CORPORATE RULE The control or undue influence of corporations and banks over the economy, mass media, and government. Economic control gives corproations the ability to further monopolize business activity as well as keep wages down to the detriment of consumers and workers, further enriching their mainly wealthy shareholders. Mass media consists of corporate conglomerates with increasingly concentrated media ownership. Financing for the mass media comes largely from advertising by other corporations. This results in a virtually uniform support for big business and the capitalist system itself by mass media, with at most room for only a few minor modifying reforms. Governments, whether socially/culturally liberal or conservative, serve corporate interests either due to neoliberal ideological biases, corporate lobbying and campaign funding, or fear of rocking the boat by defying powerful vested interests. The resulting distortions of public policy damage the public well-being. Control over these three sectors gives corporations the ability to direct government economic, foreign, environmentAl, and social policy and sell this to the general public through the mass media, ignoring, downplaying, or spinning any contrary information. In Alberta, and Canada itself as a whole, the oil and gas sectors, especially the tar sands companies, are the most obvious examples of this.
Since the corporations and banks themselves are increasingly owned by the wealthiest members of society corprate rule effectively becomes a form of plutocracy Corporations may be viewed as a conduit by which the richest members of society exert their control over the economy, mass media, and government and through which even more wealth and power flow back to the rich. This has been furthered by the specious justification for neoliberal policies provided by corproate funded "think tanks" as discussed in the section
DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT Although we ostensibly live in a democracy the reality is that average citizens have little control over the day-to-day running of our municipal. provincial, or federal governments, which seem more concerned with the well-being of the corporations and the richest members of society with little concern for the general public. First-past-the -post elections effectively mean that most people's votes don't count with unsurprising low voter turnout. This democratic deficit could at least be partially ameliorated by some form of proportional representaion in which a party's seat count is a direct reflection of their percentage of the popular vote. See also www.fairvotecanada.org
Externalities An externality is a side-effect of business activity such as the pollution or social disruption caused by Fort Mc Murray's boom-town tar sands development, the cost of which is not included in the sale price of its product. It is a way in which corporations internalize or privatize benefits while extralizing or socializing their costs to the rest of society.
FAIR TRADE Fair trade stands in diametrical opposition to free trade.
Under free trade prices to farmers and producers are driven as low as
possible, often with the aid of the International Monetary Fundís structural
adjustment programs. This has exacerbated widespread poverty with sweatshops
and child labour in developing nations. Under fair trade farmers and
local producers receive a guaranteed minimum floor price and earn more if
prices rise. This allows for a more economically and environmentally sustainable
system of production and helps to lift local workers, farmers, and their
families out of poverty.
†† is the certifying body
for fair trade goods in Canada. Its label on coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar,
fruit, cereals, and other food products as well as sports balls guarantees fair
trade production. Look for this logo on Fair Trade independently certified products to ensure
that farmers and workers in developing countries have been paid a fair price.
The Edmonton Small Press Association (ESPA) www.edmontonsmallpress.org and Oxfam periodically host a Fair Trade Fair Day with fair trade goods and films.
Edmonton Fair Trade stores include:
Earthís General Store 9605 82nd (Whyte) Ave www.earthsgeneralstore.ca
Ten Thousand Villages 10432 Whyte Ave www.tenthousandvillages.com/
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