chapter  1
16 Pages

Corporate Giantism, Ethics, and the Public Interest

Chicago,andbeatinggoodgovernmentwithcorruptionfundsinNewYork.He isaself-righteousfraud,thisbigbusinessman,"Steffensconcluded."Heisthe chiefsourceofcorruption,anditwereaboonifhewouldneglectpolitics."4

Ofcourse,thebigbusinessmanwasactivenotonlyinthegovernmentsector oftheeconomy,butalsointheprivatesector.Whilerailroadsandgascompanieswerebuyingvaluablerights-of-wayandfranchises,free-wheeling,swashbucklingbuccaneerswerebuildingindustrialempires.Intobaccoandoil,steel andagriculturalmachinery,enterprising,visionaryarchitectswereconstructing trusts,consolidations,andholdingcompanies.Inaneraofunrestrained,unregulated,rambunctiouslaissez-faire--whentheumpirewastrainedonlytolookthe otherway-itisnotsurprisingthattherulesofsportsmanshipandfairplaywere observedmainlyinthebreach.Therewereempirestobebuilt,andtherobber baronsbuiltthembyfairmeansandfoul.AstheSupremeCourtlaterfound,the TobaccoTrustachieveditspre-eminencebysuchtechniquesaslocalpricediscrimination,fightingbrands,bogusindependents,exclusiveandpreclusive dealerarrangements,brandimitation,couponandpremiumsystems,abstentionfrom-competitionagreements,andtheutilizationofmonopolyprofitstoeliminateindependents.5Tothisandothertrustsofthetime,theobjectiveofthe competitivegamewastheeuthanasiaofcompetitors.