[governance] Now business wants to lead policy making

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Fri May 13 22:59:10 EDT 2016

On Friday 13 May 2016 09:30 PM, Mueller, Milton L wrote:
> Parminder:
> I am curious about your response to this initiative. I know that in your world, anything that a business does is bad, 

This is not a fact, and unlike many others  (and as I'd show later in
this email, also you Milton :) ) I let my views be clearly known on any
subject that I am queried about - I consider that as my duty as a public
interest actor in a public space. So about business, my view is that
economic enterprise is to be largely a private (sector) affair. Not only
that, I believe that such is the current complexity of our societies, a
very good part of such private enterprise would need to be organised in
and as large corporates. But like even the father of free market
ideology Adam Smith called them the 'masters of the earth', business
needs to be kept under careful regulatory watch, bigger a business is,
more watch is needed. That is an important political function.

> but please tell me this: 
> Many people have complained about the WTO and other government-government trade negotiations because they are closed to other stakeholders and not transparent. 

Now, let me also tell my views on transparency and public engagement
with regard to policy making... During the period of last government in
India, I/ IT for Change was actively involved in pushing a legislation
for compulsory and structured pre-legislative consultations before any
law is made in India... The proposal was that before any law is passed,
drafts had to be made public, public inputs taken, responses made to key
inputs, second draft published and so on. And it had to be a legal
requirement..... In fact, this advocacy had reached an advanced stage,
and a law looked possible at that stage... In any case, this should be
enough to make clear what I/ my organisation thinks about transparency
and stakeholder in law making... We have a similar stance for global law

Meanwhile, your representation of what is seen as problematic with WTO,
and if I may add, other global treaties, is partial.... Most civil
society is not just concerned that these are closed to other
'stakeholders' - it is specifically concerned that it is heavily
influenced by big business which seems to have special access to key
negotiators pushing 'certain agendas' while civil society is kept out...
This key distinction - which you merrily ignore - becomes especially
important when the issue under discussion is about a new proposed
'business led policy process'.

> It appears that Ma is proposing a departure from that. The WeTP would have business, "governments and NGOs and other organisations participating.”

Since you are following up on my article and references, I must take it
to be deliberate that you excluded from above description of eWTP the
clear call by Jack Ma for *business leading the process*, and all others
participating.. I dont agree with business 'leading' public policy
processes, and all the democracy groups and movements that I know,
including in your country, the US, would instinctively pull away from
and thoroughly oppose any such suggestion.

But since Jack Ma clearly asked for a business led public policy making
process, here is your opportunity to tell us, what do you think of a
'business led public policy process' . I am sure the language here is
clear to you. And, what specifically do you see as the role of business
in "public policy" "decision making" . (I suspect that you wont answer
this bec we have been here many times before, and say things like, it is
never clear what is technical and what policy, or what is decision
making and what is contributing to decisions, and so on, but not answer
clearly, but I'd let you surprise me, Milton :))

> Of course, one would have to know more about the terms and conditions of "participation" but I see a potential for movement forward rather than backwards.  Please tell us why this is worse than the status quo? 

Status quo needs improvement in the form of more public participation.
As shown above, I am very keen to ensure that, and am part of advocacies
to than end... However we do not need greater business influence on
public policy processes *than there already is* - much less for business
to lead the process as expressly proposed by Jack MA.... If he just
wanted to make global policy processes more open and transparent, he
could well have said just that .

BTW, Milton, I am sure you must have been paying attention to your own
country's presidential election campaign - you can clearly see what is
the overwhelming public sentiment in the regard of big business
influence on your country's politics - that is if the dominant public
sentiment matters to you in making up your view about what kind of
public policy processes are appropriate.

If you and others hear 'more transparency and participation'  when
someone calls for 'business led policy making', Milton, I must tell you
that there is a serious ideological issue here - and you are certainly
quite off from the stance of overwhelming global civil society
opinion.... It is only in the IG space that some of you have been able
to create this pro-business neoliberal thinking environment, which is
what, as you have seen, people like me keep resisting...

*Meanwhile, pl do not forget to tell me clearly what you think is the
role of different social actors, especially business, in public policy
making...* And please try to be as clear as possible (though I can bet
money that you are unlikely to do any such thing :) ).


PS: Let me quote what was supposed to be the second para in the article
on Jack Ma's announcement that I wrote, but I removed in the last edit
to shorten the piece...

"Social roles have historically been divided between public and private
sectors, with some in-between zones that have been the subject of much
political contest. But at the two ends, it has for some time been
generally accepted that the policies, laws and rules of society's
working are public functions whereas economic enterprise should largely
be private. Neoliberalism is defined as bringing market paradigms to
bear on areas that are traditionally in the realm of the social/public
sector – from dismantling or weakening industry regulation (in favour of
'self-regulation') to privatising public services like education,
health, and livelihood support. In the new era of digital corporations
taking over complete social and business sectors ranging from organsing
society's knowledge, social networking, and instant media, to travel,
hotels, transportation, health, education and agriculture, we are
witness to an entirely new levels of neoliberal onslaught as these
corporations now begin to write the very rules that govern each of these
sectors. "

> Dr. Milton L. Mueller
> Professor, School of Public Policy
> Georgia Institute of Technology
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: governance-request at lists.igcaucus.org [mailto:governance-
>> request at lists.igcaucus.org] On Behalf Of parminder
>> Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 3:35 AM
>> To: governance at lists.igcaucus.org; BestBitsList <bestbits at lists.bestbits.net>
>> Subject: [governance] Now business wants to lead policy making
>> A recent announcement by Alibaba's founder Jack Ma exposes what the real
>> intent, and the problem, with business led multistakeholderism is, something
>> a lot of people/ groups have perhaps innocently got into supporting.... He
>> proposes a new business led initiative to frame global e-commerce rules,
>> which would rival the WTO, which can keep making them for offline trade.
>> And he is entirely serious, with Alibaba already working with a number of
>> groups and intending to present the proposal to G 20 later this year.. To me it
>> is a political shocker, but that is where much of multistakholderism ideology
>> is headed.
>> I wrote an op-ed on this issue in yesterday's The Hindu, which is at
>> http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/a-borderless-economy-that-will-
>> be-controlled/article8581476.ece
>> We must re-assess what does unhinging of the role of legitimate political
>> actors in key public policy areas means. It just transfers power to a few global
>> corporates to runs our societies as a corporatocracy. Many of our discussions
>> here on mulitistakeholderism as a sovereign political form need to be seen in
>> this context.
>> parminder
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