a crash course in corporate profiteering

Strictly in pop-political terms, it seems as if conservatives are generally in favor of corporations but suspicious of government (aka the deregulated "free market"), while liberals are suspicious of corporations but in favor of government. Although the evils of government are easy to list, it is often too easy to forget the good that government can do, such as roads and social safety nets. Nevertheless, the ability of the private sector to fulfill the public-good functions of government is a powerful ideology. And that ideology fails to take in account situations such this one, recently reported by the Associated Press:

AP IMPACT: Cars made in Brazil are deadly

It seems that Brazil has four times the fatalities in passenger car accidents than the US, and the problem is "the cars themselves, produced with weaker welds, scant safety features and inferior materials compared to similar models manufactured for U.S. and European consumers, say experts and engineers inside the industry. Four of Brazil's five bestselling cars failed their independent crash tests."

Carmakers, of course, claim their cars meet Brazilian safety laws, although "the country's few safety activists perceive a deadly double standard, with automakers earning more money from selling cars that offer drivers fewer safeguards." They might, indeed, be following the law...and if that law happens to result in considerably less safety than, say, US law...well, tough luck for Brazilian drivers, right? Caveat emptor.

The lesson is that, when left to their own initiative, it is all-too-easy for corporations to choose profit above people and the environment. Examples such as this highlights the fact that corporate authority is something to be wary of just as much as government authority, a position that ultimately rejects the doctrinal positions of both pop-conservatism and pop-liberalism, as well as refutes libertarianism as fundamentally misguided (read: fatally flawed) anarcho-capitalism. Ultimately, the problem is an age-old conundrum. Just as there is good governance and bad governance (in the moral sense), there is good business and bad business. The difference between the good and the bad is, of course, people.

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