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Robert Reich
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 9 November 2011
“We pledge to create more jobs in the United States than we create outside the United States, either directly or in our foreign subsidiaries and subcontractors.”

The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance

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Despite what the Supreme Court and Mitt Romney say, corporations aren’t people. (I’ll believe they are when Georgia and Texas start executing them.)

The Court thinks corporations have First Amendment rights to spend as much as they want on politics, and Romney (and most of his fellow Regressives) think they need lower taxes and fewer regulations in order to be competitive.

These positions are absurd on their face. By flooding our democracy with their shareholders’ money, big corporations are violating their shareholders’ First Amendment rights because shareholders aren’t consulted. They’re simultaneously suppressing the First Amendment rights of the rest of us because, given how much money they’re throwing around, we don’t have enough money to be heard.

And they’re indirectly giving non-Americans (that is, all their foreign owners, investors, and executives) a say in how Americans are governed. Pardon me for being old-fashioned but I didn’t think foreign money was supposed to be funneled into American elections.

Romney’s belief big corporations need more money and lower costs in order to create jobs is equally baffling. Big corporations are now sitting on $2 trillion of cash and enjoying near-record profits. The ratio of profits to wages is higher than it’s been since before the Great Depression. And a larger and larger portion of those profits are going to top executives. (CEO pay was 40 times the typical worker in the 1980s; it’s now upwards of 300 times.)  

But, hey, if the Supreme Court and regressive Republicans insist big corporations are people and want to treat them as American citizens, then why not demand big corporations take a pledge of allegiance to the United States?

And if they don’t take the pledge, we should boycott them. (Occupiers — are you listening?)

Here’s what a Corporate Pledge of Allegiance might look like:

The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance to the United States

The [fill in blank] company pledges allegiance to the United States of America. To that end:

We pledge to create more jobs in the United States than we create outside the United States, either directly or in our foreign subsidiaries and subcontractors.

If we have to lay off American workers, we will give them severance payments equal to their weekly wage times the number of months they’ve worked for us.

We further pledge that no more than 20 percent of our total labor costs will be outsourced abroad.

We pledge to keep a lid on executive pay so no executive is paid more than 50 times the median pay of American workers. We define “pay” to include salary, bonuses, health benefits, pension benefits, deferred salary, stock options, and every other form of compensation.  

We pledge to pay at least 30 percent of money earned in the United States in taxes to the United States. We won’t shift our money to offshore tax havens and won’t use accounting gimmicks to fake how much we earn.

We pledge not to use our money to influence elections.

Companies that make the pledge are free to use it in their ads over the Christmas shopping season.

This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.



Author pic
ABOUT Robert Reich

 

ROBERT B. REICH, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org. Robert Reich's new film, "Inequality for All" is available on DVD
and blu-ray, and on Netflix in February.

dlrbwlss

dlrbwlss

Dear Dr. Reich, 3 or 4 years

Dear Dr. Reich,
3 or 4 years ago I read a really interesting article in Nation Magazine about British Parliament's decision to charter the Hudson Bay company, the first limited liability corporation. It was a contention debate and passed by only one vote. Those opposed were afraid that without liability the stockholders would not keep a close watch on the directors of the company. To get the vote, if I remember correctly, the owners had to pledge that the HBC would serve the public interest.
I don't know what happened in subsequent charters but for sure the requirement that the corporation promise to serve the public interest is long gone overboard. I own stock in companies that do not serve the public interest, I'm sure, in fact I can't name most of them. If I were liable for their misdeeds I would keep a closer eye on them and for sure switch my meager nest egg to a socially responsible fund manager.
BTW I spent 3 years in the army and was never asked to do the Pledge of Allegiance.
Keep up the good work. I'm a fan.

Robert Reich=Marxist Idiot

Robert Reich=Marxist Idiot Tell us again Bobby, how that NAFTA thing you so enthusiastically supported is working out you stupid moron...

Hey Michael: If you have a

Hey Michael: If you have a point to make, make it. Support it. Give us some facts. If you have a problem with Mr Reich, write him a letter. It's my feeling, and its JUST feeling, that these threads are not appropriate for ad hominems. And where did you get that lousy haircut?

Both Government and

Both Government and corporations are inanimate objects.

They are incapable of anything for good or for evil, until people operate them.

Which one has authority over the other? gov.

How much control do we as individuals or as a people have, over either one? zero.

There's yer trouble rat thar.

Most of us, as a people and as individuals, have very little control over what our gov does with our money, and therefore what we do with our time.

Advocating for higher taxes on anyone instead of less spending, is very likely to be accomplished because taxation and growth are what gov does best.

I give only 3 examples here. If you like the way our government has handled it's current revenues, our economy, or it's relationship with corporations, then by all means advocate for more government and more revenue.

The way forward from here is clear, every one of us including the poor and disabled, are better off advocating for less gov and less taxation, not more. Small gov with a basic safety net is best for all. Hating corporations for cronyism, when it's the government which has ultimate power, doesn't make sense.

Your analysis might have more

Your analysis might have more weight if you weren't using false predicates. Yes, we the people have little control over our government, (not zero as you would have it). But that is precisely the point of the #OWS movement. The control that we would wish to have has been corrupted by the looming presence of ever larger sums of money from private hands. We still have the vote even if it at times seems to be purely symbolic, (I think thoughtful election reform can ameliorate that problem), it can change some things; witness Mr. Kasich following last weeks election rebuke. You are correct in suggesting that we have NO control over the decisions of corporate America. Hell, even the shareholders have no control over what gets talked about inside a corporate boardroom..... What you are doing is underwriting a self validating argument. Government doesn't work because people such as yourself have been in charge of it. If you hold government in contempt, and then go on to get yourself elected, AND THEN you screw it up just the way you always said it was screwed up, isn't that self fulfilling prophecy? I for one am for not more government, but more effective government. I for one am FOR more taxes on those with the money and less on those who rely on a paycheck. I am for less government so long as it means less spending on shit like neutron weapons, $6,000 toilet seats, planes that don't fly and most especially, wars that are the manifestation of an imperial view of this nations place in history. That means no more elective wars, no more occupation of other countries to secure "our" resources. I think FDR had it largely right (domestically) and would be glad to see a second incarnation of that regime.

How on earth is it better for

How on earth is it better for the poor and disabled to advocate for smaller government, when government is the only one providing a social safety net? Or maybe you're suggesting that GE and Exxon will take care of the poor and disabled? And furthermore, thanks to Citizens United, only people (or corporations) with access to unlimited funds are really in a position to "advocate" for anything.

Hating the government and

Hating the government and loving the corporations is what doesn't make sense. The purpose of government at least in theory is to serve all the people, while the purpose of corporations is to maximize their profits and they have no interest in helping us. The problem of government is not that it is persecuting corporations but that it is the servant of corporations. If the government does what it should it will be toward the general benefit, but if the corporations do what they are dedicated to it will benefit a few and screw the rest of us. The way is indeed clear, our economy has been best when the government took an active involvement in regulating the economy and levied higher taxes on the wealthy. Look at history.

Read my post again, I neither

Read my post again, I neither love nor hate either.

The history of our economy is boom and bust because of the Fed's artificial control of interest rates.

Fannie Mae had a gov't mandate that 55% of her loans went to low income borrowers, and she wrote half the mortgages in the U.S.

If you were in the mortgage business she was not only your competition, she was in many cases also a big supplier and perhaps your best customer. Her assets at receivership were $5.6TN and US housing mortgage market $12TN, Fannie & the other GSE's controlled the market.

The cause of the meltdown was massive gov't interference in the marketplace thru the GSE's pushing low income loans and the Fed's low interest rates.

If you want more of the same in the future, the way forward is clear. Advocate for more gov't involvement in managing the economy.

Your theory that gov't serves the people will not work until we remove money from the political process. I am all for it but we couldn't even convince our gov't to do what was requested by the ratings agencies to avoid a credit downgrade. There's our history.

