Wealth Creation = Injustice

Monday, 16th June 2008 at 9:00 UTC 2 comments

In crude terms, the companies that make the most money from the least input must be doing the most to extract ‘value’ from its workers, sub-contractors and from the environment. It must, in a sense, be externalising as much of the cost as possible, in order to be left with the most profits. That would make the most profitable companies into human rights and environmental abusers? Or would that just be too simplistic? Sadly, this simplistic theory of economic gains seems to hold true this year…“UK firms ‘top Europe wealth list” read the headline on BBC News. I was curious enough to go take a peak at the article. What I saw, when set against my extensive knowledge of the bad stuff companies get up to these days, was almost amusing. That is, it would have been were it not for the obviousness of the statement: “screw people, screw the planet, otherwise you won’t make it to the top”.

It measures what percentage more a company receives than what it paid in order to be able to make that money. Here’s the UK’s top five wealth creators and their crimes, followed by the top non-UK european wealth creators. So much ‘reward’ for so much injustice. Sure its just capitalism, nothing new there, but it doesn’t make me feel any less like crying about it all.

  • Royal Dutch Shell – Massive oil company, who seem to have a slight industrial relations problem at the moment.
  • BP – Big biofuel investor as well as dirty oil company responsible for vomitous quantities of Green Wash.
  • HSBC – Arms investment? Or was it a damn project? I know there was a reason in there somewhere.
  • Vodafone – Their phones are made in sweatshops, and even then they’re possibly the cleanest company on this list.
  • Royal Bank of Scotland – See people and planet’s page explaining my concerns.
  • DaimlerChrysler (ranked 2nd) – Car company. Promoters of the concept that you need a car to survive. Not renowned for making efficient cars, either.
  • French oil firm Total (3rd) – Burma. Enough said.
  • Gazprom (5th) – Russia’s almost mafiosa-esque gas company who last year decided to shut down the gas supply in dead of winter to at least one Eastern-European countries.

Yeah, I could have done a stack more research, but I think most of this speaks for itself. And remember, screw more people over or you’ll never get rich!


Entry filed under: Development, Economics.

Did you see the news? Looking Deeper

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Greg  |  Tuesday, 17th June 2008 at 11:19 UTC

    There’s something else I notice about those companies. RBS and HSBC are the exceptions, but both of those provide services that millions (including me) find useful. Apart from them, all the companies do stuff that is useful in very real terms. They’re producers. BP, Shell etc dig stuff out of the ground that we all use. Vodafone provide a network that helps our society to run. Chrysler take natural resources and turn them into goods that help a good chunk of the world’s population.

    I’m constantly bombarded by examples of insurance companies, advertising companies, people who’ve made money skimming off the stock exchanges and money markets, people who tell us how to live and people who go around administering it all. All of these are effectively leechers and would collapse if the host system went away. I’m glad to see that these most successful companies are still those who do something concrete in enabling society to run, and who actually make people’s lives better.

  • 2. Greg  |  Monday, 6th April 2009 at 22:34 UTC

    I just came across this again while searching for something else, and find the mention of RBS rather ironic in the current climate!


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