Let's fire CEOs who fire workers

Guest Editorial
by Haight Godfrey Lohder
Acting Director
Democratic National Platform Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 14, 2010 — As a lifelong Democrat, I have worked shoulder to shoulder my entire life as a dedicated progressive to protect the American worker. Yet we have been frustrated as corporations both large and small have benefited from Republican policies that have made it easier for companies to make obscene profits and grow to unmanageable proportions.

Nothing was more frustrating to us, the laboring liberals, than the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this year that the McCain-Feingold bill was unconstitutional. That bipartisan bill prevented corporations and wealthy donors from paying for campaign advertising. While we Democrats support free speech, particularly when it comes to free-thinking, broad-minded artists, militants, revolutionaries and clothing-free dancers, we believe the Constitution granted rights to individuals and not to the shadowy conspiracy of conservatives and corporations.

Ever since the Republicans seized a minority position in Congress during George W. Bush's second year as unelected president, conservative members of the Senate and the House have used their position to thrust our nation into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. They have fought us at every turn as we have struggled to help the lowly laborer as well as those who are too feeble in mind, body or spirit to gain or retain employment.

The Republicans protested as we forced banks to grant a percentage of mortgages to that unfortunate segment of our citizenry who had previously suffered discrimination for having been unable to earn what had been deemed to be adequate credit scores. Then, when the bottom dropped out of the housing market as millions of homes went into foreclosure, Republicans had the gall to blame Barney Frank and the other brave Democrats who had fought hard to make the American dream of home ownership possible for the poor and lower middle class.

Then the conservatives fought health insurance reform, but through political negotiations and payoffs we were able to pass ObamaCare without a single Republican vote. Now insurance companies are forced to cover deserving people who previously were not protected, such as children between 18 and 26 years old.

In my own state, New York, one of my constituents, a 26-year-old father, Sawyer Wilde Oates IV, wrote me a touching letter thanking the Democrat Party for helping him and his seven children.

It seems that the mothers of his children, all seven of them, were demanding higher child support payments so that they could buy medical coverage for his five sons and two daughters; yet he was unable to find a job that paid enough to allow him to pay his child support payments. Then ObamaCare was passed, and the insurance company that covered Sawyer's father then was required to cover his father's children to 26 years of age along with any children of his dependent children.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Lohder," Sawyer's email to me read. "Now that me and my kids and my kids' mothers are all covered, I will be able to continue to work at a job I enjoy rather than go back to school and start all over in a different career."

I was unable to determine how Sawyer will continue to make a living, but he sent me a picture of himself posing in a purple hat and orange suit in a silver Mercedes along with half a dozen buxom beauties dressed to the nines in shimmering miniskirts and halter taps. I'm guessing he manages a dance team that provides halftime entertainment at sporting events.

President Obama's economic adviser, Ophelia Payne, who has since resigned, assured us that ObamaCare would save billions, but she evidently failed to calculate the impact of the nefarious corporate practice of increasing rates to cover increasing costs.

Now the Democrat Party is proposing a freeze on insurance rates as we require insurance companies to insure Americans with pre-existing conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholism, mental illness, drug addiction, pornography addiction and lung cancer. Still, a 25 to 50 percent increase in insurance rates seems a small price to pay for us as a society to provide medical coverage to Americans who do not labor in the traditional work force.

Now is the time for all good liberals to come to the aid of their party as conservatives are taking pot shots at the courageous Democrats who put their careers on the line to pass this historic legislation.

As corporation after corporation drops health insurance coverage for employees, Republicans are refusing to take responsibility and are blaming ObamaCare and my party. Don't let them fool you. If they had not fought health insurance reform so hard, the federal government could have taken over all health care and health insurance companies, and we all would be getting free coverage by now.

We liberals who have fought in the trenches for the welfare of the lowly and downtrodden know the real reason for the economic downturn, and that is the extreme power of the corporations.

It is an indisputable fact that when companies lay off workers, they make more money. President Obama's staff of highly trained economists have analyzed thousands of corporate documents and secret emails and have discovered that almost every time a corporation starts to lose money, its workers suffer as the CEOs order layoffs. Then, with fewer employees to pay for, the corporations suddenly start to show a profit again.

Time and time again, the workers are the first to suffer the consequences of bad news. It's high time that we stop this trend. And that is why the Democratic National Platform Committee is proposing a simple solution: CEOs who fire workers to improve their profit margins must be fired themselves.

Our proposal to accomplish this simple solution is also simple: Expand the Financial Reform Act to include all corporations, not just financial institutions.

