Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

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Aresen
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Aresen » 23 Aug 2018, 18:01

Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 17:49
Highway wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 17:41
They weren't immune. They paid a settlement to the victims that at least someone thought was fair compensation.
Yes, "someone" thought it was fair compensation. Presumably "someone" thought every egregious-ruling example previously mentioned in this thread was fair -- while other "someones" say it's an outrage.
AFAICT, the settlement was court approved. Presumably, the plaintiffs agreed to it, however unwillingly. Who is going to be the arbiter of what is just?
jennifer wrote:No, but I'm saying defendants with deep pockets shouldn't be effectively immune from punishment for their crimes.
As Highway points out, they were NOT immune. And you are dwelling on punishment, not restitution. As I pointed out (and you omitted), libertarians believe the aim of justice is restitution rather than punishment.
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Jennifer
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 18:10

Deleted double post.
Last edited by Jennifer on 23 Aug 2018, 18:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Jennifer
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 18:17

Returning to something I mentioned a few pages ago: what would be the plausibility of... not "corporate death penalty" in the sense of wiping out that corporation and its assets, but more of a "revocation of corporate status/protection?"

Earlier on this thread I outlined the difference -- as I understand it, though I admitted upfront that I might be incorrect -- between, for example, "Jennifer the ordinary individual who made a little extra money buying tchotchkes at estate auctions and selling them for a profit," versus "JenCorp Tchotchke Company LLC": it's my understanding that "incorporating" my business would provide a certain level of protection to my own personal finances: "JenCorp" is effectively a different legal entity from "Jennifer, the person posting on the Gryll right now" -- if someone gets hurt from a JenCorp tchotchke, "JenCorp" might be sued and lose some or all of its assets, but "Jennifer's" assets (plus the assets of any other members of Jennifer's household) are not up for grabs.

Is this a generally accurate (though oversimplified) explanation of corporate status and its ostensible purpose? If so, then I wonder -- off the top of my head -- if revocation of corporate status would be a sufficient "corporate death penalty"? As in, if JenCorp knowingly and deliberately keeps selling tchotchkes that kill people, JenCorp no longer gets that protective corporate status?

Perhaps if those GM and Wells Fargo and other executives knew they personally would be screwed over their felonious activities committed under the corporate umbrella, they wouldn't have been so blase about allowing them to happen.


EDIT: "Quoted" my last post when I meant to "edit" it. Whoops. :oops:
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JD
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by JD » 23 Aug 2018, 18:21

Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 18:10
Is this a generally accurate (though oversimplified) explanation of corporate status and its ostensible purpose? If so, then I wonder -- off the top of my head -- if revocation of corporate status would be a sufficient "corporate death penalty"? As in, if JenCorp knowingly and deliberately keeps selling tchotchkes that kill people, JenCorp no longer gets that protective corporate status?
One question I have about this kind of revocation of corporate status - suppose it's not just "you, Jennifer, as JenCorp", but dear old Grandma owning some shares in MegaCorp as part of her retirement plans. MegaCorp is found guilty of crimes and its corporate status is revoked. Does that mean Grandma is now personally liable for MegaCorp's debts (at least to the degree of Grandma's shares divided by total shares)?
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 18:24

Aresen wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 18:01
And you are dwelling on punishment, not restitution. As I pointed out (and you omitted), libertarians believe the aim of justice is restitution rather than punishment.
Some libertarians think the justice system should have a bit of deterrent value as well. And the system we have now clearly does not deter companies from committing crimes, in part because (again quoting Jadagul's point), corporations are far more likely to think of getting caught and convicted as non-catastrophic. (And with good cause: because for them it isn't.)
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Aresen » 23 Aug 2018, 18:27

The "Corporate Veil" is a complicated issue.

On the one hand, it does allow some individuals to avoid personal responsibility for malfeasance. To use the notorious phrase 'I was only following orders' doesn't cut it with me. I think if someone does something that is wrong, even if it was because 'that is XYZ Company Policy', they should be liable for it. [As an aside, I think that there needs to be much stronger protection for whistleblowers.]

