British American Tobacco tried to blackmail Ugandan Government

zin

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 5, 2010
488
6,472
United Kingdom
Tobacco giant 'tried blackmail' to block Ugandan anti-smoking law

British American Tobacco, in conjunction with other leading tobacco companies, is using its considerable financial clout to oppose Dr Chris Baryomunsi's private member's bill aimed at curbing smoking in a country where cigarettes kill 13,500 people a year. Anti-tobacco campaigners see the bill as a watershed moment with significant consequences for cigarette companies.
I'm using this article to discuss an important and bigger principle. There are a few people on this forum that espouse free market economics or libertarian economics.

I would like to find out how you can justify having these views when time after time corporations, especially large ones, prove that they cannot be trusted to exercise the corporate power that they have fairly (and sometimes humanely).

In this example, suppose Uganda was a free market system. What authority would exist in order to contain the immense power that this corporation has welded? If there is nothing to regulate its activities, what exists to prevent BAT from engaging in unfair activities such that they consolidate and centralise power in a way that they can effectively monopolise and forcibly control the entire tobacco supply chain in Uganda? What would exist to prevent farmers / transportation workers from effectively being enslaved? Suppose you can say, 'they aren't forced to work, they can find another job', but what prevents other industries from engaging in the same behaviour?

This is a serious discussion and I know that previous debates on this subject generally derailed into 'capitalism vs socialism', so I am here trying to genuinely understand how somebody can justify the free market view of the world, especially after things like this news surface every few weeks.

One point I always read is that corporations can only monopolise with the aid of governmental authority and that without having that authority the corporation cannot engage in forceful or unfair tactics. 'Why do you place so much trust in the Government?'

My view is that politicians like to be liked and will not engage in behaviour that severely degrades their approval, and so they (mostly) do the right thing and get re-elected. Extremely pessimistic to think politicians only do the right thing to save face, but the right thing nonetheless.

Corporate managers cannot be elected, they are accountable to nobody except shareholders, which are interested only in profit. Why does giving them more power by abolishing regulators improve society? What is the reason for this view?

I invite my fellow hardcore socialist commies to comment too. Maybe we will all learn something.
 

Renzatic

Suspended
As a mostly capitalist who isn't afraid of a little socialism, this is the major reason why I advocate regulating large businesses.

The Western World spent a couple hundred years, and a few dozen wars ridding ourselves of monarchs and totalitarian regimes. We wanted to be free, to make our own choices, run our own government, and do our things. Yet in the 21st century, it seems we're more than happy to hand the shackles over to corporations that, if left entirely to their own devices, can grow so large they can challenge nation states in power and influence, and aren't accountable to anyone but themselves.

No matter what form of government you have, you're ultimately beholden to the people who pay your wage or provide to you your means of living. The worst case scenario of a Randian Anarcho-Capitalist economy (man, I'm really chewing through the buzzwords here) is a monolithic conglomerate that effectively owns all means of production and distribution in a country. If they own that, then they own all the jobs. If they own the jobs, they control the flow of money. If they control the flow of money, they all but own you.

...and what does that sound like to you? Whether it's privately owned, or run by the state, the end result is something very much akin to the Marxist definition of Socialism.

This isn't some random paranoid anti-capitalist leftist delusion. Something very similar has happened before. Just look up the East India Company to see just how powerful corporations can become when given free reign to do as they please.

When corporations can buy politicians, we need to take notice. When they have the leverage and means to blackmail governments, we need to worry. Because they're no longer mere businesses by that point. They're political entities in and of themselves.
 

Hieveryone

macrumors 601
Apr 11, 2014
4,152
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USA
I believe free markets and capitalism is the way to go.

America is the proof that capitalism works, it is the proof that free markets work, it is proof that when you provide unlimited opportunity, you bring out the very BEST in people, to produce, to innovate, and to succeed.

Just look at Wall Street, there are people who make 800 million a year in salary, literally. This same guy had humble beginnings as a taxi driver.

Where else on earth can you find that opportunity except in a Capitalistic society?
 

APlotdevice

macrumors 68040
Sep 3, 2011
3,109
3,749
I believe free markets and capitalism is the way to go.

America is the proof that capitalism works, it is the proof that free markets work, it is proof that when you provide unlimited opportunity, you bring out the very BEST in people, to produce, to innovate, and to succeed.

Just look at Wall Street, there are people who make 800 million a year in salary, literally. This same guy had humble beginnings as a taxi driver.

Where else on earth can you find that opportunity except in a Capitalistic society?
If America is proof, that's pretty shoddy proof. Our hearth coverage costs are far higher than any other industrial nation. Our infrastructure is quite literally crumbling. And we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.
 

