Illth Creators

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Peter Barnes on Corporations as "illth creators"

"Growth of negative externalities is a result of several factors, the most obvious of which are changes in human population and technology. We are no longer small bands of hunters, gatherers, farmers and artisans; we are industrialists, chemists, shoppers and SUV drivers -- and there are 6.5 billion of us. Our aggregate activities heavily affect our neighbors and our planet. In fact, we've pushed many vital ecosystems to the point where unpredictable, non-linear changes are occurring. A less obvious but equally potent cause of illth is the behavior of modern corporations. Their profit-maximizing algorithm makes them shift as many costs as possible to workers, taxpayers, nature and future generations, all of whom are off their balance sheets. As investment manager Robert Monks has noted, "The corporation is an externalizing machine in the same way a shark is a killing machine. There isn't any question of malevolence or of will. The enterprise has within it, as the shark has within it, those characteristics that enable it to do that for which it is designed."