On the other hand, it does promote capital investment. When I buy a company share, I know how much I have at risk. I don't have to worry that some court will issue a gigantic judgment against the corporation and I will be on the hook for the residue once the corporate assets have been exhausted.

If you are going to back off the 'limited' part of 'limited company', there is probably going to have to be some standard set of liability being dependent on a reasonable expectation that one knew what was going on.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 18:42

JD wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 18:21
Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 18:10
Is this a generally accurate (though oversimplified) explanation of corporate status and its ostensible purpose? If so, then I wonder -- off the top of my head -- if revocation of corporate status would be a sufficient "corporate death penalty"? As in, if JenCorp knowingly and deliberately keeps selling tchotchkes that kill people, JenCorp no longer gets that protective corporate status?
One question I have about this kind of revocation of corporate status - suppose it's not just "you, Jennifer, as JenCorp", but dear old Grandma owning some shares in MegaCorp as part of her retirement plans. MegaCorp is found guilty of crimes and its corporate status is revoked. Does that mean Grandma is now personally liable for MegaCorp's debts (at least to the degree of Grandma's shares divided by total shares)?
That, of course, is where it gets complicated. But, off the top of my head -- and I'm writing this on the assumption that my basic understanding of the "Jennifer vs. JenCorp" distinction is basically accurate -- if JenCorp not only existed, but grew to the point where it involved people other than Jennifer -- well, in that case I'm thinking of some sort of "active vs. passive" concept: which executives, investors, shareholders etc. were actively involved in JenCorp's killer-tchotchke activities, versus who merely owns a few shares of JenCorp as part of a diversifed investment portfolio?

Somewhere upthread I did specify that IF some type of "corporate death penalty" were put into effect, there would have to be some way of determining how much of its assets were returned to small investors and the like. Or perhaps part of a "death penalty" would include a mandatory buy-back of all shares held by "passive" owners or part-owners? I most assuredly am NOT arguing for ANY status quo wherein "the government could step in and confiscate all of a company's assets as punishment," both for injustice-avoidance reasons and because that would indeed lead to hellishly perverse incentives.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by JasonL » 23 Aug 2018, 18:48

I would take issue with the claim that the current regime of corporate regulation offers no deterrence. It certainly does or nobody would spend the kind of money they do on compliance. I wouldn’t even accept small or limited deterrence. What is likely the case is there is a category of cost benefit so large that you see some large events and there is a question about how to deal with that given that very often those actors are the same ones self interested politicians will want to bail out.

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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 19:00

JasonL wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 18:48
I would take issue with the claim that the current regime of corporate regulation offers no deterrence. It certainly does or nobody would spend the kind of money they do on compliance.
On the other hand, GM's faulty (and occasionally fatal) ignition switch cost only a 57-cent part to rectify, yet under the current regime of corporate regulation GM was not deterred away from letting its customers drive unsafe cars rather than shell out the extra 57 cents per vehicle.

IIRC, the only person to be convicted of a felony over GM's ignition switches was the innocent woman whose GM car got into an accident that killed her passenger/fiance.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Pham Nuwen » 23 Aug 2018, 19:02

Slavery? Are you even trying anymore, Jen? I know what you should do. Make some kind of analogy between businesses and rape. No need to possibly bring race into this.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 19:04

Pham Nuwen wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:02
Slavery? Are you even trying anymore, Jen? I know what you should do. Make some kind of analogy between businesses and rape.
Here you go: an oldie but goodie from 2008. (Bonus: it mentions slavery too!)

https://feralgenius.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... cairn.html
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jadagul » 23 Aug 2018, 19:13

Two comments:

First, I don't see anything in Warren's bill that would really crack down on corporate malfeasance. Sure, she's willing to revoke corporate charters, but that mostly seems to be a stick for enforcing labor participation, not a remedy for unrelated misbehavior.

