Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ralph Nader and the steamroller of corporate power

"Not withstanding the latest corporate crime wave, the devastating fallout on workers, investors and taxpayers from the greed and corruption of Wall Street, and the abandonment of American workers by US corporations in favour of repressive regimes abroad, the Democrats have failed to focus voter anger on the corporate supremacists.........
The giant corporate control of our country is so vast that people who call themselves anything politically- liberal, conservative, progressive , libertarian, independent or anarchist- should be banding together against the reckless Big Business steamroller"
Ralph Nader, legendary US consumer advocate, lawyer and author on corporate power in the USA

Friday, October 29, 2010

Public sector reform=bosting corporate profits

George Monbiot on exactly what "public sector reform" really means in David Cameron's vision of the UK Big Society. 

Lesson to be learned- when Conservatives and Liberals, like Colin Barnett, talk about reforming the public sector this is what they mean:
"Public bodies whose purpose is to hold corporations to account are being swept away. Public bodies whose purpose is to help boost corporate profits, regardless of the consequences for people and the environment, have sailed through unharmed. What the two lists suggest is that the economic crisis is the disaster the Conservatives have been praying for. The government’s programme of cuts looks like a classic example of disaster capitalism: using a crisis to re-shape the economy in the interests of business"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gross hypocrisy and BHP Billiton

The London Mining Network has published this piece on BHP Billiton's London AGM. The report reveals the huge gulf between BHP Billiton's rhetoric about corporate social responsibility  and sustainable development and the reality of its actions on the ground that destroys communities, local economies, environments and livelihoods. 

There is no better example of BHP's hypocrisy than its stance on climate change. CEO Marius Kloper says that BHP  accepts the science and believes that greenhouse gas emissions need to be limited so that the increase in average atmospheric temperatures can be held at two degrees above the pre-industrial average. 

But BHP Billiton believes that it is up society and governments to decide on the way forward. (That is unless society and governments come up with a strategy unacceptable to BHP, in which case they will oppose  and destroy it like they did the Rudd Government proposal to introduce a Super Profits tax here in Australia).

BHP will continue to ramp up its plans to increase production of coal, oil and gas in the hope that currently unavailable technical solutions might one day help limit the effects of burning them. And BHP claims that its increased investment in uranium mining will be beneficial for global warming. 

The report concludes with this:
"BHP Billiton sees itself as indispensable to the prosperity of the world. Millions of the world’s poor are apparently relying on it to help them embrace the urbanised life of high consumption which it believes to be their destiny. Those who have a different view – like Indigenous communities in Kalimantan or small farmers in Colombia – have to be moved out of the way. BHP Billiton plans to continue mining, burning and irradiating its way towards a vision of the future that its board finds inspiring and which many of its critics reject as apocalyptic".
 A protest against BHP  in Perth is to be held at the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre on Tuesday 16th November between 10.100am-2pm.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Challenging corporate power requires challenging economic orthodoxy

"We need to develop a new way of conceiving the economic process. In calling for an end to economics, I am not suggesting that we should dismiss everything that economists have learned about the economy. Some economic insights are useful. Our goal should be to build up an understanding of the economy in a context that transcends the narrow context of economic theory that characterizes modern economic theory. In doing so, we may lay the groundwork for an economy that transcends our outmoded capitalist way of life." 

Michael Perelman Railroading Economics

Stephen Marglin calls it the "dismal science". Michael Perelman writes about the ideological straitjacket of modern economics. James Galbraith describes contemporary economics in terms of a god that failed, a governing creed whose fallacies have been exposed by events of recent years.  In his book Economia Australian Geoff Davies writes that we have all become so accustomed to the current economic regime that we fail to see how absurd it is. He is right.

Contemporary economics provides the intellectual justification for corporate power. If we are to expose and challenge corporate power then we must also expose the fallacies at the heart of contemporary economics and economic theory. With that goal in mind I am currently reading the books pictured, all of which present a radical and sustained critique of contemporary economics. They challenge the idea that market and market forces are a solution to our social, environmental and economic problems.

These books don't just expose discredited contemporary economic orthodoxies, they also document the destructive effects of those orthodoxies in the real world (rather than the theories of economists and business leaders). These authors more importantly set an  alternative and radical economic agenda for the future.

The books pictured include:
Stephen Margeli (2008) The Dismal Science
Michael Perelman (2006) Railroading Economics
James Gustav Speth (2008) The Bridge at the End of the World