Picture, if you will, an Isosceles triangle. And label each point: 1. Government Power 2. Corporate Money 3. NGOs Agenda
The truth is, corporations aren't always willing players in the partnerships — neither is government, for that matter. Many times both are answering to pressure from activists with a specific agenda.
Those activists come in the form of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They are determined, dedicated and radical. They mean business and they have the means to force their will on companies. It's almost masochistic to watch how they treat companies.
Perhaps you've heard the term Corporate Social Responsibility. The idea is that corporations must not conduct their affairs merely to achieve profits for their stockholders — or even to just provide products and services for their customers. According to the doctrine, businesses must also help further the "well-being of society." You know, "like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." To many businesses the term means treating customers, employees and suppliers with respect and integrity, while making sure you aren't damaging the environment. It's just good business.
But something much more sinister has control over the force of corporate social responsibility. As Niger Innis, president of the Congress on Racial Equality, points out, the ideological environmental movement is a powerful $4 billion-a-year U.S. industry. On the international level it's an $8 billion-a-year gorilla.
Many of its members are intensely eco-centric, and place much higher value on wildlife and ecological values than on human progress or even human life. They have a deep fear and loathing of big business, technology, chemicals, plastics, fossil fuels and biotechnology. And they insist that the rest of the world should acknowledge and live according to their fears and ideologies.
They are masters at using junk science, scare tactics, intimidation and bogus economic and health claims to gain even greater power. These people, with their radical political agenda are now succeeding in forcing Corporate Social Responsibility on more and more companies.
They assert the right to dictate corporate social responsibility by declaring themselves stakeholders, even though their only stake is philosophical. In most cases, they have no economic interest in the companies.
They place ever-increasing demands on business to take ever more radical measures in the name of protecting the environment or in the name of social equity. Products have been banned. Even whole industries have been destroyed.
Here's an example of the power of this force tied to Sustainable Development policies is an incident that took place in Ireland. There, McDonalds applied to build a new restaurant in a community. The government demanded an environmental impact study for the project. Now, that's not so unusual. Only this environmental study wasn't concerning the building of the restaurant. Rather, it was to study the effects of the food to be served on the health of the residents of the community.
McDonalds has been beaten to a pulp over the issue of obesity, human health and animal rights. The leading NGO in this fight is a radical nut-group called the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which openly advocates that people eat next to nothing. No meat, no farm animals at all, no dairy, just basically some pre-selected vegetables. They are a constant thorn in the side of the Food and Drug Administration, constantly filing law suits to control food choice. They are the leaders of the infamous food police. And they hate McDonalds as much as they hate letting you decide what you want to eat.
As a result of these attacks, today McDonalds is in the forefront of promoting the green agenda. Now you may understand why the city of San Francisco recently targeted McDonald's Happy Meals to be banned. CSR is rampant in public schools where zealots are busy working to control what children eat. Never mind that a child may go hungry because he/she refuses to eat tofu. Meanwhile, to make the controls work, corporate monsters like McDonalds must also be kept from tempting children with something they might like. All for the common good, of course.
Another example of corporate masochism comes from Caterpillar, the equipment giant that provides machinery for the mining industry. A few years ago, Caterpillar announced it was joining the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), which is lobbying for caps on carbon dioxide emissions.
If USCAP reaches its goal for mandatory federal restrictions on the emissions, the cost of energy will be driven up, hurting Caterpillar's customers and shareholders. When asked if he had done a cost analysis on this policy before joining USCAP, the Chairman of Caterpillar said he had not and would not. Therefore, he was blindly endorsing a policy that could put his own company out of business.
Why? Because he has been forced to accept a political agenda over business sense. To do otherwise would mean possible government sanctions, regulations or fines. It's the new way to do business in America. It's the force of the triangle. That's Corporate Social Responsibility. It isn't responsible at all. And it's not very corporate. It's enforcement of a political agenda.
Many times these issues begin with what appears to be completely absurd press releases by obscure fringe groups. But businesses must not ignore the source of their rants. Once they begin to give sanction to small demands in an attempt to put on a good face — the bar will be continually raised until the business becomes merely a tool for a political agenda that is in direct opposition to their ability to stay in business as the mantra of "Go Green" results in higher prices, sacrifice and fewer choices for consumers.
Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence. Go to americanpolicy.org for more information.