WS 101: That's Capitalism!


Working all your life just to make ends meet; having no say in the decisions that affect you; try to do something about it and they'll lock you up. Yes, that's capitalism!E. Stanley O'Neal is looking forward to at least $159 million if he steps down. O’Neal, the chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch, is entitled to $30 million in retirement benefits as well as $129 million in stock and option holdings. That would be on top of the roughly $160 million he took home in his nearly five years on the job. Under Mr. O’Neal, Merrill moved into subprime mortgages and other complex debt securities ...but the US property boom slowed down late last year. Merrill announced an $8.4 billion loss; O’Neal managed to lose $8.4 billion for the company and can claim $159 million for his efforts.

Porsche has given a bonus to its entire full-time staff. The 11,000 people who actually build cars got €5,200 each. The six person management board, none of whom has ever built a car, awarded themselves a whopping €113 million.

Latest report from Stormont assembly claims that more than 100,000 children are living in relative poverty and 44,000 living in 'severe' poverty.

According to the latest Housing Council waiting lists for social housing in the north are at their highest in 30 years.
According to the latest report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, fine dodgers make up over 59% of people sentenced to prison everyday (Irish News, 12 Dec 2007)

While Irish government ministers lobby the US Congress for citizenship for 50,000 Irish illegal immigrants, people in the same situation in Ireland are being told by those very same politicians to leave the country.

On the 17th December, the Institute of Public Health reported that 18% of people in the Republic are living in fuel poverty - literally in the cold. Many thanks to the governments past and present then for giving away €51bn worth of natural gas in the Corrib gas field to corporate giants Shell, Statoil and Marathon.

In the past few months, nearly 100 Burmese refugees have been resettled in Co. Mayo. At least they'll have an easy time adjusting to any cultural differences. The Gardaí in Rossport are doing their damnedest to keep up with the good example shown recently by the Burmese military regime.

Political parties spent some €11 million during the three-week general election campaign last May. Money that could have been far better spent on employing nurses or teachers. I suppose we can take it for granted that the parasitic politicians spent their 6-week Christmas holiday concocting ways of showing their appreciation to their corporate donors and cronies.

Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, reported a sharp rise in fourth-quarter profits for the 2007 period. The massive profit surge comes just when Pfizer Ireland is planning to lay off over 500 workers. At least two Cork plants, at Little Island and Ringaskiddy, will close by the end of 2008. For his troubles in pulling this off, Pfizer’s CEO, Jeff Kindler, earned an astronomical $9 million in pay in 2006 – the figure for 2007 is not yet in. Meanwhile workers at the Cork plant are struggling with an uncertain future and ongoing haggle for decent redundancy terms.

Like all US presidential candidates Al Gore is no stranger to money. A millionaire already, Gore is set get in on some of the new action that’s all the rage at the moment – “green” business. Of course Gore’s intentions are honourable – stop laughing reader! He has just joined the board of directors of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers, a venture capital company from Silicon Valley that specializes in setting up profitable companies who “want to make money but leave no carbon footprint.” Kleiner plans to invest in renewable energy technologies, building efficiency, cleaner fossil energy, sustainable agriculture, and trading in carbon emissions rights. Al Gore, on foot of his recent Nobel Prize award, will be helping Kleiner to direct its energies in the ‘right away” and of course if he makes few dollars along the way well … you know the rest!

You will have heard of the Cost Of Living Index – who hasn’t? But have you ever heard of the “The Cost Of Living Extremely Well Index”? This is not a joke: it actually exists and is run by Forbes Magazine in the States. The CLEWI is targeted at the very wealthy and gives us a real indication of how capitalism has created enormous and wealth for a small few while million struggle and millions more die from lack of the basic necessities. The idea of the CLEWI is to monitor the costs and trends in the luxury goods end of the market. Included in one recent CLEWI report are such things as a dinner for one at the La Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris– this costs $804 and that including wine and tip. Also included as ‘staples’ in the CLEWI is the cost of a Nautor sailing yacht. The most recent report from the CLEWI noted that “the cost of a kilogram of beluga caviar is unchanged at $2,700 and a case of Dom Perignon is still $1,500”.