What did we learn in 1998?
by Russell Mokhiber
his is the price we pay for living in Corporate America. Wealth disparity, megamergers and the resulting consolidation of corporate power, commercialism run amok, rampant corporate crime, death without justice, pollution, cancer and an unrelenting attack on democracy.
The 1998 market run-up might make plugged-in America feel good about itself, but big business is eating out the democratic foundation of the country. When the empty shell crumbles, what kind of chaos might we anticipate?
If you have justice on your mind, herewith for the tenth consecutive year is Multinational Monitor's effort to pinpoint those responsible. It is, admittedly, a short list -- the Ten Worst Corporations of 1998. But it is a representative list, and as the damage becomes more apparent, as the outrage at, and contempt for, our fearless leaders grows, surely the list, too, will grow.
Chevron, for continuing to do business with a brutal dictatorship in Nigeria and for alleged complicity in the killing of civilian protesters.
Coca-Cola, for hooking America's kids on sugar and soda water. Today, teenage boys and girls drink twice as much soda pop as milk, whereas 20 years ago they drank nearly twice as much milk as soda.
General Motors, for becoming an integral part of the Nazi war machine, and then years later, when documented proof emerges, denying it.
Loral and its chief executive Bernard Schwartz, for dumping $2.2 million into Clinton/Gore and Democratic Party coffers. The Clinton administration responded by approving a human rights waiver to clear the way for technology transfers to China.
Mobil, for supporting the Indonesian military in crushing an indigenous uprising in Aceh province and allegedly allowing the military to use company machinery to dig mass graves.
Monsanto, for introducing genetically engineered foods into the food stream without adequate safety testing and without labeling, thus exposing consumers to unknown risks.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, for pleading guilty to felony crimes for dumping oil in the Atlantic Ocean and then lying to the Coast Guard about it.
Unocal, for engaging in numerous acts of pollution and law violations, to such a degree that citizens in California petitioned the state's attorney general to revoke the company's charter.
Wal-Mart, for crushing small town America, for paying low, low wages (a huge percentage of Wal-Mart workers are eligible for food stamps), for using Asian child labor and for homogenizing the population; and last, but not least,
Warner-Lambert, for marketing a hazardous diabetes drug, Rezulin, which has been linked to at least 33 deaths due to liver injuries.
As the millennium approaches, keep your eyes open for nasty corporate predators in your neck of the woods. Keep a list. Check it twice. Then send along your nominations for the Ten Worst Corporations of 1999.
Happy New Year.
|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. (c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman.|