What is a Corporation?

You may be wondering what a “corporation” actually is, or perhaps, how I define it on my blog; as well as that parameters that I’m going to follow as I embark on my journey of anti-corporate living. I, too, find this act of spelling out what exactly I mean by a “corporation”, to be both informative and necessary; so that I don’t ignorantly defy my own (self-imposed) values and ideals.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “corporation” as:

“1:   a a group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild 
        b the municipal authorities of a town or city
2a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession
3an association of employers and employees in a basic industry or of members of a profession organized as an organ of political representation in a corporative state”
Number two most closely aligns with what I think of when I hear the word “corporation”, however, it doesn’t quite capture the colloquial meaning of the word, or what we counter-corporation-ists choose to defy.
Incorporated“, meanwhile, means “1united in one body 2formed into a legal corporation”; now we’re getting closer. But let’s drill down even further: Entrepreneur.com provides a more detailed explanation in the context of incorporating a business which in its simplest forms means filing articles of incorporation with the state in which the company is registered, and the legal meaning: “A form of business operation that declares the business as a separate, legal entity guided by a group of officers known as the board of directors”. As they point out, “A corporate structure is perhaps the most advantageous way to start a business because the corporation exists as a separate entity. In general, a corporation has all the legal rights of an individual, except for the right to vote and certain other limitations”.
Now that the foundation for our shared meaning of the word “corporation” and “incorporated” is established, it is important to make a clear distinction about the type of corporations that I am going to proactively avoid. Indeed, I do not wish to generalize or paint a broad stroke about all businesses that have filed articles of incorporation; declaring them wholly evil or negative, because that would be both ignorant and false. Nor do I plan to avoid all incorporated businesses, since this too would be nearly impossible and unnecessarily difficult. Rather, when I refer to “corporations”, I mean mega-sized corporations that are conglomerates of subsidiaries that span many industries and countries, with billion dollar revenue streams. More importantly, I define them by their goals: those of total market domination, perpetual stock market growth, irreversible environmental damage, and staggering political influence.
For an introduction on some mega corporations, 2016’s list of the top ten largest corporations can be found here and 2017’s list can be found here. As you’ll note, the list largely stayed the same aside from the addition of Berkshire Hathaway to the list for this year. For these companies and their owners/CEOs, it is about ever-expanding resource control and power that comes with the sheer size and level of reach that they have over our daily lives and existence.
Lastly, I’m not going to be naive and expect businesses to not try and increase their profits and market shares because that is the very basis of business and competition; however, the difference lies in the intent and values of companies and corporations, and whether they have ethical business practices. In addition, I believe that it is important to support companies that treat their employees well, engage in responsible resource management, and strive to improve their communities instead of taking advantage of them for their own gain. Therefore, I will not draw a line in the sand and create an arbitrary dollar threshold that separates acceptable companies as those that generate profits less than $X from unacceptable companies that produce profits greater than $X.  Rather, I believe it’s important to make mindful choices about the companies from which you purchase your goods and services. Since spending money is the equivalent to, if not more influential, than casting an actual ballot.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this, so please share below!

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