Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

May 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

REVOLT OF THE CEOs....In the current issue of the Washington Monthly, Chris Hayes says that the collapse of the Republican Party has caused big corporations to take a fresh look at the world around them. And what they see is a lot of uncertainty over healthcare and a lot of uncertainty over climate change. And big corporations don't like uncertainty.

So, slowly but surely, they're starting to hop on board the national healthcare and global warming bandwagons. As Chris colorfully puts it, they're crying out, "Please, for the love of God, regulate us."

Well, maybe. But toward the end of his story there's this:

In the absence of federal leadership, state governments have rushed in to fill the vacuum, passing rafts of legislation meant to encourage alternative energy use, curb carbon emissions, and provide health insurance for their citizens. The initiatives on both these fronts — from Massachussets Governor Mitt Romney's universal health care reform to New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's recently unveiled congestion pricing — have triggered fears among corporations that they'll have to deal with a state-by-state patchwork of fifty different regulatory regimes, giving them a powerful incentive to support a comprehensive nationwide approach.

...."The corporate guys are beginning to think this is going to happen," said Bill Galston, a senior policy adviser in the Clinton White House and a current fellow at the Brookings Institution, referring to health care and climate change legislation. "They are willing to make their peace with the welfare and regulatory state as long as they can have some say. What they don't want is for the train to leave the station and they're not in the first-class car." The Chamber of Commerce's Josten summed up his members' views this way: "You want a seat at the table, because if you’re not at the table you may be on the menu."

Now, don't get me wrong: even a little bit of movement is a good thing. And I don't care much what their motivation is. But a lot of what's happening here on the global warming front involves corporations trying to preempt tough state regulations with weaker federal rules — not exactly a sign of getting on the liberal bandwagon. Likewise, although some CEOs are genuinely concerned about skyrocketing healthcare costs, for the most part they seem to be simply adapting to the new sheriff in town. That "seat at the table" they're asking for isn't because they all took vacations in Stockholm this winter and came away true believers in universal healthcare. It's because they want to make sure that if something is going to happen, it'll be as little as possible.

In other words: sure, this is good news. At the same time, keep your hand on your wallet. These guys need to earn a seat at the table, not just be given one.

Kevin Drum 12:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Too right! Of course the Friedmans of the world will be all over themselves with excitement that CEOs get 'it' - while still remaining clueless about what 'it' really is.

To paraphrase Brain's stock reply to Pinky about "What are we doing tonight, Brain?"

"Same thing we do every night Pinky - try to stay in control of the world."

Posted by: xaxnar on May 28, 2007 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever happens, we need to raise taxes on these scumbags. They have had a great ride over the last 10 years of Republican Senate control. It's time to reverse the tables.

I suggest that we go to 50 % for all incomes over 1,000,000 and 75 % for anything over 5,000,000. I am advocating punitive or confiscatory taxes.

I also go with Bob Reich's suggestion that if you move your residency to the Virgin Islands, you lose your US citizenship. If you are a US citizen, you pay US taxes.

Posted by: POed Lib on May 28, 2007 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Too right! Of course the Friedmans of the world will be all over themselves with excitement that CEOs get 'it' - while still remaining clueless about what 'it' really is.

To paraphrase Brain's stock reply to Pinky about "What are we doing tonight, Brain?"

"Same thing we do every night Pinky - try to stay in control of the world."

Posted by: xaxnar on May 28, 2007 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that it is in the interest of CEOs to have a healthy workforce, and not have to worry about healthcare costs bankrupting them down the road.

I also go with Bob Reich's suggestion that if you move your residency to the Virgin Islands, you lose your US citizenship. If you are a US citizen, you pay US taxes.

If you move to the the US Virgin Islands, you keep your US citizenship, because it's US territory...

Posted by: me2i81 on May 28, 2007 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

There will be conflicts between BIG this and BIG that. Big insurance will certainly try to change as little as possible on the health care front to still maintain their market share, profits and influence. At the same time, I see big insurance looking for much more regulation on the AGW front, since they have the most to lose in an environmental catastrophe.

Counter to that, big manuacturing will be looking for much more regulation in health care, even to the point of single payer since they are the ones facing deficits due to helath care costs. OTOH, they will probably drag their feet as much as possible on AGW.

Posted by: natural cynic on May 28, 2007 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps one good thing about having Bush in control when the CEOs want to be regulated is that Bush will not ever commit this kind of regulation. He'll kick that can too down the road, and leave it for the next President. Who may not make it as unregulatory as Bush would have.

Posted by: AC on May 28, 2007 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

But moving things back to the States is what Newt wanted.

Sure it would be 4 or 5 times as expensive as having the Feds to it but since no state would have as much power as the Federal govt it was a big win.

Now they don't.


Posted by: Webley Webster on May 28, 2007 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I can tell you right now how the climate deal is going to go down.

The short version is that there are two basic policy tools on the table for regulating carbon - taxes and emissions credits. There are right and wrong ways to implement either one.

With taxes, you set a price for carbon, and everybody pays it. The good news is that you know exactly how much your carbon emissions are going to cost. The bad news is that you don't know in advance how mauch carbon you are generating.

The other alternative is to set an amount of carbon that the United States is going to generate, and require everybody who is generating carbon to have a permission slip for that carbon. The good news here is that you know exactly how much carbon is getting produced. But this system works best if the emissions are tradable, so that anybody who needs to do something that emits carbon can do so, for a price. So in a carbon market with a limited supply of credits, it's impossible to predict how much the carbon will cost.

Either approach can be done well, or badly. But the politcal push from those corporations that are sitting at the table already is for credits, using a failed model from the Clean Air Act.

The issue here is how those carbon credits are initially distributed. Economic efficiency would dictate an open auction for those credits, with a robust aftermarket - just like government bond issues. If you wanted to make the whole system revenue neutral, you could just divide the total number of credits by the total number of taxpayers and cut everybody a check at the end of the year, so that people can choose to spend their money on something other than carbon.

But what electric utilities and big industrial polluters want is for the government to give them the credits, for free. That way, they can either continue to pollute at no cost, or sell their credits for a huge profit if they decide to reduce their emissions. This may sound wacky, but it is exactly how the Clean Air Act implemented sulfur dioxide cerdits, and exactly how the worst coal plants in the country were allowed to continue to run without emission controls for decades after the Clean Air Act was passed - nearly forty years on, some of those coal plants are still operating.

That worked out really well for big polluters, and that's the model they would like to repeat with carbon. In effect, they are prepared to be massively bribed to do the right thing.

The creepy part about this is that the deal is getting cut right now, for probable implementation once Bush is gone. And if you go to one of the places where the deal is being formulated (http://www.us-cap.org), you will find that two of our biggest astroturf environmental groups - Environmantal Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council - have already signed up for this deal. There may be a good argument for massive bribery of polluters being the necessary price for getting the right thing done. What's troubling is that we porbably aren't going to get to even have that argument - the legislation is going to be a fait accompli.

Posted by: converger on May 28, 2007 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Please, for the love of God, regulate us"?

Indeed. There's no genuine inconsistency in

1. Striving to wiggle out of regulation (of your company), and at the same time

2. Supporting a policy that would apply regulation to everyone (including your company).

Both can improve your situation.

Posted by: Paradoxical on May 28, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

These guys need to earn a seat at the table, not just be given one.

Actually, I'd say these guys need to be the meal served at the table. Eat the rich!

Posted by: craigie on May 28, 2007 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

I have to take some small issue with this statement:

"But a lot of what's happening here on the global warming front involves corporations trying to preempt tough state regulations with weaker federal rules"

Yes, large corporations would love to see weaker federal rules, than the ones state governments around the country are about to pass. Ultimately, however, what they are looking for are consistent, universal rules. As you said at the front of this post, corporations love certainty and consistency. Having to deal with a patchwork quilt of environmental regulations is not simply something that large corporations want (or should have) to deal with. It's the reason there is a commerce clause in the Constitution.

We need a nationwide policy that regulates carbon/greenhouse gas emissions, and it absolutely needs to preempt state/local policies. Our job as progressives is to ensure that the laws that are passed are tough enough. Whatever policies come down the pipeline have to be based on science...but just as importantly, they must be federal.

Posted by: tosh on May 28, 2007 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

Hell in a handbasket, folks. Get ready to enjoy the ride. And be sure to strap your children in.

But don't blame the gov't. and the corporations - we're all involved. We all drive, we all use lumber, we all burn electricity.

Mealy cuts and phony credits won't get the job done. Most experts say that immediate, drastic action is needed. We must bypass the elites if they continue to play games. Voluntary grassroots cuts. Change your life, shame your neighbours. At least you can say you tried.

People power!

Posted by: skeg on May 28, 2007 at 5:28 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, greed is the prime motivator here. If the interests (read, greed) of corporations and the public at large intersect, as they appear to now with national health insurance, all the better. But let us never be fooled into thinking their motivation is for altruistic reasons.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 28, 2007 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Here's what Samantha Faye Slaughter has to say about those twin terrors: globel warmingn and universal health care:

"The communists lost Russia. And they are gone but in name from China. Eastern Europe is free. Everywhere, socialism is dead. And yet, like Jason from Friday the 13th, it won't stay dead. Now these socialists have seized upon the twin terrors of global warming and universal health care to foist upon the ENTIRE WORLD their designs for world domination and subjugation of our wealth making corporations and entreprenuers. We must not allow them to succeed. This time, the socialists must die, and stay dead."

Interesting, no? Samantha's beauty is matched only by her insighte.

Posted by: egbert on May 28, 2007 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

CEOs have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to get whatever they can get and not worry about anything else (this is why voluntary guidelines will never work).

CEOs generate enough personal wealth during their tenures as CEOs to avoid the consequences of whatever damage they cause (this is why they will never represent the interests of the rest of us).

As Kevin points out, getting the CEOs on board is as clear a 'hold on to your wallet' signal as you will ever get.

Posted by: jhe on May 28, 2007 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Back in the 1980's my father, who was a corporate officer in the US and Europe, used to sit at the dinner table and delight us with lectures on the coming of the Chinese, the decline of the paternal corporation and the necessity of universal healthcare for the benefit of corporations in a more competitive environment. He often criticized his American colleagues for their chronic inability to see the benefits of real social activism and public engagement beyond the usual sponsorship of safe causes. He thought their sense of leadership began and ended with the accumulation of money and their minds had been polluted by a willfully simple, nearly stupid, version of an ideology that is too nobly called "conservatism".

Posted by: bellumregio on May 28, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like it's time for some good, old-fashioned European corporatism. I knew that all those painfully dull political science courses in grad school would come in handy some day.

The reality is that companies have finally realized that they can do better by aspiring to some federal help. But they are in it for themselves and we mustn't forget that. I have greater hope for better environmental regs than I do healthcare reform, by the way, since a declining environment can be seen and felt by all of us, whereas the crappy health of folks is their own individual problem.

Posted by: Stacy on May 28, 2007 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Do you think any of this new? Remember the NRA, the National Recovery Administration during the New Deal when big business colluded with big government to try stabilize wages and prices? Many progressives like Phil LaFollette gagged on that alliance, so be careful what you wish for.

For all the talk about business being against regulations, big business doesn't mind being regulated by big government so long as it has a say about the regulations. What the New Deal did was created the kind of national economy that big business ultimately wanted with themselves in control.

But its always ther little guy always gets hurt right? They can't spend money on lawyers and accountants to make sure they're following the regulations or being able to to write off additional costs as business expenses.

So what's wrong with having the states and localities do the regulating if they so chose? Oh that's right, we're in the "global economy." We can't have some pesky little county commission tell us what our emissions can be, how silly of them. That's the job for the feds even though there's nothing in the Constitution that says that's their job.

But that's okay. The NRA incubated the conservative/libertarian backlash against the New Deal and so will this new "NRA" of national health care and environment regulations.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on May 28, 2007 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, egbert:

This "Samantha Faye Slaughter" whom you quote doesn't register much in Google results, and she also makes the mistake of conflating socialism and communism. They aren't the same. While it is a neat rhetorical trick to confused poorly educated folk like yourself, it doesn't make it so. Socialism is doing quite well, thank you, in places like Sweden and every dollar you spend at Ikea or on your Nokia cell phone makes this even more true.

Further, wishing people dead because they believe in a different economic system seems to me to be a base and evil philosophy and one that I, as a Christian, cannot subscribe to. In a complex and interconnected world like we live in, taxes and an integrated strucuture of governance are the price we pay for civilzed society. If you think otherwise, move to fuckin' Rwanda.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 28, 2007 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Hopefully the table that the corporate world has a seat at will have seats for labor interests, environmental interests, poverty interests, and all the other groups who have been standing outside cold, hungery and shivering for the past six years.

The big problem is not giving the CEOs a seat at the table, it is the way that the Bushies have tried to stack the deck in the federal bureaucracy over the past six years. The next administration may be faced with mid-level bureacrats (the ones who actually draft the regulations) who are innately hostile to the very concept of regulation, no matter how industry feels.

Posted by: majun on May 28, 2007 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

We know what corporations want out of health care: The want out of health care. They want out from under their contractual burden to provide health care to employees and especially to retirees. It sounds like some are now willing to let the government unburden their balance sheets of the whole health care issue. As Cash McCall said, you work the rules so that if you win, you get the profit, and if you lose, you get the government to take the loss.

The question for the corporations is how good and how universal a health plan do they have to let the government create in order to get their employees' and retirees' health coverage taken care of.

The question for the rest of us is are we willing to just release the corporations from their obligation to provide health care in return for their not objecting when we pass universal health care, or should they have to partly fund it?

Nah, let 'em skate if they let us have a good health plan. Let's do something nice for industry and releave them of this contractual obligation, as long as they don't later talk about how the market worked.

Maybe GM can compete with Nisson and Toyota and Honda if they don't have to pay health care costs. Or maybe not, but at least their employees will still have national health coverage when GM fails.

Posted by: anandine on May 28, 2007 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Chris Hayes says that the collapse of the Republican Party has caused big corporations to take a fresh look at the world around them.

Is BP and ExxonMobil taking a fresh look at the world around them?

Hayes writes another example of DLC crap that Washington Monthly is famous for.

I'm sure big business won't mind writing off health care cost to the common taxpayer, if fact I'd bet they're already encourage little Bushie to talk about private health insurance AND they want Bushie to penalized businesses that think they have some kind of moral obligation to offer health care for employees.

"Yeah" Bushes says, "we'll teach you to care about employees" to those buiness with some sense of morality. Can't be having any of that.

I mean benefits DO matter, after all.

AND I think by now, most American have figured out that the GOP exist only to take money and big favors from big business in exchange for just letting big business write legislation but then, I've also noticed those DLC Dems want do the exact same thing too.

I think that since corporations have an American responsiblity, just because they like to fly the US flag right in front of their respected businesses and all, like they think they're patriotic or something, they should all share the complete tax burden for covering all health care cost issues FOR ALL Americans everwhere.

You know, just so employees don't feel like their nothing more that a cheap commodity or something.

Posted by: Me_again on May 28, 2007 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

When adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare began to look inevitable, corporations got behind it and turned it into a windfall for themselves. The Medicare Modernization Act 2003 was a huge money maker for Big Pharma.

Even when Medicare was originally enacted physicians and hospitals, who hated "socialized medicine", finally got behind a bill that allowed docs and hospitals to set their own reimbursement rate through insurance companies they controlled--Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Physician incomes skyrocketed.

Likely the same thing will happen here. Once the big money players realize change is inevitable, they will find a way to make money on the deal.

Posted by: s on May 28, 2007 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I think a lot of companies would like healthcare taken off their worry list. For big corporations it is monstrous to negotiate these things with the unions and costly to take care of an aging workforce. Small companies have a hard time even finding affordable policies. Companies like Wal-Mart, who already externalize the cost of healthcare, would like to avoid being tarnished by their niggardly practices especially when they seem so unwholesome. There is lots of incentive. It just needs leadership that can undermine the assumptions of the no-risk-sharing-third-world-ownership-society bamboozle. Certainly the tendency of the owners will be to cut and run , but the reality of the financing of universal healthcare may make that impossible. Prevention of cashing in will require vigilance.

Posted by: bellumregio on May 28, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Not much different than the time Big Trucking amazed the critics by negotiating with Jimmy Hoffa - It was the sense of certainty and uniformity they desired, not any love for Jimmy or his ideas.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 28, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin is correct, of course. The CEOs want to have Harold and Louise negotiate Healthcare and Glenn Beck, Global Warming for them.

Posted by: stupid git on May 28, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Here's an article about a business owner who is trying to do it right:

http://tinyurl.com/2t7ad5

Of course, if you read through you'll see that he was on our side to start with.

Posted by: J Bean on May 28, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

There is nothing the corporate classes like better than protecting their income from government and foisting their expenses off to government. It's double plus good when government contributes to their profit margin outright.
The Los Angeles Times has come out in favor of Al Gore's carbon taxes. If it's a good idea, it's dead in the water.


Posted by: Mike on May 28, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Wolfowitz Blames Media for Resignation

"I think it tells us more about the media than about the bank and I'll leave it at that," he told the British Broadcasting Corp. "People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements and by the time we got to anything approximating accuracy the passions were around the bend."

Yeah, I'm sure Bill Clinton completely sympathizes with you pal.

Posted by: Me_again on May 28, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, egbert.

Your beuaty is macthed olny by your speling.

Posted by: shnooky on May 28, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

But hey Wolfowitz if it were not for the media helping the "People react to a whole string of inaccurate statements" so that "by the time Americans got anywhere near approximating accuracy" we were already in a chaotic war with Iraq. I mean, without a deadbeat media, how the hell would Wolfowitz EVER been able to get his war on?

Talk about bitting the hand that feeds you. What a Jerk! Shut the hell up Wolfowitz.


Posted by: Me_agan on May 28, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

There are very rational reasons for big corporations to back both federal regulation of green house gasses and single payer universal health care. With respect to the former, uniform regulation across fifty states is dramatically easier to deal with and far less costly. As to the latter, it creates a level playing field, gets corporations out of the business of providing health care coverage, and eliminates the burden of retiree health coverage that many large corporations are still faced with. So although I have no illusions regarding our corporate masters, I actually think there is common ground that could be found in these areas. I think the bigger problems and more strident opposition would come from the smaller business sector, the constituents of NFIB.

Posted by: Klein's tiny left nut on May 28, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

"But don't blame the gov't. and the corporations - we're all involved. ... we all use lumber, we all burn electricity."

What does lumber have to do with carbon emmissions? (unless you don't re-grow the forests)
Hydropower, wind, solar and nuclear generated electricity ditto.

There are other potential problems associated with these amenities, but not carbon.

That technicality aside, we are probably in agreement... we (industrial nations) are simply living an un-sustainable lifestyle in an un-sustainable economic system. Period.

Unfortunately, our current strategy is to maintain the status quo until the final collapse.

Posted by: Buford on May 28, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert and the true-believers are reminiscent of that poor little polar bear in An Inconvenient Truth - their ice-floe is shrinking and crumbling and they are sadly and desperately marooned in a deep blue sea.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 28, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

good news for milk-lovers, healthy milk:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1845223.ece

low in saturated fat, high in omega3 fatty acids, spreadable butter evn when cold. I wonder how it tastes.

120 pounds for the cow, 55 million pounds for the research.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 28, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Mussolini thought CEO's of the largest industries should be given a seat at the table of elites to determine public policy. I do not think public policy should be the exlusive domain of the rich and powerful. Our political economy should be arranged in a way that most citizens can participate in the process without wealth given any more advantage than any other trait. That was the original goal of American populism.

Posted by: Brojo on May 28, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

"... they want to make sure that if something is going to happen, it'll be as little as possible."

I don't think this is quite correct. I think they want to make sure it will COST THEM as little as possible.

Universal health care paid for by individual income tax would suit them just fine, I would think, so long as current trends of taxing only wages and not capital gains and dividends keeps up.

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 28, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

the collapse of the Republican Party

Collapse? didn't they just force the Democrats to grant small businesses a tax break in return for the minimum wage increase? And didn't they just force the Democrats to fully fund the Iraq war for the remainder of the fiscal year without a binding withdrawal plan? Aren't they successfully pressing the Democrats to include strong border/immigration controls in the immigration reform?

I see no signs of Republican "collapse".

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 28, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

"CEOs have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders ..."

Yeah, and they violate it every time they arrage for Gawd awful salaries for themselves. And golden parachutes. And unseemly stock options that dilute the value of shareholders' stock.

But they get away with it time and time again.

Fiduciary relationship my ass.

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 28, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent article here, with a link to an equally excellent post at Firedoglake, describing three political parties in the US, the Corporatist party enveloping most of the Republican party and the leadership of the Democratic party, the Grassroots Theocrats and the Grassroots Progressives.

Makes sense to me.

Posted by: cld on May 28, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

"...There are very rational reasons for big corporations to back both federal regulation of green house gasses and single payer universal health care. With respect to the former, uniform regulation across fifty states is dramatically easier to deal with and far less costly. As to the latter, it creates a level playing field, gets corporations out of the business of providing health care coverage, and eliminates the burden of retiree health coverage that many large corporations are still faced with..."
Posted by: Klein's tiny left nut on May 28, 2007 at 12:48 PM

Employers need to get out of the health care business. They will still of course pay taxes of some kind to *fund* the system. But if everyone is covered in one large pool, everyone is going to have to pay in and their costs will be lower as a result. If a big company has a disproportionately large, greying, but experienced workforce they don't get penalized disproportionately this way. They *will* likely also fund the system to a greater proportion since their employees tend to have higher wages/salaries. Large companies routinely provide medical benefits, while small ones don't always do and if you are self-employed you can really get screwed. This creates a big distortion in the labor market, with older workers tending to linger with large companies instead of getting more rewarding jobs with smaller ones or starting their own businesses, or staying home to take care of children, an ill spouse, or parent.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on May 28, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Doc,

Exactly. Essentially a universal Medicare system in which the employer and employee both pay a portion of the tax to fund the system. I would also tax dividends and capital gains too, to limit the payroll burden associated with such a tax. And then employers don't have to worry about the costs of health care and citizens don't have to worry about not having or losing coverage.

Posted by: Klein's tiny left nut on May 28, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

On "eating the rich:"

According to Forbes, the total compensation for the heads of the biggest 500 companies was about $7.5 billion. Half was exercised stock options.

This amount of money would run the Federal budget for about 1 day.

Posted by: harry on May 28, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. The compensation of just 500 people would fund the entire government for one day? In a nation of 300,000,000 people?! It's worse than I thought.

Posted by: Emma Anne on May 28, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Only one person hated socialism to the same degree that egbert does, and that was Hitler. Yep, the Nazis were anti-socialists at their core. Their hatred of jews went together with the hatred of socialism.

egbert is a nazi.

Posted by: POed Lib on May 28, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Before everybody storms the barricades to eat the rich (one of whom I am not), remember small businesses. A lot of people work for them, a lot of people (me among them) own them. Many small businesses are corporations. Mine is.

On the health care front, I passionately support a single-payer,universal system. I would gladly pay personal and corporate taxes to suppport one. Instead, I pay an ever-increasing insurance premium for an ever-decreasing set of health care benefits for my employees.

We are in a fairly low-wage sector and it drives me crazy to know that the health and lives of low-paid or unemployed people are apparently worth less than those of the highly-paid and well off who get insurance with their jobs.

I'm in business. I want and need to make a profit. But, I'm not in the health insurance business. I want my employees to have it if for no other reason than they are happier, less stressed and more productive if they're not worried about getting sick or injured.

But, why should health care and employement be connected? Makes no sense to me.

Posted by: jrw on May 28, 2007 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

It drives me crazy to know that the health and lives of low-paid or unemployed people are apparently worth less than those of the highly-paid and well off who get insurance with their jobs.

The principle of unfettered capitalism: the sole worth of people is their market value. Taken to its logical conclusion, those of little market worth would be profitably enslaved or converted to Soylent Green.

Both slavery and cannibalism are objectionable to the majority (I'm not sure about CEOs)but lesser versions of dehumanization are not.

One of the biggest obstacles to single-payer health care and the state or federal subsidies that will be necessary, is the libertarian attitude towards health fostered by the popular press.

Your health is your own responsibility -- if you get heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, it must be your own fault. Get off your fat ass, etc.

Have these memes helped the public health one bit? As far as I can see, the popular health press has produced a minority (chiefly upper middle class and above) of healthy-living fanatics, and a majority that (too busy making ends meet) gives up in despair. Often the latter are too busy working in order to pay for their health care premiums and bills, to take enough time to exercise and eat healthy food.

I don't know if the popular health press is wittingly part of a conspiracy to discourage the health of ordinary Americans ane ensure the profits of insurance and drug companies. (The doctors are not getting proportionately wealthy.) Many popular health writers are healthly-living fanatics themselves, like evangelicals, genuinely wanting to make converts.

The temperance movement in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the same, and achieved little until a genuine shift away from heavy drinking occurred -- I'd like to know why.

Posted by: sara on May 28, 2007 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

First off, where the hell in the Constitution is the right to health care? I must have missed that amendment. And if we are going to go down the road of nationalized medicine, shouldn't we solve the problems of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid first? People that believe that the US government could run a healthcare program in any type of efficient or non-political manner are idiots who have little understanding of the federal government or how it works. Or they wear rose colored glasses.

One of the Democratic proposals out there is a government run HMO. Now what are people's complaints against private HMOs? That they don't cover enough procedures or conditions, that they are very strict and rigid with following the rules and that they can say "no" to claims. These are also the reasons that HMO's tend to work. The more conditions and procedures you cover, the higher the premiums. Private companies need to be competitive which keeps those premiums down. They can and should say that they won't pay for that million dollar experimental procedure. That's not a problem if the government runs it, they can always raise taxes and cover more/everything. Doctors are limited in what they can do. A legit complaint - you want the doctor making health decisions, not the HMO. But it is also one of the things that helps keeps costs down and keep healthcare affordable. Again, not a problem for the government. So what would happen? Bad service and higher taxes.

If someone was to say that the solution to a problem was to eliminate competition and allow one inefficient organization to force people to pay as much as possible to solve the problem, would you do it? Have we not learned anything by the political purgatory Social Security is stuck in? Have you looked at how well the government is currently functioning? And you want to trust your healthcare to who? What an incredibly bad idea. This idea, along with the Department of Peace, are the two reasons liberals should never be allowed to run this country.

Posted by: Dave! on May 28, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah, your post reminds me of a short-story that I saw on film in High School in the '70's called "The Lottery":
http://www.americanliterature.com/SS/SS16.HTML
(entire short story)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lottery
(snippet)
The Lottery was included among the 30 most-often banned books in American schools and libraries, as listed by Playboy (January, 1984). The books were arranged by frequency of censorship with the most-banned first, the least-banned last. At that time, The Lottery ranked #17, between Black Like Me and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on May 29, 2007 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Dave!, you've apparently missed all the world health statistics that clearly show your nightmare health-care system produces superior results to our lack-of-a-system. And at lower cost. You better cook up something better than that tired old screed. Oh, that's right; a market solution is better because, well, it's better, that's why. I forgot.

Posted by: jrw on May 29, 2007 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Have you looked at how well the government is currently functioning?

Yeah, I have; seems especially bad the last six years. Guess the liberals shouldn't be allowed to run the country... oh wait...

Posted by: Dave Howard on May 29, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

As usual with these corporate f*s, before you leave the barganing table first count your fingers and then count your relitives. They are 100% pure sociopaths. From their point of view what's theirs is theirs and what's everyone else's is theirs, too.

Posted by: joe on May 29, 2007 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Dave!

Have you ever bothered to read the preamble to the constitution you self-centered pr*k? If you have (which I doubt) were you able to comprehend the meaning of "promote the general welfare"?
Notice that it DOES NOT say promote CORPORATE welfare, but GENERAL welfare and that means EVERYONE!!
To provide health care to everyone that means EQUAL access. The only way to provide equal access is to assure EQUAL affordability. Equal affordability means that it must be paid for with a progressive tax on TOTAL annual individual income.
Scream all you want but that is the only way to assure equality of opportunity (access) to healthcare.

