The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

December 28, 2000


subj:    [corp-focus] New Century, Same as the Old Century: The Ten Worst
Corporations of 2000
date:   12/28/2000 12:26:40 AM Eastern Standard Time
from:   rob@milan.essential.org (Robert Weissman)
sender: corp-focus-admin@lists.essential.org
to: corp-focus@venice.essential.org

New Century, Same as the Old Century: The Ten Worst Corporations of 2000
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Self-regulation is all the rage in Washington, D.C. these days.

Responsible corporations, perhaps working in conjunction with government,
can band together to devise standards of ethical conduct that will protect
people and the planet, without unnecessary costs -- that's the line among
a wide array of beltway players. And with Christine Todd Whitman anointed
to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, it's going to become even
more faddish.

There's one problem with the self-regulation theory: it doesn't
work.

Every corporation regulates itself. It chooses whether to obey the law, or
not. It chooses whether to permit its employees to unionize, or to fight
organizing efforts, whether to bargain fairly with unions, or to try to
bust them. It chooses whether to use clean production technologies, or to
pollute.

The self-regulation record is clear. Too often, corporations choose to
despoil the natural environment, deny care to the sick, smash workers'
unions, retaliate against whistleblowers who seek to cal attention
egregious corporate abuses, endanger consumers, and more.

Need evidence? That's why Multinational Monitor publishes its annual list
of the Ten Worst Corporations of the Year. Appearing on this year's list:

Aventis: Making Human Guinea Pigs

The biotech company recklessly raced its genetically modified StarLink
corn to market. Not approved for human consumption, Starlink soon found
its way into the food supply (through Taco Bell shells and other food
items), through cross-pollination with conventional corn crops, improper
mixing in grain elevators or otherwise. Critics say StarLink corn poses
serious allergenic risks, including fever, rashes and diarrhea.

BAT: Smuggler of Death

Industry documents uncovered in connection with the U.S. state litigation
against the tobacco industry reveal that British American Tobacco for
decades promoted and facilitated a worldwide cigarette smuggling scheme,
with extensive efforts in Latin America and Asia. Cigarette smuggling
evades excise taxes -- lowering cigarette prices and increasing smoking
rates.

BP/Amoco: Lawbreaker

The oil giant which likes to portray itself as environmentally responsible
paid major fines and entered settlements in 2000 for illegal disposal of
hazardous waste, alleged Clean Air Act violations, and underpaying
royalties for oil produced on federal and Native American lands.

DoubleClick: Cookie Crook?

DoubleClick is rubbing up against the edge of internet privacy
protections, having acquired the ability to match consumer information
from web usage and purchases -- mostly gained without consumer knowledge
or informed consent -- with consumers' names and addresses.

Ford/Firestone: Reckless Homicide?

Ford and Firestone placed the lethal combination of Ford Explorers and
Firestone tires on the road, leaving the deadly mix on the road even
after they had overwhelming evidence of the consumer hazard.

Glaxo Wellcome: Patents Over People

With the HIV/AIDS crisis at least as severe as the Black Death which
wracked Europe in medieval times, Glaxo Wellcome and other drug
manufacturers persist in engaging in a variety of tactics to block African
and other poor countries from making available cheap generic versions of
lifesaving AIDS drugs.

Lockheed Martin: Testing Its Pollutant on Humans

The Los Angeles Times reported in November that on behalf of military
contractor Lockheed Martin, Loma Linda University is conducting the first
large-scale tests of a toxic drinking water contaminant -- a rocket fuel
component -- on human subjects.

Philipps Petroleum: Deadly Employer

A massive explosion at a Phillips Petroleum plastics plant in Pasadena,
Texas in March killed one person and injured 74. It was the third fatal
accident at the sprawling petrochemical complex in the last 11 years,
including a 1989 blast that killed 23 people and an explosion in June1999
that left two dead.

Smithfield Foods: Pig Out

To the detriment of family farmers, Smithfield Foods is rushing to
consolidate control of the meatpacking industry, most recently with a
proposed merger with IBP Inc. While wrecking havoc on the farm economy,
the big hog companies are also destroying farm country. The rapid growth
of factory farms and the resulting mountains of untreated livestock manure
are fouling drinking water supplies and causing a public health risk
throughout the United States.

Titan International: Union Buster

Approximately 1,000 United Steelworker of America (USWA) workers at two
Titan facilities have struck the maker of agricultural, off-road and
construction tires, wheels and assemblies since 1998. The viciously
anti-union Titan CEO Morry Taylor responded to a National Labor Relations
Board unfair labor practices complaint by reportedly telling the Natchez
Democrat that "I figure in five years they'll get that to the first
federal court. By that time they'll all be enjoying retirement pay."

And that's about as good a refutation of the idea of self-regulation as
any.

(The full story, "The Ten Worst Corporation of the Year," is posted at
http://www.essential.org/monitor/mm2000/00december/enemies.html.)


Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The
Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common
Courage Press, 1999).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

_______________________________________________

Focus on the Corporation is a weekly column written by Russell Mokhiber
and Robert Weissman. Please feel free to forward the column to friends or
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