Democratising capital

Written By: - Date published: 10:18 am, October 30th, 2010 - 83 comments
Categories: capitalism, Deep stuff, democratic participation - Tags:

After the Hobbit debacle, no-one can fail to understand the power that those who control capital exercise in a capitalist economy. The system is set up for them, hence the name, and their power is never stronger than during recessions. Unionised film workers tried to take on the owners of capital in their industry and got beaten down by Jackson, the government, and (disturbingly) a large sector of society that blindly worships the so-called ‘wealth creators’. International capital threatened our government with capital flight and quick as you like the cheque book was out for another $33 million and the government put Parliament into over-time (at God knows how much cost) to pass legislation specifically for Warners.

As individuals, our personal freedom is constrained by the unequal balance of power in the work place. We need a livelihood to support ourselves and our families but the bosses don’t need to employ us personally. With 250,000 jobless, workers are in a race to the bottom against each other – whoever will accept the worst pay and conditions gets the job. Who, but a very few in specialised industries, can personally bargain with a prospective employer? The vast majority of us take what we can get for fear of being left with nothing at all.

The unions do make us stronger. We have professional representation if anything goes wrong, and collective bargaining power in wage rounds that means union members were three times more likely than non-union workers to win an inflation-beating pay rise last year.

But it’s not enough. Anti-union laws and a government that has sided with the bosses every time and always opposed pay increases for its own employees is making things worse.

We’ve just seen the saddening spectacle of our Parliament going into overtime to push through a law at the bequest of a foreign multi-national. So desperate are we to curry favour with foreign capital that we subsumed our sovereignty to its wishes – not for the first time, and not for the last while National reins.

But what’s a country to do? The situation is very much akin to the individual prospective employee applying for a job. The international capitalists, like the bosses, offers terms that suck but if we refuse then some other country or some other worker will sink low enough to accept them and we’ll be left with nothing (except, in Warners’ case, it had invested too much and didn’t have the time to go anywhere else). Countries could band together to stop international capital playing them off against each other but, in reality, most international law is designed to make it easier for capital to flow in and out of countries, exacerbating the threat of capital flight.

If democracy and freedom are about us having the ability as individuals and as communities to choose our own paths, then the concentration of capital into private hands denies us democracy and freedom. The owners of capital call the tune and either we dance as they want for the price they offer or we get nothing.

So how to we democratise capital? It’s not something I have all the answers to and I’d like to hear your ideas. But here’s some:

– more public ownership of important capital assets and monopolistic companies. That means undoing the failed neoliberal experiments in privatisation and the sub-contracting that many large private and publicly-owned companies engage in that separates them, as the ultimate employer, from many of the people who do the work. An improved Cullen Fund is part of the mix, but so should be more ownership at local level, along with more accountable local governance.

– re-instituting an awards system or instituting industry-wide bargaining so that heavily unionised workplaces aren’t undercut by un-unionised competitors and making it possible for workers in small workplaces to unionise, which is often impractical for the over-stretched professional resources of unions.

– support for cooperatives. Our largest company is a cooperative and the farmer-owners have rightly resisted attempts to change that. Whenever possible, the capital of a company should be owned by the people who supply its labour, that way owners don’t have a financial incentive to screw the workers

– workers say on boards. It should be compulsory for companies over a certain size to have elected worker representatives on the board, and not just a token one.

– internationally, countries need to move to rein in the financiers. Despite leading us to into the worst recession in generations, these scroundels are still uncontrolled.

83 comments on “Democratising capital”

  1. Francisco Hernandez 1

    The key to democratizing capital (which is a laudable and noteworthy goal)

    Is to re-write corporate legislation to require corporations to be 50% owned by their employees.

    • KJT 1.1

      There is a thread on Frogblog at the moment on sustainable economy which has suggestions for democratising and taking back control of our economy. http://blog.greens.org.nz/2010/10/29/greens-hosting-conference-on-sustainable-economics/

      But first we have to have a democracy.

      “The biggest obstacle to democracy is the delusion by the poor that we have it and the abject terror of the rich least we get it”.

    • And how does one prevent those workers from selling their shareholding on the open market, either whilst still employed or after they leave? I’d have been delighted to have been a part-owner of some former employers as I might have been able to say something at shareholders’ meetings that prevented the levels of executive incompetence I witnessed. Once I’d left, though, the continuing incompetence meant I’d have been looking to offlaod those shares as fast as possible.

      If you restrict the nature of persons to whom the shares can be sold, or the cicumstances in which they can be transferred, you’re rendering them worthless. Or are you talking just about profit share?

      The flaws with worker ownership of shares in their employer (a concept I support, lest it sound like I don’t) is the same as that which arises when, say, a utility is privatised and all its customers get a share of the company. First, those who contributed before the issue lose out. Second, most people, upon receipt of their $1000 or $1500 worth of shares, can’t wait to sell them to a shopfront brokerage set up by the company, which then on-sells the lot to institutional investors. So “community” ownership lasts about a week.

      How do we overcome these sorts of problems without rendering the shares either worthless or worth less than “ordinary” shares.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1

        And how does one prevent those workers from selling their shareholding on the open market, either whilst still employed or after they leave?

        By having the business “self-owned”. The workers there still benefit (increased incomes) or lose (decreased incomes) depending upon their decisions and how they affect the business but they don’t have ownership of that business and so can’t sell shares in it or maintain control over it when they leave.

        • Rex Widerstrom 1.2.1.1

          So it’s a profit share, not a shareholding per se, as shares are transferable instruments. That seems the eminently sensible solution to me. As soon as you tell some people they have “shares” they’re off to sell them, through greed or necessity.

          If only the community had been given profit shares in the privatised utilities. But the wholesale dumping of such shares at values vastly less than market (because the market was never given time to trade them before the utility hoovered them back up) was of course the plan all along. Bastards.

      • Vicky32 1.2.2

        “Second, most people, upon receipt of their $1000 or $1500 worth of shares, can’t wait to sell them to a shopfront brokerage set up by the company, which then on-sells the lot to institutional investors”
        As my sister and brother-in-law did in Welly, years ago, when their power company handed out shares… Because a lump sum like that was very tempting to a newly unemployed couple with three children. They couldn’t afford to do the sensible thing, even though they knew what they ought to have done!

    • Colonial Viper 1.3

      And how does one prevent those workers from selling their shareholding on the open market, either whilst still employed or after they leave?

