2. CORPORATE VIOLATORS DWARF STREET CRIME & VIOLENCE
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
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 environ-mental
crimes in recent years. "All of these convicted corporations operate
in Washington, DC. None of them are young black males," writes
The Ten Worst Corporations of 1991, according to Mokhiber, are the
o Alyeska: for polluting Alaskan air and water and trying to silence
o 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.
o Clorox: for its "Crisis Management" public relations
plan, which recommended dirty tricks to deal with the environmental
o 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.
o 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.
o 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.
o 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.
o 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.
o 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.
o Procter & Gamble: for polluting a once pure Florida river;
for mislabeling disposable diapers as degrad-able; 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 main-stream 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.