this page was first posted in July 2010


  Dominica

DOMINICA and our GLOBAL  ENVIRONMENT
A Corporate World
I consider this subject to be crucial to the well-being of our planet, for during the last six plus decades following World War II, capitalism in the western world has mutated almost beyond recognition, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Our democracies have gradually given way to a world wide empire dominated by a few super rich elites who control mega sized multinational corporations that have run amuck. They have become a law unto themselves and are now so powerful that government leaders and even the United Nations seem fearful of making any attempt to reign them in. A once healthy and successful capitalist system has allowed itself over this period, through the dilution and dismantling of the very checks and balances once regarded as essential, to be overwhelmed by this new phenomenon - a universal rich club wielding ultimate and unrelenting control of the planet's wealth and resources. This is the true power of today. It might to some extent be excusable, were these mega corporations seen to be conducting their affairs in a fair, responsible and environmentally conscious manner. In fact, this can be said of only a very small percentage of them. Today, their prime overriding consideration is profit. No other single aspect of their operation is more important than PROFIT. In this current world there are countries which, by law, require companies to make growth in shareholder returns their number one priority over all other considerations.

Predominant among the mega corporations of today are the oil, coal & gas businesses along with industries such as automobile, aerospace and power generation - all of which have until now been heavily dependent on the extraction and burning of fossil fuel. Not only is this seriously affecting the earth's biosphere due to emissions, but these resources are being rapidly depleted. Also prominent in the corporate hierarchy are the arms industry, which requires constant conflict to sustain it, and banking, which in the last decade particularly has broken free of its shackles enabling corporate executives to raid the coffers at the expense of customers, whose accounts are today deprived of any meaningful interest earnings and have been bombarded with an array of new charges. These two aspects deserve some individual attention and will be analysed in greater detail in due course.

Prior to World War II, the United States of America experienced the 'Great Depression', brought about by a local scenario of corporate abuse and manipulation of money supply by influential bankers, similar to that which brought about the world-wide scenario of recession we are tasting today. A run on the banks by nervous depositors and the recalling of all privately held gold bullion triggered a stock market collapse and the resulting economic depression lasted for several years, during which period many businesses failed, unemployment was high and suicides were all too frequent. It was largely in response to this that legislation was introduced in the USA to regulate businesses and to limit their ability to grow beyond a certain capacity, even restricted then from expanding across state boundaries. Today even national borders pose no obstacle and corporations float around from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, registering their headquarters in whichever
nation charges them least tax, provides the cheapest labour and imposes minimal regulatory requirements/ liabilities. Rupert Murdoch, for example, a media mogul who's array of companies bring in billions of dollars in profit each year boasts that he has never paid a cent in tax. Exxon, the U.S. oil giant with annual profits in the region of $45bn, manages to achieve similar exemption.

One can see from the list of top super rich corporations of today, that America and Britain set the pace. It is in these countries that the swing in the balance of power was to take the lead, gaining serious momentum during the Reagan / Thatcher era when privatization and deregulation became the name of the game. We were told that a private utility would perform with greater efficiency than it would if it remained in the public sector. Our approval was bought with public share offerings in which customers received free shares and an option to buy a few more. The real reason for the flotations was to reward the politicians advocating them, as they found their way onto the boards of these newly privatized companies, gaining an additional pay cheque, share options, bonuses and pension plans to dwarf their State and Government pension entitlements.

In his book 'Captive State', which is already over 10 years old, Welshman George Monbiot reflects on how Britain's Labour Party, when in opposition prior to the 1997 general election, vociferously lambasted the Tories (Conservative Party) for their snug relationship with the private sector, promising to make serious changes if they were allowed to regain political control. After gaining power in 1997, however, they did a complete 'about turn' and pursued this cosy private sector relationship with even more enthusiasm than their predecessors. Sadly, the malpractices outlined in this book have only intensified during the subsequent decade, until today almost every public infrastructural spending program is being carried out as a PFI (Private Finance Initiative) scheme. We were told that PFI's would be cost effective and more efficient but the evidence unfortunately speaks for itself. These projects, hatched behind a veil of secrecy, have ended up costing the British taxpayer many times more than they should have done, as they are tailored to corporate desires instead of to the requirements of the projects. A prime example is the current widening of the M25 Motorway which encircles London. The entire work could, George advised in a 2009 Guardian commentary, have been accomplished at an estimated cost of less than £500m. The contract
(for widening 4 sections) got underway, however, at a cost to the treasury of £5bn, even though the Times Newspaper in November 2006 revealed the true cost to be no more than £1.6bn. By May 2009 the £5bn had increased to £6.2bn for widening just 2 sections!
London's M25 PFI roadworks devouring billions of £'s 
With the corporate sector calling the tune, any possible less expensive options are deliberately ignored. Also, many private enterprises successfully externalize their costs by securing Government subsidies or manipulating Government to pay for things like, for example, a new road to a new supermarket. It therefore came as no surprise, at the end of the Labour Party's 13 year tenure in May 2010, that Britain found itself in the most serious debt it has seen since before the second world war - a financial crisis which the incoming Tory/ Liberal coalition had no alternative but to tackle with severe austerity measures. The Tories are, however, the party of the business elite, and whilst the middle and working classes are now being hammered with new taxes, corporation tax (for big corporations only) is quietly being reduced even further.

Just a few decades ago
a very dim view was taken if 'conflict of interest' scenarios emerged amongst our MPs, Councillors or others holding public office. These corrupt practices were very serious criminal offences which carried severe penalties. A sustained campaign by the private sector of lobbying and collusion with the politicians has seen the law regulating business watered down at a rapid pace. Today conflict of interest situations are not only widespread but, when occasionally challenged, are often found to be quite legitimate within the terms of the law as it now stands. In George Orwell's classic futuristic novel, 1984, the Ministry of Truth was the Government's instrument of propaganda which broadcast nothing but lies and misinformation. We suddenly seem to have reached that point in reality. The challenge for today's incoming politicians is to have the balls to stand up to the corporate bully boys and maintain their integrity in the face of corporate enticement or threat - to demand and insist on the reversal of the 'self regulation' legislation which is so blatantly abused and replace it with strict and effective controls to limit corporate power, to uphold minimum wage targets (both at home and abroad) to back consumer demand for more informative labelling and to remove from committees and commissions appointed to protect the interests of the general public all persons with business relationships likely to compromise those interests. The public deserve nothing less.

What has been happening in Britain is merely a reflection of how things have changed at the other side of the Atlantic, in the giant economy of the USA, where those offering themselves for public office at election time are almost exclusively corporate executives of some large company or other. Today, the Government IS big business. Whether it is Democrat or Republican makes little difference. More important than the welfare of the populous - making education and health care available and affordable for all, protecting consumer and workers rights etc. - first and foremost comes it's obligation to the corporate sector - to keep it fat, happy and forever growing.

And this is where we stumble across the first basic flaw in the distorted form of capitalism predominant today - the relentless
requirement for growth. In prudish society, where  traditional forms of gambling are frowned upon, discouraged, often banned, the craving remains and needs to be fulfilled. So the outlet is found in the greatest casino of all time - the stock market. But for the gamblers to consistently achieve a good return on their money, one element is essential - growth. No longer can a company reach optimum size and simply remain successfully at that level - no, unless it is in a continual state of growth it's shares are jettisoned, thus devaluing the company to the extent that it is often unlikely to survive. To simultaneously fuel the growth of all these businesses, one other factor is necessary - increased consumer spending, but with individual wealth growing only modestly, enter flaw number 2 - credit. In order to spend more we are enticed to borrow - by hire purchase agreements, bank loans, mortgages and credit cards - we are given the means to spend what we don't yet have. As the gambling fervour grew, new games were demanded and 'derivatives' were invented to up the tempo. These are high leverage bets placed on the ups and downs of things like market indexes, currencies, interest rates, stocks, bonds and commodities - great for the 'insiders club', but potentially crippling for the less well informed. This brought a new level of volatility to the casino, which enabled traders like Nick Leeson the freedom to bring about the demise of a major bank, with the collapse of other financial institutions certain to follow suit in it's wake, which we witnessed happen towards the end of 2008.
Stock exchange - the greatest CASINO of all time!

