Sunday, April 7, 2013

The stain of Corporatism comes to one of the big five banks

Warning – a layman’s rant follows. If you hate that sort of thing then I encourage you to move along … move along … these aren’t the ‘droids you’re looking for …

Wow … this story cannot be for real, can it?


It is one thing to participate in the great and expanding dichotomy of the latter third of the last century and of course continuing or even accelerating in this new century … that being the separation of the rich from everyone else by sending the middle class work off shore and forcing what used to be the middle class to scramble for their existence with multiple low-paying service jobs instead.

This, as we all know, leads to a much wider wealth gap and (much worse) to an increase in deficit spending for our governments to maintain the services and infrastructure we are all used to. After all, if you send the vast majority of the good paying jobs off-shore, who exactly are you supposed to tax for your revenue?

The answer is no one … borrow instead. the USA borrows 40% of every dollar it spends. Any guesses as to how this is gonna end? Canada is in a bit better position, but it appears that the last few governments have managed to take all the progress that the (in my opinion) great Paul Martin Junior had made in our financial situation and squandered it away. We are healthier than the USA only because we do not spend at insane levels for military interventions and drug wars. Since both of those are huge and very effective lobbies in the USA, they will have to travel a long road to fix that problem.

So maybe we are a step ahead … and so what? It appears that the evil stink of corporatism has reared its head in an unprecedented brazen abuse of Canadian employees at one of our major banks.

Note: I am somewhat abusing the term as I think of corporatism in the neo-corporatist vein where there might once have been tripartism with business, labor and state negotiating for economic policy but in fact where behaviors spawned by the “shareholder value” credo have now absconded with the agenda and evolved it into rampant economic abuse of the middle and lower classes – kind of like feudal times returning to the western world.

If that sounds over the top, look around a bit and you will see how many people are struggling now that should not be. And then take a close look at the event that spawned this rant … RBC is alleged to be bringing in temporary foreign workers to take over higher paying roles of Canadian citizens. Let me repeat that, because it makes so little sense. We have Canadians performing various roles in the bank. And presumably for simple reasons of cost, these people are now being fired. And before they leave, they are being asked to train temporary foreign workers to replace them. This is called “rubbing salt into a wound” … and if there is even a shred of truth to this story, it has to be blatantly illegal. Because every western country has rules around work visas. If a local can do the job, you won’t get the work visa. So how did these people get the work visa?

And do not assume that I think immigration is a bad thing … it is absolutely essential to keep our economy growing. I am all for it, assuming that we balance humanitarianism with skills. From what I have seen in stories over the last year, the government department that handles that area is not very competent, as they are constantly overwhelmed.

So temporary workers are meant to fill a need that cannot be filled by locals. And this story suggests that the bank is not using that criteria appropriately. The investigation will of course bear some fruit, assuming we ever hear the truth. But it would be nice if these large corporations would police themselves and get the optics right up front. For example, why not look at other options to improve the bottom line? Surely there are a few extra executives lying around that would not be missed :-)

Let’s look at an anonymous quote from one of the many affected employees, most of whom are older workers being replaced with cheaper workers …

“It’s horrible to be in this situation,” the employee said. “The bank is doing this while making billions of dollars in record profits and they don’t think about the impact on us. We are like fleas on an elephant.”

Rampant greed … don’t you just love it? Billions in profit just is not enough to satisfy the new corporate elite … tens to hundreds of millions in salaries and benefits in the upper layers must make one feel rather deified. Able to squash the ants without even noticing while growing personal wealth beyond avarice …

How utterly depressing … shame on them …