Bono hits out at big oil for concealing payments to African governments
Consumers can change behaviour of corporations, U2 singer believes
Watering down regulations
The dismantling of the Cardin-Lugar rule by big business is part of a wider pushback by big corporations as they spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying to water down the Dodd-Frank regulations, only a third of which have been implemented as rules to be enforced by regulators.
Acknowledging the pain people have suffered as a result of the financial crisis, Bono said that the instincts of Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank, the two US lawmakers behind the raft of regulations, were “surely correct,” particularly in their efforts to curb the excesses of too-big-to-fail companies.
“We must not forget that in Ireland the public paid an inordinate price for the private sector, a human cost that I can have no real understanding of, and that same architecture to be reformed by Dodd-Frank is still standing,” he said.
Bono says he is anti-corruption, not anti-corporate, noting that “corporations are what keep people employed in our country.” Capitalism can “do some heavy lifting and create jobs,” he says, but equally it must be watched because “profit is an amoral motivation.”
Even though One is battling big oil companies over regulations, the U2 singer believes that the behaviour of companies can be changed by consumers as much as by regulators.
“Conscious consumerism is transforming the globe. People are very aware of the power they have in their pocket in a way that they never have before,” he said.
“Families are in supermarkets picking up tins and looking at the content of additives. People are asking questions about where their clothes are made. Twenty years ago it just wasn’t like that.”
The extractive industry transparency rule is back with the SEC for rewriting, and One is lobbying hard for a new, equally tough measure to force big mining companies to reveal details of their deals.
While praising the efforts of some big oil companies to fight malaria and Aids, Bono admonished them for blocking the transparency legislation, telling the Clinton convention: “You can’t give alms to the poor on one level and have your hands on their throat on the other.” He pleaded with Exxon, one of the companies sponsoring the Clinton event, to influence the API to end its opposition to the law.
“The way we should look at capitalism reminds me of Reagan’s famous quote in the 1980s about the way the US should look at the Soviet Union: ‘Trust but verify,’” he told this newspaper. “I think ‘Don’t trust, verify’ might be better with capitalism. You can’t trust capitalism to do the right thing.”