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Role of the Corporation

The thread that runs through most of these articles is the divergence between the corporate goal of profit maximization and the welfare of the country.

To save our democracy, corporations must put people over shareholder profits 

The Hill, February 2024

To defend ourselves against China, we must change

The Hill, July 2019

We cannot deal effectively with China’s mercantilist tactics if our corporations know no goal beyond profit.

Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act isn’t radical – it’s a return to the roots of American economic prosperity

The Hill, September 2018

An Economic System Problem 

April 2018

The statements of the Business Roundtable clearly show the changed direction of the American corporation

Corporate Goals – Ralph Gomory
Presented at the American Philosophical Society, November 2013. Published in the Proceedings of the APS, Volume 158, Number 4, September 2015.

This article describes some of the negative consequences of the shareholder emphasis and how they can be avoided.

Inversions are Revealing the Ugly Face of Shareholder Value
Huffington Post, September 2014

Inversions are a sign that something is wrong in our economy. What is wrong is quite fundamental; it is the profit maximization focus of our corporations.

In This Crisis, It’s Not Stupidity, It’s the Money: Three Relevant Laws 
Huffington Post, October 2013

This article details  three basic laws about discussion, especially political discussion, that are useful in many situations, but especially regarding the confrontational state of our government today.

On Manufacturing and Innovation 
Huffington Post, July 2013

This article calls for a national debate on the decline of the manufacturing industry and a discussion on what is really happening with manufacturing, innovation and unbalanced trade.

Put Human Nature Back in Business                                                                                                       
Washington Post, June 2013

This opinion piece cites both Adam Smith and Charles Darwin in support of the view that human nature has two significant parts, one concerned with self-preservation, and one with concern for others.  It suggests that we would all benefit  from corporate  goals and practices that bring into action both sides of human nature.

New Goals for American Corporations 
Huffington Post, January 2013

This is a shorter form of the article below that questions the effects on the country of the corporate goal of profit maximization.

The American Corporation(with Richard Sylla)
Daedalus, a publication of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 2013

This essay takes a historical view of the role of the corporation and ends by strongly questioning whether the current dominant corporate goal of profit maximization is in practice beneficial to the country as a whole.

How to Rebuild Manufacturing

This is a short speech given during the 2012 Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing. It  touches on many of the main themes of this section.

Mercantilism, Manufacturing, and a Political Problem 
Huffington Post, May 2012

Manufacturing, often derided as a relic of the past, is back in fashion. However actually doing something to change the downward trajectory of American manufacturing will require overcoming a significant political problem.

Making Corporate Actions Visible (with Leo Hindery, Jr.)
Huffington Post, March 2012

This article describes the importance of the actions of major corporations to America today and what can be done by citizens to make corporate actions and the effects of their actions more visible.

Unveil Corporate Money in Politics (with Leo Hindery, Jr.)
Bloomberg, March 2012

This article and the Huffington Post article above were once one article about making corporate actions visible. This article contains a good account of how and why the corporate goal of maximizing profit emerged and its effect on the political system. The Huffington Post article above takes a broader view of corporate actions both political and non political.

Occupy Wall Street Deserves Our Respect
The Huffington Post, October 2011

Political thinking devised for a nation of farmers doesn’t always work for a nation of corporations.

The Real Crime: Concentration of Power
The Huffington Post, July 2011

The concentration of economic and political power in the major banks and global corporations is the key problem that prevents our country from pursuing and attaining economic goals that help most people.

Testimony before the U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on China’s Five-Year Plan, Indigenous Innovation and Technology Transfers, and Outsourcing
June 2011

To deal successfully with the effect on this country of the rapid industrialization of China and with its mercantilist policies, our government needs to take steps to better align the goals of our corporations with the economic welfare of the United States.

Does Outsourcing Create Jobs?
The Huffington Post, December 2010

There are articles in the popular press which confidently assert that outsourcing creates more jobs in the U.S. than it sends overseas. The statistical fallacy imbedded in these arguments is described.

Jobs, Trade, and Mercantilism – Part I – Facing Reality
The Huffington Post, September 2010

This two-part series addresses the fact that we are living in a mercantilist world, not the textbook world of free trade. It discusses the negative impact on our nation of unbalanced trade and the actions needed to change the situation.

Jobs, Trade, and Mercantilism – Part II – Dealing With Reality
The Huffington Post, September 2010

The Innovation Delusion
The Huffington Post, March 2010

This commentary attacks the widely believed notion that only through innovation can the U.S. can find a role in the globalized modern world.

A Time for Action: Jobs Prosperity and National Goals
The Huffington Post, January 2010

This commentary discusses the need to clarify the role of the American corporation and find ways for our companies to serve not only shareholders, but also their employees.

Industry & Government: Some Realities of Today’s World
Forward, November 2009

This article reminds us that we are not in a free trade world and that we should adopt national goals like the Ketchum goals and take action to advance them.

Manufacturing and the Limits of Comparative Advantage
The Huffington Post, July 2009

This commentary attacks the notion that we do not need manufacturing if we have a comparative advantage in something else. It asserts that comparative advantage, properly understood, does not lead to that conclusion.

Testimony to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
March 2009

This testimony discusses the divergence of corporate and national goals in the presence of the incentives offered by the Chinese government and the need for action to obtain outcomes good for the United States.

Country and Company: Part I – Divergent Goals
The Huffington Post, March 2009

This two-part series discuss two goals for corporations (the Ketchum Goals) that would be beneficial to the nation and some of the ways to move toward them.

Country and Company: Part II – Aligning Goals
The Huffington Post, May 2009

Profit Isn’t Everything: Memoirs of a Fictitious Auto Czar
The Huffington Post, January 2009

A fictitious Auto Czar painfully discovers that the federal government has no concept of what good goals for U.S. corporations might be. He resolves to find reasonable goals.

Autotopia: A Tale of Two Bailouts
The Huffington Post, December 2008

This article parodies the rescue of the financial corporations and describes how close ties with U.S. government bought them much more favorable treatment than that received by the auto makers.

Leadership is More Than Profit(with Margaret Blair)
The Huffington Post, September 2008

Discusses the fundamental social function of corporations and how the shift in corporate purpose from the stakeholder to the shareholder model has led to stagnant wages and increasing inequality.

Testimony to the Committee on Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, U.S. House of Representatives
May 2008

This testimony discusses the fundamental social function of corporations and how the shift in corporate purpose from the stakeholder to the shareholder model has led to stagnant wages and increasing inequality.

Testimony to the Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives
June 2007