Goldman Sachs had revenues of $13.4 billion last year not including the $10 billion in bailout money. Without admitting wrong doing for helping former Treasury Secretary now hedge-fund billionaire Hank Paulson bilk investors by packaging and selling toxic mortgages designed to fail, Goldman has agreed to settle civil fraud charges for an amount equal to about two week’s revenue, $550 million, plus $1.3 million for lobbying and politicians. Were Goldman Sachs the first and last name of a person, they would be in jail and pennyless. As a corporation, their stock went up over $3 billion after the announcement.
BP takes in $240 billion a year. It might spend a month’s revenue to hire Ogilvy PR, cap, clean up, and pay lawyers to settle the lawsuits related to 11 wrongful deaths, hundreds of thousands of toxic exposures, destroyed business and ruined lives. BP will get most of their fix, clean up and settlement money back in US tax breaks and subsidies – payback for spending $3.5 million lobbying and bribing US politicians. Were BP a person instead of a corporation, the business would be shuttered and they would be in jail on an oil and water diet awaiting trial.
GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia drug makes them a lot of money – $3 billion in 2006, but down to just $1.6 billion since everyone learned what GSK always knew, but wouldn’t say – that Avandia treats diabetes by causing heart attacks and killing people. Of course, Avandia is just a drop in the $100 billion GSK annual revenue bucket. Potential total liability for payouts to those GSK killed or maimed: $1.1 billion. Annual bribes to politicians to keep being able to sell this deadly crap: $7 million. Were GSK a person instead of a corporation they would be awaiting death by lethal injection of one of their products.
Toyota makes automobiles which work so well, some just wouldn’t stop. The company knew it, didn’t fix it, resulting in the death of at least 37 people. Toyota, which has annual revenues of over $200 billion, finally got caught. It will cost Toyota shareholders a few billion for the recalls and to settle the lawsuits. Annual lobby and political bribe budget: about $5 million. Were he not hidden behind corporate immunity, Mr. Toyota would have fallen on his sword. Instead, sales went up 48%.
Bayer has revenues of over $49 billion and makes a heart surgery drug called Trasylol. Trasylol has caused the kidney failure and agonizing death of an estimated 22,000 people since 2007. So far, Bayer has spent about $97 million to settle, plus $1.4 million purchasing political protection from our elected leaders. Corporate or not, Bayer’s history of human experiments dating back to those it conducted at Auschwitz, suggests it will not be held accountable.
Massey Energy mines and sells coal for $2.2 billion a year. Since 2005, they have been cited for safety violations over 1,300 times, culminating in April with the death of 29 miners in West Virginia. The law suits are expected to cost them almost half their income, plus less than $20,000 to make sure they don’t have to actually operate safe mines or pay fines. Were Massey owned by Don Blankenship rather than run by him, he’d be buried in coal by now.
Whether your company is making pesticides in Bhopal, an insurance company denying claims, an airline wishing to cut maintenance costs, bilking the Pentagon out of billions during wartime, or just the world’s largest bank wishing to screw us all, you are special. Just buy a politician and say, “jobs.”
It is legal in our society for a corporation to kill thousands of people. If a country did it, the leader would be called before the Hague. If a person did it, they’d be called a terrorist and killed by a drone. It is better to be a CEO.
Is it just me, or do we sell our politicians too cheaply? Of course, keeping the price of our politicians down is good for corporations. Just not people.
To see who is buying whom, at what price, go to OpenSecrets.org