Posted by: bkivey | 20 September 2012

Corporate Community Support

Way back on 19 August there was a Letter to the Editor in the local paper of record expressing the writer’s concerns over corporate citizenship. Because of the quirky way the local paper keeps archives, I can’t link to the letter, so I’ll include a scanned image:

I was pleased to see that Ms. Gallagher didn’t engage in the mindless ranting that characterizes so many of these types of missives in the local media. She seems on the way to understanding the relationship between free enterprise and government in a republic, but she’s not quite there. She seems to think that the only meaningful form of community enhancement available to corporations is some form of branded activity.

Let’s take the phrase “. . . how about sponsorship that would be more meaningful in a community-building manner?” She suggests that corporations support and brand what are essentially government services. Corporations, like private citizens, already engage in meaningful community building, in the form of taxes. And make no mistake, the companies she cites pay a lot in local, state, and Federal taxes, not to mention payroll and Medicare taxes on behalf of their employees.  Where does Ms. Gallagher think local corporate taxes go? It may not be called the Nike-Beaverton Police Department, but I’d wager that Nike’s local taxes go a long way toward funding the local constabulary. I’m not sure what else she means by “. . . supporting services that enhance community values and affect my life.” Maybe the next time Ms. Gallagher or one of her neighbors needs a cop or fireman, enjoys the park, drives on  a road, or has a school to send kids to, Nike or Safeway or Fred Meyers should send a representative over to point out that, yes, we did build that.

One of the implications of her position that corporations should fully fund government services is that such actions absolve citizens of the responsibility of tough choices. Local and state resources are finite, and, unlike the Feds, they can’t print money or borrow from the Chinese. If Teen Drop-In Centers are important to the community, they’ll have to cut something else, or raise taxes. The citizenry will have to make unpopular choices, thereby learning something they should have been taught as children: you can’t have everything, even if you try and foist the cost off on someone else.

Ms. Gallagher does recognize that “American society is consumer-driven.” But she then fails to recognize the beauty of, and the primary argument in favor of, capitalism: it’s the only economic system that harnesses base human desires for the common good.

The Best Picture this Week

We should all have pilots this cool on our next flight:


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