      Appropriate shareholder rules and conditions can be set up.

      e.g. the only entity able to buy the shares back is the corporation itself, which is required to at an agreed price when the employee leaves on good terms.

      • Don’t like that idea as much as a simple profit share arrangement. Sure it gives the departing employee an automatic golden handshake but it seems unnecessarily complex and open to dispute – what happens when the terms of departure aren’t good, each side blames the other, etc.

        And if I’ve been given a shareholding and the company wants it back at $1.00 and Mr Multinational wants to be allowed to pay me $1.50 I’m going to feel cheated when I get my $1.00, even though it’s a $1.00 I wouldn’t otherwise have had. It’s just human nature. Give me a negotiable instrument and I want to negotiate with it.

        Give me a profit share and I accept that it’s simply x% of what the company makes while I work there.

        • Colonial Viper 1.3.1.1

          Give me a profit share and I accept that it’s simply x% of what the company makes while I work there.

          Interesting, this is more in line to the ‘Partner Units’ senior people (‘partners’) in big professional firms are sometimes given the opportunity to buy. They accumulate more over time the more senior a partner they become. However the firm usually still buys the units back when the partner leaves – at whatever price has been set for those units that year.

          The key thing however is that the units are not true ‘equity shares’ in the firm (and are therefore not negotiable equities).

  2. Jeremy Harris 2

    There are plenty of options already:

    – Not for profit corporations
    – Credit unions
    – Co-ops
    – Employee share programmes
    – Charities
    – Mutual aid socities
    – Philathrophy funds
    etc

    You are free to get off you couch and/or keyboard and start one right now…

    Warner’s were threatening to take their money and bugger off, it’s their right, there is no reason they shouldn’t have control of the money they as a company have earnt or can finance…

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      You are free to get off you couch and/or keyboard and start one right now…

      But it is quite clear that the current answers in the current capital/wealth driven environment are not working for most, even while the current answers in the current environment work brilliantly for the few who are very wealthy (Jackson, Warner Bros). I think that was the point of the article.

      Free market lassez-faire for the capitalists to play in is over.

      Warner’s were threatening to take their money and bugger off, it’s their right, there is no reason they shouldn’t have control of the money they as a company have earnt or can finance…

      So it was right for a foreign corporate to hold a gun to the head of the NZ economy? And to the PM?

      Thanks for backing the capitalists. Again, in my view, reiterating the point of this post.

      • Jeremy Harris 2.1.1

        The government had every right to say, “thanks but no thanks” and choose not too…

        I’m not backing Warner’s at all, just stating the simple fact that the have the right to spend or not spend their company wherever they want…

        Are you wilfully ignorant, pretending not to see obvious facts of life such as the extra tax break the government increased revenue when compared to the company not spending another dollar in NZ..? I’m not saying what the government did was right but as usual your great on the emotive language but not solutions, you’d pass the Warner’s Must Make The Hobbit NZ Act..?

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          have the right to spend or not spend their company wherever they want…

          No sorry mate not when it involves OUR money as well, which it did in this case.

          Companies operate in a societal context, not in a laissez faire free market vacuum where they can act and spend as they please without consideration for other stakeholders.

          Are you wilfully ignorant, pretending not to see obvious facts of life such as the extra tax break the government increased revenue when compared to the company not spending another dollar in NZ..?

          Yeah our weakness in selling out our legislative sovereignty to a foreign corporate is indicative of the importance we have to place as a country on regaining our economic sovereignty.

          Without economic sovereignty we have no ability to retain our democratic sovereignty.

          great on the emotive language but not solutions, you’d pass the Warner’s Must Make The Hobbit NZ Act..?

          Meh. Your solution not mine.

          But just think, instead of flowing $90-100M to Warner Bros, using those funds to set up an institution capable of funding twenty locally made, innovative film productions, increasing the depth of our industry and its independence from corporate decisions made in LA and the Wairarapa.

          • Jeremy Harris 2.1.1.1.1

            It doesn’t involve any of our money, it involves our government giving Warner Brother’s some their money back… In most cases tax credits, say for R & D, are extra money for businesses, most like farms cannot relocate overseas, meaning the government is taking less in revenue than it otherwise would but in this case Warner Brother’s can take their ball and go play in Europe or wherever they want and then there is no tax to be credited back in the first place… It’s amazing you can’t understand this simple concept, tax credits can only be paid to those who have paid taxes…

            I’ll agree on the second part, I hope the next labour government removes the “Hobbit clause”…

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s amazing you can’t understand this simple concept, tax credits can only be paid to those who have paid taxes…

              Then seriously, ask yourself whether or not I get it and stop assuming other people are less intelligent than you.

              A tax refund is a refund comprising of Crown funds. Funds that would have remained OURS previously. Therefore it involves OUR MONEY. Where the $ came from immediately before the crown took ownership of it is inconsequential. The fact that Crown funds are then being given to private interests IS.

            • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1.1.2

              It doesn’t involve any of our money…

              It most definitely involves our money – the stuff we invested in such as roads that actually allow them to produce the film here. The taxes that they would normally have paid are, in essence, the rent that we expect for use of that infrastructure.

            • Lazy Susan 2.1.1.1.1.3

              Exactly CV, and whether it be Warners or a NZ company they pay taxes because they are using an infrastructure that has been, and is being paid for from Crown funds. If Warners get rebates over and above what a NZ company could expect they are getting something for nothing and it is from OUR money.

              • Jeremy Harris

                I give up, it’s beyond belief…

                • mcflock

                  What I can’t believe is the concept that if it’s in Warner’s pocket, it’s Warners, but if it’s in the government’s pocket, it’s still Warner’s.

                  • IMESS

                    Aarrgh – come on, people! Warners are SPENDING almost $600M in this country and receiving $100M of tax breaks. NZ is still half a billion dollars better off because of this deal.

                    A common theme on this site is asking what the government is doing to create jobs in NZ… well, here is your answer!

                    You sound like you would actually be happier if John Key spent $100M of government funds on a job creation scheme, than if they spend $100M of funds with a foreign company fronting up with another half billion.

                    This IS the government creating highly skilled, good paying jobs – a fantastic result in a global recession.

