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No Exit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 12:54 PM
Original message
A question concerning gigantic corporations
Hey, I just read somewhere that of the 100 largest economies in the world, 49 of them are nations, and the other 51 are large multinational corporations.

Though the freepists refuse to criticize the constant trend towards larger and larger corporations, they whine constantly about the "erosion of our borders", etc. Because we take a different view of this alleged "erosion"--acknowledging the humanity of "foreigners"--I think we are probably more capable of understanding why borders of nations are less meaningful than they used to be.

I think it's because there are these large, floating, powerful entities operating throughout the world.

Now, we political news junkies constantly scrutinize every aspect of nations' governments. Shouldn't we also (with the help of the internet) be seeking info on, and scrutinizing, the "governments", etc., of these big multinational players?

Because I, for one, think that it is a big multinational player--or, several of them--who are keeping us in Iraq, in clear defiance of the will of an overwhelming majority of people. Yes, I'm talking about the big multinational oil companies.

We have proved we can take down national governments. So why can't we also take down big, multinational corporations? At the very least, shouldn't we get informed about the PEOPLE who compose these big entities? I'd like to know who they are, what their names are, what they do on a daily basis, etc.
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:00 PM
Response to Original message
1. Um, America is owned by CORPS.
They pay off the dems, the pukes, everyone. It is hard to find the good guys.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. *DING* *DING* *DING* We have a winner.
It's inevitable we all have to work for them in some fashion.

The best way to do it is to do a good job and point out when things go wrong. With luck they'll listen. :shrug:

That or everybody in America can resign from their posts to show we're all valuable, which is the only way any stern change would happen (good luck on that... nobody's going to do it. And when the Mexican-Americans (legal or otherwise) staged their own mass-walkout attempt a few months ago to show America how valuable they think they are, it barely made a blip. They proved they're as valuable as the rest of us (or lack thereof, but either way we're all the same in the end). Nice of them to prove a point, however. )

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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. peace and low stress to you ht
Best for you in the New Year...
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tbyg52 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #4
11. I don't think we can control them by walking out, no...
But I do think the government can and should put curbs on their size and behavior. Like it *used* to.
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No Exit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #4
12. Incidentally, I see Buzzflash has an article about a multinational super union
which, according to their headline, has just been "born" to combat the multinational super corporations. Sounds quite promising. (The article is from the Chicago Tribune, for which I am not registered.)
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. I need a link to that bad boy
can you find one for me please?

THANKS and peace... peace and low stress...
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ikojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #12
20. There was a union that existed 100 years ago...this union
believed workers should organize across nation state boundaries. They believed in one big union. Unfortunately with the help of the AFL and the CIO they were brought down.
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-06-07 11:46 AM
Response to Reply #12
26. link it up bro
:kick: for a link!
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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 05:30 AM
Response to Reply #1
21. until we re-establish citizen control of corporations, nothing will change . . .
when you look at all of the crucial problems facing this nation and the planet, EVERY one of them has, at its root, corporate action, inaction, and/or illegality . . . the war, the environment, healthcare, all of it . . . every system, every law, every "ethic" is designed to maximize corporate profits at the expense of everything and everyone else . . . their ongoing pollution of the air, the water, the land, and the culture is driving the planet to the brink of destruction . . .

unless and until we STRICTLY regulate corporations, none of our other problems will ever be solved . . . and that's a fact . . .
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:01 PM
Response to Original message
2. It's a funny double standard, isn't it?
Especially when some of them gripe about the poor service quality of said corporations.

This isn't to say all corporations or bad, but when a big business comes in to wipe out the competition yet doesn't deliver the same product or service just as good, I've got problems there. (That's why I don't use Geek Squad and in return tell them the entire diatribe I tell people who ask me I ought to go work for them.)

Best Buy can sell what they want. That's how they got big. To barge in with repair or setup/administration services is not a good thing and we've seen the results: Poor work, customers glossed over, plenty of repeat visits, misplaced paperwork, long turnaround time, I could go on for ages. I've only heard complaints against Geek Squad. And in order to get into that organization, one must go through the standard Best Buy hiring practices -- this is a disservice because BB's personality profiling tests weed out the most capable people (introverts and geeks, all they want are extroverted wind-up tin soldiers to parrot what's written on a box!)

