Under mounting populist campaigns against them, corporations have followed the CSR script by accepting the environmentalists’ positions. For instance, USCAP is a “partnership” of environmental groups and a diverse group of leading corporations such as Alcoa, PepsiCo, General Electric, and AIG. USCAP supports “Mandatory approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the major emitting sectors including emissions from large stationary sources, transportation, and energy use in commercial and residential buildings” (www.uscap.org).
With Corporate America now “embracing” the environmental position, mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, that do not fully offset the negative economic consequences of the policy, have now been approved by the “representatives of the free market”. The CSR advocates strategy for addressing global warming is building momentum, and it is a real possibility that their environmental policies will become the law of the land.
The CSR game plan also calls for vilifying corporations in order to vilify the free market solutions to pressing public policy problems. This is the tactic they have used to advance their agenda with respect to health care reform.
CSR activists have vilified companies such as Wal-Mart for not providing health insurance for their employees. In so doing, the CSR activists blame the health care problems of the country on a lack of health insurance availability – as opposed to real problems such as over-zealous health care litigation and adverse incentives due to the third-party payer system. By blaming the health care problems on Corporate America, the CSR activists help enable the political calls for universal health care and other “solutions” that socialized medicine will allegedly bring.
Both the health care and global warming examples illustrate that the CSR strategy has been successful. As documented in Jarol Manheim’s book, CSR advocates are using Corporate America as a platform for pushing a liberal policy agenda. Countering these policies requires viable political and academic debates; it also requires a fundamental re-examination of the tenets of corporate social responsibility.