Comment 43796

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2010 at 16:47:07

Where does that rank in priority when compared to things like employee salaries and pensions though?

Good question Kiely. I guess the idea is to modify the social contract between corporations and society, especially needed at a time when corporations are larger than many economies. I have no problem that the invention of the corporation was a boon to society by allowing business risk (debts) to die rather than hobble innovators with the spectre of personal ruin. Thus salaries, accounts payable and pensions remain necessarily as a business risk - offset as needed by the society that benefited by the business good (wealth) thus created. But i doubt the social contract intended to put criminality or environmental degradation behind the curtain of the corporate structure. Well, maybe that's a debatable point but regardless of original intent, it's time to ensure the people who run corporations are held personally responsible for such acts. For sure there is a fine line here since trying to make environmental perfection would simply make certain forms of economic activity near impossible such as most forms of mining, heap leaching, deep oil, etc. But as long as reasonable alternatives are available, such a requirement should not be a deterrent to doing business.

Policing the situation is another matter. As we see, businesses going bankrupt are a particular risk but how aggressive should a city become in delving into such private practices as where to store drums of chemicals/waste. Too aggressive and it may become the last straw that broke the business, a dicey situation. Plus it becomes a signal to others about how business friendly a city/province/nation is (not). But surely abandonment (or bankruptcy) is a good time/ good signal for the city to move in, before the trail goes cold. Maybe the lesson is that cities need to attend all bankruptcy/ chapter 11 hearings so we can demand proper shutdown & cleanup.

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