Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Whatever Happened to Corporate Patriotism?

The fireworks and celebrations that mark Independence Day are over. But the need for a national conversation on corporate patriotism has never been more timely.

For more than 125 years the courts have been awarding corporations most of the constitutional rights possessed by human beings. Corporations ? as artificial entities ? now almost have rights equal to “We the people,” even though the words “corporation” and “company” are not mentioned in the Constitution.

Under the current 5-4 conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, “corporate personhood” is spreading. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case allows unlimited independent corporate expenditures for or against any political candidates.

Since large corporations keep unleashing their corporate attorneys to push the domain of corporations as “persons,” it is way overdue to judge them by the same yardsticks as we judge real persons.

U.S. corporations, chartered (born) in the U.S., rising to great size and profits because of American workers, saved or succored repeatedly by taxpayer subsidies and bailouts in Washington and state capitals, and sometimes rescued by U.S. Marines or protected by the U.S. fleets when they are in trouble abroad, owe the American people and our country some measure of loyalty and duty.

Instead of extending patriotic gratitude, large U.S. corporations increasingly are sending the opposite message. “We’re outta here, with your jobs,” their behavior says. Unfortunately, some CEOs appear to have no problem with dictatorial communist regimes like China or oligarchies like Mexico that know how to oppress impoverished workers. Workers in China cannot start independent unions or uniformly use independent courts to recognize their health, safety and economic rights.

Products from foreign sweatshops are exported back to the U.S. where abandoned factories and communities proliferate.

Corporations say they love their country, especially when it comes to manufacturing modern weapons systems for the Pentagon. So let’s extend this love and see how they measure up patriotically.

Is it patriotic for drug companies to leave our country without any production facilities for ingredients used in penicillin and other key drugs because they have shipped production rapidly in the past decade to China and India which lack the inspection standards we have here? Leaving America defenseless and so dependent in this critical area is especially galling. Remember Big Pharma accepts billions in tax credits and valuable free research, development and clinical testing by the National Institutes of Health for many important pharmaceuticals.

Is it patriotic for CEOs to continue using public services and gobs of corporate welfare while they move their corporate headquarters to a small office in the Bahamas or other tax havens to escape paying their fair share to the Treasury? Such tax escapees burden ordinary taxpayers further.

Is it patriotic for CEOs to demand and use taxpayer dollars to facilitate moving abroad with their industries? The latest version of this lack of fealty is taking large federal subsidies for solar energy research and development and then moving the production facilities to China. Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel, has written critically of this ominous, job-draining trend.

Is it patriotic for General Motors to be saved from bankruptcy by taxpayers and still keep billions in taxpayer-paid reserves and credits, yet lobby against the Obama administration’s proposed overdue safety and fuel economy standards?

In 1996, I sent letters to the CEOs of the largest hundred U.S. chartered corporations, urging them at their annual shareholders meeting, in the name of their corporation (not their boards of directors or officers) to pledge allegiance to the flag.

For example, the CEOs would stand up, and on behalf of General Motors, DuPont, Exxon Mobil, Pfizer or Bank of America, “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The many responses were instructive. Only Federated Department Stores thought it was a good idea. The other companies either said that they would take the suggestion under advisement or they misinterpreted my letter as asking for pledges by corporate officials and shareholders, no matter what their nationality. Ford Motor Co. flatly declared “the concept of corporate allegiance is not workable.” In high dudgeon, O. George Everbach wrote back declaring “Kimberly-Clark believes that it has an inalienable right to choose when, where and how it wishes to display its patriotism.”

Well at least Kimberly-Clark recognized the concept. Now it is time for American workers and taxpayers to say to corporate America that companies can’t always have it both ways ? to receive all the benefits of American corporate personhood and avoid all the expectations of patriotic behavior and the responsibilities that go along with those privileges and immunities.

This is not a left-right divide. For as Pat Buchanan has said, if these U.S. corporations are not loyal to us, why should we be loyal to them?

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

 

More articles by:

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

October 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall
Ipek S. Burnett
The Assault on The New Colossus: Trump’s Threat to Close the U.S.-Mexican Border
Mary Troy Johnston
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
Maximilian Werner
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
David Macaray
Teamsters, Hells Angels, and Self-Determination
Jeffrey Sommers
“No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail