On Lori Wallach

Lori Wallach has just toured New Zealand on an anti-TPPA speaking tour with Jane Kelsey. Both are long time campaigners against international trade agreements, globalisation and corporations.

Wallach founded the Global Trade Watch section of Public Citizen in 1995. From her profile on their website:

Lori Wallach has promoted the public interest regarding globalization and international commercial agreements in every forum: Congress and foreign parliaments, the courts, government agencies, the media, and the streets.

For 20 years Wallach has played a prominent role in the United States and internationally in the roiling debate over the terms of globalization.

As a relentless campaigner, Wallach has played an important role in creating public debate and supporting public activism about the implications of different models of globalization on jobs, livelihoods, and wages; the environment; public health and safety; and democratically accountable governance.

I’ve seen Wallach speak on the Auckland meeting live stream and have now seen her speak in person in Dunedin.

She wrote Whose Trade Organization? A Comprehensive Guide to the WTO, published in 2004. At Amazon this book as several 5 star reviews that look like promotions, balanced by as many 2-3 star reviews. One of these sounds quite a bit like how Wallach came across in her anti-TPPA speeches.

October 6, 2005
I had to read Whose Trade Organization for a graduate level political science course. The books is perfect for those arguing on the anti-globalization side of the debate and may be somewhat useful for those who argue for limited or slow globalization reforms.

Unfortunately the book has clouded and conflated issues, subscribes to fallacious reasoning, and blatantly ignores empirical evidence. Whether she is pushing an ideological viewpoint or ignorant of reality is another question that I won’t answer..

There is absolutely no evidence that suggests more free trade creates poverty. Evidence suggests the opposite. The real income of third world labor (As happened in the first world in the 19th century) is on the rise, not decline. Yes there is an “inequality” in this rise, but global society is rising as a whole. To suggest this inequality is wrong or bad is to make the assumption that the wealth of the world is a zero sum game…which it is not. Looking at relative gains in economics is a fallacious way of viewing the world.

There is also no evidence that suggests that more economic openness, also known as economic freedom, reduces democracy. As a matter of fact the overwhelming empirical evidence suggests that the more open a society is the more civil and political freedoms citizens enjoy. Countries who suppress economic trade tend to be far less democratic but most often tyrannical dictatorships.

The author seems to subscribe to an idea that democracy is defined by action a government can take, specifically, action in regard to the political majority. She believes that increasing globalization (more importantly classic liberalism: for non political and econ types this means free trade and limited government) will reduce democracy by reducing governments ability to take action to “solve problems” or through accountability to the people.

The reality is…again the opposite. In no way can anyone construe a political majority as being an example of governmental accountability. This is what classic theorists described as a tyranny of the majority, where a group votes themselves the wealth of the nation at the expense of the minority. In modern times such notions of majority rule led to segregation, discrimination, and everyone’s favorite: Nazi Germany, who by the way were elected to lead Germany democratically. Who seriously wants to argue that democracy is defined by majority rule?

She also confuses government action with government sovereignty. Yes, governments will lose sovereignty over economic policies through globalization. But this by no means demonstrates a loss of accountability to the people. Again she is conflating government action with the will (tyranny) of the majority and assuming this is accountability.

The fact is that the policy preferences she desires produce the results she hates. Governments who retain the ability to economically discriminate (set up protections) give a great deal of power to the capital owners in that society. They are effectively able to protect their capital from outside competition at the expense of the domestic consumer who must now pay high prices for goods. At the international level, foreign producers find themselves restricted as to where they can import and as a result labor in those countries find themselves unable to develop and pull themselves up from poverty. Corporations learn to use government intervention to their own advantage at the expense of society.

