Since there are over 14,000 McDonald's world-wide, we figure there will be at least one thing in the US to make the rest of the world feel at home. -- McDonald's, 1993
One world of homogeneous consumption ... [I am] looking forward to the day when Arabs and Americans, Latins and Scandinavians will be munching Ritz crackers as enthusiastically as they already drink Coke or brush their teeth with Colgate. -- President of Nabisco Corporation
Our priorities are that we want to dominate North America first, then South America, and then Asia and then Europe. -- David Glass, Wal-Mart CEO and President
Yet on any one day, McDonald's serves less than one half percent of the world's population. No matter how you calculate it, our global market share - which continues to increase - is not large enough, and we won't leave opportunity on the front counter for the opposition. -- McDonald's Annual Report
The solution is to make sure people stay hungry, the killer instinct always prevails and you're after market share. If you're going to be successful, you've got to have that attitude. -- Dennis Malamatinas, CEO Burger King
McDonald's should attempt to deflect the basic negative thrust of our critics ...How do we do this? By talking 'moderation and balance'. We can't really address or defend nutrition. We don't sell nutrition and people don't come to McDonald's for nutrition. -- McDonald's company memo
As I look to the future, I shiver with business excitement. That's because Campbells Soup Company is engaged in a global consumer crusade. -- Campbells Soup Company, Annual Report, 1994
Right now you can buy our drinks in 166 countries. But from our perspective nearly all those markets are vastly under-developed. -- Pepsico Annual Report
The aim is to convert millions of new customers to Campbells brands every year ... The potential rewards of this global consumer crusade are virtually limitless. -- Campbells Soup Company, Annual Report, 1994
... we'll some day sell a variety of products on a daily basis to every living person on Earth - all five billion of them! -- Pepsico Annual Report
If we do this ... if we make it impossible for these 5.6 billion people to escape Coca-Cola ... then we are sure of our future success for many years to come. Doing anything else is not an option. -- Coca-Cola Annual Report
Our historical ability to out-perform local economies over the long term in virtually every market worldwide has helped us grow rapidly during the economic boom ... -- Coca-Cola Annual Report
DuPont "has shown a lack of respect for the civil justice system in general, which disrespect was evidenced by the attitude of DuPont's CEO, Mr Edward Woolard, that, and the Court paraphrases, 'When DuPont says what the science means, that is what the science is'". -- Judge J Robert Elliot, State of Georgia District Court
This is government of the people, by the people and for the people, no longer. It is government of corporations, by corporations and for corporations. -- US President Rutherford B Hayes, 1876
The Earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses. -- Utah Philips
Of the world's 100 largest economies, 52 are corporations. Mitsubishi is larger than Indonesia, General Motors larger than either Denmark or Norway, Siemens annual income is greater than that of either Ireland or Chile. The combined income of the largest 200 corporations is larger than that of 182 nation states. The world's top ten seed companies control 32% of a worldwide $32 billion seed trade. Corporations control more than a third of the world's productive assets. The 225 richest individuals, mainly corporate directors or owners, have a combined wealth equal to that of half of humanity. Income distribution between the top 20% and the bottom 20% is 150:1, double what it was 30 years ago. The wealth of Bill Gates exceeds that of the combined wealth of the poorest 100 million Americans. At a time when ordinary workers are seeing their real wages cut for longer, more onerous hours, the salary and other emoluments of executives is soaring.
In the UK, senior corporate executives have awarded themselves pay increases in excess of 26%, average boardroom rises are running at 22% per annum (these figures exclude share options and other perks). Average wage increases are running at 5% per annum, inflation 2.5%. Over the same period company profitability rose by 7%. More than 30 executives receive more than £1 million per annum, with the average running at £960,000. An average employee working in the same companies would have to have worked 50 years to earn the same money. Arrogant boss of Royal Sun Alliance, Robert Mendelsohn, sent his employees an e-mail justifying his own obscene salary, £2.4 million, 67% increase, whilst at the same time telling them that for the thousands that were facing redundancy it was a fact of life.
Corporations were originally created to handle projects that were too big for Capitalists to handle. To build railways for example. Corporations were created by a process of incorporation, the state issued a Charter - the Certificate of Incorporation. The Charter would be quite specific, it would specify the lifetime of the corporation, the specific aims, often it would even set limits on the fees that could be charged, the tolls on a road for example. The corporations were often in public ownership. In England, corporations were established to supply safe drinking water, to build sewage and drainage systems. Above all corporations were established for the common good.
In the early days of corporations, legislatures and courts lacked no compulsion to revoke or not grant a charter if they thought the circumstances dictated. If a corporation failed to meet the aims defined in its charter or in some way transgressed, it was dissolved. If it had no valid reason to exist it failed to get a charter.
Supreme Court of Virginia (1809):
... object is merely private or selfish, if it is detrimental to, or not promotive of, the public good, they have no adequate claim upon the legislature for the privileges.
Justice Joseph Story, Massachusetts, Terrett v Taylor (1815):
A private corporation created by the legislature may lose its franchise by a misuser or nonuser of them ... This is the common law of the land, and is a tacit condition annexed to the creation of every such corporation.
Pennsylvania legislature (1834):
A corporation in law is just what the incorporating act makes it. It is the creature of the law and may be molded to any shape or for any purpose that the Legislature may deem most conducive for the general good.
Supreme Court of New York State, petitioned to revoke the charter of North River Sugar Refining Corporation (1890):
The judgement sought against the defendant is one of corporate death. The state, which created, asks us to destroy, and the penalty invoked represents the extreme rigor of the law. The life of a corporation is, indeed, less than that of the humblest citizen.
As corporations became ever more powerful they were able to exert undue influence over the legislature and judiciary. By the 1830s a New Jersey newspaper was to write, in what proved to be a highly prophetic editorial:
The legislature ought cautiously to refrain from increasing the irresponsible power of any existing corporations, or from chartering new ones, [else the people will become] mere hewers of wood and drawers of water to jobbers, banks and stockbrokers.
Today, a corporation, thanks to legal jiggery-pokery, is a pseudo-person, having the same rights, often more rights, than a person. Corporations, for example, claim the right of free speech. The common good has become synonymous with profit and growth.
Corporations are able to claim all the rights of sentient beings but accept none of the responsibilities.
Great Western Trains, a private train company in the South-West of England, was charged with corporate manslaughter following the deaths of several people during a train crash at Southall (West London). Justice Scott Baker threw out the case for manslaughter (Friday 2 July 1999) on the grounds that a corporation was not a person and that no person had been named on the charge. He did though add that he thought this anomaly in the law should be addressed and referred to recommendations of the Law Commission some years earlier. Great Western Trains were fined a derisory £1.5 million. In imposing the fine, the judged condemned Great Western Trains not only for its failure to protect passengers, but also for its reluctance to accept responsibility. On the day the fines were imposed (27 July 1999), the company directors failed to show in court, demonstrating their contempt for the entire proceedings.
Modern corporations are distinguished by the following characteristics:
A corporation lives for ever, which enables it to accumulate power, wealth and influence. A corporation is ephemeral, it can close its operation down overnight, putting thousands of people out of work. It is a threat that for many corporations has been written in tablets of stone into the business plan to put undue pressure on the workforce for lower wages and governments for tax breaks and subsidies. Corporations are chameleons, patriotic Americans when based in the States, whatever is the local political colour when based elsewhere (unless it is contrary to their interests). At the height of the Nato bombing of Serbia (Spring 1999), Rupert Murdoch's Star Satellite was more anti-American than the official Chinese media. Corporations are no longer restricted to a specific type or area of operation. Accountability is non-existent, even if we go all the way up to the boardroom, we then find it lies with the shareholders.
Vodaphone wanted to build their new HQ on a greenfield site outside Newbury, Berkshire (West of London), the local community said no. Vodaphone then threatened to pull out of the local area, triggering massive job losses. Under duress, the local community agreed to allow Vodaphone to build on a greenfield site. Vodaphone were strident supporters of the Newbury Bypass (major habitat loss, and scene of violent and protracted anti-road protest) on the grounds that it would stop traffic congestion and infill development. The bypass has failed to meet its stated objectives of reducing town centre traffic congestion, traffic jams have merely been relocated to other bottlenecks on the through route. The cost of construction was £74 million, plus a further £26 million for policing, in addition to the destruction of 3 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Civil War Battle Site (Battle of Newbury, 1643). The only beneficiaries of the bypass were the construction companies.
Globalisation needs large-scale, long-distance transport infrastructures - motorways, airports, shipping terminals. These are the arteries through which the goods of Big Business flows. All are heavily subsidised by the taxpayer, while city side streets, country lanes, the routes that serve and link local communities, are left to fall into rack and ruin. On the south coast of England extensions to a container terminal will destroy mudflats and generate additional heavy lorry traffic, plans to extend the harbour near Ruigfoord (outside Amsterdam) were the scene of the first big action by Groen Front! (Green Front!, Dutch version of Earth First!), in Farnborough (Hampshire, England) a business airport to serve Europe is being steamrollered through in spite of strong opposition from local residents, who will have to suffer the hell of noise and air pollution and the constant worry of a crash as the planes come in low over a heavily built up residential area. Newbury, Twyford Down, the Birmingham Northern Relief Road, Glen of the Downs (County Wicklow, Ireland) are all part of the EU Trans-European Road Network, a network drawn up by the European Roundtable of Industrialists (Big Business lobbying forum that sets the EU agenda).
I'm only doing my job, how often have we heard this recited by company clones to justify some inexcusable company action that they have instigated or carried out. They are at least in good company, those who ran the Nazi death camps were only doing their jobs, only obeying orders.
People work in corporations, but when they enter the building they leave their humanity at the door. They subconsciously or otherwise lose their own individuality and personality, adopt the company mindset and become company clones. If you don't play the game you immediately become an outsider, and not long after find yourself out in the cold. Most people hate their jobs, and yet at the same time fear they will be the next to go at the next down-sizing. Stress, fear and hate is what keeps everyone in their place.
There are several features that govern corporate behaviour (adapted from Jerry Mander):
Corporations are driven primarily by two imperatives, the need to grow and the desire for profit. Anything that stands in the way of these two primitive drives will be destroyed. Everything else flows from these two imperatives.
Big Business does not, as it is euphemistically called, invest in an area, it extracts wealth, sucks dry the life-blood of a community. Jobs may be created, but these are low skilled, low paid jobs, the few senior, higher paid jobs are filled with transient outsiders with no interest in the community. Money that flows into a corporation, is money that is drained from the local economy. Money that flows into local, small, family businesses is recycled within the community. Per capital employed, small local businesses achieve higher employment ratios (and those employed are usually drawn from the local community). Local businesses are part of the community, the owners live in the community, serve on local bodies, their children attend the local schools. Because of the close links with the local community, small businesses are usually careful what they do within the community as they are dependent upon local goodwill. Where they may wish to go against the local community they lack the power and political clout to force their wishes on the community.
Asda (soon to be taken over by Wal-Mart) is building, contrary to the wishes of the local people, a large superstore on the edge of the medieval town of Frome (Somerset, South West England). The superstore is on a greenfield site, will require the diversion of a river. On the other side of town a Sainsbury's supermarket has, according to the local Chamber of Commerce, destroyed 20-30% of the shops in the centre of Frome. The Asda store will deliver the final death blow to a once thriving market town. Farnborough and Aldershot are two adjacent towns on the Surrey-Hampshire border (south-west of London), one the home of the British Army, the other the birthplace of flying. Thanks to the crass stupidity of local planners, who bend over backwards to support Big Business to the detriment of the local community, out-of-town developments have devastated both towns. The town centres are ghost towns, all that is left are a few tacky shops selling cheap, low quality rubbish. Sheffield (northern England) is the classic example of poor town planning. To a city already reeling from the closure of its coal and steel industries, was added Meadow Hall, an out-of-town shopping mecca, to which people travel not just from Sheffield but from as far afield as Lincoln. The desperation of the local people and the run down state of the town was the central theme of the film The Full Monty.
Local authorities rely too heavily on external investment. This is like a junky looking for the next fix. Were they to devote the same amount of time, deploy the same resources, provide the same access to the taxpayers purse, to local businesses as they do to Big Business, they would achieve far better value for money, and, for a change, be acting on behalf of the local community.
Instead of relying on the next quick fix, which lasts just beyond the next election, local authorities should be looking at how to build sustainable local communities, where community includes the land, the water, the air, the native creatures, as well as the people who live within the area.
The pleasure of small market towns is that they are too small to attract the attention of national stores, who dominate most towns with their identical facades and identical products, the community being denied any real choice.
