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Saturday, 05 February 2011 23:39

Reagan Was the Corporate Puppet Who is Still Paying Dividends: GE Knows

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As the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan approaches on February 6th, it is hard to escape the Republican voices clamoring for sainthood to be bestowed on the Gipper.

What did Ronald Reagan ever do for non-wealthy Americans beyond becoming the symbol of a belief that being born white and in the U.S. makes one exceptional? Indeed, his game-changing accomplishment - using carefully crafted scripts and symbols developed by aides - was bestowing an acceptance of the inevitability of corporate governance.

As most people know, Reagan was a "B" movie star until General Electric hired him to both host a GE television series and become a corporate spokesperson around the nation. Reagan was so successful as a corporate pitchman that a group of extremely conservative and wealthy backers put up the money to position him as a political candidate who would espouse the corporate ethos.

General Electric is so proud of their role in launching Reagan that they are now advertising an Internet tribute to him, "Rendezvous With Destiny: Reagan's journey from GE to the White House." In fact GE describes the film as depicting "how he rose from GE brand ambassador to 40th president of the United States."

As the recent appointment of Jeffrey Immelt, current CEO of GE, to head President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness -- at a time that GE is a leader in outsourcing jobs and off shoring revenue - shows, GE's investment in Reagan is still paying big dividends. In fact, Immelt, noting that the benefits corporations will have by being dealers inside the government went so far as to say, in 2009, "We're all Democrats now." As progressive journalist David Sirota recently noted, Obama gets the trade-off of a corporate honcho who can help raise money for his re-election.

It's all very cozy, except that Immelt is an expert at shipping jobs overseas, not creating them in the U.S.

The trajectory that GE began when Reagan became its corporate carnival barker is now accepted by both parties: the American government has become a virtual subsidiary of international corporations who just happen to be headquartered in the U.S.

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