[E]ven though most of us are not conscienceless psychopaths, when we make investing decisions we often act as if we are. This observation casts an interesting light on Joel Bakan’s award-winning 2004 documentary “The Corporation.” In that film, Bakan argued that because corporate managers believe they must maximize shareholder wealth, a corporation is a “psychopathic creature” that “can neither recognize nor act upon moral reasons to refrain from harming others.” To the extent this is true, shareholders themselves may be largely to blame. As University of Toronto law professor Ian Lee puts it, “if corporations are in fact ‘pathological’ profit-maximizers, it is not because of corporate law, but because of pressure from shareholders.”

The makers of Bushmaster guns – the gun of choice for today’s compleat carnage connoisseur – are as we speak suffering a sudden de-psychopathologization among American investors.

No worries, though. They’ll take the business to overseas investors.

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3 Responses to “Or how all those nice people invested their life savings with that bad man, Bernard Madoff.”

  1. Jack/OH Says:

    Limited liability–the virtue is its own vice. Bakan–thanks for the mention of him, UD–is right. Corporations externalize costs. Ask the mayors of a hundred Midwestern cities about their costly brownfields, the legacy of long-gone industries that made other folks wealthy. (I’m a longtime Libertarian voter, too–free markets, free minds, and full recognition of the costs of enterprise.)

  2. Alan Allport Says:

    The folks at Bushmaster have apparently had their own man cards revoked; the campaign’s marketing site disappeared yesterday without a word of explanation.

    But don’t worry, apparently they’re working on a new pitch to the frightened and angry little boys who make up their target demographic. “Remember those queers and bitches who made you feel small? Now you’ll show ’em.”

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Alan: Yes – I expect the evolution of that marketing campaign to become a case study at Harvard Business School.

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