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Tom’s Opinion: The Myth of Corporate Greed

The Myth of Corporate Greed (Flickr Photo by Michael Coghlan)

It’s almost impossible to pick up a paper or find a cable news show that’s not talking about corporate greed and corruption. Corporations get all the subsidies and tax breaks. They enslave American workers. Now that Citizen’s United is the law of the land, corporations they will soon be buying elections. It all sounds really great in a 10 second sound bite. But if you take the time to look deeper — it’s all a myth.

The Myth of Subsidies and Tax Breaks

If I want to move my company to Ireland because of more favorable tax rates, that will make me more competitive in a global market, then why shouldn’t I be able to deduct my moving and relocation expenses? If Joe’s Shoe Store wants to move from Main Street to the new mall, Joe gets the same deal. So where exactly is the greed? I’m guessing most people would say that Joe is keeping jobs here and my company is not. And, for the most part that would be true.

But Joe is competing in a market that has a more level playing field. Joe is competing against similar stores, in the same area, that have basically the same expenses he does. I am competing in a global marketplace against companies that don’t have to comply with wage and hour laws, or OSHA, or overtime, or union contracts, the EPA, or provide medical and dental benefits.

The Myth of Working Conditions

Slavery in this country was abolished over 100 years ago. No one is forced to work for anyone anymore. If you are unhappy with your job then leave. There is no other country on earth where there is more freedom of employment. And, there is no other country in the world that has more laws to protect workers rights and working conditions. When I hear that corporate America takes advantage of workers I just have to laugh. If anything it’s the other way around.

When unemployment in Bozeman was below 5%, it’s currently 5.7% in Montana, employers were offering twice minimum wage for entry-level jobs and a $200 signing bonus if you lasted 60 days or more. Employee costs are the largest single expense for most companies, large or small. The best employees are going to DEMAND fair compensation for their skills along with benefits as well. So please, spare me the corporate geed when it comes to employees. Corporations realize the value of not only hiring, but also keeping good employees. Many of today’s most successful CEO’s started at the entry level in their companies.

The Myth That Corporations Cheat Customers

My wife and I were shopping the other day and surprisingly no one rushed up and put a gun to my head and forced me to buy a product. Yet people seem to feel that corporations make billions of dollars in profits by somehow making people purchase products they don’t need with money they don’t seem to have. According to the US Debt Clock, corporations have assets of $18 trillion dollars while American consumers have assets of $67 trillion. Which group do you think wields the most power?

Corporate profits are overwhelmingly controlled by the consumer’s emotions. Just because a corporation exists today doesn’t guarantee it’s continued existence. Once powerful corporations like Circuit City, Borders Books, Mervyn’s, Linen’s & Things, and Montgomery Ward, are all out of business today because consumers found more beneficial alternatives.

Some Final Thoughts

If there is one truism I’ve found in my 40 plus years of studying businesses, and how they work, it’s this. No business can succeed for long unless it helps someone. The product has to be useful or needed by the consumer or that business is destined to fail. Customer greed for the benefits of the products and services will keep a company profitable but all the corporate greed in the world will not. I’ll modify an old saying to drive the point home, “You can lead customers to your store; but you can’t make them buy.” Oh, and Exxon just passed Apple as the most valuable company — guess Apple wasn’t greedy enough to keep the top spot.

Tom Egelhoff is an Amazon best selling author of three small business books. His 400+ page web site www.smalltownmarketing.com is one of the oldest continuous sites on the internet. He has been featured on MSNBC’s “Your Business” and quoted in business publications in China, Turkey, India and the UK. He hosts “Open for Business” each week, 11-2 PM Mountain Time on http://kmmsam.com

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