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Why Republican Rule is Dangerous

President Trump and his cabinet appointments have started overhauls of many of the Executive Branch departments that provide protections for the citizenry of the country.  These actions point out a stark contrast between Democratic and Republican philosophies, and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the fundamental purpose of our government.

The root justification for their actions is that regulations stifle the operation of Corporate America.  However, Corporate America is doing just fine, thank you.  The stock market is way up, meaning corporate valuations are at an all-time high.  Corporate profits are way up.  GDP continues to rise.  Executive salaries are at an all-time high.  And these huge corporate successes continue even after 8 years of Democratic regulations. What is the lesson from all of this?

The fundamental purpose of a corporation is to enhance shareholder value. That’s not good or bad, it’s just true.  Their purpose is not to be socially conscientious, or kind, or even necessarily fair.  Given that charter, a corporation should naturally be against raising the minimum wage, simply because doing so decreases profits and reduces shareholder value.  The same principle applied to collective bargaining, overtime, paid family leave, employer-paid health insurance, and even voluntary pollution controls. Doing business in an environmentally friendly manner costs money, thereby reducing shareholder value.

That doesn’t mean corporations are inherently evil.  It simply means their goals do not necessarily align with the maintenance of a healthy and equitable society.  This is exactly why we have a government.  The purpose of a government is to provide the social conscience and the environmental protections that corporations are not chartered to provide.  For example, the job of OSHA and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is to  enact rules and regulation that provide a socially conscientious framework for corporate operations, to ensure that corporate employers act in a responsible  way.  We NEED that framework, because corporations are not incentivized to act that way on their own.  Most responsible executives should be relieved to  be able to blame regulations for requiring them to treat their employees  better than policies based strictly on shareholder value would permit.

Similarly, the job of the Environmental Protection Agency is to speak up on behalf of society, to enact and enforce rules and regulations that ensure corporations limit their activities to those that preserve our planet and its resources.  It is an adversarial relationship, to be sure, but it is a healthy one.  Corporate executives will naturally enact policies to extract and exploit natural resources in a way that optimizes profit, even if those are systemically unhealthy.  The job of the EPA is to provide a regulatory framework that allows corporations to continue profitable operations, but in a sustainable and healthy manner.

By installing leaders in these agencies who do not understand the need for these checks and balances, the Trump administration is putting the lives of the American working public — and the fate of the planet — at great risk.

Posted in Opinion.