In Focus: Can Corporations Save The Union
Updated: Jun 8
State of the Union
The current state of the union feels like someone desperately trying to get a laugh to go viral. The state of the union feels like that guy that tries to do something funny or "cool" for the camera, but the stunt goes horribly wrong, and no one's laughing; or that girl that despite all that's going on around her, ignores doing the right thing in order to take a photo at the wrong time (gotta stunt for the Gram).
The knee of a police officer on the neck of a man for more than eight minutes leading to that man's death, was not funny, The police pushing an old man to the ground and causing severe head trauma, also not very funny. The elected leader of the free world, among nationwide division and chaos, chose not say anything to calm the nerves or ease the tension of the nation, but instead added to the chaos for a photo op, (again, gotta stunt for the Gram).
This sh!t is a mess, but the S&P 500 was up 5% on the week, so it wasn't that bad was it?
The markets have been on a massive run since the end of March, and not unemployment in the teens, nor civil unrest will stop it from retesting the all-time highs it registered in mid February.
The Police, No Fear No Consequence
What we've seen, or at least what I've seen, and I hope everyone has noticed, is that our police, those hired to serve and protect, don't care about their treatment of U.S. citizens and don't have to care because there are no consequences.
For a week that started with people protesting police brutality, it ended with the police showing me how brutal they get to be. With the lights on, cameras on, and the world watching, the police were brutal. As if no one told them to be on their best behavior because we're having company over.
For a county who likes to thump its chest and tell the rest of the world that we're the best, we didn't show the world our best last week.
Nothing Will Come of This Because Nothing Ever Does
The saddest part of all the death, destruction, and sacrifice (we are still dealing with a pandemic, so every protestor is really putting it on the line right now), is that there will be no change. No change whatsoever will come of this, and if you don't believe me, let's do an experiment. Think for a moment about Rodney King and move all the way forward to George Floyd, but don't think about police brutality, think about all the other issues that have occurred in between that time and the regulations that followed.
The accounting fraud of Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco International was followed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. A great crime, a lot of victims, new legislation. 9/11, a major act of terrorism, was followed by the Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act saw major amendments, and the Aviation and Transportation Security Act gave us TSA at every airport. (Before 9/11, people - usally older- would go to a terminal gate, get a snack, and watch planes takeoff and land for hours, one act of terrorism ended that hobby). The Great Recession was followed by Dodd-Frank, which gave us the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the Volcker Rule, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Now, take your mind back to all the names from Rodney King to George Floyd, and you'll discover we have nothing, no sweeping changes, no major reform. Why has there been no major reform? Because our elected officials are as scared of the police as we the public are. Regulating the banking industry was easy, no one feared Lloyd Blankfein or Jamie Dimon, but the same cannot be said about the police unions.
For the companies publicly taking a stand and standing up against racism that's great, but it's not enough. Those companies donating money to the NAACP and other causes, that's also great but it's not enough. We could graduate every young black man and woman from Harvard, if policing isn't reformed, the next George Floyd will just be a more educated victim.
What big companies can do is actively lobby for police reform. The way companies lobby for lower taxes and less regulation, is how they need to lobby for police reform. New hiring standard, psych evaluations, new training, the works. And for anyone who thinks this is just a black issue, I invite you to acquaint or reacquaint yourself with the case of Daniel Shaver, or rewatch the Buffalo Police Department's treatment of our elderly.
The Hypocrisy of it All
I'm normally against the public looking to athletes, entertainers, and companies to "get things done," that's why we have elected officials. I think Americans put too much stock in its celebrities and billion dollar celebrity CEOs. Often looking to them to fix problems that elected officials should fix. If anything, that may demonstrate how broken this whole thing is, if we the people have to look to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Tim Cook to solve the issues plaguing the country. But in the case of police reform, I don't think the people have a choice other than to look to corporations, because their elected officials aren't going to do it. I don't know how a company would do it or where they would start, but like Obi-Wan Kenboi they may be our only hope.