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Are Many Companies Criminal Enterprises?

In a recent blog called Companies Snooping on E-mail I did a poll and it turned out that a significant number of my readers voted for the option "Most companies are criminal enterprises. They shouldn't be allowed to use computers."

And of course those voters could be dismissed as pranksters or simply radical, left-wing, crazy Huffington Post readers.

So I thought it would be interesting to find out how many "regular" company employees, who don't read the Huffington Post, feel about this issue.

The result may surprise you, or maybe not, if you were one of the voters above.

In a 2005 survey of 3,015 U.S. workers conducted by the Ethics Resource Center, (this is a Washington nonprofit group that gets funding from large companies), half the respondents reported observing at least one type of questionable conduct in the past 12 months.

And of the respondents who observed misconduct in 2005, only 55% said they reported it to management, down from 65% in 2003.

In another survey of about 1,800 communications professionals, half the respondents did not agree with the statement "unethical behavior that results in corporate gain is reprimanded."

Finally, one of the most famous whistleblowers in the last few years, Sherron Watkins, who warned senior management at Enron of what was about to happen to the company, has stated that she can't get a new job, in the June 12 issue of BusinessWeek: "I couldn't get a normal corporate job. There are plenty of people who give me a bear hug, but plenty of others give me that odd handshake."

And she has more advice for others who discover fraud: "Look out for yourself. I counsel people that you need to find the safety net of another job and leave before you say anything. Also, don't ever do it alone. Then you can't be dismissed as one lone voice. But be ready to lose your job."

So here we are post Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen and all the other infamous companies and nothing has really changed. Not even Sherron who was named "Time Person of the Year," can get a new job.

That may say more about the true nature of corporate management in America today than any poll or survey. After all, in the last poll, 53% of the communications professionals said that top management is an organization's conscience.


Blogger MsMelody said...

I tried posting on your Huffington blog, but as usual, your BLOG quickly disappeared from the home page, and my comments, 2 hours later, have not been added to your entry.

In his book “Too Profitable to Cure” Brent Hoadley addresses this very issue, albeit on a less comprehensive scale. Specifically, he targets the criminal behavior of pharmaceuticals, and begins one chapter with this quotation from Abraham Lincoln:

Corporations have been enthroned . . . An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people. . . until wealth is aggregated in a few hands . . .and the Republic is destroyed.
—Abraham Lincoln

He continues (and I copy here with author’s permission)

The pharmaceutical industry holds a unique place in American corporatehood. These individuals who seek power and prestige within the corporate structure are doing so at the expense of people with serious, chronic disorders. The quest for ever-increasing profits and power for their corporations leads them on an egomaniacal trip that encompasses arrogance and corruption. They, as a group, exhibit sociopathic behavior, which is nothing new, of course, but transcends elitism.

Today’s pharmaceutical corporations are demanding the rights of personhood while insisting that their corporatehood allows them deniability for harm done. They call the many lawsuits in which they are embroiled “frivolous” and are attempting to control the course to be taken by class-action attorneys. They are using the profits of their unconscionable greed to buy influence, power, and ultimately, absolution from legal proceedings.

In the early 1900s, regulatory agencies were created by government to stem the predatory nature of corporations. This relationship has eroded over time so that what now exists is a malevolent liaison between corporate America and regulatory agencies that excludes the rights of citizens. (See chapter on the government.)

Laws have been passed in several states which basically give corporations the same constitutional rights as the individual. Hoping to extend these rights, a proposal has been put forth that would request Congress to enact a bill to “hold harmless” the FDA and the pharmaceuticals in cases where approved drugs have been determined to cause death, assault on the human body or other ancillary damages. In essence, the pharmaceutical corporations alone hope for all the rights of citizenship while being bound by none of the concomitant responsibilities.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is msmelody talking about? Corporations have had the legal status of "person" for as long as I know and remember. And I am methusalem's twin sister. As for the tendency to sue anyone and everyone here in the U.S., it would be good to realize that we, the customers, are paying collectively for the right of one, or more persons to sue, and that it is the lawyers who collect, not the "victim", Class action suits, especially, are good. In addition, with all those lucrative options, it is almost impossible to get a lawyer to take your case if you need one, unless you have extremely "deep pockets". The litigants, who "win", moreover, will have to go to court at least once more to "collect" - another fee for the lawyer.

Anonymous Robert Pearson said...

"So here we are post Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen and all the other infamous companies and nothing has really changed. Not even Sherron who was named "Time Person of the Year," can get a new job."
And never will. Unless she takes the advice of "re-invent yourself and disappear into the woodwork". Which is the same advice I give you when you are tired of fighting the losing battle. Enjoy the battle while you can.
"Hubris", arrogance resulting from excessive pride or passion, is the word used in a wonderful article in the Chicago Tribune chronicling the fall of Arthur Andersen.,1,7453702.column?coll=chi-newsspecials-hed
Hubris is alive, well and flourishing until we, the people, take back our country. Want to help?
PBS NewsHour June 1, 2006 Special Report by Judy Woodruff
Post your own comment to the article at:
Almost All You Need To Know About Leadership¬e=
This, from Enron juror Freddy Delgado, an elementary school principal:
"I can't say that I don't know what my teachers were doing in the classroom.
I am still responsible if a child gets lost."
Sounds like the jury-of-one's-peers system, even in a complex corporate trial,
is alive and well. Thanks, Principal Delgado, for your service to our country—
I envy the parents and students in your school!

Blogger Truthspew said...

This whole thing about the amendments applying to corporations is based on the 14th amendment.

That's why I'd like to propose a change to the amendment. Everywhere the word 'person' appears (The creators of the 14th wanted to put citizen but corporate interests even then got person used.) insert the word 'human'. That would quash every right corporations think they have.


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