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CAVEATS AND CORPORATIONS

June 12, 2017

CAVEATS AND CORPORATIONS

One of my favorite authors in my favorite political magazine, The American Prospect, is Robert Kuttner. He has published a piece in the Prospect’s Spring 2017 edition of that magazine entitled “Corporate America and Donald Trump” which I think deserves further commentary, hence this essay.

Kuttner first notes that it would be comforting to think that big corporations are protecting us from Donald Trump, citing Silicon Valley’s attacks on his anti-Muslim position and the signatures of more than 100 of the most prominent tech giants, from Microsoft to Tesla, who signed an amicus brief challenging Trump’s immigration orders. Starbucks announced that its company would hire 10,000 refugees and the Super Bowl ads earlier this year were unmistakably anti-Trump, ads in which Budweiser celebrated the dreams of its immigrant founder and an Airbub ad which declared that “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.”

Google, Apple, Target, American Express, Coca Cola, Nike, Ford, Verizon, Nordstrom and Macy’s have all expressed similar sentiments and some such as Nordstrom and Macy’s have stopped carrying the Trump family brands. Several players from the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots refused to go to the White House to celebrate their victory and John Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles said that Trump was not welcome to throw out the first ball of the baseball season unless he apologized for all the offensive things he’s said.

Great, you say? Big business is willing to take time off from making money and going to the mat with Trump on immigration and social matters? Caveat – not so fast – don’t celebrate too soon. What do we hear from these happy corporate warriors on economic issues? Not a peep – it’s the same old story – go for it, Don. Make us some more money with tax cuts and under regulation and other good things to swell our bottom lines, enhance our shareholder value and provide for bigger bonuses to our executives.

Kuttner humorously notes that these corporate warriors “now have a plutocrat champion in the White House who makes William McKinley look like a socialist,” and so they do, and not a one of them is challenging his make the rich richer and poor poorer policy of systematic impoverishment for the rest of us. Kuttner concludes that “Despite the touchy-feely corporate commercials about America being a big, happy, diverse family, there is far more that unites business with Trump than divides them,” and he is right to a fault. Their silence on a number of issues where they have a duty to speak is deafening.

Let’s not be deceived with the apparent agreement of Big Business with mainstream America on social issues. What choice do they have? Some of such businesses as well as some of the TV shows who have not agreed with the overwhelming majority of Americans on social issues have been boycotted and/or had their advertisers pull the rug on sponsorship. Even Fox News has felt the heat as cavemen such as O’Reilly have been removed from their lineup due not only to his sexual proclivities but to his arrogance in handling them and associated issues. Trump, of course, tells us that like Flynn, “he’s a good man.” It would be interesting to know the criteria employed by Trump in arriving at such conclusions.

Kuttner, among many other caveats in his piece, tells us that “Several of the same corporations that took progressive stands on cultural issues, such as AmEx and Verizon, are also supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which promotes right wing policies at the state level. Among the core items in ALEC’s playbook are strategies to suppress voting participation.” He also notes “that Walmart, the number one predator when it comes to mistreating workers, tries to change the subject by being the greenest robber baron in town.” He likewise makes reference to corporate silence in the Republican war on science, among other areas where Big Business has a clear duty to speak out in the interests of reason and progress.

Parenthetically, and based on Kuttner’s insights, I have personally added AmEx and Verizon to my Walmart and McDonald’s boycott list and will boycott any other company who is a Koch Brothers-inspired ALEC member since, as Kuttner observed, “They are bankers and billionaires first, citizens a distant second.” I am neither banker nor billionaire, but I am a citizen which, as Jimmy Carter once noted, was his proudest designation.

To reiterate, let us not be deceived by Big Business with their cheap chatter on social rights which cost them nothing; let’s instead ask them what they are doing or are going to do about our problems in living from hand to mouth, healthcare, living wages and the realities of living in the richest country in the world but with a poverty count beginning to resemble that of Third World countries. How can this be, and why should this be? Answer > wage inequality for the past four decades after the takeover of the American economy by the business and financial sector following Powell’s advice to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on how to pull it off.

So what are we going to do about this now mature Powell doctrine that works so well for the rich and corporate class and so badly for the rest of us? Easy. We remove those currently in power, trash this un-American Powell doctrine and put We the People back in charge of our economy and our position in world affairs, starting in November of next year, but with planning for such a happy event from this day forward.      GERALD       E

 

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