The obligation of a US Corporation is to maximize profit for the shareholder.
Highly debatable. Especially in actual practice (and jurisprudence) as opposed to academic discussion.
Most companies interpret this obligation as do anything you can get away with to make money and WTF are ethics anyway (or the law come to that).
You paint with a very broad brush here. I've lived and worked in the US for most of my life. And I have not found what you're saying to be the case for "most" companies. Quite the opposite actually.
It would be nice if you could spend a year or two working here and really getting to see what US life is like. I think (or at least hope) you would discover we're nowhere near as selfish, arrogant, or evil as I sometimes suspect you think we are from some of your comments.
You only have to look at the way the oil companies behave around the world to see how much influence law and ethics have on their behaviour.
The behavior of giant multinational industries and market segments such as oil has as much to do with politics, military and security issues, international and local politics, religious posturing, and miscellaneous cultural differences as it does with the ethical strengths or weaknesses of the companies themselves. So I really don't think the oil companies (US, Dutch, British, Arab, Russian, South American et al
) are that strong an argument for how "most" companies do business - even if oil makes up a significant percentage
of the world economy as a whole.
Make no mistake. Oil companies are a problem. For all of us. No matter who owns them. And while BP may have been the firm most identifiably
responsible for the Gulf of Mexico spill, there's still plenty of blame to go round. And that blame extends to government regulators, an international slate of business contractors and consultants, university academics, and especially politicians.
So yes, by all means look at the oil companies. But don't only look there. And don't extrapolate too much about general business practices or attitudes from what you observe them doing.
Oil is its own thing. Something that frequently blurs the distinction between a business activity and a government function. And that's only when it doesn't erase the distinction altogether. Nations don't go to war over laptops or automobiles. They do over oil. Which is why "Big Oil" is such a complex beast to get a handle on. It's so much more than "just" a business.