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The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | November 9, 2011

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.

    Cross-posted from Robert Reich’s blog.

    Comments to “The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance

    1. hi roberto ricky! I’m turskish. I have a question you can answer. When will Obama creat the first job of his administration. We know he robbed 15.7 trillion so far, gave millions to Pelosi, soft-corruption, 60 minuets and to other world bankers as party gifts, but he continues to hurt the poor. Why do you like his asshole? He must have given you billions and you do not share it. You ordered the Occupy Cal movement to be beat up by alameda police, why u do that? You evil.

    2. Further more, when American Corporations choose not to pledge allegiance and take the to register in Lichtenstein, Bermuda or Qatar or China, to avoid U.S taxes let us press “our” congress to legislate (fat chance…) a law that ascertains that when these corporations get nationalized anywhere, or get in other kind of trouble overseas, as they so often do, that when that happens, these Corporation Boards call on the Lichtenstein, Bermuda or Qatar marines to bail their ASSets out. As they customarily and historically demanded and manipulated our government to so act.

      How often have our boys, our Marines, died and bled for them to safeguard their assets. How often have our Marines, our Air Force, driven to ensure and protect their God given rights, (and the U.S Supreme Court validation), to vandalize global resources and savagely exploit slave labor here and around the planet. The Corporations, and their “Stink Tank” lackeys are very good at evoking feverish patriotism when their assets, any where around the world, are slang, past and present.

      “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.” (Major General, United States Marine Cores , Smedley D. Butler, recipient among other bravery distinctions, of two (2) U.S Medals of Honor.

    3. Best idea yet! Ralph Nader, are you listening?
      Deaths attributable to foreclosure shock should
      be executable crimes charged against banks and
      other corporate/financial money gougers.

    4. Why not start with all the crony capitalism in Washington that fuels this. Perhaps you can start, Mr. Reich, by supporting an insider trading law for Congress. As you know they’ve been profiting for many years on the outcomes of their committees. And please, no self-serving defense that they have a code of ethics. Yes, indeed.

    5. Part of what makes this less than persuasive is the fact that ordinary citizens are not compelled to take any pledge of allegiance. Accordingly, we have very little ground upon which to demand corporations to take one (even if we choose, wrongly, think of them as people or citizens).

    6. Professor Reich, you made some very good points. If corporations are deemed as persons, then they should not only have rights but responsibilities (legally, socially, morally…) as persons.

    7. Professor Reich, I think your pledge idea should be backed up by the “execution” suggestion of your lead sentence. That might inspire some real allegiance, and is one form of capital punishment I can support!

    8. Dear Dr Reich,

      I agree wholeheartedly with the pledge for corporations, however I think the last line should not be included. By allowing corporations to fund candidates for elections, we can affect government policy by voting with our dollar. We need to know which corporations support which candidates and why.



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