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Corporate Cuckhold: A Needed Evil?

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posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 12:41 PM
Hi All.

In my part of the country, there is a large company known as JD Irving, Inc (JDI in local shorthand). At first glance, they are simply a classic large resource venture, processing oil and lumber brought in from out-of-province at a refinery near my house and a pulp mill on the other side of town.

However, for those who look deeper, they also own:
-Both main local newspapers (The Telegraph Journal and the General Mail)
-Fully half the land in the local suburbs
-A substantial share of the provincial energy works
-5% of Aliant, the largest local phone/interenet provider
-The cities main construction company, Ocean Steel Corporation
-All parks in the city
-Three large call centres (which seem to be the primary mode of work in this city)
and even the ground on which City Hall now sits (gifted in the 20's by the original Irving, but the deed is still in his hands.)

Irving employs close to, if not somewhat over, 50% of the local population, either directly or through the above subsidiaries. Despite this, they are largely despised within the community as in-efficient at best and downright greedy at worst. The current mayor was even elected on a platform of reducing Irving control of the city, which of course he has no legal channel to do, except to raise property taxes on certain areas of town where JDI operates, which hurts the rest of us just as badly, if not worse. They have the oil/gas market cornered, which makes just about every local homeowner and businessman dependent on them for these resources (heating oil for the oldest homes here, natural gas for restaurants such as my own, etc.).

The largest factor in worsening public opinion of JDI is that six months ago, before the last batch of municipal elections, they passed a very large "donation" to the city in exchange for rights to construct a LNG pipeline and second refinery in town. Both constructions products have increased job availability, but cheaper labour from, get this, Maine and Quebec, meant that very few locals actually got a boost from these products. For those curious, both refineries sell their product to the USA; the gas we use locally comes from another refinery owned by JDI in Quebec. Everyone pretty much wants Irving out of the picture.

Now, I've seen this before. In my childhood, in the old town I used to live in, one large company owned everything in town, with the exception of a few amenities and government services. When the US government imposed a Softwood Lumber Tariff, the primary market for their product (it was a logging town, to say the least) collapsed, and the company quickly went belly up. That city now has a shadow of it's old economy, held aloft by the retail industry, of all things. Essentially, everyone in that city is now chained to retail and service industries; nothing is produced. This seems stable at first blow, but every now and then minimum wage changes and smaller companies have to bow out. My grandmother lives there, and says that the unemployment rate is something on the order of two-thirds.

My question then is: Do we actually need these large resource companies in order to sustain the economy by controlling the majority of it, or should they be forced to stay in their own industries?

The other question would be if this is a phenomenon local to the more back-woods areas of Canada, and whether or not it's experienced at all in the USA.

[edit on 16-7-2008 by Ephiram-Lo]

posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 12:56 PM
Hey, great starting thread here at ATS.
Unless of course there was another after the introduction.

I have never really thought about what you've noticed in your town. It's been said that only a few major people own ALL of the mainstream media in the US.

It has to be a control thing. I mean, being the one who produces the "news", you can sway the public opinion in any way you want to. Owning ALL of the public media outlets, and you've got a great influence over their opinions.

Greed is another issue. In your town, it sounds like this company controls much of the money-flow. I bet they have a lot of influence in your politics too?

posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 01:28 PM
Naturally, and it's because they have most of the funding, most of the resources, and most of the information. It's the saving grace of the city that half of us seem to be aware that the newspapers are under their control, because for every person like me that questions this, there's at least one person who thinks that JDI has no political power at all.

posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 02:19 PM
Well, I think it's been said that those in power control the products we buy, the things we see, the news we read about.

I am glad it sounds like Canadians in your town see what is going on. I have completely lost hope for Americans... Too many are dumbed down, and don't bother to research the person they vote into power. Or what is REALLY going on around them.

posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 10:35 PM
Good thread. I have definitely noticed the same thing in the USA (I'm from there). I think it's more of a small town thing than a Canadian or American thing. The same thing probably happens in Europe and Asia as well.

I remember watching a program on CNN about how some copper mine in Texas is basically holding the town hostage because it was the only source of jobs and then went out of business but is now opening the mine again, if the town plays ball.

Also, I remember seeing a similar story about Walmart getting all these tax breaks from some town and being able to skirt all the rules regarding waste disposal and sewage, etc. just for deigning to build a store there.

Even though these companies didn't own the town like JDI, the effect is the same when they basically are the job market. In desperate times people will do desperate things for employment, like allowing some company to control their lives.

posted on Jul, 17 2008 @ 10:13 AM
It's really a catch-22, as you said. We can either do exactly what JDI or these other companies want, or they can pull the local economy right out from under us.
They're relatively benign at the moment, but I have an interesting story to share.

On the 27th of June there was a large leak of Hydrogen Gas (which I am to understand is a catalyst for one or more reactions) at the refinery. The incident was never reported to television media and the newspapers (which are controlled by Irving) didn't run a story, despite the fact that such an accident had the potential to cause grave damage to, at a minimum, the entire refinery complex.

If it wasn't reported, how did I learn about it, you ask? My father is a shift supervisor in the area where the leak occurred. Lucky for him (and us) that one of his techs noticed the pressure difference and shut down the line before it found a spark...

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