Sunday, July 18, 2010

Slaying the corporate dragon

Consider the lilies how they bloom. They sow not, neither do they reap. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.

“A corporation¾ for all intents and purposes¾ is a monster disguised in human form. It preys not on human fear, as did the dragons of old, but on human greed. It bends the world to its will through enticement, not coercion, and that alone has saved it from St. George’s sword. We all are implicated in its rapacious deeds and our guilt prevents us from prosecuting the monster.”

The oyster fishery in the maritime provinces of Canada is having a banner year. You heard it on the news last night. It’s thanks to British Petroleum; their oil spill has shut down the Louisiana fishery, which supplied 2/3 of the US demand for oysters.
In Saskatchewan, the government has decided to give the potash industry a $100,000 tax break for every head-office position they create in the province. They say it will benefit tax payers “in the long run.” this decision was likely struck in a board room, certainly not on the legislative floor.
At the Station Arts Centre in Rosthern, actors and theatre patrons are wrestling with the morality of the corporate development of genetically altered seed and the patenting of it, so that farmers are obliged to pay a royalty to the company for every seed they put into the ground. It’s virtually a license to print money.

Since corporations thrive on the basic commodities of consumer greed, complicity and subsequent guilt, there is really only one weapon that can bring the dragon back into line, and that is the consumer boycott. The scariest words to corporate management and stake holders are, “I will no longer purchase your product.” Since our provincial, municipal and federal governments are all unwilling and/or unable to regulate the behaviour of mega-corporations, it may be time for a bit of anarchy. I propose a consumer-watchdog check on the activities of the mega-corporations, its purpose being to starve the dragons into submission.
Here’s how it would work:

Participants are found by word of mouth, the internet, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, whatever means is cost free.
They sign on through the internet, their email addresses are stored in a central server.
They regularly receive bulletins advising them of activities by various dragons that threaten the environment, seed soverignty, human health, etc., along with names of consumer products on whose sale this particular dragon is dependent.
They voluntarily change their buying habits to ensure that they are not supporting the dragon.
When the dragon has altered his behaviour appropriately, another bulletin advises participants of this fact.

To work, such a program would have to ensure that it was behaving fairly, that its bulletins were squeaky clean and accurate. For that, experts would have to be involved, or else libel and slander litigations would undo the whole.
Without some such arrangement, you can rest assured that BP will continue to drill risky wells at sea, Monsanto will continue its efforts to ensure that the seed supply is whittled down to only its patented products, and the Saskatchewan government will continue its policy of favouring corporate stakeholders over taxpayers.
If you’re not convinced, go to the Louisiana shoreline and count the number of BP executives and shareholders washing the oil off suffering pelicans. Then count the “ordinary taxpayers” engaged in the same activity. Then draw your conclusions.
And by the way, if you’re wondering where the opening quote came from, stop wondering; I made it up this morning. And take a look at this international organization to stop the patenting of life:

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