Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Corporate Axis of Evil

an excerpt from

Big Business, Bad Business

Corporate Accountability International

June 27, 2007

For 30 years, Corporate Accountability International, formerly Infact, has challenged irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions—like those of NestlĂ©, General Electric and Philip Morris/Altria—around the world.

Corporate Accountability International today announced that Exxon, Halliburton and Wal-Mart are the three newly elected inductees to its Corporate Hall of Shame. The membership organization, which wages winning campaigns against irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions, opened online voting in May with five other potential inductees: Coke, Ford, Kimberly-Clark, Merck and Nestlé. Corporations were nominated for a variety of factors, including documented abuses that harm people and the environment, political influence and interference, and public deception.

Approximately 8,592 separate voters cast online ballots from around the world May 16 through June 20, with Exxon and Halliburton being selected by half of all voters, and Wal-Mart just narrowly beating out Kimberly-Clark to become the third inductee.

Voters also had the option write-in their own candidates, and more than 300 people did so, with corporations such as Monsanto, Massey Energy and McDonald’s named most frequently.

...“The Hall of Shame demonstrates that thousands of people are fed up with irresponsible corporations,” said Kelle Louaillier, executive director of Corporate Accountability International.... Fortunately, the public’s demand for corporate accountability is universal, and the voting for Hall of Shame underscores the desire to eradicate shameful business practices.”

Even though ExxonMobil is the most profitable corporation in the world, the oil giant is still using its legal clout to avoid paying $4.5 billion in punitive damages from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.... As the only oil corporation that still denies the urgency of climate change, ExxonMobil spent nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 funding “junk science” from front groups that confuse the issue. Despite record oil-prices and industry profits, Exxon continues to receive billions of dollars from publicly-funded corporate handouts, in the form of tax breaks and royalty relief (for oil taken from public lands).

...Now Congress is investigating $2.7 billion in waste and overcharging by Halliburton—including bills for three times the meals that U.S. troops actually received in Iraq. With these sky-high prices comes an embarrassingly low level of service, such as water contaminated with feces that Halliburton delivered to troops for bathing, laundry and even making coffee. Now, after charging taxpayers billions of dollars for their government contracts, Halliburton has announced plans to cut and run, moving its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai, which will likely make it easier for the company to pay less U.S. taxes. But Halliburton had been violating U.S. laws for years, operating in Iran until April 2007 under the guise of one of their subsidiaries.

...And now Wal-Mart is the subject of the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history, involving 1.2 million women who are current or former employees. Meanwhile, Congressional investigators estimate that each Wal-Mart store receives nearly half a million dollars a year in government subsidies. (Wal-Mart has padded its bottom line with more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks and other public subsidies, including deals that allow them to use sales taxes paid by some store customers to pay for improvements to the store property.)

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