My stomach churned as I read this paragraph in The Guardian:
"More and more, we hear that nothing can be done to tax major corporations because of the threat of how they would respond. Likewise, we cannot stop their price-gouging or even the government subsidies and tax loopholes they enjoy. "
It's a fair statement. It might even be an understatement. The question becomes how did major corporations gain the power to threaten our governments, our societies - the power to write our legislation? The answer is simple. We gave it to them.
Free trade, first regional and later global, was pitched on the notion of free movement of capital. That was a lie. With a few exceptions, capital has always been relatively free to be moved around the planet. What Free Trade initiatives were all about wasn't capital but markets or, rather, unfettered access to lucrative markets for companies that took their capital elsewhere in search of lower taxes, laxer environmental regulation and weaker labour laws.
Why would Nike pay an American $25 an hour when it could get a guy in Vietnam to do the same job for $2 a day? Why indeed when its target market nations had yielded their sovereignty over their marketplaces? It's great to get labour at $2 a day provided there are still enough people making $25 an hour elsewhere to buy your damned shoes. It's win/win for the corporations and lose/lose for the affluent nations that allow those companies free access to their markets. Oh the richest of the rich, the rentiers, win of course. Their dividends skyrocket on the spread. But it's tough titty for the guy who loses his factory job and winds up in the "service" industry at half salary, propping up his lifestyle on cheap and easy credit.
Yes, corporations threaten us when we want to do something they don't like but that's only because we've loaned them the knife. Why don't we take that knife back? Why aren't we the ones able to threaten corporations? Why don't we reclaim our sovereignty so foolishly surrendered by people of the ilk of Reagan and Mulroney? All we have to do is call their bluff. There will be "repercussions" initially but, then again, haven't we been living with the horrible repercussions of Free Trade for decades?
Bear in mind that globalization stands to become a far greater drag on world economies in coming decades. World oil prices are going nowhere but up which is why we're so eager to exploit toxic, polluting, even deadly sources of unconventional petroleum. We can't get the good stuff any more so we'll smoke the Burley Scrap right off the floor of the barn. Globalization is founded on cheap, long distance transportation to move materials and products around the world. That's going to become increasingly less viable.
Likewise as we enter upon an era of depleted or even exhausted resources, globalization again becomes less viable. And, in case you haven't noticed, social and political upheaval which has already coined the term "Century of Revolution" is well and truly upon us. Again that doesn't bode well for the future of globalization.
It's quite foreseeable that, overall, globalization may be poised to collapse under its own weight. Shouldn't we be considering the possibility? If globalization isn't the Holy Grail of global prosperity for the 21st Century, why in hell should we be allowing corporations to hold us hostage to their demands? We should be launching a deglobalization initiative - something that would stop corporatism exploiting the poor and vulnerable in the Third World in order to exploit the rest of us in the developed world. Enough is enough. Time to take back our knives.