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March 20, 2009

Having your cake and eating it too

Yesterday we learned that China has blocked Coca Cola from acquiring a local drinks manufacturer because the deal would "unduly restrict competition". This from a nation that has launched vast state controlled and funded enterprises on wave after wave of acquisitions over seas.

The latest of these are the purchases of large stakes in Australian miners Rio Tinto and Oz Minerals. Yet despite the obvious conflicts of interest (The Chinese government will then be both a customer and an owner of these companies) I guarantee you the Australian Government will say nothing.

Last year we saw the Saudi Basic Industries Company (SABIC) take over GE Plastics. SABIC is 70%owned by the family that calls itself the Royal Family of the nation. We also saw Mohommed Al Maktoum, the dictator of Dubai purchase control of Light Group, a restaurant and hotel developer. Just two of a string of purchases that have been occurring throughout the US by state owned corporations.

If the US government started purchase companies throughout the USA there would be an uproar, yet nations who have the US's interest as their last priority are doing so continually with absolutely no resistance.

Pacific Brands, maker of Bonds underwear and a range of other name brands recently stated it was sacking 1800 workers and moving manufacturing to Asia.

Who can blame them. Western governments have been encouraging trade with nations who use slave like work practices and treat their citizens as expendable resources in their battle for greater income.

Either we allow our own people to work in slave like conditions, or we transfer the work to countries that do.

We are strident in our tolerance of free speech and freedom of religion. Yet in Muslim countries a person can be imprisoned for preaching the gospel.

We pride ourselves on being free, while turning a blind eye to the abhorrent treatment of women in Saudi Arabia and Islamic countries in Africa. And we have never said a word against the state run human trafficking that has been building Dubai and the gulf region into competitors on the world stage.

The west has held a position of dominance in the world for centuries. it has done so because of our academic and cultural traditions - we cannot give that all away now.

Our Christian based thinking of turn the other cheek, tolerance and a fair go (In Aussie speak) is only contributing to our decline as economic leaders.

This has to stop. If we are going to have a level playing field - then it must be truly level. And instead of making it a race to the bottom, we need to create the pressure and  conditions to make it a race to the middle at least.