Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Divine Right To Slash and Burn

Sometimes it seems that things are so carved in stone there’s not a prayer of changing them. Though only enacted in 2003 the Bush Tax Cuts are a case in point.

Don’t worry I’m not proposing a raise in taxes. But I am broaching something even more sacrosanct – the idea that a commercial corporation’s only responsibility is to turn a profit.

Geez, exclaims your man up in Pearl River, the next thing he’ll be doing is criticizing Jeremy Lin!

Not really but with profits at an all time high it’s easy forget that corporations do not have a divine right to slash and burn regardless of workers or community.

Travel the roads of America, however, and the scales will soon fall from your eyes at the sight of abandoned factories nestled amidst once bustling neighborhoods. And everywhere workers jittery about their prospects while their unions bend backwards in an effort to save jobs.

What you won’t see is any meaningful effort from large corporations to give back to their communities despite robust balance sheets and unusually large cash reserves.

Why should they? Their god-assumed sole goal is to make a buck.

Take Apple, for instance. The company delivers astounding profits yet never seems to have given a thought to manufacturing its products totally in the US; why bother when big savings can be made by subcontracting to Chinese firms. The irony is that Apple microprocessors are manufactured in Texas, sent to China where they are placed in iPads then shipped back to the U.S.

No doubt it’s more expensive to assemble the iPad in Austin so why not turn a quick buck and to hell with American manufacturing jobs – the portals of entry to the middle class.

But what a battering even those vanishing portals have taken. The $28 per hour UAW contract has been “shaved” to $14. That’s less than $30K per annum - hardly enough to buy the white picket fence let alone the house.

What’s the solution? Well, social media brought the almighty Rush Limbaugh to his knees over his deplorable “Slutgate.” With almost 100 billion dollars in cash reserves I don’t have the least doubt that Apple would “sacrifice” a billion or two for job creation to prevent a community boycott. The same pressure could be applied to every company with the good fortune to be ensconced in the S&P index.

A politician unbeholden to donors and lobbyists wouldn’t hurt either. Perhaps some pale imitation of a Teddy Roosevelt who in similar circumstances challenged the right of the robber barons to ride herd over America workers?

How about Governor Romney? Forget about it! His sole solution is the George Bush vanishing card trick – cut taxes, balloon deficits! Besides, he comes from a venture capitalist background where the standard remedy when acquiring ailing companies is to cut jobs. Imagine letting him loose on an ailing country?

Contrast this approach with how Germany dealt with the recent recession. Its unemployment figures remained remarkably low because many corporations instituted a three-day week rather than cast off their workers like old dishrags.

Nor are German firms unaware of their social responsibility; most maintain an apprenticeship system in association with government, colleges and trade unions that trains young workers while providing them with entry level jobs.

You think President Obama might consider introducing such a practical solution? No way, he’d be accused of being Karl Marx’s bastard son and born in Berlin to boot!

Besides, he’ll have his hands full shaking the corporate money tree in his re-election bid. That in itself should lead to a strategic watering down of the Dodd-Frank Act passed to regulate the financial entities that brought the country to the brink of disaster.

Still, half a loaf or no loaf at all – and there is a slim chance that if he wins in November he just might use his bully pulpit to call out the corporations who continue to view the US as a cash cow instead of the home of a proud people whose only aspiration is an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome short comments on Belfast Media Group blog postings but you should be aware that, since we've put our names to our articles, we encourage you to do so also. Preference in publication will be given to those who provide an authenticated full name — as is already the case in our newspapers. Comments should be short and relate to the subject matter and, of course, shouldn't be libelous. And remember, if you find that there isn't enough space on our blogs for your views, you can always start your own. There are over two million blogs out there, another one can only benefit the blogosphere.