Allow me to introduce you to General Electric, labeled by the NY Times this morning as “the nation’s largest corporation.” On second thought, let’s let GE introduce itself. Here, on its website, is how it describes its role as a corporate citizen:
“GE’s approach to corporate citizenship and to business are[sic] driven by a common understanding of the role we can play in helping to solve the world’s toughest problems. Our goals are to make money (strong, sustained economic performance), make it ethically (rigorous compliance with financial and legal rules), and make a difference (ethical actions, beyond formal requirements, to advance GE’s reputation and long-term health).”
Journalist David Kocieniewski presents quite a different picture, beginning with the fact that GE made a profit of more than $5 billion in the US last year (and a total of $14.2 billion worldwide), and paid not one cent in taxes.
At a time when the so-called “deficit hawks” are demanding cuts in services as a way to bridge the budget gap, US corporations are contributing a smaller and smaller share of the national income tax receipts, down to 6.6% last year from 30% in the mid-1950s. GE’s share was 0%. And while the Obama administration targets job creation as its top priority, who does the President choose to preside over the newly formed President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness? You might have guessed: Jeffrey R. Immelt, the head of General Electric. It is no surprise that many now believe that, in this capitalist class war between employers and employees and between sellers and buyers, Obama has clearly gone over to the other side. I anxiously await the President’s choice to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If not Elizabeth Warren, then . . . what?
Today Curtis Mayfield sings “People Get Ready.” Because there’s a train acomin’.