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Jul-18-2006 22:20printcomments

Op Ed:
Economic Pressures
Force Business Return
To Social Responsibility

Oregon Damages Demand CSR-Action vs “Confrontation”.

Painting by artist Fernando Casas depicts greed, could this component of business practice become a thing of yesterday?
Photo courtesy:

(SALEM) - Economic impacts on “essential middle” Americans inescapably multiplies pressure on business leaders. They must now reverse the widespread corporate sabotage of social responsibilities honored since our first Revolution. Special reports in FORTUNE Magazine, seeking action in every state by local leaders, declare: “Corporate America needs a new play-book”; then spells out why “rules are changing” radically and rapidly, driven by desperate “short-term greed”. ` Here’s their description of one report: “THE NEW RULES” “In executive suites across the country, a dramatic rethinking is underway about fundamental assumptions that long defined American business.” (FORTUNE 7/14/06) Eight FORTUNE-pages explain WHY, pointing inexorably to return of long-traditional social responsibility as the bedrock business-principle NOW. The week-before special report is: “THE REAL CEO PAY PROBLEM” described thus: “Voters are outraged. Big investors are demanding change. Even some CEOs admit there’s a crisis. But rewards that defy all economic logic don’t simply spring from greed. Corporate America’s executive-compensation system is broken.” Don’t miss the scathingly-revealing full-page chart documenting CEO top-pay 785 times the average worker in 2000; down to a mere 350 times in 2004; but still with a median of 104. That’s “on the average” pay-bite perpetrated-then. (FORTUNE 7/10/06) “Corporate Social Responsibility” is the strong 20-year trend to which this leadership-bewailing of dangerous and damaging negative-impacts is the most recent reaction. CSR is shorthand/defined as: “triple bottom-line thinking”. I.e., financial, environmental AND social responsibility bottom lines, considered unequivocally and mutually. Leading corporations for many years invoked all three, well -motivated by the two-Roosevelt attack, from Teddy and Franklin D. (See TIME 7/3/06) For many, CSR-meaning is best exemplified with that single key-word:”Enron” That will communicate precisely what it is NOT. (Sometimes definition by designation of “NOT”-characteristics is rapidly and completely more communicative than any other way.) This Enron-record and its hard consequences have proven deeply damaging; are still desperately at stake nationally; and are very well-understood in Oregon. PGE hosted some of the Enron actions. We “know full well” about Enron consequences. Ask any Enron-pensioned employee, at any level. We await return of pilfered tax-payments by PGE-collection. We're still awaiting "clarification" for classic stop-action legislation then-demanded, with the PUC wrestling with "the next big one" now. We retain lowest corporate-tax “payment” in the nation, still protected by an invaluable “kicker”. “Invaluable” to whom ? You know well who REALLY gets refunds in volume, while we get “minimal bribes with our own money”. FORTUNE provides provocative, potent reasons-why for return to rationality, with deepened demand for corporate responsibilities prevailing ever since our first Revolution. The major cause-cited in this THIRD one from FORTUNE is --you must have guessed-- what the Internet and other cooperative/connectedness components are making of our world. It's in the same one as the report re CEO-salary “perpetration”, titled "LIFE IN A CONNECTED WORLD". Here’s the description: “The Internet is old news. But its 700 million users are changing business and society so fast that it’s sometimes hard to keep up. And the revolution is only just beginning.” Then it supplies solid rationale drawn from overwhelming authoritative sources. (“See with your own eyes” to appreciate and understand; PDF-format available on request.) Consequential quotes carry the essence for us here: “The changes the Internet is bringing about are every bit as profound as previous historic milestones in the evolution of society --like the Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution.” And, “...citizens can collectively create a compelling enough document to force the nation’s political powers to respond.” “In a more connected world, people know where they stand in the economic pecking order. They can see how poor they are in relation to others --and how much richer others are. Now strategies to create greater global equality can no longer be ignored. That’s life in a connected world.” (Articles-cited are among many in major magazines such as BUSINESS WEEK and THE NATION; documentation on request.) Oregon’s business leaders need close attention to Corporate Social Responsibilities, now, preparing for “confrontation or consensus” when combatants return to the Salem “arena”. (CSR demands exploration in depth here soon.) They’ll find significant suggestion in The OREGONIAN (7/16, Editorial) describing reinvestment in education supporting first-years in school: “The state could cover all of the operating costs of running voluntary full-day kindergarten for roughly $50 million a year, or less than 2 percent of the state’s current yearly education budget. “A small increase in Oregon’s minimum corporate income tax, stuck at $10 since 193l, could help fund this investment.” Quite obviously (“1931 --!!!”) corporate “leaders” have NOT been listening to ANYone for a very long time... Presumably too busy piling up all that pelf made possible by appointment-manipulation of the corporate Board of Directors.


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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