Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shareholders unfairly penalised by governments

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According to the SMH, Qantas and a 11 other airlines are being fined in Europe after a succession of fines elsewhere, for engaging in cartel-like trade practices in respect of their freight divisions. These activities have resulted in Qantas paying fines of $12mil to the European Commission, $61mil in the USA and $20mil to the ACCC in Australia. This is a lot of money for a corporation to pay for the illegitimate acts of corporate executives. The question is - why are shareholders paying? Shareholders are passive interests. Whilst they might indirectly profit from these activities, so does the government from imposing fines. It is like a hidden form of taxation, no better than speeding cameras. They are regulations which are not intended to modify behaviour but rather to raise revenue for vested interests. Is any reform intended to prevent such 'taxation' of passive shareholders? Probably not. After all, the ACCC and USA levied their fines in 2007. Why have we not seen any efforts by these companies to take legal action against the over-paid executives responsible for these gross breaches of corporate regulation. Why have we not seen an end to option-incentives which merely encourage people to commit crimes. The idea that options give incentives for people to work harder is really a nonsense because people want to take pride in their work. They see a sense of efficacy, and want to be rewarded for it. Money need not however be part of the incentives...promotion is far better. Financial incentives is an illegitimate grab for cash; just as the government's take is similarly illegitimate.
This type of conduct is not capitalism...its cronyism or fascism. Such conduct is enabled by representative democracy...which far from achieving freedom or a fairer society provides a mechanism for legitimatising the expropriation of wealth from passive interests such as savers, investors, taxpayers and other 'alienated citizens'. There are so many examples:
1. Savers: Banks charging excessive and punitive bank fees on citizens in Australia and other countries
2. Taxpayers: Government ministers voting for their own salaries, and engaging in all manner of travel expense routs. Corruption in the tendering of contracts is an example in some countries. The funding of election campaigns in some countries. The dichotomy between political, corporate and public accountability in most countries. Politicians seem to get away with murder. Literary in the Philippines, where political assassinations 'under democracy' are commonplace.
3. Investors: The poor regulation of stock exchanges and the punitive fines imposed on shareholders for ethical and fiduciary breaches by executives or directors.
4. Minority interests: The tendency of governments to unfairly place greater burdens on minority interests because they have no effective voice, e.g. The greater taxation of the rich, foreigners, tourists, etc.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?