Hieveryone

macrumors 601
Apr 11, 2014
4,152
1,476
USA
If America is proof, that's pretty shoddy proof. Our hearth coverage costs are far higher than any other industrial nation. Our infrastructure is quite literally crumbling. And we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.
We also are the most powerful nation to have ever existed in history. We live in the modern Roman Empire.
 

bradl

macrumors 601
Jun 16, 2008
4,006
11,823
And if this country doesn't shape up, it could eventually share the same fate.
Ok well there's always Ghana for those who dislike America. At least their soccer team....oh wait
In the late 1930s/early 1940s, a certain country with a certain dictator was pretty much the most powerful country in the world. They told what was the then leader of the free world (Churchill) that "If you do not surrender to us, we will bomb you to hell. We will bomb your cities. we will spread fear to your people. Your military is weaker and inferior to ours. We will take over your land and bomb you out of existence."

Churchill said, in no so few words, "Bring it."

Look who won.

Are you sure that you want to go down the road of the 'most powerful nation in the world'?

BL.
 

noodlemanc

macrumors regular
Mar 25, 2010
208
17
Australasia
Without the government corporations wouldn't exist -- they'd just be companies.

Corporation definition: A body that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members.

The entity that grants that charter is government, which turns a company into a corporations, allowing it to act with no consequences. At the moment if a bank lost everyone's money through a bad investment, the owners of the bank are not liable for the losses -- in a proper capitalist society however, that would put the bank out of business.

As for enslavement, you're talking like you aren't enslaved now -- depending on where you live nearly half of your income is taken by the government, while your children are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before they're even born!

Yes, politicians certainly do make decisions that will get them re-elected! Much of it involves promising to give certain groups of people free stuff that will be stolen from others through taxation and Q.E, or pushed to people who aren't even born yet to pay for.
 

RSL

macrumors regular
Nov 6, 2012
124
0
Of course free market libertarianism is an ideology, and like any ideology it doesn't work as expected in practice. The ideologues will say they're "doing it wrong" :rolleyes:
 

VulchR

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2009
2,329
10,254
Scotland
As people in the educated Western countries turned their backs on tobacco, the companies moved their marketing efforts to poorer countries that have less education. Most of their market growth is now based on Africa, Asia, South America, etc. I sure hope the NSA is keeping track of these tobacco companies' communications so that when these poorer countries wake up and smell the coffee, the executives involved can be held personally responsible for the deaths they have caused. FWIW the worldwide death rates from alcohol and tobacco will approach the rate of killing from WWII within the next decade or so if we do nothing about this.
 

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
8,914
1,596
New England, USA
As a mostly capitalist who isn't afraid of a little socialism, this is the major reason why I advocate regulating large businesses.

The Western World spent a couple hundred years, and a few dozen wars ridding ourselves of monarchs and totalitarian regimes. We wanted to be free, to make our own choices, run our own government, and do our things. Yet in the 21st century, it seems we're more than happy to hand the shackles over to corporations that, if left entirely to their own devices, can grow so large they can challenge nation states in power and influence, and aren't accountable to anyone but themselves.

No matter what form of government you have, you're ultimately beholden to the people who pay your wage or provide to you your means of living. The worst case scenario of a Randian Anarcho-Capitalist economy (man, I'm really chewing through the buzzwords here) is a monolithic conglomerate that effectively owns all means of production and distribution in a country. If they own that, then they own all the jobs. If they own the jobs, they control the flow of money. If they control the flow of money, they all but own you.

...and what does that sound like to you? Whether it's privately owned, or run by the state, the end result is something very much akin to the Marxist definition of Socialism.

This isn't some random paranoid anti-capitalist leftist delusion. Something very similar has happened before. Just look up the East India Company to see just how powerful corporations can become when given free reign to do as they please.

When corporations can buy politicians, we need to take notice. When they have the leverage and means to blackmail governments, we need to worry. Because they're no longer mere businesses by that point. They're political entities in and of themselves.
Well, that says it all! All the rest of that gobbledygook is just a cover for the fact that he is a COMMIE...and would sell out America in a minute!:mad:


OK...I guess your points are, as usual, well made and well reasoned and better said than I could do.:)
 

Michael Goff

Suspended
Jul 5, 2012
13,262
7,298
I believe free markets and capitalism is the way to go.

America is the proof that capitalism works, it is the proof that free markets work, it is proof that when you provide unlimited opportunity, you bring out the very BEST in people, to produce, to innovate, and to succeed.

Just look at Wall Street, there are people who make 800 million a year in salary, literally. This same guy had humble beginnings as a taxi driver.

Where else on earth can you find that opportunity except in a Capitalistic society?
Are you serious?

----------

We also are the most powerful nation to have ever existed in history. We live in the modern Roman Empire.
And may our fall be just as grand.
 

