Freeing the Free Market: How Big Money in Politics Affects the Business Landscape

Last week, Elizabeth Doty, co-founder of Business for American Promise, wrote an op-ed in The Hill responding to the Business Roundtable’s recently updated statement of principle, calling on corporations to meet a new level of responsibility—to create benefits for all stakeholders, including workers, communities and our planet. The statement upends decades of corporate focus on shareholder primacy, aka the maximization of profits.

Elizabeth writes that the Business Roundtable’s statement is a commendable first step in the process to restore public trust in the economic institutions of this country—trust that has faltered in recent decades as the public increasingly views both the capitalist and the political system to be rigged in favor of the wealthy few. However, fulfilling this new commitment will be difficult without structural reforms to reduce the pressure on companies to compete through political influence and address the “pay-to-play” system that is at the root of public distrust. Without such coordinated action, individual companies that want to serve all stakeholders will face the risk of “unilateral disarmament.” This is why Elizabeth invites the Business Roundtable to consider audacious reforms, such as the 28th Amendment, which address the root causes of “pay to play” and enable businesses to compete through quality products, services and business models that offer lasting value to society. 

“Clearly, members of the Business Roundtable have begun a process of open discussion that reflects broader interests and a long-term perspective,” Elizabeth writes. “We hope they use that capacity to consider and support reforms that address the barriers to creating value for multiple stakeholders, and the root causes of our current crisis of trust.”

Citizens across the nation are already successfully working on reforms that will level the playing field and restore competitiveness in the market, and purpose-driven businesses are spearheading important shifts in the foundation of the U.S. business environment. Business for American Promise aims to bring these leaders together to help further the 28th Amendment and usher in a new era of trust and prosperity in the American pillars of representative democracy and free-market capitalism.

Read her op-ed here.

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