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Big Business - a Marvel, or a Monster?

17-12-2015

Governments worldwide are always prating about how big business is an essential part of the economy, how the country couldn't operate without it and how nothing of any great import could ever get done.

To a point, they are right: big business is essential for stability, being better able to withstand downturns in the economy than its smaller cousins.  Big business also has capacity: small companies - at least those without cojones the size of uncomfortably large planets - cannot handle large infrastructure projects without risk of overtrading: and if the project falls through and it is their only project, they will invariably fold.

Large companies also employ large numbers of people, and their stability in the vagaries of economic fortune provides a reasonably solid tax take enabling governments to plan for the future, in turn providing stability for the country.  That they are large also means it is expensive for them to relocate their operations in any meaningful way, again providing assurance to the economy of which they are part.

But there is a downside - a pretty sizeable downside.

As we have seen with banks, they can run amok and, given their value to the economy, they can be seen as too big to fail, holding the taxpayer to ransom for bailing them out, or seeing them disappear with all the unknown consequences that might occur.

Additionally, their financial might can threaten a country if it does not cede to their demands for preferential treatment.  And, when Boards of Directors are where politicians passed over for preferment in the legislature go to die, there can be undue pressure brought about in this regard, skewing the market in their favour and leaving smaller businesses, which rely on whatever work they can get, to flounder and founder.

Of course, big business, and big business organisations such as the CBI would strenuously deny that this is possible, but it has been seen in the past that rules have been bent and laws broken and, where such breakages and distortions have gone unreported - at least until it no longer matters - this furthers the folly of the Corporation.

Naturally, there are laws such as anti-monopoly rules, but big business can afford better lawyers than the rest of us - lawyers who know how to ride a fleet of coaches and horses through such legislation by knowing the loopholes.

Talking of lawyers, perhaps the biggest corporations in the world are the governments of larger, or at least more prosperous, countries.  These are legislatures staffed by people who, whilst ostensibly elected by ordinary voters, are usually only out for what they can get.  Therefore, if a corporation offers a sotto-voce bribe to less-than-honest politicians (and yes, there are such people), that corporation can get away with almost anything.

On balance, therefore, big business can be a force for good.  However, it needs to be scrupulously contained by vigilant politicians in order for it to be so.  Failing that, it should be closely guarded by the people amongst whom it operates, and if it is seen to be wanting, then people should withdraw their custom, if they can find a way to safely do so.

Either that, or news outlets such as the Voice of Albion should name and shame them.

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