How can small businesses reclaim fields demolished by the big do-nothing businesses? (and some big businesses are worthy... don't think I'm making a glib generalization. But the ones who aren't should be everyone's concern, and there are many whose names are worth mentioning.)
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cornermouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. I don't know about the Geek Squad, but when it comes to Best
Buy, well...

1. They no longer sell the computer games that I used to go in and browse for.
2. If you pick up something to buy, they run you through like cattle in the kill chute at the slaughterhouse.

Shopping there has become a stress filled hassle, not something I do for fun so I almost never go there any more.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #2
18. oh, yeah.
i got a llllooooonnnngggg story about my laptop, and the geeks.
i really make an effort to avoid the big boxes if i can. one of the nice things about living in a big city is that there is a lot of competition still hanging on. my first choice for tech stuff is microcenter real actual service, solid warranties, and only the best products. not 100 camcorders, just the 10-15 best ones on the market.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:01 PM
Response to Original message
3. That's from the Institute for Policy Studies ... about 6 years old

It can only be worse now. :puke:

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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. thanks for the link
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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. That info and a list if Countries/Corportions in order of wealth
is also in Lou Dobbs' book. Ijust read it last night.
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No Exit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Ah! A starting point. Thank you.
Of course, I will be getting Lou's book through the library when it becomes available--cheapskate that I am.:)

But I want to know the names of the people who make up these corporations, too! I mean, why not? The people who make up the governments of countries are known and scrutinized, aren't they?

And their bylaws. Laws of nations are scutinized... why not corporations' inner workings?

To me, knowing the names of the people would be a step towards holding these huge, powerful entities somewhat responsible for their doings.

My original post was thought of after I'd read an article telling how Monsanto at last bought and gained control over Delta Pine and Land. It seems there had been a failed attempt at this "marriage" in the late 90's, resulting in a lawsuit. But then in August 2006, the big deal went down. So now Monsanto has some sort of controlling interest involving cotton. And this controlling interest is a peril to third world cotton growers.

And of course we know that Monsanto is the corporation with the TERMINATOR GENE technology--the tech that makes plants develop with sterile seeds, so those who plant Monsanto plants end up with mature plants which will not reproduce themselves, forcing the growers to ever after have to buy new seeds each year from... Monsanto. And the growers can't necessarily refuse to buy, etc. I recall a patent lawsuit by Monsanto against some western farmer who had the temerity to save seeds from one of its plant types that WASN'T sterile.
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stillcool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:03 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. my latest find...
that I consider a holy grail for restoring logic to my mind was written in 1963, but shows in clear detail the origins of these global corporations, and how they got to where they were, albeit way back when. It includes the names of Brown & Root, DuPont, Dow, Reynolds, W.R.Grace, ...all the usual suspects. The name of it is "The Rich and the Super-Rich" by Ferdinand Lundberg. I got it from the library quite by accident, and had to buy it. It's chock full of information, and could not have been written better. So many times, my eyes glaze over when reading books with this much information... making any pertinent facts inaccessible.
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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:42 PM
Response to Reply #9
15. The book this is in is Lou's book from 2004, so it should be at
your library by now. It's titled "Exporting America".
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WritersBlock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:30 PM
Response to Original message
10. This is somewhat dated (2004), but interesting still: Lets you map connections between corporations.

This is from 2002, so I don't know how accurate it still is:

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LiberalEsto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:35 PM
Response to Original message
13. One answer: multinational unions
It's not the entire solution, but it's a great first step. Here's an article about an international workers union being formed to stand up to multinational corporations.,,1980298,00.html
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
16. We don't have to work for them. We don't have to give them any more of our money, time, attention,
than necessary.

It's too bad the first replies assume the inevitability of corporate servitude rather than challenge it.

Deciding we DO have a choice (beyond CokeorPepsi, PaperorPlastic) is the first step in finding an answer to your question.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 05:43 PM
Response to Original message
19. Two thoughts: 1. Busting monopolies. 2. Pulling corporate charters (which
Edited on Mon Jan-01-07 06:06 PM by Peace Patriot
are granted by individual states).

