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Nader writes: "What would happen if we asked the executives of the giant US corporations, whose products constantly surround us, to show some corporate patriotism?"

Ralph Nader being interviewed during his 2008 presidential campaign, 08/01/08. (photo: Scrape TV)
Ralph Nader being interviewed during his 2008 presidential campaign, 08/01/08. (photo: Scrape TV)

What About Some Corporate Patriotism!

By Ralph Nader, Reader Supported News

24 June 12


hat would happen if we asked the executives of the giant U.S. corporations, whose products constantly surround us, to show some corporate patriotism?

After all, General Electric, DuPont, Citigroup, Pfizer and others demand that they be treated as "persons" under our Constitution and our laws. And, they expect unfiltered loyalty from American workers even to the point of blocking the organization of unions so workers can band together for collective bargaining.

Moreover, many of these corporations expect to be bailed out by American taxpayers when they are in trouble, and they regularly receive a covey of direct and indirect government subsidies, giveaways and complex handouts.

Some of them pay no federal income taxes year after year, and a few game the tax laws to receive additional money back from the U.S. Treasury. Historically, the U.S. Marines and other U.S. armed forces have risked their lives to protect or protect these corporations' overseas interests by invading or menacing numerous countries.

So it is reasonable for the American people to expect some reciprocity from these immense corporate entities that were born in the U.S. and rose to their economic prowess on the backs of American workers. The bosses of these companies believe they can have it both ways - getting all the benefits of their native country while shipping whole industries and jobs to communist and fascist regimes abroad that keep their workers in serf-like conditions.

The first test as to whether these U.S. companies have any allegiance to the U.S. and its communities is to demand that CEOs stand up at their annual shareholders meetings and pledge allegiance in the name of their corporation, not their boards of directors, "to the flag of the United States of America," ending with that ringing phrase, voiced by millions of Americans daily, "with liberty and justice for all."

More than seventy years ago, a famous Marine general, the double Congressional Medal of Honor awardee Smedly Butler, said his Marines were ordered to make sure the flag followed U.S. companies from Central America to Asia. In the past, the lack of allegiance was shockingly callous. DuPont and General Motors worked openly with fascist Germany and its companies before World War II and did not sever all dealings when hostilities started.

About fifteen years ago, I sent letters to the CEOs of the top 100 largest U.S. chartered corporations asking that they pledge allegiance to our country in the name of their company at their annual shareholders meetings. Their responses were instructive. Many said they would review the request; others turned it down, while some were ambiguous, misconstruing the request as being directed to their boards of directors instead of their U.S. chartered corporate entity.

Walmart replied that they would "give it every consideration." Federated Department Stores expressly thought it was a good suggestion. Citicorp (now Citigroup) wrote that it is "not our practice to respond."

Time for an update. I've just sent letters to twenty of the largest U.S. chartered companies renewing the request for the pledge. They include Exxon Mobil, Walmart, Chevron, General Motors, General Electric, Ford Motor, AT&T, Bank of America, Verizon Communications, J.P. Morgan Chase, Apple, CVS Caremark, IBM, Citigroup and Cardinal Health.

Imagine the CEOs of General Motors (or Exxon Mobil, Citigroup, Bank of America, etc.) pledging allegiance "to the Flag of the United States of America and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

You may wish to contact these companies and urge their CEOs to take the pledge. This effort needs your participation as consumers, workers, taxpayers or shareholders. It opens up a long-overdue discussion about corporate patriotism and what it all should mean.

As conservative author Patrick Buchanan wrote some years ago: "If they [large U.S. corporations] are not loyal to us, why should we be loyal to them?"

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us." His most recent work of non-fiction is "The Seventeen Traditions."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+13 # Michael_K 2012-06-24 15:44
Multinationals invent and force participation in international organizations designed to erode sovereignty.

Ain't exactly good corporate citizenship.
+5 # John Locke 2012-06-25 08:07
Michael_K: Here is the question I see

"If they [large U.S. corporations] are not loyal to us, why should we be loyal to them?"

WE need to stop buying ALL Products made abroad, and fund our own businesses that will compete with these multinational corporations!!! !!We can do it, if we want!
+5 # John Locke 2012-06-25 08:09
I would add that Every Major US Corporation helped Hitler during the 1930's and 40's including Wall Street!
+7 # ronnewmexico 2012-06-24 16:14
It is mistaken to think these are american companies. Those given bail outs.....I'd guess we can claim ownership.

