Restoring Legitimacy – The “American” Corporation

On August the 19th in 2019, Business Roundtable members issued a Statement on The Purpose of a Corporation. In it, the signatories said “While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders.” Among the stakeholders listed were customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders.

People, associating for a common purpose and acting corporately embody the most authentic and basic definition of a corporation. Within that context, there are many variations of corporate governance wherein the producers, consumers, and others with broader interests call the shots. They are the ones with stakes that are deeply set within their communities. They tend to be more cooperative and less exploitative. Sure, they’re profit motivated, but this is usually tempered with genuine service motivation.

Despite their assertions with respect to their model of corporate governance, members of the Business Roundtable have consistently promoted a paradigm shift that effectively subjugates the will of those doing the actual work, to that of what our nation’s Founders once described as “foreign potentates.” They shop the world for cheap labor without much regard for the communities in which they operate or the people whose favor they court.

Contrast this to Edmund Burke’s model “gentleman of fortune,” wherein he championed the middle class values of hard work and sobriety:

When he designed the improvement of this, he did not take the ordinary Method of establishing Horse races and Assemblies, which do but encourage Drinking and Idleness but at a much smaller expense he introduced a Manufacture which, though not very considerable, employed the whole town, and in time made it opulent.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797 (Anglo-Irish statesman, economist, and philosopher))

The CEO of McDonalds received a pay package of just over $20 million in 2021. The average hourly pay is approximately $7.40 per hour for a Cashier. That is just fifteen cents above the minimum wage that was established on July the 24th in 2009. Still, even though the current boss makes 1.3 million times that of a cashier, he still can’t insure the English muffin is toasted for the company’s signature breakfast sandwich.

The shareholder rights movement is behind the quality deficit, the tamped down wages, and the hollowed out benefits packages. It has effectively gutted the middle class while also retarding any real movement towards universal health care within the USA. It doesn’t require even a modicum of management genius to understand that employees and families, stewing in hormones of stress, are expensive to insure.

For those of us who grew up believing that sending an unsigned letter is act of cowardice, the sophistries of the largest corporations are clearly problematic. The public discourse has been converted from what Marshall McLuhan once described as a whirlpool of information to a cesspool of disinformation thanks to the fully graspable wing-nuts big business has installed on the Supreme Court of the United States. Integrity challenged justices have legalized political bribery. They have personally benefitted from dark money nominations, confirmations, and accommodations thanks to those who are hostile to the Consent of the Governed.

While Roundtable members pay lip-service to community, they have demonstrated no reverence for government that is of, by, and for the people. The earnings calls that reveal no hesitation for price gouging, the obfuscated and off-the books expenditures that insure a steady flow of dark money that is used for deceptive practices, and the funding of culture wars designed to distract combine to make it clear, The Business Roundtable was not sincere when it said it intended to balance the interests of all stakeholders.

The Roundtable is mostly comprised of corporations where outside investors exercise a controlling interest. As such, they feel no need to explain how gearing everything for the inheritors, skimmers, and hoarders of wealth benefits the average Joe. They exhibit no remorse for converting our elected representatives into their own ventriloquist’s dummies. And they do this surreptitiously, insuring that any consent of the governed is never informed consent.

The largest American Corporations use the infrastructure of the United States while making no meaningful contribution to the public treasury. They are too cowardly to publish reasoned opinions over their own signature precisely because they use the roads, the bridges, the airports, and the air traffic control system while incessantly chanting their tax cut mantra and using public funds for stock buybacks. They have embraced the grift that privatizes gains while socializing losses.

“I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. … You are a den of vipers and thieves.”

– Andrew Jackson (On closing the Second Bank of the United States in 1834)

The people that do this were raised in the most affluent neighborhoods, they enjoyed the company of their most advantaged friends, they went to the best schools, and still, they never learned: When they cover their eyes, we still see them.

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