Friday, 15 April 2011

Canadians: Prime minister should act like a CEO

This story is profoundly depressing. It shows how successful the corporate/right wing mindset has become. Most CEOs have none of the qualities identified "Having vision and leadership" not being exactly necessary. On the other hand most corporations behave like psychopaths - ignoring every human emotion except greed and aggrandizement. A corporation need only deliver one thing - a satisfactory rate of return to its shareholders. Indeed by law that is required of corporations - its only duty of care is to the people who invest in it. At one time successful companies had to take care of their employees and their customers, and there was indeed a careful balancing act. Many great companies even found ways to actually set an example to governments. The first "public housing" for instance was built by the quaker owned chocolate company Cadbury's - whose employee housing was far better when first built than any tied housing seen before. Port Sunlight - built by a soap maker - is still visited by urban planners an an example of best practice in built environments.

These days it is only the bottom line that matters to most CEOs - and the share price. Many companies now simply trade on the basis of the prospects of future earnings. The dot com boom (and bust) seemingly taught investors nothing: huge values are ascribed to enterprises that produce nothing and have nothing like an adequate revenue source.

The psychopath has no empathy. Nor do the companies that send their manufacturing off shore, to exploit workers in sweat shops in conditions that are illegal in the markets where the goods are actually sold. They destroy the environment, acting with callous disregard not just for the health and safety of their employees but everyone in the immediate vicinity - or indeed the whole world. The corporations fund misinformation campaigns, carefully building distrust of scientists or anyone who objectively reviews their operations. The tobacco industry has been found guilty of misrepresentation of the harm its products causes, but they still trade. The same techniques are now employed by big oil and coal companies who fund the climate change denial lobby. They are responsible for the inaction of the world's leaders to deal with the biggest risk that all life as we know it now faces. The fishing industry simply eliminates entire species - throws away much by catch - and then moves on into deeper waters having rendered the best fishing grounds deserts. The only difference between PG&E or Bernie Madoff and most large corporations is that they got caught. Most of the offenders are not even investigated let alone charged. many simply move off shore to avoid paying taxes or being subject to regulation. And desperate small countries offer them shelter in return for pitiful sums to allow them to survive: the flag of convenience comes very cheap to the company but at huge cost to sea farers. All of us pay more taxes (and these days fees and charges too) and suffer from withdrawal of essential services in order that the wealthy and the corporations they operate can get richer. It is possibly very telling that John le Carre - the pen name of an author who used to wrote spy fiction about the evils of the KGB and CIA - now writes about big pharmaceutical companies: if anything their behaviour is worse.

A Prime Minister ought to have regard for the well being of all of the citizens of the country he is elected to govern. He should be scrupulous, and be aware of the problems of other countries and peoples as he is called to represent us on the world stage. Our present PM has been responsible for the catastrophic drop in Canada's reputation. We were once seen as an example. We are now seen as a puppet in the hands of the multinational corporations as these are the only interests that are recognized as valid by what we are taught is no longer "The Government of Canada" but "The Harper Government ".

We do not need as CEO as PM. We need a statesman. Or woman. But of course the only one of them that is running is not even allowed into the debates

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