So while I think we should take corporate crime more seriously, I don't think that Warren's bill has anything to do with that.

Second, people are bad at understanding scale and that leads to bad arguments about this sort of thing.

Sure, let's stipulate that GM was willfully negligent in killing 400 people. And if an individual was willfully negligent in killing 400 people, that's a spectacular catastrophe, which really suggests some sort of malign intent, because otherwise how did you do that much damage?

But GM is acting on a much larger scale than any individual is. They take much bigger actions with much bigger consequences, and so even non-willful negligence could plausibly lead to hundreds of deaths. Or benefits much larger than that.

If I'm driving carelessly and I clip a pedestrian and put them in the hospital, I will definitely face consequences. I might even get my license taken away, but probably not permanently. I think I probably don't get jail time, depending on the form of the carelessness; I certainly don't get life in jail. And that's a lot more comparable to the GM thing than if I killed hundreds of people.

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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 19:18

Jadagul wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:13
Sure, let's stipulate that GM was willfully negligent in killing 400 people. And if an individual was willfully negligent in killing 400 people, that's a spectacular catastrophe, which really suggests some sort of malign intent, because otherwise how did you do that much damage?
Counter-argument: a non-malicious individual in the right position could cause that much damage through laziness or neglect or utter incompetence: say, if you're the individual (or individuals) in charge of quality control for that 57-cent GM part. Or the individuals{s} who discovered it but couldn't be bothered to fix it, not out of a malicious desire to see drivers get hurt but because it would be a time-consuming pain in the ass to fix, or maybe would cost you part of that year's annual bonus, or....
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Aresen » 23 Aug 2018, 19:50

Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:18
Jadagul wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:13
Sure, let's stipulate that GM was willfully negligent in killing 400 people. And if an individual was willfully negligent in killing 400 people, that's a spectacular catastrophe, which really suggests some sort of malign intent, because otherwise how did you do that much damage?
Counter-argument: a non-malicious individual in the right position could cause that much damage through laziness or neglect or utter incompetence: say, if you're the individual (or individuals) in charge of quality control for that 57-cent GM part. Or the individuals{s} who discovered it but couldn't be bothered to fix it, not out of a malicious desire to see drivers get hurt but because it would be a time-consuming pain in the ass to fix, or maybe would cost you part of that year's annual bonus, or....
Agree. But remember that GM (or google or Amazon or any other billion-dollar corporation) has thousands or tens of thousands of employees. Extinguish the corporation and you are punishing thousands of innocent people along with the guilty.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 20:16

Aresen wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:50
Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:18
Jadagul wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:13
Sure, let's stipulate that GM was willfully negligent in killing 400 people. And if an individual was willfully negligent in killing 400 people, that's a spectacular catastrophe, which really suggests some sort of malign intent, because otherwise how did you do that much damage?
Counter-argument: a non-malicious individual in the right position could cause that much damage through laziness or neglect or utter incompetence: say, if you're the individual (or individuals) in charge of quality control for that 57-cent GM part. Or the individuals{s} who discovered it but couldn't be bothered to fix it, not out of a malicious desire to see drivers get hurt but because it would be a time-consuming pain in the ass to fix, or maybe would cost you part of that year's annual bonus, or....
Agree. But remember that GM (or google or Amazon or any other billion-dollar corporation) has thousands or tens of thousands of employees. Extinguish the corporation and you are punishing thousands of innocent people along with the guilty.
Arguably, the real problem here is, whatever the hell it is about the current status quo that enables such individuals to avoid criminal consequences IF they are working for a corporation. Why did none of the GM people alluded to in my comment you quoted there get charged, let alone convicted? Why or how did all those Wells Fargo people get away with deliberate fraud that would've sent you or I (acting on our own) to prison for a significant fraction of our adult lives?

