On Corporate Citizenship and Anti-Ford Sentiment
September 17, 2000
This is a rebuttal against the Korea Times article on September 16, 2000, “Ford’s Withdrawal Casts Doubts on Corporate Citizenship” written by staff reporter, Oh Young-jin, and Korea Herald’s “Anti-Ford Sentiment Mounting” on September 18, 2000 by unknown reporter.
The articles appeared to be prompted by the Ford Company’s decision to abandon the $6.9 billion of a non-binding offer to buy out Daewoo Motor Co. and the reporter’s illusion that Ford, a corporate citizen, should have behaved as a good and responsible citizen not to renege their offer in the time of a dire situation in South Korean financial restructuring process.
The reporter of Korea Times has rhapsodized: “Taking their statements at face value, there seems to be no adequate reasons whatsoever to make Ford give up its bid, should the American automaker be a responsible corporate citizen as it is said to be”, and he pitifully lamented that the South Korean taxpayers have to assume more financial burden because the bankrupt Daewoo has been on the top of the restructuring agenda and Ford’s generous offer to buy was believed to have cleared the clouds on the country’s economic horizon.
The Korea Herald has echoed with the nationalistic hyperbole quoting the ever-present and self- claimed civic activists: “We are slighted by the US automaker’s change of attitude and promise to launch a massive boycott of Ford products in Korea.”
Daewoo unionists were more ignorant about the practices of the multi-national corporations, declaring that Ford was utterly irresponsible and it is unprecedented in global business practices to see multinational firm abruptly and unilaterally pull out of takeover negotiation.
In the first place, it is extremely pathetic to read the articles, that is utterly naïve, ignorant, and uninformative, would reach the mind and knowledge of millions of South Koreans, whom they were persuaded to believe that Ford is one of them, a corporate one, which somewhat contributes for the sake of the country, sacrificing corporate’s life in the nick of time to save the financial difficulties of the nation.
The reporter’s question how responsible a corporate citizen, Ford Motor Co. was is basically a non sequitur that does not hold water in respect to the accountability and obligation of the corporation. It boggles the mind how the reporter has come to perceive that the corporations would behave in the matter that help and promote the benefits of the fellow citizens other than their shareholders. Furthermore, it is nebulous what country the American automaker is accountable for its behavioral obligations even though the reporter implicated that Ford should have acted in good manner as a corporate citizen of the South Korea no less than that of US.
Was Daewoo Corp. a responsible and good corporate citizen when the company had run the factory in the Third World countries like Indonesia, Guatemala, or Peru?
Had the reporter from the host country ever questioned about the Daewoo Co.’s responsibility as a corporate citizen, when the company turns its tail to run for another country in order to avoid the high cost of the production or the pressure from the organized union demanding the living wages?
Many South Korean Corporations running their business in the poverty-stricken countries are notorious in blood-sucking manner to exploit from the poor peasants in South America to child labors in Vietnam in order to maximize their profit and bring a bundle of greenbacks home.
They have destroyed the environment, polluted the air, and left piles of garbage in the host countries, and that is what the modus operandi of the trans-national corporations is all about.
The reporter has exhibited an apogeal degree of Korean hypocrisy in his Confucian manner of “Yangban-ish” double standards.
The fact of the matter is that corporations are accountable to no one except to their shareholders maximizing the profit as much and fast as possible, and they turn its tails and run when someone like the author of the article ever attempts any burdensome shackles of citizenship on their neck to regulate or dictate their behaviors.
Corporations are in essence undemocratic, top-down and totalitarian structure that was bestowed their rights of personhood by the US Supreme Court in late 19 century. It is true that corporations have enjoyed the rights of the First Amendment to speak and associate, the Fourth Amendment to privacy, and Fifth Amendment to protection from double jeopardy as an ordinary citizen has possessed.
However, corporate’s personhood was not given for regulating or controlling the behaviors of the corporations as the reporter implied but to protect its property and money by the due process of the Constitution.
As for the corporate crime or moral behaviors, some scholars even argue that crime exists only in the mind of an individual. Since a corporation has no mind, it can commit no crime, and therefore it should not be treated as people are treated in the criminal law arena.
Ford tersely stated: we believe that a proposal to buy Daewoo was not possible that would be in the best interest of Daewoo and Ford, and their respective shareholders.
It is bizarre for South Koreans to expect that Ford Company would act for the benefits of their country rather than its shareholders.
The Ford is bounded only by a non-binding purchasing contract and the South Koreans have made a deal with “a corporate citizen” who has no intention of acting morally but squeezes every drops of blood from their investment to satisfy the mind of their shareholders.
Corporations are predatory in its general characteristics and prone to dominate nation’s economics, politics and culture in order to achieve their goal: becoming profitable and remaining rich “citizen”.
For the ignorant South Korean civic leaders who vowed a massive boycott of Ford products, it seems obvious that he thinks the Ford only makes cars. Not many people in the United States know that the Ford has been running a huge financial institution that lends billions of dollars to consumers with usurious rates of high interest both domestically and internationally, and some of funds that are under the Ford’s management have been already in the Seoul bourse and other investments in the South.
Would the civic leaders have a capacity to tell the people to boycott what portion of capitals running in the industrial veins of their country is a Ford product?
Yet, the mechanisms of ravenous corporate control for profit have remained largely hidden from public perception and the main stream media like Korea Times and Korea Herald laud big corporations for creating jobs and contributing good things for life.
Every South Korean thanked the IMF bailouts for salvaging the financial woes in Asia and few of them knew that Americans were bailing out their own banks, like Bank of America, Citicorp., and other financial institutions which were exposed to the bad loans of over $20 billion on Chaebols by rolling over with higher interest rates.
Instead of showing good behavior as corporate citizen, Corporations were complicit to cause the financial crisis by unsound and reckless investments because they knew they can count on public subsidies if the loans go bad, and it is certain to create what is known as a “moral hazard” over and over in the future. They have become institutions recycling debts under the aegis of IMF whose sole job is to make sure the debts is serviced imposing the strict austerity programs that are similar to squeeze blood out from the stone.
Bottom line is that people in the mass media in particular and Korean public in general have been entertained with such antiquated knowledge in the global market system through the obsolete national education institutions.
The corporate accountability in the capitalistic society is nothing but an illusion that the Korea Times and Korea Herald may entertain with dimwit public who thank Uncle Sam for their responsible behaviors.