Richard Lambert, the new head of the chief of the CBI, made his first major speech today. He tyold his audience, “Business gets a raw deal from the public, the media and politicians, with even David Cameron, the Tory party leader, distancing himself from big business.”
The speech acknowledged that business has not done itself any favours through scandals such as Enron. He said lack of trust made it harder for the business community to make the argument for the free movement of people, capital and services – globalisation in effect – at a time when protectionist forces in the US and Europe are gathering strength.
Mr Lambert summed up by saying. “Too often, business is presented as a zero sum game. The impression is given that if an individual, or a company, is making lots of money, it must be at someone else’s expense.”
That ambivalence emerges most clearly when companies such as BP and HSBC report record profits. It does mean tax receipts for the government to spend on the NHS and other social services and healthy pension schemes as these funds invest in big companies, but at the same time many people wonder whether HSBC is making such huge profits through high banking charges. On the issue of “fat cat” pay he saidGlobalisation has helped to push up the pay of senior executives, while those lower down the food chain find themselves competing against workers in developing countries.
Most people expect top executives to be well-rewarded because of the heavy responsibilities they bear. But what sticks in people’s craws are the legal tax dodges of the ultra-rich. In July the Guardian traced more than 650 directors of British companies who give their current address as Monaco. This hardly encourages trust in business.
LITTLE NICKY SAYS It will be interesting to learn how these people plan to persuade us that wrecking the environment, destroying communities that have sustained our quality of life, spreading third world poverty to the second and first world and creating a fragmented and warring world all in the pursuit of short term profit is actually going to do any good to anyone unless they can afford a place on the orbiting synthetic planet Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are obviously planning to build?
When big business starts paying its fair whack of taxes I might start listening to their arguments. BUT I WILL NOT BE HOLDING MY BREATH.