6 ways corporate vultures and titans of capital profit from our suffering

Wednesday 23 February 2011, 5.23pm HKT

As if you didn’t know this already, here is a refresher on the 6 basic modern profiteering techniques:

1. Pitching credit cards and credit facilities with super-high interest rates to people with bad credit (a growing group because of the recession) just so they could feed themselves or pay rent or service old debt.

2. A growing global business sector is collection agencies, and their methods are increasingly aggressive, more litigious and more prone to fraud.

3. Pay-day lending has become a great industry because of the recession. Pay-day loans are sold as short-term stopgap measures for people on wages — people living from paycheque to paycheque. The interest rate on pay-day loans is 600%, often higher. Screwing those who are royally screwed already.

4. Hedge funds invest in the business of collecting tax debts of people, add interest charges and fees, and then bundle the lot into securities and sell them to investors.

5. Banks and hedge funds are increasingly speculating on the rise and fall of food prices as much as on the physical commodities themselves, thereby leading to bottlenecks in the supply chain of food for literally millions of people worldwide.

6. Wage theft is on the rise worldwide. The old standby: deduct the employee’s pay for mealbreaks, statutory restdays and statutory public holidays — time that the employee has committed to the employment already and otherwise usually contractually payable by the employer — and this is quite usual for office workers and office-type service sectors. The other method is for the employer to vanish ahead of pay day, and this happens more usually in the catering, travel agency and light manufacturing industries.

Extra7. The government raising duties or even prices of ‘sin’ goods such as tobacco and alcohol to create domino effects to drive up prices for other goods — banking on the high likelihood that most of us tend to approve pricing out socially unacceptable habits like smoking rather than thinking critically on the whys and consequences of price increases. This technique could only be carried out by the government, usually yearly at budget time and in the name of public health, but in reality because of tax revenue generation and other policies that have been heavily influenced by corporate lobbying.


© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011

Image: From “Punch, or the London Charivari,” Vol. 152, page 379, 13 June 1917, by various, via The Project Gutenberg: public domain.

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