The Hittman Chronicle

Page 2

Say Good-Bye to Big Business

If you think you'll be spared this nonsense because you've worked hard and carefully invested in the stock market, think again. The Greens, who love litigation and oppose any kind of tort reform, plan to Make corporate shareholders bear the same liabilities as other property owners. So when mouth-breathing juries or government bottom feeders bankrupt a business with lawsuits, you won't just lose the value of your stock, you'll also have to kick in your personal assets to cover the bill. Of course, there won't be many big businesses left anyway, because every company worth more than $20 million will have to prove it's behaving ecologically and politically correctly:

Periodic Review of Corporate Charters: A public corporate charter review process for each corporation above $20 million in assets every 20 years to see if it is serving the public interest according to social and ecological as well as financial criteria.

And even if a corporation survives this gauntlet, they could still be voted out of existence by the public: Establish the right of citizens to vote on the expansion or phasing out of products and industries, especially in areas of dangerous or toxic production.

Several years ago I did some contract work for one of the world's largest R&D centers. It's owned by one of the world's largest corporations, a company thoroughly hated by the Greens. (Please forgive my lack of specifics; I'm honoring the non-disclosure statement I signed.) One of their research products was a digital mammography system that replaced conventional x-ray film with a glass plate that recorded a digital picture. If it worked as expected, it would offer significant advantages over film. It required lower doses of radiation to generate the image, making the process much safer. Conventional, film based x-rays take time to develop and create chemical waste; this system would make pictures available instantly, with no chemicals. Film x-rays take up a lot of storage space, are fragile, and deteriorate over time; these pictures could be stored on a CD forever. They could be transmitted to other doctors anywhere in the world with no loss of quality. (Most of us already know how to send pictures of breasts over the Internet.) And the process could be less expensive than traditional x-ray mammography, making it available to more women.

This one research project cost thirty million dollars. This was not a thirty-million-dollar investment with a guaranteed payoff, it was a thirty million dollar gamble, an attempt to invent a technology that didn't exist. When the project was started no one knew if it would work at all, or work well, or work cheaply enough to be marketable. Many of the projects initiated at this center fail, and are written off.

Twenty million dollar companies don't make thirty million dollar gambles. Only multi-billion dollar companies can afford that much risk. When the Greens destroy large companies they're going to destroy every complex product they might have invented, including ones like this.

This company employees more than a quarter of a million people, and pays most of them well. Another hundred thousand are enjoying comfortable retirements financed by company stocks they purchased during their employment. When the Greens close down this company (and it will be one of the first ones they go after) all those people will be unemployed, the retirees will suddenly be holding worthless stock, and the hundreds of thousands of other jobs created directly (like mine, at the time) and indirectly by the company will vanish. But at least we'll have low paying state jobs to replace them.

This company is absolutely despised by the Greens, and with some justification. They've made some substantial messes in the past and haven't always been good about cleaning up after themselves. If the Greens come to power this company will vanish like a fart in a hurricane. So will the rest of the Fortune 500:

Democratic Conversion of Big Business: Mandatory break-up and conversion to democratic worker, consumer, and/or public ownership on a human scale of the largest 500 US industrial and commercial corporations that account for about 10% of employees, 50% of profits, 70% of sales, and 90% of manufacturing assets.

They'd also Require breakup of any firm with more than 10% market share unless it makes a compelling case every five years in a public regulatory proceeding that it serves the public interest to keep the firm intact.

Say good-bye to the country's largest employers, and be prepared to do without the goods and services you've lived with for years. Farewell, Corvette. Hello, Yugo.

And kiss that mammography machine good-bye.

Of course, it wouldn't play out exactly that way. Most big companies are international, and they'd just pack up and move out of the US. We could wave at them across the border. We might even be able to buy some of their stuff, if the Greens will let it in the country (they oppose free trade) and if we can find a job that pays more than $26K a year.

Next Page: But it will be good for Small Business, right?
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November, 2000

© 2000 Dave Hitt

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