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Corporate Criminals

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I often throw the word “criminals” around when describing the upper echelons of business management and the corporations themselves. Obviously I don’t think most of these people are criminals in the sense of breaking the law (although I’m sure some are) but I am suggesting that they are criminals in the sense of breaking moral laws. And this applies to just about every corporation. You could say that in order to become a successful head of a large corporation you first need to have the personality type which would lead you to moral crime.

Since the “great revolution” of 1984 here in New Zealand we have been lead down the path of giving these corporations greater and greater control of our economy and our lives and we have been encouraged to respect business leaders as if they were some sort of savior of society. Its now becoming apparent that the opposite is the case and I have been encouraged to see a lot of news recently criticising corporations and the moral criminals who head them.

The latest victim of the public’s outrage was Mighty River Power. I know this is a state owned enterprise and not a true free private company but there’s really not a lot of difference in the behaviour of the two types of entities. The only good thing about state owned enterprises is at least the profits are returned to the public in some way through the government instead of being sent to more moral criminal investors in the US and Australia (and other countries as well, of course).

Mighty River Power recently delivered a record profit of almost $160 million for the year to June 30 despite the current controversy regarding power costing too much. So the senior executives get their substantial salaries, the shareholders gets their millions, and hundreds of people die every year because they can’t afford to heat their homes. If that isn’t a moral crime then I don’t know what is.

These CEOs which people are taught to respect so much really have a fairly easy job. All they have to do is extract as much money as possible from their customers so they can maximise their profit. That’s not that hard. If they were the geniuses many people claim they are they would be able to balance several factors such as being good social citizens while providing a moderate and fair return to their investors.

So that’s enough ranting from me, what do other people think about our power companies? The Herald gathered opinions from its readers and I’ll present and comment on a representative sample of them here…

Here’s a fairly moderate one: “Yes we are being overcharged for electricity because the model is the wrong one. NZ is far too small to have a deregulated electricity market.” I agree, although the implication that a deregulated market can work elsewhere is highly doubtful.

Then there’s this: “The New Zealand public have just become a cash cow for the power companies since Max Bradford changed the rules.” It was the ultimate act of cynical betrayal that the previous National government introduced this travesty just before they were voted out of power. Thanks a lot guys. How many New Zealanders have died as a result of this piece of pure ideology?

This person has caught on to the standard modus operandi of most business: “Electricity retailers are only interested in churning their competitors’ customers, and treat their own customers like livestock commodities. New Zealand cities have some of the worst electricity delivery infrastructure in the developed world…” So true. Customers aren’t people, they’re just a source of revenue to the corporate criminals.

Maybe they really are criminals: “Overcharged?! No! More like daylight robbery!” Yes there is a fine line between literal robbery and what the corporations do to us.

This comment is brilliant: “Capitalism is the best worst system, but some resources should never be privatised. Public transport and utilities are the main examples.” I totally, absolutely agree. We should get rid of capitalism when we have something better but at the moment at least let’s keep it out of the things which are genuinely important.

And so it goes on and on, hundreds of comments which all seem to be critical of how we are being ripped off by the power companies. I’m sure almost the same could be said about internet companies, telecommunications companies, and many others. In fact, if people are shown the facts they would see that all big corporations treat them with total disrespect.

Maybe people will join me in a campaign of disrespect against these scum. When I meet a senior executive instead of acting impressed I ask them how they live with themselves when they act they way they do. Of course there are social situations where that is difficult so I do need to moderate my criticism occasionally but the key thing is that we should all understand that, far from being the top echelon in society, corporate executives are really the lowest form of life.

I know that despising these people won’t make the world better immediately but I think its a starting point for change in the future. So next time you someone introduces themself as an HR manager for Telecom or something just give them a disgusted look and walk away. Or, if the situation allows, give them a real tirade. One of my favourites is when a person says they are a PR consultant, I say “oh, you mean a professional liar?” Its interesting to see how surprised they are when that happens!

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