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There are numerous articles about the social responsibility of U.S. corporations ("The Importance of Social Responsibility," Letters, December 2006) and none of them addresses the real problems. The term "corporation" does not appear in the U.S. Constitution. A U.S. corporation has no social responsibility to "We the People." It is responsible for obeying the applicable laws of the United States. However, a corporation and its officers do have a responsibility to their shareholders to produce results in terms of growth, sales, and profit. If it does not produce a profit, it will go out of business.
It is the responsibility of the federal government to establish a business environment in which a U.S. corporation can contribute to "promote the general Welfare" of U.S. citizens. However, when the business environment within the United States is adverse, U.S. corporations have no other choice but to look for other, more-favorable business environments in order to survive.
For many years, the U.S. playing field was not only level, it was tilted in favor of U.S. corporations operating within the United States. Foreign countries have grown, become more competitive, and taken steps to tilt the playing field in favor of their corporations, many of which are state owned. At the same time, the U.S. Congress has not acted to assure a level playing field for U.S. corporations to operate within the States. The numerous factors involved include the labor environment, the rule of law, business taxes, tariffs, government control, currency maneuvers, and so on. The result is severe distress by many U.S. corporations, the loss of areas of business (textiles, shipbuilding, buses, and so on), and the layoff of thousands of U.S. employees.
It should be recognized that insisting on a level playing field is not protectionism. It is a responsibility of Congress and the Executive branch.
Stressing corporate social responsibility does not address the problem. It is urgent and necessary that Congress exercise its responsibility to "promote the general Welfare" for "We the People."
A. M. Carter Jr.
A. M. Carter & Associates
In "Quality, Not Quantity" (Topline, December 2006), the Securities and Exchange Commission's budget figure was incorrectly given. The article should have said that in the past two fiscal years, the SEC's budget has remained flat at $888 million.