Your correspondent is pretty sure that the big bosses of many of the big companies in almost every developed country around the world are now demanding cash from taxpayers because of the “ravages of the virus.”
These Masters of the Universe with their multimillion dollar salaries seem to be really unprepared for what they are calling a “Black Swan Event”…. And let’s be clear there has been no lack of warnings about the next big crisis.
It was only only 12 years ago we had the financial crisis that nearly wiped out the banks and 2011 saw the attack on the World Trade Center, and before that we had the invasion of Kuwait, the fall of the Long Term Capital Management crisis in 1998 and before that the Russian crisis, and several oil shocks… most of them recurring every ten years or so…
This Virus, however unpleasant and life threatening cannot be treated as a “BlackSwan Event” – SARS occurred just 18 years ago in China in 2002 and during the period of infection, there were 8,098 reported cases of SARS and 774 deaths. Other mutated viruses have been HIV, bird flu and swine flu. A pandemic like the Coronavirus was expected and even predicted by people like Bill Gates in 2015 in a TED talk.
Finland is no exception here on this matter.
Yesterday evening on the popular talkshow called a A-Studio broadcast by the Finnish Broadcasting Company, which translates into YLE in Finnish, two slightly gentleman, both CEOs of the biggest firms here, calmly pointed out to everybody what we know already – that the economy is doing very badly. They then went on to say what the government needs to be doing now rather than later.
They had to clear well-prepared demands:
- The Finnish government must ensure that the big companies, the biggest employers, must receive the same support as other countries are giving major companies
- Taxes on energy must be reduced for energy intensive companies
- They demanded the same benefits as their foreign competitors so that their companies can to invest in new plant and to develop their research and development activities.
These last two measures cannot be anything other than disguised cash handouts or other monetary benefits from taxpayers.
When asked about workers’ wages and working hours, neither boss made any specific reference to any any future plans and dodged the question, but made it very clear that they would not envisage workers demanding more benefits or higher wages than those available in our competitor countries.
None of the above is any different from past crisis – however what was rather unpleasant was the way they delivered their news. They offered no empathy for the losses many ordinary folk are facing, they made no effort to show how their companies could contribute to relieving the suffering of a large number of the population. All they said was what they wanted and that can be summarised as material benefits for their companies.
That morning the main business newspaper ran an article announcing that the CEOs of the largest companies were receiving large pay increases on already big salaries.
These two men did not show any compassion or solidarity for the rest of the country and even though they must have been aware of the newspaper article it appears that avarice is a genetically embedded in their DNA. So far not one big company boss has announced any voluntary cut in pay even though they are demanding hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ cash for their companies.
Picture: Gargantua, a lithography by Honoré Daumier – Wikipedia Commons