Originally, American corporations, though allowed to make profits, were chartered for public benefit. Companies accepted that responsibility and regulations helped ensure compliance and limited power. Businesses need public infrastructure such as highways, communication channels and laws, in order to thrive. As the beneficiaries of public works and protections, businesses have been expected to consider the public good in their operations. But now, many modern corporations are huge, multinational companies and incentives for continual, short-term growth and profit are paramount. With the Supreme Court decisions allowing unlimited influence of money on politics, the extensive growth of public-private partnerships, automation and globalization, corporations now play an out-sized role in American policy, the environment, culture and life. Consequently, we must scrutinize and understand their effects on the public good and, like the government, hold them accountable.
Democracy & Big Money
Corporate Capture Threatens Democratic Government
by Liz Kennedy
The domination of big money over our public institutions prevents government from being responsive to Americans. We must rebalance our democracy by changing the rules to limit the power of money over government and empower people to engage politically as a countervailing force.
CEOs Make 300 Times Their Workers’ Pay. Portland is Stopping That
by Chuck Collins
National policy has compounded income and wealth gaps, but states and localities are fighting back. The city of Portland, Oregon, passed an ordinance to raise the business tax on companies with CEOs who earn more than 100 times the median pay of their workers.
Note: The Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that requires public corporations to disclose their CEO-worker pay ratio is currently under fire in Congress.
How Corporate America Can Curb Income Inequality and Make More Money
by Wallace Hopp
Companies can invest in their workers, help reduce income inequality and make more money, all at the same time.
The U.S. Lags Behind World in Temp Worker Protections
by Michael Grabell
The United States has some of the weakest labor protections for temp workers in the developed world. Yet since the 2007-09 recession, temp work has been one of the fastest growing segments of the economy.
Can Universal Basic Income Counter the Ill-Effects of the Gig Economy?
by Vili Lehdonvirta
Few social policy ideas are as hot today as universal basic income. Social scientists, technologists, and politicians from both ends of the political spectrum see it as a potential solution to the unemployment that automation and artificial intelligence are expected to create. But is universal basic income viable?
The Expendables: How the Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Are Getting Crushed
by Michael Grabell
Across America, temporary work has become a mainstay of the economy, leading to the proliferation of what researchers have begun to call “temp towns.” The temp system insulates the host companies from workers’ compensation claims, unemployment taxes, union drives and the duty to ensure that their workers are citizens or legal immigrants. Temps suffer high injury rates. Many of them endure hours of unpaid waiting and face fees that depress their pay below minimum wage. Here’s what it’s like to be a temp worker and why a temp workers’ bill of rights is needed.