1. Busting monopolies

One of the stories of the development of progressive government in the US is the tradition of "trust-busting"--the struggle against over-powerful monopolies. Some people say capitalism itself is the cause of unending woes--especially right now--but it's more the monopolistic practices of corporations that are in fact PREVENTING any kind of real "free trade." Giants like Barnes & Noble, or Office Depot, move into town--and bang, the three little book stores with personal service and their walls lined with cheap second hand books, or the local stationary store, go out of business. Thus, customers have no choices, and the presumed functions of the "free market" (for instance, customer choice of personal service) cannot operate. Choice is PREVENTED by the bigness and power of the monopoly--which, for instance, can absorb losses over a long period of time--and undercut the local prices--in order to drive the competition out, and gain sole control over the market. And that's when they start cutting jobs and services, and raising prices.

The classic example is the railroad barons of the late 1800s/early 20th century, which resulted in a Repub, Teddy Roosevelt's campaign against monopolies ("speak softly and carry a big stick"), and also in populist movements in California and elsewhere. The railroad barons greatly abused the power they acquired from government favors and lack of government action to prevent their large monopolistic control of both rail service and large tracts of land.

Let me put it this way: Corporations are ANTI-capitalist, and you could even say UN-American. The liberal ("laissez faire") philosophy of capitalism was based on COMPETITION--a truly free and open market, in which the best products and best services succeed because they are the best. I remember when you drove into a gas station and FOUR gas station attendants immediately surrounded you with love and care--cleaning your windshields, checking your oil, checking your tires, filling your gas tank and offering you bonuses (a set of cookware, for instance) for choosing their gas station. With the giant monopolies in the oil industry--their control of both the product and the retailing, also collusion among them on prices, and the top investors and CEOS ripping off the bulk of the profits--personal service has ended. They DON'T HAVE TO please customers. And they feel ZERO responsibility to provide local jobs, provide decent salaries and benefits, and to contribute in any way to the good of the community they are selling gas to. In fact, they greedily price gouge, and pollute--and use their enormous power to prevent any reform. And now these gigantic, monopolistic powers own...I don't know, maybe a fifth of the ag land in California, and were behind a bad initiative (Prop 13), which was sold as a law to prevent old people from losing their homes due to increasing property taxes, but was in truth a measure to exempt the OIL COMPANIES from land taxes.

Some feel that corporate monopolies have so egregiously abused the capitalistic system that the system is irredeemable. Indeed, the monopolistic/capitalistic system--a system of global corporate predation--is now killing the very planet we all live on, and killing it very fast. (World Wildlife Fund gives the planet 50 years--50 years to the DEATH of the planet!--at present levels of pollution and consumption.) Their greed and their mindless pursuit of profit are entirely out of control. And think about this: Why were the corporatists in the US so bent upon achieving non-transparent elections here, by the fast-tracking of electronic voting run on TRADE SECRET, PROPRIETARY programming code, owned and controlled by Bushite corporations?

I think the answer is obvious. We, the (theoretically) sovereign people of the US, have the power to pull their corporate charters, and/or to bust their monopolies, and/or to regulate them and force them to provide true public service in exchange for the PRIVILEGE of doing business here. Which brings me to the second point...

2. Pulling corporate charters (which are granted by individual states).

Thomas Jefferson was extremely worried about the potential power of business consortiums and monopolies, but he was equally concerned about preventing the central government from acquiring too much power (model of King George III and much of Europe--centralized power leads to tyranny). In the arguments between the federalists (more centralized power) and the states' rightists (more dispersed power), he yielded to the latter on corporate monopolies, and believed that the dispersed power of the states (closer to the people) was a better check and balance on corporate power. So, in the US, only the individual states can charter corporations. Many of them are chartered in New Jersey--no doubt because of its lax laws on what is required of the corporation (i.e., public good) for that license to do business. And federal law has colluded to make these charters good across state borders--so that, say, the people in California have no power over the chartering of a big corporation in New Jersey, which is then free to operate in all states including California, and whatever registering/licensing rules or other regulations there are, beyond the basic charter, have also become lax everywhere. And, as corporations have grown more and more wealthy and powerful--and especially with the Supreme Court marginal note that gave them perpetual life--there is no political will to curtail them--to pull their charters, dismantle them, deprive them of eternal life, deny them rights of an individual, regulate them, seize their assets for the common good, etc. Politicians are bought off. Curtailing private business corporations is COMMON SENSE. Outsourcing jobs, destroying a country's natural resources, dictating its taxation and other laws--even kings did not put up with this. And we, the sovereigns of THIS country, should not either. It is nuts--suicidal, self-destructive--not to regulate big business and keep corporations on a short leash.

