2014 ends with little media attention or criminal prosecutions about corporate violations of laws already on the books. When the ranks of anti-business liberals and radical environmentalists compile their list of the worst offenders, their types of abuses exemplify that the most egregious and reprehensible of company practices do not hit their radar screen. The Global Exchange contends that the top 10 Corporate wrongdoers must behave badly accordingly to a well defined pattern.
- Alpha Natural Resources for pollution of rivers, streams, and groundwater; violation of the Clean Water Act ; destruction of forest and wildlife habitats; and devastation of Appalachian communities.
- Bayer for manufacturing and using bee-killing pesticides, pinning the bee crisis on other causes, exposing farmers to harmful pesticides, and working to monopolize drug prices.
- Carnival Corporation for dumping sewage pollution into oceans, use of cheap, air-polluting fuels, tax evasion, and unfair labor wages.
- FIFA for forced evictions from homes and stores, damaging local business, tax evasion, labor abuse, corruption, and violating human rights including: right to adequate housing, right to free movement, right to work, right to protest, and right to labor protection.
- Gap Inc. for refusal to sign “Accord of Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh,” refusal to compensate victims’ families, workers’ rights violations, and unsafe building conditions.
- Ghirardelli Chocolate Company for refusal to use Fair Trade labor and continuing to support child labor, using labor that violates human rights standards, and creating environmental destruction and poverty.
- Glencore Xstrata for dumping of toxic tailings, tax evasion, police brutality, destruction of communities, human rights violations, and environmental degradation.
- HSBC for money laundering, financing conflict palm oil producers, and destruction of land.
- Koch Industries thwarting public policy; forcing policies on funded politicians, judges, and organizations; working to destroy minimum wage, unions, and social security; re-segregation of public schools; toxic pollution.
- PepsiCo for deforestation, destruction of peatlands, species extinction, greenhouse gas emissions, commodification of water, use of GMOs and prevention of labeling GMO foods, and privatization of public services.
The juvenile and pathetically simpleminded view of corporate predominance misses the truly ruthless and quasi legal systematic underpinning that operates the establishment criminal syndicates.
As long as collectivist crusaders view the business world in strictly environmental and redistribution terms, there is virtually no chance for any meaningful restraints on an organizational model that routinely evades substantive consequences.
The fundamental criminal nature of the corporate organization model itself is seldom considered as the primary reason why the international corporatist system dominates economic, political and legal institutions.
Ignoring this analytic inquiry, the legal profession would have you accept that corporate crimes are, as FindLaw outlines, mostly issues of Fraud, Embezzlement, Tax Evasion and Money Laundering. Accordingly, such thinking would easily accept that the courts can be the legal arbitrator for adjudicating offenses and hold criminals accountable.
Cristina de Maglie, in a law review paper, Models of Corporate Criminal Liability in Comparative Law, elaborates on this mindset.
“The U.S. has adopted the most modern system of sanctions to counteract corporate crime. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines possess a complex structure that represents the convergence of two modern tendencies: the exponential growth of corporate crimes and the refinement of sentencing mechanisms. Legal theorists insist that organizational sentencing guidelines rely upon a philosophy of economic deterrence, because they offer corporations strong incentives to prevent and detect offenses. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines reflect an approach with retributive, preventive, and deterrent elements. This reflects an innovative philosophy in the control of corporate crime, the core of which is found in an effective compliance and ethics program.”
Folks, relying on governmental agents to administer and punish wrongdoers and avoiding the basic cause of the problem, namely; the organizational structure that perpetuates a non competitive economy of corporate monopolies, can only be called mental insanity.
Even the academic argument in the book, Changing Old Antitrust Thinking for a New Gilded Age, misses the structural dilemma. “The century-old antitrust laws do not seem up to the task. Perhaps it is time to create laws for a new Gilded Age and provide regulators the power to determine if megadeals are truly good for America.”
Control of commercialism by the 1% of the 1% will not reverse by updating anti-trust laws, when the will to enforce existing laws is effectively non-existent.
The Center for Corporate Policy assembled this recommendation list for Cracking Down on Corporate Crime, as potential options.
- Strengthen Criminal Liability Standards For Corporations, Executives and Directors
- Strengthen The Sanctions for Corporate Crime
- Ban Corporate Crooks from Federal Contracts
- Make Certain Types of Corporate Harm a Federal Crime
- Strengthen the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
- Ban Tax Deductions for Fines and Penalties for Corporate Misbehavior
- Make corporate crime a law enforcement priority
- Tighten Discretionary Standards for the Prosecution of Corporate Criminals
- Empower Citizens to Enforce the Law
- Take away homestead (“keep the mansion”) loopholes for corporate crooks
- Empower Investors, Consumers and Ratepayers
Addressing the distinction between “earning a living” from the methods of “making money” is a core element in the search for a sound economic basis for commerce. Since human nature has not changed for the better under the Corporatocracy of an executive immorality culture, expecting that minor changes around the edges will provide the formula for nirvana is ludicrous.
With the financial collapse of Middle America, the economic prospects are bleak for future generations. Relying on corporations for employment is unstable at best. Over the next year a continued theme for this series will be the hard choices that confront consumers. Learning the techniques of accumulating wealth, when the corporate consortiums own the access to capital is more important now than ever.
There is no level playing field in business. Corporations are defined as “A legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners.” Yet the political/judicial establishment has bestowed person rights to an artificial entity. This tragedy allows for the routine criminal theft of humanity. It is time to focus on the actual problem.
James Hall – December 24, 2014
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