Frank Bruni, a professional newspaper columnist who—unfortunately, given his chosen profession—has not had a single good idea in the past five years, continues that proud streak today. In spectacular fashion!
Corporations. Do you love them? Hate them? A controversial topic, for reductive idiots. The only thing that we can say for sure is that Frank Bruni was, again, searching in quiet desperation for anything to write about as his deadline drew ever nearer, and improbably settled on this thesis: corporations are not so bad after all—but for the most fatuous reasons!
In the dire prophecies of science-fiction writers and the fevered warnings of left-wing activists, big corporations will soon rule the earth — or already do.
Fine with me.
They’ve been great on the issue of the Confederate flag. Almost immediately after the fatal shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., several prominent corporate leaders, including the heads of Walmart and Sears, took steps to retire the banner as a public symbol of the South; others made impassioned calls for that.
If you are thinking to yourself, “I dearly hope that these introductory paragraphs are nothing more than a setup for the intellectual twist in this column, at which time Frank Bruni will make a more morally coherent point,” I have bad news for you. Frank Bruni is simply taking up a section of the New York Times op-ed page to say that not just corporations themselves, but corporate control of our society is not so bad. And why? Well... because corporations understand basic PR?
Are these companies acting in their own interests? Absolutely. They’re trying to make sure that laws and local customs don’t prevent them from attracting and retaining the best work force. They’re burnishing their brands in a manner that they hope will endear them to customers.
But those efforts, coupled with whatever genuine altruism and civic obligation some corporate leaders feel, have produced compelling recent examples of companies showing greater sensitivity to diversity, social justice and the changing tides of public sentiment than lawmakers often manage to.
Corporations aren’t paralyzed by partisan bickering. They’re not hostage to a few big donors, a few loud interest groups or some unyielding ideology.
Corporations favor immigration reform and oppose wacko boycott-inducing racist or sexist laws, because they choose their positions based solely on what will benefit their business. To Frank Bruni, this means that corporations are not hostage to “a few big donors.” Wrong! Corporations are hostage to a few big shareholders. Frank Bruni thinks that corporations are not beholden to “a few loud interest groups.” Wrong! Those interest groups are corporate executives and hedge funds. Frank Bruni imagines that corporations do not operate according to “some unyielding ideology.” Wrong! Their ideology is the most unyielding one of all: money above everything.
Frank Bruni goes on and on, applauding Amazon for its gay marriage support, Starbucks for its inane race-talk project, and—this is true—a software company for providing “free tickets to ‘Selma’ for American schoolchildren.” Frank Bruni is the only man in American that corporate PR projects actually work on. It is regrettable, then, that he happens to be a professional member of the media.
The list goes on. And while it doesn’t erase the damage that corporations wreak on the environment or their exploitation of workers paid too little, it does force you to admit that corporations aren’t always the bad guys. Sometimes the bottom line matches the common good, and they’re the agents of what’s practical, wise and even right.
Gee, corporations are heartless capitalist machines designed to maximize profit above all human concerns, and are the primary drivers of inequality on earth. But sometimes their need for positive public relations causes them to do something not bad—like buy movie tickets for kids. Therefore...... ??????????????
Anyone who has ever had a credit card has a better understanding of corporations’ role in society than does Frank Bruni—professional columnist at America’s most prestigious newspaper.
Frank, you dolt.