During the past few decades, deregulation and inadequate accounting standards have enabled companies to grow at a rapid pace, to swallow competitors in hostile take-overs, exploit both customers and shareholders and to conceal their debts in order to inflate their share price and minimize tax liabilities. A stark example of this is the case of Enron, a small Nebraska energy company that quickly grew to be a massive corporate entity. False accounting concealed huge debts and kept share prices artificially high for long enough for the company directors to dump their stock, making huge profits on top of the hundreds of millions they had already extracted in salaries, bonuses and pensions, before the company's spectacular collapse into bankruptcy. That should have been the end of the story - lessons learned, but the part of Enron's huge workforce who were instrumental in the fraudulent accounting techniques were quickly absorbed into other corporations.

It has been suggested that the most powerful and controlling body present in the world today is not a single country like the USA, Russia or China, nor is it an organization like the United Nations or an economic grouping like the EU, or even a rich and successful corporation, but a secretive club
of super rich individuals. It is they who own and control the major banks and corporations. It is alleged by Alex Jones, a  television show host in the USA, that it is the Bilderberg Group - made up of the richest and most politically influential persons in the world  (on the internet you will find references to the Bilderberg club - that it is comprised of business leaders, influential politicians and royalty - press are never invited to their annual meetings and what is discussed remains secret). In one of his tv documentaries it was suggested that when President Obama and Deputy Hillary Clinton disappeared for a day and a half following their success in the 2008 American Presidential Election, they were in fact summoned to a secret Bilderberg meeting at a hotel just outside Washington DC where they were instructed on the appointments they were to make in their new administration and presented with their governing agenda. There are also other secretive elite clubs - Illuminati, Order of Skull and Bones, the Masons, Round Table etc. where members swear an oath of secrecy upon joining. These organizations no doubt network and cooperate to achieve common objectives. I was very excited when Obama was elected President at the end of 2008, but almost instantly disappointed to see the likes of Tim Geitner - one of the key architects and beneficiaries of a serious financial crisis Obama inherited - then appointed to a senior role in his new administration. What did that indicate to me? ...that Obama is not really the one making these decisions, that the power of the President is no longer a reality.

Britain is no different. In reality it remains today with one political party - The Corporate D0mination Party, which fields two main sub parties - A) the Conservative Party and B) the Labour Party. After 3+ years in office, PM Cameron has already demonstrated his commitment to satisfying corporate demands to deregulate
even further, stating that 'corporate regulation can be replaced by trust'! He even says it with a straight face, expecting us to believe it. He, as Tony Blair before him, has created an economy in which much of the private sector depends on state contracts, and in which the government’s core responsibility is to provide them. In Britain, the Tories have traditionally been willing participants in this process, but when, in 1997, a Labour Government took office, Tony Blair would have had no option but to accept the carrot and avoid the stick, though I have to admit that he seemed (and still continues in an EU capacity) to relish the role. Almost all mortals have their price and we can all see how lucrative it has been for him.

Dominica,
with it's tiny economy, has almost been spared the ravages of corporate abuse, with just a couple of exceptions;
  In the late 90's, under a previous administration, our state owned electricity generating utility, DOMLEC, was sold to an external company in a deal shrouded in secrecy and which generated allegations of corruption. The official figure for which the company was sold was ludicrously low and the company was said to regain its investment within 2 years, after which it quickly sold on to another outside corporation. Since the sale of this utility, the poor population of Dominica have been bled by the new owners, paying for the most expensive electricity in the whole of the Caribbean. Power outages are not uncommon and
if bills are not paid on time, customers are routinely disconnected without notice, then charged a reconnection fee. And of particular significance for our 'Nature Island' - we no longer have control over our energy policy!  Though Government is often publicly critical of DOMLEC, whilst it allows itself to be in a constant state of arrears to the company, it has little leverage to resist further diesel generation and the excessive charges being levied on consumers.

