by Rob Kall
Newsweek reports that a group of 160 companies, representing $ trillion in annual revenues have teamed up with Red Cross, Care and other orgs to be ready for the next big emergencies.
It got me thinking. Why not get together with corporate leaders and start a dialog that explores ways that progressive values and corporate interests might intersect-- ways that progressives could advocate policies, legislation, initiatives that would be attractive to corporations and small businesses.
I'm a business owner, yet I support progressive politics and policies. Why can't we build bridges between progressives and big and small businesses?
As a progressive, I believe that our progressive approach is one which is at the leading edge, in terms of conscious awareness and literally, evolutional process. We are the future. It makes sense for businesses to tap our vision and values to plan for greater success. Of course that means that we cannot treat businesses as pariahs. Or should I say, we should not treat businesses which want to operate at more conscious, more evolved, responsible levels of functioning the same as businesses which choose to disregard the effects of their operations on humans and the environment.
Progressives need to reach out to businesses and start a dialog which explores where our interests intersect. The challenge is, we progressives have not done a great job of clearly defining our interests and values. This is an essential step that we must take. It is a leadership challenge that must happen for the progressive agenda to evolve and transform itself into a force and power that will be recognized and that manifests itself in the form of effective, electable candidates and winnable legislation issues.
Areas where there is likely agreement include:
health care: Our current system, with business carrying the burden, hurts their ability to compete in world markets.
Equal rights: lead to more human resources available for business to make effective use of.
opposition to war: while a handful of industries profit from war, most do not. Investing in the US's infrastructure instead of in war builds value in doing business in the US and makes business more profitable Investing in research for peacetime offers potentially more funds spread among more businesses.
campaign finance reform: lobbying is an expensive process that forces businesses to corrupt the system. There are many businesses that do not want to engage in these practices. Making the political system more honest will alow them to function as honest businesses rather than corrupting manipulators.
energy resources If the US does not take a leadership role in developing the technologies that produce renewable energy resources and more efficient energy utilization, this nation will fall hopelessly behind economically. It takes leadership and vision to make this kind of technological "Apollo project" happen. Business will willingly help, when given the opportunity.
education our system of education is leaving American students far behind other nations. It is getting worse as creation science and other fundamentalist inspired nonsense is foisted upon our schools. Educated workers are essential for competitive business.
Environment: We know that developing technologies for cleaner, safer environment costs money, but it also creates jobs and literally creates new industries. We need to lead the world in developing technologies we can then export. This is good for business.
Fiscal Responsibility: We value a balanced budget. Taking fiscal responsibility is good for America, good for business.
Taxes We need to be taxing the rich, taxing heirs who inherit over ten million dollars and corporations that leech off the US while maintaining corporate headquarters outside the US. We should favor corporations who maintain US identities. We should be rewarding corporations that provide US citizens with jobs with tax breaks, and taxing corporations that use overseas outsourcing. This will particularly benefit small businesses.
Trade the international trade agreements the US has made recently have hurt US business, benefitting only a small number of corporations, like Walmart and companies that are no longer loyal US citizens. WE must redefine our international trade policies, establishing protections for the industries that have not already succumbed to the mortal blows the WTC, the IMF, NAFTA and other onerous organizations have dealt to us. The US is the world's number one market to sell to. We must keep it that way by protecting our industries and our workers.
Workers' Rights: It is good business to treat workers well, but when a few bad apple businesses in the US and many overseas use unfair labor practices, they can gain a competitive advantage. Establishing uniform fair labor laws while at the same time taking the weight of health care off the backs of business will do wonders to improve competitiveness both within the US and abroad.
Tort Reform We need reasonable tort reform to prevent the abuses currently practiced, while at the same time protecting individual and corporate rights to justice.
On the other hand, there are some areas where I'm not sure we can meet eye to eye with big business. I believe we need to take back some of the industries that have been privatized, and return them to the public commons, including health care, electricity generation utilities, water purification and distribution, waste disposal and the airwaves used by the media. There can still be utilization of businesses in providing services to these areas of our life that belong in the public commons, but we need to take these back. Businesses have proven, for the most part, that they do a poor job at managing these and providing the needs of humans at fair and reasonable prices.
Overall, there are many ways that progressives can come to agreeable terms with businesses doing trillions of dollars annually. We need to find those common areas and build long term visions and plans that establish reciprocally valuable and useful relationships between us. It will take some money to make this happen. Progressive leaders must get together with industry leaders in structured meetings with a long term plan aimed at building concrete plans, policies and identifying legislation that both sides will be enthusiastic to endorse and support. Failure to do this is not an option if we are to intelligently move the progressive cause and vision forward.
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Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor of www.OpEdNews.com You can read more of his articles at Rob Kall Archive He is also president of Futurehealth, Inc and organizer of the The Futurehealth Meeting on Neurofeedback, Biofeedback, qEEG, Optimal Functioning, Positive Psychology, Transpersonal Integration, Story Summit, Energy Therapies and Medicine, Inner Revolution and Awakening.