Saturday, June 14, 2008

more corporate sociopathy

Tesco are the raw manifestation of corporate sociopathy. In response to allegations from The Guardian that it was avoiding £1bn in tax, they had this to say:

"[The Guardian] needs to accept that successful British companies need to plan and manage their investments, including those overseas, in a responsible but efficient manner in order to compete successfully on the world stage with all the wealth creating benefits that brings to Britain."

Responsible to whom, I wonder? Certainly not the population of Britain whose towns are being gutted by their monopoly tactics and the produce suppliers who are being bankrupted by their price fixing. George memorably observed that, on average, every time a new supermarket opens 276 jobs are lost. £50,000 is spent in a small shop to generate one job, it needs £250,000 to be spent in a superstore to create one job.

As for wealth creation, in strict terms I am seeing little or no financial benefit from Tesco's dominance. Most things that are good for you are still expensive. And more generally, wealth is a very subjective term that can encompass a great many things. It might include the convenience of having independent shops a short walk from my house where I can meet people, pass the time of day and generally enjoy life whilst supporting local business. My nearest Tesco (at which I do occasionally shop, I freely admit) is 10 minutes drive away. My local Co-Op is 10 minutes walk away but you simply can't carry a week's shopping so I still drive there. Punk Wiff always wants to go to Tesco because there is more choice- the Co-Op is a quarter of the size and more expensive, generally. So I have no option. What better definition of a monopoly do you need?

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