Category Archives: corporations

More on Swift’s illegals

In an earlier post, I had asked if Swift would be held responsible for financial support to the families of their deported workers. Without such support, these families will be forced to rely on tax-funded social services.

Last night the Newshour on PBS aired a report on the effect of the deportations to those families and the town of Greeley, Colorado. Even in a fairly in-depth report like this, there is no mention of the likely penalty Swift will be assessed, or of any cost to the company at all, except to say that the company is now offering hiring bonuses for replacement workers.

Likewise in Sunday’s Denver Post piece.

Three weeks before the ICE raids, on November 28th, Swift, apparently being told in advance of the raids, asked a court to stop any enforcement action, which the court refrained to do. Swift also asked, if the raids were to take place, that the company be held blameless for any violations because they had participated in the government’s “Basic Pilot Program” and had relied on it to screen out any illegals. An acknowledged flaw of the Program is its inability to detect if a stolen identity is being used. Of the 261 workers arrested in Greeley, 22 are charged with using stolen identities.

In denying Swift an injunction against the raids and/or charges resulting from them, the court also refuted Swift’s contention that the raids themselves are “a de facto penalty” because, the company claimed, they cause the company a “disruption of business and economic damages.” The court observed:

“The testimony that Federal Trade Commission reports show that 331 Swifts employees have used false identities to the harm of other citizens, 170 of which still work at Swift, is evidence that grant of the requested injunction would harm the public’s interest in quickly catching such criminals, swiftly breaking up any rings which cause or contribute to such harm, and minimize continuing damages to innocent citizens.”

I cannot imagine that a company could knowingly employ identified illegal aliens without having charges pressed against it. But that’s what Swift did, apparently thinking itself above the law.

In addition to any legal penalties, I really think Swift should pony up to help out the affected families, not only because failure to do so dumps the costs onto the taxpayer, but also because some of these workers have been at Swift ten years without any indication from the company that either their employment or their freedom was imperiled — a de facto entrapment, offering a steady job to people who do not know the law and cannot speak the language, and are desperate to work. If these people thought the company was protecting them, were they wrong to believe that? Because it certainly does seem that the company was shielding them from deportation.

In the end, it is probably only the illegals and their families who will pay a significant penalty. Swift will get a slap on the wrist, as I am sure they are expecting, especially given the fact that they brazenly employed 170 known identity thieves. Maybe despite the raids, it is still business as usual.


Soothing Summers

Lawrence Summers wrote this last week in the Los Angeles Times.  Title and subtitle are:

Calming an anxious middle class

The incoming Congress will need to pursue policies that promote more economic fairness without hindering globalization.”

Speaking of the growing disillusionment of the middle class with their dwindling economic prospects and the new Congress’ cognizance of that displeasure, Summers warns corporate managers to beware of a populist backlash. He says:

“These economic and political trends should be of great concern to the business community as well as to policymakers in Washington. They will continue to lead to any number of populist proposals that cut against the grain of the market system, such as limiting free-trade agreements, restricting outsourcing or blocking the ability of successful companies to expand.

But the track record of populist economic policies has been dismal — they rarely achieve their objectives but incur huge collateral costs. Policymakers forget at their peril that globalization has enabled the U.S. economy to enjoy the very favorable combination of low unemployment and low inflation, and that without open markets, product prices would be rising much faster than they are, making living standards even worse for middle-class families.”

I’m no economist, but that last line, “making living standards even worse for middle-class families” sounds like a damning indictment of a professedly good economy.

If the “grain of the market system” is such that the great majority of citizens are suffering for it, then why wouldn’t  Congress want to do some targeted surgery, specifically, “limiting free-trade agreements, (and) restricting outsourcing”? Are they not derelict if they do not act?
I have no idea why he thinks economic populists want to block the expansion of successful companies. That’s just bizarrely paranoid.  And demonizing as well.

If, according to Summers, “populists” are the middle class who want a reinvigorated manufacturing sector, and who recognize that some market protections may be necessary to achieve that, then are the corporate barons who oppose them “elitests”?

ICE is Swift-boated

Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t it seem that the national broadcast media is treating the Swift Meatpacking Co. with incredible delicacy?? With kid gloves? Over the last couple of days much has been said about the difficulty of screening out illegals with fake i.d’s when doing hiring checks, but Swift hired at least 1282 illegals, and tipped off possibly thousands of others to the coming ICE raid. One thousand two hundred and eighty-two separate instances of breaking the law, and this slaughterhouse gets sympathy from big media??? Flagrant obstruction of a law enforcement action, and they deserve our charitable understanding of their sensitive predicament?

Swift is a corporation and has all the presumptive rights of any other citizen of this country, including a presumption of innocence. But imagine if a single mother of three, say, has been audited by the I.R.S. and determined to have committed 1282 separate instances of tax fraud. Would the media treat her with the deference they are showing Swift? Will the media accord the accused Swift workers, many of whom are the sole support of their families, as much deference as they have the company that profited by their labor?

Maybe I am making too much of this. But let me put it graphically, and let an asterisk represent each of the 1282 workers arrested at Swift:

************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************ *******

Each asterisk is a working adult, most likely the primary or sole support of a family. Should Swift be ordered to pay reparations to the families each deported worker leaves behind? Or should taxpayers be on the hook for the social services these families will now need?

Nobel Peace winner promotes heirloom corporate charters

The economist and Grameen bank founder Dr. Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize today. He won because he rejected accepted business practice and made entrepreneurs of the poorest people in the most impoverished of countries. In his acceptance speech he criticized the corporate-centric path to globalization.

He warned that the globalized economy was becoming a dangerous ‘free-for-all highway’… ‘Its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies,’ Dr. Yunus said… He called for legal recognition of a new category of corporation that would be neither profit-maximizing nor nonprofit. It would be a ‘social business,’ like Grameen Bank, the Dhaka-based microcredit institution he started 30 years ago.” (New York Times)

In other words, corporations chartered to engage in business for the public good. For the first hundred or so years of the U.S., corporations were commonly chartered for very specific purposes, building a bridge for example, and dechartered when the bridge was completed. There are a lot of people who would like to bring that type of corporation back into being, Dr. Yunus among them. A lot of people would also like to recharter existing corporations to emphasize their responsibility to conduct their business in such a way that it is, in fact, a “public good.”

A radical concept, conceivably capable of making free market capitalism compatible with democratic, egalitarian governance. More on this later.