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99,746. All businessmen are completely full of shit. Just the worst kind of lowlife criminal cocksuckers you can expect to meet … (Business & Comedy) George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty
78,616. They [corporations] cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicate, for they have no souls. (Law & Business & Corporation & Company) Edward Coke, The Reports of Sir Edward Coke 1658
95,158. That’s just the point: an honest and sensitive man opens his heart, and the man of business goes on eating – and then he eats you up. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
5,076. The idea that businesses will be driven to bankruptcy if strict environmental standards are adopted is the same tired line that has been brought up again and again since workers first organized to improve working conditions. It was brought up when child labour was eliminated, when the minimum wage was introduced, when Social Security and Unemployment Insurance were developed. (Trade Unions & Business & Working Class) Leonard Woodcock
6,591. I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life. (Think & Read & Business) Warren Buffet
7,469. Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other. (Information & Computer & Business) Bill Gates
9,530. Christmas is over and Business is Business. (Christmas & Business) Franklin Pierce Adams
11,280. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. (Artists: Warhol & Business) Andy Warhol
17,007. When someone comes to write a history of the Great Thatcher Decade (the 1980s), one of their basic texts should be a little book by a former City Editor of the Times, William Kay. Mr Kay called his book Tycoons, and based it on thirteen interviews with men who made millions in the early 1980s.
One of the self-made men was Gerald Ronson, whose Heron Corporation was unheard of when he launched his first ‘brilliant, daring’ take-over bid in 1981. Ronson told Kay that Heron was a ‘very conservative business’. He said he didn’t take risks, he just bet on certainties. What’s more, he kept strictly within the law. ‘There are plenty of crooks in the petrol business,’ he told Kay, ‘but they don’t come to work for us.’
This was surprising because perhaps the biggest crook of them all was Gerald Ronson. He made his fortune not so much by ‘daring’ bids but by gambling on the stock exchange. His greatest gamble was in 1986 when his friend, the super-swindler Sir Jack Lyons, asked him to buy some shares in Guinness to boost the share price in the firm’s takeover of Distillers. Ronson obliged with a cool £25 million. He lost not a penny on this investment of course, but as a reward for stumping up so much at an awkward time Guinness slipped him a personal donation of £7 million.
Ronson and Lyons were only caught when the biggest swindler of them all, the American stock exchange gangster Boesky, grassed on them to save his skin. The crooked transactions by which Ronson and Lyons rigged the institutions they loved could not possibly have been exposed by ordinary journalists since there was no public record of them whatsoever.
Ronson and Lyons were not ‘rotten apples’ in the capitalist barrel, as has been pretended. On the contrary they were both very close to the grandest apple of them all, the prime minister. Lyons was a personal friend, and Thatcher’s two closest advisers, Tim Bell and Gordon Reece, both in their own right entrepeneurs of the kind she admires, were paid advisers to Guinness at the time.
The ruthlessness with which Thatcher and her cronies pursued the values of free enterprise did not extend to obeying the rules laid down by that free enterprise. Indeed, in a way, one of the central tenets of that free enterprise was that its devotees should feel free to make up their own rules. (Gangs: UK & Business & Corporation & Stocks & Capitalism & Scandal) Paul Foot, article November 1990, ‘All Fall Down’
42,158. The stories of Ronson, Gunn and Ashcroft have been repeated over and over again in the last twelve months. Celebrated Thatcherite entrepreneurs like Sophie Mirman of Sock Shop, George Davies of Next, Azil Nadir of Polly Peck, have all come crashing down. Harris Queensway, the brainchild of another Thatcher knight, the carpet king Sir Phil Harris, is now bust (though Harris himself sold out well before the disaster, for a little matter of £60 million).
Even the two top spokesmen for the Thatcher miracle – Murdoch and Maxwell – are in desperate trouble. Scandal after scandal has rocked the City: Barlow Clowes, Dunsdale, Ferranti. What does it all mean? (Gangs: UK & Business & Corporation & Stocks & Capitalism & Scandal) ibid.
17,009. These obituaries were written in the sort of reverential tone which might have been reserved, say, for the prodigal son. The general theme was that here was a man who had strayed and should be pitied by all decent upper class people.
The real reason for the sympathy was, however, not that Poulson was a crook but that he was caught. Tories are always singing the praises of self-made men and John Poulson was certainly that. His background was the very essence of stout-hearted English self-help.
... He was a Tory, but he noticed that Tories often charged more (and expected higher bribes) than Labour politicians, so he built his practice on the bribery of Labour councils in the north of England and Scotland.
