We wish to explicitly point out that the information presented herein shall NOT be interpreted as directed against "the economy" or "business activities" in the sense of their definitions (see also Economy and Environment), and that of course not all multinationals are bad – this is about perverted excrescences of a system that is characterized by ignorance, greed and lethargy. These excrescences indeed present a threat to the economy and the workplaces: While a sustainable agriculture company is characterized among other things by room for diversity as well as a good life for people, animals and plants, you can figuratively recognize the multinationals referenced herein by their monocultures that are cultivated with little staff but with all the more pesticides, with production methods that exploit people and nature – while the profits go to a handful of major shareholders: More than 50% of the annual global capital gains go to 0.1% of the world population! And by the way: the other 50% go to 8 - 9 % of the population..
No matter what challenges / problems of our times we are analyzing, in most cases multinationals are the roots of the problems: Change to renewable energies? Oil companies are investing millions in campaigns against the exit of fossile fuels. Financial crisis? Big banks are trying to stop new laws for the regulation of the financial sector. TTIP? Planned by multinationals. Draining tax swamps and preventing tax evasion? Multinationals are working against it, lobby and bribe. Better (tobacco, etc.) laws to protect or health? Multinationals are suing for lost profits. Higher global environmental and social standards worldwide, i.e. measures that could stop mass migrations? Multinationals are lobbying and suing against these measures. Fighting hunger? Multinationals rather hoard mountains of food and speculate with them on stock markets. GMO labeling in the US? Coca Cola and other multinationals are using millions of dollars / year to lobby against it. Right to water for everyone? Nestlé denies that right. Changing over to renewables? Nuclear companies are suing. Unfortunately this list could be continued much longer..
A big challenge can be seen in the "incorporation", i.e. in the creation of "monsters" that we cannot control any longer: Corporate groups are legal persons who, instead of possessing the capacity of natural persons to think ethically and responsibly, were programmed with the maxim of profit maximization as the top motivation behind their actions. This results in cases where, for instance, members of the board can no longer advocate the actions they have to take as a cog in the system (given that they have sworn loyalty to the company) in front of their children and grandchildren – hence the problem is inherent in the system and can also only be solved with a comprehensive approach.
What we must also consider in this context:
Information on the role that some multinationals play in the emergence of hunger can be found here.
Other interesting videos on the topics treated herein can be found on our YouTube channel: ridehereridenow
"The Earth isn’t dying, it’s being killed and the people doing the killing have names and addresses."
As mentioned before, there is virtually no big suffering nowadays that has not been caused or at least worsened by multinationals. Due to incorporation, monsters have been created that can hardly be changed by the small wheels in the system, even by board members. Nevertheless we cannot take all responsibility away from the individuals. They do have some influence, and one group of individuals has definitively a larger impact: the (majority) shareholders. Free float is often claimed in this context. What exactly does this mean? It means that a single (natural or juristic) person is not allowed to hold more than 4% of the shares. This implies that at least 25 persons have to be involved in the possession of a multinational. But, as various juristic persons can be involved, this inscrutable cross-holding allows an incredible concentration of power and wealth. A study by ETH Zurich in 2011 (data of 2007) showed, that 147 companies control more than 40% of the 43,000 analysed international companies (!). This exclusive club consists almost entirely of banks, investment and insurances companies. This data also exposes why 50% of the annual global capital gain (about 5000 billion €) goes to 0.1% of the world’s population. Ten years ago, statements about the elite, acting detached and above the rest of the world, were dismissed as conspiracy theories. However, each new leak (such as the Panama papers just recently) proves that unfortunately those are very real.
We are moving towards neo-feudalization. In the beginning of the 19th century, 10% of the world population owned about 90% of the wealth. About 200 years ago, revolutions and democratisation altered these percentages slightly fairer, but in the meantime we are back to about 10% owning 85%. The EU project Terra 2000 identified neo-feudalization with about 40% as the most likely of three possible futures. The further we move towards neo-feudalization, the harder it becomes to change things for the better, as this development destroys the middle-class. But it is precisely this middle-class that is highly committed, so a reduction of its available instruments means: less possibilities for civic engagement, less possibilities to support the civic commitment of others, less financial and human resources for the NGOs and thus less chance of changes as the majority of them is caught in the treadmill. Already countries are losing billions that are needed for public expenditures (such as education) due to aggressive tax policies/ tax evasion of enterprises as well as tax scams. Money that has been stolen earlier on has to be begged for and the multinationals appear to be the great benefactors: there is a "Nestlé Health Science Award" (!) at a university in Austria, RWE-Lobbying for brown coal at German schools in exchange for sponsoring of sport events, etc.
The crux is the formation of alliances - the TIPP campaign is the perfect example for this: at first (because it was totally unknown), the acceptance of this instrument of neo-feudalization and the further expansion of power of the multinationals in Europe and the US was quite big. Thanks to awareness initiatives of many media, political parties, etc., more and more people realized that TIPP is in reality an enormous disaster. By forming alliances (for the first time, hundreds of organisations from all different sectors worked together), suddenly one wasn’t small and alone any longer. With this empowerment there was energy and power to form a counterbalance. In the meantime, chances that TIPP and CETA will be stopped are quite realistic. Attempts to introduce these agreements preliminarily, without the approval of the parliament, and thus absolutely undemocratically, won’t change anything.
Was that it? Unfortunately not! TiSA is already lurking and the next neo-feudal attacks are coming soon. If we want to solve the problem, we have to start at its roots and not just fight the symptoms. One of the major problems are multinationals as tools of the elite and the lack of executable global regulations. The Club of Rome and the Global Marshall Plan stated already quite some time ago that it is necessary to establish a "Good Global Governance"; subsidiarity, regionalism, education, the reformation of already functioning Global Governance structures and linking global regulations to one entity (without taking the individual rights of the countries away!), are all-important requirements for a stable future of our world.
How to reach this point is not clear yet. Everything that has been tried attempted did not yet, or at least not completely, work out. Our fear is that it will take too long until anything changes and that it might already be too late to maintain the achievements of our civilisatory progress.
This is where we want to follow-up with Ridehere-Ridenow Counterbalance!
Worldwide biggest oil and gas company. The major part of the company belongs to the royal family of the Netherlands. In July 2012 Shell was - measured by turnover - the biggest company in the world.
In the 1950s, Shell began to extract oil in Nigeria – against the will of the indigenous people, the Ogoni. Its massive pollution soon made their habitat inhabitable. The Ogoni were deprived of their livelihood. Thousands died. In 1990, the corporation involved a mobile police unit to counter protests in the village of Umuechem. This unit treated the protesters with utmost brutality and eighty people were killed. In 1993, unrest was brought about by mass protests. As a result, the government had 2000 people executed and 80,000 displaced. In December 2010, new evidence became available with the diplomatic correspondence published by WikiLeaks, indicating that “Shell had infiltrated all ministries that were relevant to its business in Nigeria". Thereupon, Shell declared the reports as untruthful and is not willing to comment on them any further.
In 1995, Shell wanted to sink the crude oil platform "Brent Spar" in the Atlantic Ocean. After heavy protests, in particular by Greenpeace, and strong public pressure, Shell decided to dismantle Brent Spar on shore.
In Ireland, Shell is planning to establish a refinery for natural gas from the Atlantic Ocean against the will of the local population. A group named "Shell to sea" is leading the resistance against the company and its project.
In 2012, Shell announced to drill for oil in the unspoiled and unique Arctic Ocean. World-wide protests, in particular by Greenpeace, forced Shell to abandon its plan to exploit the Arctic starting from Alaska. Shell is currently trying to force its way into the Arctic Ocean via Russia in cooperation with Gazprom.
In the year 2008, the water and soil around the town of Bodo were polluted by Shell. According to Shell, a total of 1640 barrels of oil had leaked. However, the U. S. company Accufacts Inc. investigated the incident in 2012 and found that, for several weeks, between 1440 and 4320 barrels of oil had leaked per day!
A U. S. mineral oil group. The company is accused of financing civil wars and arms trafficking as well as the destruction of livelihoods in areas of oil extraction. According to Greenpeace, ExxonMobil abuses its economic power against climate and environmental protection as well as against human rights. In March 2013, the group caused an environmental disaster in Arkansas and tried to cover it up. They even threatened journalists who wanted to report on the case.
