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The corporation, until someone decided to give it political rights, which only a intelligent, responsible being can legitimately claim, was one of the greatest inventions of humankind. The secrete of the corporation is that it augments human skills and productivity. The corporation has become synonymous with global-spanning, faceless transnational monoliths which seem to have no affiliation to anything except the extraction of as much money from a circumstance as is possible in the shortest time possible with little regard for economic-ecological and human consequences. This is too bad because the past and possible real future value of the corporation may be expressed in small sized, creative, entrepreneurial enterprises some for profit and others for commonwealth management purposes. It is the latter possibility which interests me in this paper. It seems to me, that many people with ideas, goals and modest means are overlooking the opportunity which a well-crafted corporate structure can provide.

Corporate ENTERPRISE is a way of augmenting and and amplifying individual effort. It is also a means to grow and compound capital. It can be an equable way of sharing risk and profit. There is a point of scale and size, however, when the corporation can no longer be justified. Responsible ownership is not possible. Internal, thus external, accountability breaks down. The organizational architecture becomes stagnant and producers lose touch with the work and market. The opportunity is created for the corporation to be hijacked and made a vehicle of evil acts. Profit becomes the reason for the corporation instead of the consequence of moral and creative action. The structure becomes the means of outrageous financial manipulation the goal of which is not the creation of wealth but money grabbing based on opportunism. In time when this reaches significant scale, people are damaged, the company is damaged, the economy is damaged, and the Earth is damaged. A small elite manage to extract a temporary advantage to the detriment of the whole system. COMMONWEALTH is destroyed as is, ultimately, earned individual wealth. Life, in all its myriad forms, is diminished.

Commonwealth is not possible without individual wealth. Individual wealth is not possible without commonwealth. The issue is not a debate between the two. The issue is the balance between the two and the rules-of-engagement of their individual creation and mutual interaction. The corporation, in the many forms it can take, can be a key vehicle for accomplishing this balance. The proper role of government is to make sure that the playing field is level, to keep it so and the redress consequences in cases when it is not or the rules-of-engagement are broken. This is best achieved by simple laws based on a well crafted and just constitution. In an ideal society regulatory law is not necessary. In a mixed economy like we have today - which we have always had, by the way - it is both necessary and dangerous as it becomes another vehicle ripe for manipulation and abuse. Regulations should be specific, simple and short in duration and made to disappear the minute balance is restored.
Commonwealth is wealth held in common by a group or a society. This can be done in a variety of ways and, in many cases, is the consequence of the pursuit of individual wealth. And, often, individual wealth happens because commonwealth created a context and means for innovation to occur. The distributed knowledge of a society is an example of commonwealth. So is the Internet. And, so is a hi way system no matter it be privately owned or public.
Matt Taylor
May 3, 2008

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posted: May 3, 2008

revised: August 14, 2010
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Copyright© Matt Taylor 2008, 2010

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