She also operates under the fallacious assumption that corporations seeking their own advantage under a free market will reduce democracy and, as the anti globalization protestors like to scream, a “tyranny of profits” or rule by corporation. That simply isn’t the case, nor possible. Competition between corporations will increase greatly, reducing any political power you think they wield now. Because voluntary transaction is the rule of the game for free trade, corporations will only be able to attract profits by getting customers to purchase products or services. With competition in the mix each company must do their best to attract customers by being the best, having the highest quality, the lowest price good, or a combination of these or other issues. The result is simple, corporations are accountable to the people because their survival depends on it! Those corporations who are unable to give the people want the want in the market either die out or innovate and try again. Furthermore, limited governments under free trade won’t be able to take action to give corporations special privileges…special privileges that make “special interests” possible.

I find it absolutely silly to argue that corporations are taking advantage of everyone and then follow it up with an argument for more government intervention. I find it even sillier to want to help the third world poor and then argue economic protection for first world industries and agriculture from weak and developing third world industries and agriculture.

The problem is not the WTO it is globalization that is maturing in a world that still accepts an archaic form of global trade: mercantilism. Scholars like these conflate mercantilist-capitalism with free trade-capitalism and assume all the negative aspects of protectionism (a mix of voluntary and coercive transactions) will occur under a system of free trade (voluntary transaction). Mercantilism and Free Trade are polar opposites and neither are necessary conditions for globalization (that is globalization can occur under either, I believe). The on balance will ONLY be positive for the world if Free Trade is the rule set, which is what the WTO pushes. Mercantilism, socialism, communism will only make poverty worse, stagnate economies, restrict innovation, exploit the consumer, and result in a very privileged elite at the expense of society.

Overall, the book is incorrect in its assessment of opening trade and reducing trade restrictions. The results of which will not be more poverty or a reduction in democracy. The book is the result of years of fallacious reasoning, clouded facts, and illogical arguments.

 

42 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  30th January 2016

    An excellent critique. Thanks Pete. This is exactly the kind of response our academics should be giving Kelsey. Not sure if they are too ignorant or too gutless – Eric Crampton excepted.

  2. Blazer

     /  30th January 2016

    Patrick R.Gibbons critique fails because he does not present any factual ,evidential examples to support his viewpoint.All theory…all sizzle and no sausage.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  30th January 2016

      He makes many statements which can be verified by those who don’t already know them to be true from their own experience or study. Debate any if you wish.

    • Much like Kelsey and Wallach?

      • Blazer

         /  30th January 2016

        Behave Pete,the ‘Labour did it too’ defence has its limitations.

        • If Kelsey has any substantial alternative proposals I’m happy to evaluate them. Do you know if she has any?

          • Blazer

             /  30th January 2016

            Why should there necessarily be an alternative to corporations pet projects.We are getting along just fine without this b/s.

            • If we had no trade deals and no trade with corporations where would we get out medicines and medical equipment from? Or phones and computers?

            • Blazer

               /  30th January 2016

              as you know the TPPA is NOT a trade deal….for the millionth time.Trade has gone on for centuries with and without formal agreements and certainly without a TPPA.

            • You didn’t answer my questions. The TPPA is widely considered to be at least in part a trade deal. It deals with a number of trade related issues.

            • Blazer

               /  30th January 2016

              there is a huge difference between ‘trade deals’ and the TPPA .Man has been trading labour and resources,goods and services for centuries…we would get our medecines and phones the same way we always have without the TPPA.

            • oliver

               /  30th January 2016

              This isn’t a trade deal it’s an investor deal.

            • That sounds like a slogan. Are you aware that investment and trade work together? Without investment there would be far less trade. In things like medicines, medical equipment, computers, phones, many other things that I presume you use.

            • Blazer

               /  30th January 2016

              for some reason those in favour of the TPPA flock on about trade and seem to totally ignore the other 24 chapters -80% of the agreement.

  3. Sometimes one can take “judicial notice” or accept something to be true, because its truth is commonly held. I prefer to use it for matters of commonsense rather than having to exhaustll alternatives to a proposition. Blazers ctiticism of the Gibbons assessment could be used to demonstrate the lack of evidence to Jane Kelsy’s claims on the TPPA. She has not denied her role as an adviser to Labour leader Little et al and thus must be regarded as biased?

