Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Corporate Social Responsibility Doesn't Exist, Which is Why Government Regulation Should

This is a good summary of the problems of worker pay, wage stagnation and corporate versus societal responsibility.  It pretty much sums up my feelings on corporate America, which I'd like to expand.

Beginning in with Henry Ford and continuing through the New Deal and the 50's and 60's America has had a deal with its corporations.  We'd let them do what they wanted and they'd take care of their workers -- Unions would become domesticated, and even non-union workers would get nearly union-like benefits and tenure.  We built healthcare around employment, we built retirement around employment, all assuming that a) people would continue working at the Ford plant for their entire lives and b) a private equity firm would not buy the Ford plant for pennies and sell it for scrap.

This grand bargain between corporate America and the public was always a bum deal -- it gave us Love Canal, among other things.  But we were happy with it as long as companies held up their end of the bargain -- fairly stable employment, good benefits, high wages.

Then in the 80's the suits reneged on their half of the deal -- 'you don't really need that low deductible insurance plan, or that fixed-benefit retirment plan, do you?'  And then, of course, came the real kicker 'well you know our real responsibility is to our shareholders, not to you, our employees' and then the layoffs start.

But you know what?  The Corporations are right.  Their job is to make money.  We were the fools for ever thinking differently.  It's not so simple, of course.  Wall Street types will lay people off til the cows come home and then scream 'job creators' whenever you request that, since they've been making out like bandits, they give back more to the common pot.  So when that happens we just need to take what they say about profits and shareholder value and run with it.  They won't take care of people and they won't take care of the planet, so it's our job to do it for them (on their dime).  They will take as much as they can.  Our job is to stop them.  This is the way it is.  We are free of illusions, at least.

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