Going back to Jennifer/JenCorp: if it's later proven that Jennifer the individual tchotchke-seller knows the tchotchkes she sells can kill people -- have killed people, and continue to do so -- because she refuses to spend the 57 cents per tchotchke* to rectify the problem, Jennifer's ass is going to prison for a long time. But if Jennifer and several other people do the same thing while working for JenCorp -- a "too big to fail" mega-corporation -- oh, well, let's take a fraction of a percentage point of JenCorp's total value and call it justice. WTF?

*And of course, 57 cents is a FAR greater percentage of the cost of a given tchotchke, than it is for the cost of a given GM automobile.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Pham Nuwen » 23 Aug 2018, 20:38

Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:04
Pham Nuwen wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:02
Slavery? Are you even trying anymore, Jen? I know what you should do. Make some kind of analogy between businesses and rape.
Here you go: an oldie but goodie from 2008. (Bonus: it mentions slavery too!)

https://feralgenius.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... cairn.html
I don't understand what you are saying. Could you throw in a reference to rape that has nothing to do with an argument? It's apparently the only way to reach people and bring them to your side.
Goddamn libertarian message board. Hugh Akston

leave me to my mescaline smoothie in peace, please. dhex

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Jennifer
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 23 Aug 2018, 20:49

Pham Nuwen wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 20:38
Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:04
Pham Nuwen wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 19:02
Slavery? Are you even trying anymore, Jen? I know what you should do. Make some kind of analogy between businesses and rape.
Here you go: an oldie but goodie from 2008. (Bonus: it mentions slavery too!)

https://feralgenius.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... cairn.html
I don't understand what you are saying. Could you throw in a reference to rape that has nothing to do with an argument? It's apparently the only way to reach people and bring them to your side.
Well, here's a story of a time I went to a party and told the hostess she didn't have enough rape there. Could you ask me for another rape reference? It's apparently the only way you can contribute to this discussion and, as an added bonus, it gets wittier and more original every time you do it!
"Myself, despite what they say about libertarians, I think we're actually allowed to pursue options beyond futility or sucking the dicks of the powerful." -- Eric the .5b

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Jake
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jake » 23 Aug 2018, 23:58

Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 20:16
Arguably, the real problem here is, whatever the hell it is about the current status quo that enables such individuals to avoid criminal consequences IF they are working for a corporation.
This, in my mind, is the nut* of the issue right here. It's not really that "GM" was willfully negligent; after all, GM is only a thing in a conceptual sense, so to say that it was willfully anything is just anthropomorphism, like if I said that my dishwasher was being a jerk. The real situation is that some person in GM knew but did nothing. That person was willfully negligent and should be charged, convicted, and punished. I suppose it's easier to just blame the company and extract money, but that's not good enough if what we're after is anything like actual justice.

* A saddle-broken pecan, specifically.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jadagul » 24 Aug 2018, 03:23

Jake wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 23:58
Jennifer wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 20:16
Arguably, the real problem here is, whatever the hell it is about the current status quo that enables such individuals to avoid criminal consequences IF they are working for a corporation.
This, in my mind, is the nut* of the issue right here. It's not really that "GM" was willfully negligent; after all, GM is only a thing in a conceptual sense, so to say that it was willfully anything is just anthropomorphism, like if I said that my dishwasher was being a jerk. The real situation is that some person in GM knew but did nothing. That person was willfully negligent and should be charged, convicted, and punished. I suppose it's easier to just blame the company and extract money, but that's not good enough if what we're after is anything like actual justice.

* A saddle-broken pecan, specifically.
That's not necessarily true.

I mean, yes, "GM" is an abstraction, which is why you can't put "GM" in jail or ask "GM" what he was thinking. But GM is also a large somewhat self-organizing process, and that means that GM is capable of doing things that no specific employee is really doing. Lots of things happen as a result of the totality of the system that you can't pin on any particular person.

There are lots of things you can pin on a particular person. And I'd like to see more of that happen. But there's a lot of stuff that it doesn't make sense to attribute to any one or three people. And this is especially true for civil-not-criminal liability cases.

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