Oppression and Exploitation News May 7 – May 13

Struggle for control – Staying in power 2020

Young leader vowed change in El Salvador but wields same heavy hand Natalie Kitroeff New York Times May 5, 2020
Elected as a transformative leader who would propel the country forward, Nayib Bukele is now reminding critics of the country’s past autocrats, with his reliance on the military.

Harm through the government 2020

Private equity, lobbying the U.S. for help, Is mostly hearing ‘No’ Kate Kelly and Peter Eavis New York Times May 5, 2020
Many U.S. firms have used profits and the large corporate income tax reduction of 2018, not for investment, nor building up financial reserves, but for stock buybacks and other payouts to stockholders and corporate executives, in a process known as value extraction. Although many firms that practiced value extraction, such as the airlines, are eligible for Federal Reserve support funds, one group that has not, for the moment at least, has been the largest private equity firms with their holdings–Harmful Economics

Bribery and money-laundering by Switzerland and Nordic countries

CPI 2019: Trouble at the top Transparency International January 20, 2020
Top scoring countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) like Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland are not immune to corruption. Multiple scandals in 2019 demonstrated that transnational corruption is often facilitated, enabled and perpetuated by seemingly clean Switzerland and Nordic countries.

An Icelandic fishing company bribed officials in Namibia and used Norway’s largest bank to transfer 70 million dollars to a tax haven Ingi Freyr Vilhjálmsson Studin November 12, 2019

Oppression and Exploitation News April 30 – May 6

Harm through the market 2020

J. Crew files for bankruptcy in virus’s first big retail casualty Vanessa Friedman, Sapna Maheshwari and Michael J. de la Merced New York Times May 3, 2020
J. Crew was carrying a debt burden of $1.7 billion based on a leveraged buyout in 2011 by two private equity firms — TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners — even before the coronavirus brought clothing sales to a near-halt in its 181 stores, 140 Madewells and 170 outlets.

Image: Corruption Perceptions Index 2019. Credit Transparency International

Corruption Perceptions Index 2019

Berlin, 23 January 2020 – More than two-thirds of countries – along with many of the world’s most advanced economies – are stagnating or showing signs of backsliding in their anti-corruption efforts, according to the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released today by Transparency International.

Countries in which elections and political party financing are open to undue influence from vested interests are less able to combat corruption, analysis of the results finds.
“Frustration with government corruption and lack of trust in institutions speaks to a need for greater political integrity,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International. “Governments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems.”

CPI Highlights

The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, drawing on 13 expert assessments and surveys of business executives. It uses a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

[Transparency International defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This definition encompasses corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries according to the perception of corruption in the public sector. ]

More than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of only 43. Since 2012, only 22 countries have significantly improved their scores, including Estonia, Greece and Guyana. Twenty-one have significantly declined, including Australia, Canada and Nicaragua.

Our research shows several of the most advanced economies cannot afford to be complacent if they are to keep up their anti-corruption momentum. Four G7 countries score lower than last year: Canada (-4), France (-3), the UK (-3) and the US (-2). Germany and Japan have seen no improvement, while Italy gained one point.

Corruption and Political Integrity

Analysis shows that countries that perform well on the CPI also have stronger enforcement of campaign finance regulations and broader range of political consultation.

Countries where campaign finance regulations are comprehensive and systematically enforced have an average score of 70 on the CPI, whereas countries where such regulations either don’t exist or are poorly enforced score an average of just 34 and 35 respectively.

Sixty per cent of the countries that significantly improved their CPI scores since 2012 also strengthened regulations around campaign donations.

“The lack of real progress against corruption in most countries is disappointing and has profound negative effects on citizens around the world,” said Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International. “To have any chance of ending corruption and improving peoples’ lives, we must tackle the relationship between politics and big money. All citizens must be represented in decision making.”

Countries with broader and more open consultation processes score an average of 61 on the CPI. By contrast, where there is little to no consultation, the average score is just 32.

A vast majority of countries that significantly decreased their CPI scores since 2012 do not engage the most relevant political, social and business actors in political decision-making.

Recommendations

To reduce corruption and restore trust in politics, Transparency International recommends that governments:

  • Reinforce checks and balances and promote separation of powers.
  • Tackle preferential treatment to ensure budgets and public services aren’t driven by personal connections or biased towards special interests;
  • Control political financing to prevent excessive money and influence in politics;
  • Manage conflicts of interest and address “revolving doors”;
  • Regulate lobbying activities by promoting open and meaningful access to decision-making;
  • Strengthen electoral integrity and prevent and sanction misinformation campaigns;
  • Empower citizens and protect activists, whistleblowers and journalists;

For a full list of recommendations, go to: www.transparency.org/cpi2019

Image: Corruption Perceptions Index 2019. Credit Transparency International

Oppression and Exploitation News April 23 – 29

Harm through the government 2020

Large, troubled companies got bailout money in small-business loan program Jessica Silver-Greenberg, David Enrich, Jesse Drucker and Stacy Cowley New York Times
This article describes how companies which would be thought not qualified for a small-business loan program did in fact receive one. Of the $349 billion in low-interest loans for small businesses more than 200 publicly traded companies have disclosed receiving a total of more than $750 million in bailout loans.

The tax-break bonanza inside the economic rescue package Jesse Drucker New York Times April 24, 2020
As small businesses and individuals struggle to obtain federal aid, the wealthiest are poised to reap tens of billions of dollars in tax savings.

Banks gave richest clients ‘concierge treatment’ for pandemic aid Emily Flitter and Stacy Cowley New York Times April 22, 2020
Some businesses seeking coronavirus loans got to avoid flaky online portals or backed-up queues. Many other small businesses couldn’t get their loan requests submitted before the money dried up.

Struggle for control – staying in power 2020

Health department official says doubts on hydroxychloroquine led to his ouster Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman New York Times April 22, 2020 Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.”