Corporation Nation: How Corporations are Taking Over Our Lives -- and What We Can Do About It
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Foreword by Ralph Nader. In Corporation Nation Derber addresses the unchecked power of today's corporations to shape the way we work, earn, buy, sell, and think―the very way we live. Huge, far-reaching mergers are now commonplace, downsizing is rampant, and our lines of communication, news and entertainment media, jobs, and savings are increasingly controlled by a handful of global―and unaccountable―conglomerates. We are, in effect, losing our financial and emotional security, depending more than ever on the whim of these corporations. But it doesn't have to be this way, as this book makes clear. Just as the original Populist movement of the nineteenth century helped dethrone the robber barons, Derber contends that a new, positive populism can help the U.S. workforce regain its self-control.
Drawing on core sociological concepts and demonstrating the power of the sociological imagination, he calls for revisions in our corporate system, changes designed to keep corporations healthy while also making them answerable to the people. From rewriting corporate charters to altering consumer habits, Derber offers new aims for businesses and empowering strategies by which we all can make a difference.
danger vailing power, 31 power had for the because of the rise moment of counter- which the giant corporations themselves had called into being. Galbraith's discussion of countervailing power, though imperfect, offers an illuminating framework for understanding the role corporations should play in our society. Countervailing power, as Galbraith describes, is power exercised by unions, governments, consumers, suppliers, and competitors to keep corporations in check. Galbraith
Corporate money pours into American political coffers while corporate welfare — in the form of public subsidies and tax breaks — has become 56 » CORPORATION NATION central to the profitability of America's biggest firms. Public private government remain formally front each other with hostility tussles distinct on occasion, and continue and to con- as President Clinton's with the big tobacco companies and with auto companies (over air pollution laws) demonstrate. But Gilded
daily in leveraged financial returns while dwarfing the amounts of direct foreign productive investment by nonfinancial corporations. "For every $ 1 now goods and $20 to circulating in the productive world services," writes $50 circulating Korten, in the "it is economy of real estimated that there world of pure finance — is 'investment' funds completely delinked from the creation of real value. "^ The high-flying world of derivatives, currency speculation, and com- Companies
wallet for —which helped, in turn, to boost the demand GM cars. The GM ica's own initiative became giant corporations a catalyst for national change. —from AT&T to U.S. Steel Amer- —wrote their new social contracts. These took two forms: an industrial model, which followed the GM blueprint, and a salaried model — by IBM. Both were based on internal labor markets instead of hiring from outside, companies would promote from typified within, institutionalizing the expectation