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The Forum > Article Comments > Executive power > Comments

Executive power : Comments

By Sharon Beder, published 9/6/2006

Corporations position themselves to drive the global agenda.

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Ah yes, those damn mega corporations, us lot are always banging on about them, and so we should be.

Corporations can be an enormous impediment to democracy, often dictating the national agenda, especially for developed countries (think water resources in Bolivia) but also in developed countries (think halliburton in the US).

Its a problem thats as old as the Dutch East indies company, but its definatley become more prominent in the last 20 years.

Of course Ms Beder and myself will be hounded down because corporations can be good for the economy and provide jobs and the rest of it, which is true. But the issue is when corporations dictate their own agenda and the public is powerless to stop them and politicians are unwilling.
Posted by Carl, Friday, 9 June 2006 9:27:26 AM
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Surely this is just the continuing workings of elites. Checked with the rise of democracy and perhaps a degree of guilt concerning the miserable state of workers, now huddled in towns blighted by poverty and pollution, whose work supported the elite.
The new paradigm of the individual and profit at any price has given material wealth to perhaps most at levels satisfying much of the Labour parties agenda on welfare. There was of course no public choice or goods or enterprise allowed by the dogma.
This welfare (fairness?) the new dogma argued constrained the possible cornucopia that freedom from restraint offered, itself theoretically kept in moral check by competition, which would ferret out not only poor products but also prevent collusion and dishonesty. Much has tended to deny such complacent thinking, the collapse and dishonesty involved of many companies with Enron immediately coming to mind.
The other side of the coin has been that whilst the poor of community can be ignored other than by the do good folk, the tick for charitable works, workers have found that material well being does not satisfy them as lifeís aim. Something more is wanted. Perhaps the joy and pain of building enterprises now foreclosed to other than the CEO clubs. Perhaps being active in the democratic growth of their country but this is difficult for the information necessary for doing this is polluted by non disclosure and falsehood. There are many examples, though of course examples alone do not prove a case merely indicate there might be a case. The more recent is exemplified in Clive Hamiltonís letter to the SMH June 8 2006 pointing to the confusion if not deceit of our GHE being diluted by changes in land clearing, admittedly as agreed at Kyoto but certainly special pleading the kind of thing we supposedly abhorred in Kyoto allowing special treatment for the third world.
Posted by untutored mind, Friday, 9 June 2006 10:05:43 AM
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conspiracy theories
Posted by jeremy29, Friday, 9 June 2006 11:21:45 AM
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A very useful and informative article, Sharon Beder.

You wrote : "Governments decide which service sectors they will open up, often without any public consultation or parliamentary vote, and the decision cannot be reversed, even if the majority of voters in a nation want to do so."

Precisely!

Can anyone here confirm a rumour I heard the other day that Australian soldiers are fighting today in Iraq, to defend democracy?

Yet the kind of 'democracy' practised in Australia today is one in which the wishes of 75% of the public opposed to the full privatisation of Telstra were ignored by the Parliament last year.

Queensland Liberal Senator Brett Mason who voted for the legislation, said on 13 September 2005 : "Of all the emails I get, 95 per cent are against the sale of Telstra. ... Nearly everyone who comes into my office and nearly every email I get is against the sale of Telstra."

Brett Mason, knowing better than his constituents, of course, voted for privatisation.

Here's a choice quote from a recent edtiorial from The Australian in which the Federal Government's recent reversal to privatise the Snowy Hydro scheme was denounced :

(See also http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2006/06/02/this-is-getting-to-be-a-habit/#comment-52081)

Sadly, the reversal of the decision to privatise Snowy Hydro is a rare exception to the rule.

The Queensalnd Government is now in the process of selling Energex, the retail arm or Queensland's electricity generation utility so that it can fund the building of the Mary River Dam, which is opposed both by the local residents, and it appears. the majority of Queensland public opinion. (See http://www.savethemaryriver.com).

When he first Government in 1998 (or 1999?) 'Labor' Premier Beattie immediately broke an election promise not to privatise the remaining 50% of the State Government Insurance Office (now known as SunCorp).
Posted by daggett, Friday, 9 June 2006 12:36:53 PM
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Sharon,

Corporations driving global economy is and had been in existence since the French revolution.
The critical survival factor of capitalism is the growth (wealth concentration and maximisation)of today's corporations and wealthy individuals.

To achieve that, corporations need to open new markets and, in respect, reduce their cost of production and delivering goods and services.

Goods and services have to move freely and markets have to compete to attract investment. Same as we do it on a national scale, we need to factor it on a global scale.

Last year there was a milestone case in Germany when the workers unions accepted pay cuts year on year to prevent the car manufacturer from moving the factory overseas.
Which ring alerts of the rise of the working poor in the first world economies as Prof. Wallerstein described it.

The alarming issue in Australia today is the constant moving of factories and processing plants overseas reflects badly on workers unions in Australia (either vision or negotiation capability).

Food for thoughts,
Posted by Fellow_Human, Friday, 9 June 2006 1:18:42 PM
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Good on corporations.

If you dont like it, join one
Posted by Realist, Friday, 9 June 2006 1:23:04 PM
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