Sociology in the News (4)

Last Updated on September 10, 2016 by Karl Thompson

Three articles about the close and friendly relationship between politicians and big business caught my attention this week.

The three articles below all illustrate how the Marxist critical theory is still relevant, and also serve as good examples of why we have shifted towards neoliberalism – basically big business and government are tightly interwoven, so it’s no surprise that government policy is pro-business – whether we’re talking about the EU, or Ireland, a member of the EU, or the UK which is about to leave the the EU!

Theresa May ‘Banging the Drum’ for Free Trade at the G20 summit

According to this BBC news article, during her first international appearance since Brexit at the G20 summit Theresa May

“banged the drum for free trade, an increasingly lonely message as electorates around the world urge their leaders to greater protectionism”

It’s difficult to know precisely what this means – but it’s highly likely that this means more neoliberalismneoliberalism – lower rates of tax on TNCs, to attract them to the UK, more deregulation (cutting ‘red tape’) and more privatisation of public assets, (already raging under the Tories) – basically more of putting the needs of business and the capitalist class first.

Apple’s 13 Billion Euro Tax Bill…

Or the 13 billion bite!

The European Union recently decreed that that the Irish government should recover 13 billion Euros in bax taxes from Apple, whose headquarters are based in Cork.

Ireland already has one of the lowest corporation taxes in the world, at 12.5%, but it agree 25 years ago it agreed to give Apple a number of subsidies in order to attract the corporation to Ireland, which effectively means it has been paying 0.005% tax during that period.

The reason the EU is demanding that Ireland claim the money back is because the subsidies are against competition law – states aren’t allowed to give preferential treatment to one company over another – by giving them cash hand-outs for example, but allowing tax-breaks effectively amounts to the same thing.

This amounts to giving Apple 220 000 Euros for every year for each job located in Ireland.

The revolving door between Government and Big Business 

A third article by John Harris in the Guardian reveals that there are very close links between EU and British cabinet ministers and big business – basically what happens is that ministers spend a period of time in political office, which often involves dealing with big business, and once they leave politics, the go on to work for big companies, advising them on how to get privileged access so they can easily lobby those in the corridors of power – which makes it easier for them to get ‘sweat heart tax deals’ like Apple did.

The event which prompted the article was that former EU commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso took a job as a nonexecutive chairman and adviser to Goldman Sachs which helped cause the financial crash of 2008, but Harris points out that this is normal – between 2009 and 2010 alone, six out of 13 departing EU commissioners moved into new corporate or lobbying roles.

Harris also suggests that we ‘watch closely as the alumni of the governments headed by David Cameron exit full-time politics. Already, in fact, an odorous cloud has started to form. Earlier this year a Daily Mirror investigation found that 25 former ministers in the coalition government had taken paid roles in sectors they once oversaw’

Somehow I get the feeling quite a few of these news update posts are going to be about the further advance of neoliberalism!

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