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Author Topic: Is big business all-powerful now?
rasmus
malcontent
Babbler # 621

posted 07 September 2002 11:36 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
No, argues Larry Elliot in the Guardian, citing new studies.

quote:
Rugman's research chimes with that of other economists. Linda Weiss of Sydney University has challenged the myth of the powerless state, arguing that the number of genuine multinationals is small and that measured by all the important criteria - share of assets, ownership, management, employment, location of R&D - the importance of a home base remains the rule, not the exception. Far from being rugged and independent, business relies on the legal, institutional and financial support only government can provide. After September 11, we didn't hear much from airline companies about the virtues of rolling back the boundaries of the state; they wanted government subsidies - and lots of them - to stave off bankruptcy.

Within this relationship, it is only to be expected that business will press for concession and push at the boundaries; that's what capitalism does. Yet when governments take a stand, imposing new taxes or cracking down on corporate fraud, big business doesn't close down and move to a new country, it adapts, concedes, gets on with life. The ability of capitalism to operate under almost any regime is one of its defining characteristics.

[...]

Finally, the problems of globalisation have as much to do with supine and fellow-travelling political leaders as with the rapaciousness of corporations. If global leaders were to agree on a new blueprint for the global economy embracing human rights, the environment, patents and trade, business would whinge like crazy but would have no choice but to comply. The real issue is whether there is sufficient political will to act. Sadly, that has been a commodity in short supply for 20 years or more.


Will things change? Social democratic parties are forever cowed and intimidated by big business. I certainly don't see a force with that political will in Canada.

[ September 07, 2002: Message edited by: rasmus_raven ]


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
BLAKE 3:16
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2978

posted 08 September 2002 06:16 PM      Profile for BLAKE 3:16     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Big Business is not all powerful. The capitalists would like us as believe as much, but it ain't true.

If we look at the period of the End Of History, we've seen he successful poll tax rebellion in England, the Zapatistata rebellion (accompanie by the militarization of the Mexican state, but also the creation of genuine trade unions, the UNAM strike, the collapse of the PRI), the strike waves in France and Canada, the popular uprisings in Venezuela, Ecausador, and Bolivia, the 1997 UPS strike in the US, the antiglobalization forces in the imperialist countries taking on an internationalist frame work, the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, the recent industial strikes in China, international solidarity for Mumia Abu Jamal, the creation of a Korean labour party...

And this is outside of the sphere of "micro-politics" - the isolated reactions against the capitalist death machine.


From: Babylon, Ontario | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Apemantus
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posted 08 September 2002 07:12 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
the successful poll tax rebellion in England

That was against government (and one woman in particular) not big business.


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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Babbler # 478

posted 09 September 2002 09:38 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It was in Scotland! Scotland!
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Apemantus
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posted 09 September 2002 01:00 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
Well, it was introduced first in Scotland (many policies were, before devolution, to see what the reaction is like. I am not sure whether the rebellion started there, but the main highpoint was the poll tax riots in Trafalgar Square. A classic moment of public disorder and then followed by so many refusals, they had to back down.
From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 09 September 2002 01:36 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I am not sure whether the rebellion started there,

Not only the rebellion -- the poll tax itself started there, was imposed there a year earlier than proposed for the rest of the country. The last Tories left in Scotland (to all of whom I am related by marriage ) were suddenly in full-fledged tax revolt -- it was magnificent.

The fact that that revolt woke the English up and got them off the hook seemed to me a minor result. Much more importantly, the tax itself and the use of Scotland as guinea pig was the last straw for Scots -- after that, devolution became pretty obviously irresistible.


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Apemantus
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posted 09 September 2002 02:13 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The fact that that revolt woke the English up and got them off the hook seemed to me a minor result.

Ummm... I am pretty sure it didn't. As far as I am aware the revolt in England was after its introduction in England, whether Scotland had been rebelling for a year or not.

What were Tories doing opposing it?


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 09 September 2002 02:23 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Sassenach.

I ask Canadian babblers to imagine a Canadian prime minister deciding to test a (generally hated) new tax in one Canadian province for a year before he imposes it on the others. Let's imagine, just for fun, that he picks Quebec as guinea pig -- or maybe Alberta.

What were Scots Tories doing opposing Mrs Thatcher's poll tax??? What were Scots Tories doing opposing Mrs Thatcher's poll tax??? They are Scots, you silly person.


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Apemantus
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posted 09 September 2002 02:33 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
To which I ask the more obvious question:

What the FUCK are Scots doing being Tories??


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
quelar
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posted 09 September 2002 04:16 PM      Profile for quelar     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The Scots never did, and never will know what's going on, that's beside the point.

Anyway, I would like to ask the guy who said this why all sort of companies are moving their headquaters to the caribean islands to avoid taxes?

Why is Kyoto being fought so visiously?

Why are major corporations not paying taxes while conversely making record profits?

We haven't seen any "progressive" legislation in years and the reason for that is because the corporate lobby groups are very well funded.

They're not all-powerful, but they sure as hell have a lot more power then the general populace.


From: In Dig Nation | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 09 September 2002 05:39 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The Scots never did, and never will know what's going on, that's beside the point.

Besides being purely vicious, this is an utterly dorky comment, supported by nothing, and condemning an entire people.

quelar, from my point of view, anyway, you've got a very deep hole to dig yourself out of.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
quelar
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posted 09 September 2002 05:58 PM      Profile for quelar     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Skdadl,

Sorry, neglected to finish that statement off with the mention that I am a quarter Scot, and it was a joke.

I apologise for injuring anyone's feelings, especially those wearing skirts, kilts, or whatever you want to call it.


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skdadl
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posted 09 September 2002 06:12 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
OK. Sniff.

It takes a great people, you know, to live within an imperial class system, to learn it, to absorb it, to behave according to it, as they had to do -- and yet to hold themselves apart imaginatively, as the Scots (and all the other Celts) always did, preserving for so long the memory of a heroic/peasant mythology, whose values and virtues and hierarchies still work according to a different logic, perhaps not inherently democratic, but filled with that potential ...


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Apemantus
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posted 09 September 2002 06:25 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
Oh, pur-lease!

My mother is Scottish, I am half Scottish by birth, lived there for 6 months, would happily retire and die there - it is a beautiful land and the people can be (unsurprisingly given the geography) both friendly and unfriendly!

quote:
It takes a great people, you know, to live within an imperial class system, to learn it, to absorb it, to behave according to it, as they had to do

They had a class/caste system before they were invaded, it wasn't some egalatarian paradise till the nasty English got their grubby hands on it!

quote:
and yet to hold themselves apart imaginatively, as the Scots (and all the other Celts) always did, preserving for so long the memory of a heroic/peasant mythology

Whether it was real or not, looked great on the cinema screen.

quote:
whose values and virtues and hierarchies still work according to a different logic, perhaps not inherently democratic, but filled with that potential ...

Sorry?

Skdadl, I know you like to wax lyrical about the Scots but they are actually just human beings like many other people, though their dislike for the imperial invaders has become somewhat of a joke, even for them. Some of them are fiercely proud and try and continue that line, others accept that it is the past and they move on. Maybe you should?

BTW, many Celts are riven by centuries old enmities, which may well have been justified, but this continued need to maintain the 'mythology' is one of (not the main even, but certainly one of) the underlying reasons for much of today's modern hatreds.

Please, no more of this sap.


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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Babbler # 478

posted 09 September 2002 06:35 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You haven't read Arbroath, have you, Apemantus?

Seriously, Apemantus, I think you're wrong. I think there are cultural collisions that make a difference. I don't have time to elaborate now, because this is my pumpkin hour; but I do think that the revolts of peasant cultures against more corrupt and decadent imperial ones are historically significant, and those clashes continue to matter. I think, eg, that peasant/heroic mythologies mattered and still matter in the Balkans, in ways that imperialists still don't grasp.

