Democracy In Britain Fully Highjacked By Corporations
When capitalism does go wrong it is supposed to fix its own problems organically. Real capitalism is supposed to be it’s own ecosystem, just like any other ecosystem. Succesful ecosystems naturally weed out the weak, that is its raison d’être. Failure is indiscriminately devoured or destroyed in favour of evolving replacements. A healthy system of capitalism is essentially a system that keeps everything in balance. Real democracy is its governance.
The government of America and Britain gave permission for corporations to start their unrestricted plundering in the late 1970’s under Thatcher and Reagan. When the gamble of unfettered financialism through the so-called ‘big bang‘ in the City of London blew up in our faces they gave gargantuan sums of tax-payers money to a bunch of self-serving psychopaths as a reward for stupidity.
Corporations exist solely for profit, not public good. They couldn’t care less about the health or well-being of the nation. If the government stands in the way of their profit potential, they can legally purchase new politicians through unlimited, undisclosed campaign donations through dodgy networks – this is how the Conservatives got into power.
If the salaries of their employees stands in the way, the government is in place to help eliminate them to appease an economic system that values unsustainable growth over everything else. Why else is there the biggest crackdown on unions since Thatcher?
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Take one look at just some of the most powerful companies in the world listed on Britain’s All Share FTSE index and what do you see?
Royal Dutch Shell, HSBC, British American Tobacco, Glaxo Smith Kline, SAB Miller, Vodafone, Lloyds Banking Group, AstraZeneca, Banco Santander and Diagio occupying some of the top slots.
Shell was fined just £80million for a scandal that breached market abuse provisions related to the calculation of its reserves. It ended up wiping billions of pounds off its market value. It subsequently downgraded its reserves a further three times, investors and pensions took a hammering. This is not to mention its other corruption scandals.
The chairman of HSBC admitted his shame at the “horrible reputational damage” the bank has suffered following the revelations of the systematic aiding of a massive tax avoidance scheme at its Swiss subsidiary, but has refused to take personal responsibility for the failings. HSBC has been involved in just about every banking scandal ever disclosed including money laundering for drug cartels and sanctioned countries like Iran. The bank, like most banks are at the forefront of Libor and FX scandals, tax evasion, destruction of indigenous lands – the list goes on.
British American Tobacco hardly needs an introduction to its disgraced marketing tactics that has contributed to the 5 million tobacco related deaths each year. In the words of one young protester, “If they have 15% of the world market then they are responsible for 15% of the world’s tobacco deaths, three quarters of a million deaths every year.”
The Chinese bribery scandal that erupted in July 2013 and hung over GSK until September last year ended with a record penalty after the drug giant paid out bribes to doctors and hospitals in order to have their products promoted. In addition GSK paid $3billion dollars to the US DoJ to end an investigation into illegal marketing tactics. In 2010 GSK was fined $750m for ‘poor manufacturing processes”.
AstraZeneca has faired no better after being fined hundreds of millions for illegal marketing of banned drugs to children, bribery and corruption, research bias and were also hit by the Chinese bribery affair. In 2003 they were fined $355million for defrauding the American government.
The world’s second-largest beer company, SABMiller, is avoiding millions of pounds of tax in India and the African countries where it makes and sells beer by routing profits through a web of tax-haven subsidiaries. It stands accused of depriving the (tax) equivalent of 3/4million school-children an education every year in these countries.
One of the world’s largest mobile phone company’s, Vodafone Group, has shaved 1 billion pounds, and possibly more, off the taxes its UK operating unit in the past decade – in yet another tax scandal. According to UK Uncut, Vodafone “hasn’t paid a penny of corporation tax since 2011 to the UK treasury and is implicated in a tax scandal in India.
Lloyds Bank were in the forefront of the massive mis-selling scandal, amongst other swindles, the same with Banco Santander who in addition was preferred banker of the worlds biggest pyramid scheme managed by Bernie Madoff.
What Diageo has been involved in, the last of the top ten, makes for sobering reading (excuse the pun) that includes having its license revoked in an entire country to investigations for fraud, targeting youth markets, employee abuse, labour regulations, ethical standards; again the list goes on.
If companies such as these, listed on the British stock exchange can only make their way through crime, corruption, abuse and theft what does that say about the corporate world of today.
If privatisation has anything to do with it, one does not have to look far to see yet more criminal behaviour given sanction by British government officials.
Some of Britain’s biggest water companies are raking in billions of pounds in profits without paying a penny in tax. The 19 water firms in Britain made profits of more than £2.05billion in 2013, handed out £1.86billion to shareholders but paid just £74million in tax, that’s less than 4% tax combined. Seven of them paid no corporation tax at all.
The influence of the City over the Conservatives has been laid bare by new research showing that more than half of the Tory party’s donations since the 2010 general election have come from individuals and businesses working in finance. And the Conservative Party also came under repeated fire over its links to Russian oligarchs. Foreign donations are banned under UK law and the use of ‘technicalities’ hasn’t stopped either the donations or banking them.
The Conservatives raised 10 times more in donations than Labour in the final week of the last general election campaign, official figures showed. Tax avoiders and fraudsters were among them.
All these donations corrupt government officials into one of the biggest heists of democracy and corporate scams in history – The Transatlantic and Transpacific Trade and Investment Partnerships. TTIP has nothing to do with free trade. “Free trade” is used as a disguise to hide the power these agreements give to corporations to use law suits to overturn sovereign laws of nations that regulate pollution, food safety, GMOs, and minimum wages to enrich themselves even further.
TTIP is nothing more than an insult to capitalism and an assault on democracy.
It should be of no surprise that three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich took a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analyzed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them. They found a dominant core of just 147 firms. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the global economy.
The systems and procedures which was meant to keep these companies honest is deliberately casual, the penalties almost nonexistent, the rewards are both astounding and corrupting.
Any residue of opposition to corporations and the people who run them has been cleared out by political parties. That’s what New Labour was all about when they arrived at No10 in 1997 after 16 years of Thatcher and Major. Now opposition MPs simply stare mutely as their powers are given away to a system of offshore arbitration panels run by corporate lawyers. Corporate dominance does not care who is in power because no political party will get to power or remain there without acceding to their omnipotence.
Graham Vanbergen – TruePublica