When corporate heads meet with GOP operatives, Glenn Beck, and executive directors of right-wing foundations to plan a coordinated response to the 2010 elections, it's evident that business in America is attempting a hostile takeover of not only politics, but democracy. It's now abundantly clear that corporations have an ideological slant, and those favoring the right have an almost treasonous, definitely unpatriotic, affection for profit. The GOP has always been party above country, profits before people, and the sooner Americans wake up to that fact, the better off we'll be.
Recent revelations about the US Chamber of Commerce's acceptance of donations from countries like India, Dubai, Kingdom of Bahrain, the UK, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia and others show the money trail leading from overseas to the U.S. Chamber's general fund, and from there, to payments for ads that advance the cause of GOP candidates. What Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are selling: American jobs lost to offshoring. The greatest concentration of financial wealth in a tiny percentage of Americans' hands since the last time we had a Great Depression.
I'm not buying. If Karl Rove and his American Crossroads stealth-on-behalf-of-wealth PAC were a corporation, I'd boycott him. That's partly what I'm trying to do with my vote this November.
Foreign donations to sway American elections are illegal, and the Federal Election Commission has the jurisdiction to penalize groups that violate the law. I wish they'd do something about it now, while it can have an effect.
10-22-10, UPDATED TO ADD: From the NYT, plenty of U.S.-based companies donate to dismantle government regulations they don't like. This NYT investigative report says 45 of the most rapacious American corporations account for most of the Chambers' lobbying.
Clearly, what's at stake for corporations overseas is a piece of the American manufacturing pie that has been steadily offshored since the 1980s. Foreign nationals benefit when U.S. corporations move their operations to subcontractors in other countries, and those nations and corporations are willing to buy and pay for GOP candidates who will make policy that is good for business. Their business. Not the business of America and Americans.
If we're to have an economic recovery, I urge President Obama to highlight those corporations that put America first. I have 6 suggestions to this end:
- Don't waste your time with unpatriotic corporate raiders in reviving this economy. Instead, support an American business council or other specifically non-partisan organization that really represents business interests--small to large--in this country. Many local chambers of commerce are severing ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its political stances and funding of ads. They are joined by large corporations like Apple, Nike (no longer on the board of directors, but still a member), Exelon, CA PG&E, and New Mexico's PNM, reducing the 150-200,000 or so members of the U.S. Chamber by a small but significant handful. Local chambers of commerce didn't have much input or representation in the U.S. Chamber anyway: according to Mother Jones, only 354 local chambers out of a total of 7000 local chambers elected to join the U.S. Chamber's umbrella group.
- Create a roundtable of businesses that adopt triple-bottom line practices--People, Planet, Profits: fair trade, green manufacturing/low or no carbon footprint from factory to customer, and profitability. Highlight best practices for small family businesses and larger ones that employ Americans and serve the American as well as global market. Offhand I can think of three: a beverage company, Steaz; a soap company, Method; and a person-to-person microfinance company, Kiva. Many businesses would LIKE to take a step toward triple-bottom-line sustainability, but lack models for doing so. Let's highlight best practices where profitability and sustainability are mutually supporting and actually do-able.
- Establish tax credits and other incentives that recognize triple-bottom-line business practices or apply to B-corporations, which bake into the bylaws of a corporation a pro-social goal that will outlast the lifetime of the founder or sustain through a change of ownership. You've already done this somewhat with green initiatives your administration has launched. And plenty of businesses have taken off as a result of social entrepreneurship. This kind of pro-social prosperity needs incentivizing.
- I also love that you created the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation upon entering office. Why the cobwebs on the blog, though? That office should be HOPPIN' with activity to get this economy back on track. We should be aware of how many jobs are created in the non-profit sector as well as for-profit sector.
- Establish a brain trust of consultants who have successfully worked with Fortune 500 corporations to maximize their economic and social sustainability. This is a time to reward truly patriotic companies that create jobs for Americans within their communities and make products we feel safe using. Look what a great thing it was that General Motors came roaring back to life--after your administration set ground rules for its reinvention--to release the Chevy Volt, which is looking to burn up car dealerships with its hotness. This is also a time to punish sociopathic corporations that put profits above people, always, with no sense of corporate responsibility.
- Continue to educate and reach out to consumers--the overwhelming majority of whom are women--who consistently show that they are willing and eager to support businesses that have a pro-social aspect. This study shows how consumers welcome cause marketing that back actual social change campaigns: 83% Americans wish more of the products, retailers, and services they use would support a cause. 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from the company that has made a long-term commitment to a focused issue. Moms and Millennials control $2 trillion and $40 billion respectively in consumer spending. But moms are also disdainful of white/pink/green-washing. Enact consumer protection standards that help cause-conscious buyers evaluate the truth claims of company ads or labels like "organic." The appointment of hugely popular Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is one such step. More steps like these can be taken.
It's like bipartisanship: you can't partner with Teh Crazy. Likewise, this economy will not come back if you try to partner with the hostile and sociopathic corporations of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They've actively shown they stand for none but their own enrichment. The least we can do is rebuild America without them.
David and Charles Koch, I'm thinking of buying a Chevy Volt that gets 127 mpg as a special invitation to you both to SUCKIT.