• Business,  Hungary

    The Audi defiance

    Guest post by Ken Cameron This is not a story about a new car launch by Audi. This is a story about how one man defied the plans and ambitions of a multinational company, and the consequences that followed. Most people are ready to settle for a quiet life and so it can be difficult to empathise with those who resist the status quo – dissidents if you will. It may be worth remembering the events in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989, when a nameless individual stood in front of a column of tanks and defied the communist regime. Of course Audi is not the Chinese Communist Party; the point…

  • Business,  Social Media

    Tipping Points

    There has been a great deal of social media rage about restaurants keeping tips. But in their defence, the establishments say they are paying much higher than minimum wages. It used to be the case that social justice campaigners complained that restaurants only paid minimum wages and left the wages to be ‘topped’ up by ‘arbitrary’ tips, which meant that staff could sometimes go home almost empty handed on a bad night, or some waiters did better than others depending on the lottery of what tables they got on a particular night. The argument was that waiting staff could not plan financially under this uncertain arrangement. Now the argument seems…

  • Business,  Class warfare,  Media

    Another “anti-business” movie for kids; another Fox snit

    Remember a couple of years ago when Fox Business host Eric Bolling asked: “Is liberal Hollywood using class warfare to brainwash our kids?” The topic was the new Muppets movie, which featured a villainous oil baron called Tex Richman. Kermit and Miss Piggy had as good a response as anyone. More recently Fox Business took on the new “Lego Movie”*, which features a villainous character called Lord (or President) Business, who may or may not resemble Mitt Romney. The guest media analyst made some of the same points I made– that Hollywood is a profit-centered business too, and usually makes movies in the hope of making money from them. As…

  • Business,  Media,  The Right

    Coca Cola and the “America the Beautiful” brouhaha

    Here in the US the brouhaha de la semaine concerns a Coca Cola ad broadcast during the Super Bowl: It features American girls singing “America the Beautiful” in English, Spanish, Keres Pueblo, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French, and Hebrew. While many found it heartwarming, you’ll never guess whom it upset: Conservative talk radio is criticizing a Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad that featured multiple languages, with Rush Limbaugh joking it might be a ploy from Republican leaders on immigration reform. ….. “I thought maybe the Republican leadership was behind the Coke commercial … when I saw it,” Limbaugh said in an apparent reference to immigration reform. “I said, ‘Whoa, who got hold…

  • Business,  Energy costs

    Gasoline: ExxonMobil’s fuel of the future

    Is it a sign that manufacture of electric and hybrid vehicles has reached, or is approaching, a tipping point in the car market that the world’s largest oil company is running this TV ad? Perhaps someone can explain why the bit about a gasoline-powered smartphone is supposed to impress us. I’m sure the rulers of Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia approve this message.

  • Business

    Lower corporate taxes don’t create jobs

    So can business interests and anti-government types please stop insisting otherwise? The Center for Effective Government reports: We examined the job creation track record of 60 large, profitable U.S. corporations (from a list of 280 Fortune 500 companies) with the highest and lowest effective tax rates between 2008 and 2010 and found: • 22 of the 30 corporations that paid the highest tax rates (30 percent or more) on their reported profits created almost 200,000 jobs between 2008 and 2012. Only eight of the 30 firms paying high tax rates reported reducing the number of employees between 2008 and 2012. • The 30 profitable corporations that paid little or no…

  • Business,  Employment Rights

    While Walmart workers need food stamps, CEO gets 41 percent raise

    While Walmart “associates” are so poorly compensated that in many states they are the largest number of Medicaid and food stamp recipients (i.e., taxpayer-subsidized low wages), the compensation of the company’s CEO, Michael Duke, rose by 41 percent from around $20 million in 2011 to just under $28.5 million in 2012. And lest I be accused of bashing the free enterprise system (which of course hardly operates in the case of Walmart), let me also point out that another “big box” retail chain, Costco, manages to pay their employees decent wages while making a profit. Update: Daily Kos Labor reports: Hundreds of Chicago fast food and retail workers walked out…

  • Business,  Employment Rights,  Trade Unions

    Amazon: Fulfillment for whom?

    The report that Amazon in Germany hired a security firm with possible neo-Nazi connections is less troubling than what the firm did. After the story broke on German television, Amazon fired the security firm, Hensel European Security Services (HESS), which was hired to police the 5,000 temporary foreign workers at Amazon’s German warehouses. (Amazon calls its warehouses “fulfillment centers.”) The [ARD television] film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms, boots and with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. “Many of the workers are afraid,” the programme-makers said. The documentary provided photographic evidence showing…

  • Business,  Israel

    Getting boycott ethics right

    This is a cross-post from Progress Why does the Co-op pick Israeli companies to boycott? It doesn’t add up. This morning in Manchester I found myself demonstrating outside the HQ of a major supermarket chain. It wasn’t the HQ of a profiteering capitalist supermarket chain though. I was demonstrating outside the HQ of the Cooperative Group, an organisation which prides itself on its ethical standards. A mutually owned organisation I am proud to be a member of, alongside six million others. The protest today outside the Co-op was because it has allowed itself to get dragged into the complex and fraught arena of the Middle East conflict. Under pressure from…

  • Business

    An innovative use of the word “innovative”

    The Los Angeles Times reports: Sick of all those extra airline fees? Sorry, but here comes another one. Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air is set to become the second major airlines in the U.S. to charge passengers a fee to bring carry-on luggage into a plane. Allegiant, a low-cost airlines that flies out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and several Florida cities, is about to introduce a fee of up to $35 per bag that would take effect Wednesday morning. Airline President Andrew Levy announced the new fee in an email to employees last Friday, saying the changes are part of “an ongoing effort to develop an innovative, new…