Rabid capitalists until…..

I once heard a business guru (I can’t remember which one) say that most CEOs are rabid capitalists until they pass through the door of their own business every morning. From that point on, they spend their time lobbying governments for incentives, looking for tax breaks, angling for favourable legislation, etc. One only has to look at the auto sector, the aerospace sector, the agrifood sector and the pharma sectors in Canada to see this play out.

So, I was grinning ear to ear yesterday when I heard the Chief Economist at Fidelity Canada intone with great indignation that the government shouldn’t be “picking winners and losers”.

Er, I guess that doesn’t apply to Fidelity itself, which received one of the largest incentive deals I have ever seen for a financial services firm when it got $69 million from North Carolina back in 2006.

I wonder what the Chief Economist would say to that?

Maybe that bit about people that live in glass houses…… comes into play here?

I’m sure he would fumble through a response about why that was different some how.

Don’t get me wrong. I would be as happy as NBT if all governments around the world stopped giving financial incentives to companies to set up in their jurisdictions. But they never will and I think New Brunswick should be the last place to unilaterally disarm.

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0 Responses to Rabid capitalists until…..

  1. nbt says:

    On the contrary, New Brunswick needs to place more faith in the free market and get government out of funding business and special interest via corporate welfare.

    Although, that wouldn’t be good news for those companies and firms whose umbilical cords are attached to ACOA and Business New Brunswick.

    Obviously I’m a bit of a contrarian, so don’t think any of this will stick anytime soon Dave. It takes time to get a new and important message out there. ;-0

  2. mikel says:

    That is sort of kind of true, in fact NBT isn’t completely wrong here. For example, look at forestry. What if all the subsidies were off the table for the biggest subsidy pigs in the province-multinational corporations.

    We know what would happen-they would no longer do business in the province because it isn’t ‘cost effective’.

    IF that happened, then what could the province do? They’d have to look at local production. They’d have to train people in local technology, not in technology that replaces people. So the public land could be used by communities, IF it was used by communities there would be some real progressive ideas come forth. Eco tourism would flourish (probably), minimal harvesting and smart uses of resources.

    So, for example, there would be scientists studying the ecosystem, while local users would use forest resources for local building purposes and for export that benefits the majority of community members.

    This would mean small rural areas wouldn’t be devastated by economic downturns. It would lead to more of a reliance on knowledge based forestry training, for example, the majority of pharmaceuticals and new technologies arise from discoveries in the environment, and since every ecosystem is largely unique, then the possibilities are practically limitless.

    That would get rid of subsidies and corporate welfare, it would also address many of the economic problems and environmental problems. Again, the problem is NOT people’s being against that, the problem is the interests that run them and the political system.

    While the land is handed over to other users, government by necessity has to pick and choose ‘winners and losers’ because thats all it CAN do. We already know the result of completely doing away with that-Saint John takes a huge environmental chance with an LNG terminal for the sake of maybe 10 jobs. Without the government, the province would quite literally be almost empty, it would be like huge swaths of Scotland where thousands upon thousands of acres sit empty because it is owned by eight people and there is nothing there anymore.

    You can easily get rid of subsidies if you simply get rid of the private ownership-which is the logical conclusion of what NBT is talking about, although he doesn’t know it (he just prefers to limit his definition of ‘subsidy’, but nobody else has to do that)

  3. nbt says:

    However, the reason there is so much lobbying in the first place by corporations is because their territory is being infringed upon by government regulations. If it were up to me, I’d like to see more distance between the public and private sector, not less.

  4. mikel says:

    I think the opposite is true, its corporations who are infringing on the rights of the government. Just a quick example, I was researching GM foods and the government SPECIFICALLY said that they wouldn’t have labelling because the US was a trade partner and ‘wouldn’t like it’.

    This, even though several polls showed that 90% of people wanted such labelling (not even to mention the majority that agreed with europeans and didn’t want it at all).

    That’s just a quick off the cuff example, people can go online and find hundreds of others, in fact theres a youtube documentary about a limestone quarry in Pennsylvania where municipal elections were coming up and although he ran on a campaign of opposing the quarry, once elected the companys lawyers served a notice that if he voted or discussed the matter it would be a ‘conflict of interest’.

    That doesn’t even get into other examples, you are just defending the rights of people to rob other people blind without them being able to stop it. It’s ludicrous and you can simply ask what exactly it is you think McCains and Irvings have been ‘trying to get and have been thwarted’. In forestry of course they don’t even OWN the forests but still get their tree farms, even though they don’t own the land.

    It would be interesting to hear just ONE example where what you say is true. Graham is right now doing like Lord and travelling around whoring NB to the lowest bidder-again, I hate to use that word but its got that ‘edge’ to it that accurately describes the situation (as the potash showed).

    Corporations already pay almost no tax, get a free ride on the enviornment, apart from platitudes, exactly what is it that you think they are being kept from?