In the weekend that saw one of the most beautiful cities in the world and nearly a thousand years of history and culture under 5 ft of water, Starbucks and Amazon executives face accusations of tax evasion. The coffee giants apparently run their UK branches by buying their coffee from Switzerland, and selling it to British people, on British high streets, in Holland. Amazon.co.uk sell their books in pounds from a British warehouse by Royal Mail, yet their tax is registered in Luxembourg. Do you think this is how small independent shops like Bold Street Coffee or News From Nowhere operate? What’s more likely is they buy their stock from the UK and pay their taxes in the UK, actually helping the UK economy rather than just profiting from it.
This got me thinking about how these large multinational companies operate in comparison to small independent companies. When you apply for a job with a large multinational company, you have to create an account with their website, upload your CV, then repeat everything on your CV in an internet form, then answer around one-thousand-six-hundred-and-twenty-fucking-four questions to gauge your suitability for the position, then wait for an email to find out if you got the job cleaning urinals at Burger King. When you apply for a job with a small business, you see a Help Wanted sign, go in, have a chat, give them your CV and they’ll let you know in the next couple of days.
When you work for a big company they pass down regional targets and then divide these regional targets between different branches, if you don’t reach these targets then your regional manager will chop off one of your fingers until you reach your targets or you have no fingers left. If you work for a small business your boss will thank you for all your hard work, and trust that you’re doing your best.
The cases with Starbucks and Amazon have given the multinational corporations big ugly faces, and here are some of them:
It should remind us of the importance of supporting local, independent businesses, not just because they pay their taxes, but because the purchase makes a real difference to the owners of that business, and doesn’t get lost somewhere in that .1bn that follows these big multinational’s annual turnover figures. If the government wants to save the economy, they should invest more money in helping people start small businesses rather than selling off all the UK industry to large multinationals that will do whatever they can to pay the smallest amount of tax possible.
Compost on his Soapbox