By LARRY ROMANOFF – October 11, 2020
In my prior articles ‘Private Enterprise and the National Good’ and ‘A further look at Privatisation’, I painted only a small part of the total picture of "privatisation" as it really is, part of a concerted long-term plan to control the world's infrastructure, land, water and food supplies, and to effectively replace nation-states with a group of supra-national banks and multinationals, all owned by the same very small group of European Jewish bankers and industrialists. In order to wake up, what the world needs to see is a map of all the world's nations, with a list for each country of the extent of this so-called privatisation in every area. We need to know, for each nation:
•Central Bank - public or private? If private, the names of the ultimate individual beneficial owners
•The names of the ultimate individual owners of the nation's commercial and merchant banks
•The names of the individual owners of the nation's mainstream media, including television, press and book publishing
•A list of the entire physical infrastructure owned by foreign banks and multinationals, and the names of the corporate and ultimate individual owners of these assets. This would include all transportation facilities and communications. It must include all airports, railways, toll highways and bridges, electricity generation, water, natural gas and fuel supplies, and more
•A list of the social infrastructure controlled by foreigners, including health care and education, and the names of the ultimate beneficial owners
•A list of dominant foreign commercial firms and those significant domestic enterprises owned by foreigners, again with links to the ultimate beneficial owners, and with estimates of market share and domination in each industry sector
•A list of the dominant foreign firms in the food industry, and the extent of market domination and control of the nation's food supply, with full ultimate ownership information
•A list of the foreign holdings of arable land and water aquifers, again with links to the ultimate beneficial owners
It will be only after we see this version of a world map that the full extent of this silent process of creeping privatisation and sovereign emasculation will become frighteningly apparent. If the global thrust for privatisation proceeds according to plan, nation-states in the end will be replaced by supra-national mega-banks and multinational corporations, along with the supra-national military of NATO and a supra-national judicial system, all of which will be controlled by a very small group of very rich European bankers who will be accountable to no one. Most infrastructure services, social services, most consumer products of consequence, vital necessities like water and food, will all be supplied, controlled and priced by our private masters. Our world will consist of one single fascist police state. The functions of the individual state governments will be reduced primarily to taxation and suppression of the civilian population - which suppression will become increasingly necessary. The US Department of Homeland Security didn't build its 800 internment camps and buy its 3 billion bullets for nothing.
To round out a description of the inherent dangers in privatisation, we must consider that the textbook presentations of public companies and stock markets are more childrens' bedtime stories than reflections of reality. We are taught in school that public companies are owned by millions of individual shareholders not different in kind from you or me, and that no one group or person can exercise any definitive control, that even a vast investment might purchase only 5% of a company's stock, insufficient for control. But in the real world, the beneficial shareholders are almost always disguised through holding companies and many other vehicles that serve to create an impenetrable wall. Even the large hedge funds who could in theory vote their shares in any manner, are most often integral parts of this same group, employed by the same owners and reading from the same script. But even so, many of these firms are controlled absolutely by virtue of having different classes of common shares, in some cases shares owned by the wider public having few or no votes while the often relatively small shareholding of these bankers contains sufficient voting rights to have absolute control of a vast corporation while owning 10% or less of the stock. In these special classes of equity, one share can have 1,000 or even 10,000 votes, making it impossible for the general public to have any influence.
What this means in the end is that a very small group of people (or families) control 60% or more of the world's major multinational companies and virtually all of the international banks as well as the central banks of many countries, to say nothing of a high percentage of the entire world's GDP and its resources. As one example, the Jewish Wallenberg family controls by most reports about 40% of Sweden's total GDP and the same percentage of the value of Sweden's stock market, through their pyramid control of giants like Ericsson, Scania, Astra Zeneca, Electrolux, Scandinavian Airlines, SKF, ABB, and one of the Nordic area's largest banks. The Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Warburgs and other families have similar control in many nations, often buried in webs of companies, shell companies, offshore companies, and through what we call pyramid ownership structures. Through all of these mechanisms, an individual or family can control wealth vastly more than its own by holding controlling voting interests in companies which in turn hold controlling voting interests in other firms, and so on. Combined with super-voting shares, it is easily possible for insiders to control assets thousands of times greater than their actual holdings.
A few years ago, a team of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich did an extensive empirical study to identify the ownership and power interrelationships between international financial institutions and large multi-national companies. From the Orbis database they extracted about 43,000 MNCs and examined the direct and indirect shareholding networks to, as they stated, "map the structure of economic power". Their study revealed a core base of about 1,300 companies with on average 20 interlocking share ownerships and directors, and that this small group represented about 20% of total global operating revenues. Even more, this group collectively owned their shares indirectly through their control of the large majority of the world's largest companies that in total represented about 60% of global revenues. Further, the analysts discovered that by tracking ownership, indirect holdings, and beneficial control, they reduced the group to what they called a "super-entity" of less than 150 companies that in total controlled more than 40% of the total wealth in the entire network. Most of these were the international banks and financial institutions. They said, "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network". Given the makeup of this group, we cannot avoid the reality that a very small number of people controls the global economy, and this is especially true since these same members control the privately-owned central banks of many nations including the US and the UK. They therefore control not only the bulk of the world's manufacturing and service industries but also the major central banks that set and control the financial policies including economic expansions and recessions that in turn serve only to multiply and exaggerate the wealth of all companies in their group.
