Tuesday, March 13, 2018

These Foolish Things . . . : Big Bucks (1997)

The Scavenger column from the September 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard

Big bucks
The world’s top 500 companies, it seems, employ 0.05 percent of the world’s population but control a quarter of the world’s economic output. The combined assets of the 50 biggest companies is now 60 percent of the world’s $20 trillion of productive capital. In eight sectors, including cars, aerospace, electronics, steel, armaments and media, the top five corporations now control 50 percent of the global market. Increasingly the question is: who governs them? And for whom? . . . Ten corporations now control nearly every aspect of the world’s food chain. Four control 90 percent of the world’s exports of corn, wheat, tobacco, tea, pineapple, jute and forest products. (Guardian. 20 June.)


Labour is Right
Even as they elect their new leader, the Tories are in a quandary. They are faced with a government which seems determined to outdo them in all of the things they did best. If new Labour stands for free markets, sound money, prudent finances, a tough stance on criminals, higher school standards, and unravelling the welfare mess, why should anyone need the Tories? They have the difficult task of persuading the electorate that they will do even better, and will have the competence to fulfil that promise. Politics in Britain used to be a clash of ideologies: now it has become a competition in virtue. Dr Madsen Pirie, President of Adam Smith Institute. (Scotland on Sunday, 15 June.)


In proportion
It would take one Haitian worker producing Disney dolls and clothes 166 years to earn as much as Disney President Michael Eisner makes in one day. And Eisner isn’t even one of the seven richest men in the world . . . (Independent on Sunday, 22 June.)


Work is dangerous
Statistics show the work-place is the fastest growing location for violent crime. According to the Loss Prevention Council, between 1981 and 1991 assaults at work doubled to 350,000 a year . . . according to British Retail Consortium figures, retailers reported that more than 9,000 staff were subjected to physical violence, 47,000 to threats of violence and 120,000 to verbal abuse between 1995 and 1996. (Observer, 22 June.)


Market cares
Small charities have been warned to merge or risk going under in the face of fierce competition for declining funds. The Disabilities Trust said the market place for charities was already overcrowded with 188,000 bodies chasing the same money. In a report, it claims public donations are set to fall by 13 percent by 1999, blaming the National Lottery for siphoning off funds. (Evening Mail, 18 July.)


Conspiracy theory
Jonathan Aitken’s world is truly crumbling around him. After his resignation from the Privy Council, the former Tory cabinet minister, ruined by his collapsed libel case against the Guardian, will have to cede another honour—one that his friends say he values as much as being a Right Hon or PC. For the past few years Mr Aitken has been chairman of Le Cercle, right-wing think-tank set up at the height of the Cold War for senior politicians, diplomats and intelligence agents which is one of the most influential, secretive, and, it goes without saying, exclusive political clubs in the West. Now he is about to be relieved of this role . . . [Alan Clark] describes it as “a right-wing think-tank funded by the CIA, which churns Cold War concepts around". (Independent on Sunday, 29 June.)
The Scavenger

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