Conversations at the Top:
Sol Talks

Photo: Gillian Fry

Business magnate Sol Trujillo, fresh from the launch of his L’ATTITUDE event, sits with columnist Ruben Navarrette in his Southern California home office to discuss today’s political and societal effects on American businesses. During the no-holds-barred conversation, Trujillo shared his thoughts on Latino political power, the implications of recent immigration decisions, and presidential leadership.

 

Sol Talks: Political Power

“You have to be very wealthy in order to win a lot of these political offices—in particular the presidency. To even be a candidate for the presidency, you have to have your own bankroll or relationships that have big funding capabilities. That has been a barrier for US Latinos.

Also, over the last two decades or so, extreme gerrymandering has allowed people to have very safe seats. We’ve seen both Republicans and Democrats gerrymander so they are essentially in control of governors offices and state legislatures.

I believe we are going to need some campaign-finance reform so that only the wealthy or the biggest lobbying groups can’t just control elections. Secondly, we need to find a formula where there’s now a lot of litigation on gerrymandered districts, having some of them overturned because they are so extreme and protective of incumbency. Once that starts changing, we are going to see a dramatic change.

In the meantime, we’re starting to see more and more people running for office, and we will probably have some people start running for president. People who would be viewed by the Latino community as Latinos. Not people in name only, but people who are truly what I would call a full-fledged American, meaning they can be bicultural, tricultural. Not sacrifice any of our core American values, but be enhanced with the ability to be adaptive in a global world.”

 

Sol Talks: Economic Suicide

“There is one population cohort that sets the United States economy apart from any other mature market in the world: the US Latino population cohort. I’m speaking very clinically: they’re already here and effecting growth on the consumption side of our economy and on the labor side of the economy. The only way you grow an economy is you have to have a growing workforce and you have to have people consuming on the other side of it.

The GDP is a sign of health. With the Baby Boomer cohort, we’ve been growing our GDP anywhere between three and five percent a year for four or five decades. That’s because we had a rapidly growing workforce. But if you look in the last decade or so, we’ve had a dramatic slowing of GDP. The math shows that the growth in our workforce is dramatically slowing. Within the next year, we’re going to be slightly under one percent workforce growth rate.

When people talk about deporting ten or eleven million people, it’s what I would call economic suicide. I’m not talking social policy. I’m going to be very clear: this is business and economic suicide. Immigration has been part of our workforce growth rate.

We all have to be aware of the implications of these decisions. It will affect everybody’s income, everybody’s job opportunities, and it will affect our ability to be competitive as an economy.”

 

Sol Talks: Presidents

“Ronald Reagan was an enlightened president. He understood what was coming in the 21st century. He had economic policies and social policies that understood that. He played a huge role in setting the stage for a lot of the success we had in the last couple of decades. He was a real Republican.

I don’t like a lot of regulation. I think businesses should be able to run. I’m a believer in letting markets work. I’m a believer in fiscal strength and control. So I don’t buy running deficits up by a trillion, trillion-and-a-half dollars a year. That is not leadership.

I like to use the word leadership because leadership is when you’re trying to solve problems, not only for today but for tomorrow. That’s what Ronald Reagan, to me, stood for.”


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