Topic: Where in the Bible
I will begin my series on "Where in the Bible" does it teach various aspects of modern Conservative political doctrine with this intriguing question:
Where in the Bible does it teach the sanctity of the modern business corporation?
Where does the Bible speak of corporations at all?
The genius of the modern business corporation as an economic tool consists of three elements--
1) a corporation has an exsitence, albeit a fictional existence (in the sense of a legal fiction), beyond the existence of the mortal human beings who belong to it, and can thus be used to accumulate wealth beyond a human lifetime;
2) the human members of the corporate entity have a loyalty and a fiduciary duty to serve the profit of the fictional entity itself, not to themselves or to any other mortal human; and
3) the modern business corporation is a "limited liability" entity in whcih its owners (the usually faceless "stockholders") are liable to lose only the amounts they have freely chosen to invest and not the amount of any other damage the entity may do to third parties. All of these elements are important if corporations are to accumulate capital and continue growing and producing more. Or, at least, this is what traditional economic theory says: the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of our modern and prosperous economy, depended upon the legal invention of stable "limited liability" corporate entities that continued to grow over several generations.
But what I want to know is where the Bible either prescribes or encourges any of the three essential elements of a modern business corporation. it seems to me that any the first and second elements, if unmodified, are invitations to idolatry, and that all three, if left unchecked, invite greedy exploitation of people for the profit of faceless machines.
Organizing an economy around fictional entities to which the legal system ascribes at least two attributes of divinity--immortality and the right to the worship (unquestioned loyalty) of men--pretty plainly can lead to idolatry. Moreover, the fact that the people who belong to a corporate machine are generally conceived as having a first duty to the profits of that machine, ahead of any duty to mere mortal humans (such as compassion, mercy, or ethical obligations), plainly invites greedy exploitation and ethical abuses--such as, indeed, we have been seeing with increasing numbers and intensity of late.
However, the element of a modern business corporation which makes the other two really dangerous, if given too much legal protection, is limited liability. When you combine immortal legal entities that exist only for their own profit, with human members doing the actual work who are not allowed to act on compassion or ethical impulses in the face of the demands of the immortal entities to which they belong, and you add to that control by major stockholders and officers who know that they cannot lose anything more than they have voluntarily contributed, no matter how badly their deceisions mess up the lives of their employees or innocent (and totally unimportant!) third parties, you have a real recipe for oppression. It's virtually guaranteed. And it has been happening. It is breaking out in the news all over.
But when anyone talks about changing this part of the system, even a little, people start waiving their Bibles and calling the person calling for change a "godless atheist Communist."
What I want to know is where in the Bible it prescribes that business corporations should be permitted to exist with minimum regulation.
I invite comments on this question (and will publish any I receive, so long as they refrain from profane language and character attacks on real, living people).