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  30th January 2016

      We can use as evidence Kelsey’s own track record. She was anti the Chinese – NZL trade deal for all the same reasoning that she opposes the TPPA (lose our sovereignty, big business will dictate govt policy, not really about free trade etc etc) and how did that pan out for her??

      The China – NZL trade deal is a huge success where nothing that Kelsey warned us about came to fruition. It could be argued that without that agreement NZL would have been sunk in the GFC.

      • Blazer

         /  30th January 2016

        if the TPPA had been in place it definately would have been!Where can I see evidence regarding what you say she said re the NZ/China TRADE deal.

        • Pantsdownbrown

           /  30th January 2016

          She made a submission to parliament against it in 2008 – YOU go and look for it.

    • Blazer

       /  30th January 2016

      sorry…’the trust us…we know what we’re doing’…doesn’t work for many.

  4. Oliver

     /  30th January 2016

    This Patrick guy is an idiot. His argument is seriously flawed. He hasn’t taken in to account corporations that have a monopoly on the market. His argument would be plausible if it weren’t for the fact that large corporations monopolize trade giving the illusion that there’s competition when there is none.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  30th January 2016

      An example? The only monopolies are the Government created ones of patent and copyright. And the Left just love Government interventions in the marketplace, don’t they?

    • Pickled Possum

       /  30th January 2016

      @ Oliver
      1934 Jim Wattie and Harold Carr formed J. Wattie Canneries Ltd
      1980 shares brought by Goodman Fielder – Goodman Fielder Wattie Ltd
      1992, H.J. Heinz Company of Pittsburgh, USA,
      purchased Wattie’s from Goodman Fielder for $565 million
      2013, Heinz purchased by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for $23 billion
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkshire_Hathaway
      Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3G_Capital
      Brazillian multibillion dollar investment company

      100 job losses in Heinz Watties factories in 2014
      Heinz Wattie’s spokesman Paul Hemsley said the job cuts would help the company grow in “extremely competitive local and global markets”.
      He said” a change of ownership was also behind the changes.”
      How long before ‘Watties’ cannery based in Hastings is moved overseas to a high unemployment town in the US
      still using the Watties name.

      March 2015 Kraft announced its merger with Heinz arranged by Bershire Hathaway and 3G Capital making Kraft Heinz the 5th largest food company in the world.

      March 2015 Goodman Fielder who make Vogel and Meadowfresh milk $ yoghurt
      had a take over bid of $1.37 billion by Singapore based Wilmar International and
      Hong Kong investment firm First Pacific

      Watties sliced apples come from China
      Budget peaches come from China
      Hawkes Bay was/is the best place to grow the tastiest Apples and Peaches.
      Watties now belongs to Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital and world wide shareholders

      how many shares do you have NZ?

      Warren Buffet ceo quote .
      “Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce
      to get advice from those who take the subway.”

    • David

       /  30th January 2016

      The only way any company can achieve a monopoly is with the assistance of the state.

      • Rob

         /  30th January 2016

        “The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the state, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government.”

        -Theodore Roosevelt

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  30th January 2016

      The commerce act stops that occurring in New Zealand.

  5. And not monopoly alone Oliver, not by a long chalk. Gibbon’s critique is typical “libertarian” doctrine, over-simplistic, naively assumptive and real-world ignorant, if not plain duplicitous. He says –

    “Because voluntary transaction is the rule of the game for free trade, corporations will only be able to attract profits by getting customers to purchase products or services. With competition in the mix each company must do their best to attract customers by being the best, having the highest quality, the lowest price good, or a combination of these or other issues. The result is simple, corporations are accountable to the people because their survival depends on it!

