In 1971, Lewis Powell presented a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, In it, he repeatedly refers to an “attack on the enterprise system.” He rages against what he characterizes as “self-interest groups of all kinds” while failing to acknowledge that an American Corporation, especially one controlled by foreign potentates, is also a self-interested group. Powell scrupulously avoids addressing the primary criticism of what he tries to sell as “the” enterprise system. Our country’s evolving benevolence is not an attack on the “American System,” but rather a much needed critique of its integrity deficits.
The Powell Memo is a blueprint for the domination of American Democracy by inauthentic, out of balance, corporations. It is indissolubly linked to the Shareholder Rights Movement. Many who actively engage in free enterprise manage to do so while privatizing profits, but also without socializing expenses and losses. They conduct their businesses in a forthright manner without low-balling the workers and thereby forcing them to seek compensatory public assistance. In other words, people of integrity do not operate their businesses in parasitic fashion.
In December of 2021, The Atlantic contributor Peter Whener published an article that pretty much defined the Trumpi-Inanity cult as composed of people who have the devil on both shoulders. Once the emotionally-charged / intellectually stunted hoards at the December 19 Turning Point USA gathering finished with their chants of “Let’s Go Brandon,” Donald Trump Junior revealed what we have always known about the so-called Evangelicals and their thin veneer of religiosity.
Junior told the crowd that the scriptures are essentially a manual for suckers. The teachings of Jesus have “gotten us nothing.” It’s worse than that, really; the ethic of Jesus has gotten in the way of successfully prosecuting the culture wars against the left. If the ethic of Jesus encourages sensibilities that might cause people in politics to act a little less brutally, a bit more civilly, with a touch more grace? Then it needs to go.
The mammon serving evangelicals cheered. They have always subscribed to the Horse and Sparrow doctrine that teaches “If you give the horse all it wants, the sparrows can subsist on the undigested oats that are contained in the dung piles along the road.” This perverted twist on what Jesus was quoted as saying in Matthew 6 was clearly problematic for those feigning allegiance to Jesusonian principle. In the 26th verse Jesus said: “Consider the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
In contrast to those of Jesus, the abhorrent values of the entitled class were on full display with the Horse and Sparrow example. It then morphed into “trickle down economics” which the masses correctly decoded to mean “trickled on.” Stiffing the public treasury shifted the burden to everyone else. It reduced the size of the middle class in The United States. While running against Ronald Reagan for the presidential nomination in 1980, George H. W. Bush had derided Reaganomics as “voodoo economics.” It gave the military industrial complex a sugar high while reducing taxation. Trump senior’s reprise of the ill advised consisted of further reducing taxation on the inheritors, skimmers, and hoarders of wealth as he squandered money and vandalized vital institutions.
The Putinesque Prevaricator occupied the nation’s highest office just as it was revealed that CEO pay had increased by 940% over a period of 40 years. During the same period, compensation for the average worker had increased by only 12%. During a period when members of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate were benefitting from generous automatic pay raises, the minimum wage had increased by only two dollars and ten cents, from $5.15 in 1997 to $7.25 at the close of 2021. The price gouging that was the proximate cause for inflation, during the nation’s economic recovery, has now completely offset the cost of living allowance relief Social Security recipients were hoping to enjoy in 2022.
While the Trump followers were mainlining deception, their cult leader was siphoning off most forms of equity out from under them. The scattershot rage machine is bearing down full bore as we are witnessing a new iteration of the Goebbelian tactic, “Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty.” It consists of co-opting the top concerns expressed by the service-motivated; then twisting and using them as talking points to corruptly benefit the profit-motivated.
Jerome Powell’s distorted conception of American Enterprise is directly attributable to the shell-like characteristics of inauthentic corporations; ones where the employees, if any, are typically devalued as low level functionaries. The sociopathy manifest by the stockholders makes no provision for the original meaning of corporate culture. For authentic corporations are formed by people, associating for a common purpose, and acting corporately.
The Employee Owned Benefit Corporation is truly of, by, and for the people. It is the best example of shared prosperity, one in which employees and that company’s retirees hold a supermajority interest of at least two-thirds, thus limiting the holdings and influence of outside investors to a maximum of one third. An EOBC also has a clearly articulated public purpose.