Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What’s American?

Pardon my absence. Life happened. I was listening to Marketplace about a week ago when Robert Reich touched on a subject I’ve discussed before -- what makes a company “American”? Can the moniker “American” even be valid when applied to a large corporation?

Corporate profits don't translate

”How can big American corporations be doing so well and the economy so badly? Because their sales are booming -- abroad. And they're adding new jobs where their sales are.”

”Almost half the sales of the S&P 500 are now overseas. The Commerce Department reports that in the past decade American multinationals have eliminated almost 3 million jobs in the U.S. while adding more than 2 million abroad.”

Now put you’re thinking cap on because Professor Reich doesn’t hit this idea real hard -- and I think he should.

”And why should big U.S. corporations whose sales and employees and even investors are becoming more and more global, be called "American" companies, anyway?

And finally, why should the Supreme Court give these big global companies First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money on our elections?”

He is (of course) referring to the Citizens United case, where the Supreme Court said that “corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited”. That’s bad enough on its own but think of it in the context of an “American” corporation that doesn’t even employ a majority of its workers in America. In other words, a corporation with a majority of its interests in a country other than America can spend an unlimited amount of funds influencing American elections.

If these corporations aren’t “American”, how can they have rights guaranteed by our Constitution (Free Speech) as if they are “Americans”. (This all makes you understand how dreadful the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company decision really was.)

I’ve resisted the phrase for months and months. I can no longer resist; Government of the Corporation, by the Corporation and for the Corporation...

Don Brown
May 10, 2011

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