Congress, which is OUR specific actor in the federal government--the peoples' forum and lawmaker--represents our SOVEREIGN power as a people. And they have been bought off by the corporations. The president, who should be fulfilling the ancient role of the executive--the king, protector of the land (also protector of the people against lawless rich land barons and others)--has similarly been bought off. No one who does not support massive Corporate Power can even be nominated or elected president. Clinton was a major destroyer of our sovereignty (simply gave away our powers to regulate business, in NAFTA and other trade deals). But Bush takes the cake--the Corporate Rulers, and the war profiteers in particular, directly control him. This is a very upside down/backwards situation. You wonder why so much of the blather that comes out of Washington DC sounds like the Red Queen, in "Alice in Wonderland," ordering the white roses to be painted red? Nuts, in other words. This is why. We, the people, who are supposedly the sovereigns of this land and are entitled to benefit from its resources, with the government as our SERVANT, no longer matter. The Bush Junta doesn't have to care what we think. The Corporations--now, with their TRADE SECRET vote counting--put them there, and keep them there. The People no longer have any say over policy--and, even with the huge Democratic victory in Congress in November (a much bigger win than was planned--the people outvoted the machines, in my opinion), we still can't seem to get OUR views implemented. 70% of the people in this country--70%!--oppose the Iraq War. How soon do YOU think we're going to be out of there, if ever? The war profiteering corporations are setting policy, and we have no say. These gigantic, monopolistic, taxpayer-leaching corporations must be brought back under public control!

How do we do it NOW--now that they have become, in essence, the Corporate Rulers--that is, now that they rule over us with not even the accountability of kings. They are monarchs without borders. They can shift operations and assets around the globe to avoid taxation and regulation, and also to seek out the cheapest labor markets and the most unprotected resources. And they've formed their own powerful, secretive, international organizations--the World Trade Organization, the World Bank/IMF, etc.--with which to enforce their rule in every country where they can get a rich elite to cooperate.

Well, that is the problem that hit home in South America before it hit home here. What THEY are doing is vast grass roots community organizing, AND--very important--serious long hard work on TRANSPARENT elections (by the OAS, the Carter Center, EU monitoring groups and local civic groups and activists). And they are electing leftist (majorityist) governments everywhere--Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador--with big movements also in Peru and Paraguay, and in southern Mexico and Mexico City. Also in central America, Daniel Ortega recently won the presidential election in Nicaragua. And the common themes of all of these governments and huge social movements is anti-neo-liberalism, i.e., anti-US global corporate predation. They are seeking self-determination, regional cooperation toward that end, control of their own natural resources for the benefit of the people who live there, and social justice (empowerment, participation of the vast poor population, at long last).

So one thing we could do is work on TRANSPARENT elections. And, once the vote counting is back in the public venue--and seeable--then we can start electing representatives who will implement other electoral reforms, primarily public financing of election campaigns --and getting rid of the utter pigsty of the campaign donation system, which is primarily for paying for highly expensive--and generally utterly uninformative--TV ads, with most political money pouring into the pockets of super-rich, war profiteering, corporate news monopolies. We need to secure transparent elections and take back our public airwaves for political debate! And then on to regulating and curtailing corporations--perhaps in joint efforts with countries like those mentioned above, and other like-minded leftist (majorityist) governments (Spain, Italy, Germany, South Korea).

