Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Full Employment Corporate Reform Act.

The Full Employment Corporate Reform Act.

Standard American corporate law states that the directors and managers of a corporation owe a fiduciary duty to the corporation to manage the corporation in its best interests. The statutes, however, do not define the interests of the corporation, leaving that largely to the discretion of each firm's board of directors.

In the last generation, corporate boards have come to believe that their primary duty is to maximize profits, regardless of the impact on society in general or their firm in particular. This view is indefensible.

First, the pursuit of profit, like the pursuit of happiness, is best done indirectly; firms that explicitly make profit their goal too often disregard their own long term interests, taking safety shortcuts, polluting or otherwise damaging the environment and society on which they depend, evading the law and exploiting their own customers and employees.

More fundamentally, profit is a tool, not a goal. Firms are not created to maximize profit. Instead, profit is a tool to encourage firms to fulfill their proper goals: to create useful and decent jobs producing useful products and services at reasonable prices.

This statute aims to remind boards of their true duties and to reduce the idolatry of profit.

  • Every corporate board shall have a fiduciary duty to the employees of its company to operate the company in such a way as to maximize the number and quality of jobs to the degree commensurate with the healthy functioning of the enterprise.
  • Every employee shall have a private right of action to enforce this duty.
  • This statute shall apply to all corporations having securities registered under the Securities Act or which engage in interstate commerce.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Full Employment

The primary justification of our market-based economy is its ability to create decent jobs at decent wages.

Markets only function with extensive legal and cultural support. In creating that support, government policy must be explicitly guided by the goal of ensuring that all who want to and are able to work can find good jobs at good wages.

The Full Employment Act.

In our economy, the private sector has primary responsibility for job creation. However, when it fails to meet that responsibility, the public sector should pick up the slack. Condemning Americans to idleness and poverty when we could provide them jobs is cruel and wrong. Moreover, putting people to work can create a virtuous cycle, as they improve their skills and spend the money they earn, thus creating additional demand,encouraging the private sector to grow and provide jobs, and ultimately increasing both general prosperity and the tax base.
  • If the private sector shall at any time fail to provide sufficient
    jobs at decent wages for Americans, the Department of Labor shall
    create a program to hire, or pay states to hire, Americans at the
    minimum wage to perform necessary, labor intensive, skilled and
    unskilled jobs, including but not limited to street cleaning, park
    creation, landscaping and maintenance, providing security, teaching,
    neighborhood beautification, arts performances and production, installation
    of insulation in public and private buildings, or other useful tasks.
  • Sufficient jobs means enough jobs to keep the unemployment rate
    below 5%.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The General Welfare

The far right has its "Contract On America," crony capitalism, tax cuts for the rich, social repression, and hatred of all those who don't fit its definition of "real" Americans.   The center has the moderate meanness of Austerity Now, the Blue Dogs dithering over whether the richest democracy in the world can afford basic decency, and its own slightly more respectable forms of crony capitalism.

The time has come to restate the Left Agenda.

What would it mean to actually fulfill the ideals of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution -- to form a Republic of the people, by the people, and for the people, dedicated to promoting the General Welfare, securing the rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of all its citizens?

What can we need to do to bring us closer to being one nation, with liberty and justice for all, in fact and not only in aspiration?

What is required to assure the rights and privileges of citizenship in the United States to all persons born or naturalized here, to guarantee to each one of us due process and the equal protection of the laws, or to assure that we never have an aristocracy?

How do we combine the moral imperatives of a democratic republic with the economic incentives of a market economy to create a society that works for all its members and not just a select few?  

This blog will post proposals -- mainly legislative, mainly Federal -- designed to help make the American dream a reality.  We seek a country in which
  • all those who are able to work can find decent jobs at decent pay, and those who are unable are not abandoned,
  • remembering what it is to be a stranger in a stranger land, we accept that we are our brothers' keepers,
  • the promise of universal citizenship, like the religious tradition of common descent from a common ancestor, motivates our politics and policies,the awesome power of the state is utilized to protect the helpless and end private oppression,
  • equal protection of the laws applies to all, and
  • basic decency assures that we never treat our fellow citizens as disposable tools to someone else's goals.