The awakened left turn of the majority of American companies makes us think of a long headline in the journal: Down With Big Business. That headline on a 1979 editorial came in a decade like this, when prominent corporations accepted an aggressive expansion of government amid political applause.
The editorial noted how big companies like GM signed up for new and costly regulation during the Carter years, much like its CEO advocated wage and price controls in the Nixon administration. “These discoveries are beginning to help us understand why the largest corporations are such unreliable allies in the struggle to maintain a free enterprise economy,” wrote Editor Robert L. Bartley.
Well, here we are again at the same stage, with celebrity CEOs and corporations signing up for all the supposed virtue that progressive government has to offer. The papers on access to voting received the most attention, although it is remarkable how free of fact most of these notes are. They float above the chaotic but crucial details of electoral politics because they are essentially declarations of solidarity. They want to be on the side of right (um, left) thinking, or at least their 20-year-old employees and consumers.
However, you don’t have to dive too deep into politics to see what’s really going on: old-fashioned self-interest. CEOs know Democrats are in power, so they want to make sure they stay on the good side of government that can hurt them. If that means discarding principles in order to create a politically safe space for their business, so be it.
Take approval from Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, for a higher corporate tax rate. For years, even decades, we listened to the titans of commerce telling us that they need a lower tax rate to stay competitive. But only three years after receiving their request, Mr. Bezos lets everyone know that he is involved in the Biden tax program.