The biggest problem in the corporate bailouts seems to be the corporate mindset, from which has come the "Corporate Culture". Lavish parties, excessive - and frequent - bonuses, Golden Parachutes, private jets, corporate cars, and out-of-control expense accounts, are just a few of the perks offered by most major corporations.
As enjoyable as these things may be to the recipients, they are extravagances that few major corporations can realistically afford in these hard economic times. If we are to save the economy, and the jobs of the wage earning employees (as opposed to the salaried white-collar management-types), we must change the Corporate Culture. Without the workers there is nothing to support the upper level liabilities. But, here's the rub - everybody wants those perks! Where does the wanting begin? That's hard to say. The marketing department wants to offer "incentives" to prospective customers, as do the outside sales people. Whether it's a pair of pantyhose given to the manager of a 7-11 by a vendor for better exposure space in the store, or a new car given to a fleet buyer for - say Hertz or Enterprise - it is nonetheless something that both buyers and sellers have come to expect. It's just a different part of the "entitlement culture" that has been growing like an insidious cancer since the 1960's. They see such incentives as investments rather than expenses. These things are given with the implied understanding that they will result in increased sales and productivity for the company providing them. Interestingly, our culture does not seem to see this as corruption. "Corruption" is an all-inclusive concept:
a: impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle : depravity
b: inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery)
c: a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct
What is "pure or correct" in a free-market economy is that a product either succeeds or fails on its own merit. It must be of sufficient quality and affordability to attract a large percentage of buyers, thereby generating enough income to survive in the marketplace... that would apply primarily to tools and other practical merchandise. When it comes to unnecessary, but desirable items (cars, clothing, entertainment items) you can add "attractiveness" to the short list of characteristics a "pure or correct" item should have. (I realize that these are substantially idealistic thoughts on my part.) Retailers - when left to their own devices - can easily determine which products/services are generating the most profit, and assign available exposure space accordingly.
The most egregious corruption comes from the ranks of "lobbyists" - people who are armed with corporate money for graft, and are paid primarily to pimp products and services to various government officials and agencies. Why is that? Because the best place to peddle corruption is to those who find corruption not only an acceptable business practice, but a desirable one! This practice gave us some amazing government issue items, such as: $800 toilets seats, $400 glass ashtrays, and $200 screws.
Eliminating the "Corporate Culture" may be impossible, for as long as there are people involved - and people are fallible - who prefer those outrageous benefits to the rewards of a solid work ethic, there will always be corruption, mismanagement, malfeasance, and backroom deals in both the corporate and political worlds. I should probably stop now... I'm beginning to convince myself that there are some benefits to a Marxist government-controlled society, and I know the trade-offs make that untrue!
I could be totally wrong about this... what do you think? Or, is thinking an activity you prefer to avoid?