Federal law requires that corporation officers function in the financial interests of the owners, (shareholders).
A prominent economist, (Milton Friedman, I believe), once declared that the whole “social duty” of a corporation is to make as much money as possible for the owners.
It would seem that this combination of law and “social duty” has produced a pattern of conduct, a portion of which may be described thus:
• The corporation will pollute the environment whenever doing so is deemed to be cheaper than installing and maintaining pollution controls. Is there ever a time when dumping pollutants into the environment is more expensive than installing and maintaining pollution controls? Perhaps—if the offending corporation is caught at it and is penalized by the government or loses in a court of law.
• Weak or nonexistent labor unions enable corporations to offer fewer benefits and to pay lower wages. Therefore “union busting” is to be accomplished by any means possible.
• Government regulation inconsistent with maximizing a corporation’s profits is to be defeated by lobbying, also by contributions to reelection campaigns, in exchange for favorable legislation. The same benefit may also be obtained by means of carefully concealed bribery.
• Human beings are to be replaced by machinery whenever possible, because machinery will do a job much more cheaply than a human being, (no pay, no benefits, no paid breaks.)
• Conclusions of scientific research militating against a corporation doing anything at all to maximize profits are to be discredited by means of covert, well-funded disinformation campaigns, also by reminding purchased politicians who paid the bills for their last reelection campaigns—continue to vote the “right” way and $$$ will continue to flow into your next reelection campaign treasure chest.
• In relentless pursuit of maximum profits, corporations have all too often abandoned any shred of loyalty to the government / society that gave them birth, (gave them their charters), outsourcing jobs to any country providing cheaper labor, even including the “parent” nation’s most implacable political enemy.
This has the treble effect of strengthening the enemy’s economy, while depriving the “parent” nation of a certain amount of tax revenue, as well as depriving its citizens of jobs.
“Profit motive”, touted as justification (!) for all such conduct, does not justify literally anything.
To be clear, I don’t advocate abandoning “free market” capitalism.
I do advocate carefully considered changes to eliminate its more glaring flaws.