Stay with me for a few paragraphs would you please…
I quite enjoyed the original “Godfather” film. Probably the most memorable quote was “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”. It was said a few times in the film and of course backed up by “additional incentives” to ensure the “offer” was acceptable to the recipient. I’m sure you’ll remember the horse’s head in the bed scene?
The Godfather was about the mafia. They had “business interests” which kept money coming in on a regular basis. If you had a factory, shop, bar etc. in their area of control then a couple of nice gentlemen would maybe visit you and suggest that you should consider providing a tribute in cash to the local “Don”. (No connection whatsoever to anyone from Aberdeen obviously). Declining to do so might result in an increase in accidents in your premises, a nice simple protection racket then.
In todays world we probably still have a modicum of that sort of thing but we don’t really believe it’s that bad. Nonetheless things are happening and to all intents and purposes they look a lot worse than anything that the godfather did.
Lets start with the Brent Spar, which was to be submerged in the ocean. An organisation thought that wasn’t a good idea and used all the muscle that they could muster to ensure it was disposed off as they saw fit. In the end the disposal was more polluting than the submerging but let’s not allow a great PR exercise get in the way of the facts.
Then we had the recent Starbucks saga. They weren’t paying their taxes apparently. People should boycott the shops, don’t buy from Starbucks was the cry of the day.
The shops are franchises and most of the people who thought the boycotting was a good idea didn’t know what that meant. It would just be so much corporate bunkum and who cares anyway. Well the people who owned the franchises minded, they minded a great deal.
You see they paid their taxes and they paid the taxes of the people they employed, They also paid for the on going franchise and for the supplies they had to buy. Starbucks, the holding company, paid their taxes too. They just didn’t pay them in the UK. They did this because the EU ruled that companies could pay their corporation tax in any country in the EU.
Some EU countries immediately reduced their corporation tax to attract these large organisations, Starbucks being one of many. Ireland was one of the countries to reduce their corporation tax.
The coalition managed to create quite a furore to the extent that Starbucks had to do a deal to pay some tax in the UK. The UK made them an offer they couldn’t refuse you see.
There are other examples of this. An organisation is picked out and then a third party (Don) starts to complain about something they are doing which is normally fully legitimate. They then threaten to interrupt their business through bad publicity and stop people spending with the chosen business.
The business then tries to work out a deal. Perhaps they could provide funding for a project for the “Don”. Nothing wrong or illegal with that is there? Or maybe they should provide funds on a longer-term basis for other stuff? Cue lots of handshaking etc.
Did you notice the sudden upswing in charities advertising after Christmas?
Have you noticed the latest advert from one of these environmental charities. Apparently in their world polar bears are a threatened species. Canada doesn’t think so, based on their science and experience over decades, which doesn’t actually count at all however. Expect a turnaround from them soon on that one. Perhaps that nice chap Obama might ask them to help revisit their position?
The environmental charity advert shows a polar bear and a couple of cubs frolicking in the snow and ice flow. They are having fun but they are endangered. The ice is melting (no it’s not actually and even if it did it wouldn’t affect them).
Then along comes a special moment. The end part shows a can of Coke resplendent in its red and white corporate colours with some polar bears added to it. They aren’t there because Coke has suddenly started selling a version of Coke, which is polar bear, flavoured? Of course not.
They are helping the environmental charity protect the poor polar bears by providing cash to them from each can purchased. It’s a shame. Polar bear numbers have gone from a few thousand to over 20,000 and counting.
That sounds like the polar bears need a lot of support does it not?
Don’t worry. The “Don” is on the case.