A corporation is a company that is treated by law in much the same way as a person, except that it cannot be imprisoned. Corporations are sometimes criticized as being "faceless" organizations run by executives and shareholders who do not care about their customers or employees. It is ironic that many of these critics view government ownership or regulation of industry as the solution, since government is another huge organization, the major difference being that except in the closest of elections, its rulers have less incentive than industry to be concerned about the wishes of an individual citizen. The individual consumer's dollar makes a difference in the company's bottom line, but an individual voter's vote makes no difference unless it tips the election. In the case of governments that have used their control over the economy to strongly influence the outcomes of elections, the rulers may have almost no incentive to take the people's desires into account.
In communist countries, those who have been in charge of government have always been an elite, privileged ruling class, so unless someone can present a third alternative besides capitalism and socialism — and according to Ludwig von Mises, there is no such third way — then it appears that no matter what, those in power will always be the rich. The only difference is whether the poor can ever rise in their status.
One controversial aspect of corporations is their limited liability status. In most jurisdictions, corporate stockholders are not liable for the unpaid debts of the company. The "corporate veil" can be pierced, however, if the stockholders acted fraudulently.
- Mises, Ludwig von. Socialism. http://mises.org/liberal/ch2sec5.asp.
- Rockwell, Lew (20 April, 2007). "Rockwell on Libertarianism". http://lewrockwell.com/burris/burris30.1.html. "Government is always and everywhere a rich man's business. The poor have never played a role in the administration of the State, except insofar as they are used by elites as a cover. In fact, the emergence of the State itself grows out of the successful cartelization of one sector of elites against all its competitors. So of course these same elites rule on behalf of themselves. In the whole history of humanity, there is only one means by which the class of the poor have successfully converted their lot into something higher, and that is capitalism."