Each time a farmer buys a bag of fertiliser, a drum of biocide or splashes out on a piece of heavy equipment, he is transferring money from the rural economy to an industrial, centralised economy that is antipathetic to nature and at the same time he is displacing people from the land, destroying the fabric of the countryside and supplying all of us with poor quality food. The latter leads to bad health which pours more money into the coffers of Big Business.
The message is plain enough, and we have ignored it for too long: The great, centralised economic entities of our time do not come into rural places in order to improve them by 'creating jobs.' They come to take as much of value as they can take, as cheaply and as quickly as they can take it. They are interested in 'job creation' only so long as the jobs can be done more cheaply by humans than machines. They are not interested in the good health - economic, natural, or human - of any place on this earth. If you should undertake to appeal or complain to one of these great corporations on behalf of your community, you would soon discover something most remarkable: These organisations are organised expressly for the evasion of responsibility. They are structures in which, as my brother says 'the buck never stops.' The buck is processed up the hierarchy until finally it is passed to the 'shareholders,' who characteristically are too widely diverse, too poorly informed, and too unconcerned to be responsible for anything. The ideal of the modern corporation is to be anywhere (in terms of its own advantage) and nowhere (in terms of local accountability). The message ... in other words, is, Don't expect favours from your enemies.
If work can be carried out more cheaply elsewhere with less environmental control, it will be carried out elsewhere. If work is carried out in one particular locality in preference over another, it is either because it is cheaper to do so than elsewhere, or there is wealth to be extracted from that particular area. Once either reason is no longer valid, that cheaper labour is available elsewhere or all the wealth and natural resources are exhausted, Big Business will move its capital to some place else, leaving behind a devastated community and ruined environment.
The jobs that are created by 'inward investment' or by politicians in search of a few cheap votes acting in cahoots with Big Business are not real jobs, not if we call poorly paid, mind-numbing, soul-destroying jobs real work. Real work is that which uplifts the spirit, is generally pleasing and dignifying to the people who do it, and permits them some pride in the product of their labours, and generally confers some benefit to the community. Real work is something more than a bone tossed to the unemployed to keep them off the streets and out of the unemployment statistics.
Worker satisfaction is the public face of corporations, inside a different story. Management Today recently boasted how the UK has some of the fattest fat-cat bosses in Europe, but of all the 'developed' countries, workers in Britain are the cheapest to layoff. The recently launched Tips & Advice Personnel, subtitled Your fortnightly guide to being a cost effective Employer contains tips on how to: dismiss employees quickly without paying compensation, cut down sick leave, extract the maximum out of unemployed claimants forced to take 'New Deal' jobs, force workers to accept 'flexible' hours, avoid the EU directive on 48 hour maximum working week, plus a special feature on 'persuading' workers to take flu vaccinations to avoid expensive sickness payments.
Big Business is not interested in common wealth, only in satisfying its insatiable appetite for growth and profit.
In the US money talks. To run for political office requires big bucks, the bigger the office, the bigger the bucks. In one evening, George Bush Jnr raised $20 million for his Presidential ambitions. Those who donate expect value for money. Politics in the States is completely in hock to corporations and wealthy individuals.
Thanks to Tony Blair, the UK lags not far behind. New Labour is completely in hock to Big Business. Every aspect of the Autumn 1998 Labour Party Conference was sponsored by Big Business, even down to the ID badges delegates were forced to wear.
The gravity of Blair's project is not universally recognised, but I believe it will be, as the managed adulation recedes and the government's extremism reaches beyond Thacherism. The Blairites have become the political wing of the City of London and the British multinational corporations and, in natural order, the trusted servitors of European 'central bankism' and American economic and military hegemony ... In Britain too, it is no longer possible to justify a vote every five years on the basis of the lesser-of-two-evils. Like the United States, Britain has become a single ideology state, with two principal, almost identical factions, so that the result of any election has a minimal effect on the economy and social policy ... Not surprisingly, popular participation in general elections - both here and in the US - has dwindled massively.
Lack of participation in elections does not imply voter apathy. The citizen is becoming increasingly politicised but sees little point in legitimising a corrupt electoral system and casting a vote for one of two marginally different factions of the Big Business Party. Citizens are now turning to other more effective ways of controlling Big Business now that the politicians are merely paid for hirelings of business. This can range from anything from consumer boycotts to direct action.
In the UK, the only people still in favour of genetically modified food are Tony Blair and a few of his cronies and their paymasters in Big Business, most notably Monsanto. When Jeff Rooker opens his mouth on the subject he merely emphasises the depths of his ignorance, the only point he has so far managed to raise in favour is that we must support the industry, which at least shows were he is coming from. The fact that organic farmers are suffering, that UK can't satisfy the growing demand for organic foods and has to import 70% of the demand, that he is Secretary of State for Agriculture seems to matter not a jot. The public meanwhile has moved on. They have found it far simpler to take the matter into their own hands, whether it be attacks on GM crops in the fields or boycotts of the retailers who refuse to withdrew GM products from their shelves. The net results of this public participation was that by Spring 1999 all major food producers were forced to withdraw GM ingredients from their products, supermarkets to empty their shelves, and farmers to plough in their GM crops and curtail the trials. Unilever were forced to go to Greenpeace to beg them to stop their boycott, when Greenpeace refused, Unilever capitulated the next day and agreed to removed all GM ingredients from their products. Not wishing to be left behind, Cadbury's, Nestlé and others were quick to announce that they too would be phasing out all GM ingredients.
Carnival Against Capital in the City of London was one of many events across the world that took place on 18 June 1999, timed to coincide with the opening day of the G8 Summit taking place that weekend in Cologne. The participants included Reclaim the Streets, London Greenpeace, CAAT, Jubilee 2000, Critical Mass (pro-cyclist group), Inter Continental Caravan, Biotic Baking Brigade (throw custard pies at Big Business senior executives, Whispered Media have produced a video 'The Pies the Limit'of some of their greatest hits), London Animal Action, Anarchist Communist Foundation. The day started peacefully enough when several hundred cyclists poured into the City of London and blocked the streets. Later in the day the atmosphere turned sour and violence broke out. Who started it, a few loonies in the crowd or the over-reactive police who layed into the people with truncheons drawn? What had been an enjoyable carnival turned into the worst riots seen in the City since the Gordon Riots in 1780, the largest act of civil disorder since the demonstrations against the Poll Tax. But whatever the level of violence it was insignificant compared with the violence that is routinely handed out to the people of the world by Big Business. [see Earth First! Action Update No 60 July 1999]
Who were the Violent Minority? (SchNEWS, Friday 25 June 1999):
The actions of a few hundred troublemakers clearly intent on causing mayhem and violence marred what was otherwise a great day out. This small, highly organised group, some of them wearing suits and sporting mobile phones, managed to get into buildings housing major financial institutions. One man who didn't want to be named told SchNEWS: 'They had little or no connection with the ordinary protesters out on the streets and were clearly intent on causing serious violence. They used computer and comms equipment and were quite aware of what they were doing. We did all we could to stop them but by the end of the day they had killed 11,000 kids. That may sound shocking, but these people are responsible for that, through easily preventable, poverty-related diseases, every day. They give protests like the one today a very bad name, because they own newspapers that print complete crap about what's really going on. It is very important that the public supports our efforts to bring these people to justice'.