From recent research, Oxfam produced a report claiming that only 80 people own as much wealth as the bottom 50% of all humans, 80 people owning more than the lower half of the entire global population - 3.5 billion people. Oxfam also demonstrated that the wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to more than $110 trillion, or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world. They argue that this massive and growing inequality is not an accident but has been driven by a "power grab" by wealthy elites, "who have co-opted the political process to rig the rules of the economic system in their favour." It is true as Oxfam states, that this extreme inequality was "not just an accident or a natural rule of economics, (but) the result of policies", but those policies are entirely the result of the pursuit of what we call 'neo-liberal economics', in other words a criminal and brutally anti-social capitalism. Oxfam proposed a plan to reverse this process with items that included clamping down on tax avoidance, shifting taxes to the wealthy, introducing minimum wages and providing safety nets for the poorest, and providing free health care and education. But these recommendations are only chipping away at the symptoms of the disease, not at the root. It isn't the lack of a minimum wage or increasingly expensive education and health care that are causing the problem; it is the existence and application of neo-liberal capitalism and of the enormous greed inherent in its proponents and practitioners.
It is the totally unrestrained greed of the top 1%, and their political influence and power to control politicians and governments, and to bully sovereign nations into abandoning responsibility for their own people. It is Apple, with an almost unbelievable US$200 billion of untaxed profits held offshore, but who exercise every possible legal excuse to avoid paying a living wage to the Chinese workers who assemble their products, and with such a pathological level of greed that it will double the retail prices of its products in China, and charge Chinese customers 50% of the cost of a phone for a "warranty" repair that is free in every other country. It is the pharma companies killing unknown thousands in poor countries while conducting unsupervised drug trials. It is Nestle's conviction that the profits from baby milk powder justify the deaths of millions of babies, and Nestle's conviction that water is not a human right but just another "consumer product" for which they seek worldwide control. It is the total destruction of so many nations like Iraq and Libya for the sole purpose of adding to the countless trillions of dollars already in the pockets of less than 100 people.
In early 2015, Norman Pollack wrote an interesting article in Counterpunch titled Infrastructure Trumps Militarized Capitalism. He began by writing of the US: "Downward historical-structural trajectories reveal themselves by a nation’s absence of will for anything but war, invariably at the expense of its people’s needs and the social good .... A nation as it wallows in its own psychopathological emphasis on ... global domination." In the article, he outlined that China was America's nightmare because of its continued investment in physical infrastructure, an approach that "speaks not only to planning but also national priorities, and above all to looking forward to a world freed from single-power unilateral supervision of the global system. Every mile of track laid for high-speed trains is a nail in the coffin of US categorical domination of that system. The US knows it, (and) China knows it." He also referred to "the excellent article by New York Times reporter David Barboza, "Projects to Make Great Wall Feel Small", (Jan. 13), which details the wave of infrastructure-concentration today in modern China. He wrote that "In addition to Shanghai Tower and spectacularly rich metropolis of 25 million residents, there is the underside one takes for granted or doesn’t notice: Undergirding the city is a patchwork of supersize infrastructure - huge airports, subway lines, sewage systems and power plants."
"The ... sub-conscious foundation for the Pacific-first strategy lies in humbling China, dismembering it, cutting it down to size, .... but it is the fact of and underlying rationale for INFRASTRUCTURE that drives America and Obama up the wall; for it is the public factor that sticks in the capitalist craw, even when devoted to long-range private service, in that it represents a collective people providing for society’s needs." And he quoted a New York Times article that stated "China ascending, America declining - the latter with no brakes to be applied because its militarization of capitalism represents the death wish of a nation which can only measure itself in the megatonnage of destructive power. Our cities decline, theirs rise resplendent. Our ignition defects kill people, their rail lines enable clean, efficient travel. And so the list of achievements continues, whilst in America, and especially the White House, the demonization of China has become a cottage industry."
His observations actually reach the heart of the matter of privatisation which, in its ultimate form, requires the dismemberment of nations and the wholesale disposal to the European bankers and their friends of precisely the kind of infrastructure that China continues to build - and own. While the West, led by the US and its handlers, is feverishly attempting to strip public infrastructure away from governments, to essentially emasculate them and leave them essentially as hollow frameworks for civilian suppression, China is determinedly going in the opposite direction, enhancing the public good and public wealth. And this is the real source of the intense American pressure on China to "rebalance" its economy, to decelerate or stop altogether infrastructure development and direct the economy's attention to consumerism. These are precisely the same forces behind the intense American push for China to open up and sell off its state-owned enterprises. It isn't because China needs to be helped; it's because China needs to be stopped.
Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai's Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry Romanoff is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney's new COVID-19 anthology ''When China Sneezes''.
Copyright © Larry Romanoff, Moon of Shanghai, 2020