As the world starts to globalize, it is accompanied by criticism of the current forms of globalization, which are feared to be overly corporate-led. As corporations become larger and multinational, their influence and interests go further accordingly. Being able to influence and own most media companies, it is hard to be able to publicly debate the notions and ideals that corporations pursue. Some choices that corporations take to make profits can affect people all over the world. Sometimes fatally.
13 articles on “Corporations” and 2 related issues:
Today we know that corporations, for good or bad, are major influences on our lives. For example, of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations while only 49 are countries. In this era of globalization, marginalized people are becoming especially angry at the motives of multinational corporations, and corporate-led globalization is being met with increasing protest and resistance. How did corporations ever get such power in the first place? What was the impact of giving corporations the same right as individuals in 1886 in the United States?
Large, transnational corporations are becoming increasingly powerful. As profits are naturally the most important goal, damaging results can arise, such as violation of human rights, lobbying for and participating in manipulated international agreements, environmental damage, child labor, driving towards cheaper and cheaper labor, and so on. Multinational corporations claim that their involvement in foreign countries is actually a constructive engagement as it can promote human rights in non-democratic nations. However, it seems that that is more of a convenient excuse to continue exploitative practices.
Through tax havens, transfer pricing and many other policies — both legal and illegal — billions of dollars of tax are avoided. The much-needed money would helped developing (and developed) countries provide important social services for their populations.
Some tax avoidance, regardless of how morally objectionable it may be to some people, is perfectly legal, and the global super elite are able to hide away trillions of dollars, resulting in massive losses of tax revenues for cash-strapped governments who then burden ordinary citizens further with austerity measures during economic crisis, for example. Yet these super elite are often very influential in politics and business. In effect, they are able to undermine democracy and capitalism at the same time.
As the global financial crisis has affected many countries, tackling tax avoidance would help target those more likely to have contributed to the problem while avoid many unnecessary austerity measures that hit the poorest so hard. But despite rhetoric stating otherwise, it does not seem to high on the agenda of many governments as you might think.
For a while now, pharmaceutical companies have been criticized about their priorties. It seems the profit motive has led to emphasis on research that is aimed more at things like baldness and impotence, rather than various tropical diseases that affect millions of people in developing countries.
Unfortunately, while a large market therefore exists, most of these people are poor and unable to afford treatments, so the pharmaceutical companies develop products that can sell and hence target wealthier consumers.
In addition, there is concern at how some pharmaceutical companies have been operating: from poor research and trial practice to distorting results, and politically lobbying and pressuring developing countries who try to produce generics or try to get cheaper medicines for their citizens.
The AIDS crisis is one example that highlights the motives of some of the larger pharmaceutical corporations. When South Africa wanted to try and produce cheaper drugs to help its own people, by producing more generic and cheaper drugs, these companies actually lobbied the US government to impose sanctions on them!
Many industries such as the energy and fossil fuels industry leave many environmental problems in their wake. Because international lending schemes are tied with reforms that include cutting back on regulatory and safety measures such as health, education and the environment, problems can arise without many resources available to deal with them. While large corporations are able to profit, the costs from environmental and other damage has to be borne by the local population.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a bit of a buzz word and some feel that it has been diluted from its original aims, while others are trying to find innovative ways to engage with businesses to be more responsible in their practices.
When companies see children as an enormous market with incredible purchasing power, it leads to a lot of advertising and marketing targeted directly at them. Some are concerned at the effect it has as children, teaching them to be consumers and overly conscious about materialistic things, perhaps even at the expense of human qualities from an early age.
For many companies, the largest cost is often the work force. Hence, where profits are the bottom line, it is only natural for companies to seek out the cheapest labor possible. However, when international agreements are often designed to foster an environment where cheaper and cheaper labor is promoted, the workers themselves are often not paid enough to live on. When a nation tries to provide regulatory steps to improve workers conditions (which does mean more costs to the companies), multinational corporations naturally pick up and go to other places where there are less measures in place. In this way, improving working conditions will always be difficult, as it is not in the interest of the large companies.
Transnational corporations are able to exert enormous influence in no less a powerful body as the World Trade Organization (WTO). These corporations are closely linked to the WTO decision-makers themselves.