The Fourth of July, Brought to You by Belgium, Brazil and China
Posted July 4 at 10:22am
Today, as you imbibe a cold Budweiser (owned by a Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate), smother your hot dog (from Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods) with Heinz ketchup (partly owned by a Brazilian private-equity group), finish up with cake from Sara Lee (owned by Grupo Bimbo of Mexico, the world’s biggest bread-maker) and ice cream from Good Humor (part of a British-Dutch conglomerate), check for movies on your ThinkPad laptop (owned by China’s Levono) and then head to a movie house (owned by Dalian Wanda, a Chinese real estate giant that controls more U.S cinema screens than any American company) in your Chrysler (owned by Italian automaker Fiat), and, at the end of the day, take an Alka-Seltzer (also foreign owned), you might wonder what kind of Independence Day you’re celebrating.
All told, the U.S has attracted nearly $3 trillion of foreign direct investment -- almost double that of its closest competitor, the United Kingdom – and Brexit will generate even more. Last year was a record for foreign investment, bringing in $348 billion, with some 70 percent going toward America’s ailing manufacturing sector. Foreign buyers also purchased some $87 billion in U.S. real estate.
I don’t see this as a problem -- except when it comes to our democracy. Because all these foreign-owned firms – along with giant global U.S. companies that are the world's biggest foreign investors (with nearly $5 trillion in foreign direct investment) – are now playing a larger political role in Washington and state capitals than ever before. And their primary concern when they influence our politics isn’t the well being of Americans; it’s their global profits. There's a big difference.
On Independence Day, it’s important that we rededicate ourselves to getting big money out of our democracy.