    Other issues? I could write a whole book in critique of this statement alone! Here are just a few more points – in descending order of importance –

    1) “Free Trade” – with its partial, self-serving, polarised “individualist” ethos – powerfully discourages the collectivised organisation of labour – to the extent of effectively preventing it in many places – while simultaneously denying or obscuring the fact that “capital” itself is collectivised organised capital. What else is a “company” or “corporation” but a collective? “Competition” is simpy cooperation in denial [of its own possibilities]! Example, the cooperation of [collective] capital and [collective] labour! Free trade is economic “war”, not peaceful co-existence of friendly cooperation.

    2) It is plainly apparent that in the (so-called) “global economy” corporations are not accountable to the people very much, if at all. There is no such thing as a “global people” to be accountable to! (Not yet?) Global Corporations are barely accountable to individual nations, let alone people, as recent attempts by nations to recover tax and by the UN to legislate for corporate tax collection across borders indicates.

    3) While “highest quality” is increasingly dependent on technology – the “masters” of which are either fewer and higher paid or already replaced my ‘machines’ – “the lowest price good” remains dependent on reduced production costs, notably labour. Hence, the larger and more global the corporation the more easily they can operate in the region or regions of lowest production costs, land, energy, communications, raw materials and the all important, major component of LABOUR.

    Consequently, corporate strategy has ‘rationally’ become short-term, “mobile” and exploitative of cheap labour. “Global society” and current inequality only “appear” to be improving as a whole. Cheap labour markets, once abandoned for the next cheapest one, will be worse off than before. Abandoned, if you will, with a “want” for consumerism and no way of satisfying it. This is a terribly destabilising force which opens the door wide for political and financial corrupton.

    4) Like it or not, Governments remain in the (so-called) “free trade” mix. Governments whose public expenditures already operate on a “national corporate” or global corporate model – rather than, for instance, a “community enterprise” model – are unlikely to sub-divide public service or infrastructure tenders to suit anyone other than the largest (global) corporations, e.g. Serco.

    We won’t see the operation of Ngawha Prison contracted to post-settlement Ngapuhi (rather than Serco)? Or a female prison contracted to a local Women’s Community Development Corporation set up to maximise education, self-improvement and reduced recidivism? Companies must only “be the best” financially. “Voluntary transaction” is not the only “rule of the game” by a long shot because the ultimate rule of the game is “the bottom line”, and size (or monopoly) is a definite bottom-line advantage.

    Considerations like “public good”, local employment and non-fiscal outcomes will not be (and mostly already aren’t) in contention. People don’t count, money does.

    So, yes, in order to achieve any of the “optional parallel benefits” alternative to “qualified, conditional free trade” – the best TPPA can possibly be described as – we will need to cooperatively ‘plan’ our economy to some “agreed” extent, by democratic agreement (or the nearest we can achieve to it), rather like people plan their individual businesses or social enterprises? If we don’t, free trade will rule and because the larger corporations will rule “free trade”, they will rule us economically, reaching deeply into every aspect of our lives and, undeniably, deep into politics.

    The “trade” part is good. The “free” part is crap. The “conditions” and their implications are all highly questionable. The more robust the debate the better.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  30th January 2016

      1. Almost incomprehensible but assume it is a complaint that free trade harms union monopolies as well as corporate ones. Yep, free trade helps the consumer and ordinary citizen relative to the privileged. Complain about that, Lefties.

      2. Corporations are accountable to their customers and local laws wherever they operate

      3. Complaint that efficiencies reduce labour costs. The Left would far rather have people doing unnecessary work.

      4. Heavens knows what all that is about but I presume it is a complaint that Governments like the rest of us depend on private enterprise to do everything difficult and important. Welcome to the real world.

      • Blazer

         /  30th January 2016

        1-free trade does not exist
        2-refer to Union Carbide story…and plenty more
        3-people need jobs
        4-comedy gold…refer to the GFC.

      • @ Alan – 1) & 3) Free trade harms workers, pure and simple, regardless of whether they’re unionised or not. Western workers tend not to be any longer because it is ‘voluntary’ while in developing nations attempts to organise or protest get you shot.