                    And when you take employment (ie – sell something) you always concede something. NZ (and all countries) has always adapted our laws to suit external markets, it’s called being competitive, and it’s nothing new. In this case, it’s almost nothing at all – just an (albeit sloppy, and possible ineffective) clarification of an existing law which was necessary because the union completely discredited themselves to the point that Warners could not take their ‘word’ regarding stability.

                    • mcflock

                      Then why not be honest about it? Why all the “evil union” rhetoric? Why all the bullshit that it’s not costing NZ anything because it’s tax rebates? Why the assumption that they were seriously going to make it elsewhere in the first place?

                      And why protect one movie project while factories have been reduced and shut down all over NZ? What makes the Hobbit so different?

                      And the law change at best was because Jackson was being vindictive over one court case years ago, and at worst was offered by Key as a setup for the next round of “let’s play shit on the worker”, because apparently Warner didn’t ask for it.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Warners are SPENDING almost $600M in this country

                      Only if that oft quoted figure is purely production budget and does not include marketing budget. If it includes the marketing budgetthan roughly a 1/3 of the sum will be spent on international marketing and promotion and will not be spent in NZ.

                      Further, a very large proportion of that budget is not going ‘to New Zealand’ in general.

                      It is going to ***PETER JACKSON*** and his business interests (for the script, the effects, production costs, sets,..).

                      Yes, a few tens of millions will be paid out in wages and salaries to NZ’ers. Big frakkin deal.

                      NZ (and all countries) has always adapted our laws to suit external markets, it’s called being competitive

                      Yeah Banana Republics are especially good at ‘adapting their laws’ for foreign companies, or as I prefer to term it ‘selling out their values and their sovereignty to the highest bidder’.

                    • Rob

                      @ Colonial Viper please don’t mislead on the figures. A rebate is a % return from money spent in New Zealand. If they don’t spend $600 million here we don’t give them $80 million it is simple as that those numbers are projected from the expected spend. The less they directly spend here the less their rebate will be it is proportional to spending and they have to prove their spending. Yes some people will get large salaries of a few million on the film but the majority of $600 million here will not be spent on salaries it will be spent on purchasing goods and services through New Zealand these sales will go to companies that then return a % of that profit to us in tax and again hire significant staff in NZ also.

                      I agree it is not a good investment compared to others we could do but if risk of capital flight were real (I don’t think any of us can know whether it was or not especially when the coverage of this issue was so biased one way or another to come up with completely different versions of the facts everywhere and as much as I dislike John Key I assume he would have a decent understanding of whether there was or not and he wasn’t waiting around to give Warners a rebate) then we might as well take the opportunity. Just because there are better ways people can think of to do things doesn’t mean we shouldn’t jump on opportunities when they arise.

                    • IMESS

                      McFlock:

                      You put a lot of words in my mouth – read what I actually write!

                      I didn’t say the union is evil – only implied that I thought them bumbling and incompetent.
                      I also didn’t say that it’s not costing NZ anything – it’s costing us about $100M. However spending money to make money, makes sense.
                      Why the assumption that NZ had it in the bag the whole time? Of course Warners could have moved the production somewhere else.
                      This isn’t about ‘protecting’ this movie project. The factories which are shutting down in NZ are doing so because they are losing money. If an overseas company wanted to set up factories in NZ in a way which involved a net flow of funds into the country, then it would make just as much sense to subsidise those factories, as it does any foreign investment. But subsidising NZ factories which are losing money and not bringing any money in – why would you do that?
                      You comment about Jackson’s vindictiveness is your own speculation.

                      Viper: You’re making up numbers. Do you really think that filming these two blockbuster movies here, using NZ special effects companies, is going to only involve a few tens of millions into the country? Really?

                      The law change is actually completely in line with NZ values, as the majority of NZers support what has been done (and of course, gave the current government the mandate to make these decisions). So – would you have prefered this law change was not made to support your own, minority-held values? That, Viper, is a banana republic. What just happened in NZ, like it or not, is a robust democracy at work.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Rob – point taken on the fact its a ‘rebate’.

                      Question – what taxes exactly are being rebated? Do you happen to know?

                      Disagree with your comment on capital flight. Don’t be afraid of it, this country has plenty of capital. It just happens to be tied up in unproductive sectors.

                      Capital flight will depress the NZ dollar and provide benefits for our exporters and producers.

                    • Rob

                      In general I agree not to worry about capital flight because we would just end up with companies milking our value as a country and agreed on the point about devaluing. However a one off film doesn’t have this same issue because it doesn’t use up a lot of our assets but has a high amount of in country spending and isn’t obtaining anything permanently unlike buying a company here to siphon off money later it is merely a mutually beneficial relationship (we are both profiting off sales worldwide rather than them merely benefiting from sales to us). I am in general not fond of foreign investment in land and companies but I have no issue with them coming here to spend lots of money for a year, I think that is something valuable we should encourage.

                      I am not sure in NZ if they do the rebates different to everyone else but in general film rebates aren’t a rebate of tax they are one of spending. The company presents the accounts of spending in the country (which they will have already paid various taxes on like GST) and they will receive a rebate from that total spend. Thus the rebates can above what the government directly receives from them in tax. However accounting for all the levels of tax purchases go through (i.e. their suppliers of goods also pay tax) the rebate will always be less than the revenue the government receives from it for rebates around the 15-20% level and certainly less than for the total benefit to the economy.

                    • mcflock

                      IMESS:

                      I never said that you, specifically, said any of those things.

                      I was pointing out that if it was simply a taxpayer subsidy via rebates to support a favoured industry, why was there the need for the large amount of misinformation in the conversation? Such as the vitriol against unions which were incidental in the outcome, beyond an employment law change to level down workers rights which was apparently not asked for? And the comment that you replied to referring to the apparently confused interpretation by some commenters that if it’s in Warner’s pocket, it’s Warners money, but if it’s in the government’s pocket, it’s still Warner’s.

                      My suspicion is that the government needed a distraction so people overlook the fact that in this case they’re happy to subsidise, but the majority of NZ businesses are left to compete on their own without preferential tax structures – but that’s beside the point.

                      I read your comment in the context of the comment you replied to. Perhaps you should have chosen a more appropriate comment?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Viper: You’re making up numbers. Do you really think that filming these two blockbuster movies here, using NZ special effects companies, is going to only involve a few tens of millions into the country? Really?

                      In terms of direct wages/salaries into the hands of ordinary NZ workers (as opposed to the top billing Hollywood/UK stars). YES. Deadly serious.

