A recent article in Foreign Policy points out the growing amount of foreign companies buying and taking over long time American favorites. A few highlights from the piece:
The company leading the purchase of Heinz is a Brazilian private equity firm, 3G. Never heard of it? Well, 3G also happens to own Burger King Corp., which it bought for $3.3 billion in 2010.
Budweiser, that great American icon and Bud Light, the best-selling beer in the United States, are now owned by a consortium headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and run by a Brazil-born CEO.
Europe-based multi-nationals and investors already own a bevy of American brands. The names may surprise many Americans: Gerber, Holiday Inn Hotels, Vaseline, Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Alka-Seltzer, Ray-Ban, LensCrafters, Lysol, Woolite, Motel 6, Trader Joe’s, and on and on.
The Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Company is owned by SABMiller, a company launched in South Africa in 1895…now based in London…While Chrysler Motors is owned by Italy’s Fiat, the iconic Chrysler Building in New York City is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council.
Grupo Bimbo, a Mexico-based food conglomerate, bought the North America bakery operations of cakes maker Sara Lee in 2011.
So, should this concern us? Well, if we were rational people with rational election and lobbying laws, it shouldn’t since the influence of these companies would not matter much once their ownership became foreign. The problem is we aren’t rational people and neither are our laws.
Last year, I commented on the idea of unrestrained capitalism leading to a one world-type of government conspiracy theorists fear so much. It seems we are continuing down that path with all the business transactions mentioned in the Foreign Policy article. Citizens United opened the floodgates for these corporations to use their money to influence our elected officials at every level and they are sparing no expense to do just that.
Take a look at a couple of the corporations mentioned and their spending on influencing politicians. Anheuser-Busch spent $1.5 million on campaign and PAC donations and another $7 million on lobbying in the 2012 election cycle. HSBC’s tab: $387k and $5 million in those areas. And let’s not forget Fox News’ parent, News Corp, also owned by a foreigner. Its bill: $1.6 million in contributions and $13 million on lobbying efforts.
If corporations have no trouble spending this kind of money on elections in the U.S., what is to stop them from passing all the laws they want in every democra$y that will li$ten? The answer is essentially this: nothing.
The key point we have to remember is, despite the Supreme Court ridiculously ruling that corporations count as people, these corporations are run by people and these people have self-serving agendas when it comes to the laws governing what they do. If they can buy their way into the government and shape the laws into what they want, they will do it in every country that will allow it leading to every country having the same laws on the books for these corporations.
And if we are truly patriotic, why would we allow this when we can see it coming? Or what should really be asked, who are the people telling us we should allow this and what is their interest? When we turn on Fox “News”, I wonder what the opinions on this issue would be from the pundits on there?
Oh, well. We can probably ignore this one. I’m sure whoever is pedaling the influence has the best interest of their countrymen in mind…whoever their countrymen might be…