The June 18 events were very well organised and coordinated and once gain demonstrated the power of the Internet. At the Carnival Against Capital, live footage of the action was being uploaded to Web sites. Undercurrents, who were streaming live video over the Internet during the day, have also produced a limited edition video. Before the day began key areas had been identified and posted on the net. Dozens if not hundreds of mirror sites appeared. On the day, and the days leading up, word of mouth on the street was all that was needed. Even if not a single protester had turned up, serious disruption would have already been caused as many corporations told their employees to stay home.
An official Police report on the riots, published a month later, blamed Police ineptitude for turning a carnival into a riot. An internal survey of the City blamed City traders and other staff for deliberately provoking and inciting the protesters.
Spot the Contradiction (SchNEWS, Friday 30 July 1999):
Police Commissioner Perry Nove claimed there were two main problems: firstly, the cops didn't know what was going on cos the protesters unsportingly refused to tell them; and secondly they published 'significant information' on the internet before the event!
The next Global Days of Action are 30 November 1999 (N30, to coincide with the Seattle WTO meeting) and 1 January 2000 (to maximise the impact of the Millennium Bug). The next big event, on a scale with J18 is likely to be MayDay 2000. [N30, 100,000 demonstrators ground Seattle to a standstill, the largest protests since Vietnam, large protests were also seen in London, and in France and Geneva on the weekend before the WTO meeting got going.]
All newspapers of note have a hefty business section, all report extensively on crime, yet few, if any have a section on corporate crime, let alone report corporate crime.
It is a popular misconception that crime is predominantly the sole preoccupation of the poor and disadvantaged, especially of Blacks and recent immigrants. A view that is reinforced by the gaol populations and politicians who climb to high office on the backs of the disadvantaged.
Mumia Abu-Jamal (an inmate of death row):
The death penalty is a creation of the State, and politicians justify it by using it as a stepping stone to higher political office. It's very popular to use isolated cases - always the most gruesome ones - to make generalisations about inmates on death row and to justify their sentences. Yet is is deceitful, it is untrue, unreal. Politicians talk about people on death row as if they are the worst of the worst, monsters and so forth. But they will not talk about the thousands of men and women in our country serving lesser sentences for similar and even identical crimes. Or others who, by virtue of their wealth and their ability to retain a good private lawyer, are not convicted at all. The criminal court system calls itself a justice system, but it measures privilege, wealth, power, social status, and - last but not least - race to determine who goes to death row.
Where on death row are those executives responsible for the deaths at Bhopal, the deaths caused by unsafe working practices, toxic waste, defective products, lethal pharmaceuticals? Where are the long gaol sentences for environmental disasters, habitat destruction, human rights abuses, peddling of addictive substances, price fixing, share rigging, bribery, theft, fraud and corruption?
Volvo were caught red-handed operating an illegal price-fixing cartel in the UK. Dealers who offered big discounts were penalised. The evidence against Volvo was more than sufficient to obtain a conviction. All Volvo received was a light slap on the wrist from the Office of Fair Trading, and were forced to give a written assurance that it would not happen again. This was in spite of the fact the OFT condemned Volvo's conduct as a 'disgraceful' break of the law, revealing 'indifference to the exploitation of its customers'. Volvo apologised to their customers, with the overwhelming evidence against them they had little choice, but they refused to compensate the many customers who had been ripped off. According to the Consumer Association, the practice is widespread within the motor-trade. Prices in the UK are 30% higher than in Europe. At a hearing held by the Competition Commission (formerly Mergers and Monopolies Commission), to investigate price rigging, the car manufacturers refused to attend (20 July 1999).
Chevron has admitted that it paid and transported, using company helicopters, Nigerian military and security police to an offshore rig to end a peaceful protest. On landing, they started shooting the unarmed protesters. Chevron may be put in trial in the US for human rights violations.
Robert Bennett, leading US white-collar crime defence attorney:
... ninety percent of what I work on never sees the public light of day - and that should be true of any good white-collar crime defence attorney.
By blaming Blacks and other socially disadvantaged groups we can blame the other guy, it's not people like us. To admit that it is the executives of major corporations who are the criminals we would have to admit that the criminals were among us. The guy in the smart executive suit is just as likely, if not more likely to be a criminal than the scruffy looking Rastafarian with matted dreadlocks.
There is a growing consensus among corporate criminologist that corporate crime and violence is inflicting more damage on society than street crime. In the US, burglary and robberies cost $3.8 billion a year (FBI estimate), this is dwarfed by the hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate and white-collar fraud. Health Care Fraud alone is running at $100-400 per year. 19,0000 Americans are murdered each year by street criminals (FBI estimate), compared with 56,000 work-place deaths and deaths attributable to occupation disease.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield has been found guilty across several US states for health care fraud, and yet it is still able to bid for contracts.
The Fraud Squad of Scotland Yard are currently investigating a massive insurance fraud by major UK insurance companies, including Prudential, Legal & General, Allied Dunbar and Guardian Royal Exchange. The fraud has come to light when several insiders turned informer to save their own skins. Dirty tricks have been used by salesmen to dupe customers into unnecessary and expensive insurance contracts. Crucial files and tapes have been burnt to destroy incriminating evidence.
Siemens were contracted to provide the UK Passport Office with a computer system. The system has failed to perform, causing misery, and missed holidays, for holiday makers who are having to wait weeks or queue for hours for passport renewals. Little consolation to learn that each passport application should be processed within 15 hours, or that Siemens will escape massive penalty fines, or that Siemens will see an increase in their fees in spite of the debacle. The Siemens debacle is not an isolated case, the taxpayer is being ripped-off for large-scale computer systems that do not work. Siemens got the contract for a cool £120 million by promising to make the system cheaper (sack staff, now having to re-employ more people to clear up the mess), make the system faster (!!!), and more secure (security procedures have been relaxed to help clear the backlog). Siemens were also responsible for the computer system at the Immigration service, which has seen refugees forced to wait years for their status to be checked. The system is so bad, that at Croydon, mail that has piled up unopened is starting to decompose and form a health hazard. Siemens get paid for 'efficiency gains', reducing costs, not improving the service - the more people you sack, the greater the chaos, the more money to be made.
