Friday, January 06, 2006

subsidised free market economy

It appears that the psychopathy of the corporate profit drive knows no bounds. The free market economy that the CBI espouses is in fact nothing of the sort. In reality they want their economic opportunities fully subsidised from the public purse. Companies already benefit from low taxation, and little regulatory control, but this is not enough. They seek to maximise their profit potential by, seemingly, any means possible.

The sources of public subsidy to private profitability are many and diverse.

In the UK large payouts from the much criticised common agricultural policy are not actually going to farmers, but to companies such as Tate & Lyle, Nestle, Cadbury, and Kraft who produce refined products. Tate and Lyle, for example, received £227 million in 2003/4. Other suppliers to the processed food industry who benefited from these handouts include, Gate Gourmet and Premier Foods. Pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Boots, Reckitt, and ACS Dobfar were also beneficiaries. A similar story exists throughout Europe, large multinationals not farmers are the primary recipients of these subsidies.

The Curry Commission was supposedly initiated to aid farmers' recovery from the effects of the foot and mouth epidemic. The commission stated that the ‘key objective of public policy should be to reconnect our food and farming industry; to reconnect farming with its market and the rest of the food chain; to reconnect the food chain and the countryside; and to reconnect consumers with what they eat and how it is produced.’ £500 million was allocated to ensure that this was the case. Of course it was diverted for other uses.

Since the first report in 2002, Curry's proposals have done little to fulfill its self proclaimed prime objective, but instead have encouraged neo-liberalism in the food industry. International competition and subservience to supermarkets and other large multinational food businesses predominates.

The Food Chain Centre, run by the Institute of Grocery Distribution has been funded to the tune of £2.3 million. Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Compass, Nestle, Heinz, Procter and Gamble, Bernard Matthews, Kraft and Unilever, companies that are the root cause of the 'disconnection' between food producer and consumer, are the Institute's board members. The Food Centre's job is to increase company profits by reducing costs, and the bill is picked up by us, the public. Other public funding of companies' groups also exist, for example the Cereals Industry Forum, and the Red Meat Industry Forum which have also received millions.

And still the CBI want more. In fact it detailed an elaborate list in its CBI Recommendations For the Autumn 2005 Pre-Budget Report.

Further business tax cuts are demanded (both general business tax and corporation tax), a specific appeal is made to avoid 'new burdens' such as compulsory pension contributions, and further deregulation is required. They also demand enhanced business advisory and networking services, and free research from higher education establishments. Road taxes for business should be eased, but transportation systems, roads and airports, should be improved.

These business improvements are to be paid for by restricting spending on health, social security and local council services.

In summary, don't waste public finance on the people, spend it on business. And oh, we don't want to contribute to anything other than our profits.


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