Others like Halliburton who profited handily by no bid contracts in the Iraq debacle...moved their corporate offices to the middle east not that very long but one example.
Newscorp per there and everywhere, it seems UK China US Australia...... .they have parts everywhere...wh ere is their true bias..... who knows. interests...Don 't think so. Offices here, but does that mean they are not corporately filed in probably another 20 or so countries...I'd guess so. Which predominates. AS they have their offices here...does that mean they are US companies....I' d say firmly depends upon other things such as where the majority revenue stream is originated and perhaps where it is expended. Does it matter if the majority of shareholders are US or Australian or UK.....seems not to matter that. Where the debt is held here or there..perhaps perhaps not.

Majority stake bought by another country as China did through corporate entities such as CNOOP did buy other energy companies and assets...then I would say we can say that thing. Governmental companies such as perhaps Brazils Petrobras, Saudi Arabias oil company, Venezuelas, but the US owns not a oil company. Multiple investors even majority stake by one in the US means not the corporation is necessarily a US company.
-31 # Inland Jim 2012-06-24 17:18
So the 2000 Bush elector gadfly keeps mouthing off. Sigh.
-11 # maddave 2012-06-25 06:35
Just so, James!

Ralph Nader had his fifteen minutes of fame and glory decades ago, and that being gone, he now---from time to time--- insists upon re-asserting his long-past irrelevance. His 2000 run for president destroyed whatever credibility he had left ... and, now, this empty gesture isn't going to reverse his fortunes or ours.

With some rare and very welcome exceptions, corporations' loyalty is to greed , executive compensation and profits. This Ann Rand-ish mentality has been so institutionaliz ed in Corporate America---and by extension of corporate largess---to our legislators and America's career bureaucracy as to render Mr. Nader's vainglorious and futile letters laughable.

Would that I were wrong!

Asking our internationaliz ed Captains of Finance and Industry to mutter a few and ( to them) meaningless words ... or worse, expecting repeated a ritualistic recitations of our Pledge of Allegiance to change Corporate behavior unveils a new facet on the word "naivete".

Would that it were otherwise!
+13 # Peacedragon 2012-06-25 07:18
I hope he keeps mouthing off. We need him and more like him.
+10 # lark3650 2012-06-25 08:24
Contrary to what you believe, Ralph Nader did not lose the election for Gore. Al Gore lost his own election, one reason being that he couldn't even carry his own state. Ralph is a true patriot who has spent his life defending the rights of the average American citizen.
Thank God people like Ralph Nader continue to address major issues and tell the truth instead of offering the same old rhetoric we hear from the two major parties, who, by the way, are controlled by these big corporations.
These corporations don't see the poverty and devastion of the poor and middle class families who have lost their jobs and their homes...all they see is $$$$$$.
Yes sirree, Inland Jim and MGarr, you just keep voting for the lesser of two evils but remember, the first sign of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
+4 # Billsy 2012-06-25 12:56
Well said. Mr. Nader has acted selflessly and tirelessly throughout his career on behalf of common citizens, their safety and well being. Whiningly blaming a democratic loss on him is pathetic and irresponsible. Looking back, one might even say that Gore won his campaign by the narrowest of margins playing it too safe and bungling the debates, but the court robbed him of his victory. Blaming Nader is so tiresome and non contructive.
0 # rockieball 2012-06-26 06:34
Agree with you. It gets me to here people say Ralph Nader took votes away from Al Gore. The people give their vote to the person they want, we do not take it from one to give to another. I hear this and it sounds like instead of starting at zero and count up to see who gets the most votes (which was Gore by the way), they make it sound like we start at sat 20 million votes for everyone and count down to zero. I myself voted for Nader. Gore lost me when he started to agree with the idiot during the debates. One never agrees with a person one is debating that's why it's called debate. The 2 controlling parties keep changing the rules to prevent any other parties from getting big and joining in the debates or get on the ballot. This country expanded the most when we had 3,4, 5 political parties and now with these 2 we have had the worst depressions, the worst wars, and the most corrupt political leaders.
-24 # MGarr 2012-06-24 21:45
Go away.

Nothing you could say, Mr. Nader, whether true or not, can possibly be credible, by the very fact that you said it.

You gave us Bush and the current Supreme Court.