You entirely ignore the main

You entirely ignore the main point of all Reich's articles. When there is such a great imbalance in the distribution of wealth in the country demand falls because the middle and lower classes spend less, driving a downward spiral. Reducing that imbalance will never come from corporate American because it is not in their interest. The only way it can happen is through government. I reiterate that corporations do what is in their best interest and you offer no reason to think that reduced government will lead to anything but more of the same corporate dominance that has lead to the bad economy we have now.

Robert, What about the Fed?

Robert, What about the Fed? http://www.occupythefednow.com/

Let's return the country to

Let's return the country to being "by the people"...

New amendment: “You may contribute to a candidate for political office only if you are able to vote for that candidate, the amount to be limited and determined by congress.“

http://tinyurl.com/VoteContribute

In the first place there is

In the first place there is nothing in Reich's article about unions. What you don't understand is that the corporations are buying the politicians and that is not democracy that is just our country being bought and sold. What you don't understand is that the corporations with all their money can drown out everyone else and that is not democracy or anything nearly like it, it is only rule by money. What you do not understand is that the corporations are prospering extremely well and Reich nor anyone else is saying corporations should not profit, where in the hell did you get such an idiot idea into your head? You are very childlike to think that corporations are lobbying for their employees benefits when in fact they are paying them as little as possible because corporate profits are what is driving the company and everyone else in the world knows that. Shareholders don't vote on what the employees are paid, what kind of fantasy land do you live in? Who the hell are you to tell us we don't have any right to complain about how much they pay the CEOs at companies that have been bailed out by our tax dollars. I could go on and on because nearly every word in your rave is wrong and totally ignorant, but it isn't worth the time.

LIE LIE LIAR!

LIE LIE LIAR!

So unions represent the

So unions represent the interests of their members and should therefore have the right to take their dues and use it to support the politicians that the President of the union prefers forcwhatever reason? What you don't understand corporate officers use the corporations assets to support the politicians that make decisions that help their corporation as well but what you seem to forget is that corporations need to prosper to hire more employees, to increase benefits, to avoid having to reduce their payroll, they are lobbying for their employees benefits as much as they are their shareholders. In a free market system the consumer decides to freely buy one product over the other and the corporation that makes a profit provided the consumer with the best product at prices the consumer freely paid. Shareholders of corporations have the right to decide how much they want to pay their hired managers- if you don't any stock in that company what the hell business is it of yours to stick your nose into how mic they pay their officers? If you force them to pay a specific dollar amount and they can't hire therefore the right senior management and the company fails are you going to step forward and pay the employees their salaries or the shareholders for their lose.

You actually write such an ignorant childlike economic piece on the day that Italy is now also going broke due to having adopted many of your childish notions of how to operate an economy. I suspect your just jealous of your college buddies who went into commerce and made millions while you are still a.professor getting paid more than your worth. The joke is that your ideas simply won't work I the real world-- never have- never will. You might want to go back and take economics 101 with some freshman- you might be reminded about econic truth. By the way to the person that suggested that everyone stop buying stuff-- I suppose you think that is good for workers at these companies??grow up- stop being jealous of those that do and produce- get a job!

Not sure what planet you live

Not sure what planet you live on, but you are making Reich's point: corporations are not people and should not be treated so. If you are going to act like they are people, then at least they should be subject to the same laws as real "persons," and that includes strict limits on dollar amount that can be contributed to any candidate for public office.

No. Clearly You're an idiot.

No. Clearly You're an idiot. I will begin to give you credence when you begin to use the English language. Your (note the difference here) post read like that of a second grader. Not the kind of person whom I give credibility.

". . . jealous of those that

". . . jealous of those that do and produce. . ." BWAAHAHHAHAH. You gotta be kiddin' me. You're an ignoramus. Look around yourself. Reread the article.

HEY 99%! Are you angry? Use

HEY 99%! Are you angry? Use it!