Hieveryone

macrumors 601
Apr 11, 2014
4,152
1,476
USA
In the late 1930s/early 1940s, a certain country with a certain dictator was pretty much the most powerful country in the world. They told what was the then leader of the free world (Churchill) that "If you do not surrender to us, we will bomb you to hell. We will bomb your cities. we will spread fear to your people. Your military is weaker and inferior to ours. We will take over your land and bomb you out of existence."

Churchill said, in no so few words, "Bring it."

Look who won.

Are you sure that you want to go down the road of the 'most powerful nation in the world'?

BL.
Search the globe for a more powerful country, good luck.

----------

Are you serious?

----------



And may our fall be just as grand.
I couldn't be more serious.

Are you wishing for America to fail?
 

bradl

macrumors 601
Jun 16, 2008
4,006
11,823
Search the globe for a more powerful country, good luck.
comprehension fail. Power doesn't make you the best country in the world. Power is what Hitler had, and he lost to a little 2-island country.

Having the right causes and fighting to the best of what you have makes you mighty and powerful. RIGHT = MIGHT.

Come back when you get that leadership nugget in your head, and then we'll talk. Until then, you have a lot to learn.

BL.
 

Hieveryone

macrumors 601
Apr 11, 2014
4,152
1,476
USA
comprehension fail. Power doesn't make you the best country in the world. Power is what Hitler had, and he lost to a little 2-island country.

Having the right causes and fighting to the best of what you have makes you mighty and powerful. RIGHT = MIGHT.

Come back when you get that leadership nugget in your head, and then we'll talk. Until then, you have a lot to learn.

BL.
You don't seem to have learned anything from what I've said, so I suggest you hit the history books and come back.

That being said, until you find a more powerful country than America, you argument fails.

Also, if America is as bad as you say, why do we have the most foreigners trying to come here?

Hmmm I see the neurons firing trying to answer that one...
 

Michael Goff

Suspended
Jul 5, 2012
13,262
7,298
Search the globe for a more powerful country, good luck.

----------



I couldn't be more serious.

Are you wishing for America to fail?
No, I don't wish that we would fail. But wishing for it to not happen doesn't mean that it won't. As you said, we're the new Roman Empire. We're full of ourselves, we have a failing infrstructure, and we assume our military is going to be enough to make up for our shortcomings. We also think that our culture is the greatest and that we will never fall.

We are the new Roman Empire, and all empires come to an end.
 

Renzatic

Suspended
Well, that says it all! All the rest of that gobbledygook is just a cover for the fact that he is a COMMIE...and would sell out America in a minute!:mad:
I am the Rosenbergs! Would you like to buy some nuclear wessels, comrade?

We are the new Roman Empire, and all empires come to an end.
Yeah, but things were a lot worse for the Roman Empire when it fell. Though some people might believe otherwise, Obama is hardly Nero, and he isn't playing his fiddle as Washington burns.

Also, we don't have to worry about barbarians.
 

Hieveryone

macrumors 601
Apr 11, 2014
4,152
1,476
USA
No, I don't wish that we would fail. But wishing for it to not happen doesn't mean that it won't. As you said, we're the new Roman Empire. We're full of ourselves, we have a failing infrstructure, and we assume our military is going to be enough to make up for our shortcomings. We also think that our culture is the greatest and that we will never fall.

We are the new Roman Empire, and all empires come to an end.
All empires HAVE come to an end. That doesn't mean this empire WILL come to an end.

Big difference.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,989
All empires HAVE come to an end. That doesn't mean this empire WILL come to an end.

Big difference.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the damage that Wall Street mentalities do to your brain and logical thinking skills.
 

LIVEFRMNYC

macrumors 604
Oct 27, 2009
7,433
8,607
I believe free markets and capitalism is the way to go.

America is the proof that capitalism works, it is the proof that free markets work, it is proof that when you provide unlimited opportunity, you bring out the very BEST in people, to produce, to innovate, and to succeed.

Just look at Wall Street, there are people who make 800 million a year in salary, literally. This same guy had humble beginnings as a taxi driver.

Where else on earth can you find that opportunity except in a Capitalistic society?
You just explained how capitalism works for big business. The taxi driver to tycoon story is very rare. And it's usually the game the Wall Street plays that helps keep the poor and middle class at a stand still or worse off.
 

Hieveryone

macrumors 601
Apr 11, 2014
4,152
1,476
USA
This empire is already coming to an end.

If you can't see it, you're not looking.
Source?

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You just explained how capitalism works for big business. The taxi driver to tycoon story is very rare. And it's usually the game the Wall Street plays that helps keep the poor and middle class at a stand still or worse off.
Well of course it's rare. Think about it, if everyone was getting rich, who would take the poor and middle class jobs?

Everyone can't be rich...

----------

Well, if history is any indicator...
Did history tell us we'd ever have a black President? Nope.

----------

This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the damage that Wall Street mentalities do to your brain and logical thinking skills.
Anyone who has ever betted against Wall Street lost :D