                      The law change is actually completely in line with NZ values, as the majority of NZers support what has been done (and of course, gave the current government the mandate to make these decisions).

                      Hmmmm. Sorry no, just because a majority may support a bad decision, the decision doesn’t suddenly become good.

                      What just happened in NZ, like it or not, is a robust democracy at work.

                      Nah, more like a Government willing to sell out to Hollywood at work.

                      A robust democracy does not have its values, protections for its citizens and core principles up for sale to foreign commercial interests now, does it?

    • Steve Withers 2.2

      The reality is that money can go anywhere….but labour can’t. That is a huge imbalance in both power and mobility. To fail to recognise it is a flaw in any argument that says people should be able to use their money anywhere they want to…..and people who seek to earn money do no enjoy the same mobility – not even close.

      It is also important and worthwhile to recognise this gross imbalance in bargaining power when describing and regulating the economic environment of any unit or country. Certainly, people who benefit from that imbalance will use it to their advantage and will tend to pretend it doesn’t exist – or they might have to do something about it.

      The freeing up of global finance a generation ago was not mirrored in any way by freeing up the mobility if labour – and for perfectly good reasons dealing with social cohesion, language, culture, religion and capacity for large numbers of people to blight and destroy places they congregate in high density.

      The financial crises of recent decades would appear to indicate the money accumulating in high density in markets in demand is also a problem….and arguably would be a factor in every crash seen to date since deregulation….though the most recent crash may have actually been triggered by the export of millions of jobs to China, India, Thailand and Mexico resulting in falling middle class incomes in Western countries as that process achieved critical mass across those economies at macro level. I know I was watching this happening from about 2001 onward thinking the rubber had to hit the road eventually as the McJob process collided with rising household debt. In the event, I picked the crash to within 12 weeks…and took steps to protect my assets that were very successful.

      It was sad to see the National-lead govt do the usual thing (for them) and fail completely to acknowledge or address in any way the serious imbalance of power between mobile capital and immobile labour.

      As for public support….the Rings / Tolkien paradigm has become a part of Kiwi culture and we would move to protect it. Once the Hobbit has been made here, no where else can be “Middle Earth”. I can see the logic in that.

      None of that addresses the underlying issue of money being more important than people….so we will see these episodes again and again in a variety of contexts until that fundamental problem is addressed.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      How many people know what a credit union is, or even that they exist, never mind have the wherewithal* to actually create one?

      You’re just promulgating the usual irrational “free-market” BS.

      * In this case it would be getting together with a large enough group to do so. That group would also have to include the very specialist knowledge needed and have the time and resources to keep themselves until such time as the CU had an income that could support them. In other words, not very likely is it?

      • Nick C 2.3.1

        Am I the only one sick of Draco’s shameless self promotion when he links to his irrational free market post on almost every thread he comments on?

        • lprent 2.3.1.2

          As far as I can see, it has been in context each time. I’d have thought that you’d be happy. By doing a link he almost certainly reduces how much he writes in each comment. It also encourages free choice because people can choose to follow the link or not. That is why links should be used…..

          Anyway, I don’t have any particular bias against self-promotion so long as it is in context. I get more concerned with the out of context robot generated spam links that my systems kill routinely, and the far more obvious link-whoring of someone shilling for another site unrelated to the post or thread.

          • Colonial Viper 2.3.1.2.1

            It also encourages free choice because people can choose to follow the link or not.

            Oh, that’s very good. Very, very good.

    • KJT 2.4

      Yeah sure. The current regulations, exemptions from taxation and favoured access to capital from the central bank enjoyed by registered banks ensures credit unions and mutual aid/building societies cannot get off the ground.
      That is what killed the originals off.

      • Jeremy Harris 2.4.1

        Again so the left wing argument is to give more power to the politicians who use governmental force to give money to these banks..?

        • Draco T Bastard 2.4.1.1

          You may not have noticed but we’re asking for accountability more than anything. The banks aren’t accountable to us but the government is.

        • KJT 2.4.1.2

          Jeremy. We are asking for democratic control of our own finances.
          Not leaving it to the whims of overseas speculators.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Capital FLIGHT is not the problem NZ faces in the 21st century. Hot highly liquid capital INFLOWS is the sovreignty challenging problem that we face as a nation. It causes our houses and our farms to be priced out of reach of many NZ’ers, it leads to speculative activity and financial bubbles, it pulls capital out of the ‘real economy’ and places it into the paper trading one, it causes massive currency movements which distress the exporters and other operators in the ‘real economy’ – the ones who employ a lot of people and create many solidly paying jobs. It pressures the sell off of our productive assets e.g. farms worsening our balance of payments and eroding our economic sovereignty.

    To add to your list of tactics and tools (which are excellent) I suggest

    – Active capital and currency controls/interventions to make speculating in the NZ dollar more difficult and less profitable

    – Stiff CGT, estate tax and more progressive tax brackets for those on high incomes funding more basic services and infrastructure that everyone can use and enjoy.

    – Initiatives to improve the quality of management and leadership in this country. Japanese manufacturing systems recognised early on the important input that every worker has in workplace decision making. Too many of our managers still believe that its a top down ‘their way or the highway’.

    – Higher salaries/wages for the many combined with reduced basic cost of living: power, rates, food.

    – Higher salaries/wages are only going to come from export lead growth and a more vibrant internally trading consumer economy focussed on local goods and services.

    – The Government should issue the majority of our money itself on a debt free, non interest bearing basis. It should reduce the ability of the banks to create and issue ‘bank cash’ by the creation of more and more interest bearing debt. For starters, increase the CFR to 15-20% and make up for the resulting stricture in money supply by spending into circulation Government fiat money.

    In NZ we have a situation where 10% of the population controls almost 60% of our financial wealth. This is completely unacceptable. This 10% are ‘wealth generators’ yes, but for just some of them, they deserve no respect from society because they generate wealth primarily for themselves by tilting the table their own way. See those finance company and property development kings who destroyed hundreds of millions in real wealth and wages created/earned by real working productive people over years and years as a first example.

    • KJT 3.1

      http://blog.greens.org.nz/2010/10/29/greens-hosting-conference-on-sustainable-economics/

      “AGW, peak oil, peaks in resources, rising energy costs, the unsustainable ever rising compounding interest on money (peak money), rising inequality all mean business as usual cannot go on.
      The idea that every country is going to pay back their debts by out exporting the others is an obvious oxymoron. The USA will either default or massively inflate their dollar. Making Kiwi saver and other investments in US dollars worthless long term”.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        I’ll be interested to hear where the Greens think we should put the Cullen fund and Kiwi Saver billions if we need to avoid USD denominated assets, as the USD is expected to remain the reserve currency of the world for at least another 20 years.