        “Free Trade” has a tendency to “level” wages downwards across the board, across the world, while at the same time tending to raise profits and higher salaries, thus extending inequality into realms of utter obscenity.

        These same low-paid workers are, of course, the bulk of consumers.

        Consumers get to pay somewhat lower prices for goods. This goes along with their lower wages. Meanwhile long-term security, home ownership and such-like trickle away inversely proportionate to the absence of trickle down. Yes, it’s a great system!

        Free market capitalism tends towards monopoly or at least duopoly or oligopoly. This stands to reason. Here’s a contemporary analysis not to be read or considered because it is “socialist” by admission. No “socialist” could possibly write anything remotely unbiased or worth your while reading (while, of course, free marketeers are always indesputably impartial) –

        http://monthlyreview.org/2011/04/01/monopoly-and-competition-in-twenty-first-century-capitalism/

        2) Plain crap! If this were true Britain wouldn’t have just got $300 million out of Google and the UN and OECD wouldn’t be attempting to enact tax law reform across borders, quite aside from events like Bhopal and countless other examples of human and environmental destruction in the name of corporate profit.

        https://www.asil.org/insights/volume/19/issue/24/emergence-new-international-tax-regime-oecd%E2%80%99s-package-base-erosion-and

        3) By “unnecessary work” you mean people doing work that does not produce a “bottom line” financial value “productive” outcome as measured by your own free market capitalist yardstick of “efficiency”. Slave wages and sweatshop conditions are acceptable presumably?

        Third world “peasant” workers are the collateral damage in this economic war? The assumption being they are better off in industrial abject poverty – favella slums – even if it kills them – than they ever were in subsistence agrarian communities. I believe there will be a world one day where a bit of leeway in employment will be valued because of the value of (redefined) employment.

        4) You and many others talk about Free Market Economy as though it is possible not to have government. As though you will one day vote in a government who will immediately put themselves out of office? (Oh, apart from a Police Force, Judiciary, Prisons, Army …umm, Roads?)

        You think ACT is going to do this? God, it’s laughable! Then you accuse me of living in a dream world! Welcome to the real world Alan. Government ‘public service’ tenders, possibly including education and health, up for grabs internationally under TPP. Global Corporations’ access to our government services and SOE markets guaranteed and protected under the agreement. I guarantee you, when this comes to pass, cheaper is definitely not going to be better. The “financially incalculable” loss of Kiwi identity will not be worth it. We will become global citizens of cultural “nothingness”.

        That’s the whole rationale of almost everything you say. “Cheaper is better”. It does not matter how we bring about “cheaper” because if we believe its better, and can convince the majority of others this is so, the end “cheaper” justifies the means, any means, any means whatsoever, no matter how inhuman. It’s a great system!

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  30th January 2016

          1. I skimmed your long article. The very first chart indicates no significant increase in the percentage of industries dominated by four major corporates since 1950. There seems little evidence of actual corporate monopolies. What if any examples can you give relevant to NZ? There is no evidence free trade has reduced wages in this country since 1985:
          http://cdn.tradingeconomics.com/charts/new-zealand-wages.png?s=newzealanwag&v=201601121612m&d1=19160101&d2=20161231

          2. Bizarre. You cite Google coming to a tax agreement with the UK as not being subject to local law. It is. And some countries (especially high tax ones) are trying to change their laws accordingly.

          3. Frothing rubbish. Unnecessary work can be eliminated by efficiencies in design, automation and cheap labour elsewhere. Do something else. Third world peasants have been lifted out of poverty in their countless millions by that. Lefties hate it, they like poverty for everyone else.

          4. Straw man. Government has its role: governance and administration. Doing anything else difficult or complicated is not it. Private enterprise provides both choice and efficiency via innovation and competition. Get used to it. It’s been doing so since 1600 at least.

          • Okay, well, I can’t match that graph for meaninglessness. Average Hourly wages? With no adjustment for inflation or comparison with cost of living.

