Moral Control of Corporations


Multinational corporations are becoming more, not less, influential. This is why it so unfortunate that their behaviour is often completely immoral.

A case in point is Nigeria.  Soon after the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and 9 other opponents of the Nigerian  regime, Shell continued on in its business relations with the government of Nigeria as if nothing had happened. Multinational corporations assert no responsibility for its business partners.  Who could expect more given their tolerance of their own moral shortcomings?

It is however becoming increasingly apparent that some  corporations like bad governments.  They serve a very useful purpose provided that they don’t become too bad.  In other words as long as they allow business to carry on business with at least some degree of order, that is good enough with the multinationals.  As long as governments permit business to operate with some assurances that they can keep their profits, they like it if such governments are oppressive of their citizens. Even if political corruption is rampant and bribes are a cost of business.  They like it if labour costs are kept low, and environmental safeguards are ignored and safe working conditions not required.  This allows for ever greater profit. It would have been nice if Shell had voiced its opposition to the approach of the Nigerian government  They might have had a small effect. Unfortunately, the world over, business people  resist the notion that morality should ever play a role in business.

Canadians of course have learned this affects them too as the case of SNC Lavalin showed. We have to vigilant against corporate corruption, even when, as they always claim, it will cost jobs. We don’t need to support corruption to maintain jobs. We need clean jobs. Only clean jobs. And we need to control corporations, whether they like it or not.

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