The Hijacking of Corporate Charters in the US
Very few Americans know that the US declared independence from England not only because of how they were being taxed by the English monarchy, but also because of how they were being treated by English corporations. Because of this, the US was born with a very simple structure for creating corporations. They were chartered by the State in which the corporation was formed. Charters were time-limited and renewable. To renew their coporate charter, all the company needed to do was to demonstrate two things:
- They were profitable
- They weren’t harming the public
Simple formula, no? Make money without doing harm. This was the foundation of socially responsible business without freedom-strangling over-regulation. Social responsibility is an old value not a new fad.
Businesses were also prohibited from being politically active. They weren’t allowed to lobby elected officials. They couldn’t function as special interest groups. But, then again, they didn’t need to. They had the freedom to get as rich as they wanted, providing that they didn’t do so by undermining the common good.
This, I believe, was capitalism as it was designed to function. This is a huge untold part of what made the United States the land of opportunity from the very beginning.
So, how did capitalism get hijacked between then and now, and how can we make sense of this in ways that lead to solutions?
- Click here to discover the history.
- Then click here to make sense of the history and learn what you can do to help turn things around.