            I can’t find similar graphs but our Reserve Bank inflation calculator gives some good indications for more complete comparison –

            http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/monetary_policy/inflation_calculator/

            Taking $1 in Q2 1989 = $? in Q2 2015 as my comparisons –
            – Wages have risen 125.2% (this is average wages presumably?)
            – CPI (general) has risen 80.4%
            – Food has risen a little more = 83.6%
            – Transport has risen only 47.1%
            Things are looking good for Alan …
            But wait … there’s more …. there’s Housing!… it’s a biggy …
            – Housing has risen 349.5% !!! (601.9% since 1985 !!!)

            I believe supermarkets in NZ are effectively a duopoly. Certainly they fit this description of “monopsony” (or duopsony) I found online, “what should concern us today even more is a mirror image of monopoly called “monopsony.” Monopsony arises when a firm captures the ability to dictate price to its suppliers, because the suppliers have no real choice other than to deal with that buyer”

            http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2006/07/the_case_agains.html

            The Wal-Mart example might be reflected to some degree – note “some degree” – here in NZ by The Warehouse?

            This paragraph about Wal-Mart is worth repeating here –

            “Americans who favor abortion have much to worry about these days… But at least these … decisions are being made by democratically elected representatives. Such was not the case when Wal-Mart recently decided to allow each individual pharmacist in the company to choose whether or not to stock the “morning after” pill. Given the degree to which Wal-Mart has rolled up the pharmaceutical business in many towns and regions across the country, this act amounted, for all intents, to a de facto ban on these pills in many communities. This political decision was made and enforced by a private monopoly”

            2) Sure, Google (and other tax evaders) come to the party and comply with the law when they are caught. This is good huh? Good corporate ethics this? Get away with it while you can?

            3) We’ll have to agree to disagree. I believe many third world peasants have been LIFTED INTO POVERTY. And, once their usefulness to the West as cheap labour is done with, they will be abandoned IN SQUALOR.

            4) I disagree. Since 1600, the so-called “Enlightenment”, mankind has made the remarkable transition from feudal-agrarian fealty slavery to feudal-industrial wage slavery to neo-feudal, neoliberal, inverted totalitarian digi-industrial wage-and-salary slavery … (except for a very very few)

            IMHO the idea of “enlightenment” implies a species who wants to make life easier and better for itself, for all its members, not work ever longer hours for ever less prosperity or satisfaction and then pay ever more money to deal with the resulting stress-related illness, whilst destroying its own planet and making its own long-term security next-to-impossible.

            A house to call your own? Forget it!

            Inbetween “feudal industrialism” and neo-feudal digital-industrialism there was the briefest moment, a geological nano-second of time, the blink of an eye, precipitated by a financial crisis which should have spelt the end of “capitalism” there and then, inbetween two catastrophic world wars (and continued for a while after the second), when some of mankind attempted in various infant-like, stumbling ways to live this life somewhat differently. To be more cooperative and inclusive …

            Of course its all totally villifiable now. Some nations abused and misused it, not least the “New Rome” of North America. The so-called “communist”, “socialist” and totalitarian versions became indistinguishable from one another. Power corrupted absolutely. War made even the “democratic goodies” into effective totalitarian states, at least for the duration, to be partially retained and progressively increased.

            Some hold up Israel as a shining example of cooperatism which survived intact? Pity about Palestine eh? Israelis are totalitarians like all the rest.

            What I’m proud of, what I’m immensely proud of indeed, is to be a citizen of one country who had a really good go at it – blessed with the right man for the moment, Michael Joseph Savage – and who made a really good fist of that infinitisimally brief window of opportunity, tarnished and faded now but far from dead.

            I receive my health care from a version of it that lacks nothing, NOTHING, in efficiency and innovation, a Charitable Trust.

            I retain my prerogative to talk “frothing rubbish” to my heart’s content because when I do, at least I know I’ve still got a heart …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st January 2016

              You know why housing is so out of line, PZ? Socialists and Greenies theft of property rights by politicians and bureaucrats – the RMA, building regulations and, for the really unlucky, the Historic Places Trust. Nice to see the scope of the disaster quantified but no surprise at all for anyone who’s watched it happen.

