In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

For 50 years–1920 to 1970–organized crime flourished throughout the United States.   Individual Mafiosi were sometimes arrested, tried and even convicted, but there was no national effort made to attack organized crime on a comprehensive basis.

Then, in 1970, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).  It provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

RICO focuses specifically on racketeering, and allows for the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to carry out.   This closed a loophole that allowed the man who ordered a murder to be exempt from prosecution because he didn’t commit it.

The result has been the shutting down of  thousands of  criminal networks.

Yet when it comes to recognizing–let alone combating–the crimes of major corporations, America remains mired in the same mindset that long handicapped law enforcement agencies trying to combat the Mafia.

The most powerful men in the Democratic and Republican parties know that millions of willing-to-work Americans are still desperately searching for employment.  And they also know that U.S. corporations are still refusing to hirewhile they sit on nearly $2 trillion in cash.  

Yet not one of these officials has the courage to step forward and propose a realistic, workable solution for it.

Republicans, of course, have trotted out their knee-jerk solution to unemployment:  Give even greater tax breaks to mega-rich corporations.  And this has been tried–time and again.

But this has not persuaded corporations to stop “outsourcing” jobs or start hiring Americans in significant numbers.

While hugely overpaid CEOs squander corporate wealth on gifts for themselves or their mistresses, millions of Americans can’t afford medical care or must depend on charity to feed their families.

But America can end this national disaster–and embarrassment.

The solution lies in remembering that the powerful never voluntarily surrender their privileges.  Americans did not win their freedom from Great Britain–-and its enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of kings”-–by begging for their rights.

And Americans will not win their freedom from their corporate masters–-and the equally enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of employers”-–by begging for the right to work and support themselves and their families.

A policy based only on concessions–such as endless tax breaks for hugely profitable corporations and their disgracefully overpaid CEOs–is a policy of appeasement.

And appeasement only whets the appetite of those appeased for even greater concessions.

It is, in short,well past time to hold wealthy and powerful corporations accountable for their socially and financially irresponsible acts.

This solution can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act.

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, an ERA would ensure full-time, permanent and productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.

And it would achieve this without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.

An Employers Responsibility Act would simultaneously address the following evils for which employers are directly responsible:

• The loss of jobs within the United States owing to companies’ moving their operations abroad—solely to pay substandard wages to their new employees.
• The mass firings of employees which usually accompany corporate mergers or acquisitions.
• The widespread victimization of part-time employees, who are not legally protected against such threats as racial discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.
• The refusal of many employers to create better than menial, low-wage jobs.
• The widespread employer practice of extorting “economic incentives” from cities or states in return for moving to or remaining in those areas. Such “incentives” usually absolve employers from complying with laws protecting the environment and/or workers’ rights.
• The refusal of many employers to provide medical and pension benefits—nearly always in the case of part-time employees, and, increasingly, for full-time, permanent ones as well.
• Rising crime rates, due to rising unemployment.

The provisions of a nationwide Employers Responsibility Act would include—but not be limited to—the following:

(1) American companies that close plants in the United States and open others abroad would be forbidden to sell products made in those foreign plants within the United States.

This would protect both American and foreign workers from employers seeking to profit at their expense. American workers would be ensured of continued employment. And foreign laborers would be protected against substandard wages and working conditions.

Companies found violating this provision would be subject to Federal criminal prosecution. Guilty verdicts would result in heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment for their owners and top managers.

(2) Large companies (those employing more than 100 persons) would be required to create entry-level training programs for new, future employees.

These would be modeled on programs now existing for public employees, such as firefighters, police officers and members of the armed services. Such programs would remove the employer excuse, “I’m sorry, but we can’t hire you because you’ve never had any experience in this line of work.” After all, the Air Force has never rejected an applicant because, “I’m sorry, but you’ve never flown a plane before.”

This Nation has greatly benefited from the humane and professional efforts of the men and women who have graduated from public-sector training programs. There is no reason for the private sector to shun programs that have succeeded so brilliantly for the public sector.

(3) Employers would receive tax credits for creating professional, well-paying, full-time jobs.

This would encourage the creation of better than the menial, dead-end, low-paying and often part-time jobs which exist in the service industry. Employers found using such tax credits for any other purpose would be prosecuted for tax fraud.

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