You are browsing the archive for Business.

Corporate Rewards: Controlling U.S. Trade Policy

8:35 am in Business, Economy, Employment by Leo W. Gerard

Real men, real human beings, with feelings and families, fought and died at Gettysburg to preserve the Union, to ensure, as their president, Abraham Lincoln, would say later, that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Perversely, afterwards, non-humans commandeered the constitutional amendment intended to protect the rights of former slaves. Corporations wrested from the U.S. Supreme Court a decision based on the 14th Amendment asserting that corporations are people with rights to be upheld by the government – but with no counterbalancing human responsibilities to the republic. No duty to fight or die in war, for example. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court expanded those rights – ruling that corporations have a First Amendment free speech right to surreptitiously spend unlimited money on political campaigns.

Today, Lincoln would have to say America’s got a government of the people by the corporations, for the corporations.

The proposed trade agreement with South Korea illustrates corporate control of government for profit. It’s the same with efforts to revive the moribund trade schemes former President George W. Bush also negotiated with Panama and Colombia, the world’s most dangerous country by far for trade unionists, with 2,700 assassinated with impunity in the past two decades, 38 slain so far this year.

Nobody likes these trade deals – except corporations. They’re all modeled on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), both of which killed American jobs while giving corporations new authority to sue governments (read: taxpayers) for regulations – like environmental standards – that corporations contend interfere with their right to make money.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Mourning in America: Death of the Middle Class

11:36 am in Business, Economy, Employment, Labor by Leo W. Gerard

The deficit commission report issued last week is another Saturday night special pressed to the temple of the American middle class.

“Turn over your money and your benefits or your country will die,” the report screams at workers. “You want your country to go bankrupt? No? Then you gotta delay retirement, get less from Social Security, pay more for health insurance and lose your precious few income tax breaks like the one that helps pay your mortgage while the banker is breathing down your neck right now.”

For 30 years, rich conservatives have successfully threatened the American middle class this way, ever since that rich conservative Ronald Reagan converted the White House into a castle.

The result is a country with greater income inequality than during the age of corporate robber barons at the turn of the 20th century. It is a country whose 21st century robber barons, the richest 1 percent of Americans, take nearly a quarter of all income and demand that politicians relieve them of their obligations. The rich — hedge fund owners who rake in billions, Wall Street banksters handed bonuses in the millions, CEOs paid eight-figure golden parachutes after they mess up — insist that politicians place government debt burdens on the middle class, the unemployed, the elderly, the struggling young, people whose income has stagnated for three decades. . . . Read the rest of this entry →

The Voters’ Message: Manufacturing a Solution

8:45 am in Business, Economy, Employment, Labor, Manufacturing by Leo W. Gerard

No doubt voters sent a message last Tuesday. Deciphering it correctly is crucial.

Republican cryptographers interpreted the election results that gave the GOP control of one house of Congress as a directive to demolish everything produced over the past two years – health care reform, Wall Street re-regulation and economic stimulus. In fact, like the Blues Brothers, they believe they’re on a mission from God. Unlike Jake and Ellwood who set out to save an institution, Republicans intend to crush the President, and if a crippled leader means the nation suffers, well, too bad.

Republicans got it wrong. The electorate wants construction, not destruction. Voters want cooperation, not gridlock.

President Obama properly decoded the message and reached across the aisle, inviting Republicans to a White House summit. At that meeting, he will attempt to collaborate with politicians bent on his annihilation, which is like trying to navigate a mine field. But in these negotiations, there is a safe zone. That is manufacturing. The electorate wants American manufacturing restored to greatness. Voters know industrial revitalization would create good, middle class jobs, strengthen national security and improve the economy.

Some Republicans already have shown a willingness to cooperate on this issue. Just before the midterm recess, 99 Republicans voted with Democrats to pass by 348 to 79 the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which would enable the Commerce Department to impose import tariffs to offset the detrimental effects of manipulated currencies. This is vital in places like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania where manufacturing has been decimated by Chinese exports sold at artificially low prices. Products from several Asian countries are falsely cheap because the governments intervene in the market to suppress the value of their currencies against the dollar.

Voters know that punishing currency manipulators, dealing boldly with violations of international trade rules like forced technology transfer and copyright abuse, and ending tax incentives to outsource jobs would help reverse the decline of American manufacturing.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →