The political fusion of large corporations and government is a threat to our country

The political fusion of large corporations and government is a threat to our country

by
Fred Birnbaum
July 15, 2021
Fred Birnbaum
July 15, 2021

The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI) held its annual meeting in McCall last month, with the keynote lunchtime policy item on the agenda: diversity, equity, and inclusion. What a tragic turn for what used to be a respected organization. But this is becoming normal for large companies, such as those IACI serves. 

I spent 25 years in corporate America. During that time, most business executives sought to avoid controversial political issues, except for those specific to their industries. For example, logging on public lands was both controversial and important to the packaging, paper, and wood products industry I worked in. However, you didn’t find Boise Cascade taking a position on something like abortion. But now, American companies are doing everything they can to show support for the leftitst rhetoric of social justice.

As a corporate veteran, I had a lot of exposure to diversity initiatives. As a plant manager, the notion of having a largely Hispanic workforce in Southern California with an all Caucasian management team didn’t speak to the very American view that you can work your way up from the factory floor. Still, I’d just as soon be fired for promoting someone into management just because of race. I’d likewise be fired for overlooking a qualified job candidate because of their race. The best managers ultimately seek out the best people and put them in the positions that are the right fit for employer and employee. Meritocracy benefits employees, employers, shareholders, and customers. In my experience, diversity simply meant opening opportunities for everyone - not promoting equity of outcomes. 

What it means today, however, is different. At a minimum, a lot of navel-gazing about the Left’s rewritten narrative about America. At worst, it’s corporate embracement of Black Lives Matters and credence to the phony charge that “systemic racism” shaped our nation. 

Critical race theory (CRT), the shift to “equity” of outcomes, cannot be compatible with the long-preached corporate view of a meritocracy based on carefully refined performance evaluation systems. How can performance reviews be of value, if the remedy for past discrimination is to openly embrace discrimination against whites in the parlance of CRT advocates?

This corporate genuflecting — bending to a cause of the political party or movement that seems to enjoy wide support — has historic precedence, and it’s not a good one. Germany and Italy embraced a political and economic model that was called fascism in the 1930s. For example, the German industrial conglomerate IG Farben actively supported the Third Reich. Business interests openly supported or even turned a blind eye to those regimes, and many prospered from government favoritism until WWII ended. 

Today, companies like Google and Twitter limit the speech of their favored candidates’ political opponents. They act as a powerful force multiplier for big government, the party in power, or the one they hope to put in power. Now, companies are celebrating segregationist policies, becoming a force multiplier for government efforts to divide America.   

IACI’s foray into diversity, equity, and inclusion means its members are dividing Idahoans into victims and oppressors according to skin color and other demographic factors. Many corporate leaders would bristle at this characterization, believing they are just creating a more inviting work environment that reflects some notion of fairness. But ask yourself a simple question: How exactly do you create a more diverse workforce and ensure equity of outcomes with respect toward race or gender in a national political environment that openly demonizes white people and American history? Are corporate leaders really going to thread the needle between President Joe Biden’s declaration of systemic racism and hazy notions of a softer version of social justice?

Corporate leaders won’t benefit from the rhetoric that serves leftist politicians who gain power from the divisive rhetoric. It does not serve businesses, which ought to be concerned with hiring the best people, regardless of their race or gender.

View Comments
  • Al says:

    The comment about "equity of outcomes" signifies a misconception and, thus misinformation, about many programs based on the theory of "equity". Most programs I've encountered under equitable princioles are based on equity of treatment, not equity of outcomes.
    And therein lies the basis for IFF over-generalizing equity programs as somehow a part of CRT, which is an entirely different thing.
    "Equity" is an honorable word and honorable basis to treat someone. Who would deny that, right?
    But far-right conservatives all too often dont scrutinize the way in which the word equity is being used, in corporate America or in schools.

  • john livingston says:

    Critical theory and the term equity have their origins dating back more than 400 years. As the King's Courts evolved cases were heard as Common Law Cases in which the body of precedents and laws were applied to the case. The second type of case could be heard in which a remedy to the parties could be constructed. Until recently in the case of Florida, there were separate courts of Law and Equity. In most states, judges hear both cases. though Family Court is considered an Equity Court. Most contract cases are heard before the law and most divorce cases are cases in equity to which a remedy is applied. Equity is a term that has been hijacked and used for political purposes. Concepts like "all men are created equal" and "equality before the law" have nothing to do with equal outcomes or the distribution of talents or wealth or property. Terms like fairness and justice when used in a political context are a very slippery slope when there is an implied legal connotation. J. F. Gaskill once opined that "you either get too much justice or too little justice and what the judge or jury says at the end of the day is what matters no matter what you call it". Words like justice, equity, and fairness when used interchangeably do nothing to further an argument. The foundations for critical race theory lack a foundation in logic. I'll let the lawyers decide what the law says or if there is a basis for remedy. Maybe if we were all more merciful none of this would matter.

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