        As for export led wealth – no other way to do it that I can currently see, because no other kind of work apart from high value manufacturing/tech development can produce enough well paying (>$20/hr) jobs to keep NZ highly employed and able to afford the benefits and facilities that we would like to have.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1

          As for export led wealth – no other way to do it that I can currently see,

          Stop exporting and start producing all that we need here*. Money is not a resource.

          * Please note, this is a long term objective. We import and export what we need to until we can produce what we need ourselves. Every economy needs to do this if they don’t then the understandability of the global economy will continue.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1

            understandability = unsustainability (which the dictionary tells me isn’t a word which would explain why the spell checker put the wrong word in :P).

        • KJT 3.1.1.2

          The point is there is not enough resources in the real world for compounding returns on investments to continue indefinitely. (Look up the concept of peak money) Probably not even until the boomers retire.
          Unless the investment is made in future sustainable local productivity it does not matter how much money Kiwisaver (Or any investment) makes. The extra money being spent by retiring boomers will be chasing too little actual resources. Any interest gains will be inflated out of existence. The USA already owes more than any possible future production can pay.

          The best thing to do would be to invest in a sustainable future for NZ.

          Invest in education for our kids, replacing fossil fuel energy etc.

  4. prism 4

    There is so much capital sloshing around in the world – like the numerous swimming pools of the rich while the ordinary person can’t access a public pool. (Actually an Auckland sub-city had this problem.) The entities that serve wealthy individuals and suck out fees end up with such a big proportion of the world’s wealth. But individuals don’t ever seem to feel rich.wealthy. Their taxes are too high, they must invest in a tax haven etc. The people at the base remain with little and what does the government do to balance the see-saw?
    The venal, predatory approach of so many MPs who don’t see themselves as guardians of the country’s assets means that we need more co-operatives and national funds bonds etc that are not hocked off.

    Any government entity like Kiwibank that is doing well as measured by business standards, will be considered for selling off so the wealthy can take over and scoop up the profits. Any government entity that is not profitable gets castigated. There seems to be no infrastucture that is permanent, even essential government services are outsourced to private profit-making firms.

    Marty G lists approaches. Jeremy Harris also but states that no-one is stopping individuals or groups now breaking out of our present mould. However it isn’t easy to start up a new business of any sort and keep it strong enough to weather all the probs. It looks easier from the employee’s viewpoint than the reality. (I think an Australian union bought into a department store but weren’t able to make it pay.) Getting business by encouraging them with some offer isn’t bad if they are in sustainable, non-destructive areas. Some local areas might offer rates holidays to bring industry. Trying to get better conditions for employees, profit sharing, etc – how could that be encouraged? Tax incentives?

    It’s a real worry that any government that happens to get in on some passing wave of sentiment, can turn around and denude the country with a view to enriching a small cabal. When the government serves minority interests then there is just an appearance of democratic service to the people, but most needs and requests from the lower and middle classes get fobbed off. Charities and not-for-profits step up to fill the gap. But charities need to be careful as they try to make up for the shortfall of services to the people, or the government can shut them down by withdrawing grants on a regular basis, and setting ever higher minimum standards. Some stress the advantages of the philanthropic sector but social charity is not an attractive permanent solution to meeting needs ignored by government.

  5. Steve Withers 5

    @prism: This government wants to get rid of MMP in order to better secure the processes for enriching the few. Sadly, the mainly foreign-owned corporate media are right behind them and together they will campaign vigorously next year to make your vote as worthless as they possibly can.
    Also sad is the reality that most Kiwis know so little about how their world actually works that they may well fall for it….and vote to ensure their future votes don’t count.

    That’s pretty messed up…but as we all know the price of stupidity (when you don’t know you’re being stupid) is high. Rosemary Ives’ friends and family know that as well as anyone.

    • prism 5.1

      “Also sad is the reality that most Kiwis know so little about how their world actually works that they may well fall for it….and vote to ensure their future votes don’t count.”

      Yes true. I heard a NZ talking about his life and political interests and he said that his parents had talked about politics, had opinions, discussions. He had picked it up from them. I can’t remember any such discussions apart from the usual complaints about the government in my childhood. In fact my impression is that an interest in politics is regarded as optional, a sort of hobby. Is donating to a political party able to be claimed for charitable tax relief? I don’t think we have the right sort of kaitiaki attitude to our democracy. School can teach in general but if parents talked about it youngsters would get an idea about both the daily doings and the history of our political efforts.

      A different approach is the proposition approach as in California. Very interesting piece by Grant Morris on Radio NZ on Kim this a.m. I think, about their (broke) situation. In the 1980s a prop got through that taxes couldn’t be raised except with 60% agreement by the pollies, and that has never been achieved. The logical outcome is that they haven’t kept up with inflation and are a failed state, and with their size and business vitality, that’s equivalent to a country out of the USA and in it, the bellwether for the country’s direction.

  6. Pascal's bookie 6

    A kind of related article from Noted Commun1st and former editor of the Wall st Journal, Paul Craig Roberts, (who was also an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury under Ronald Reagan, another noted lefty kook)

    http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts10282010.html

    The claim that jobs offshoring by US corporations increases domestic employment in the US is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated. As I demonstrated in my syndicated column at the time and again in my book, How The Economy Was Lost (2010), Slaughter reached his erroneous conclusion by counting the growth in multinational jobs in the U.S. without adjusting the data to reflect the acquisition of existing firms by multinationals and for existing firms turning themselves into multinationals by establishing foreign operations for the first time. There was no new multinational employment in the U.S. Existing employment simply moved into the multinational category from a change in the status of firms to multinational.

    If Slaughter (or Cohen) had consulted the Bureau of Labor Statistics nonfarm payroll jobs data, he would have been unable to locate the 5.5 million jobs that were allegedly created. In my columns I have reported for about a decade the details of new jobs creation in the U.S. as revealed by the BLS data, as has Washington economist Charles McMillion. Over the last decade, the net new jobs created in the U.S. have nothing to do with multinational corporations. The jobs consist of waitresses and bartenders, health care and social services (largely ambulatory health care), retail clerks, and while the bubble lasted, construction.

