The Guardian • Issue #2067


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2067

The increasing concentration of wealth and power among mega-corporations, facilitated in no small part by rigged rules of the global economy, is undermining democracy, economic security and planetary health. A report by the development organisation Global Justice Now – delves into this problem of monopoly capitalism.

The global economy is dominated by gigantic corporations. These huge businesses wield enormous power, crossing borders, avoiding laws and taxes, compelling governments to compete with each other for investment. The biggest corporations have captured eye-watering wealth, which far outweighs the economic power of most countries on earth. And that wealth and power is only growing. As the world is battered by a cost-of-living crisis, still recovering from the worst pandemic in a century, and struggling to cope with the effects of disastrous climate change, the profits of the biggest 500 firms on the planet nearly doubled, exceeding $3 trillion in 2021. Their combined income amounted to an almost unimaginable $38 trillion – equivalent to nearly 40 per cent of the entire world economy. That’s more than the GDP of all but the very richest countries in the world combined. The combined income of just the five biggest corporations in the world was more than the income of the poorest 2 billion people put together – one-quarter of the world’s population. One single corporation – Walmart – earned more than half-a-trillion dollars. That’s more than $1.5 billion every day, exceeding the GDP of even wealthy countries like Austria or Norway. Meanwhile, Apple, the most profitable private corporation in the world, saw its profits rocket by 65 per cent to $95 billion. These gigantic corporations have captured the economy, giving them the power to set prices, in sectors including food and energy. So while food and energy costs rise dramatically for ordinary people, corporations in those sectors are under no pressure to lower prices even as their profits spiral into the stratosphere. The big five oil corporations, for instance, brought in record profits of $195 billion in 2022, funnelling around $110 billion straight into the pockets of mostly very wealthy shareholders.

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: The WA Cook government. Their decision to reinstate the export ban for Perth Basin gas projects but officially lifting it in other parts of the state, puts the Kimberley at serious risk. Buru Energy is pursuing a floating gas facility and associated pipeline in order to export oil and gas from its Kimberley tenements. Activist organisation Lock the Gate Alliance WA Coordinator Claire McKinnon said the Cook government appeared to be doubling down on its support for the dangerous, polluting industry in the Kimberley. “Oil and gas companies hold huge tenements over breathtakingly beautiful and culturally rich parts of the Kimberley, and the projects they have planned would all rely on building new destructive pipelines for export,” she said. “This could have been an opportunity for the Cook government to protect the Kimberley’s communities, culture, and precious environment from the scourge of oil and gas. Yet here in WA, the Cook government is eager to fan the flames on an already overheating planet, instead of responsibly putting in place a ban on fracking, and a ban on new oil and gas projects in the Kimberley.”

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