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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Corporate Wrongdoings

There ought to be a television program about corporations titled “Can You Top This?” Composed of short stories about the infinity of avarice and power, people would get some sense of how necessary a just law and order is to these corporate suites whenever they run amuck.

Here are a few samples of routine corporatemania. In Kansas, bankers are pushing to restrict the liability of directors of banks that collapse. Note the context: over 1000 banks have collapsed and received taxpayer bailouts in the past five years in the U.S. due to boards’of directors looking the other way and not spotting and stopping rampant mismanagement, corruption or reckless speculation with the savers’ money. Deregulating banks further is a top priority of the national banking lobbies at the federal level as well.

While loudly complaining about the federal deficit, many corporate lobbies are pressing Congress to erase their huge debts to Uncle Sam and open up more tax loopholes for special interests. The hypocrisy afflicts Senate Republicans especially. While filibustering President Clinton’s $16 billion economic stimulus package (summer jobs, mass transit, day care and school construction etc.), they whisked through the Senate last year a dissolution of some $8 billion in debt that monopoly electric utilities owed the Department of Energy for past uranium enrichment services.

A marketing company that calls itself Space Marketing, Inc. is looking for a commercial sponsor for a mile-long billboard to be sent into earth orbit to project a corporate logo as large as the moon to people on Earth. Adding to space debris, destroying the serene nocturnal skyline and interfering with astronomical

research — these concerns bother not this purveyor of extraterrestrial commercialism.

General Dynamics, which has most of its contracts, paid by the taxpayer via the Department of Defense, sought and received a one million dollar government grant to look into ways to persuade itself to produce some civilian products. This is the company that just paid its boss $29 million for his work last year.

Utilities in Illinois are trying to do in the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) that by state law has the right to insert its solicitation for membership envelopes in some state government mailings to citizens. CUB is a membership-controlled, consumer group that successfully fights for fair utility rates and practices.

The utilities through their Republican allies have passed a bill in the Senate opening up the state mailing insert, without similar legislative rationale, to 1600 nonprofits already qualifying for checkoff donations by state employees. The idea is to so dilute the CUB insert right that it cannot raise voluntary contributions to survive due to a long waiting line extending into the next century.

In Cleveland, Ohio, rich corporations are receiving federal welfare handouts years after year for such necessities as luxurious hotels, gallerias stocked with expensive clothing and high-priced office buildings. These handouts are supposed to be repaid with interest to the city of Cleveland for neighborhood projects (trickle down theory). Nothing has been repaid for years. These sordid corporate welfare programs are listed in point of View (April 10, 1993) by Roldo Bartimore — a maverick Cleveland journalist. (P.O. Box 99530, Cleveland, Ohio, 44199).

And so it goes, while the networks and newspapers are saturing your viewing and reading time with wars, riots, seiges, and street crime trials, the corporate powerbrokers siphon off public wealth and your tax dollars with little scrutiny.