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Anecdotally, Corporations Are Sweethearts

August 15th, 2015

It really ticks me off when somebody advocating the “free market” and opposing government regulation uses anecdotal evidence as proof that somehow corporations can be counted on to do the right thing. Here’s Carly Fiorina giving a definitive example of exactly that line of drivel:

I don’t think it’s the role of government to dictate to the private sector how to manage their businesses, especially when it’s pretty clear that the private sector, like Netflix, like the example that you just gave, is doing the right thing because they know it helps them attract the right talent. What I mean by the federal government not having its house in order, the federal government is in a shambles right now.- it’s inept. The night — TSA fails 96% of the time. That’s ineptitude.

You see? Netflix does it! So, no problem! That’s like the people who claim that since Obama was elected president, racism doesn’t exist any more. Besides, I can point to a cherry-picked, completely unrelated government activity that has an unusually high failure rate, so all businesses are pretty fantastic all on their own!

Notice that when citing industry giving paid maternity leave, Fiorina cites only a few companies, but when she points to government failure, she cites percentages. And to top it off, both are examples from the extreme ends of the spectrum that she wants to dishonestly highlight.

There’s a reason that anecdotal evidence, or cherry picking, is considered a logical fallacy. Just because Netflix announced a relatively enlightened policy (the policy does not cover everyone in the company, and does not apply at all to those who work in Netflix’s DVD or customer service divisions) does not mean that “the system is working.”

Even though there is a federal mandate to provide leave for companies with 50 or more workers, and some states, like California, have stronger mandates (which have shown to be overwhelmingly positive for companies), only 13% of workers have access to any kind of paid leave at all. That’s a failure rate of 87%, even after federal and state mandates. Before the mandates? Only 2% of workers had access to paid maternity leave. A failure rate of 98%. That’s what happens without government regulation—that’s how the industry “attracts talent.”

What was that you were saying about “ineptitude,” Carly?

  1. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2015 at 04:50 | #1

    The truth is these govt regulations which Fiorina and others criticize or direct responses to years and years persistent and repeated corporate abuses. The EPA, a favorite lightning rod for Republican criticism, was created to make corporations pay for years of extensive environmental damage.

    Fiorina is partly right in that the govt “should not have to regulate” corporate abuses and inequities; corporations should regulate themselves.

    Progressive corporations like Apple and Netflix are setting positive examples; unfortunately, however, those companies represent the exception rather than the rule.

    On a completely different note (although the term Right Wing “cherry picking” applies), check out this article on the IKEA beheading in Sweden that has the anti-Islam radical Right Wing’s unties in a knot:


  2. Luis
    August 16th, 2015 at 10:10 | #2

    It seems strange that people expect an area of society defined by the relentless pursuit of profit above and beyond any other consideration to somehow “regulate” itself. That’s kind of like putting murderers, rapists, and thieves in a prison with no guards and no walls, and expecting them to “regulate” themselves.

    The idea is that the businesses will find that they will make better profits if they “do the right thing.” While sometimes this would actually be the case—for example, paying higher wages to employees and generally treating them with respect—most businesses are more interested in direct, short-term profits. And too much of the time, businesses putting profit over “doing the right thing” works very well for them; take, for example, the many businesses that pollute or through ‘accident’ spill toxic waste rather than spend money needed to take care of that waste or buy equipment of sufficient quality to avoid such spills. How often does the taxpayer and not the corporation pay for the cleanup, or the cleanup happens not at all? Businesses have learned that they can plan costs based not upon what is right for them to do, but rather based on what they can get away with—a metric fueled even more by the benefits of paying off politicians who oversee their regulation and prosecution.

    The few non-governmental ways that the market actually is regulated—for example, through unions—are relentlessly attacked by corporations, who try their best to do away with any and all checks and balances.

    None of which should be surprising regarding a segment of society populated by corporations—which, if analyzed as “people” which the law now says they are, would be judged as psychopaths.

  3. Anonymous
    August 17th, 2015 at 09:35 | #3

    Speaking of corporate “accidents”, have you noticed the increased frequency of oil refinery accidents just as oil prices are driven down by foreign competition? I think it’s all a feign excuse to drive up prices.


  4. Troy
    August 23rd, 2015 at 04:49 | #4


    5 years ago and you really nailed it!

    (warning: GK in the comments)

  5. Tim Kane
    August 23rd, 2015 at 20:09 | #5

    Why not consider the Federal Aviation Administration? Should we consider eliminating that agency and all those agencies? How often would Carly Fiorina (or anyone) fly without that regulatory agency?

    Or howabout the USDA? How much pork would she or other people eat without regulations for the meat packing industry? How profitable would that industry be without the USDA? How many people would it be able to employ from farmer to retailer if few people want to risk eating it?

    Commercial law and regulations exist to help channel people’s instinct for profit (greed) into socially constructive enterprise. All she’s doing is dreaming of a world where companies would be unregulated so they would be free to rip people off more than they do now. Which is just plan stupidity on a masssive scale.

    Government regulates to keep us safe and in many cases that creates massive volume of demand for companies products and makes that industry more profitable.

    As for the FAA, the % of success is so high that statistically flying, something that should be totally alien to human beings, is now the safest way to travel – some years there are no flight accidents. When 9/11 happened, something like 4000 flights were in the air over the United States at the time. It’s like that for the most part of the day, every day, yet accidents in some years, never happens. The failure rate of the FAA regulations then is quit low, like below 1%.

  6. Troy
    August 24th, 2015 at 04:43 | #6

    corporate america operates on money-for-services, cash or F-you.

    the 1% do not like government, since it has the power to give the services it provides away, taxing rich people to pay for it.

    they don’t like this, they don’t like it all, because they know there is, politically, no limit to how high this redistributive taxation can go.

    35 years ago the top marginal rate on people making over $500,000 was 70%!


    luckily for them they’ve brainwashed 1/3 the population or more to buy their corporatocratic BS.

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