Multinational corporations have more power than we can imagine due to their huge assets, global reach, and ability to bribe politicians and government officials to get what they want. Where does corporate power come from?
The first element is their revenues. The world’s top five multinationals (Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, China National Petroleum, and Sinopec have revenues each exceeding an unbelievable $400 billion (2012). These values are significantly higher than the government revenues of many populous countries including Russia ($380 billion), Mexico ($260 billion), India ($210 billion), and Indonesia ($130 billion).
The second element is the narrow selfish objective of corporations. Their executives are proud to proclaim their goal to deliver maximum profits to the owners and shareholders. Although the shareholders of a company may number in the millions, only a dozen or so major shareholders count. They all have a seat on the board of directors who make all the major decisions. The Chairman of the board or Chief Executive may run the corporation like a dictator, and many have chosen to do so.
Unlike a democratic organization, corporations seldom face internal opposition from its employees. How can you oppose if your paycheck depends on the company? Those who oppose are free to leave or be fired. An unhappy employee who leaves a company will join another one or do something else. There is no point to fight the company to the bitter end. On the other hand, the unhappy citizens of a dictatorial government will fight to the bitter end. A dictator has to crush the opposition (not firing them), and worry about its resurgence. No wonder a corporation can easily outlast a dictatorial government even though the Chief Executive is running it in a dictatorial manner.
When big corporations bribe the politicians, government officials, and the press, they form a very powerful collusion that will do great harm to the public and the environment. Without the government and the press watching out for their bad behaviors, corporations will have no restraints. They will exploit labor and the land to the utmost to maximize their profits.
If they care about their interests, the public should remain vigilant all the time. They should continue to educate themselves. Refuse to be misled by false advertising and misleading news. Shine a spotlight on corruption and bad corporate behavior. Last but not least, use the powerful weapon to boycott the products of those companies doing public harm.