Letter: Greed and the rotten Apple syndrome

The reason that Apple does not produce its expensive toys in the US (Bad Apple?, G2, 24 April) is not because the late Steve Jobs and the current CEO were necessarily extremely greedy but because corporate shareholders demand that they maximise profits for investors. Indeed, company law both here and in the US places an implied demand on directors to do so. Add to that the global deregulation and free-trade agenda driven by the corporate giants over the last 30 years and we have a situation where hundreds of millions of people work in factories and on plantations in conditions little better than those endured by slaves in centuries gone by.

The enormous profits generated by the transnational companies from their exploitative activities – such as the $11.6bn made by Apple over the last 12 months – and the consequent glut of capital inevitably lead to speculation in commodities, complex financial transactions and private-equity asset-stripping in the search for still more profits until the bubble bursts and the whole edifice collapses, with disastrous results for the vast majority of the world’s population.

Until such time as the economy is put at the service of the people, and not the other way round, the cycle of boom and bust will continue. For this to happen the profit motive would have to cease to be the sole driver of economic activity and the means of production be democratised to benefit the majority rather than just the obscenely remunerated bosses. However, with governments in thrall to big business and wedded to an unsustainable economic model of infinite growth, the rotten Apple syndrome will be with us for the foreseeable future.
Bert Schouwenburg
International officer, GMB

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