The Siemens contract is part of a wider problem of Private Finance Initiative, or privatisation by the back door. Industry provides the capital for large-scale projects, which are then leased back to the government. The leaseback arrangement works out at 5% above the market rate had the government borrowed the money on the market, or in other words it is a neat little scam to transfer money from the taxpayer to large corporations.
Corporate crime often goes undetected, unreported, unchallenged because of undue influence and power exerted by the corporations. In addition, corporations through political lobbying and donations are able to effectively write the laws that govern their operation.
White collar crime is occasionally reported, the subject of academic studies. But the white collar crime is that of employees stealing from an employer. If you take a few minutes too long on a break or surf the net you are a criminal, guilty until proven otherwise of stealing your employer's time. Rarely if ever do we hear of Big Business engaging in crime, the boardroom plotting criminal activities.
Directors of Archer Daniels Midland were charged with price fixing. Unfortunately for them, one of their fellow directors recorded the meetings and turned over the evidence to Federal prosecutors.
Drug users are busted, a few street dealers, occasionally a few big shots, but never the banks who launder the money, the corporations who provide the chemicals and equipment to process the raw drugs. The biggest drug dealers in the world are the tobacco corporations, deaths from Class A and hard drugs are insignificant compared with the deaths from smoking and smoking related diseases. To compensate for falling sales in the West, tobacco companies are heavily promoting their most addictive products to the Third World, often with subsidies from Western taxpayers, products that are banned in the West.
Reporters know on what side their bread is buttered, academics know where their funding comes from.
If a murder is committed there is quite rightly so a public outcry, unless the victim is Black or from some other socially disadvantaged group, in which case nobody cares. In the case of corporate murder or manslaughter there is a cover-up, at best there may be an investigation for a legal technicality or breach of regulations under health and safety legislation, with a derisory fine if the case ever gets to court and a successful prosecution is brought. Never, or rarely so, is a case brought for murder or manslaughter. If we define involuntary manslaughter as actions which involve a high risk of death or actual bodily harm, and which are committed without due care or circumspection, which is indeed the definition under Californian state law, then many of what are seen as industrial 'accidents', can be given the correct label of 'corporate manslaughter' and prosecutions brought.
David Chain was one of a number of activists protesting against the felling of ancient trees by Pacific Lumber (a Maxxam subsidiary) in a forest near Fortuna, California. One of the trees was felled atop of him and he was killed. Earth First! have issued a statement saying 'The loggers were aware that activists were in the woods and deliberately felled trees in their direction.' Their allegations are supported by a video in which a logger known only as AE is seen shouting 'Get the fuck out of here, Get outta here otherwise I'll fuckin', I'll make sure I have a tree comin' this way.' AE also shouts that he wished he had a gun, but he'll make do with felling the trees instead. Earth First! have called upon the District Attorney of Humboldt County to investigate and prosecute.
Activist Simon Jones was hassled off Income Support. Through Personnel Selection (an employment agency), he found work, first as a binman, then as a casual worker with Euromin on the docks at Shoreham Harbour (southern England). With no experience, no training, and no hard hat, Simon Jones started work. Within two hours he was dead, his head crushed by a crane. A work mate and witness to the killing, who refused to clean the spattered blood off rubble bags, value £5, was sent home without pay. On 1 September 1998, as a memorial and celebration of Simon Jones' life, Earth First! occupied the Euromin docks and ground them to a halt. Banners were hung which read 'Casualisation Kills' and 'Simon Jones RIP'. Two days later, Earth First! occupied the Brighton offices of Personnel Selection. A banner reading 'Murderers' was hung from the office window, passers by handed leaflets explaining the reasons for the occupation, clients who rang were told the office had closed due to incompetence, major clients were rung and told the agency had collapsed. On 1 September 1998 Simon Jones would have been 25.
Those who dare to raise their heads above the parapet and criticise Big Business get their heads blown off. Two corporations who aggressively pursue dissidents are Monsanto and McDonald's.
Fox TV (a Murdoch company) were intimidated to prevent the showing on WTVT of a programme by the award winning journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre that exposed the dangers of Monsanto's rBGH milk hormone. Against the Grain was eventually published, in spite of Monsanto's attempts to prevent publication. Monsanto paid an aggressive visit to the editorial offices of The Guardian to express their concern at what they saw as negative coverage of biotech issues.
The September/October 1998 issue of The Ecologist was to have been a special biotechnology issue. The original print run never saw the light of day as all copies were pulped by the printers, Penwells of Saltash, Cornwall. The issue eventually came out mid-October as The Monsanto Files (highly recommended). Newsagents refused to stock or distribute for fear of intimidation by Monsanto. Monsanto denied they exerted any pressure to have the issue pulped.
When activists handed out leaflets critical of McDonald's, they had to be silenced, writs for libel were served. Denied a jury trial, with meagre resources, Helen Steel and Dave Morris took on McDonald's. Little did anyone know at the beginning that this was destined to be the longest trial in British legal history or that by the end McDonald's reputation would be in tatters.
McDonald's witnesses would at times find themselves agreeing with the very statements they were hired to prove false. When Dr Sydney Arnott (McDonald's expert witness on cancer) was asked his opinion on the statement: 'A diet high in fat, sugar, animal products and salt and low in fibre, vitamins and minerals is linked with cancer of the breast and bowel and heart disease', he replied: 'If it is being directed to the public then I would say it is a very reasonable thing to say'. The court was then informed that the statement was an extract from the leaflet McDonald's claimed to be libellous. The senior McDonald's executives called to give evidence appeared to be bigger clowns than Ronald McDonald. Edward Oakley (UK senior vice-president) when asked if he thought there to be a 'problem with dumping lots of McDonald's waste in the ground' (an average McDonald's generates 140 pounds of waste packaging every day, excluding takeaways), replied 'I can see [the dumping of waste] to be a benefit, otherwise you will end up with lots of vast, empty gravel pits all over the country'. When asked if he was 'asserting it is an environmental benefit to dump waste in landfill sites', he replied 'It could be ... yes, it is certainly not a problem'. Edwards knew that McDonald's had an environmental policy as he had seen it 'on a wall' at HQ, but couldn't say what it was. Paul Preston (UK President) declared that if customers bought 1 million soft drinks, only 100-150 cups would end up on the street as litter, he also asserted that using styrofoam packaging was less environmentally damaging than using plates, knives and forks. Professor Walker (McDonald's toxicology expert) agreed that styrene could migrate from polystyrene packaging into food, especially fatty food. Styrene is a possible carcinogen.
At an estimated cost of £10 million, the McLibel Trial, as it became known, was a massive own goal for McDonald's. The world learnt how McDonald's served out-of date food, served food described by their own barrister as 'junk food', the inhumane treatment of animals, the low salary and poor working conditions of its workers, how a customer survey found the company 'loud', 'brash', 'American', 'complacent', 'insincere', 'arrogant'. In his judgement, Justice Bell ruled 'various of McDonald's advertisements, promotions and booklets have pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which their food (high in fat & salt etc) did not match', that McDonald's 'exploit children' with their advertising strategy, are 'culpably responsible for animal cruelty', and 'pay low wages, helping to depress wages in the catering trade'. Following an appeal, the Appeal Court judges ruled that it was fair comment to say that McDonald's employees worldwide 'do badly in terms of pay and conditions', and that 'if one eats enough McDonald's food, one's diet may well become high in fat etc, with the very real risk of heart disease'. The justices went on to say in that this last finding 'must have a serious effect on their trading reputation since it goes to the very business in which they are engaged. In our judgement, it must have a greater impact on McDonald's reputation than any other of the charges that the trial judge has found to be true'.
The McLibel Trial raised issues that went beyond one global corporation serving junk food, it highlighted the abuse of the libel laws when corporations are treated as sentient beings. Critical comment of corporations should be a basic tenet of free speech, something the defendants are hoping to bring to the European Court. The legal saga is set to continue. Campaigners are still handing out leaflets.
Corporate censorship mirrors the lack of governmental transparency. Who is told that the real price of those pretty cut flowers on the market stall is Colombian, Peruvian or African women drenched in toxins and dying of cancers and tumours because they have never been educated so cannot read the labels in English that the chemical companies resist even putting on their poisons? Few in the food industry want the consumer to know the significance of what goes into their products and the industry pays lobbyists handsomely to resist labelling or meaningful information.
Jeremy Corbyn MP, one of the few members of integrity left in the House, tabled an Early Day Motion:
That this House opposes the routine use of libel writs as a form of censorship particularly by US multinationals taking advantage of the United Kingdom's more repressive libel laws; notes that McDonald's has threatened or initiated libel actions against numerous organisation including the BBC, Channel 4, the Guardian, Today, Scottish TUC, Green, vegetarian and Labour movement groups and individuals; notes that apologies and damages have been obtained under false pretences after McDonald's lied about their practices eg by denying using beef reared on ex-rainforest land; believes that as McDonald's spends over $1 billion annually on advertising and promotions it should expect public criticism and should not seek to suppress it; further notes that the House of Lords recently ruled that in the interests of freedom of speech 'governmental bodies' would not be allowed to sue their critics for libel, and believes that this ruling should logically be extended to cover immensely powerful, wealthy and influential multinational corporations.
The McLibel Trial is not an isolated case of abuse of the oppressive UK libel laws. Tim Sander, Chesterfield FoE, who has been coordinating opposition to open cast mining has found himself at the receiving end of a libel writ from John Wilson of Fitzwise Ltd (notorious opencast mining company). Wilson alleges that he was libelled when an alleged agenda for an alleged meeting allegedly labelled him a hypocrite for moving house in anticipation of an opencast mine being opened nearby.
In a world dominated by large multinationals an alternative viewpoint especially the truth can not be tolerated. Not that they usually have a problem as Big business owns the media.
Corporations promote the American dream, or their corporate nightmare of the American dream, where the world lives on a diet of fat-laden burgers, syrup-saturated drinks and wears the latest trends, all consumed in clinical shopping malls where security guards ensure only the converted gain admittance. Those who conserve, recycle, do not engage in pointless consumption for status or leisure, are ridiculed and derided. Without mindless consumption, Big Business cannot continue to grow, to dominate the world. If people don't consume more, they will not wish to earn more money, and to take mindless jobs at low rates of pay, which is all Big Business has to offer to all but a select few. The enemy is not Communism, but Green Radicals who attack the core of the system and threaten its very foundations.
Nowhere is this nightmare at its worse than in the Third World where the population are given tantalising glimpses of the good life we are all supposedly enjoying in the West. The reality is a growth in airports, all with the same on-special-offer duty free Western corporate goods, the multi-lane highways to the polluted, crime ridden cities, the 5-star identical corporate hotels, the rich fat cats sitting on their piles, a veneer of middle classes in their identical boxes of respectability with their consumer habitats, and, outside, the shanty towns and the sweatshops, people who have fled a despoiled countryside in the wake of World Bank financed agricultural schemes, flooded fertile valleys and forestry schemes, all desperate for a piece of the action once they have found a bite to eat. Back in the West, the major cities are re-created in the image of the corporatized, developed Third World with their own shanty towns and ghettos for immigrants and socially disadvantaged, high pollution and crime, highly slewed wage patterns and ever worsening working conditions for the few still remaining in employment.
The collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the implosion of Russia, the collapse of Communism, the collapse of Socialism, was not as one professor of history prematurely proclaimed 'the end of history'. The enemy never was Communism, or its bastardised form that prevailed in the Soviet Bloc and its client states, it was, and still is, large corporations wielding immense power and globalisation. Global corporations, aided and abetted by the WTO and European Commission, are practising the centralised control and undemocratic abuse of power that Soviet commissars could only dream of. It is this brutal application of unlimited power that is destroying the world.
WTO, World Trade Organisation, is the body that is restructuring the world in the image of Big Business. Under the guise of 'free trade' it is destroying environmental, social, and other protective mechanisms that nation states have established. At the behest of global corporations, WTO is riding roughshod over sovereign states, their legislatures and their peoples. In theory, WTO is accountable to nation states, in practice it is the servant of global corporations.
The first ruling of the WTO was that the US Clean Air Act was a contravention of WTO rules. Under the WTO it is illegal to ban the import of fish caught with drift-nets that kill dolphins, illegal to enact national legislation to protect the environment as this is an illegal 'restraint of trade', the WTO ruled against small banana producers in the Caribbean having preferential access to European markets, the WTO is expected to rule against a European ban on hormone injected beef and genetically modified foods, even though both are known to have associated health and environmental risks [as expected, WTO ruling on 12 July 1999 was against Europe and in favour of US hormone injected beef]. Of the 100 or so cases dealt with by the WTO, all rulings were in favour of global corporations.
The state of Massachusetts has enacted a selective purchasing act that bars state agencies from doing business with corporations that do business with Burma. Burma is a pariah state, ranked alongside Turkey and China for its human rights violations, ruled by a brutal military dictatorship called SLORC - State Law and Order Restoration Council, responsible for the deaths of thousands of Burmese citizens. To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights (1998), the EU and Japan took the US to the WTO, claiming that the selective purchasing law breached WTO rules as it 'allows the award of contracts to be based on political instead of economic considerations'. EU and Japan called for the law to be repealed, or US to face fines and sanctions. Siemens and Unilever were among those lobbying hard for the challenge. EU spokesperson in Washington, Ella Krucoff, said 'We don't believe this kind of action is fair to the trade and investment community.' The Clinton faction of Big Business was happy to oblige, a Federal Court, on behalf of the National Foreign Trade Council (Big Business trade body), ruled the law to be unconstitutional. An attempt by the state of Maryland to enact a similar purchasing act, this time against Nigeria, a brutal regime kept in power by drugs and Shell was scuppered by Big Business before it reached the statute books. Had we been operating under the WTO rules a decade ago it would have been impossible to impose a trade embargo on South Africa. How long will it be before it's illegal to campaign on human rights and environmental issues if to do so is to have a negative effect on the free flow of trade?
At the millennium bash the WTO plans to hold in Seattle (November 1999), the shindig is being sponsored by global corporations. The higher the sponsorship, the greater the access to world politicians, with the highest sponsors receiving an invite to stick their snouts into the trough at the ministerial dinner.
By stealth, the WTO has established a Bill of Rights for global corporations.
The defeat of the MAI was the first successful blow struck against the WTO. It has also shaken many organisations out of their complacency and alerted them to the dangers of the WTO and globalisation.
The World Bank provides the finance for large scale projects that aid wealth extraction, the IMF imposes structural adjustment programs that place local economies under the control of Washington. The two acting in tandem, help to enrich local elites, dismantle social provisions, and provide a tame and docile workforce for global corporations.
Globalisation and free trade does not come cheap, we cannot have a McDonald's without a McDonnell Douglas. Corporations want guaranteed protection for their assets. Hand in hand with corporate neocolonialism is a growing dissent, both within the 'free' world and the Third World. Repressive regimes, and their Western counterparts in the intelligence and security services, are increasingly targeting environmental and human rights groups.
Thomas Friedman, high priest of globalisation:
The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist - McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas ... And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
Assistant Chief Constable James Hart, City of London Police, speaking of the Carnival Against Capital (18 June 1999):
We may, if conditions call for it, be more assertive next time; we'll come in harder, at significant risk to innocent members of the public, peaceful protesters and police officers.
MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investments) gave a glimpse of the New World Order, global corporations will dominate the world, they will control everything apart from national and internal security. National governments will control security, in consultation with global corporations, to safeguard their assets, the people will have no say. In the oil extracting region of Nigeria, the people suffer, they have seen no benefits, their land is polluted, thousands have been killed to protect the oil industry's assets. Canada tried to ban the toxic fuel additive MMT, manufactured by Ethyl Corporation. When Ethyl threatened to sue under NAFTA rules for $251 million in lost profits, Canada backed down. NAFTA (North America Free Trade Association) has been an environmental and social disaster for both Mexico and the United States. Plans for FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), to extend NAFTA to Latin America and include the Caribbean, are being drawn up, to be implemented by 2005.
It was no coincident that the Zapatistas uprising in the Chiapas (Mexico) coincided with the advent of NAFTA. The revolutionary Mexican constitution of 1910, article 27, guarantees land rights, NAFTA led to the abolition of Article 27, Big Business moved in to seize land belonging to the people. Chiapas is a major producer of maize (Mexican staple diet), its hydroelectric schemes generate 55% of the national output. Nevertheless, like the people of the Delta region of Nigeria, who suffer pollution and a devastated land, but have seen no benefits from oil extraction, Chiapas is one of the poorest regions of Mexico, 80% of campesinos are malnourished, few have access to clean water, sanitation or electric power. The Zapatistas uprising is unusual in that they see their enemies as not only local landlords and a repressive government, not even just Uncle Sam, but the forces of neo-liberalism and globalisation. To that end they have linked with other oppressed peoples across the world, Orogoni in Nigeria, peasant farmers in India, and with organisations like Earth First! and Reclaim the Streets. The Zapatistas are also unusual in carrying their revolution into cyberspace, not only using the net to inform, but also launching very effective cyber attacks on Mexican embassies worldwide. During the June 18 global day of action, Electronic Disturbance Theater coordinated an international attack on the Mexican embassy in London. Browsers used a program, floodnet, that made multiple requests of the embassy Web server. More than 18,000 people from 46 countries were involved in crashing the server.
The driving force behind the WTO, NAFTA, FTAA, EU and MAI is the International Chamber of Commerce. Currently they are lobbying hard for worldwide deregulation and the emasculation of what they see as barriers to free trade, especially the Rio agreements, including Local Agenda 21 and the Conventions on Biodiversity and Climate Change. Under the Presidency of Helmut Maucher, chairman of Nestlé, ICC has attempted to cultivate strong links with the UN. During the Geneva Business Dialogue, a cosy little tete-a-tete between the UN and ICC, a parallel activists meeting was, after 2 days, raided by the Police, activists arrested, foreigners deported, and computers and other equipment seized. The German Police showed the same heavy handiness during the Cologne G8 meeting (June 1999). ICC, whose mission statement boasts 'Companies increasingly look to the ICC as they adjust to a world in which the state's role is no longer pre-eminent', says multinationals 'have a well-proven record of improving social and environmental conditions in countries where they invest.' The success or otherwise of UN-ICC links under the presidency of Nestlé chairman Helmut Maucher can be judged from the fact that in the corridors of the UN its Secretary General is known as Nes-Koffe Annan.
