea needs feedback and help from experts.