    These are not the high-tech, high-paying jobs that the “New Economy” promised, and they are not jobs that can be associated with global corporations. Moreover, these domestic service jobs are themselves scarce.

    But facts have nothing to do with it. Did Slaughter, Cohen, the Chamber, and the Wall Street Journal ever wonder how it was possible to have simultaneously millions of new good-paying middle class jobs and virtually the worst income inequality in the developed world with all income gains accruing to the mega-rich?

    In mid-October Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs puppet Tim Geithner gave a speech in California in the backyard, or former backyard, of 60 Minutes’ Silicon Valley dispossessed upper middle class interviewees in which Geithner said that the solution is to “educate more engineers.”

    We already have more engineers than we have jobs for them. In a recent poll a Philadelphia marketing and research firm, Twentysomething, found that 85% of recent college graduates planned to move back home with parents. Even if members of the “boomeranger generation” find jobs, the jobs don’t pay enough to support an independent existence.

    The financial media is useless. Reporters repeat the lie that the unemployment rate is 9.6%. This is a specially concocted unemployment rate that does not count most of the unemployed. The government’s own more inclusive rate stands at 17%. Statistician John Williams, who counts unemployment the way it is supposed to be counted, finds the unemployment rate to be 22%.

    These crazy left wingers eh.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    Instead of whining about it, some contributors here could think a bit more about generating their own capital? A friend of mine made himself a multi-millionaire using strategies available to virtually anyone.

    Upon leaving High School in the mid seventies he worked full time at the freezing works in a very mundane role cutting meat on the line (while doing a full-time university degree in his spare time). He saved all of the money he could until he had enough for a deposit on an industrial warehouse. He then geared up on the increasing value to buy more warehouses.

    He now owns 10 warehouses with the mortgages now completely paid off by the tenants. He now has 10 mortgage-free buildings which generate approx $500,000 per annum in rental with very little input required from him. Plus he’s made a lot of money on the sharemarket, but that’s another story.

    He has been “retired” since the age of 30 (he is now approx 50); his definition of “retirement” is that a person works because they want to work, not because they have to work.

    All it took for him to get to this position was some vision, discipline and perseverance.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 7.1

      Bet he didn’t pay much tax after interest and depreciation.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      Rentiers are the bane of any economy as they suck “wealth” away from productive use. Your friend is a parasite and a bludger of the worst kind.

      BTW TS, have you ever considered what happens when everyone becomes such a parasite?

      • tsmithfield 7.2.1

        “Rentiers are the bane of any economy as they suck “wealth” away from productive use. Your friend is a parasite and a bludger of the worst kind.”

        What utter nonsense. The businesses that rent his buildings from him are able to use their capital for productive purposes rather than having to use it to purchase a building. For many of those businesses, they may not have been able to operate at all if their only option was to purchase a building rather than rent one. As it is now though, those business are able to operate and employ people. So my friend is indirectly helping keep people in employment.

        “BTW TS, have you ever considered what happens when everyone becomes such a parasite?”

        Sure, we all can’t be landlords or else their wouldn’t be any tenants. 🙂 But its not the only way to produce your own wealth. There are other ways to do it that only require a minimal amount of start-up capital and is also available to anyone with a modicum of intelligence.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.2.1.1

          The businesses that rent his buildings from him are able to use their capital for productive purposes rather than having to use it to purchase a building.

          He’s free-hold on all of them and he still has rent coming in. That wealth is not going to productive use but to line your friends pockets and it is that particular accumulation of wealth in association with compounding interest that will always stop the monetary economy.

      • M 7.2.2

        ‘Rentiers are the bane of any economy as they suck “wealth” away from productive use.

        Agreed – I know someone who has 20+ properties and at one time was claiming a benefit as everything was in trust. No doubt this person was having a great laugh at their cleverness against all the other useless dumb schmucks out there and would be the first to report someone on a benefit with a cleaning job. I have a friend whom I consider has crossed over to the dark side and has now got a rental, all done on a shoestring and whilst I don’t wish any back luck on the endeavour, know that this is taking away from someone owning a home at an affordable price.

        If Gareth Morgan is right and we’re only one third of the way down as far as property prices are concerned then sometime in the not too distant future there has to be fire sales going on but landlords will hold on to the bitter end even if under water with the mortgage on a rental.

        The only way to stop this is to impose a capital gains tax on all rental properties, allow no costs for depreciation, repairs, or mortgage interest to be claimed because why should a renter be aiding a landlord to grow fat from tax breaks as well as having a house/building paid off for them. If a person wants to own more than one house or a building then let them pay the full cost with no tax breaks for the privilege.

        I remember hearing a woman on the radio after Labour won in 1999 moaning that the return on her rental would probably be much reduced as Labour was going to reinstate income related rents to state housing and she wouldn’t be able to increase the rent on her rental. I didn’t manage to control my swearing in front of the kids I was that incensed.

        And no, I’m not a jealous renter but an ordinary working person trying to pay the mortgage off on my small but perfectly adequate house hoping I won’t lose my job like so many unfortunate people. I would love for all NZers to be able to have a crack at home ownership and those who didn’t want to own for whatever reason (perhaps elderly or infirm) could have access to state housing at a reasonable rental and not live in fear that they would be tossed out.

        If I ever had an unexpected windfall it would not be for a rental but to keep for my kids future or if large enough invest in an enterprise in this country to hopefully provide people with a livelihood. I look forward to the day when globalisation ends and our workers can make and buy stuff made here and citizens will be just that, citizens as opposed to consumers aiding and abetting slavery in China because nothing is made here anymore or if it is they can’t afford to buy it and instead have to resort to going to the Warehouse.

        With continuing oil shocks and concern over carbon miles our export markets will gradually dwindle so the domestic economy will become paramount and we will pay handsomely for goods that are now ubiquitous or only import those considered absolutely necessary like oil or pharmaceuticals.

    • RedLogix 7.3

      ts,

      Two comments.

      1. Your friend’s strategy could only work during a period of sustained asset inflation which itself is created by banks pumping debt-bearing credit into the economy. But once everyone has tapped out their ability to service debt, the asset boom comes to an end.

      Therefore the strategy is not “available to virtually anyone” at all. In fact right now it’s not working for anyone at all.

