Business Roundtable

What is the Business Roundtable?

They're tremendously powerful, they're enormously influential, they've got very deep pockets, and they're working aggressively against the public interest on many fronts, perhaps most notably in working to offshore American jobs and in ensuring that CEO pay become ever more grossly excessive. What is this little-known organization up to, and where did they come from anyway?

(Editor's note:  three out of four of the major search engines censored this page until we called attention to this practice.  They then changed tactics and soft-censored this page by down-ranking it instead.)

Imagine, for a moment, a low-profile but immensely powerful organization with a membership comprised primarily of wealthy CEOs bent on subverting and corrupting the democratic political process in order to attain their own selfish ends. Imagine that these CEOs are vehemently opposed to legislation helping employees, consumers, or the environment, and at the same time are supportive of gigantic monopolies. Imagine that their fondest dream is completely eliminating corporate taxation and shifting the burden to taxpayers instead (their bland euphemism for this wholesale abandonment of social responsibility is "corporate rate reduction"—note the use of the uninformative term "rate" instead of "tax"). Finally, imagine this group taking advantage of everything learned from sixty years of mass marketing to package and sell its agenda.

To Get Their Side of the Story

More repulsive than you'd care to imagine? Okay, you can stop now. You don't have to pretend this organization exists anyway, because, unfortunately, it actually does. Here is its website:

Bribes: How the Business Roundtable Does Business

Before we go too much further, you might want to take a quick detour to look at the following analysis of the BR's political bribes. (By the way, we think the innocuous euphemism "campaign contributions" has no place in any honest political lexicon, and suspect that when the corporate media use this phrase, they do so intentionally to obscure the nature of the problem, partly because they're deeply involved in it themselves):

A Case Study: The Business Roundtable & China

While we're detouring, here's another link to the Center for Responsive Politics which shows how the Business Roundtable typically approaches political issues, in this case trade with China (with which the US now has a massive trade imbalance, and which is now the biggest US creditor):

The Big Picture: What's the Business Roundtable Really Up To?

Of course, it's not surprising to find the BR doling out bribes on issues of trade. But why are a bunch of wealthy CEOs running an influence peddling racket that's also devoted to issues of national security, education, health, and just about any other matter of importance one might name? Here's their answer:

"Established in 1972, the Roundtable was founded in the belief that chief executives of major corporations should take and [sic] increased role in the continuing debates about public policy. The Roundtable believes that the basic interests of business closely parallel the interests of the American people, who are directly involved as consumers, employees, shareholders, and suppliers. Thus, chief executives, although they speak as individuals, have responsibilities, which relate to may [sic] factors--including jobs, products, services, and return on investment--that affect the ecnomic [sic] well being of all Americans. The Business Roundtable wants to promote policies that will lead to sustainable, non-inflationary, long-term growth in the U.S. economy. To promote growth, competitiveness and exports, the United States must create the right environment for American companies at home and abroad."

Fortunately, it's possible to translate this passage from Corporatespeak into English:

"In 1961 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled in favor of employees on the issue of 'outsourcing' (we heads of corporations wanted to dump as many employees as possible and use more disposable and cheaper sources of labor). Since we businessmen were bent on abandoning the social contract with employees, this ruling was deemed intolerable. Major corporations and big corporate law firms pooled resources and created a committee that drafted destructive amendments to labor laws and then urged hearings on issues pertaining to labor. We also worked with the White House and Congress to make new appointments to NLRB. Later, our anti-labor group expanded to become the Business Roundtable. In short, the Business Roundtable was founded in the belief that pro-employee rulings couldn't and shouldn't be tolerated, and that CEOs should dictate public policy in this arena. However, the Roundtable also believes that the basic interests of business diverge at nearly every point from the interests of the American people. The American people are consumers, and should, so far as possible, be deprived of all power to sue for defective products or to file for bankruptcy. The American people are employees, and should be paid as minimally, and with a few benefits, as possible. We should also ensure that the labor market is flooded with as many people as possible who have the skills we want, and we should therefore dictate educational policy. The American people may be shareholders, but they shouldn't be allowed to meddle in corporate governance, the private preserve of we CEOs. The American people are the owners of vast public resources, for which they should be paid little or nothing when those resources are exploited for private profit. Thus, chief executives, although we are individuals who should have no less and no more public influence than any other American, want the lion's share of influence for ourselves on every issue of importance, including such things as jobs, products, services, and return on investment—anything, really, that might affect our already enormously bloated salaries. The Business Roundtable wants to promote policies that adversely affect the economic well-being of all Americans. We want to promote policies that are unsustainable and irresponsible no matter how they affect climate or the environment because we don't want to clean up our own mess and much prefer to externalize those costs . We hate inflation because it benefits debt-holders. We care nothing about the long-term growth of the American economy as we are narrowly focused on short-term gains and will do anything to fatten the appearance of the bottom line, and our own pockets. Moreover, the largest corporations are all multinationals and know no national allegiance anyway (which is why we think nothing of shifting the entire burden of social responsibilities to taxpayers). Therefore, to promote short-term gain, and to further bloat our own salaries, the American people must concede everything to businessmen in a race to the bottom on such matters as compensation, benefits, workplace safety, product liability, the environment, tax law, and anything else that we businessmen want. We call this dangerous, selfish, short-sighted, greedy, irresponsible agenda that is blighting the future of all humanity the creation of the 'right' environment. Right, that is for us—wrong for the rest of humanity."

Of course, translated into English, this looks a little . . . blunt; and this restatement also suffers from the huge disadvantage of corresponding to reality. With an agenda like this, perhaps it isn't surprising that businessmen resort to euphemisms.

Under the circumstances, George Orwell might have been moved to point out that while in this Great American Democracy we're all equal, some are clearly more equal than others.

Much more equal.

If They're so Influential, Why Don't We Ever Hear Anything About the Business Roundtable?

Why do we hear so little about the much more equal BR? (Certainly most people are aware of lobbying groups such as the gun lobby—a far less influential group, and one devoted to but a single issue.)

Well, we certainly aren't kept in the dark about the workings of this corporate coterie because its existence is unknown to the corporate media. Indeed, ties to the media, direct or indirect, are so extensive that the failure of the media to report on the nature and activities of the Business Roundtable can only be intentional. If so, then that's presumably because the disclosure of those ties would be embarrassing.

Well they might be. The proper role of the media in a democracy is to act as a watchdog, especially a watchdog of the typically corrupting influences of the wealthy and powerful. Yet it can hardly perform this function properly when the wealthy and powerful themselves own and pervade the media.

On the other hand, it could be that the media feel it's just not the place of the little people to meddle in the affairs of the titans among us.  Then, too, the individuals conducting the class war against working Americans (and everyone else who works) much prefer to operate in secrecy.

Given the current climate of bribery and corporate CEOs run amok, it's hardly any wonder that these executives think they can get away with mayhem. They've already been doing that for 40 years.

The BR is busily sending American jobs overseas - while simultaneously lining their own pockets.

See also: class warfare, plutocracy, oligarchy, progressivism, and fascism.