Just after Thanksgiving, I came across a story on Huffington Post that got my blood pressure cranking. I had heard rumors of this group of CEO's before, but this confirmed several things. First, that they’re totally oblivious to reality. Second, that as a group, Corporate America suffers from a ferocious sense of entitlement. And third, that they’re a body of gravy-sucking pigs (a deliciously descriptive phrase that came from actor/comedian Steve Martin’s stand-up comedy days, and one that seems to fit Corporate America like a glove).
According to the story, the CEO’s were working with groups that had respectable, concerned-citizen names such as Campaign To Fix The Debt and Center For a Responsible Federal Budget. These sound like people who care deeply about the country and all its citizens, and about how to best serve everyone, no? Well, as it turned out — no. These high-minded CEO’s (including Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and David Cote of Honeywell) had no interest in the general welfare of America. Their interest was — shockingly — in amassing ever greater wealth for themselves at the expense of the welfare of most Americans!
Their main thesis was (and probably still is to this minute) that the only way the deficit could be resolved was to slash the social safety net to tatters. At the same time, they were advocating what the HuffPost termed a “territorial tax system” that would exempt foreign profits from taxation, saving them around $135 billion in taxes — money that would go a long way toward helping to reduce that deficit they’re so concerned about. Even more galling, the CEO group had no intention of foregoing federal bailout money (or as I like to think of it, “corporate welfare”), or offering to be taxed at a higher rate. Nope, no tradeoffs or givebacks at all. Just “gimme”.
Predictably, these guys are engaged in serious back-scratching with Congress. Campaign To Fix The Debt has one congressional leader who is actively employed by Goldman Sachs as an international adviser. Business as usual, at least at that point in time. Blankfein said in an interview that people needed to lower their expectations; that whatever people think they should get – tough beaners, you won’t get it. Cote said that the corporate tax rate should be zero. Zip, nada, nothing. Then Corporate America could get on with the business of creating jobs.
Wow. That really leaves my head spinning. And I have to ask: how much is going to be enough for these people? One gets the impression that they won’t be satisfied until this country becomes like feudal England, where the 1 percent sits comfortably in their castles on the hilltops, watching the 99 percent scrabbling around in the muck for scraps of food, and fuel to keep warm with. Hopefully, the results of the election will convince more in power that it’s way past time for Corporate America’s influence to die — before they ruin us all.