During the recent debates, Democratic presidential candidates appeared united in identifying the biggest domestic threat (after President Trump) facing America: large corporations.
“So, we’ve had an industrial policy in the United States for decades now, and it’s basically been let giant corporations do whatever they want to do,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. “Giant corporations have exactly one loyalty, and that is to profits.”
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said, “Right now, we have a system that favors those who can pay for access and outcomes. That’s how you explain an economy that is rigged to corporations and to the very wealthiest.”
And New York Mayor Bill De Blasio added, “For all the American citizens out there who feel you're falling behind or feel the American dream is not working for you, the immigrants didn't do that to you … the big corporations did that to you.”
While Democrats may think big corporations killed the American Dream, millions of Americans seem to think that large corporations have made the American Dream possible.
None of the candidates defined a large corporation — which could be measured by the number of employees, total revenue or some type of composite ranking. So, we’ll consider various options.
With respect to the number of employees, Walmart is the largest employer— 2.3 million employees. Famously frugal, Walmart is at the low end of the pay scale — which is one of the Democrats’ greatest complaints — but it has nonetheless been a godsend to small communities where jobs are often scarce and prices high.
Walmart’s presence in a community addresses both problems: It employs millions of people, especially in lower-income rural areas, and its lowest-price policy has helped low-income families stretch their dollars.
As a general principle, you can have high wages or you can have low prices, but you can’t have both.
On the other hand, if by large corporation Democrats mean very profitable companies, then we might consider Amazon, Google (i.e., Alphabet), Facebook and Apple. Are they robbing people of the American Dream?
LinkedIn’s “2018 Top Companies List” identified Amazon, with 566,000 employees worldwide, as the most attractive U.S. company to work for. It provides a range of jobs, from blue collar to executive, and pays very well with excellent benefits.
I know people who thought their shot at the American Dream had arrived when they were offered a blue-collar job at Amazon.
Alphabet, Facebook and Apple came in second, third and sixth, respectively, on LinkedIn’s list.
Both FedEx (336,000 employees) and UPS (335,000 employees) are listed among the largest U.S. employers, and both provide thousands of high-paying jobs for blue-collar workers who can’t or don’t want to be office dwellers.
And let’s not overlook the oil and natural gas producing companies. ExxonMobil, for example, employees about 71,000 people. The energy industry is one of the highest-paying employers. Blue-collar workers in the fields can make in the six figures, which crushes Democrats’ “fight for $15” minimum-wage campaign.
Many Americans would jump at the chance to work for these innovative, high-paying companies that Democrats apparently believe are shattering the American Dream.
As for O’Rourke’s assertion that large companies are paying for access, it is certainly true that many companies and industries hire lobbyists to roam the halls of Congress. But often that is to counter the efforts of anti-business politicians and organizations who work to pass counterproductive and even punitive laws that would undermine a company or industry. In other words, in many cases companies are playing defense, not offence.
The Democratic presidential candidates seem to think government is the source of economic prosperity. A bigger government (run by them) means more prosperity for Americans — especially the poor and middle class.
While the U.S. Constitution set up a system that makes the American Dream possible, it’s private sector companies, not Washington, that make it obtainable. An American Dream imposed by Washington would soon become an American nightmare.
Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews.