Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I have had conversations with many people about whether companies are inherently evil or not. I have heard both sides of the argument, done my own research, continue to hear about company’s lack of social responsibility, and have come to a conclusion.

Gary Southern and Freedom Industries
Freedom Industries President enjoying bottled water
There is no accountability for social irresponsibility within a company. Freedom Industries for example, recently poisoned the water in West Virginia. No one in the company was tried for the kind of act that would be considered a terrorist act if it were not performed by a company. On top of that, the company filed for bankruptcy making them immune to any civil complaints or judgments leaving the 300,000+ people affected by this helpless. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed by the company does not mean that it no longer exists.  On the contrary, the company continues to operate while being allowed to reorganize free from financial prosecution for its previous acts.

To better understand what makes a company evil though, we really need to understand the purpose of a company. Legally (and I do mean legally) a company exists only to make money for shareholders. Many companies exhibit some modicum of social responsibility by contributing tax deductible money to non-profits or allowing employees to volunteer on company time - again, tax deductible. When it comes to changing the way the company operates however, most will perform a cost-benefit analysis. If it is cheaper to deal with the consequences of inaction than it is to change, do nothing. One of the biggest examples of this happened with the Ford Motor Company and their Ford Pinto.

Ford Pinto
Ford had 3 solutions for fixing the issue. The first, a metal plate that protected the fuel tank, would cost around $11 per car. The second, a rubber bladder/liner produced by Goodyear Tire, would cost around $5 per car. The final solution, a simple plastic insulator fitted on the differential that would keep bolts from ever making contact with the fuel tank, would cost under $1 per car. During the trial, evidence of these conversations were presented in front of the judge along with the company’s cost-benefit analysis.  Ford estimated that it would cost around $200,000 per fatality and around $67,000 per incident where victims were seriously burned. Someone had estimated (and put on paper) that it would cost 137 million dollars to fix the cars but only around 49 million dollars to pay off law suits from victims that either perish in a crash or are burned. The end result? Ford did nothing.

This type of corporate corruption has continued for many years. Think back to ads in which cigarette smoking was considered healthy; claims of "4 out of 5 doctors prefer" whichever cigarette brand.  Companies also lie in advertisements in order to increase sales under false pretenses. Dannon Activia Yogurt, branded as a probiotic that helps relieve bowel irregularity was found to have the exact same ingredients as all other Dannon branded yogurts, but were sold at a 30% premium. Frosted Mini-Wheats at one time claimed that its cereal improved kid’s attentiveness by 20%. A year after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stopped them from making those false claims, Rice Krispies, also owned by Kellogg, began claiming that it contained "25% Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients," another claim the FTC eventually shut down. Kashi Company's "All Natural" products were found to be full of prescription drugs and federally-classified hazardous substances... all natural indeed.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The issue at hand is that no one is held accountable for all of this deception and misdirection. In fact, there are instances where our government sides with the money rather than with the people. Monsanto won a court case allowing them to sue farmers whose fields were inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto materials. On Monsanto's own website you can find a FAQ with the question, "Are foods and ingredients developed through biotechnology (or GMOs) safe to eat?" Their answer?  "Yes."  Of course, it doesn't take long to find a multitude of reasons not to consume GMO products. Now, it is true that the GMO field is still relatively new and much research must still be done but we should learn our lessons and not allow companies to fund the research for the products they want to continue selling (cigarette anyone?).

But this isn't a stab at Monsanto; it is talking about the bigger picture. As long as profits, and therefore, money for stockholders, are all that matter to corporations and as long as social irresponsibility remains a criminal free crime nothing will change. Just some non-GMO food for thought.

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