Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Corporate Hall of Shame

Looking beyond the ongoing Democratic primary and the Kwame Kilpatrick drama, this is your chance to vote for the worst corporate abuser. Corporate Accountability International (CAI) has started a nationwide voting campaign to name and shame companies accused of abusive practices, including influencing elected officials, undermining democratic decision-making, endangering the environment and public health, war profiteering, and predatory lending. Some of the nominees were a surprise to me (Wendy's) and some weren't (Blackwater and Nestle). Last year more than 20,000 people took part in their poll, which named ExxonMobil, Haliburton, and Wal-Mart as the worst abusers in the corporate world.

Here are this year's nominees:
  • ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), for helping make Indonesia the world’s third worst contributor to global warming through its clearing of endangered forests and wildlife habitat for palm oil plantations.

  • Blackwater Worldwide, for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians, hiring paramilitaries trained under military dictatorships, and using its close political and financial ties with the Bush Administration to secure lucrative contracts.

  • Countrywide, for predatory mortgage lending to elderly and non-English-speaking borrowers, and for gouging minority borrowers with discriminatory rates and fees.

  • Mattel, for producing tens of millions of lead-contaminated children’s toys, and aggressively lobbying against bans on other highly toxic chemicals.

  • NestlĂ©, for numerous labor violations — including child exploitation — contributing to the obesity epidemic, and threatening community water supplies with its bottled water brands.

  • Toyota, for aggressively lobbying against increased fuel economy standards and state measures to reduce global warming gas emissions while hypocritically spending millions to advertise its environmental “leadership” and popular Prius hybrids.

  • Wal-Mart, for displacing local businesses, failing to cover employees under the corporation’s health plan, and opposing legislation that would increase homeland security.

  • Wendy’s, for its contribution to the growing childhood obesity and diabetes epidemics, and for refusing to meet nutritional labeling regulations.
  • Click here to vote. Each voter has three votes to cast on nominated corporations or for write-in candidates. Voters are also encouraged to post comments about specific corporations on the ballot. The top three vote-getters will be inducted into the Corporate Hall of Shame when the polls close on July 4th.

    And just in case you wonder whether this kind of campaign does any good, here's a success story regarding Waste Management and another about Columbia/HCA. Public opinion matters, especially negative public opinion.

    (Cross-posted at BFM.)


    thepoetryman said...

    Wal-Mart... I wish they could all win the coveted prize!

    Lew Scannon said...

    It is a sad statement on corporate affairs that there are so many qualified candidates.

    Kathy said...

    Poetryman, nice to have you stop by again. Wal-Mart is one of the top corporate abusers in my opinion too. It was hard to choose.

    Lew, it is a sad statement. It's also ironic that corporations want the same "rights" as living, breathing people, but they don't want to be bothered with intangible feelings like compassion or guilt.