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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Edwards: Corporate Responsibility

I haven't yet decided to back any of the 2008 presidential candidates, but John Edwards seems to be advocating a number of interesting ideas that merit serious consideration in the campaign.

In late October, for example, Edwards put forward a plan for corporate responsibility that seems to include a lot of good ideas. The AP story highlighting key plan elements, written by Amy Lorentzen, is still available on the Fox News website:
Require corporations to disclose lobbying activities, political contributions, environmental impacts and government contracts and subsidies.

Give shareholders new rights regarding corporate governance, allowing them more say in decisions such as executive compensation.

Modernize labor laws to help workers join unions and bargain for better pay and benefits.

Create universal retirement accounts that would require employers to offer savings plans for workers who can't access pensions. Edwards said the first $500 workers save would be matched dollar-for-dollar with a tax credit that would be paid for by capital gains taxes.
Those retirement accounts would be mobile, allowing workers to change jobs without losing their pension plans. Paired with a universal health care plan, these mobile new entitlements would provide a real increase in financial security and employment flexibility for American workers.

The intent of the transparency requirement is consistent with my own arguments about public accountability in international institutions: "sunshine will be a powerful disinfectant for corporate malfeasance."

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