The Reformed Financial Reform Bill would give President Obama the power to take over any corporation that in his sole opinion is acting in a manner that harms the United States. He could take control of any company's stock, fire its officers and board of directors and appoint people whom he trusts to take over all functions of the corporation. Some might call this communism. We call it community-ism, because our bill could save millions of American jobs and preserve thousands of communities.

There is only one reason a corporation lays off employees, and that is because it wants to show a profit to greedy stockholders. This is true of large corporations as well as small corporations. If companies were forced to retain employees or hire more employees, their profit margins might shrink, but millions of Americans would have jobs, and the economy would thrive once again.

Corporations do not make a profit because they provide a product or service at a fair price. Far from it. They make a profit by cutting their costs. They should admit publicly what we all know. — that it costs more every year to hire workers in America, where wise Democrat legislators have dictated that these corporations provide employees with benefits not afforded to overseas workers, such as mandatory benefits for pregnant workers, protection of handicapped employees, pension plans, workmen's compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and so forth.

Let us also give credit to brave liberals who labored like dogs to prevent conservatives from limiting the liability of corporations. If they had their way, a doctor's family trust could be sued for only $1 million dollars or so if he fails to save the health or life of a patient. We successfully have preserved the right of victims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination to sue for as much money as a jury wishes to grant.

Meanwhile, America must admit that the chief cause of economic problems in this nation is that we have allowed multinational corporations to move overseas or to outsource labor overseas. Even as manufacturers here in the United States shut down, new manufacturers are springing up in China, Malaysia and Viet Nam. Any company that manufacturers products overseas or outsources labor should be penalized.

There is something inherently wrong with a company that outsources a job that could be done here in the United States. I, for one, am sick of calling a company for help on my computer or cell phone and having to talk with an Indian who can't pronounce English.

Don't think for a moment that I or any of my Democrat friends are prejudiced against foreign workers. Far from it. We love foreign workers as long as they are based on our soil. That is why we welcome immigrants even if they don't have the proper paperwork. It's not their fault that they come here to make a living. It's the fault of the corporations that continually flout U.S. law by hiring undocumented workers.

The Democrat Party knows how to solve our immigrant problems, and that is to impose a stiff fine on corporations for each undocumented worker. A $20,000 fine per violation could cure this problem almost overnight.

But we must not punish undocumented workers. Rather, we must pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a way for undocumented workers to gain citizenship.

It appears that we are making progress in controlling the impact of big corporations. Democrats recently have targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which unfairly supports pro-business Republicans in election campaigns.

We have thrown the cloak of secrecy off the Chamber of Commerce, which is really a chamber of horrors when you consider that roughly 10 percent of its membership has more than 100 employees and 30 percent has more than 20 employees.

We all know that small businesses create the majority of new jobs in America, particularly new businesses. And yet the Chamber of Commercial Horrors allows huge, multinational corporations to donate funds and even to join as full-fledged members.

And why do those corporations spend money on the Chamber when they instead could hire more American workers? It's undeniable that they are bribing Republicans to support legislation that is good for business. Believe me, if big companies didn't think Republicans could help them make a profit, they would not be sending them money.

Undercover sources have told us that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has 115 members abroad in 108 different countries.

The chamber has bilateral business councils, such as U.S.-Brazil and U.S.-Argentina, and it's obvious to anybody with a brain that these councils do nothing but promote the interests of companies that are seeking a bigger number on the bottom line.

Multinational corporations should not be allowed to have any impact whatsoever on U.S. elections. As the November elections approach, let me remind voters that if they are concerned about jobs, they should vote for Democrats, who have pledged to continue pressing for reforms that help American citizens rather than corporations.

As President Obama has pointed out, the trickle-down theory of economics has been disproved because the money at the top never makes it down to the lower class. The Democrat Party fully supports his trickle-up economic model, which has proven to build the economy from the bottom up.

The president's philosophy is far too complex for most Republicans to fathom because it requires intelligence, historical context and commonsense to comprehend, but most citizens can understand its most basic principle, which is also known as the Robin Hood policy: Take from the rich and give to the poor, and in the end everybody benefits.

Don't make the mistake of the Republicans and support legislation that helps corporations just because they create jobs for our citizens. Corporations are a nasty byproduct of capitalism and should be regulated out of existence wherever possible. We can start by removing all CEOs who authorize layoffs.

Quote of the Day

"Capitalism has given people both the liberty and the incentive to create, produce, and trade, thereby generating prosperity". — Johan Norberg.

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