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The Age of Corporate Treason

by RALPH NADER

Why are big, global U.S. corporations so unpatriotic? After all, they were created in the U.S.A., rose to immense profit because of the toil of American workers, are bailed out by American taxpayers whenever they’re in trouble, and are safeguarded abroad by the U.S. military.

Yet these corporate goliaths work their tax lawyers overtime to escape U.S. taxes. Many pay less than you do in federal income taxes. Imagine corporations, like General Electric, have not paid federal income taxes on U.S. profits for years.

Mega corporations have abandoned U.S. workers by entrenching “pull-down” trade agreements that make it easier than ever to ship jobs and whole industries to fascist and communist regimes abroad which keep their workers near serfdom. Remember, the U.S. has run large trade deficits for the past 30 years as a result of anti-American trade deals pushed by these global companies. These goliaths are pressing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that will further pull down our economy. (See http://www.citizen.org/page.aspx?pid=1328.)

Corporate CEOs are raiding and draining traditional pension plans for millions of workers who are left without their expected and earned pension payments on retirement. (For more information see Ellen E. Schultz’s book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers.)

They are freezing the federal minimum wage, for low income service jobs that they cannot export, at $7.25 per hour, leaving thirty million workers today making less than workers made in 1968,  inflation adjusted. Having wages that go backwards into the future means workers cannot afford the basic necessities of life for themselves and their children.

Giant companies hire legions of lobbyists to weaken or abolish consumer, worker and environmental safety and health laws, to stop our country from joining all other Western Nations with full Medicare for all.  Corporate campaign cash increasingly flows to indentured politicians, who in turn do the bidding of the corporate paymasters at your expense.

We’ve yet to find a CEO of a U.S. global corporation who will even go through the motions at their annual shareholders meeting standing up and, in the name of the company, pledging “allegiance to the United States…with liberty and justice for all.” When asked, as was General Motors, the CEO refused.

Charge companies with unpatriotic behavior and you’ll tap a nerve or two. The munitions companies, like Lockheed Martin and Boeing, put ads on television and radio asserting how their modern weapons back up our troops who are sent to expand the Empire. Of course, defense contractors never mention their huge profits, cost over-runs and their staffing the higher echelons of the Pentagon with their own appointees. Nor do these arms merchants ever raise a patriotic objection to the criminal wars of aggression conducted by Bush/Cheney against the defenseless people of Iraq, whose tottering dictator, formerly a U.S. ally, was not a threat to America.

Other companies are trying softer promotions of their claimed care for America. Have you seen the lengthy ad campaign by Chevron that starts with some bold demand by a pictured ordinary person? One such ad begins “Oil companies SHOULD support the communities they’re a PART OF” (Chevron’s emphasis) and, invariably, Chevron answers “we agree,” and lists their charities here and abroad. Evaluating corporation philanthropy is for another time; suffice it to say that not one giant corporation exceeds one percent of their pre-tax profits, when the law allows them to give up to five percent, deductible.

Do you think that all of the above only comes from consumer/worker advocates? Then read a new, paperback book by Robert A.G. Monks, titled Citizens Disunited: the Corporate Capture of the American Dream.

Monks, a former corporate lawyer, corporate CEO, founder of companies, bank chairman, and investor-advocate extraordinaire, writes memorably about corporate excesses.

He quotes an Apple executive who told The New York Times: “We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries. We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.” Monks responds: “This is what greed looks like in the global epoch of corporatism: plunder the Treasury, to be sure, but then deny all sense of responsibility to your country of domicile, outsource all obligations, and, like maggots, set to work destroying the host from inside by exporting its jobs and depleting its revenue sources.”

He then cites Clyde Prestowitz, founder of the Economic Strategy Institute, who wrote that, as a top U.S. government trade negotiator, he went to great lengths to open up the Japanese market for Apple in the early nineteen eighties, adding: “We did all we could and in doing so came to learn that virtually everything Apple had for sale, from the memory chips to the cute pointer mouse, had had its origins in some program wholly or partially supported by U.S. government money.”

Monks sums up: “Henry Ford’s great success was built in part on his decision to pay his workers a high enough wage so that they could afford the products they were producing. No more. The shrinking middle class, the widening gap between the rich and the poor – these are some of those American ‘problems’ that American-born-and-bred corporations like Apple really have no time for.” For more galvanized specifics, please read and absorb this book!

Other high, former corporate officials are speaking out. Former general counsel of USAir, Lawrence Stentzel, called on reluctant federal prosecutors to hold corporate wrongdoers’ feet to the fire and force them to admit to their wrongdoing. He also demanded that the Justice Department create a user friendly database of corporate wrong doing. (See corporatecrimereporter.com.)

Big U.S. corporations have long demanded a legal system where they are defined as “people,” so as to get all of our constitutional rights while they expand their privileged powers and immunities. Well, why don’t we measure them by the many patriotic standards that we apply to ourselves, the real American people.

Getting these giant firms on the defensive is the first step for the resurgence of the people so that corporations become our servants and do not remain our masters.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

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