      2. While I believe there is a legitimate place in the market for ‘rentiers’, in a properly balanced economy it would be considered low risk and thus low return. Ideally most people would prefer to put their money into something else more productive that produced better cash flows in the short-term.

      And certainly as Draco points out, an economy cannot consist of everyone renting everyone else their houses.

      • Colonial Viper 7.3.1

        Althought there is a need in a country with a growing population for new housing. So a situation where there is a business case to build new, needed housing for people to rent at modest rentals is a good idea. The owner gets a decent return on his $225,000 investment – say 6 or 7% net, and a family get cheap, decent housing to live in.

        Impossible to build decent housing for that cheap of course in the middle of a property asset bubble (which we still are – it will take ten or more years to unwind properly).

      • tsmithfield 7.3.2

        Redlogix:

        Your friend’s strategy could only work during a period of sustained asset inflation which itself is created by banks pumping debt-bearing credit into the economy. But once everyone has tapped out their ability to service debt, the asset boom comes to an end.

        Therefore the strategy is not “available to virtually anyone” at all. In fact right now it’s not working for anyone at all.

        Red, I realise that this strategy is not universally effective at all times. However, a gave it more as an example of a strategy that doesn’t require special skills or asset backing available to only a privileged few.

        As I mentioned in my following post there are other strategies available to virtually anyone that requires minimal capital to kick it off and can generate high wealth. For instance, you could look at trading equity options on the Australian or US market. For the US, NZ $1000 would be enough to get you on the way. Sure, there is a degree of risk involved. However, the risks can be minimised and the amount of capital required to start with is small, so the risk can be small.

        The point I was trying to make is that generating wealth is not something confined to a privileged few.

        • Lazy Susan 7.3.2.1

          Instead of whining about it, some contributors here could think a bit more about generating their own capital? A friend of mine made himself a multi-millionaire using strategies available to virtually anyone.

          The strategies you list are highly leveraged commercial property and trading equity options. Both speculative and both will produce winners and losers and do little to benefit the economy.

          And here’s a few more:

          1) Buying a lotto ticket
          2) Going to the TAB
          3) Gambling at Sky City

          • tsmithfield 7.3.2.1.1

            Lazy Susan:

            “The strategies you list are highly leveraged commercial property and trading equity options”

            Agreed. Equity options don’t require much capital investment to get started, so they are less risky. Also, with equity options the most put at risk is the capital invested. You don’t become liable for more than you have invested as could potentially be the case investing in property. Also, you can set stop-losses with equity options to minimise your losses. So equity options are not a bad thing to speculate on, and can be quite profitable if homework is done and a cautious approach is taken. Here is a good online options company. They allow you to set up a demo account that enables a novice to trade on the real market without actually investing any money to get the idea of how it works.

            “Both speculative and both will produce winners and losers and do little to benefit the economy.”

            I agree they are both speculative. I disagree that they necessarily produce winners and losers or that they do little to benefit the economy.

            I have already explained how investing in, and renting out industrial property can help the economy. Equity options don’t necessarily produce winners and losers. For instance, on one side of a trade might be a hedger wanting to protect an investment. On the other side of the trade might be a speculator. Both can be “winners” because their purposes are both being served.

            “And here’s a few more:

            1) Buying a lotto ticket
            2) Going to the TAB
            3) Gambling at Sky City”

            I don’t recommend these strategies because the deck is heavily stacked against the “investor” from the get-go with these “strategies”.

    • prism 7.4

      Is that your story ts? Congrats for doing so well and working so smartly. And how mundane – it’s all done with property investment as so much wealth building is – not like inventing the electric light, or making something tradeable. If it isn’t you, why aren’t you rich too if its so easy? Sounds a bit like the book I’m reading Rich Dad Poor Dad which is quite instructive on improving personal finances.

      • Jeremy Harris 7.4.1

        It’s good that that book has got you interested in the topic but the Rich Dad series is more about making Kiyosaki rich than you…

        Try expanding to books by people who have actually built wealth before writing about it…

    • Puddleglum 7.5

      I think you’ll find, TS, that if all took your advice (and assuming a perfectly functioning market system throughout the economy and total competition and perfect and instantaneous information) all profits would reduce to their marginal level -i.e., not much at all. In such a system, your friend would now find himself in much more modest circumstances.

      Of course, the appeal of capitalism is basically that:
      (a) there are no perfectly functioning markets;
      (b) there is not total competition;
      (c) information is nowhere near perfect and instantaneously available to all.

      That is, the incentive of capitalism depends upon inequality at many levels – some quite abstract (e.g., information). Your claim that all are ‘equally’ able to take advantage of it would undermine those incentives.

      Actually existing capitalism works because people think they can ‘beat the system’ – which they sometimes can do because of its imperfections, as listed above. Real, existing capitalism is supported principally by those who back themselves to win in that imperfect system (and, hence, who implicitly assume others will lose because they are less intelligent, less aware of market conditions, have personalities or life circumstances that don’t suit them to operating their life in purely market terms, etc., etc.). This is actually implicit in your assertion that anyone can become wealthy (which is, of course, a relative term) by using “strategies available to virtually anyone”.

      Sadly, those – and other – strategies work to create immense wealth for the few just because they are not available to very many people. As soon as they were, they would not be wealth creating strategies (in the sense you imply – i.e., becoming rich relative to the norm).

      In a perfect market-capitalist system every pursuit to gain wealth would equalise. Whatever you did you would gain the same, minimal, return. Just enough to keep you going with what you do, while reproducing your own labour.

      • RedLogix 7.5.1

        pd.

        Reliable and intelligent as usual. Thanks.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.5.2

        Well said and goes well with my in a perfectly competitive free-market there is no profit. Capitalism is supported and protected by the rules that have grown up around it and they’re almost all designed around preventing competition. Look at all the lawsuits flying around regarding IT patents ATM. A lot of those patents probably shouldn’t exist like the one Amazon have for their one-click process.

      • Colonial Viper 7.5.3

        PG also don’t forget that market players exploit human error, cultural prejudices, and perceptual weaknesses. These exist to the extent that even having perfect information available instantaneously everywhere isn’t going to help i.e. the imperfections don’t lie just in the system they also lie in the people.