As a former member of Common Cause, dating back to 1972, I want never to hear or see you ever again.
+9 # LML 2012-06-24 23:49
Don't forget to give Kerry and the Democrats some their own well-deserved credit too!
How about their pathetic non-response to the Swiftboating?
They couldn't think of a strong response to an attack on a real war hero?
+13 # Phlippinout 2012-06-25 07:59
Perhaps you have no respect for Mr Nader for whatever reason. However, while in high school I learned a lot from this consumer advocate while there were no others! How long must he take the blame for a broken system and a supreme court that selected Bush. Its easy to blame anyone who runs against the two party system, exactly why we never will be able to have more than two stinking parties. I hated the outcome of the courts decision but realize there are many people who do not believe that either party is helping us. I have respect for Ralph and am sick of people blaming him for being a choice for those who hated Gore and Bush.
+11 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-25 08:11
Quoting MGarr:
Nothing you could say, Mr. Nader, whether true or not, can possibly be credible, by the very fact that you said it.

You have every right to be sorry about the outcome of the 2000 elections but Raplh has things to say and they do have value.

Dismissing all what he says just because you are furious is akin to dumping your car just because you realized you paid too much for it.
Listen to what good he has to say, for we all paid a steep price for it.

Pointing out the lack of patriotism in corporations and thereby their being non-people has some value.
+1 # ABen 2012-06-25 16:00
Well said Granny!!
+2 # tabonsell 2012-06-25 13:54
Not so.

Nader and the Supreme Court didn't give us Bush.

The decision of Bush v. Gore only stopped the state-wide recount in Florida, which, if completed, would have made Gore the winner.

The decision only applied to parties of the suit, not to Congress. Congress which has the duty of counting the Electoral College votes and declaring a winner was not party to the case. It, therefore, could have reused to accept the Florida vote until there was a thorough recount. Because it was a GOP Congress, it refused to do so.
+15 # Bigfella 2012-06-24 23:15
So as Citizen of the USA what happens when the charge is teason?
Like to see that!
-1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-25 08:11
"Teason" as in "Tea party"?
I guess you meant treason, and I would agree with the subtext.
0 # wantrealdemocracy 2012-06-25 08:50
The real charge of treason should be taken against both Obama and Romney for supporting the Trans Pacific Partnership. This TPP is taking away the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the United States and put all of our laws and regulations under a corporate Tribunal where unelected persons can negate the EPA, FDA, unions, collective bargaining agreements, patent protections and access, banking regulations and other national, state or local regulations. This TPP is coming up for a vote in Congress. Maybe it is pointless at this stage of our democracy to attempt to advise your 'representative ', but can't hurt to try.
+3 # Regina 2012-06-25 00:32
Such pledges would actually be honored in the breach to follow. We don't need a gimmick that would effectively mock the country as their business-as-usu al continued -- on to the tax avoidance, the megabonuses, the outsourcing.... .
+5 # Holmes 2012-06-25 00:56
Some Corporate Patriotism should also include paying the taxes you are liable for rather than hiding them in tax shelters. Perhaps there should be a declaration that the corporations that do not or actively evade taxes, should be declared illegal immigrants and so cannot trade in the USA until taxes are paid. this would al;so prevent the spending of monies for political purposes. Ie they loose their freedom of speech.
+3 # Scott Griffith 2012-06-25 01:03
Forget it, Ralph. They'd just privately laugh at you, as I am now for your having even suggested such a thing. A Corporation's interest is in money, nothing else. Concepts such as patriotism are utterly irrelevant to them, a waste of time and energy. These people would sell their own mothers if they thought it would boost their bottom lines.
+3 # freeportguy 2012-06-25 06:24
These are teling the country: "Profits and perks are ours, while costs and other burdens are yours".

They sure sound like an ex-girlfriend.. .
+7 # fredboy 2012-06-25 06:49
Publicly, they would salute the flag, Ralph.
In the back room they will laugh their asses off.
Corporations have nothing to do with patriotism. That's taught in the B-schools. Corporations are only about making money and satisfying shareholders.
+1 # labman57 2012-06-25 09:09
For many self-proclaimed capitalists, "patriotism" has more to do with green than red, white, and blue.
+2 # Mohanraj 2012-06-25 10:44
Corporates are not bothered by love for the country and the word "patriotism" to them has no meaning. They do not care if the country go to dogs; they are concerned with the profits they make. Asking them to be patriotic is an exercise in futility.
0 # silenus 2012-06-26 10:20
In the words of Dr. Johnson, "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."

Alas Corporate America doesn't yet need a last refuge. Why should it? It already owns the legislature, the courts and again has its eye on the executive.

They won't be satisfied until we all pledge allegiance to the dollar sign.

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