Agents of Influence
IN THIS SUMMARY
Politics is now an economic strategy along with price, quality, innovation, marketing, and service. Few American companies give attention to this sixth dimension of competition-fewer than 30 percent of the 150 largest U.S. corporations try to affect their government’s international trade and economic policies, and virtually none address the trade and economic policies of the foreign countries where they operate.Japanese and European firms spend most of their time shaping the international and domestic policies that affect their businesses. These companies influence the economic policies of their governments, and now seek comparable influence over the U.S. government. Japan’s great source of influence is America’s growing dependence on Japanese funds to finance the federal budget deficit. Foreign lenders now hold so much federal debt and foreign owners hold so many American assets that they expect to have a voice in U.S. economic, trade, and political policies. Japan pumps out a steady flow of propaganda through books, speeches, reports, conferences, television, editorials, articles, and whisper campaigns. The overt propaganda provides foreigners with a better understanding of Japanese history and culture, while its covert operation aims at developing the Japanese economy, its industries, and its exports. MITI and a conglomeration of agencies, foundations, companies, and trade associations work quietly to see to it that others-including Americans in their pay-further their ends. Essentially there are eight modest proposals that would go a long way to reduce the foreign influence over American affairs: (1) stop Washington’s revolving door, (2) require full disclosure of foreign agents, (3) prohibit foreign participation in American elections, (4) provide full federal funding for presidential libraries, (5) prohibit foreign gifts or compensation for ex-presidents, (6) limit state and local subsidies to attract corporations, (7) reduce America’s dependence on foreign capital, and (8) increase business involvement with government.