2. Corporate Violators Dwarf Street Crime & Violence

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

Source: Multinational Monitor, PO Box 19405, Washington, DC 20036, Date: December 1991, Title: “Corporate Crime & Violence in Review,” Author: Russell Mokhiber

 SSU Censored Researcher Serge Chasson

SYNOPSIS: While the press continues to alarm the public with stories of street crime and violence, corporate violators run ram­pant. Writer Russell Mokhiber, in his analy­sis of ten of the worst corporations of 1991 for Multinational Monitor, reveals that public corruption, environmental degra­dation, financial fraud, procurement fraud and occupational homicide are on the rise.

The distortion of street crime is pro­mulgated by comments such as those of Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who wrote that “Young black males commit most of the crime in Washington, DC.” This statement ignores corporate criminology research revealing that cor­porate crime and violence inflict far greater damage on society than all street crimes combined.

As Mokhiber points out, Cohen doesn’t acknowledge the criminal activi­ties of Exxon, International Paper, United Technologies, Weyerhauser, Pillsbury, Ashland Oil, Texaco, Nabisco and Ralston­Purina, all convicted of environmental crimes in recent years. “All of these con­victed corporations operate in Washing­ton, DC. None of them are young black males,” writes Mokhiber.

The Ten Worst Corporations of 1991, according to Mokhiber, are the following:
-Alyeska: for polluting Alaskan air and water and trying to silence whistleblowers. American Home Products:for clos­ing its plant in Indiana and moving to Puerto Rico, committing numerous labor law violations in the process and resulting in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

-Clorox: for its “Crisis Management” public relations plan, which recommended dirty tricks to deal with the environmental movement.

-DuPont: for running television com­mercials (set to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”) lauding its corporate concern for the envi­ronment, while earning the title The Nation’s Number One Corporate Polluter, according to Mokhiber.

-Ethyl Corporation: for continuing to export a toxic lead gasoline additive­ banned in the U.S. for poisoning children ­to Third World countries, where it poisons their children.

-General Electric: for continuing to sing it “brings good things to life,” while heavily engaged in building weapons of mass destruction and bringing extensive pollution and contamination to the envi­ronment.

-G. Heileman Brewing Co.: for prima­rily marketing PowerMaster-a malt liquor that contained 31 percent more alcohol than other malt liquors-in minority neigh­borhoods already plagued by high rates of alcohol-related diseases.

-Kellogg’s: for harassing an assistant attorney general in Texas who had charged the giant cereal maker with promoting misleading nutritional claims about a num­ber of its products.

* Hoffman-LaRoche: for ignoring early warnings that Versed, a drug used as a sedative and an anethesiac, had deadly side effects if sold in a highly concentrated form. The drug has now been linked to about 80 deaths and many near fatalities.

-Procter & Gamble: for polluting a once pure Florida river; for mislabeling disposable diapers as degradable; and for selling coffee made from beans from El Salvador, home of the death squads. While the press is always eager to hype some non-consequential Ten Best or Ten Worst list, it was strangely silent about the “Ten Worst Corporations” list an­nounced by the Multinational Monitor.
COMMENTS: Since it started in 1976, Project Censored has cited a number of examples of underreported cases of cor­porate crime. The third-ranked Censored story that year reported how hundreds of thousands of people, most of them in Third World countries, were poisoned annually by drugs and pesticides banned in the United States but exported to foreign countries. Unfortunately, despite our ef­forts and those of others, this is a practice that continues to this day. (See, for ex­ample, the Ethyl Corporation entry in the preceding Ten Worst Corporations list.)Writer Russell Mokhiber, editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter (CCR), says that his article received no mainstream media coverage, despite the fact a press release on the subject was widely distrib­uted. He points out, “Most citizens, when they think of crime, think of street crime, not corporate crime. Yet many criminolo­gists believe that corporate crime inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined.” He concludes, “Yet, media emphasize street crime.” Then Mokhiber rhetorically asks: “Why?”

One obvious reason is that street crime is much cheaper for the media to report than corporate crime. Street crime is handed to the media by law enforcement, often with sensational photo opportuni­ties, and it requires little if any investiga­tion. Corporate crime, on the other hand, requires some investigative initiative on the part of the media and rarely produces interesting visuals.

However, a more plausible answer is that the major media are sometimes part of the corporate criminal hierarchy; or they’re allied with it through common in­terests or interlocking directorships, and thus not interested in rocking the boat. As Mokhiber points out, “No major newspa­per in the U.S. has a reporter covering corporate crime full-time.” We’ve all heard about the police beat; but how many of us have heard about the corporate crime beat?

  • PLEASE NOTE. Russell Mokhiber notes that he’s been editing the Corporate Crime Reporter, a legal weekly based in Washington, DC, for seven years and that CCR is “the only weekly to cover white collar and corporate crime exclusively. ” For more information, write Corporate Crime Reporter, PO Box 18384, Washing­ton, DC 20036.