Over the last several decades a major shift has occurred in how many U.S. elites—pundits, advocates, policy makers, and others—think and talk about corporations, Rob Atkinson writes in American Compass. For much of the 20th century most elites viewed corporations as an institutional tool by which America could best achieve its most important economic goals: innovation and increasing living standards. To be sure, there would always the occasional Enron or Tyco scofflaw, but these were seen as the exception, to be prosecuted and shunned.
No more. Today anytime anyone wants to delegitimize any company or industry for any reason, it’s enough now to note that the company or industry in question is seeking to make a profit. Trying to earn a return on invested capital is now assumed to mean that the corporation’s entire mission is tainted by this original sin. (It’s still okay for small business to be motivated by profit, just not big business.)