Robert Reich: Davos Duplicity – OpEd


Senior executives of America’s largest corporations have spent this week in Davos, Switzerland, at the annual World Economic Forum, whose 2024 theme is “Rebuilding Trust.”


It’s hard to come up with any group of Americans, outside of Trump and his congressional loyalists, who have done more to destroy public trust than the senior executives of America’s biggest corporations — corrupting democracy by pouring money into political campaigns, fighting unions and suppressing wages, monopolizing their markets and price-gouging consumers, and siphoning off almost all gains to shareholders. 

In the 1990s, the Davos World Economic Forum actively promoted the idea of stakeholder capitalism, in which corporations pledged to advance the interests of workers, consumers, communities, and the environment — not just shareholders. (The Forum still promotes the idea on its website.) 

Adding to the rank hypocrisy of this week’s Davos meetings are American CEOs who say they fear a second Trump administration and the political upheaval it might bring. 

Multiple attendees have told the New York Times’s DealBook that they view the outcome of the U.S. election as a business risk, particularly after Trump beat his Republican rivals in the Iowa caucuses by such a wide margin. 

Yet many of them are fueling Trump and political upheaval in America by continuing to bankroll the 147 members of Congress who refused to certify Joe Biden’s victory on January 6, 2021. 

Recall that after the certification vote and storming of the Capitol, a cavalcade of big corporations announced with great fanfare that they had stopped making political contributions to these 147. 

Since then, most have resumed campaign donations to them — thereby helping the deniers get reelected and threatening the stability of American democracy.

All told, at least 228 of America’s biggest (Fortune 500) corporations — representing more than two-thirds of some 300 companies with political action committees — have given $26.3 million to election deniers during the 2021-2024 election cycles.

Shortly after January 6, 2021, Amazon pledged to suspend political contributions to members of Congress who objected to certifying the 2020 presidential election results according to CNN. By Sept. 22, 2022 — one year, eight months, two weeks, and five days later — Amazon resumed funding them.

Boeing made the same pledge but since May 3, 2021, has given $652,000 to 85 members of Congress who refused to certify Joe Biden as president. 

Comcast made the pledge but since then has given $585,000 to election deniers. Delta made the pledge but has since donated $325,000 to them. 

Other giant corporations that announced they wouldn’t support election deniers but reversed course include FedEx, which has given the deniers $303,000 since January, 2021. Home Depot, $602,500. Johnson & Johnson, $138,000. McDonald’s, $107,000. UPS, $575,000. Verizon, $250,500. Walmart, $297,000. Wells Fargo, $244,500. 

The list goes on. 

ProPublica has created an app that’s tracked all of the campaign contributions that Fortune 500 corporations have made to the 147 deniers over the past two years. If you’re interested in knowing which large corporations are devoting money to undermining our democracy, I urge you to use it. 

Government watchdog Accountable.US has compiled a list of corporate political donations to election deniers categorized into five major industries. Click to see their findings: 1) Aerospace and Defense; 2) Telecommunications; 3) Oil, Gas, and Electric Utility; 4) Pharmaceutical; 5) Financial.

Note that these numbers show only the donations that corporations are openly disclosing — not funds they’re channeling through trade associations, super PACs, and dark money groups.

So when you hear pious pronouncements coming out of Davos about the importance of “rebuilding trust” and maintaining a stable democracy in the United States, watch your wallets. 

As to your wallets, you might think twice before buying anything from a big American corporation that’s using some of the profits from its sales to destroy trust and destabilize American democracy. 

What do you think?

This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *