Limited liability has clearly driven capitalism’s glittering history of innovation. It has allowed imaginative entrepreneurs to take reasonable but not excessive risks with their own livelihoods to the benefit of technological progress.
But, in times of severe economic crisis when these things truly begin to tell, it has also created an awkward imbalance between the rights and responsibilities of corporate and limited liability organisations on the one hand and ordinary real-life human beings on the other.
Much of current anger at the system we have is directed at those organisations which – in an absolutely worst-case scenario – lose only their honour, not their shirts. Meanwhile, for the rest of us out here, enforced upper-torso nakedness is but one reminder of other 20th century unhappinesses.
The undercurrents of feudalism in our society become terribly apparent in such times of community distress.
What to do then? What to do?
I just saw a tweet about a North East of England police force’s terrorist unit picking up on some sort of racist hate crime and bringing in five men alleged to be responsible. And it made me think in the following way: “Ah, you see; maybe the police aren’t just there to repress.”
A small act of counter-narrative in the massive overloaded narrative arc of our current oppressive state.
Problem is, there’s plenty of evidence of a casual instinct to the latter. As I tweeted earlier:
No point in making reasonable suggestions to tinker with Coalition policy. Any reasons will never be bigger than aim of simply making money.
But back to the counter-narrative. If we truly wish to rebalance the system, and it’s essentially unreasonable to take away from the business world all the obvious advantages of limited liability, why not instead propose establishing a system where housing, minimum living standards and access to basic utilities can never be removed from absolutely anyone? That is to say, a system of limited liability for real-life human beings and their households.
Once established the principle for eternal corporate bodies, why not for the flesh and blood creatures that populate the planet?
In fact, couched in such terms, you really never know, it’s possible we’d even acquire a useful yardstick to help reconfigure our welfare system.
“So how would we pay for it?” I hear you ask. And I’d knock that one back at you: “How have we managed to fund limited liability for medium-sized and large business operations for at least the past century – maybe longer?”
Surely the answer lies in the oft broken-backed flesh and blood creatures I’ve already mentioned above.
Time, then, to repay that debt so easily acquired?
Where there’s a way, all you really need is the desire to squirrel out that will.