Inside the system

Corporations the real winners at the World Cup

Sportswear giant Adidas has been revealed as the real winner of the World Cup. It declared victory over rival Nike, its chief executive boasting “Adidas will be the most visible brand by far in the World Cup final”.

Its logo adorned balls used in the games, sideboards at the stadiums, as well as the jerseys of all the players in the final. Both teams, Germany and Argentina, have Adidas as their official sponsor, and Adidas was also an official sponsor of the event as a whole.

The company says it expects to generate $2.7 billion revenue from its soccer operations this year. This could see it edge out Nike, which made $2.3 billion from its “global football division” last year.

FIFA, the organisation behind the World Cup, also profited handsomely with $1.6 billion in sponsorship fees for the event. It took money from an enormous list of corporations, including six “partners” who paid between $22 and $44 million each for the privilege: Adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates Airlines, Hyundai/Kia, Sony and Visa.

These huge sums of money have led to corruption in FIFA over the decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The International Trade Union Confederation estimates 4000 workers will be killed in construction and other industries as the country prepares.

Coal company pockets billions but pays no tax

Glencore Coal has been exposed for paying almost no tax in the past three years, despite income of $15 billion in Australia.

The company devised a tax avoidance scheme where it paid itself “loans” to its Australia operations from its overseas arms. Then it charged itself an inflated interest bill of 9 per cent. This was then claimed as a cost in order to reduce its tax bill.

The company, formerly known as Xstrata coal, is the third largest resources company in Australia after BHP and Rio Tinto. It has its registered office in Jersey, an island tax haven in the English channel, and its head office in Switzerland.

The news comes just as Tony Abbott is preparing to slash corporate tax further by scrapping the mining tax and reducing the corporate tax rate. Because clearly big business is overtaxed.

Report shows inequality soaring

Australia’s seven richest people hold more wealth than the poorest 1.73 million households, a new report by the Australia Institute has found. Those seven people held $56 billion between them. The top 20 per cent of the population have 71 times the wealth of the lowest 20 per cent.

In recent years government inequality has increased significantly due to changes reducing the redistribution through the tax system, for instance by reducing the highest income tax rate.

In the past eight years $170 billion was handed back in tax cuts, with 42 per cent of the benefits going to just the top 10 per cent of earners, a greater share than the bottom 80 per cent of income earners.

The authors write that, “the top marginal personal income tax rate in the Menzies years was never below 67 per cent”, whereas today it sits at 47 per cent, or temporarily 49 per cent after Abbott’s recent budget. The rich are getting away with murder.

Australia on global arms spending spree

AUSTRALIA HAS always been a nasty militarist bully. And the government is shelling out the cash to pay for it, with Australia now the biggest single customer of US arms manufacturers and the seventh-largest importer of military equipment in the world.

Australia buys 10 per cent of all US weapons exports. The figures come from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which measures the arms trade averaged over five years to exclude the impact of large purchases in any single year.

Aside from major US purchases like the multi-billion dollar Joint Strike Fighter, Australia has also purchased combat helicopters from France, armoured personnel carriers from Germany, radar systems from Sweden, Howitzer artillery from Britain, and air-refuelling tanker aircraft from Spain.

Some of this is simply “modernising” and updating existing equipment. But Australia’s military budget has also been expanding, even as Abbott puts an axe through services and welfare spending.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop couldn’t have made it much clearer why. As she told us recently, “China does not respect weakness”.

Kiribati looking for land as islands disappear

THE ISLAND nation of Kiribati has bought a forest plantation in Fiji for $8.8 million, as a place to move its population as its islands disappear underwater. The 20-square-kilometre patch of forest is located on the Fijian island of Vanau Levu.

The seas around Kiribati’s 32 atolls are rising by 1.2 centimetres a year due to climate change. The rate is higher than on other areas of the globe thanks to ocean currents.

Experts say that by the end of the century Kiribati will be completely submerged—forcing its 100,000 inhabitants to move.


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