Wednesday, July 01, 2015

FRANK BRUNI CAN'T IMAGINE WHY YOU'D RESIST WELCOMING OUR NEW CORPORATE OVERLORDS

Hey, hippie -- why are you such a Gloomy Gus about corporations? As Frank Bruni points out, corporations are wonderful:
In the dire prophecies of science-fiction writers and the fevered warnings of left-wing activists, big corporations will soon rule the earth -- or already do.

Fine with me.

They’ve been great on the issue of the Confederate flag....

Eli Lilly, American Airlines, Intel and other corporations were crucial to the defeat or amendment of proposed “religious freedom” laws in Indiana, Arkansas and Arizona over the last year and a half....

And if it were up to corporations, we’d have the immigration reform we sorely need....

Major financial institutions were well ahead of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democratic politicians when it came to same-sex marriage. The leaders of these banks and hedge funds lent their voices and considerable sums of money to its legalization in New York in 2011....
All true, as far as it goes -- but, um, Bruni does realize that the social impact of all of this is secondary to the social impact of the other things corporations do, doesn't he? Really, it's been in all the papers. In fact, it's in his paper just today, in several stories -- like this one explaining that President Obama's decision to raise the threshold for overtime pay of middle-class workers is only one relatively small step we'd need to take in order to reduce inequality:
While a broad range of workers once reaped the benefits of economic growth, the affluent have captured a rising share in recent decades, leaving the wages of everyone else to stagnate....

According to detailed tax data compiled by the economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, the top 10 percent of families captured just under 90 percent of the total growth in income between 2009 and 2014. All other families split the remaining 10 percent.
This might change, Bruni's paper informs us, if we could "improve the bargaining power of workers, so that they could claim more of the wealth generated by productivity gains, which the affluent are keeping primarily to themselves" -- but we read elsewhere in Bruni's paper today that the Supreme Court -- revealed this week as surprisingly socially liberal but still dominated by justices appointed by presidents of our more pro-corporatist party -- will hear a case that could curb unions even more than they've been curbed in recent decades.

Elsewhere in Bruni's paper, we see the U.S. Chamber of Commerce fighting anti-smoking laws around the world. We see homeowners in Oklahoma dealing with so many earthquakes as a result of fracking that they've now won the right to sue oil companies. And, of course, we see debt crises in Greece and Puerto Rico, part of the extended fallout from a financial crash caused by socially tolerant but greed-driven and criminal-minded financial institutions.

We literally have to wait until Bruni's last paragraph for an acknowledgment of any of this within the text of his op-ed, and then it's dismissive:
The list goes on. And while it doesn’t erase the damage that corporations wreak on the environment or their exploitation of workers paid too little, it does force you to admit that corporations aren’t always the bad guys.
No, they aren't always bad guys, Frank. But you didn't say they're a mixed blessing -- you said you'd happily let them rule the earth unchecked. They more or less do already, of course. And for a lot of people, that's not such a great deal.

6 comments:

--mf said...

Ah, Bruni.
"In praise of Green- and White-washing."
Seems to me, Corporations only ever do good things, or the RIGHT thing, when their Brand polling numbers get down somewhere around Typhoid's popularity levels, or when the situation is completely safe and self-serving. Especially if there's a tax incentive involved.

Yastreblyansky said...

This is so stupid. As the Times story on the South Carolina flag issue made clear, all those corporations were on board with getting rid of the flag because the flag is bad for profits. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it isn't because they are nice. Same goes overwhelmingly for the marriage equality issue; they saw there was serious money in being on the right side. Also what mf said.

What counts is what they do when it costs them some money. There are a lot of areas where the left can make some kind of helpful alliance with the equity side, as opposed to the debt side, of the corporate world, because, to invert the traditional formula, what's good for American is good for General Motors (if General Motors can only bring itself to see farther than the quarterly results). But they really need to be pushed, not coddled. Especially in issues where the profit possibilities are very far down the line, as in making the energy industry environmentally responsible.

Victor said...

Those of us getting our meager SS, SSSB, SS Disability, and wage-slaves might want a word with that hack, Bruni.

Where does the NY Times find them?
I use to hate William Safire, a conservative corporatist. but he could write with the best of 'em!

theHatist said...

Hitler was a vegetarian and loved dogs.

He was still an asshole.

Belvoir said...

I've always found Bruni something of an incurious bimbo. Why the NYT elevated their food-writer to espouse upon things he clearly only has the vaguest knowledge or notions about, is beyond me. Bruni is unfailingly vapid and useless. Often, he literally doesn't know what he's talking about. I can only suppose he checks some diversity boy being gay (as am I) but he's the worst sort of affluent clueless gay person, and believe me I've known many. He probably wears jaunty belts in the summer in the Hamptons, now that he's lost all that weight. Believe me, even high-achieving affluent gay men can be shockingly dumb and blind about issues that don't directly affect them. Shocking! That also describes a great deal of Andrew Sullivan's career. Bruni has a similar sense of entitlement and obliviousness.

Unknown said...

Yes, Bruni is gay and I'd wager he's a libertarian, too, which might explain his I've got mine, to hell with yours attitude.