Let's say we decided to build a dam along a river. If we merely agreed to erect
a small barrier that the river would run around, flowing easily through new
channels and old ones, no one would celebrate our plan as a great achievement.
But that is how editorialists have hailed the Senate's passage of the
McCain-Feingold bill, despite the scant likelihood that the partial barriers it
erects will stem the flow of big money or seriously diminish its influence in
Not so long ago, employees of large corporations believed that if they did
their jobs well, they could count on working for the company for the rest of
their careers. The downsizings and reorganizations of recent years have
exploded that premise. Still, some remnants of the old beliefs linger on. Most
people assume that if they continue working for a company, they will at least
receive the same salary.
Now that premise is also giving way. Consider a practice that some
companies have lately adopted: bidding for your job.
In Michael Mann's gripping new movie The Insider, the two central characters uphold the truth through acts of corporate disobediencethe moral equivalent of civil disobedience in an age when the threat to freedom so often comes from corporate rather than state power.
J. Fife Symington III, the Republican governor of
Arizona, is so conservative that he has sought to abolish the state's Depart
ment of Education. But, poor fellow, he's broke, as the Economist recently
reported. When he was elected in 1991, Symington said he was worth $10 million.
Three months later, he claimed his net worth dropped to a negative $23 million.
These things happen. This past fall, in an unprecedented step for a sitting
governor, Symington filed for bank ruptcy protection under Chapter 7, which
allows him to stiff his creditors and get a fresh start in life.