Never one to use diplomacy when a more forthright statement will serve instead, Helmut Maucher, pedlar of powdered baby milk to Third World mothers, is well qualified to pontificate on democracy, transparency and accountability, unlike the great unwashed, who are the constituents of pressure groups:
... activist pressure groups weakening the effectiveness of public rules, legitimate institutions and democratic processes.
These organisations should place emphasis on legitimising themselves, improving their internal democracy, transparency and accountability. They should assume full responsibility for the consequences of their activities. Where this does not take place, rules establishing their rights and responsibilities should be considered.
Business is accustomed to working with ... groups that are responsible, credible, transparent and accountable and consequently command respect. What we question is the proliferation of activist groups that do not accept these self-disciplinary criteria.
After this homily by Helmut Maucher, delivered in a speech at the Geneva Business Dialogue (September 1998), we would be forgiven for assuming that Nestlé is currently under investigation by the European Parliament so that we can all understand the process of democratic governance, how to be good global citizens, and learn to command the same respect as Nestlé and other global corporations, being as they are models of accountability, transparency and responsibility.
Big Business has a joint venture with UNDP to bring 2 billion people into the global market place by 2020.
The early corporations performed a Gaian function (see forthcoming Life the Universe and Everything for a detailed discussion of Gaian function, or Edward Goldsmith's excellent The Way), society provided the structure and legal framework, the community provided the labour, in turn benefits flowed from the corporation to the community and society. Like a cancerous cell, which is subject to uncontrolled growth, the corporation is placing excessive demands on, and will eventually destroy the society and environment in which it is embedded. Like a cancerous cell, the corporation has to be ruthlessly cut out and destroyed.
Most campaigns against corporations have until recently been piecemeal, single-issue campaigns - Nestlé, baby milk, Shell, Brent Spar, Monsanto, genetic engineering. Many are now realising it is the corporations themselves and the power they wield and the process of globalisation that is the problem, the single issues are merely the symptoms of corporate malaise. To deal with the wider social and environmental issues we have to deal with the corporations themselves and the way they operate.
The UK Department of Trade and Industry has proposed an ethical dimension to occupational pension funds, whereby they will be required to state their environmental, social and ethical policies and how they propose to implement them. Whilst this may be considered a tiny step in the right direction it does not go anywhere near far enough, and could be seen as ethical window dressing to let corporations off the hook. Corporations have a statutory obligation to their shareholders, pension funds to their pension holders, which in a narrow, sectorial, short-term interest is interpreted as increased profits, higher share price and maximum yielding pensions. Failure to abide by these short term objectives could result in legal action for mismanagement. Whilst an explicit statement of policies may give a stick by which campaigners may beat corporations, it is difficult to envisage a situation in which company annual reports detail labour abuses, rainforest destruction, defective products, destruction of communities, bribery and corruption, killing and displacement of indigenous people and so on. What is required is nothing less than a rewriting of company charters and the revoking of charters when corporations engage in violations.
Corporations exist by means of their Charters of Incorporation, they do not exist by some God given right. Those charters can be rewritten, revoked. The charter should restrict the lifetime of a corporation, strictly define what is can do. The charter should include human rights, sustainability, product reliability, the prohibition on the use of hazardous processes and production of toxic waste. If a product requires an intermediate hazardous process, then a special licence would be required. It would also be mandatory to show that the product was of some benefit to mankind. The use of a hazardous process to produce worthless consumer junk would not be acceptable. The licence would be expensive to buy. It is amazing how easily non-hazardous alternatives can be found when there are no alternatives. A corporation would have to be for the common good. Global corporations are not required to produce fat-laden junk food or fizzy, syrup-saturated drinks.
Other charter reforms would be to bar political donations and all other forms of political activities and lobbying, to end the legal fiction that corporations have the same rights as humans and other sentient beings. Elimination of corporate welfare - governments and other local and state bodies would be barred from making any form of grants, tax concessions etc to corporations.
Shareholders should be made more accountable. They reap the benefits from recidivist corporations, they should equally suffer the consequences of their actions. The buck should stop here when it reaches the shareholder. If shareholders were more accountable they would take a much stronger interest in the activities of the corporations they owned, be more wary in which corporations they retained an interest, rather than simply concentrating on the share price and dividend payments.
Real penalties should apply to corporate criminality - loss of government contracts, exclusion from consultative processes, media moguls to lose their broadcast licences and franchises, to have their newspapers removed from their ownership.
Three strikes and you are out if you are a petty criminal. Lorry drivers, accountants, lawyers lose their livelihood if they infringe the law. The same should apply to corporations. If a corporation repeatedly breaks the law, fails to abide by its charter, or acts against the public good, then its charter should be revoked and the corporation dissolved.
Kalle Lasn (founder of AdBusters):
One way to jumpstart this 'vital process' is to make an example of one of the world's biggest corporate criminals - Philip Morris Inc. Launch a TV campaign that tells the horrifying truth about that company's long criminal record. Organise a massive boycott of its food products, collect a mind-addling number of petition signatures, keep applying the pressure and simply never let up until the attorney general of the State of New York revokes the company's charter.
Another corporation that is crying out for its charter to be revoked, assuming its over-exposure on genetic engineering does not bankrupt it first, is Monsanto. The area of East St Louis, where Monsanto is based, is an area of acute deprivation, poverty and environmental devastation. The local residents blame Monsanto as the cause. Monsanto is the corporation that brought us DDT, PCBs, dioxin, Agent Orange, Round-Up, rBGH NutraSweet (aspartame). Monsanto has been accused of rigging test trials on its products, covering up dioxin contamination of a wide range of its products, poor labour practices. Monsanto has aggressively pushed its unwanted genetically modified products onto a reluctant world. In 1995, Monsanto was ranked fifth among US Corporations in the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory for the discharge of 37 millions pounds of toxic waste into the environment. [see The Ecologist September/October 1998, special issue on Monsanto]
A Jail Hurwitz website offers a substantial reward for information leading to the the incarceration of Charles Hurwitz (CEO Maxxam) for corporate crimes.
A group of concerned citizens and special interest groups in California attempted to revoke the charter of Unocal for its recidivist activities. They failed, but they may have blazed the trail for others to follow.
Law Professor, Robert Benson, who drafted the petition against Unocal, summed up the situation:
The people mistakenly assume that we have to try to control these giant corporate repeat offenders one toxic spill at a time, one layoff at a time, one human rights violation at a time. But the law has always allowed the attorney general to go to court to simply dissolve a corporation for wrongdoing and sell its assets to others who will operate in the public interest.
Corporate greed is the most deadly toxic substance the world has ever known.
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