October 27, 2004

Back To The Future

Writing about web page http://web5.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/466/5/55565384w5/purl=rc1_TTDA_0_CS50739341&dyn=9!xrn_11_0_CS50739341&hst_1?sw_aep=warwick

Looking at my topic of multinational companies I had a glance at The TImes Online which someone has spent a lifetime putting together.

I am looking at the East India Company in India (who would have thought) as they were probably the closest entity to a multinational corporation in the historical past. They had power beyond the wildest dreams of any CEO today however as up until 1784 the Board of Directors (Control) governed 250 million people and a handful of military divisions. As is likely to happen when a country is run for profit only and wiht no regulation the India populous didn't get a great deal out of this situation. (Except modernity perhaps but that's a little contraversial for this article).

The Times article of 1811 challenges the role of the EIC but makes references to its past domination of the sub-continent.

'The period between 1763 and 1784 when the Company was exclusively sovereign…was fraught with the most grevious abuses'

The author also points out that in areas outside of Company control 'the arts of peace and the progress of agriculture now flourish', and that 'the limits' of the Indian governance are clear.

So this perhaps highlights why it would never be a good idea to give multinational company's to much power and the need for regulation. The question is, with proper regulation and a slightly more humanitarian British Empire could the company have helped build a modern India, buying from locals at good prices, and employing locals on good wages?

October 26, 2004


Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1005543,00.html


Hmm… this company generally gets a bad name for being particuarly evil but this is based more on assumption than fact i feel.
However I found this interesting article on a manouvre of CC in India which seemed rather thoughtless. The company's massive bottling plant is drying up a previously prosperous area of farmland by using up 1million litres of water a day. CC has also 'cunningly' being selling the locals toxic waste as fertiliser. This contains lead and cadmium, not the most enriching of nutrients.

I am comparing this with an interview with Monsiuer John Pierre Garnier,(JP) head of GlaxoSmithKline, (GSK), the second largest phaceutical company. On the matter of AIDS JP says he would like to make drugs cheaper, so long as it doesn't harm profits. He even refused a pay rise in order to keep costs down so drug prices wouldn't go up.

The comparative issue is that one multinational company doesnt give a damn about peoples of developing countries (CC) another (GSK) has good intentions but at the end of the day neither are willing to sacrifice profit for humanitarian good.

But should we all go for a march around London tearing down various fast food outlets – no. There is the issue of government incompetance. The Indian authorities should never have allowed CC to build a plant if they knew they couldn't meet its water demands. Now they are goinf to send Coca Cola packing but after serious damage has been done to the local population livlihoods. If governments of Africa bought GSK AIDS drugs together in bulk purchases they would be affordable tot he people. If companies can't make a profit they cant invest in new drugs, so when the next epidemic comes along there's no chance for anyone. If governments worked in a way that protected their nation from abuses by multinationals then things would get better as its the companies that need the labour and the land, at any price so long as it beats the Western rates., not the other way around.

So this comparison between the differing attitudes of company's helps give an insight into the effects of multinational company's in the third world – expensive drugs or no drugs at all?

October 11, 2004


Writing about web page http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/00318191?single=1&query_type=word&queryword=multinational&edition=3e&first=1&max_to_show=10, http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/00045356?query_type=word&queryword=company&edition=2e&first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_type=alpha&result_place=1&search_id=htX1-DoA0b9-7041&hilite=00045356

I thought I'd better define a few terms critical to the media diary.
This is what the OED believes:

'A. adj.
1. Relating to, consisting of, or involving several or many countries or nationalities. Of a company or other organization: operating in several or many countries.

2. S. Afr. Relating to, consisting of, or involving a number of ethnic groups, each group being regarded as a separate ‘nation’; multiracial. Used esp. in the context of sport.

B. n. A company or organization which operates in several or many countries.

Chiefly used of organizations which carry out production in a number of different countries, rather than those which simply trade internationally.'


There are about 14,000 definitions for this word, or some such crazy number, so here are the relevant ones:

'6. a. A body of persons combined or incorporated for some common object, or for the joint execution or performance of anything; esp. a medićval trade guild, and hence, a corporation historically representing such, as in the London ‘City Companies’.

7. a. An association formed to carry on some commercial or industrial undertaking.

‘When there are only a few individuals associated, it is most commonly called a copartnery, the term company being usually applied to large associations..who conduct their operations by means of agents acting under the orders of a Board of directors’ (McCulloch Dict. Comm. s.v.). exclusive or joint stock company: one having a certain amount of JOINT STOCK (q.v.) divided into transferable shares, and managed for the common advantage of the shareholders by a body of responsible directors. open or regulated company: one which does not possess a joint stock, the members trading on their own stock and at their own risk. limited (liability) company: one in which the liability of the members is limited, usually to the amount of capital subscribed by each. John Company (the East India Company).'

Interestingly, another definitions has been, 'Society' (until 1806) hmmm…

History Lesson for Labour

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,1314097,00.html

An enlightening article, on, of all things, The Enlightenment, and the relationship between the capitalist ideal of the time, and what it has become. The writer believes,

'Today capitalism is in decline, reflected by war, poverty, destruction of the environment, growing inequality and disillusion with parliamentary democracy.'
Pat Brady (see URL)

Sure glad I don't live on that planet.

The point made is that free trade has allowed globalisation, and thus multinational companies to take a strangle hold on LEDCs. Employing people in a country evidently leads to 'war, poverty, destruction of the environment, growing inequality and disillusion with parliamentary democracy.' Nothing to do with corrupt governments then?

However sarcastic the question, there is a point, made by the writer about the problems caused in the 'coming together' of governements and companies.

'Smith, Paine and Condorcet may have seen capitalism as preferable to the unequal society of the 18th century, but had they anticipated the growth of companies with more economic power than many states, they would have seen little difference between them and the monopolistic aristocrats who controlled the economy of their time. They certainly would not have suggested the coming together of commercial society and the state to solve the "problem" of inequality.'

Alex Shaw (see URL)

Has globalisation caused these global problems. This blog should be able to have some sort of answer in about, er, a year.

Huge rise in kidnap insurance premiums

I found an article entitled as above in the FT (11/09/04) which I found interesting in relation to the issue of multinational companies in the Third World. The issue is that of foreign, (usually from MEDCs) employees of multi national companies being taken hostage by local insurgents. The issue is highlighted now due to the Iraq war, where a key issue different from the past is that the hostage takers do not demand money of the company, but action by the person's home nation's government. Multinationals can generally afford to pay ransoms, or the insurance premiums to cover such an event. A company, unless very large and influential, cannot force a major government to change its military stance on a country such as Iraq.

I found an interesting statement that, 'The people most interested in K&R insurance were…oil companies with employees in countries where taking businessmen captive was part of the rhythm of daily life.'

If as the article suggests kidnapping was part of 'daily life' then multinational companies could be said to be extortianate of LEDC countries, as their profits do not go to the country from which material is removed. This may be an overstatement said by the writer arbitrarily, and it may the case that the hostage takers are disillusioned individuals, who are not hardworking enough to get a job and gain the relatively high pay rates with the multnational companies.

Evidently the topic of this blog is a damn complicated one.

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