Of course if a greedy Tory came his way Poulson snapped him up. He welcomed with open wallet a Tory cabinet minister, Reginald Maudling, and a prominent Tory backbencher, John Cordle, whose membership of the Synod of the Church of England in no way precluded him from accepting generous bribes from John Poulson.
Poulson built one of the biggest architectural practices in Europe by the simple device of bribing politicians, council officials, sheikhs and sultans.
No Labour chairman of committees was too lowly for Poulson. Vast inedible dinners in hotels were his speciality for Labour councillors.
There was no reason at all why John Poulson should ever have been knocked off his pedestal. The business world then (and now) was full of gangsters and charlatans who lived out their life in the full glow of their contemporaries’ high regard.
Poulson was done down by his own greed. Like Robert Maxwell in a later period, he became obsessed with obtaining riches which were beyond his grasp. He borrowed too much and spent too much.
When he finally went bankrupt, journalists who had honoured him and fed at his table turned on him to gloat at the ‘greatest corruption story of the decade’.
Poulson went to prison for seven years. Yet he did nothing more than what other more skilful ‘entrepreneurs’ have done.
In many ways he was a model for the ‘enlightened self-interest capitalism’ which became known as Thatcherism. He helped himself at others’ expense, grabbed what he could from his workers, sold his customers short with shoddy goods, built himself a palatial house and promised to do his duty to God and the Queen. (Gangs: UK & Business & Corruption & Bribery & Capitalism & Architecture) Paul Foot, article 13th February 1993, ‘Bribery & Corruption’
17,010. Since he was elected Tory MP for Tatton in 1983, he [Neil Hamilton] has rested the extreme Thatcherite right, constantly baiting true unionists, the unemployed and the dispossessed. He flaunts the sterile wit and pervasive arrogance of all the Thatcherite Young Turks who grew rich and famous at the expense of others in the Golden Years of Private Enterprise. Hamilton denies being paid £2,000 a time to ask questions, but he does not deny a sumptuous weekend in Paris at the expense of the ghastly old liar and cheat Fayed, the chairman of Harrods. Dinner each night for the MP and his wife cost the Harrods boss £232. How that figure must have delighted ‘scroungers’ in bed: breakfast accommodation so often mocked by Hamilton and his ilk.
The media have discovered something they call ‘parliamentary sleaze’. Yet this is one the most time honoured institutions of our mother of parliaments. Many and varied are the ways in which corporate power in capitalist society cuts down all semblance of representative democracy in parliaments and local councils, but the most obvious of them all is buying the representatives. If MPs are paid more by an ‘outside interest’ than by their constituents, then it follows that they will consider the interests of the corporation before those of their constituents. The MP for Loamshire (£31,000 a year) prefers to be the MP for Blue Blooded Merchant Bank plc (£50,000 a year and rising). Representation plays second fiddle to corporate public relations.
Before 1975 MPs didn’t even have to declare which firms paid them. The Poulson scandal of the late 1960s and 1970s revealed a clutch of MPs using questions, motions, dining rooms and debates to promote the interests of the corrupt architect. One MP had to resign, and the Register of Interests was set up. No one took much notice of it, even during the 1980s as the number of consultancies, directorships and perks showered on MPs, almost all of them Tory, rose to obscene levels. One Tory MP was so bemused by the way in which his colleagues were growing rich that he actually advertised for a company to take him on as a consultant. The private dining rooms of the House of Commons – why are there private dining rooms there anyway? – became a huge commercial undertaking whereby corporations offered their customers the best food and drink, all consumed in an intoxicating atmosphere of democracy. How wonderful to drink a toast to the hierarchies of the Hanson Trust after a glamorous dinner in the ancient seat of parliament!
By the mid-1980s the buying of MPs had become a public and obvious scandal. No one noticed. On and on it went, with the blessing of both prime ministers. Thatcher and Major both used 10 Downing Street as another watering hole to pour booze down the gullets of generous donors to the Tory Party:
If parliament was indeed composed of representatives there should be no ‘outside interests’ whatsoever, MPs should, get their salary and not a penny more. Their perks and trips abroad should be ruthlessly wiped out, and their activities subjected to the most rigorous public scrutiny and disclosure. That is what the new House of Commons Privileges Committee should recommend. But since the committee consists of seven Tory MPs, all with business interests, sitting in secret, the chances of even the mildest restrictions on rampant sleaze are spectacularly low. (Gangs: UK & Parliament & Bribery & Corruption & Capitalism & Business & House of Commons) Paul Foot, article November 1994, ‘Parliamentary Privilege’