Is Corporate America Selling Out Our Country?
Within hours of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt began summoning the heads of American industry to Washington. Roosevelt knew the country would need an unprecedented buildup of planes, ships, and other war materiel. Without hesitation, American companies responded. Ford, Packard, Chrysler, 3M, Hormel, General Mills, Pillsbury, Cargill, Boeing, and many other major U.S. companies gave their all to the war effort. At Roosevelt's request, the president of General Motors even left his company to oversee the war production effort as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army. Roosevelt's initial request for 50,000 new airplanes per year was openly mocked by the Germans as outlandishly high and impossible to achieve. But the mighty U.S. industrial base roared to life and pulled it off. By war's end, the United States was producing 100,000 warplanes a year. U.S. industry literally transformed itself to save our country. It's fair to wonder if our current CEOs would do the same.
Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel brought this issue to light recently when he accused Google of "seemingly treasonous" behavior for cozying up to the communist Chinese government. Amazingly, Google has been working on a censored search engine: Project Dragonfly, built for the Chinese government and designed to keep the Chinese people from seeing the free flow of information. At the same time, Google refused to work with the U.S. military. Thiel suggested that the FBI and CIA should investigate Google, which seems like a good place to start. More broadly, though, can we really call Google an American company?
Think tanks are supposed to be independently analyzing and commenting on our policies. But who do you think funds the think tanks in Washington? Corporate America dominates in this sphere as well. When they want a new law or to stop a law or regulation they don't like, these companies go even further, hiring public relations firms and ad agencies to convince us of their positions. All of this is a multibillion-dollar business.