Reports from the Economic Front

a blog by Marty Hart-Landsberg

Trusting The Corporations

In a capitalist economy, the engine of growth is the pursuit of profit by capitalists.  Over time, capitalists have used their structural leverage to transform the economic environment to make it easier for them to make profits.  They succeeded in lowering their taxes, reducing regulations, weakening unions, privatizing public activities, and winning greater freedom to globalize their operations.  While we were encouraged to believe that their success would produce benefits for the great majority, that is not how it turned out. 

Check out the charts below; they highlight who has actually gained.

 inequality-p25_averagehouseholdincom.png

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Ironically, capitalist leverage over policy continues to grow even now, despite the fact that we continue to struggle to overcome depressed economic conditions largely caused by their pursuit of profit.  Desperate to create jobs, President Obama is eager to do whatever the leading capitalists think would be helpful.   Therefore, he established his own Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and made sure it had ample corporate representation. 

The council members include the ceo and chairman of General Electric; the chairman and chief executive officer of American Express; the chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer of Southwest Airlines; the chair of the board and chief executive officer of DuPont; the former chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Procter and Gamble; the president and chief executive officer of Intel Corporation; the chairman and chief executive officer of Kodak; the chairman and ceo of Comcast Corporation and chairman of the board of directors of NBC Universal; the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Corporation; the chief operating officer at Facebook; and the chairman for UBS Americas and president for UBS Investment Bank.  There are a few other corporate heads and, oh yes, the president of the AFL-CIO, and the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers. 

So, what kind of ideas is this council coming up with to  create jobs?  The Wall Street Journal describes its first meeting this way:

“We want to stay focused on areas we think that we can see results,” General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, who leads the panel, said in the council’s post-meeting press conference near the White House, according to reports filed from the event.

But, at least a couple members’ “laser-like” focus, as Mr. Immelt put it, seemed to be more on the needs of his own company. A White House official said the CEOs on the council were asked to provide insights from their industries.

For council member Lewis Hay of energy provider NextEra Energy, growing jobs means investing in new power plants. Companies like his are doing that, he said, but hey, a little more clarity on government regulations would be a big help, he said.

Next up: Ken Chenault of American Express, who complained that while the credit card business is “seeing growth across every category,” what’s really needed are efforts to help the middle class gain greater access to credit.

The president pulled the CEOs up short by telling them: “You’re going to have to help us identify where the future job growth is going to come from.”

Guess that depends on which council member you talk to.

Feel more confident about the future now?

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