Corporate Elite Essay Research Paper Elitist theory

Corporate Elite Essay, Research Paper

Elitist theory holds that the majority of political power is held by a

relatively small and wealthy group of people, which share similar principles and

interests. Most members of this group are born into affluent families. The

majority of top leaders in the United States come from this privileged group.

The power elite utilizes a variety of resources to dictate public policy. These

individuals tend to hold top management positions within big corporations. These

corporations are used as a powerful tool to dominate the political arena.

Corporations are granted immense power, which they use, to protect their own

interests, as well as, shape the interests of ordinary citizens. ?The

leadership role that business has in the economy gives executives of large

corporations an unusual kind and degree of influence over governmental policy

making.? (Lindblom 1993:p91) The economic control of corporations plays an

essential role in public policy. Depending on how they choose to play the game,

large corporations dictate to economic conditions. Politicians must accommodate

corporate interests to protect our sensitive economy. These accommodations can

be called ?corporatism?. Big businesses receive a privileged position by

donating huge amounts of money and support to politicians and their political

parties. This monetary support buys access into the system. This access, known

as corporate welfare, can be achieved in the forms of favored rates on goods and

commodities, higher interest bond issues, tariff protections, emergency funding,

tax breaks and incentives, guaranteed investments, and weak safety standards.

The rewards are endless, and they must be worth something because corporations

spend a tremendous amount of money to obtain them. Corporations have existed as

early as the eighteenth century. The framework of the constitution protects

corporations through its? interpretation of property rights. Our constitution

was founded on a principle that the rights of people with property have to be

privileged. It is true that the framework defended the rights of people, but

rights were distributed, even more so, to people who owned property. The framers

of the constitution were hardly democratic. They represented their own,

personal, privileged, economic interests. Our founding fathers had a direct

interest to establish a government that would protect their holdings and

investments. The guiding light of the constitution, that still exists today, is

class? interest. Privileged powers are protected by, and set a side for, the

power elite. In the United States, affluence and power is attained by wealth and

social status. Unavoidably, this power is passed onto the common citizen. ?The

power elite is composed of men whose positions enable them to transcend the

ordinary environments of ordinary men and women; they are in positions to make

decisions having major consequences. Whether they do or do not make such

decisions is less important than the fact that they do occupy such pivotal

positions; their failure to act, their failure to make decisions, is itself an

act that is often of greater consequence than the decisions they do make.

(Mills, 1956: p.73) Corporations exercise their power to protect their own

interests. In doing so, they effect the economical, social, and political

make-up of society. This power is unique, and is reserved for only a few. The

United States is admired for its? ideals of equality and opportunity. One can

view our system as ?a multitude of groups and associations that organize

openly and freely, to compete with each other for the advancement of such

purposes as their members may wish.?(Miliband, 1969:p58) Yet, in reality, the

United States is a far cry from being democratic. The problem is that groups do

not compete on a level playing field. Large corporations enjoy a massive

superiority compared to smaller businesses, small interest groups, grassroots

organizations, and individual voters. It is the tightly woven relationship

between big business and government that prevents true democracy. Economic

influence is a magic wand used by large corporations to get their wishes

granted. According to Ralph Miliband,? businesses control the key areas of

economic life which makes it extremely difficult for governments to impose upon

it policies to which it is firmly opposed.? (1969:p59) In other words,

corporations dictate policy whether government likes it or not. Business

decisions have a yielding effect on the state of the economy. Choosing to

disinvest, downsize, relocate, or, decrease production, often has a negative

impact on the economy. According to Lindblom, a poor economy will negatively

affect voters more than anything else, and therefore, politicians must be quick

to respond to it. Politicians must pay special attention to the business

community. (p.91) For, if business is government?s customer, then is business

always right? Miliband suggests, that in abstract, the array of powers and

influences utilized by business are combated by the equated powers and

influences obtained by government. (p.61) In reality, government has minimal

resources for self-protection. Big corporations are the backbone of government.

Without corporate donations, politicians would not be able to effectively secure

positions in government. The success of a political campaign highly depends upon

efficient funding. As politicians except huge contributions to enhance their

chances of winning, corporations contribute money to enhance their personal

interests. Perhaps corporations should not be regarded with a negative

connotation. Rather, the system itself should be blamed for encouraging these

corrupted relationships. Lindblom suggests that the relationships between

businesses and government are reciprocal. These relationships lend to the idea

that government makes certain choices that benefit corporations, with hopes to

assist the economy. Many choices made by government are favored towards the

large corporations. However, these very decisions persuade corporations to

reciprocate decisions that benefit the economy. For, it is when the economy is

on hard times, that citizens scrutinize their representatives. As already

stated, corporations can choose to negatively impact the economy by decreasing

productivity, mobilizing outside of the country, downsizing, and, in turn, lead

the United States into a recession. To guard their prominent positions,

politicians are forced to represent the interests of corporations. Corporations

will continue to play an integral role in our political system because so much

emphasis is placed on the economy. Free enterprise and public policy are

indivisible. One cannot be separated from the other. Instead, society must come

to terms with the idea that politics is business, business is dirty, and

therefore politics is a dirty business. This is not to say that the ordinary

citizen always loses. Certain policies that deal with issues, such as health and

the environment, manage to defeat big business. One example, used by Lindblom,

is the National Clean Air Act of 1990. Despite the major efforts of

corporations, policy reforms were initiated that hindered big businesses, to

benefit the environment. The privileged position that corporations receive makes

sense. These groups participate more. They are more actively involved in the

process than any other group. Large corporations utilize their resources to fund

interest groups, form special relationships with politicians, and are more

informed than the ordinary citizen. Their access places them into a unique

position, whereas, large corporations are able to browbeat government. Out of

fear, government is forced to share decision-making with corporate bullies. As

long as this relationship continues, democratic policy-making will be an

impossible goal to attain. Corporate giants will continue to interfere with

policy initiatives that fight pollution, encourage equality, heighten safety

standards, and improve our overall quality of life. For money runs this country,

and the one with the most money usually wins.

1. Lindblom, Charles E. and Woodhouse, Edward J., The Policy-Making Process

(1993) New Jersey, Prentice Hall. Pp.90-103 2. Miliband, Ralph., Imperfect

Competition, in Public Policy, The Essential Readings Stella Z. Theodoulou and

Matthew A. Cahn, (1995) New Jersey, Prentice Hall Pp.58-65 3. C. Wright Mills,

The Power Elite, in Public Policy, The Essential Readings Stella Z. Theodoulou

and Matthew A. Cahn, (1995) New Jersey, Prentice Hall

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