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26 October 2001

It's Time to Ask Our "Borderless" Corporations: What Side Are You On?

Wow, this column by William Greider is on the mark, and asks insightful and relevant questions that are going unposed in the mainstream media. You passionate conservatives that attacked Clinton for cozy China relations ignore facts regarding your right wing leadership enabling and supporting Boeing to move airplane construction to China and Citibank to launder money for wealthy autocrats.

A recent New York Times headline asked an insinuating question: "After the Attacks, Which Side Is the Left On?" The Times should find the nerve to put the same question to the major players of business and finance. Which side is Citigroup on? Or General Electric and Boeing? Where does loyalty reside for those American corporations that have rebranded themselves as "global firms"? Our resurgence of deeply felt patriotism, with official assurances that Americans are all-in-this-together, raises the same question. At a deeper level, the patriotic sense of unity collides with familiar assumptions advanced by the architects and cheerleaders of corporate globalization. The nation-state has been eclipsed, they explain, and no longer has the power to determine its own destiny. The national interest, they assert, now lies in making the world safe for globalizing commerce and capital.

In these threatening times, such claims sound suddenly unpersuasive. Frightened citizens turn naturally to their government for security--the original purpose of the nation-state--and business enterprises do the same. The global corporation, however, intends to have it both ways: American first when that serves its interest, but otherwise aloof from mere nationality. Since these companies are busy waving the flag at the moment, one needs to recall how they described themselves during the past decade, as they dispersed production worldwide and planted their logos in many distant lands. "The United States does not have an automatic call on our resources," a Colgate-Palmolive executive once explained. "There is no mindset that puts this country first."

The much-admired CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, portrayed GE as a "borderless company," and he brutally enforced the logic. When GE wanted additional cost savings on turbines, jet engines and appliances, it told its US suppliers to pick up and leave, or else--that is, move the jobs to Mexico or other locales where the labor is much cheaper, or GE would find different suppliers. A GE executive in Taiwan once remarked, "The US trade deficit is not the most important thing in my life...running an effective business is."


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12 October 2001

FAA Chief Quits in Protest

Hmm, it looks like federal officials took special steps to protect their own safety when they were demonstrating to the rest of us that it's okay to travel on airplanes. From an AP news report:

The head of security for the Federal Aviation Administration decided to quit after he was told to reassign air marshals to commercial flights carrying members of President Bush's Cabinet, a source with knowledge of the resignation said Thursday.

Michael A. Canavan, named associate administrator for FAA's office of civil aviation security last December, said the marshals had been assigned to other flights that he felt could be more at risk of a hijacking, according to the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Bush administration officials had wanted marshals on the planes carrying Cabinet members, who took commercial flights to demonstrate that air travel was safe and thereby encourage Americans to return to the skies.