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Reich_CorporationAsInvisibleGovernment_Ch46inCharon - 46...

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46 The Corporation as Invisible Government CHARLES A. REICH The Four Questions 1. What is the problem that Reich identifies? 2. Why is this a social problem? Who gets hurt? Is society hurt? Is this an important concern to many people? 3. What causes this problem? 4. What are Reich's suggestions for improvement? Topics Covered Free market Government Corporation Welfare state Managerial system Elites T he invisible government hides behind two myths: the myth of the "free market," and the myth of "big government?' In fact, the most impor- tant changes in America have been the disappearance of the free market and the ineffectuality of public government. Yet public government is all that we see and hear about. We are not told that the growth of public government was a response—a secondary phenomenon. The primary trend has been the growth of private, corporate government. Public government has been repeatedly called upon to protect individuals and society from harm caused by private government, including the Depression of the 1930s. As private corporations and their oper- ations became national and international in scope, state and local governments proved unable to regu- late activities beyond their borders. Private economic government is a far more important factor in the lives of individuals than public government. Private government controls people by controlling their ability to make a living. In order to get a job, have a career, escape the abyss of being rejected or discarded, people will accept the dictates of corporate and institutional employ- ers, even when these dictates go far beyond anything that public government could constitu- tionally impose. Employers can and do demand a degree of subservience and conformity that public government could never require. Economic pun- ishment is a more effective weapon than the pun- ishment inflicted by law. Dismissal can be a more efficient means of destroying people than the death penalty. Public government is limited in what it can do to individuals by the provisions of the Constitution; private government is subject to no such limitations. Prior to World War II, the presence of private economic power was a major issue in American life. William Jennings Bryan's populism, Theodore Roosevelt's trustbusting, Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal SOURCE: From Charles A. Reich, Opposing the System. Crown Publishers, Inc., 1995. Reprinted by permission of Gerard McCauley Agency. 501
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504 PART X SOCIAL PROBLEMS RELATED TO POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS which the government was soon called upon to solve. Small businesses and farmers were squeezed or forced out of business. Consumers found them- selves confronting prices fixed by monopolies. Workers experienced disadvantage in bargaining
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