Although Dominica has no known valuable minerals in the ground, both local and foreign owned companies have been given licence to quarry aggregate and sand for export, and may have even been granted a tax holiday to do so. These operations have ravaged many parts of our scenic west coast, detracting from our tourism product, devaluing property within sight or earshot, contaminating the air with fine dust which is harmful to the health of workers and nearby residents and polluting
our coral dive-site seas with slurry from the run-off . This is a high price for Dominica to pay for little or no visible return!
exporting Dominica
Dominica for sale

With our few remaining resources we must be vigilant in not allowing them to fall pray to external corporate exploitation. Fresh water is becoming a sought after commodity world wide - we must make every effort to ensure that DOWASCO, the Dominica Water and Sewerage Company Ltd., is not similarly sacrificed to outside corporate interests. Also, if our water is to be sold in quantity for export, we should not sell licences to individuals - any revenue from the bulk sale of Dominican water should go direct to the Dominica treasury, for the benefit of all Dominicans. We must also make sure we keep our pristine primordial rainforests in tact, for without them we would have nothing.

In summary, the world today is a dangerous place. Individual freedoms have been and are being rapidly eroded and, as a recent world financial crisis demonstrated, our life savings are no longer safe. The rich club sits firmly at the helm, manipulating the money supply and using corporate expansion as it's vehicle of conquest. Any nation, small or large, that has resources that the rich world covets is fair game for what the U.S.A.'s John Perkins has branded 'today's mutant form of predatory capitalism'. His 2005 book 'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man', an autobiographical and analytical account, became a New York Times best seller and has been followed by two similarly popular publications - 'The Secret History of the American Empire' and 'Hoodwinked'. I have often heard it said that the best form of leadership is a benevolent dictatorship. This, however, occurs very rarely and there is nothing remotely benevolent about the Empirical rich club. Intoxicated by wealth and power it forges on in relentless pursuit of more, in total contempt for both humanity and the integrity of the planet's fragile environment that sustains us all.

The one important - in fact crucial - lesson we must all quickly come to terms with is that the dominant factor in today's world, the corporate model of infinite  growth, is incompatible with the environment in which it is happening. We live on a planet with finite resources. These resources are being extracted and exploited by a corporate beast with an insatiable appetite - and they are running out quickly. Unless we can temper this appetite and universally adopt a sensible approach to managing our remaining resources, the word of politics and business will soon degenerate into a 'dog eat dog' scenario. We are entering an age when the remaining spoils will be ruthlessly fought over and the words 'fair play' will be a distant echo from the past.

What is the answer? How do we turn back this tsunami of corporate domination aided and abetted by the politicians? The power is still with the people, but only when they are informed, unified, organized and determined. The general public of the rich world need to shake off their complacency - tear themselves away from the Xbox and television's expanding choice of entertainment channels for long enough to seek and disseminate  the truth (not always easy in today's climate of political doublespeak and deliberate mass media misinformation) - to get angry enough to loudly and forcefully demand the restoration of their rights and freedoms. Real democracy needs to be restored or the future will continue to look bleak for the health of our world and it's inhabitants. 
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Dominica and our Global Environment - home page
An Introduction to Dominica
The Banana Story
The Earth - it's place in the solar system, our gallaxy and the universe
we are cooking our planet!
invasions, oil and an assault on our freedoms
Global finance in Dire Straits
The CRIME of FRACKING
some of the biggest corporations
TOP 10 richest corporations
1 General Electric
U.S. conglomerate
2 Royal Dutch Shell
Oil and gas, U.K.
3 Toyota Motor Consumer Durables, Japan
4 Exxon Mobil Oil and gas, U.S.A.
5 British Petroleum Oil and gas, U.K.
6 HSBC Holdings Banking, U.K.
7 AT&T Telecoms, U.S.A.
8 Wall Mart Superstore chain, U.S.A.
9 Banco Santander Banking, Spain
10 Chevron Oil and gas, U.S.A.


Corporation - the book 2005
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Robinson Publishing
Joel Bakan is Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia and an internationally renowned legal authority. The Corporation is a slim handbook telling you everything you need to know about corporate power in six short, easily accessible chapters, accompanying one of the most powerful and engaging documentaries of the year. He starts by describing how the corporation rose from humble beginnings to become the world's most dominant institution—an institution that determines what we eat, watch, wear, where we work and what we do.

