Bottom Line and Influence

Posted: 23/07/2011 by zandtao in Finance, War

Rothkopf’s talk on the superclass sparked in me many thoughts of what he missed, yet it was a good talk because it opened up the avenues to understand what goes on. As usual in a business talk he cannot say that these people are heinous – he would be out of a job. He described them as having the same morality as the rest of us. I don’t know whether to dispute that, but they have a greater responsibility to be moral because of the influence they wield. And this brings us to the real problem that exists in society, even if people are moral they cannot behave morally because of influence (discussed before here). And whilst the source of this influence in terms of people is this superclass, in system terms it is the legal standing of corporations which prevents moral action. Why? because the legal structure of a corporation means that any actions taken by people in the corporation cannot be held legally accountable (see the movie Corporation for further discussion on this). So however immoral a corporation behaves no-one is accountable, they are above the law, above any form of moral accountability. At the same time what is the bottom line of a corporation? Money for the sharholders. So basically a corporation means anything goes in order to get a profit. At the same time corporate leaders demand a free market (free from moral and legal restraint), so the corporate paradigm is free to do whatever it wants in order to provide a profit for shareholders.

So who are the shareholders? Should they not be held accountable for paying money for this profiteering anarchy? Possibly. According to Rothkopf 30-50% of investments are hedge funds. What are hedge funds? Managers working for faceless people so that they can have pensions or whatever. This is the ethos (see the movie here), use our money but hide our responsibility. Ethos the movie says consumers must choose ethically, and this applies most significantly to our investements – genuine ethical investments (usually local). Of course Rothkopf’s figure does mean that 50-70% are not in funds, perhaps they could be held legally accountable.

So if all that matters is the profits that are reported to the shareholders where do we stand? Profiteering anarchy – very dangerous as we can see in the world today with this Third World War for profits. If the only measure of success is whether a company reports a profit to its shareholders then we are in serious danger of life getting even worse. What about the arms manufacturers? Do their shareholders ask how their profits were gained? Not at all, they are investing to make a profit on human death and suffering, and free market and influence does the rest. Do you know if your pension is invested with a company that is an arms manufacturer? Is your state pension? Do the people investing in Monsanto (owners of the sweetener aspartame) know that their company influenced the FDA so that now in our food we have a component, aspartame, that causes brain tumours? When there is no legal or moral responsibility and the only measure is profit how can we possibly have anything other than the anarchic immorality we have now?

All the way down the corporate chain actions are based on profit and any moral dilemmas are forced to give precedence to profit, every single decision that is made in the corporation is based on profit. People like you and me, who might discuss moral action and moral integrity in private, when they are working have no such choices, their moral decision is based on greater profits. That is all. It is not moral theory in life we are interested in but moral action, and in corporations that cannot happen. What choice do breadwinners have? Tow the line and feed their family, or blow the whistle and lose their job. For most it is not possible. The only way round this is to make the executives of these corporations, the superclass, legally responsible, financially and custodially, but that is never going to happen. Why? Influence.

How does this influence work? Let me consider how influence might work in government. In the US influence is no shallow inference, it is paid for by campaign contributions andreinforced by lobbying. In the US system without campaign contributions people cannot compete if they stand for election. In other words this is democracy if you can pay, and the only way you can pay is if you get contributions from corporations or the rich. This means US elections are totally controlled by the finance sector. In the UK it is not too different as the parties are financed by membership subscriptions and contributions – Lord Sugar? Without being specific people might contribute and then become peers or get on the honours list. Elsewhere politicians might campaign for a particular bill to go through parliament, and when they are out of office suddenly you will find their names on the board of companies that have benefitted. there are continuous rows in parliament concerning the need for MP’s to declare special interests. How can it be democratic if you have conflict of these interests?

Whilst these are factors of influence they are quite overt, ande for this reason they are not the “influence” Rothkopf was talking about. A member of the superclass might indicate a preference for something in a publicised speech, television appearance, an article in a magazine etc., and young go-getters will immediately try to find ways to facilitate this preference. Policies and preferences become part of the homogenised structure of the company. Why do I draw a distinction between policy and preference? Plausible deniability. If it’s a preference and it causes an issue that has detrimental consequences, the elite cannot be blamed.

In this clip you can see the influence of the Koch brothers in action.

