Nobody would object to enrichment and prosperity-seeking on a humongous scale, or billionairism as it is called, if it were done in a way that benefited all and not just a few. But when world resources are hoarded by a tiny percentage of the population at the expense and exploitation of the many, serious infringements of human rights occur. Here are five ways in which this happens:
1) An undermining of the democratic process. Governments are elected, multinational companies are not. When governments clearly have no control over the profit-making process globally, as demonstrated during the current financial crisis, ordinary people are denied the power of veto over unethical corporate decisions.
2) A manipulation of massive market forces. As market forces are influenced by investment, massive investment has the ability to manipulate markets in favour of itself. Very often this is at the expense of ordinary people.
3) A monopoly of price. As power is centralised in fewer and larger marketing groups so the tendency to fix prices becomes easier and more accessible. Ordinary people have no control over and no say in the pricing of such essentials as petrol, electricity, gas or even water.
4) An exclusivity of markets. As capitalism progresses it becomes harder for ordinary businessmen to run small independent operations for the benefit of themselves and the local community, since they are unable to compete with the buying power of large, multinational operators.
5) A forcing down of wages. The current financial crisis has seen an unprecedented wave of redundancies around the world and a freezing of incomes for those remaining in employment. Yet large corporate profits rarely result in the reverse. Fixing wages at a low level when the only alternative is long term unemployment is a clear breach of workers rights, but there is no recourse to arbitration for the solitary worker.
Is it time for a rethink regarding the protection of ordinary businessmen and workers in a new world order where a million dollars is a drop in the ocean for the majority of corporate investors? A million dollars is still a lot of money in many neighbourhoods. This sentence is not meant to sound pat or be superfluous, but a necessary and important statement in a world where the gap between the richest and the poorest, the exploiters and the exploited, is widening at an alarmingly critical rate.