The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, 2005

Corporation DVD documentary
This 144 minute Canadian documentary is essential viewing, presented in the following chapters:
  • What is a Corporation?
  • Birth
  • A Legal "person"
  • Externalities
  • Case Histories
  • The Pathology of Commerce
  • Monstrous Obligations
  • Mindset
  • Trading on 9/11
  • Boundary Issues
  • Basic Issues
  • Perception Management
  • Like a Good Neighbour
  • A Private Celebration
  • Triumph of the Shill
  • Advancing the Front
  • Unsettling Accounts
  • Expansion Plans
  • Taking the Right Side
  • Hostile Takeover
  • Democracy Ltd.
  • Psycho Therapies
  • Prognosis

What is a Corporation?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word 'corporation' as a  "United body of persons, especially one authorized to act as an individual: artificial person created by charter, prescription, or act of the legislature, comprising many persons". In the late 18th century English law defined a corporation as "a collection of many individuals united into one body, under a special denomination, having perpetual succession under an artificial form, and vested, by policy of the law, with the capacity of acting, in several respects, as an individual, particularly of taking and granting property, of contracting obligations, and of suing and being sued, of enjoying privileges and immunities in common, and of exercising a variety of political rights, more or less extensive, according to the design of its institution, or the powers conferred upon it, either at the time of its creation, or at any subsequent period of its existence."

The online Wikipedia explains the derivation of the word 'corporation' from the Latin word 'corpus' (body), with historic examples dating as far back as the ancient Roman and Indian Maurya Empires.  Medieval examples included the incorporation of churches and local governments. Corporations are specifically designed to outlive any individual members and exist into perpetuity. As European colonization of the globe got under way in the 17th century, chartered companies emerged as the first modern versions of corporate dominance. Prominent among these were the Dutch and British East India Companies. Investors were issued paper certificates as evidence of ownership and in 1854 shareholders were granted limited liability.

Presidents and Prime Ministers - who's interests do they really serve?
Leaders or puppets? Whether Tory or Labour, Republican or Democrat, they all facilitate the same corporate agenda!