Now this influence sounds very subtle, although it begins to explain some of the problems how can it possibly explain some of the heinous actions I attribute to the corporatocracy? Let’s take the issue of aspartame. In the movie it was reported that there were many experiments where aspartame was found safe so company people would appear to be quite justified in defending the inclusion in their products. Now the movie reports the scientific evidence as clearly aligned in 2 camps:-

1) Studies paid for by the company saying aspartame was safe.

2) Independent studies reporting that it produces brain tumours.

I assess that there were more studies saying it was safe. I cannot imagine that G D Searle, which was taken over by Monsanto, would announce to their staff about this conflicting evidence, and if a staff member were to notice, what could they do whilst keeping their job? To begin with the FDA was ambivalent as to what to do, the day after Reagan became president and executive order stifled, the influence was Donald Rumsfeld who was CEO.

Rothkopf talks about government as existing for the greater good because that is the corporate model – if things happen that are not good it is failure of government and not the responsibility of the superclass. This is part of the “blame game” that exists in the corporatocracy. The Corporations cause the problems but it’s just business, that’s what business does. But it is people doing it. The CEO gives an instruction formally or through preference, and it is acted on by corporate members. These members apply pressure appropriately, whether to government or other interested parties. Something goes wrong and we blame the government. Even if people directly see the culpability lying with the corporations they blame the government for not doing something about the corporations. Is it right to blame your foot for kicking a ball through the window? The foot follows the brain’s instructions, it’s not my fault my foot kicked it. Look how Rupert Murdoch defended himself, “when asked if he was ultimately responsible, his answer was simple: “No.” Who was? “The people I trusted to run it and maybe the people they trusted.”

So what about the Third World War? How might that have developed? The key notion of influence here is like-minded people. Now the CEO of an arms manufacturer is unlikely to be a peace activist, he is however likely to be someone who accepts the use of weapons to defend rights. The CEO knows General Stormin, and when a vacant position becomes available in the White House influence is applied and General Stormin is recommended. Now General Stormin might note that his CEO friend recommended him but he does not see anything strange in this – it isn’t unusual we all recommend friends for jobs. When a military situation comes along, true to his character General Stormin pushes for aggression, and we have a new war that funds the coffers of the MIC.

In older days a vacancy for the CIA comes up, and the CEO recommends D Veus for the job. Once in the job Veus has an overview. A minority opposition proclaims democratic principles, and pressurises the White House for support. Meanwhile trade officials visit certain companies to say that they would provide the raw materials but the government is blocking “free trade”. The CEO advises the White House that they are unable to trade for required raw materials, and the White House advises Veus this goes against the principles of democracy. Meanwhile company representatives say that the government of this country has communist leanings or now has an Al Qaeda cell.Veus appoints staff in the region whose brief is to enable this free trade and ensure there is no terrorist presence. Now Veus has employed patriotic fanatics, and these fanatics are given free rein to achieve their objectives as they are National Security guardians. Through torture of someone not respectable, they discover that the vice-president wants power and they learn how he can be manipulated into getting that power. In this country they now have a like-minded person. They help destabilise the president who might well be a genuine democrat – but is not like-minded, and eventually the president is toppled. In steps the vice-president who has been encouraged to establish links with the opposition. Now in power he enables the free trade, and the raw material is sold at a huge price reduction, ostensibly because of the destabilised situation, but in reality because the CEO realises the country can be squeezed to pay lower prices as internationally the US company is the only buyer.

Influence. Underlying all that happens in the business world is profit at any cost. Ostensibly the government is resposible for morality so the corporations can blame them. Influence with governments encourages CIA covert action, and eventually governments fall and millions die. This is what the CIA actually did:-

Download all the parts and join with hjsplit (instructions here).

Secret wars of the CIA

Part 1 Part 2
(The clips are stored at mediafire. Click the links for each part, and you will be redirected to mediafire. Wait for the link “Clickhere to start download”, and then click. You can download more than one file at a time.)

Or what about the economic hitman? The blame game passes to government as intended, if it goes back to the CEO the corporation as an entity takes the flack but there is no-one to punish. The shareholders make their dividends, and the bottom line has been achieved. But how many in this Third World War have paid the price?

  1. […] Bottom Line and Influence […]

  2. […] now have a superclass as described by David Rothkopf in his intellectual description referred to in this blog. This superclass only has allegiance to itself, and its policies indicate this. No welfare, western […]

  3. […] (their official site here). This group appears to be very influential in public affairs – and influence is very important in the way our world is run; of course I am not a member so I cannot know for sure […]

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