Corporations And The Election

This morning I played eighteen holes of golf with a couple of friends. One of them asked me what I thought of a local county commissioner. I told this friend that I do not vote for someone just because the person claims to be a Christian. I will research the background and position of a person and then vote my conscience. I pray for guidance and make my choice. I am not too sure my friend liked what I had to say, but I feel strongly about this.

The fact is, I am at a quandary concerning whom to vote for in the Presidential election. I am positive I am not voting for crooked Hillary. I am positive I won’t vote for Trump either, so where do I go? My conservative friends tell me a vote for anyone but Trump is a vote for Hillary, and my liberal friends ask how can you vote for someone who hates people.

President Obama responded to Trump’s speech at the Republican National convention by saying that our society is not as bad as Trump has described. President Obama said that it is not that bad for most Americans. There are two decisions I have made during this election. Nothing is as a bad or good as each side of the argument has described, and you can’t trust any media outlet to be impartial and without bias. Fox, CNN, and all of the others display micro-aggressions against the other, whoever that other is. Frankly, to join the many college campuses across the United States, I find it offensive. The loser in this election year, if there has to be one, is the American public.

However, William Galston has identified another loser in this process. In fact, Galston says that no matter who gets elected this entity will suffer loss. “We may not know who will win the 2016 presidential election, but we already know who has lost it: Corporate America.”

On the left corporations are vilified being blamed as the “source of all social-ills associated with working and middle-class Americans.” Galston describes what he thinks will happen if a Democratic President is elected. “A Democratic victory in November would guarantee moves to rein in the financial sector, heighten scrutiny of mergers and acquisitions, and put the squeeze on corporations that shift jobs and profits overseas.” If a Republican is elected “there will be a turn away from free-trade and welcoming immigrants” to closed borders and protectionism. Galston adds, “the Corporate sector favors moderation in social policy and steady internationalism in foreign policy.”

I have also seen in my students a chilling to working within large companies. The Pew Research Center has published polls on how Corporations are viewed in our society. In 1999 73% of Americans viewed Corporations positively, while in 2008, after the start of the great recession public opinion had shifted. 47% of Americans viewed Corporations favorably. In 2011 that number dived to 38% in 2011.

Much of the reasons for this loss of love can be squarely placed at the feet of managers who think in short-term, profit motivated, ways. This is also reflected in recent Gallop polls that recognize that American firms are doing a “poor job of balancing the interest of the United States and American workers with the best interests of their company.”

Corporations remind me of men who come home from work one day and their wives tell them that they want a divorce. The men stand there and go why, what did I do that was so wrong? “In a modern Democracy, a stable relationship between citizens and corporations rest on a tacit compact.” If you take care of me, I will support you and give you the freedom you need to be successful. If not then we are going to have issues.

The Social Contract between large companies and the people of the United States has, in the past, been strong which has led to a successful relationship, especially for those who have worked within those large companies. However, many believe this relationship has diminished leading to a distrustful and tenuous affiliation.

Corporate leaders use the global competitive argument for justifying the moving of jobs to other parts of the world. Some of these companies are guilty of what Marx said Capitalism accomplishes, by using subsistent wages, the creation of an army of unemployed workers, dependent on those minimal wage structures, and keep labor demands in check. Galston recognizes this when stating “It is hard not to conclude that many firms have taken advantage of soft labor markets to keep worker’s wages and benefits low.”

The fact is all of the players in this sorted affair are only in it for what they can get out of it. To our politicians it is about power, money, and office. Actually accomplishing something that helps people is an after thought. Corporate leaders are only in it for their bonuses. Who cares about the people of America? Eventually someone is going to need to step and say what about America? John F. Kennedy said at one time, “ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what can you do for your country.” I think that is just as true today as it was in the 60’s.

I think Corporations are necessary for an affluent society, but there needs to be some refocusing of the why behind what they do.

And that is my thought for the day!

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