Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

For the Good of America!

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I am not a corporation. I am a person. With all the information we hear about corporations in America and with the 2010 Supreme Court “Citizens United” ruling giving corporations many of the rights that people enjoy, I was wondering what they really “think.”

I know corporations are dedicated to making as much profit for their shareholders as they possibly can. This profit instinct is the driving impetus for American capitalism and there is nothing wrong with making a profit for shareholders. Corporations also do a lot of good in American society and for our world. But I was just wondering if they also had a  greater commitment to social responsibility, to making a profit not just for themselves but also for America, this would help America to become more profitable overall.

Are corporations simply interested in growing richer with a total disregard for America and the people who help to make them rich? Can transnational corporations make their profits in a way that makes life profitable for all Americans?

I certainly get that corporations are no longer just American companies, that their fiscal allegiances extend far beyond our shores because of global competition for jobs and manufacturing as well as the lure of foreign markets in the world economy. But even as they have attained transnational status, are not many of them made or “born” in America and should there not be a priority commitment to putting America first by making decisions that will be in America’s best long and short term interests?

On the one hand, great news has come to the people of Michigan, which in recent years was slammed by American de-industrialization. This meant the closing of some 150,000 manufacturing plants over the past 20 years culminating with the export of American jobs overseas, and the near collapse of Chrysler and General Motors.

Now that GM and Chrysler have moved out of the perils of bankruptcy and are becoming more profitable — thanks to the Obama administration, which has allowed the industry to re-tool and become more competitive –sales are now booming.  GM recently announced plans to hire 5,000 new workers in the Flint, Mich. area. What a powerful statement of commitment to American workers and the American economy.

Detroit is the birthplace of the American auto industry. With nearby Flint being one of the areas hardest hit by the decline in auto manufacturing, General Motors is doing what all American corporations should be doing – or at least thinking about doing – putting America at the top of its priority list by reinvesting in America. Some corporations have made a strong commitment to American workers. Why then can’t other corporations also make decisions that will make America stronger?

Other nations have made this commitment to their own people. Why are there such lopsided trade agreements where American products are imported in lower percentages into these countries, but these same countries have higher percentages of imports coming into the United States? In other words, they have trade agreements that benefit their countries, and we have agreements that seem to give other countries the competitive advantages. Is “free trade” really fair trade for America?

The pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is also of concern. The Washington Post says, “It’s expected to eliminate tariffs on goods and services, tear down a host of non-tariff barriers,” and that in addition to imported goods, these current trade agreements “encompass a broad range of regulatory and legal issues, making them a much more central part of foreign policy and even domestic lawmaking.”

With America still hung up by the rope-a-dope policies in the 1990’s NAFTA agreement, will this new trade agreement put America further behind in its economic recovery, or will this new pact simply increase the flow of American jobs overseas? When jobs are sent abroad, the American worker loses. When Americans are not working, the income taxes which would have gone to support local municipalities also decline. This creates a vicious cycle of depletion and despair because jobs keep being sent afar.

That’s why the recent move by GM is so monumentally important and why it makes a powerful statement about the auto industry’s commitment to America. That’s why we should drive a Chevrolet, a Ford or a Chrysler vehicle, to support the industry and American laborers. The Motley Fool reports that “While the Japanese automakers do have plants and offices here, they aren’t headquartered where the majority of their R&D money is spent. Detroit’s Big Three are all headquartered here and have eight times the numbers of workers here that Toyota, Honda, and Nissan does. Detroit spends more on R&D here in the U.S. per year than juggernaut companies such as Boeing, Intel, Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Exxon-Mobil — again, combined.” While the Japanese, Germans, and Koreans make good cars too, American made cars are among the best on the market.

Why can’t more corporations that have now become more profitable now do more to make America more profitable as well? Why can’t doing what’s good for America once again be a top priority? Come on American corporations; let’s start doing what’s good for America again. You can make your profits, to be sure, and at the same time you can also make your own country profitable again. What’s good for American corporations can be good for America again! Yes! We can all do this if we have the mind and will to accomplish this double win for all.


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