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On Multinational Corporations, Wealth, Laws and Politicians
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I loved to speed (while driving) … I still do actually but back then, the problem was chronic. I would get speeding tickets at least four or five times a year. They were quite bad ones too: doing 90km in a 40km zone or 110km in a 60km zone; a nasty ticket I can remember was for doing 187km in a 100km zone … the police officer was red in the face and foaming at the mouth when I pulled over. Those were fun days, I never cared for much. I really mean this: I cared for almost nothing at all, much less for the little yellow pieces of paper (the traffic tickets) which the police officers would give me.
Any traffic ticket I received went straight to my traffic lawyers. They were great: I never had to show up in court because I was sick or something like that and they always got me out of the trouble I got myself in. As long as I kept giving them money, I kept my driving license. It seemed like a good deal and I had it going for years on end. I did stop that lawless trend when one day I began wandering about how much money I had spend on traffic lawyers over the time span of several years. It must have been in the tens of thousands of dollars and by the end it was actually having a negative effect on my financial situation.
Would have I stopped driving like a maniac if I could have afford it? Maybe, maybe not … This is why laws are useless to a certain extent: you can break laws if you can pay for lawyers to come save the day for you. In the case your lawyer cannot beat the charge(s) in full they can usually still get your penalty reduced; that’s the least they can do.
Thus, for those who are truly wealthy, some laws do not matter so much. If one is extremely wealthy, let’s say Bill Gates (for lack of another name at the moment), who cares about an eight hundred dollar speeding ticket? Then, we have stories as the one about Puff Daddy several years back when he allegedly shot some guy in a club and then gave his gun to one of his body guards who took the charges in the end. Money tends to bend laws for some people.
BP (British Petroleum) is a good example how if you make billions of dollars in profit each year, you might not care about much (except your profits). People’s lives have been drastically changed by the oil spill (it even cost some people their lives) but BP (a multinational corporation) will pay for the damages, the CEO resigned already and the story is over for the corporation. It is that simple. BP will go on to make more billions of dollars or if this scandal really brings it down, it will be bought-out by Shell or Exxon and with the bad reputation gone from the BP brand name all could be continued as before. So from two corporations we might get one (the one with the better, cleaner name). Control over oil drilling would be even more centralized this way, getting closer to a monopoly in the oil industry.
What about the people affected by this oil spill? Sure they will get some money but their story will not end for years to come. Will money flow for them for years to come too? The story of the Gulf of Oil will not have an end for a very long time. Will the birds and fish be compensated? Who’s their lawyer?
Politicians will take a part of the blame in this environmental disaster too but from what I see the blame is concentrated on the part about cleaning the oil out of the water. Of course that is important, the most important thing right now but we should not forget that politicians are lobbied by the oil corporations and if the laws are weak and penalties not stiff enough it is because of the millions of dollars flooding into Washington from the oil wells all over the world.
Wealth clears the way for multinational corporations to do as they wish with very little detrimental consequences for them. They make the profits and the majority of people have to deal with the negative outcome. It is the same with the fast food industry or the corporations that control the meat market for example. They feed us garbage and we end-up with statistics such as: `116 billion` dollars spent in 2007 in the United States on medical costs (direct and indirect) as a result of diabetes spreading to more and more people. All this while the Insurance Corporations fatten their pockets as well since everyone has health issues. It is as if we just get used by corporations to work for them and then, give them back the money we earned. It might just be a bad dream and eventually I will wake up.
I feel nauseous even writing about this. We have a social system where corporations can pay to control the political system (through lobbying) and cash keeps one out of jail like we`re playing Monopoly … what laws? Who cares about laws or anything for that matter as long as you have money?!