« on: September 01, 2016, 01:57:43 pm »
30 years ago Ireland was led by a man named Charles Haughey, he was a husband, a politician and before anything else, a criminal; willing to do things that would make Berlesconi blush. He was for all intents and purposes a mobster, with a finger in every pie; gun running, extortion, property scams, if there was money to be made by bending or outright breaking some rule, he was for it.
Roll on 30 Years and we are seeing his legacy in the news, even if he is not explicitly named, over a deal he made with Apple.
When you hear about Ireland being a tax haven, you think of systemic corruption, to allow such a thing, in our case, it can all be pretty much put back on this one man.
He was mercurial and beyond morality, to the point that the troubles of the North actually were calmed by his presence, after all, political ideologies driving violence was bad for business. You can see from that cold knowing crooked smile that he knew what he was doing, he knew what the future would be and at the heart of it he knew he would be a rich man for it, if anything he had a consistent approach to policy: shake hands with anyone who will and keep the money flowing.
For better or worse he has shaped Ireland for what it is today responsible for Ireland's most prosperous and most corrupt period.
You probably didn't come in here to read about some dead Paddy from three decades ago, even if he was good at pulling an ol' scam or two. The reason you are hearing about him now is because he was the MASTER of pulling a scam or two, and its his legacy that has shaped the stage of international business and politics.
Its because of him that Microsoft, Apple, General Electric, Facebook, IBM, Starbucks and Google have their headquarters here, and declare 99% of their worldwide profits through here.
Lets talk a little about these businesses... The large internationals are incorporated, so lets think of them as people, because as people they are developing some serious issues.
The role of government and business isn't a new problem, nor is the notion of a company moving elsewhere when the profits are to their advantage, what seems to be new though is the implicit resentment of a corporation for its national ties.
The tax avoidance issue is just a small symptom of a mentality that is arising. It became clear with the other battle Apple were fighting this year, fighting for the civil liberties of its phone users and their right to privacy from the state. The encryption lawsuit that apple won publicly humiliated the FBI should paint a clearer picture of the companies self image.
It is a declaration by these companies, not that they are stateless, amoral entities, but that they are a nation of their own, with a sense of entitlement to set their own rules, and the rights of its citizens be they employees or consumers of their products.
It's a worrying trend because the combined lobbying power, and pervasive presence in day to day life means that they are more in touch with their users/citizens than the slow moving wheels of government ever could be. Facebook is far more likely to be able to tell you what it's preferred colour of the truth is then any public body because Facebook knows, they see how hard it is, it listens to your needs, give you what you want, and they do all this without asking for much, nothing more then to keep them close.
We're now in a time when these companies can petulantly and wilfully ignore the desires of their parent nations, and the recent explorations of Tesco, facebook and even your Mobile phone providers experimenting with the idea of their own currencies, sooner rather then later you'll be able to get a passport from one of these guys.
I suppose the real question is, Will that be worse then what we have?
I suspect that this coinciding with the time where wealth inequality is wider then it has ever been before, when the average couple needs to be a middle earner with both working full time to be able to afford a home, that it is unlikely this is going to lead better lives for any of us. The new boss will be worse then the old,and accountable to no one.
So here we are, when a corporation can drain its host state before discarding them. Where government is approaching obsolescence. The next time you hear about a company pissing in the states eye, think of old Charles Haughey, because this is his dream not just for Ireland, but the world, fulfilled.