We have POWER! “Buying Power.” And, it’s about time we used it. Here’s how.

STOP BUYING THINGS. STOP BUYING…EVERYTHING.

WE CAN INSTANTLY STOP THE FLOW OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

STRANGLE THE COMPANIES THAT ARE KILLING US!

Companies want our money, but they don’t want to help America get back on its feet?
We are being starved, now let’s starve those greedy corporations who took our money.
We want companies to hire us, politicians to vote for us, and this is how to force it.
We have an incredible mobile army of millions and millions and millions of people!
Let’s combine the power that we all have. VOTE, by NOT spending.

Stop buying as much as you can. Stop buying from ALL of the big corporations, retailers and banks; Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite Aid, Kroger, Costco, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Sears, Lowe’s, Supervalu, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Georgia Pacific, RJR, Brown & Williamson, Kraft Global, Sara Lee, Tyson, BP, Shell Oil, Exxon Mobile, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Sprint, Dell, Microsoft, Dow Chemical, Chevron, Kimberly-Clark, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One, Ford, Chrysler, GM, Disney, Macy’s, Kohl’s, The Gap, Penny’s, Colgate, Nike, Staples, Office Depot, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Avon, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Kellogg’s, Dean Foods, General Mills, etc., etc., etc. All of them!
Add your own companies to our list and pass it on.

Don’t use global banks. Move your money from a big bank to a neighborhood bank.
Don’t use your credit cards or ATM’s…at all.
Don’t shop any retail chain stores. Shop local, or mom and pop shops.
Don’t buy gasoline. Walk, take a bus, car pool, or ride a bike.
Don’t buy any extras like music, movies, electronics, or toys…nothing.

BUY AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.
STOP SPENDING OUR BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND WATCH WHAT HAPPENS.

Greedy global companies will be left in shock not knowing what to do.
Wall Street, the oil barons, corporate fat cats, stockholders, executives, marketers, retailers, politicians, and President Obama, will be asking us, the 99%, what we want!

“WE” WILL FORCE WALL STREET AND CORPORATIONS TO HELP AMERICA!

We have already started.

V

get a new rant

get a new rant

Your an idiot-- I suppose you

Your an idiot-- I suppose you pledge to always buy the product that is the most expensive on the shelf because that product is made by an American company that took your pledge. I bet your the cheapest hardest nose product bargain shopper in the country. If your an economist then I'm a great guitarist because I own a guitar and I call myself a guitarist. Your not an economy your simply a communist delusional goof.

Miss the lesson on homonyms

Miss the lesson on homonyms in second grade? On punctuation in sixth?

If corporations are people,

If corporations are people, then they should be held to the same political contribution standards as people, and that's it. what is it now? A thousand dollars or so?

I heartily agree. I don't

I heartily agree. I don't know a lot about limits or about the citizens united decision, but corporations have no vote, so they shouldn't be allowed to influence elections.

Corporations are considered people only because when lawmakers write laws, corporations and other legal entities are subject to and must comply with the same laws. A corporation is said to be a person, instead of saying all the entities everytime the word person is used.

But they have no vote, a corporation is an inanimate entity. So it shouldn't be allowed to influence elections at all. I also believe a corporation should pay no taxes since it is inanimate. It's taxation without representation. A corporation does not enjoy the ownership of property or money, it's an inanimate legal entity. Money benefits people. it should be taxed when it is paid to people.

and should have to get

and should have to get approval from majority of ALL stockholders -- union same rule

Sounds good but mine is a

Sounds good but mine is a little more honest and based on reality

The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge blind obedience to the Corporate flag
and the ruling class in America
and the the Guberment for which it stands
one institution enforced with repression
injustice and brutality to all but the rich

This one is honest and you can see its teeth

Nation of Change is a

Nation of Change is a corporation.

Brooklyn Dame's picture

Jay Lindberg, I'd say you hit

Jay Lindberg, I'd say you hit the nail right on the head!
http://borderlessnewsandviews.com/2011/10/they-dont-care-about-us/

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