FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line

For decades, big business leaders have warned that redistributing wealth is bad for business. Taxing the rich to pay for infrastructure and education, they say, will kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

But what if it’s the opposite? What if decades of stagnant wages and growing inequality are scrambling the golden egg and stifling the economy?

A growing body of research suggests that’s exactly what’s happening. And a growing number of business leaders now agree.

Jim Sinegal, the retired CEO of Costco, famously fended off Wall Street pressure to cut wages and made an eloquent case for a higher federal minimum wage. “The more people make, the better lives they’re going to have and the better consumers they’re going to be,” Sinegal told the Washington Post years ago.

“Our country needs less inequality and more opportunity,” agreed former Stride Rite CEO Arnold Hiatt in 2015. “Instead, we’re moving toward a society that will be economically and politically dominated by the sons and daughters of the Forbes 400.”

One of the clearest voices on the business risks of growing inequality is Peter Georgescu, a retired ad man from one of the world’s largest marketing firms. His new bookCapitalists Arise: End Economic Inequality, Grow the Middle Class, Heal the Nation, is a stinging indictment of the way business has been done in our country.

“For the past four decades, capitalism has been slowly committing suicide,” he writes — especially shareholder capitalism, where businesses operate for the benefit of shareholders and no one else.

“Shareholder primacy has become a kind of cancer that needs to be eradicated before it destroys our way of life,” Georgescu warns.

Those views were recently echoed in a letter written to CEOs by Larry Fink, chairman of the investing giant Blackrock.

In January, Fink called on the companies Blackrock invests in to “understand the societal impact of your business as well as the ways that broad, structural trends — from slow wage growth to rising automation to climate change — affect your potential for growth.”

Businesses, Fink exhorted, need a social purpose other than making money.

Reversing inequality will require robust government action at all levels. This includes boosting the minimum wage, fairly taxing big businesses and the rich, and making robust public investments in education, infrastructure, and individual opportunity.

We also need government to crack down on wage theft and discrimination, and to protect the right to organize. Unions and activists have demanded these changes for years.

So what can supportive businesses do? Everything.

They can encourage more employees to be owners. Employees already have an ownership stake at companies such as Publix supermarkets and Southwest Airlines.

They can raise their wage floor to close the monstrous pay gap between top management and average workers — a policy long supported by business guru Peter Drucker. And they can publicly speak out in favor of policies that reduce inequality.

If nothing else, they can stop paying dues to business associations that lobby against sensible taxes and labor protections — like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which tend to be much more conservative than their members.

Can more business leaders “wake up and take action,” Georgescu challenges? Or will they “continue doing business the ways it’s been done… until the whole system risks falling apart?”

Corporate leaders should stand with ordinary Americans to push for serious public policy to halt the nation’s slide towards greater inequality.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Yves Engler
Ottawa, Yemen and Guardian
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Tracey L. Rogers
Dear White Women, There May be Hope for You After All
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail