Every so often as I travel past Shea Stadium, I pass one of the colossal New York Times facilities. Hailing from the Midwest, I can attest to how the mammoth size of these plants equals and, in many cases, dwarfs the factories in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit.
The drawings of the Times’s future $550 million West Side corporate headquarters unveil a superstructure more opulent than the corporate offices of just about any Midwest manufacturer. Undoubtedly the Times and its liberal acolytes are comfortable, indeed proud, of their numerous sprawling complexes.
This is ironic given that liberal America, and the establishment newspaper and media outlets that advance its message, have demonized American corporations as the root of so many of our nation’s problems. We went to Iraq, they say, to enrich corporations, and our health care is expensive, and our environment polluted owing to corporations.
Indeed, the Kerry duet, with thunderous applause from Democrat-convention delegates, boastfully finger-pointed not only at oil and drug companies but “those” corporations which, according to Kerry and colleagues, “do not pay their fair share of taxes.” One would think they are Kerry’s version of President Bush’s “axis of evil.”
Paramount’s recent adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate is yet another in a never-ending series of Hollywood films depicting the “dangers” lurking behind Corporate America. But what is Paramount itself if not an Inc.? Evidently, in the liberal view, there are good corporations and bad ones.
Those “excessive” profits we always hear about cannot be what places a particular company on the black list, for, when looking at 2004’s first-half net income, the East Coast New York Times earnings of $134 million is six times that of Halliburton’s $22 million, located in Texas. Yet nary a complaint about the Times profits, while when in liberal precincts, a cocktail guest need only utter the simple word “Halliburton” and all concur with knowing, fraternal disgust.
Diebold, Inc. of Canton, Ohio, a steel-lock manufacturer, whose CEO supports Republican candidates, has been pounded this year by liberals as “one of those corporations.” Yet this Midwest manufacturer’s first-half net income is a paltry $72 million compared to Disney’s $1.23 billion. Some superstar actors and producers match Diebold’s net!
Apparently, the good corporations are those that liberals either own, lead, or that pay their salaries. To name a few: computers, software, internet-related, media and publishing, entertainment, marketing, financial/investments services, apparel and, of course, trial lawyers. Liberal elites, and their children, are more likely to work in or own these services. As they often hint, this is where the smart and socially responsible people are–an updated version of their characterization of themselves as “the best and the brightest” when on campus during the 60s and 70s.
The old-line manufacturers they do not control, that do not attract and employ liberal elitists nor deliver the liberal message, and are located in certain regions of the country, are the Bad Ones. They are: oil, steel, mining, certain drug companies, beef, heavy machinery, utilities, autos, “male” recreationaries, forestry. Those on the Upper East Side and Santa Monica do not make their living logging, oil-rigging, or dressing steer carcasses.
Prior to the 80s, corporations and profits were reviled by student elitists. Now that they have grown into and endorse commerce–indeed, lead much of it–they have separated business categories along lines that allow them to retain their self-vaunted status as, always, “better.” Many are now found among the recently announced “200 John Kerry Business Supporters.”
This division by today’s elitists as to what constitutes good or bad, itself a form of haute discrimination, is more than the perennial old-line vs. new-line or, in this case, pre-80s vs. post-80s. It goes even beyond the construct of what “we”–liberals–control vs. what “they” control. It is a value judgment based on who “we” are. Because our politics is liberal we are better people, and consequently the businesses we choose to lead or work in are ipso facto the most enlightened and worthwhile.
There is something unusually selfish in those who do not see the value, necessity, and social complexities inherent in industries labeled by the anointed as “socially irresponsible”–though they benefit from these products daily. This may be the first time in U.S. history that an attitudinal referendum toward money-making has been predicated on the sense of superiority born of one’s politics.
Bygone blue-collar Democrats and their leaders, such as Harry Truman and Hubert Humphrey, were regular people. Their type no longer controls the Democrat party. Current leadership and behind-the-scenes shakers are of a different breed. Today’s Democrat liberal elites imbibe and exude a classism that telegraphs that in whatever world we choose to participate, be it business or politics, we are the moral high ground, simply because of who we are, because we espouse a neo-socialist political outlook. Only “ours” is good.
That what is ours determines acceptability is best illustrated when listening to liberals deride the 80s as “the decade of greed.” If so, the 90s were surely an even greater decade of greed and speculative frenzy! Obviously, whereas profits made during the Reagan decade constituted greed–bad-money–profit during “our” decade, the Clinton years, is good money.
Truth be told, the 80s was not a period of greed but of genuine growth. The stocks of the more traditional Dow Jones companies that boomed during the 80s are down only about 15-20 percent from their highs, and remain robust.
Contrast this with the speculative Internet bubble of the 90s which culminated in an historic wipeout. Yet no indictment of the 90s as a decade of greed has been forthcoming. In other words, these were politically correct companies from Democrat-heavy Silicon Valley. No “evil” there. Ironically, liberals hailed the profits of the 90s as reason to continue its administration–through the election of Al Gore.
Beyond that, there is a liberal intellectual pompousness that pontificates that money earned by Republican individuals and corporations, and tax revenues received during a Republican administration, will not be spent “correctly.” However, tax revenues collected during a Democrat administration will be allocated “wisely” and money made by the “responsible” class, or by their businesses, and will be used for noble and compassionate projects.
There is a curious prism through which many liberal journalists and Hollywood types look at “out-of-favor” corporations. Listening to them, one would believe there is no intrinsic value to these companies except to provide jobs. Its particular product and very existence as a manufacturer of goods is viewed as secondary, almost unnecessary. Even oil!
But to their own product, which is the proliferation of the liberal message, they ascribe intrinsic importance, regardless if it creates jobs or not. They are convinced that, unlike other industries, what they in the media and Hollywood do is in itself entirely for the social good. Thus their self-righteousness and willingness to be paid the kind of mind-boggling salaries they find unacceptable when given to industrial CEOs.
Exorbitant trial-lawyer fees that generally provide meager pay-offs to class-action plaintiffs are never criticized by media types inasmuch as they, too, are perceived as enhancing the social good by going after the “terrible” corporations. Besides, through romanticized trial lawyers, Democrats reach into the pockets of those out-of-favor corporations that may not normally donate to them. The selective corporate attacks by Democrats and their media allies is an unexpressed election strategy.
But the self-righteous rarely revisit their sins, nor correct the falsehoods they propagate.
How many small community hospitals have been shut down, competent doctors railroaded out of their practice, and businesses and jobs shut down forever because of trial lawyers? Not to mention the damaged reputations and lives of those with conservative beliefs the media have set out to destroy. Hollywood may consider itself “green,” but it has polluted the mental and social environment.
Political self-righteousness never demands introspection, and leads to “the end justifies the means.” It is dangerous. Of Michael Moore’s propagandary, Fahrenheit 911, while columnist Paul Krugman of the New York Times concedes that, in many regards, it is misleading and inaccurate, the “need” to expose President Bush overrides the usual requisite for factual truth. A neo-Com need only answer to his political agenda, not classical virtue.
To be sure, many wealthy liberal pretenders who condemn certain corporations do so as a way of assuaging their guilt and turning the wealth-spotlight away from them. For example, as in John Edwards’s distortion: “Two Americas.” They criticize not despite their wealth but precisely because of it. They have proven they can successfully do this without impairing their own grandiose lifestyle. But as in Orwell’s Animal Farm, they are themselves the epitome of what they criticize.
History is still open as to what constitutes the greatest danger to society, the middle class, and traditional institutions. Is it an elitist class who sees in social engineering the answer to its hunger for self-purpose, control, and alleviation of guilt? Or is it the smugness of those who feel that whatever they do is correct and moral because of the liberalism they espouse, because of who they are?
Such self-righteousness and arrogance spawn a cult of personality, a class that sees itself above regular law. Its law is power, purchased through its own colossal wealth.
–Rabbi Aryeh Spero is host of the radio talk show Talking Sense with Rabbi Aryeh Spero and president of Caucus for America.