Evil Corporations

This post by Dave Ramsey captures a lot of what I feel about the Occupy Wall Street folks (HT to the Pantsless One).  The one thing Dave doesn't really cover that has struck me as I've read various stories and laughed at some of the signs is that there seems to be a lack of understanding on what a corporation is and does.  Mostly this has been addressed with the type of sarcasm shown in the linked picture above.

What I would like to do is to discuss what a corporation is and some of my personal experiences with "evil" corporations.  A corporation is simply a legal entity that provides a group of individuals personal protection from legal and financial liability.  If a corporation goes bankrupt or is accused of a crime the individuals making up the corporation don't automatically end up bankrupt or in jail.

My younger brother is a chiropractor.  He is also the sole owner of a corporation.  His corporation of one is not uncommon.  It allows him to practice medicine with a lower financial risk.   Many of his patients have no idea he is also a corporation.  As an individual and a doctor, he treats them, but he bills them as a corporation.  Is he rich?  Far from it  Since opening his own practice he is barely breaking even, and most months puts almost all of his profit back into his business.  This is the "evil" of a corporation.  Healing people with his own two hands.

I've worked for a couple of corporations.  One was the type most folks think of when they hear corporation.  It was (and is) a multinational corporation with manufacturing in the United States, China, Italy, India, and Switzerland to name a few.  Their sales offices are all across the world.  This evil corporation payed me a good salary, trained me, and sent me to their manufacturing facilities in Switzerland and Italy for further training.  I got to ride a train through the alps thanks to an evil corporation.  I also got to become a much better engineer.  I was also personally involved in supplying parts so that a hospital, a water treatment plant, a geothermal power plant, and many other industries and facilities could either be built or continue to operate.  We made money, but I don't remember having to fulfill our evil quotient.

One of the other corporations I worked for even had the evil word in its name.  When I started there we had four full time employees and three part time employees.  This corporation gave me my first job.  The pay wasn't great, but the experience was invaluable.  Working at a corporation of 7 forced me to wear many hats, and gave me an understanding of business and engineering that many of my peers do not have because they haven't been exposed to it.

So when I see signs protesting the evils of the corporation, understand why I might have a tendency to point laugh and shake my head in disgust.  Corporations have allowed me to feed and clothe my family.  Corporations have provided me training and allowed me to grow as a professional.  Corporations have allowed me to be where and what I am today, and I'm not the only one.

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