Should politicians get funding from companies?

What should we think when Boris Johnson says “Fuck Business” in relation to Brexit? 

What should we think when business leaders in Germany say thatMerkel is not supporting them enough? 

On the other hand, should we accept as normal that companies are allowed to fund political parties? 

And should political parties control, directly or indirectly, commercial businesses?

At the extremes, it can be said that there is no doubt that governments cannot and should not ignore business interests when making policy. Jobs are created through big and small companies and that gets taxes paid. The more people gainfully employed, the more taxes are earned and less is needed to support the unemployed. 

Governments are good at financing innovations that the commercial sector can then develop – the internet and GPS are both originally developed and funded by government funding – pick up Mariana Mazzucato’s book “The Entrepreneurial State” to see that wealth is generated by the public sector’s role in promoting innovation. To ignore business, like Mr. Johnson proposes, is thus really foolish because it is business that creates jobs and business can commercialise what smart governments innovate with funding collected from taxation – a virtuous circle.

Ms. Merkel has been accused of not supporting German industrial interests – its appears that the bosses from their big companies are not pleased with her. They claim that she changes policies too much, like energy and migration, and they complain about her policies for minimum wages, labour market laws, employer insurance costs and high energy costs. Still they manage well with a great supply of immigrant labor and the EuroZone struck true gives them a weaker Euro which is fine for exports.

But is keeping her distance from these companies are good thing? 

Just consider Mr. Trump and the Super PACS. They raise huge sums of money amounting to billions of dollars from corporations, as well as unions, associations and individuals, and then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Perhaps it is naive to assume that ordinary people should vote based on facts and promised policies, but when billions are spent on Facebook advertising of outright lies and fraudulent information, which is funded by Super PACs, then you can asked questions about the legitimacy of this type of activity. It is far from any description of democracy. If companies were selling the same sort of trash to investors, they would be guilty of investment fraud and severely punished as criminals.

In Finland, we have a number of big cooperative organisations that have huge market shares in the retail and banking markets, in dairy products and in the forestry market. They have their own political organisation, the Centre Party, that has many representatives from central and regional government in their boards. There is a deep and developed relationship that provides mutual benefits to both the companies and the political machine. 

In the same manner the Conservative party benefits from pushing the interests of the other big companies, and the the Social Democrats, in turn, enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with the trade unions. These are the 3 dominant political parties and perhaps Finland needs to shake up its political structure to ensure that voters also get represented as the primary source off power! 

Between them, these 3 largest parties only have 3% of the population as members.

Cartoon: www.davegralund.com

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