Disfiguring Dominica's scenic west coast
Quarry at Colihaut
Colihaut

aggregate piles at Morne Blanc
Morne Blanc

Quarry at Layou
Layou

Quarry at Pointe Michel
Pointe Michel
T


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Related links, books & dvd's
Captive State
book - Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain
George Monbiot describes how New Labour quickly transitioned from anti-corporate opposition to big business bedfellow. He ferrets out information deliberately concealed from public scrutiny, conflicts of interests - you'll be startled!
George Monbiot's website
Web of Deceit
book - Web Of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World
Mark Curtis argues that under the Blair government, Britain became champion of a form of globalization which allowed big business to take over the global economy, vastly and rapidly increasing the gulf between the rich and poor.
The War on Democracy by John Pilger
The War On Democracy [DVD] 2008
Australian journalist John Pilger delves deep in his investigations to reveal the real truth behind the leadership and corporate exploitation of lesser developed nations in Central and South America.
dvd CAPITALISM A Love Story - documentary by Michael Moore
CAPITALISM a love story [DVD] 2010
Michael Moore is an American from a working class background in an industrial town called Flint. He looks at the disruption brought about by corporate USA from the point of view of those at the bottom of the ladder, who are all to often exploited then discarded.
dvd ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room 2007
ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room [DVD] 2007 The Enron accounting scandal reveals the psychology of greed and corporate corruption that facilitated the company's rise to power and also its fall. When Enron went bankrupt in 2001, the principals walked away millionaires - but later faced legal proceedings and jail sentences. Employees and investors were left with nothing, not even their retirement savings.
The Yes Men Fix The World
Andy Bichlgaum as a Dow Chemichal representative live on BBC News promising compensation to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal disaster
Mike Bonanno
Bhopal - a disaster that killed half a million
about Bhopal
The Yes Men Fix the World [DVD] 2008
Andy Bichlbaum & Mike Bonanno use some outrageous publicity stunts to draw attention to the recklessness of both government and major corporations and their failure to repair the damage or adequately compensate victims of disasters they have brought about. One such disaster took place in 1984 in the Indian city of Bhopal where Union Carbide had a chemical plant producing a highly toxic chemical, methyl isocyanate (MIC) using unproven technology and in contravention of safety standards. When a poisonous gas cloud from the plant enveloped the city it killed 20,000 people instantly, with a further 500,000 people having died subsequently as a result of the contamination. The aim of this stunt was to shame the new corporate owners of Union Carbide, Dow Chemical, into providing compensation to the victims and their families. It failed! Had such a disaster occurred in the USA of course they would have had to pay up, but when operating abroad - to coin a phrase, 'they get away with murder'. Some of their other targets include Exxon, who promote inaction on climate change through multi million dollar advertising campaigns, Haliburton, the illegal invasion of Iraq and the 'opportunity for corporate exploitation by property developers' that the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster became, at the expense of the poor residents.
Yes Men Fix the World website
Confessions of an Economic Hitman 2006
The Secret History of the American Empire 2008
Hoodwinked by John Perkins Nov 2009
John Perkin's
website
John Perkins was primed and sent out as an 'economic hitman' to secure the resources of lesser developed nations for U.S. corporate exploitation. As chief economist of a consulting firm his tactic was to provide an over optimistic economic development forecast as a basis for that country to apply for a huge loan from either the World Bank or the IMF. This loan would be shackled by a structural adjustment package then funnelled back to U.S. contractors who were commissioned to do the work. Many countries have been affected in this way - most of Central and South America, Indonesia and the Middle East. Generous personal incentives to the leadership of these countries were also used as enticements. Should they be reluctant to oblige, then more brutal methods of persuasion were employed in connivance with the CIA. In Hoodwinked he explains why, in 2008, the world financial markets imploded and what measures are required to restore confidence and credibility. So far, his advice has been conveniently ignored by the policy makers.                            
 
Naomi Klein
Book-The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
dvd The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Naomi Klein's Website

Naomi Klein is a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics and holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King's College, Nova Scotia. She is an award-winning journalist and author of 'The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism' 2007, a New York Times and #1 international best-seller. In this book she explains how governments dominated by the corporate interests of their capitalist society look for ways to push through unpopular legislation which favours them at the expense of the middle and working classes. They might not get away with it in normal circumstances so they use shocking events like Hurricane Katrina as a diversion or to sway popular opinion. More often than not they will not wait  till a shocking event just happens, so an event is manufactured. The subsequent 2010 dvd documentary, though not as comprehensive as the book, is well made and equally as shocking. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and kicks off with the installation of Pinochet in Chile in1973, after the CIA was instrumental in the destabilization and overthrow of Chile's newly elected president, Salvador Allende, so that the country's utilities could be privatized and exploited by U.S. corporate interests. Other shocking events covered include 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis.
Michael Ruppert
Michael Ruppert
As an LAPD cop in the '70s Mike became aware of the CIA's facilitation of the flow of narcotics into the USA. His investigative work since has exposed a great many skeletons in the closet of American politics. In this 1997 talk he explains the interconnection between the CIA, mafia and Wall Street and how if the vast sums made annually from this illicit narcotics trade were to be withdrawn, many major banks would simply collapse.
All available from amazon online store   online store for books and dvd's             
Please note that some of the above dvd documentaries may only be available in region 2 (Britain and Europe) format. If so, those in North America or elsewhere will require a multi region dvd player or a pc media program with region 2 decoder.

link to Nature Island Destinations, Commonwealth of Dominica Nature Island Destinations has, since 1997, provided an island-wide information and booking service for Dominica's stay-over visitors - accommodation including private rentals, vehicle hire plus selected hikes and tours.
link to Safehaven Real Estate Safe Haven Real Estate is the most professional and successful realtor in Dominica. Based on the UK model, it has a retail outlet, in-house lawyer, core of permanent staff and a website which is updated daily.