In 2004, Joel Bakan published a book titled: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. Balkan argued that Corporations are inherently corrupt because they are legally bound to place profit over everything, even the public good. The book was turned into a successful film and a movement was launched.
I agree with Bakan’s conclusions and want to present arguments in favor.
On May 21, 2013, Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, appeared before a United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, investigative subcommittee, which had completed an inquiry into how Apple avoided tens of billions of dollars in taxes by shifting profits into Irish subsidiaries that the subcommittee’s chairman called “ghost companies.”
At the hearing, Cook declared under oath and to the world the following statements:
We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar, … We do not depend on tax gimmicks … We do not stash money on some Caribbean island.
Of course, Cook was lying.
The Paradise Papers revealed that Apple was looking for the most secretive and undemocratic countries it could find to hide their money. In the end, Apple settled on Jersey, a tiny island in the English Channel that, like many Caribbean havens, charges no tax on corporate profits. Please read Under Oath, Apple Lies to the World About Paying Taxes.
Nearly 70 years ago, the chemical giant DuPont introduced a product that would transform how people around the world cook: nonstick Teflon pans. The chemicals in the product, PFOA (a.k.a C8), went on to be used in countless household products, from stain- and water-resistant apparel to microwave popcorn bags to dental floss.
But DuPont never told the American public or many of its own workers that PFOA is highly toxic. DuPont proceeded to discharge PFOA into the waterways around its manufacturing plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. PFOA is now linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers.
After years of complaints by local residents, the EPA finally stepped in to sue DuPont in 2004 and launched a criminal investigation. DuPont and the Federal Goverment reached a settlement where DuPont would stop producing PFOA by 2015. But after decades of willful negligence, the damage had been done.
DuPont internal documents revealed during trial showed DuPont had known of a link between PFOA and cancers since 1997. PFOA is now in the blood of not just 99 percent of Americans, but the entire globe — everybody on the planet. The chemical is bioresistant, meaning it does not break down.
The 2018 Sundance Film Festival has a great documentary on this story titled: The Devil We Know. You can also watch DuPont vs. the World: Chemical Giant Covered Up Health Risks of Teflon Contamination Across Globe on DemocracyNOW!
Purdue Pharma, the company that planted the seeds of the opioid epidemic through its aggressive marketing of OxyContin, has long claimed it was unaware of the powerful opioid painkiller’s growing abuse until years after it went on the market.
According to the New York Times, a copy of a confidential Justice Department report shows that federal prosecutors investigating the company found that Purdue Pharma knew about “significant” abuse of OxyContin in the first years after the drug’s introduction in 1996 and concealed that information.
Company officials had received reports that the pills were being crushed and snorted; stolen from pharmacies; and that some doctors were being charged with selling prescriptions, according to dozens of previously undisclosed documents that offer a detailed look inside Purdue Pharma. But the drug maker continued “in the face of this knowledge” to market OxyContin as less prone to abuse and addiction than other prescription opioids, prosecutors wrote in 2006.
The 120-page report cited emails showing that Purdue Pharma’s owners, members of the wealthy Sackler family, were sent reports about abuse of OxyContin and another company opioid, MS Contin.
In 2007, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to a felony charge of “misbranding” OxyContin while marketing the drug by misrepresenting, among other things, its risk of addiction and potential to be abused. Three executives — the company’s chief executive, Michael Friedman; its top medical officer, Dr. Paul D. Goldenheim; and Mr. Udell, who died in 2013 — each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor “misbranding” charge that solely held them liable as Purdue Pharma’s “responsible” executives and did not accuse them of wrongdoing. The company and the executives paid a combined $634.5 million in fines and the men were required to perform community service.
Hundreds of thoughts dead and many more soon to be. But hey, that just the cost of doing business.
DemocracyNOW! did en exposé titled: Origins of the Opioid Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew of OxyContin Abuse in 1996 But Covered It Up
December 11, 2012: HSBC Bank agreed to pay $1.256 billion and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for HSBC’s violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA). According to court documents, HSBC Bank USA violated the BSA by failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and to conduct appropriate due diligence on its foreign correspondent account holders.
In short, HSBC was not only complicit, but was also the bank of choice for drug cartels and terrorist organizations around the world.
Here is the famous Deferred Prosecution Agreement:
HSBC Bank USA and HSBC Holdings hereby agree and stipulate that the following information is true and accurate. HSBC Bank USA and HSBC Holdings accept and acknowledge that they are responsible for the acts of their respective officers, directors, employees, and agents as set forth below. If this matter were to proceed to trial, the Department would prove beyond a reasonable doubt, by admissible evidence, the facts alleged below and set forth in the criminal Information attached to this Agreement.
From 2006 to 2010, HSBC Bank USA violated the BSA and its implementing regulations. Specifically, HSBC Bank USA ignored the money laundering risks associated with doing business with certain Mexican customers and failed to implement a BSA/AML program that was adequate to monitor suspicious transactions from Mexico.
As a result of these concurrent AML failures, at least $881 million in drug trafficking proceeds, including proceeds of drug trafficking by the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle Cartel in Colombia, were laundered through HSBC Bank USA without being detected.
From at least 2000 through 2006, HSBC Group knowingly and willfully engaged in conduct and practices outside the United States that caused HSBC Bank USA and other financial institutions located in the United States to process payments in violation of U.S. sanctions. To hide these transactions, HSBC Group Affiliates altered and routed payment messages in a manner that ensured that payments involving sanctioned countries and entities cleared without difficulty through HSBC Bank USA and other U.S.
They admitted to everything! …And walked away with a small fine 🙂
Despite its efforts for nearly two decades to raise doubts about the science of climate change, newly discovered company documents show that as early as 1977, Exxon research scientists warned company executives that carbon dioxide was increasing in the atmosphere and that the burning of fossil fuels was to blame.
The internal records are detailed in an investigation published by InsideClimate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning news organization covering energy and the environment.
The investigation found that long before global warming emerged as an issue on the national agenda, Exxon formed an internal brain trust that spent more than a decade trying to understand the impact of rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere — even launching a supertanker with custom-made instruments to sample and understand whether the oceans could absorb the rising atmospheric CO2 levels. Today, Exxon says the study had nothing to do with CO2 emissions, but an Exxon researcher involved in the project remembered it differently in a video, which was produced by FRONTLINE in association with the InsideClimate News report.
In 1978, the Exxon researchers warned that a doubling of CO2 levels in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius and would have a major impact on the company’s core business. “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical,” one scientist wrote in an internal document.
The warnings would later grow more urgent. In a 1982 document marked “not to be distributed externally,” the company’s environmental affairs office wrote that preventing global warming would require sharp cuts in fossil fuel use. Failure to do so, the document said, could result in “some potentially catastrophic events” that “might not be reversible.”
Lee Raymond, Exxon’s former Chairman and CEO said the following statements in a 1997 speech to the World Petroleum Congress in Beijing, China.
I know there are some people who argue that we should drastically curtail our use of fossil fuels for environmental reasons, and I’ll have more to say about that in a moment. But let me state at this point my belief that such proposals are neither prudent nor practical.
With no readily available economic alternatives on the horizon, fossils fuels will continue to supply the most of the world’s and this region’s energy for the foreseeable future.
Today, concern about the environment focuses on the issue of global climate change. In December, representatives from 160 nations will meet int the beautiful city of Kyoto, Japan, to decide on legally binding agreements that would have the effect of cutting the use of oil and other fossil fuels. Clearly, all of us here today have a big stake in the decisions that will be made.
Proponents of the agreements say they are necessary because burning fossil fuels causes global warning. Many people – politicians and the public alike – believe that global warming is a rock-solid certainty. But it’s not.
Let’s agree there’s a lot we really don’t know about how climate change will change in the 21st century and beyond. That means we need to understand the issue better, and fortunately, we have time. It is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be significantly affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now.
Raymond’s statements are complete lies. Exxon’s internal documents reveal the exact opposite of everything Exxon’s CEO just vomited to the world.
Read and watch the FRONTLINE program: Investigation Finds Exxon Ignored Its Own Early Climate Change Warnings
The Cigarette Papers is a 1996 non-fiction book by Stanton A. Glantz, John Slade, Lisa A. Bero, Peter Hanauer, Deborah E. Barnes, and C. Everett Koop, analyzing leaked documents that for the first time proved “tobacco companies had long known the grave dangers of smoking, and did nothing about it.” In May 1994, 4,000 pages of internal tobacco industry documents were sent to the office of Professor Stanton Glantz, a well-known anti-smoking activist, at the University of California, San Francisco. The documents provide an inside look at the internal activities of tobacco industry.
Lawyers for British American Tobacco (BAT), Addison Yeaman for Brown and Williamson, 17 July 1963
Nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug.
April 14, 1972 R.J. Reynolds Confidential Research Planning Memorandum on the Nature of the Tobacco Business and the Crucial Role of Nicotine Therein:
If, as proposed, nicotine is the sine qua non of smoking, and if we meekly accept the allegations of our critics and move toward reduction or elimination of nicotine in our products, then we shall eventually liquidate our business. If we intend to remain in business and our business is the manufacture and sale of dosage forms of nicotine, then at some point we must make a stand.
In 1994, US tobacco CEOs testify under oath before Congressional Health and Environment Subcommittee:
Thomas Sandefur, Chief Executive of Brown and Williamson says:
I do not believe that nicotine is addictive.
William Campbell from Philip Morris:
I believe nicotine is not addictive.
James Johnston from RJ Reynolds:
And I too believe that nicotine is not addictive.
The tobacco industry is so trite with corruption that they easily lie under oath to the American public and its elected leaders. You can read more about these revelations in Confirmed: Tobacco Companies Sell Addiction, Not Tobacco.
In August 2018, in a groundbreaking decision, a jury in San Francisco, California has ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a school groundskeeper named Dewayne Lee Johnson who developed cancer after regularly using the weed killer Roundup. First time, jurors, were able to see internal company documents proving Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and Roundup could cause cancer.
According to Brent Wisner, the lead trial counsel for Mr. Johnson:
There’s a lot of documents, but what they really show is sort of a rampant corporate culture that has no interest in looking at whether or not their product is safe, but have an interest in attacking science this doesn’t suit their business agenda. And that’s just simply what we see. When a bad study comes out, the emails that circulate amongst Monsanto employees is, “How do we combat this? How do we fight this? How do we take this person out?” It is actually given a name within Monsanto; it’s called “freedom to operate” and they actually have a budget assigned to this particular action.
But in addition to all that, it shows without question that at least starting 20 years ago, Monsanto has known that their product can cause cancer, and has gone out of its way to ignore it and or fight any science that suggests a link. And we see this happening amongst all the independent scientists that have looked at this, and there’s hundreds of them who all look at this and say, “You know, you’ve got a problem here.” And instead of doing something about it, Monsanto simply says, “Let’s take away their funding,” or “Let’s go after the university.” or “Let’s put political or scientific pressure on these scientist to make them back off.”
Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos read the jury’s verdict:
With regard to punitive damages, did you find by clear and convincing evidence that Monsanto acted with malice or oppression in the conduct upon which you base your finding of liability in favor of Mr. Johnson? Answer, yes.
Where does this leave us?
Tech, chemical, pharmaceuticals, energy, tobacco, banks, agri-business, etc — all lie for the sake of profit. I purposely provided examples of corporations from different fields to show that at their core, they are all the same. Corporations are inherently corrupt because they are legally bound to place profit over everything else.
This is the free market capitalist model at its core. They don’t have any incentive to be honest. Instead, they have every incentive to be dishonest.
Thanks for reading,
- Under Oath, Apple Lies to the World About Paying Taxes
- HSBC, the US Justice Department, and the War on Drugs
- Citigroup’s Plutonomy Memo: “There are rich consumers, and there are the rest”
- Supra-Governments – “The Most Powerful Force on Earth”
- Confirmed: Tobacco Companies Sell Addiction, Not Tobacco
- Confirmed: Exxon Lies to the World About Climate Change
- Noam Chomsky on How Businesses Sought to Destroy the Democratic Movements of the 1960s
- The Powell Memo: A Call-to-Arms for Corporations
- The Powell Memo – Full Transcript
- List of Bank Fraud and Criminal Activities
- 10 Companies Profiting Most From War
- Critique on Corporations