Corporate welfare exists in secret trusts and corporations that play one country’s tax laws off against another’s to avoid paying taxes whilst heavying governments for handouts. Corporate welfare exists in misnamed ‘trade’ treaties, like the TPP, that allow overseas corporations to dispute the decisions of elected governments and embed corporate money spinners like the extension of copyright and patent law worldwide.
Corporate welfare fuels the “relentless machine of corporate profit.” And corporate welfare subverts the common good.
The common good dictates that all are entitled to a liveable income, healthcare and education, warm dry homes, sufficient food to eat. By pooling resources this is achievable. Also achievable are a justice system that protects individuals and their property, and an efficient transport system and energy distribution network.
The common good acknowledges that we are all interconnected. Together we are greater than the sum of our parts. Therefore we all have an obligation to look out for each other. The corporate machine may pay lip service to this, but the corporate machine’s most important function is to use the world’s people and resources to make a profit for its owners/shareholders.
Housing New Zealand had the corporate model foisted on it. It was made to run at a profit so it could return a dividend to the government. This meant it could no longer focus on the common good. If it had been able to continue to focus solely on the common good, New Zealand would not be in a housing crisis. Every New Zealander would have a warm, dry, affordable home to live in.
We can now see that the by-products of the corporate machine are, sadly, increasing inequality and global warming. For what? So a very few people can accumulate more money in their lifetime than they could ever spend, let alone need. Then pass it on to their offspring, denying them any sort of purposeful, independent life. And in the worst case scenario, destroy the planet their offspring will want to live on. So much for the common good.
Dinyar Godrej, editor of New Internationalist, asks possibly the most relevant question of today, “Must the common good submit to the relentless machine of corporate profit?”* Absolutely not. The corporate machine must submit to the common good. And it is the job of our elected representatives to make sure that it does.
*‘Technology as if people mattered’ Dinyar Godrej New Internationalist May 2016