Greed and corruption Inc.
If anyone thought that greed and corruption were confined to the United States, the revelations that are tumbling out of the Federal Court hearing into One-Tel and the Royal Commission into HIH Insurance should dispel it. A bewildering network of corrupt company directors and interlocking companies has already been revealed. Added to that, is the deregulation so conveniently provided by governments. It has provided the perfect scenario and the means by which company directors have feathered their own nests to the tune of millions of dollars. Shareholders' funds have been looted without the directors having the slightest twinge of conscience. Companies were brought crashing down. Workers were sacked with the loss of their entitlements. The rapid development of technology has facilitated the process whereby assets are transferred between shelf companies and offshore, making it virtually impossible for workers and their unions, superannuation funds, or the small "mums and dads" investors to know the real state of affairs. The so-called "gatekeepers" — the auditors and regulators — have also had their snouts in the pig's trough. They not only gave the advice and covered up the scandals but joined in the looting as well. Greed and corruption have become so widespread that they are undermining the capitalist system as well as imposing huge losses on other businesses, particularly the banks which lent millions and billions of dollars of depositors money to these bubble enterprises. One consequence of this is to be seen in Argentina and Uruguay where the banks have closed their doors to depositors who want to withdraw their money before it all goes down the gurgler. The banks are giving priority to helping right-wing governments repay their borrowings through the International Monetary Fund and from the World Bank. It is ridiculous to believe that the governments, which have created this situation, are capable or interested in doing what is necessary to reverse the calamity. So widespread is the corruption in the US that the Government has been forced to introduce some small control measures but nothing is being heard from the Australian Government. It continues to shut its eyes and assert that in Australia it is merely a case of some "bad apples". The fact is that greed and corruption are an inherent part of the capitalist order of things. Making money is incessantly propagated as the most desirable occupation. This led Paul Keating when Treasurer to declare that the most dangerous place in the world was between a yuppie and a bucket of gold. The laws make all sorts of shoddy dealings legal but this does not alter the fact that they are corrupt and reward greed. One commentator described the present situation as the "creative destruction" of capitalism. In the United States the scandals are so widespread and involve so many of the top names in the business fraternity and the top companies that an investors' strike is taking place. Warren Scott, a US and Australian securities lawyer writing in the Australian Financial Review (1/8/02) declared that "while we cannot, and should not, eliminate risk, failure and loss from a capitalist system, we should be able to expect honesty, integrity and transparency." "Honesty" and "integrity" are not words to be found in big business practice and as far as "transparency" goes, let's start by uncovering all the agreements that have been made between governments and companies which are cloaked in the claim of "commercial in confidence". If these agreements were to be dragged into the open the stench would become so overpowering that a real political revolution may well be the consequence. The role that is expected of governments by the big corporations is to act to save the system and keep it going for a little longer. That is what Howard, George Bush, Tony Blair and most other governments around the world will do. While petty crime is often followed by jail sentences and refugees are subjected to mandatory detention it is not likely that many if any of the corporate criminals will see the four walls of a jail cell. Their mates in the political and legal system will see to that. It is not only these politicians that have to be replaced but the system as well.Back to index page