For all of those who get shivers up their leg whenever someone mentions “free trade”, this bit of news will make your eyes roll back in your head. It seems that Johnson Controls, an American company that makes all sorts of products, but mainly parts for cars, has decided to move to the green Isle of Ireland. They stated they would RENOUNCE THEIR U.S. CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP.
Of course this is just a corporation doing what corporations do, shaft the American worker, deny taxes to the government, beg for a bailout, and then click their Champagne glasses in a toast to globalism. But I thought corporations where legally recognized as “Citizens” according to the Supreme Court? Shouldn’t companies show some loyalty to the country and states they reside in? After all Johnson Controls has received $149 million dollars in subsidies from the State of Michigan to keep the company happy.
Oh, I forgot to mention that Johnson Controls sold themselves to a smaller company. I wonder why they didn’t just buy the smaller company and keep their U.S. Corporate Citizenship? Could it be the $150 million dollars in annual taxes they will save? Of course that is the rationale, and they didn’t even have the decency to deny it, because in the world of Globalization, people and countries are irrelevant.
Let’s tally up the score. We give corporations the right to Free Speech and the power to use unlimited amounts of money to sway elections (Citizens United vs. FEC). We subsidize these companies with incentives from States desperate to keep good jobs for ordinary Americans. We bail them out when they are about to go broke because we want to protect the jobs. Our reward, they leave for Greener Pastures.
Economists assure us that eventually this process of globalization will reach a point where the wage differentials will even themselves out. Great, I can’t wait until the average American makes $7,500 and is paid the same as someone in Vietnam! In the meantime the middle class will continue to vanish. To be fair, this move by Johnson Controls is a paper shuffling, stock certificate switching, accounting gimmick, more than a job shifting strategy.
But it doesn’t change the fact that Global corporations are not citizens in any meaningful sense. If they had grandmas, they would sell them to boost their bottom lines. They are soulless robots whose only job is to maximize their profits. It is their nature. It can’t be denied. But it doesn’t have to be tolerated. Congress needs to do its job, protect our jobs, and prevent corporations from using the tax code unfairly.
Ultimately, we must ask ourselves, do we exist for the benefit of corporations and global trade, or does our economic system exist to serve the interests of the people? It appears the corporations are the only real Citizens in the Land of the Free, the home of the Brave, and the Government of the Stupid.