When I wrote this heading, I thought of the wonderful song by Ina Deter. It fits quite well, because, after all, most of the concern heads, especially in Germany, are (still) men. So here is her song:
I dedicate this article to my friend Hans Bonfigt. His last article as a guest author brought an immense number of new IF Blog readers in its wake. This is how it happened: Hans has a “historic enemy“, Felix von Leitner. Even in the good old usenet times, they often “crossed swords”. Felix writes the much-read blog.fefe.de and set a link from there to the guest article by Hans in the IF Blog. And then the show started: more than 20,000 readers clicked on this article within a few days. And many other articles, too, benefited hugely from the effect.
Back to Hans. Sometimes he has a tendency towards brutal language. Once in a while, it will deflect you from his basically good ideas. If he does not like an enterprise, he affronts it. Some consider this defamation. That is not nice. I, too, believe that his absolutely valid ideas would perhaps be better accepted if his condemnations were not so all-inclusive.
I respect this. Because, in his harsh way, he is probably correct. Basically, most of what he writes is actually quite harmless if compared with the naked truth.
Just take a close look at the concerns that dominate the world. In Germany, you usually have enterprises with a good reputation, a precious brand, lots of prestige and history. They have a well-trained work force, lots of knowledge, good sales channels and a high degree of publicity. Through their processes and build-up, they seem to be equipped to cope with all kinds of potential mishaps. Mostly, the employees – due to well-worked-out wage agreements – earn more than persons working in the social sector or freelance. Due to an excessive job protection legislation, their jobs are also a lot more secure than those of the rest of the working population in this country.
However, if you look behind the glittering façade, you will see that the patina crumbles. More often than not, their classic business models fail and classic turnover areas are endangered. Far too often, they employ persons who are paid far too well and are no longer needed in the scenarios of the future. Inherited liability weighs heavy on them and the market changes to their disadvantage. New competition threatens them.
There are huge inner weaknesses hidden from the outward appearance. Much that glitters is not gold at all. It is truly fear-inspiring. If I then continue by analysing the behaviour-controlling values of business that controls the world, it makes me dizzy. I am talking world-wide, for all concerns in all sectors.
Because we have desolate conditions in the global economy. Strangely, we tolerate them. There is not the slightest bit left of the common-good economy idea – as for instance laid down in the Bavarian Constitution. Nobody accepts the duty given to the industrialists with the right – which I personally consider of high value – to do business.
The good reputation of an enterprise, too, has become means to an end. If you have it, it is easier to make a profit. Ethics is wrapped into CSR – Corporate Social Responsibilty and used only to camouflage reality. Because all concerns and enterprises in business follow three unwritten laws:
The three commandments of current capitalism:
Do not develop products for what humans and the market needs. Instead, control the market in such a way that it will buy those products that give you the highest profit! In order to achieve this, manipulate the people permanently through a collective brain-washing, also called “marketing”.
Set the rules and regulations for your business dealings in such a way that they will exclusively be beneficial for you! In order to do this, use the superweapon “lobbyism”! It must be your highest priority to control politicians through your lobbyists in such a way that all legislation is to your benefit!
It must be the absolute goal of all your entrepreneurial activities to maximise the profits and the shareholder value! Profit thus gained must be privatised as fast as possible, losses have to be socialized immediately!
These commandments of modern capitalism have priority over all else, be it employees, customers, suppliers or other stakeholders. World-wide and without exception. Because in Asia, China, India, Japan, Korea, South-America, the USA or wherever, the one and only important factor is: profit.
In Europe, the situation is no better. Just look at the former EG or the Comecon countries. I cannot imagine that it is different in Switzerland. Nor do the Scandinavian concerns give reason for hope: just look at the stories around, for instance, IKEA.
To sum it up, you can say that, for all concerns and many more business enterprises, gaining and maximizing profit and consolidating your position on the market always has absolute priority. This is how the concern business has come to a point where all that matters is survival. The preservation and constant strengthening of the own system have become the exclusive goals as determined by the system itself. And the end justifies the means. In theory, such systems are called “de-personalized”. And making self-preservation your exclusive goal makes you inhuman and is the first step towards a fascist system.
An enterprise should aim at: supplying the people in the country with goods that promote their well-being. This is opposed to the current direction of business. The needs of the people are no longer served. Instead, the goals are formed along the lines of business. Of course, if you do this, there is no room left for a “common—good economy” as the Bavarian Constitution demands it. For me, this borders on “criminal behaviour“.
Now I will take a close look at all sectors. I wonder if I will find one that is not criminal?
It cannot be the food industry (why do you no longer call it victuals or nutrition industry?). In this sector, even the smallest customers are manipulated towards eating unhealthy through lies. One (not only food) scandal follows on the heels of the last, fraud and blackmail are common practice. Lower quality and extortion are accepted for economic reasons, the same is true for environmental destruction, not only in the Third World countries. In this respect, I only mention particularly dire cases like the seeds situation as a side-line.
Nor is it necessary for me to write about those industries that supply humanity with raw materials. We all know what traces those robber barons have left on our planet. The same is true for their sub-division, the oil and petro industry. Allegedly, enterprises such as Gasprom even have their own para-military organisations, which is equipped like a private army with heavy weapons. Why? Well, it is clear, isn’t it? If necessary, they can use force to give weight to their interests.
But the EVU’s do not fare any better, either. Neither does the chemical or pharmaceutic industry. You read all the time that medicine is licenced after the best of tests have been executed (exceptional healing capacity, negligible side-effects) and thus is now on the market. And after many users – often children and teenagers – consumed the medicine for a long time, you suddenly hear that the positive effect was ZERO and the side-effects were considerable. But that is nothing. You continue with “business as usual”.
Trade, too, probably has no clean slate. What harsh measures do the discounters use both against their competition and their suppliers! And the customers, too, are constantly cheated. They dominate the field with a long-term, ruinous cut-throat competition. The only thing left in the end will be the ruins of many no longer needed chain stores and a destroyed infra structure.
I will not even mention the traffic enterprises and finance services, the speculation, world and gambling companies, the media enterprises, the weapons industry, the logistics sector, let alone the luxury food industry.
My own sector, the IT industry, too, is not one I trust. For instance, I can well imagine that many producers are quite happy about all those virusses and spams appearing. And about the eavesdropping and much more. I assume that only a small part of the hardware and software systems actually are still made for processing and communicating data.
No. Most of the server and storage systems are probably sold for spam and virus defence, as well as for eavesdropping and such. It would be quite easy to de-activate the spam flood in emails with a suitable protocol (even the old telefax machines had a code provider) – but nobody wants it. Probably because it would be a shame to let all this nice business go.
Here is something else I notice:
No matter how high a profit. The higher the better. Even if it looks rather amoral.
I once read that, at Reemtsma (sector: luxury food industry – tobacco) the EBIT of a good year can well be as much as half of the entire turnover. Let us assume that, in this sector, the turnover is only one twentieth of the capital. Then the capital return rate is 1,000%. Well, there were times when 4% were considered a reasonable turnover return rate (in the 1950ies at VW – those were also the times when you still could get a low one-digit interest on your conventional bank account). If you take 200 as the factor turnover/capital, you get a turnover rate of 10,000%. Well, not everybody can achieve this!
And what do I read on the Reemtsma Website as a reprimand?
Illegal cigarette trade is among the most lucrative crimes…
I wonder why!
Today, there is no upper limit to what marketing may cost. And manipulation need stop nowhere at all.
The only thing that matters is that it does what it is supposed to do. Especially in the sector of “digital marketing”, you hear of enormous progress. The most modern scientific results in neurology and psychology are utilized. Thus, the cost of marketing and sales grow all the time. In some enterprises, they are already as high as half the turnover. In other words: the customer who buys the product pays half of what he pays for measures executed in order to make him buy the product.
Is that OK?
This is even true for enterprises, for example, in the pharmacy sector. One would assume that, basically, medicine does not need advertising. After all, it is badly needed, isn’t it? But nothing could be further from the truth – here, too, the advertising costs is easily 40% of the total turnover and more. And for enterprises promoting internet “services” such as for instance booking hotel rooms, the per cent ratio of marketing might well be more than half of the total cost.
Even politics manipulate us through marketing. Not just when it comes to lobbyism. Normally, the party that has most of the money at their disposal will eventually become the reigning government. Because they can employ the better marketing companies and campaign better. In almost all cases, there is a correlation between the number of votes and the money used in the electoral campaign. But where do they get the money? Of course, from the institutions that have a) money and b) important interests. So who are we talking? Well, those enterprises that would wish to make the rules for their business the rules of our society. I see a huge threat to our democracy! In fact, thinking of the elections for the next president of the USA – who call themselves “God’s own country” – gives me pause.
This is why I cannot really do anything other than say Hans Bonfigt is somehow right when he says things rather bluntly.
(Translated by EG)