It CAN be done! You want to know who the real culprit of the Iraq War is--the war profiteers! --and that includes the corporate news monopolies, as well as military contractors. This is the ultimate outrage of Corporate Rule--unjust, unnecessary, MANUFACTURED war for the purpose of profiteering off the deaths of US soldiers and hundreds of millions of innocent people! This outrage can motivate the needed changes, re: curtailment of corporate power. Outsourcing of our manufacturing capability and millions of jobs have also already stimulated resistance--towns that have resisted Wal-Marts, states (and universities) where anti-sweatshop movements are well under way, Democratic Congresspeople who are looking at rescinding NAFTA. However, the heart of the problem--corporate power, particularly BIG corporate power (multinational oil giants, etc.)--is not yet being addressed directly. We really need to attack them directly, and start looking into their very charters to do business here. And we need to "return to the days of yesteryear," and get out Teddy Roosevelt's "big stick" and start dismantling corporate monopolies.

You think this sounds far out? Well, how far out must it have sounded a decade or so ago, to Bolivians as Bechtel Corp. prepared to take over their water supply, or to Argentinians, whose economy and society was being ripped to shreds by World Bank/IMF policy, or to Venezuelans whose oil elite were pouring all profits from the country's oil into their own pockets with no benefit to anyone else--how must the ideas of grass roots rebellion, and clean elections, have sounded to these exploited people, brutally suppressed over decades and centuries? Somebody, somewhere, thought it wasn't so far out, and started spreading that idea and working on political empowerment of the majority.

Every one of these situations has been dramatically changed, and remedied, by peaceful democratic action. If the South Americans can do it, so can we. We live at the vortex of this evil, and special measures have been taken to propagandize us, to deny us essential information and, above all, to disenfranchise us. We need to know this--that there are reasons for our disempowerment which have nothing to do with our peoples' apathy or stupidity. In fact, I don't buy the "sheeple" argument at all, re: Americans. I think we are special case of disempowerment--a sort of "slow frog boil" disempowerment--and, once we start making those disempowerment measures conscious, we begin to overcome them--whether it's the apparent powerlessness of our vote, or the meaninglessness of the political drivel we hear on TV/radio, or the ugliness of the fascism in all media, and in the White House.

We can have a peaceful, democratic, leftist (majorityist) revolution here, too.
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Heywood J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 03:17 PM
Response to Reply #19
25. That would about do it
Revoking a few corporate charters in case of severe crimes would get the attention of execs. Things like fraud, Enron/Worldcom-style book-cooking, third or fourth offense for hiring illegals, multiple felonies, etc.

But to know that such a punishment could be handed down, along with actual speedy trials? I think that would go a long way towards demonstrating to ordinary Americans that the system is being fixed.
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MGD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 05:40 AM
Response to Original message
22. I understand your position on multinationals but they do create good jobs for Americans sometimes.
Edited on Tue Jan-02-07 05:41 AM by MGD
As such, I don't feel that we need to "take them down". We need to encourage them to come here and set up shop but we need to ensure that the principle of one man-one vote is preserved in the process. I think national health care would be a good incentive to bring them in and serious energy policy reforms would keep them here. In my dream world, energy would be free in America. Think of what that would do for our GDP.
edit error
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rman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 06:55 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. I'd say "sometimes" is hardly good enough -
most of the jobs they create are lousy - in some cheap labor country run by a dictatorship that has "US interests at heart", as the State Department puts it.

Regulations for international trade are created by the large transnational corporations - with hardly any government oversight. In effect part of the legislative process has been outsourced to commercial interests.

Their idea of "encouragement" is to lower wages, environmental protection, labor safety etc - anything to cut costs in order to "increase profits, which is good for the economy, which will benefit everyone" - you know the sales pitch.

I agree that there's nothing wrong with corporations per se, but there's a lot wrong with way most of them conduct business these days. Most of what's going wrong is due to corporate self-regulation. A lot needs to be done to right these wrongs.
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MGD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 07:10 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. I don't disagree. I just think we should try to find a happy balance somewhere in all of this
rather than look at it strictly as "Us Vs. Them". Without corporations, there are no jobs. Without jobs, there is no money for all those things we like to buy. The real problem today is that we need them more than they need us.
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