Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whither Corporate power?

I have to say that I truly don't understand why it is that modern conservatives are so willing, even eager, to see corporations have so much power. For a long time it has supposedly been a central tenet of conservatism to oppose big government because of the problem of centralization of power. Now, putting aside for the moment that right-wingers usually actually increase the power and scope of government despite what they claim, right-wing pundits such as the famous Milton Friedman consistently claimed that the fundamental evil to be struggled against in society in general is the concentration of power and he suggested that the market was a adequate bulwark against power. The problem is, of course, that modern corporations are one of the most significant concentrations of power that has ever been and this power is increasing exponentially. And despite what many people think this power is remarkably unaccountable. Large corporations can increasingly operate in obscurity; abusing workers rights, polluting the environment, making unsafe products, etc. And they use cooperative governments and the courts to maintain and reinforce this power. As corporatism expands so does the disparity between rich and poor as a smaller and smaller percentage of the population possess more and more of the wealth. As a result of this disparity and the extreme increases in corporate profits, the courts as well as elected representatives become the playthings of corporate power. Corporations can spend millions to avoid accountability. And since the media is increasingly in corporate hands, the idea of a media that will hold corporations up to public scrutiny is a fantasy.

To make matters significantly worse the present government has demonstrated that it is willing to use the power of government to enforce the interests of the Corporation in relation to workers, even showing that it will legislate workers of non-government corporations back to work. Keep in mind as they push the envelope of this power the Harper government is heading to a time wherein the government can set and or cap your wages, tell you where you have to work, what your hours are, and when you can have time off.  If Harper can tell workers at a private corporation like Air Canada what they must settle on and when they can strike or not, it is a relatively seamless step to them telling all workers in the nation what they must accept and when they have to work.

It is very clear that the right-wing is increasingly working on behalf of large corporations to ensure that individuals have few rights and corporations can do almost anything they want. They even have the majority of people convinced that decent pensions are beyond the scope of our power in the modern economy, while corporations make unprecedented billions and the management of those companies retire with huge pensions in extreme prosperity.

But all of this begs the question, why do right-wingers want to eliminate individual rights, workers' safety, pensions, healthcare, general prosperity, all the while creating a monolithic structure of corporate power in which private companies do almost anything they want and we are turned more or less into modern slaves of the most concentrated, unaccountable power structure in modern history???

I don't know the answer to this question. I just know this creeping evil is well underway.

1 comment:

Owen Gray said...

As Brian Mulroney used to say, Kirby, "Ya dance with them that brung ya."

Pamela Wallin understands that. So does Stephen Harper. Real power is not in their hands.