This weekend was the end-of-year "Trophy Day" for John's pre-school gymnastics class. All the pre-schoolers show up for a gymnastics exhibition, attended by parents, grandparents and other relatives. Following the exhibition, all the students are awarded trophies. ALL the students are awarded trophies. I missed the event. When Gina came home, she was fuming. (As Gina is Sicilian, when she is fuming it is appropriate to conjure up volcanic images.)
"You know how you're always talking about how advertising is going to destroy our civilization?" she asked. "Well, you're wrong. Trophies will be our doom."
We're in the process of getting only three children off to college this month. (Our household style and usage guide requires the use of the modifier only in any phrase that enumerates children.) Consequently, the "growing up" meme has been circulating vigorously. Into that ferment, the monthly insurance statement arrived. ( It's a statement because the premium is transferred automatically from the checking account. ) Gina opened it. She noticed that males under 25 and unmarried females under 25 pay higher rates. And it was the inclusion of the word unmarried that sparked the train of thought which followed.
The balance of power between personal and corporate has had some interesting shifts over the last century -- and it hasn't all gone in the direction of the corporate.
It occurred to me that the Hollywood studio system was the ascendency of the company over the individual. Over time, however, the studio system broke down, and stars became brands in their own right. Rather than signing a studio contract and working on whatever movies are being produced by "the company", actors work on projects of their own choosing.
A corporation is a legal fiction designed to create an impersonal -- or rather, a non-personal -- entity. The idea was (still is) to protect the assets of the individual from business losses. So there is a requirement to separate the finances of the individual from the finances of the corporation. When people forget to do so, and it makes the news, it is usually in the context of the types of abuses which brought us Sarbannes-Oxley -- the officers who dip into the corporate till for personal gain. Clearly, in that context, mixing corporate and personal interests is a bad idea.
But what about those people who mortgage their homes to start a business?