Friday, November 4, 2011

Sometimes corporations CAN think long-term, but most times they canNOT

You know, I just read (after doing a little bit of digging), that Ashleigh Banfield is currently working for TruTV doing, amongst other sad duties, hosting a celebrity gossip show called, I'm not kidding, Hollywood Heat. She was an overseas correspondent for MSNBC but she had the gall and temerity to point out that many cable news stations, particularly Fox News, may have been a wee bit biased in its coverage of the Iraq War.  So of course MSNBC fired her. Phil Donohue got the shitcan too after an internal MSNBC document suggested:
He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives.
 Donohue, who had the highest rated show on MSNBC at the time, hasn't worked in TV since. It's not surprising that our "liberal" media hasn't re-hired either of these individuals.  The fact of the matter is, when it comes to liberal commentary, corporations can be remarkably long-term thinking.  And in the long-term, it's not in a corporate entity like GE's interests to employ individuals of this nature, despite some short-term benefits. GE understands that undercutting the arguments for perpetual war might force people to realize that our defense spending is a wee bit bloated and could probably, if we needed to trim government spending somewhere, take a haircut. But MSNBC is a loss leader for GEs bread and butter industry, defense spending, and we can't afford to kill the golden goose. I mean, we wouldn't want the American people to see the graph below!

U.S. Defense Spending vs. The World
I mean, that would suggest that the U.S. spends just as much on its military as the rest of the world combined! Anyway, this post isn't about defense spending per se. It's a roundabout way for me to talk about austerity (wait, what just happened???) What I find frustrating is that corporations can see the "big picture" when it comes to having liberals on the air (short term benefits until those commies start talking about the redistribution of wealth!), but not when it comes to fundamental Keynesian macroeconomic trends. Why does Walmart, and Best Buy, and Ikea, and TGI Friday's (etc. etc. etc.) support budget cuts and the laying off of teachers, and janitors, and park rangers, and nurses? Who is going to buy their products? Who is going to be eating out? Yeah, it's the 99% of us - but we need jobs and we need money. The economic issues we are facing are entirely demand-side oriented. Companies will not invest capital in new factories and training new workers if consumers don't have the money to buy their products.  It's really that simple. Democrats (the good ones) GET this.  Want proof? Take a look at the graph to the left made by America's best political scientist, Larry Bartels. Do you know what's amazing about this graph. Everybody experiences higher income growth during Democratic presidential administrations. The lowest 10%. The highest 10%. The middle 50%.  They all, each and every single one of them, do better under Democratic administrations. The only incomes that show any real growth under a Republican administration is the top 20% But look at the graph again. Even the upper 20%, does better with Democratic administrations! Now, the politically and statistically oriented amongst may start arguing about lag effects or the ideological control of Congress or other factors, but go buy Bartels' book Unequal Democracy.  He covers all of those possibilities. That's why it's so frustrating to have to continuously knock down these zombie lies about economic performance under Democratic and Republican administrations.  Republicans, and their corporate overlords, still cling to debunked versions of supply-side economics that ultimately diminish their own companies incomes in the long run.  Time and time again, Republicans favor policies of increased economic inequality and decreased economic mobility that ultimately doom overall economic performance.  Then they put us in recessions that they want to climb out of by shitting on the poorest people among us. You know, the same poor people who will ultimately drag us out of this mess on the demand side when they regain the ability to buy homes (thus driving home construction), start small businesses, and climb out of debt.  That's when the economy will turn around and not a second before it.  Cutting taxes on GE, who paid zero corporate taxes in 2010 on $14.2 billion in profits, won't do it. And you know what, if our economy wasn't in such a shithole, GE would have made a lot more.


  1. Somehow I'd find a different explanation than sometimes they can, sometimes they can't think long-term. Both of these decisions are coherent with thinking driven by ideological concerns. It just happens that one reasonably matches long term interests and the other doesn't.

  2. I find that unsatisfying. Despite what the Supreme Court has explained to us, corporations aren't really people. They shouldn't be ideological. They should be single-minded profit-making machines. That's what the free market says!