An overdue and welcome storm is building, it seems, over the issues of company and executive greed.
The first loud and frightening rumble of thunder was the near collapse of the economy by greedy bankers, many of whom are still behaving just as greedily, unethically and in some cases illegally as they always have done, with Fred Goodwin (RBS) and Bob Diamond (Barclays) as the UK’s most uninspiring role models. Then some flashes of lightning with the realisation that big fat firms like Google and Amazon were helped to get that way by tax avoidance schemes that our big-business-friendly HMRC is failing to stop as it concentrates on screwing tax out of the smaller companies that cant afford very expensive accountants.
The storm has gathered pace with the rapid rise of the payday lenders charging 5,000% interest just because they could, and the excesses of the hated energy companies – overcharging families by £280 million in the last year rightly made them even more hated – this culminating recently in the £26million package offered to Hegle Lund the new boss of gas giant BG, formerly British Gas, and a ludicrously generous one described by the Institute of Directors as “bringing the whole of British business into disrepute” The good news however is that, following this criticism, lots of others and considerable shareholder concerns Lund will now only get £14million, which includes a modest £480,000 to help him relocate from Norway. Still nice work if you can get it.
A very good City Comment piece by Anthony Hilton in the London Evening Standard made the point that too many members of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) “live in a bubble, so isolated from the real world that they simply do not understand the storm their unfettered behaviour is building” In the piece, headed “Society is going to bite back at the fat cats” he also made the point that their greedy exploitation of power has put them on a collision course with the rest of a society that currently barely tolerates them, but that they were pushing that tolerance to breaking point at their peril.
Come the revolution, then.