Procter & Gamble and the USGLC: Cartels, Coalitions and the Smart Power of Doing Well
For millions of once upwardly-mobile Americans, the name “Procter & Gamble” (PG) will forever be associated with the mid-day television dramas – a.k.a. “soap operas” – they sponsored for decades to promote Tide, Gain, Downy, Dawn and a list of familiar household cleansers, personal care products and sundries that some consider quintessential Americana:
After 54 years on the air, PG ran the last episode of “As the World Turns” on 17 September 2010. It would be plausible to predict that future historians will mark that as the date America’s ailing middle class went on life support. Calculating that it would be more profitable to replace than rejuvenate their long-standing and blindly loyal core market, Procter & Gamble’s management has since then been “shifting P&G’s sights to emerging markets in Africa and Asia, where sales growth runs a lot higher than in developed nations.”
Pursuing that strategy, today “Procter & Gamble is a leading member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition [USGLC], a Washington D.C. based coalition of over 400 major companies and NGOs [including AIPAC] that advocates for a larger International Affairs Budget, which funds American diplomatic and development efforts abroad.”
Absorbed quickly, that might implant that PG is a superhero and the USGLC is the Hall of Justice. Not so. The USGLC is by its own smug admission what the Washington Post in 2005 called “the ‘Strange Bedfellows Coalition’ … sending out teams of corporate types and do-gooders … to lobby lawmakers and staffers of the Senate and House budget committees in support of President Bush’s budget for international affairs.”
If anything, the role the USGLC plays in American foreign affairs increased with our regularly-scheduled Presidential puppet change in 2008:
“The same day that the government published its ‘Plum Book’ listing of available jobs for the incoming Administration, the USGLC released the ‘Global Plum Book,’ a document that cataloged the top 100 positions across the new Obama Administration that would strongly impact the policies and programs for development and diplomacy. The Coalition identified hundreds of Democrats and Republicans that could potentially fill these positions and held meetings with these individuals to educate them on the Coalition’s priorities.”
And just what are these USGLC priorities that have apparently become mandatory education for incoming State Department personnel? The details are as closely guarded as the true answers to questions like what makes a bullet turn in mid-air, how can office fires weaken structural steel, and why has Al Qaeda had more “masterminds” than MENSA. A whitewashed high-level textbook answer, however, can be found here:
The semantically twisted soundbyte summary is that the USGLC exists to promote the use of “smart power” in “doing well and doing good”. By “smart power”, some say they mean formally integrating business development with the doubletalk of diplomacy and America’s ever-present threat of death from above in setting and achieving foreign policy goals. “Doing well and doing good” is their Utopian – or perhaps Orwellian – suggestion that corporations involved in said “business development” might actually do well (make a profit) while doing good (not depleting resources, polluting the environment, killing or maiming the innocent, or ripping people off).
Procter & Gamble was no doubt inspired by the possibility of “doing well and doing good” when they met with their overseas competitor Unilever to discuss more eco-friendly packaging (doing good). But instead, the two soap kings conspired to use the enviromental initiative as a cover for a years-long price fixing cartel (doing well). In April 2011, European Union (EU) regulators slapped the pair with a $456 million fine for their collusion. Procter & Gamble’s share was $306 million, which for PG amounts to less than 2 days’ sales – a penalty hardly worth footnote mention in their financials:
“Smart Power” indeed… I encourage all readers to look deeper into the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), an entity whose pristine Web profile is inconsistent with its pervasive political footprint. My research is insufficient to support a conclusion, but my suspicion is that much lies hidden behind this true-blue curtain:
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