CORPORATIONS/BUSINESS: A Powerful Engine for the Coming Progressive Partnership?


Talking points:

1. There is a strong if limited tradition of corporate community giving in American history: philanthropy, community service, etc.

2. Companies give about $15 billion a year of the $240 billion in charity giving in a 15 trillion dollar economy; this is not an impressive figure relatively speaking, but $15 billion in good works is a good start, and business would rightly argue that job creation and externalities (improving roads, power grids etc.) are Absolute contributions that should never be underestimated

3. Our book advances the idea that business, big or small, in the coming years must not be seen as they enemy, as an adversary; anti-capitalist rhetoric may have validity, does have, in some circumstances, but we want to focus on “best practices” and tap the reserves (huge) of business resources for community improvement—quality of life… there are a significant minority of companies already following a variation of what might be called the “Carnegie-Starbucks model” with 2 very different approaches to social responsibility

4. Here is a short list of what might be called condensed arguments for business continuing do exactly what it is right now, and that that is plenty:

 Business bring jobs, paychecks, prosperity into US life
 Business’s obligation is to provide goods and services
 Business needs to make a profit to grow > more jobs
 Business’s obligation #1 is to its shareholders
 Business greatly helps people by generating dividends, etc.
 Business already gives substantial grants & civic projects
 Business-people are leaders in their communities
 The more progressive businesses and executives (Gates and Buffett today, for ex. and Carnegie and Rockefeller in the Gilded Age”)

5. What we are proposing to accomplish, without pointing the finger at Business for the moment follows this sequence
 Redistribution in the form of corporate and individual taxes is normally not well regarded today, it is not popular with the Republican party, it once was accepted as a fact of life (in what might be called the “Keynesian” period from the 1940s through 1970s)
 Corporate giving is being done, but taking into account the large projected deficits because of entitlement programs, so-called costs associated with Affordable Health Care legislation etc., decisions will have to be made about raising revenue while trimming expenses; the Republican party recently has signed on, Overall, to a No New Taxes policy, or very limited concessions for the highest income individuals

 There really are a limited number of solutions here: taxes can simply be raised to 1960’s levels (not likely), government spending can be made to go away by capping Social Security and Medicare, shutting down national parks, ending Saturday postal service, and such small economies (also problematic), the defense budget can be slashed X% (20,25, 30?)—variants of all of these have been proposed and, eventually, some of each may be needed; the previous mildly progressive Democrat to Obama, Clinton, managed to turn decades of deficits into surpluses; the present era (2013) is different: we now have an expensive prescription drug plan, baby boomers retiring and entering the Soc. Security and Medicare systems, and are still recovering with 7% unemployment after the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s

 There are signs that increased employment and production, which is now occurring, and some combination of the measures listed above will make a big dent in future deficits, but we propose one other avenue that will improve quality of life Without traditional taxation increases or along with modest increases

 These are expanded corporate philanthropy, quickly there are two ways to do this, for corporations to, say, quadruple their voluntary charitable giving programs/budgets: 1. just do more of what’s being done now by a multiple of 4, 2. working with a designated government council or board to coordinate community projects (parks, schools, roads, clinics, libraries, etc.) at the local, state or federal level (probably in that order of preference),

 Doing this would for starters, generate about $60 billion in added non-tax “revenue” per year, an indirect boost not exactly to deficit reduction but indirectly accomplishing the same thing; future columns in this blog will get more specific about how this would be done and how it can be a breakthrough bridge between business and communities and potentially between the political parties and the private/public sector…. no one says that this will be easy, we are simply saying that it is Doable and Makes Sense

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