            • So you’re entirely on the lack of supply side and the dastardly Lefties, Socialists and Greenies are to blame? Gosh, I would never have predicted that.

              Here’s a guy named Rich from pundit.co.nz who makes considerable sense to me –

              “The population of Auckland is only rising at less than 2% a year. In a normal market (like used cars, or out of season fruit, prices rise until they reach an equilibrium of buyers and sellers, then settle).

              Auckland prices are going up by about 20% a year. That’s not a market, it’s a bubble (like Dutch tulips in the 16th century). Just like Dutch tulips, it has zero to do with supply and demand and everything to do with an expectation of future profits as prices continue to rise.

              The only way to choke this off would be to set an automatic policy that price rises in Auckland will be pegged, and various forms of intervention used to bring property inflation down to zero (just as happens with general inflation and interest rates)”.

              http://pundit.co.nz/content/smith-i-can-tackle-aucklands-housing-shortage-by-2017

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st January 2016

              The expectation of future profits is based on strangled supply and continuing internal and external external migration to Auckland. Yes, prohibitions, delays, costs and bureaucracies are entirely to blame for creating and maintaining the problem. Anyone involved in the industry knows it.

  6. Rob

     /  30th January 2016

    “2. Corporations are accountable to their customers and local laws wherever they operate”
    Tell that to these people.

    • Pickled Possum

       /  30th January 2016

      After the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984
      http://bhopalgasdisaster.weebly.com/union-carbide-corporation.html
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster
      Union Carbide Corp is now owned by DOW

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  30th January 2016

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster

        The Indian Government was a 49% owner and seemingly was involved in a cover up of Indian operational malfeasance in order to blame UCC and attempt to extract $3.3B compensation from the company.

        Yes indeed, the company was subject to local law both in India and in the US. Your point is?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  30th January 2016

          Sorry, PP, that question was meant for Rob, not your comment.

        • Rob

           /  30th January 2016

          My point is that you seem to be under the impression that corporations are benevolent organizations that would never take advantage of local law for their benefit. You think these people give a shit the corporation was operating under local law?? That makes it right for them to go in and create disasters because local law is slack? You don’t think if something like that happened here they wouldn’t be looking for any and every loophole they could possibly find to try and get out of doing any thing about it? Get something straight, they don’t give a fuck about you, me, or anyone else. Profit is the only thing that matters. Sure you’re going to get the odd one that perhaps does but they would be few and far between. They probabaly already know loopholes in NZ law that they can and would exploit if it was to their advantage. Trust all you want. Myself and a lot of others don’t. Just because you have an opinion on it doesn’t make it correct, it’s just an opinion. Everybody has one. Nuff said.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  30th January 2016

            “you seem to be under the impression that corporations are benevolent organizations that would never take advantage of local law for their benefit”

            No. They will operate within the law. It is up to the governments to manage the law.

            “That makes it right for them to go in and create disasters because local law is slack?”

            Actually it seems they didn’t. One of the locals created the disaster and the Indian Government covered it up.

            “Get something straight, they don’t give a fuck about you, me, or anyone else. Profit is the only thing that matters.”

            Ignorance. A business has to keep thousands of people and different interests happy. Otherwise there will be no profit. The Bhopal disaster was also a disaster for UCC.

            • Rob

               /  30th January 2016

              Ignorance? lol ” A business has to keep thousands of people and different interests happy.” Of course they do, but don’t for an instant think they do it for philanthropic reasons. They don’t give a shit about you and if you don’t see that, well…. Bhopal was only a single example of a multitude.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st January 2016

              Where did I ever say they did it for philanthropic reasons? Go back and read Adam Smith. You’ve had four centuries to do that. The invisible hand of the market place is philanthropic because it has to be in pursuit of profit.