Corporations provide the means for all of us to make a living, innovate new services and products and enjoy a better life. Plus, Entrepreneurship Can Tip The Inequality Scale . Yet, the character and sheer power of corporations over our lives and country has led to a ‘set of corporate nation-states’ running things by their own rules.
When this author worked at Hewlett-Packard in the computer systems group, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard still ran the company, visited employees at their desk, bought a redwood park for employees and their families, always included families in quarterly celebrations. When things got tough, we all took a one tenth pay cut for the tenth were were asked to voluntarily work, we worked anyway to help get the company back and rolling – saving thousands of jobs. Personal and family life was respected, supported and separated for from work life.
Today, things are different at a middle sized fast growing software company last December. During an All Hands meeting our CEO declared ‘happy holidays’ then made a demand – request, ‘enjoy spending thirty minutes with your families, then back to work…’. That requirement for a complete focus on the needs of the company says it all – now we are expected to return emails, text messages, and cell calls on a 24/7 basis. We are expected to hold conference calls on our vacations, bring our laptops to do conference screen sharing events, and complete assignments from our hotel or getaway lodge – making sure they have Internet access. Oh, don’t forget to get a plane flight that provides Internet support. While, we are on the Internet, companies track our every click, own our comments on Facebook, target advertising on the last search we did and track our physical movements via smartphone GPS signals, stored for future marketing purposes. Their control of us individually is all but complete (we can still turn links off if we chose).
How much control do corporations have in our society and government today? A few research data points tell the story:
- By 2014, Wall Street’s largest 5 banks held 45 % of all banking assets up from 25 % in 2000. The financial industry overall spent $3.3 billion dollars on lobbying from 1998 – 2014 to the federal government. The Center for Responsive Politics found that Wall Street spent $1.5 million per day on lobbying activities in 2014!
- In 2014, the top five US drug manufacturers controlled over 24 % of the world-wide drug market of $1 trillion dollars, to ensure their control in the US they paid for 1,100 lobbyists in 2014 and spent over $2.9 billion from 1998 to 2014 on federal lobbying efforts.
- We know how Internet pervasive Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Google, they ensure their control with corporate lobbying of nearly $40 million in 2013 alone, with Google becoming a leader in lobbying dollars spent in 2014.
- Agri-businesses like Monsanto controls 24 % of the seed business and Dupont (Pioneer) owns 17 % market share globally, the agri business induatry spent $132 million in lobbying efforts in 2015 alone, supporting over 1,000 lobbyists in Washington. Up from $70 million spent in 1999.
So are we getting the laws that represent us versus the vast corporate lobbying juggernaut? No, Gilens and Page (Professors at Princeton and Northwestern) looked at over 1779 federal laws and found no laws that were enacted based on what the public majority opinion was on the topic! Little wonder we don’t get the laws we want compared to the lobbying and campaign efforts of Fortune 500 corporations.
To have a country ‘by the people, for the people and of the people’ as Lincoln eloquently noted in his Gettysburg address. We need to bring corporate nation-states into governance by the people for the people and of the people.
Corporate Taxes – Fair Share
- Corporate taxes need to be simplified and increased to a total of 7 % of GDP (1954) not the present 1 %.
- Corporate profits generated overseas need to be taxed at 35 % if not invested in jobs, training, education, new plants here in the US.
- Stock Transaction Tax – on transactions generated in both public exchanges and dark pool exchanges.
- Tax Executive Pay – at regular corporate rates and end the corporate deduction for stock compensation above $1 million.
Corporate Regulation – Save Lives, Save Dollars
- Drug Company Prices – generate a list of ‘patient critical medicines’ that Medicare and Medicaid can negotiate prices for everyone to pay.
- Single Payer Health – it does not make sense to still leave 32 million Americans out of the health services system, and it does not make sense to have two national ‘accounts payable’ groups; private insurers and Medicare the overlapping operations costs billions of dollars and the lives of many patients.
- Food Supplement Industry – today the supplement industry can introduce their products without prior certification of health or contents, these supplement products need to fall under FDA oversight with prior product health certification prior to product launch. Industry lobbying has stopped a bill authorizing the FDA, this law must be passed.
- Chemicals and Toxic Substances – the old TSCA (Toxic Substances and Control Act) law of 1976 has not been updated, new legislation to bring substances into compliance and regulation prior to product launch (the policy in the European Union) has been brought to Congress and stalled due to industry lobbying, it must be passed.
Corporate Governance – Represent employees and community, stock transparency
- Employee Representatives on Board – The Top 500 corporations by revenue would be required to have at least one employee council representative (councils will be formed by vote of employees).
- Community Representation on Board – The Top 500 corporations by revenue would be required to include up to 30 % of board representatives from the communities they do business in.
- End Stock Manipulation – The Top 500 corporations by revenue would be required to end stock buybacks, disclose all stock activities within 24 hours as they occur, and use GAAP accounting practices first, with non – GAAP reporting second. All overseas sales, profits and operations would be fully disclosed, with any material changes disclosed as discovered to the general investor community immediately. SEC funding would be increased to enforce these changes.
Corporate Lobbying – Level the Field with Voters
- End Super PAC and Corporate PAC donations, with single donations to campaigns at individual rate $2700.
- Corporate lobbying would be limited to one representative per firm, full disclosure of meeting with government officials within 24 hour after the meeting on a federal government website.
- Corporate disclosure in funding all political advertising, would need to show the corporate name and individuals who approved the funding.
(Note: The Story with detailed research analysis, plus more information on The Action will be forthcoming in this in depth look at corporate nation-states. The Editor).