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The Corporate Death Penalty

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Al Capp's 'General Bullmoose,' the ironic apotheosis of corporate arrogance
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We hear of CEOs trying to strip stockholders of their right to sue management for management's mistakes. We listen to quiet agreement to regimes where children are given drugs like Ritalin to keep them quiet. We hear of school districts and states (Texas) being persuaded to treat all the little girls in their keeping to a drug that prevents 15% of cervical cancers. We have heard enough. We understand the principle of commerce—repetitions. If one dose does it, then dose the whole country. If you can come up with something that only a few million people need, then have their doctors tell them to take it daily! Reps! Fascist corporatism rears its ugly head once too often in the Bush years. We understand the Military-Industrial Complex and really do not know what to do about it in a hostile world where letting down your guard is all too dangerous. But, "helping industries" like the pharmaceutical industry that brought out penicillin and the inoculations against small pox and polio have gotten greedy and criminally sociopathic. Among them Eli Lilly and Pfizer. These are the companies that against all moral standards and our own laws market drugs as efficacious against diseases and conditions they have not actually be tested for ... and they turn out to be fatally toxic. Despite the fact that we all have one head, one brain, one heart, one stomach and alimentary tract, two lungs, two kidneys, two gonads, etc., we are genetically different and some people are a lot different. Drugs that work on 99% of us don't work on 1%. In some cases the efficacy rate is 50%-50%, with a significant percentage, say 15%, fatally or critically averse. The FDA has rules about reporting unintended consequences in trials, but they have never given up the idea of blind and double blind trials and complete reporting of all results. Lilly and Pfizer have, though. They apparently see the entire population as a clinical trial and see the adverse events produced by their products as "life in the big city," something to suppress from consciousness and ignore for the sake of "commerce." You need to pay attention to all things pharmaceutical. Your life or the life of a family member may will depend on it. Bruce E. Levine has written an excellent essay promoting the idea that companies like Lilly, the behavior of which is a menace to the health and lives of unsuspecting persons with difficult diseases and conditions, should be given the death penalty. Their corporate charters should be revoked. A corporation is established when We the People say it is established for the purpose intended and under the relevant existing law. When a corporation strays so far so often from the privileges granted in its charter, that charter should be revoked and the assets of the corporation sold off at public auction. This seems like a draconian measure to some. To others, the victims and their families, it is meager solace. As the Mr. Levine says, we have done this revoking in the past to small companies that strayed from their civic duties, but doing in Lilly now is a hurdle that we have to gear up for. Nader and his gang were all over GM when it came out with the Corvair. GM's mistake and lousy engineering cost them dearly, but the cost was trivial compared to the lives needlessly lost by drivers and passengers of the Corvair ... the front end of which would literally lift off the pavement at 60, so that the front steering wheels and tires would lose traction, the same front end which would provide no protection in a head-on collision at virtually any speed. It seems that some corporations get too big for their britches and begin to think that they are too big to boss around, to big to regulate. GM and Lilly are clearly in this category. Their management (and stockholders) think they are too big to boss and too big to let fail, so (as Mr. Nader quoted an Indiana banker recently) they are just too big! The time has come for our bloated corporations to be downsized ... by the people ... or, in the case of Lilly, given the death penalty for repeated criminal behavior. JB
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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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