Keep Your Hand on Your Wallet

Kevin Drum links to my article about the Revolt of the CEO‘s and makes an excellent point:

Now, don't get me wrong: even a little bit of movement is a good thing. And I don't care much what their motivation is. But a lot of what's happening here on the global warming front involves corporations trying to preempt tough state regulations with weaker federal rules — not exactly a sign of getting on the liberal bandwagon. Likewise, although some CEOs are genuinely concerned about skyrocketing healthcare costs, for the most part they seem to be simply adapting to the new sheriff in town. That "seat at the table" they're asking for isn't because they all took vacations in Stockholm this winter and came away true believers in universal healthcare. It's because they want to make sure that if something is going to happen, it'll be as little as possible.

In other words: sure, this is good news. At the same time, keep your hand on your wallet. These guys need to earn a seat at the table, not just be given one.

This is a 1000% true. In fact, as my editors at the WaMo can attest, I was pretty tortured during the writing of this piece because I really wanted to make sure the piece wasn’t interpreted as a Tom Friedman-esque article about how far-sighted the titans of capitalism are. Hardly. This is all about cold, hard calculations of self-interest. Over the last few years, those calculations have altered parlty because of the facts on the ground—healthcare costs are rising at alarming levels, the evidence that the world is warming is near-irrefutable—but mostly they’ve changed because the regulatory environment has changed. States are now regulating health care and carbon and that’s pushing corporations to turn to the federal government. All this by way of saying: politics works. The shift in corporate attitudes towards these massive collective challenges didn’t come about throught the enlightened meditation of CEO‘s. It came about because there’s been a lot of political activism at the local level that’s pushed state government into the fray, and that in turn has gotten CEO‘s attention. So I guess the lesson is: don’t let up.

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.


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