Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich slammed J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon for “crocodile tears” about inequality in America.
Last week, Dimon complained about inequality in America.
“I don’t want to be a tone deaf CEO; while the company is doing fine, it is absolutely obvious that a big chunk of [people] have been left behind,” Dimon said. “Forty percent of Americans make less than $15 an hour. Forty percent of Americans can’t afford a $400 bill, whether it’s medical or fixing their car.”
“If we don’t [act], society is going to get worse, because these problems aren’t aging well,” he added.
Reich slammed Dimon for his comments in a new Guardian column.
Reich noted that in addition to running J.P. Morgan, Dimon chairs the Business Roundtable lobbying group.
“Due to vast amounts they spend lobbying and donating to politicians, these CEOs also have more influence over what happens in Washington than any other group of people,” Reich explained. “They were instrumental in gaining passage of the Trump tax cuts, which they predicted would generate a wave of corporate investment and boost wages. Instead, the tax cuts generated a tsunami of stock buybacks (more than $910bn last year, an all-time high) that boosted their own pay and the stock prices of their companies, but have done little for average workers.”
Reich offered some helpful advice.
“If Dimon and the others were serious about helping most American workers – whose real wages have been going nowhere for decades and job security is dwindling – they could use their outsized political influence to push for laws requiring CEOs to consider all their stakeholders, not just shareholders,” he suggested. “If this sounds far-fetched, that’s only because we’ve come such a long way from the era of the 1950s to the 1970s when the heads of big American businesses viewed themselves as ‘corporate statesmen’ and lobbied for measures to improve the wellbeing of all Americans.”
“But then came the 1980s – corporate raiders, Wall Street ‘greed is good’ manipulators, Ronald Reagan’s market fundamentalism, union-busting, and a gusher of corporate money into politics. Since then, most Americans have come to believe the system is rigged in favor of big corporations and the Street, and they’re right,” he acknowledged.
“Yet as heads of institutions with the greatest influence over American politics, they also have a duty to the common good and are uniquely positioned to advance it,” Reich argued. “For 40 years, CEOs of America’s largest corporations and Wall Street banks have abdicated this responsibility.”
Read the full column.