And I write as a student of Paris 1750-89. Or first-century Rome. Or here, on my perch, on the verge of Lake Ontario, staring across at that unholy threat to humankind, desperate, in this year of our Lord, etc etc etc


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'lance
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posted 09 September 2002 06:40 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
They had a class/caste system before they were invaded...

Not an imperial one, Apemantus. There's a difference.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Apemantus
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posted 09 September 2002 06:49 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
Yes, there is, but this ridiculous painting/mythologising of them as though ALL wrongs committed to Scots were a result of imperialism and the way that these myths get passed on as a means of reinforcing hatreds decades, centuries after the event is what I object to! Resist imperialism, I agree, but don't make out that it was responsible for everything - that is what Mugabe is doing in Zimbabwe to sustain himself in power, and that is what helped the IRA to justify their bombing campaign. No, I am not equating either of you with them, but the problem is when you get mythologising combined with people not as good as your two selves and that gets passed down the generations that we get problems that take a long time to untangle.
From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 09 September 2002 08:54 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
*BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!*

I detect dangerous levels of thread drift off to starboard, ladies and gentlemen! Course correction imminen-*CRASH!*

.......


Apologies to all. We were briefly broadsided by a large asteroid, but have completed repairs swiftly and are now on track.

-----

So, moving back to the original purpose of this thread, I note that Jim Stanford, like BLAKE 3:16, puts a brave face on the abuse of corporate power by pointing out that businesses may be acting from a position of weakness, not strength, due to the declining rate of profitability to capital since the 1970s.

However, the CEOs and managers who know this have used the judo tactic of turning a weakness into a strength by shifting their investments to where they can get a better return - by buying the politicians and hitting people where they hurt, which is that they need jobs to stay alive.

A $10,000 campaign contribution can get you a $1 million tax break in perpetuity. You can't get a better rate of return than pillaging the taxpayer till, folks.

Just in the first year alone, your contribution gets you back 100-fold the original amount spent. That works out to 10,000%!

One must now ask the question: How can the weakness of the unsustainability of investors' demands that corporations return 15% per year in capital gains or dividends, coupled with the declining profitability to capital, be exposed?

It would be surely fatal to most corporations to continue in this dog-eat-dog fashion if they out-competed each other to oblivion. The question then must ask, how much collateral damage will be done in exposing this weakness?

I solicit answers from all concerned, as I am not sure of them myself.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
BLAKE 3:16
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posted 10 September 2002 11:32 PM      Profile for BLAKE 3:16     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"And when I think of all the talent and energy which goes into devising ways and means of making their [the working class] torment worse, all in the name of efficiency and productivity but really for the greater glory of the great god Capital, my wonder at humanity's ability to create such a monstrous system is surpassed only by amazement at its willingness to tolerate the continuance of an arrangement so obviously destructive of the well-being and happiness of human beings. If the same effort, or only half of it, were devoted to making work the joyous and creative activity it can be, what a wonderful world this could be.

But first of all must come widespread popular understanding of what capitalism really is, and why its seeming necessity and inevitably are in reality only ideological fig leaves to hide the naked self interest of a tiny minority."

from Paul M. Sweezy's foreword, to Harry Braverman's Labor and Monopoly Capital, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1974


From: Babylon, Ontario | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 11 September 2002 12:04 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Ah, Braverman! Blake 3:16, you're well up on your labour history -- well done!

Ah, that is all. Do carry on, what?


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
paxamillion
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posted 11 September 2002 02:18 PM      Profile for paxamillion   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
It takes a great people, you know, to live within an imperial class system, to learn it, to absorb it, to behave according to it, as they had to do -- and yet to hold themselves apart imaginatively, as the Scots (and all the other Celts) always did, preserving for so long the memory of a heroic/peasant mythology, whose values and virtues and hierarchies still work according to a different logic, perhaps not inherently democratic, but filled with that potential ...

Ach, lass, indeed 'tis true.


From: the process of recovery | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged

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