  8. Macro 8

    Very good analysis Marty but you overlook one highly important fact – it’s even worse than you think!
    vis: “With 250,000 jobless, workers are in a race to the bottom against each other – whoever will accept the worst pay and conditions gets the job. Who, but a very few in specialised industries, can personally bargain with a prospective employer? The vast majority of us take what we can get for fear of being left with nothing at all.”
    I agree totally with this statement – but for one thing. This analysis fails to acknowledge the fact that it is a ‘global’ economy. Offshoring of employment pits the 250,000 unemployed in NZ against the millions unemployed overseas. ‘Don’t want to accept these wages and conditions here! ok we’ll go someplace else’. The rush to free trade and a global economy fostered by Capitalist free market thinking and aided and abetted by successive Labour Govts, has resulted in a continual depreciation of workers rights and conditions.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      I agree but it wasn’t just Labour governments although they did start it.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.2

      Also works the other way when you have skills and experience. If you have skills which are transferrable across boundaries and are in demand (medical professionals, science teachers for example) your employers are eventually forced to pay you a wage commensurate with the global going rate. Give we have such a high performing education system means that open employment markets with countries such as Australia can be extremely beneficial to some individuals even when they are in a low wage economy like NZ.

      • Macro 8.2.1

        yes! having just spent a week in hospital staffed almost exclusively by new NZ’s.
        the going global rate for professionals is not being increased!

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.2

        means that open employment markets with countries such as Australia can be extremely beneficial to some individuals even when they are in a low wage economy like NZ.

        Won’t be long now before sons and daughters working well paid professional jobs overseas are sending money back to NZ to help with the upkeep of their extended families here.

      • Macro 8.2.3

        There is almost as much global unemployment of professionals, engineers, architects, etc as there are unskilled. The meme “my offspring will be better off than I” is becoming a modern myth. Not only is ‘unskilled’ work being off-shored, the migration of skilled, and professional employment globally means that there is no longer a local market but a global one. More applicants for the same job does not necessarily mean increased salaries! The only portion of the income spectrum to substantially improve their renumeration in recent years are chief executives and their ilk.

        • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.2.3.1

          It all depends on how useful your skills and qualifications are. I agree, there won’t be a huge demand for hedge fund managers, peopety lawyers or real estate professionals after the GFC, but I can guarantee people like agricultural engineers, mining engineers, medical researchers and other people who can contribute to a society’s prosperity are going to be wanted all over the world.
          PS May sure your kids keep up their mandarin lessons.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    The rush to free trade and a global economy fostered by Capitalist free market thinking and aided and abetted by successive Labour Govts, has resulted in a continual depreciation of workers rights and conditions.

    Strange you left out NAT Ruthanaisa’s ECA here.

    Regardless NZ Labour knows full well today – and not a moment too late – that a free market in capital and a free market in labour are highly undesirable things for a modern society.

    Welcome back The New Zealand Labour Paartee!

    • Macro 9.1

      Col V quite right! Not only Labour involved here! Just wanted to make the point that the party formed from the movement to promote worker’s rights and conditions, was just as much at fault as the ‘conservative’ faction.
      Trouble is – the horse has well and truly bolted – going to be a very long haul to get it back under control. Some consider that workers conditions world wide will remain depressed until the developing economies of China and India catch up (maybe 2030).

  10. Macro 10

    I’m reminded of the Biblical text ascribed as one of the last words of Christ upon the cross;
    ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’.

  11. Bill 11

    If it’s the control of Capital that undermines democracy, then how does putting the control of Capital into different hands ensure democracy? It doesn’t.

    It’s the environment within which private Capital operates that gives rise to inequalities insofar as that environment demands that producers, buyers, sellers and consumers (or however else you wish to split it up) compete to seek advantage over one another. And one of the rewards or advantages that are gained is an increase in private Capital at a person’s or organisation’s disposal; a concentration of Capital which translates or expresses itself in increasing levels of power.

    To concentrate on private Capital without taking into account the market economy it exists and operates within can only ever lead to various transfers of power between an endless conveyor belt of ascendant elites. Those elites will run agendas that will have democratic measures in relation to the the extent by which the selfish ‘dog eat dog’ market economy is suppressed… or the measure to which any alternative system of production and consumption, such as a command economy allows.

    We know that in a market economy, regulations that seek to suppress the more predatory aspects of the market are always rolled back. And we know that command economies are not democratic either.

    At the end of the day, if we don’t abolish the market and the relations it encourages, we will never achieve more than fleeting periods of ‘not quite, maybe not even close’ democracy whose extent and persistence are always going to be largely limited and determined by inimical market forces that promote Capital accumulation before all else.

  12. jimekus 12

    Now that Key has blatantly predicated his media moguls’ support, then that value to his election coffers should be counted as graft, or at least offset against the cost of buying a guillotine to fix the situation.

    http://reality.gn.apc.org/polemic/socmod.htm
    … and if Bill, the previous commenter, is intrigued by the below snip from this link, translated from Russian, he can read later why the debit and credit system needs to be replaced. These aren’t my words and my AI concepts go far beyond consumption of goods and services into the realms of law and the environment, but they’ll do for the time being.

    Cheers,

    ….

    Whilst price lists and value lists may at first sight seem equally useful in cost accounting, credit account lists imply something quite different. Here money appears not as a neutral metric, but as, what Smith called, the power to command the labour of others. Credit accounts encode social hierarchy. Throughout history the index of membership of the upper classes was the ability to command others to do things. Thus the persistence of such accounts in socialist societies is an index of the survival of capitalist forms of domination, of lordship.

  13. Rob 13

    To add to your list.

    Internal company actions which would be the benefit of the company itself include:

    1. Consulting with the public on the services they want and how they should be delivered
    2. Making some decisions in the company either by vote of its employees or by agreeing to accept the result of a public poll
    3. Having more companies owned by real owners and managers rather than shareholders who have little involvement in the company and thus care little for its reputation making it less responsive

    On the side of legislative action the government can:
    1. Be braver in regulating industries where they are not functional e.g. the mobile termination rates
    2. Have anti-competition laws to prevent companies getting over a certain % of the market share by buying other companies. This means they have to be much more careful with how they treat their customers and much more responsive to public concern
    3. Give local councils the ability to decline stores rights to operate i.e. something like alcohol licenses for all companies requiring them to have certain conditions met to operate which could be used to push the in house stuff mentioned above potentially (I’m not sure if this would actually be a good idea as it means they may decline all of certain not liked kinds of stores like cosmic corner but it would mean they can get rid of unresponsive companies who damage the local community).

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