In loving memory of governments

A month ago, I read the following news title1:

Alaska governor asks Elon Musk to build the Cybertruck in his state

It used to be that corporations ought to follow the letter of the law that governments set, and that letter existed to protect the citizens2. Now, political governors ask, not as in command, but as in beg, the leaders of corporations, to help them. As if they say: "You are the king and wherever you install your wealth maker, that place will bloom. Please install it at our place."

National governments didn't do such a great job over the last decades, so why not let corporations show the way now?

Unfortunately, corporations care about exactly one thing: to have a greater profit than last year. Same profit, however ludicrous it might be, isn't going to work; it must be higher. This economic-profit-über-ales tactic already causes the deepest of problems on a societal level. By having corporations rule on a country level, we invite economic inequality to rise more and faster3.

This is hardly the first instance of this issue. Amazon, in 2017, announced their plan to build their second HQ, and then invited governments to bid (!) using tax breaks. Amazon is one of the world's most valuable companies, and its founder the richest man alive. Not only can they afford to pay all their taxes, but they should pay to contribute as much as they can in the government budget for the public.

In our economic paradigm, avoiding taxes is success. Sadly, too, the richer someone is, the easier it is to avoid taxes.

Had we cared about the status quo of centralized government and its merits we might have considered that paying taxes is nobility, generosity, and virtue. We might have also celebrated that companies actually care about public healthcare and pensions. I dream of having a public scoreboard that will rank both companies and individuals of how much money they contribute in excess of the required, source of great respect from peers and favored. Instead, what we consider an accomplishment is not paying taxes.

The unsustainability of unregulated capitalism on an economic level matches perfectly that of the environmental level. People will die, both from poverty and from extreme storms, while the tres commas club members emerge victorious at the final boss battle in the golden age of individualism: that of finally being alone.


  2. At least that was the impression I had when I grew up, in Greece. 

  3. It's not totally unrelated that even Elon Musk proposed to privatize Tesla, possibly to get rid of the profit maximizers, hence focusing on actual product building.