Corporate Power: Profits Before People
“Hats off! It was a heck of a year,” trumpets Fortune magazine. “Productivity gains and relentless restructuring generated impressive profits for the Fortune 500.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? But there’s a disturbing paradox: while corporate profits are soaring, people are getting poorer. Workers are putting in longer hours and earning less. Poverty rates and inequality are growing. And there’s a new phenomenon in the economy: the temp, or what’s politely called the “contingency worker.” The largest employer in the U.S. today is Manpower Temporary Services, supplying companies with workers who receive no benefits and no job security. Workers used to have unions to defend their interests; increasingly, unions are marginalized. The Secretary of Labor even says, “The jury is still out on whether the trade union is necessary for the new workplace.” In this program, Ralph Nader describes the contours of the emerging economic order. The power and reach of corporations have increased dramatically, while worker’s wages have stagnated or declined. This is called “meeting the competitive challenge of the global marketplace.” Investors love it. The value of their stock goes up. Downsizing and restructuring are the corporate mantras of the day. Many of the new jobs being created are temporary with no benefits. Interview by David Barsamian.
Ralph Nader has spent a lifetime fighting on behalf of ordinary people. He has run for president four times. Life magazine ranks him as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century. Founder of Public Citizen, he is a long-time advocate for consumer safety and workers’ rights. He rose to fame in the 1960s when he took on General Motors and its unsafe Corvair car. His book Unsafe at Any Speed not only created a sensation but was instrumental in the enactment of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. His efforts helped create the Environmental Protection Agency. He has exposed the misdeeds of the corporate sector as well as of the political system. In recent years he has been in the forefront of the struggles around NAFTA, the WTO, corporate welfare and single payer health care.