Shrinking the Cancer

What would happen if global corporations were banned? By that I mean what would happen if we, say, limited the amount of outlets that each company was allowed to have to, say, 10? What would happen if companies were disallowed from becoming incorporated? What would happen if companies were only allowed to carry on in the countries in which they started? What would happen if their CEO’s were not allowed to invest abroad, bank their company’s money abroad or outsource?

Well, firstly, with the prospective size of companies significantly diminished, they would no longer be the swaggering, monstrous giants they currently are. The directors of companies would no longer be able to hold the sway over Government policy they currently do. Take Philip Morris, for instance – the hulking purveyor of all that is cancerous. If they were not allowed to expand beyond US borders, or if they had not have been in their toddler years when they were still growing, and if the amount of factories and warehouses they owned was limited, they would not be able to afford to ejaculate millions of dollars into the pockets of US politicians in order to slow or stop the rate of regulation on tobacco. They wouldn’t, for instance, have been able to sue the Government of Australia in investor-state arbitration dispute because said Government wanted to make cigarette packets plain – an entirely good-willed policy to protect the citizens of Australia (and thats an endorsement coming from a smoker).

If companies were not allowed to extend beyond the borders of the country in which they’re founded then no longer would amoral behemoths like Nike and Topman be able to reach their long, spindly fingers into less-developed countries and dig all out until their blackened nails were scraping the bottom of the decimated and scorched pit they created. These companies would be forced to pluck employees from the populace of the country in which they carry on. This means those employees would be paid the minimum wage as is the norm among the majority of developed countries.

And do not think the above paragraph is an argument along the profound and articulate lines of “British jobs for British workers”. It most certainly is not. With these trundling, all-encompassing tanks of business no longer allowed to steamroll into whatever country they so please, under-developed countries would be spared the one-sided ‘investment’ that further debilitates their development. They would no longer be subject to this post-imperial colonialism. They would be free to develop their own companies, their own businesses, their own economies and ways of doing things.

The most cursory glance at the relevant economic model, perhaps one of Posner’s, will lead you to the conclusion that competition of the sort that Western capitalism has germinated leads, inexorably and inevitably, to oligopoly or monopoly. We live in a global economy atop which sit a few vast and edificial corporations that reign supreme as Kings of the world. With the ability of companies to expand having been limited, competition will once again be restored. No longer would the massive hairy feet of monetary giants be able to squash the sprouting stalks of other start-ups and companies. Companies would be afforded the opportunity to expand but this expansion would not be unlimited. There would be greater equality and, as a result, greater competition.

Speaking of equality, with the size of companies vastly diminished, fat cats would be a little leaner. Massive pay inequality within companies from CEO to floor worker would be fundamentally reduced. For one, these companies, although able to make profit and do business, wouldn’t be able to command the huge sums they do now and their CEO’s wouldn’t be able to bank big bonuses and sizeable salaries. And, with incorporation no longer an option, they wouldn’t be able to fly home with golden parachutes because the companies’ liabilities wouldn’t end with the company. Without the oligopolistic influence they now command, companies would also no longer be able to underpay and rip-off their employees. With their accountability increased because they’re smaller and Governments, no longer restrained by the wallets of these companies, able to act as they should – as regulators – and with a prevalence of different and competing companies so meaning more employment opportunities, companies would be forced to pay their employees fairly.

I am not calling for a reversion from the increasing inter-connectedness of the world, I fully support the fundamental tenets of the EU, including the free movement of people. I am, however, calling for some kind of reversion from the increasing globalisation of corporations, and the vice-grip they hold over the planet and it’s resources. With companies limited in the amount they can grow – like tumours being scalpelled down – competition between countries and collaboration between Governments would be stimulated. Policy would be uninhibited by corporate pressure. Companies like GM, for instance, would be forced to invest in sustainable, eco-friendly cars both because the effective competition between companies and the democratic policy of Government would bear down upon them. People would have more of a say in what they will and will not tolerate.

Obviously this huge upheaval of the present system would cause some kind of seismic shift in national and global politics as well as the major markets. Shares would do things – bump erratically up and down like heart monitors or glowing roller coasters. But I’m not interested in what would happen to the FOREX; its not real. The arguments I propound for the dismantling of corporations are to do with real things, things that actually exist. They are not premised on the illusory concept of the false global economy, in confidence and shares and stocks and futures and all other bloated and twisted growths that extend from the base idea of an economy.

Companies have a purpose. The purpose of a company is to be a vehicle for delivering, on a wider scale or more efficiently or with more quality than an individual could, goods and services that people require, while bringing gains for the people running them because of competition and the profit motive. That is the fundamental idea of the free-market economy. With companies shrunk, their accountability increased and their influence diminished, we would once again return to the base principle of free-market capitalism and we would return to achieving the purposes behind it.

I am not propagating for the things said in here to be taken verbatim as solutions for a new utopia or some other such nonsense. I am merely expounding an idea that reaches beyond the boundaries of our collective mindset and beyond the solutions we are so often spoon-fed. Tweaks to the life support won’t save this flailing, frothing, obese, rotting, dying system. The whole hospital needs a complete overhaul. More regulation here, cutting some tax there, proposing a voluntary living-wage over there – these things do nothing  to stop the tides. Our way of life, everything we know, will come to an end. Its inevitable. It will take a tug of biblical force to pull on this out-of-control horse’s bit so hard its jaw falls off.