According to the US Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) for disarmament and environmental protection, ExxonMobil has invested nearly 16 million dollars over the past few years to sponsor skeptics of climate change, to cover up scientific insights, and to manipulate politicians and the media. The British newspaper "The Guardian" reported that 1.6 million dollars had gone to the American Enterprise Institute between 1998 and 2005. This institute offers money to scientists who question the UNO's climate report.
Since 20 November 1990, methane is leaking from a deposit about 400 m below the surface of the North Sea, approx. 140 km off the Scottish coast. Perpetrator is the Stena Drilling Company as it made a drill hole looking for crude oil that caused a blowout.
In 2007, large parts of the Newton Creek near New York were contaminated with toxic chemicals and oil that have been seeping into the ground from old Exxon business premises for centuries.
On 24 March 1989, the oil tanker ran aground off the coast of Alaska and caused the biggest ever oil slick in the history of seafaring. Even today, the region and its inhabitants have not completely recovered from the catastrophe.
The largest food company of the world and the biggest industrial enterprise in Switzerland.
In the 70s and 80s, employees disguised as nurses gave milk powder to breastfeeding mothers in developing countries. Owing to this weaning, those mothers were no longer able to breastfeed afterwards and were thus dependent on Nestlé. However, they were often not able to pay for the expensive “milk substitute” or the milk powder was mixed with contaminated water, causing many infants to die from diseases and undernourishment. Unfortunately, Nestlé won a big lawsuit in this matter a couple of years ago, when the judges decided that the children had ultimately died from contaminated water and not from milk powder.
Nestlé sources its palm oil for cookies and chocolate from the Sinar Mas Group. This company builds palm oil plantations on grounds in Indonesia that were illegally cleared from rain forest. After heavy protests (e.g. Kit Kat campaign of Greenpeace), they switched to Cargill. However, Cargill also sources its palm oil from the Sinar Mas Group.
Nestlé carries out animal experiments for its product Nestea. No other tea producer still carries out such tests. Albeit animal testing for food products is no longer authorized in the EU, Nestlé continues its animal experiments in the United States. In 2011, the animal rights organization Peta started a world-wide protest action against animal tests for tea products.
In the West African nation of Ivory Coast, the most important export country of cocoa, around 12,000 children must work as slaves on cocoa plantations according to human rights organizations. Nestlé and other cocoa processing companies are accused of doing too little to improve these conditions.
The documentary «Tapped», released in 2009, criticized that the group drains water virtually cost-free from rural communities without considering their populations and then resells it with a huge profit. Moreover, the plastic bottles unnecessarily impact the environment, present a big threat to the world oceans, and give off chemical substances to the water they contain, making it even less healthy than tap water.
Owned by The Coca-Cola Company, it is the largest soft drink producer of the world, based in Atlanta, USA. The “Coca-Cola” lettering is one of the best-known trademarks around the globe and a symbol for western lifestyle and capitalism.
In a bottling plant in India, the Cola group extracts up to 500 million liters of ground water per year, which leads to a lowering of the ground water level and to an undersupply of local residents with drinking water.
In 2003, a study commissioned by the environmental group Center for Science and Environment (CSE) in India showed pesticide levels in Coca-Cola that were above the maximum limits. The CSE saw the cause for this in contaminated ground water. An investigation commissioned by two governmental laboratories thereupon stated that the pesticide concentrations did not exceed the maximum limits for packaged drinking water in India. However, the maximum limits for the European Union were partly exceeded. In 2006, the CSE again observed elevated pesticide concentrations in Coca-Cola that were 30 times above the EEC maximum limit. The company denied the accusations and the regional sales ban on Coca-Cola was lifted by a court.
In the documentary by Mark Thomas for Channel 4 News: “The Coca-Cola Challenge”, the journalist investigates the global business practices of Coca-Cola. He found massive violations of environmental protection as well as violations in the area of child labor, the violent repression of the labor unions’ and their representatives’ education, the intimidation of local and national governments, as well as an enormously high use of legal and PR resources to protect their image.
In Columbia, Coca-Cola is accused of having pressured the workers of the local plant with the aid of right wing paramilitaries. The group was even charged with the assassination of labor union members.
Further details can be found at Organic Nutrition
Of course this list is far from complete. We have tried to provide basic information about the worst culprits in some areas we believe to be relevant.
Responsible for the content: Ridehere-Ridenow, Association for Conscious Living in the Here and Now, ZVR: 437983246