Posted by: joe on May 29, 2007 at 6:18 AM | PERMALINK

General Welfare thoughts...
"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." - Thomas Jefferson

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." - James Madison

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constitutents." - James Madison

"With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." - James Madison

Dave Howard - Poorly functioning government is not a symptom of being run by a Republican/Democrat or Conservative/Liberal, it is a function of beaurocracy. Adding healthcare to the list of services that the federal government fails to deliver in an efficient and cost effective manner only contributes to the problem.

jrw - there is no free lunch. I've seen the stats and they are interesting reading. Here are a few more stats for you. In 2006, Sylvia Lott, aged 72, made headlines in the UK after it was reported that she had been waiting thirteen years for a hip replacement surgery from the Swansea NHS Trust, South Wales' publicly funded health provider. Doctors' salaries tend to be lower in public systems; for example in 1996, the average U.S. physician income was $199,000 while the comparable OECD median physician income was $70,324. In terms of medical equipment such as MRI scanners per million people, America ranks first in the world with 19.5 per million people; Canada ranked 13th, with 4.6 MRI scanners per million people. In terms of CT scanners per million, America ranked third in the world with 29.5 per million while Canada was ranked 16th, with 10.3 per million. According to one study, in Canada treatment time from initial referral by a GP through consultation with a specialist to final treatment, across all specialties and all procedures (emergency, non-urgent, and elective), averaged 17.7 weeks.

Posted by: Dave! on May 29, 2007 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

No matter how you cut it it's still balony Dave!

TANSTAAFL does not justify the grotesque imbalence of wealth distribution that has been achieved through the overwhelming power of control of capital. That wealth was produced by the employees of those companies not the executives and stockholders. Legalized theft, embezzelment, usury, blackmail, and price gouging are crimes against society. Requiring the return of funds that have been taken from society using the power of accumulated wealth for the benefit of the society as a whole is righting a long history of wrongs not a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Posted by: joe on May 30, 2007 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, the CEOs are not all bad. Steve Jobs is pleading with Gore to run, and the Google guys are rather progressive. But remember, they still have their interests...

Posted by: Neil B. on May 30, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK
Poorly functioning government...is a function of beaurocracy.......In 2006, Sylvia Lott... it was reported that she had been waiting thirteen years for a hip replacement surgery.... Dave! at 7:53 PM
That is pure hogwash, chum. Government agencies are generally more efficient, like for example, the Social Security Administration and the Post Office. Every time the Republicans get away with privatizing something, it ends up costing more and providing less than civil servants. I realize that RepubliConTarians never tire of repeating their spin, but you can't back it up with independent data.

Your esteemed health care industry is devoted to making profits and denying care, not providing it.
Here's a story from a couple of week ago: Patient dies in ER

Los Angeles County supervisors met in an emergency closed session Tuesday to discuss how a
woman who had complained of severe abdominal pain at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital
died last week after reportedly going untreated by medical staff....

All data from all countries shows that the US pays the most for among the least. We're higher and infant mortality and lower in life expectancy than most industrialized western nations. Anecdotal stories are common everywhere and especially in the US as noted above.

Posted by: Mike on May 30, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Mike,
"Government agencies are generally more efficient, like for example, the Social Security Administration and the Post Office. ...I realize that RepubliConTarians never tire of repeating their spin, but you can't back it up with independent data."

This would argue for Communist Russia being the most efficient place in the history of the world. While i don't have independent data at my fingertips to dispute that, common sense and personal anecdotal stories tell me it's simply not the case. Some agencies are run better than others. But there is no incentive for a governement agency to do anything efficiently. In fact, the opposite is true. A program manager in the government that does not "need" to have their program bigger or have more money to do it better will not remain a PM for long. It simply does not happen - success is defined as growing your program. The difference between that and the real world is that in the real world, there are consequences for failure, be they monetary, your employment status or the market. In the government, there are no market forces at play, it is almost impossible to be let go or docked pay and failure generally winds up as "proof" that your program, in fact, needs more money/resources.

Posted by: Dave! on June 1, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

011389.. Bully :)

Posted by: www.washingtonmonthly.com on March 30, 2011 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly