Since my posting, “Pot calling the kettle black” (26 July), Lawry de Bivort sees the question “as one of a general existential struggle between governments/nations and globalized corporations.” He then asks three questions “Which will prove more valuable? Which more fair [to individuals]? Which more safe?
I thought much the same a couple of years ago when I first began to write about the increasing mutual wariness between government and big business (except when personal corruption of politicians is concerned !), but I’m less sure now. Yes, there is certainly fierce competition between businesses that make the same product and, Yes, there is even more fierce competition between governments from time to time.
The latter is fiercer because it involves the instinctive territorial protection of one’s own culture. It causes demonization of the enemy and ‘justifies’ all sorts of emotions and brutal behaviour. In the former case it is a purely rational contest — and there’s always a cool-headed objective observer who will decide the outcome — the customer.
But as to warfare between business and governments I am no longer so sure. I think there are going to be many spats between them. Because each side is powerful in its own way then they don’t last long. For example, we recently had a major spat between the proncipal smartphone manufacturers — Microsoft, Google and Apple — and the US and UK governments as to whether the latter should be able to dip into e-mails whenever they want and insist on them being de-encrypted.
Both governments lost early on in legal proceedings, America in the courts, the UK in its inability to draft exactly the right legislation that wouldn’t also damage individual privacy. I suspect, however, that some quiet compromise has been reached when it comes to the possible de-encryption of suspected terrorists’ e-mail — although terrorists can always add encryption of their own, thus evading both the makers of smartphones and governments and really making an ass of the latter.
There are, of course, all sorts of tax evasion spats between big business and governments but these are relatively minor compared with one major spat that’s on the cards and which I described in my previous posting today, “Business taking the decisive step — again!” This is something that’s definitely going to happen in my view. And big business will certainly win this one.
At the end of the day, money is about a device that is convenient for business and customers. Money can only be augmented when any particular economy gains a higher — more interesting — standard of living. Governments should simply not be involved with the production of money in any way and need only tax it for necessary purposes. It’s horses for courses really.