If America's total dependence on corporate profits and stock market/housing bubbles is just fine because the bubbles just keep inflating, there's nothing left but rot...
It's becoming a routine story: a whistleblower emerges with copious documentation, revealing the ethical / managerial rot at the very top of Corporate America icons. Recently it was Facebook that was revealed as devoting far more resources to masking corporate guile than to actually improving longstanding ethical and quality issues.
Now it's Pfizer's fast and loose treatment of supposedly rigorous protocols that's been heavily documented. The prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) stated that the whistleblower provided "The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails." BMJ Investigation: Researcher blows the whistle on data integrity issues in Pfizer's vaccine trial.
The purpose of playing fast and loose is to maximize profits regardless of any other factors. And while corporations exist to maximize profits, the trend in Corporate America is to sacrifice everything to maximize profits and keep the putrid sewage hidden from regulators, the media and the public.
This isn't about profit, it's about hiding the rot that has seeped into every nook and cranny of Corporate America. The foundation of the stock market's extreme valuations is corporate profits, and the stock market bubble is now the precarious foundation of the entire U.S. economy: should the bubble pop, everyone knows the economy and the financial system will both crash.
The usual corporate strategy--defame the whistleblower and blow smoke to cover the rot--loses traction when the rot is documented by internal memos, recordings, etc. It's difficult for the lackeys of Corporate America to dismiss the British Medical Journal as just another tin-foil-hat outlet of "fake news," especially with all the documentation now made public.
Lost in the obsession to profiteer and hide the rot is the notion that corporations have responsibilities to the public and their customers/users, not just to greedy managers and shareholders. These responsibilities have been tossed into the muddy ditch.
Regulations only exist in name in America. Corporate America plays by its own rules. Corporate America is not longer regulated in any consequential fashion, as the list of Pfizer's actions reveal:
-- Participants placed in a hallway after injection and not being monitored by clinical staff
-- Lack of timely follow-up of patients who experienced adverse events
-- Protocol deviations not being reported
-- Vaccines not being stored at proper temperatures
-- Mislabelled laboratory specimens, and
-- Targeting of Ventavia staff for reporting these types of problems.
The last item appears in virtually every whistleblower case: the corporation doesn't rush to fix its glaring ethical and quality issues, it rushes to silence the whistleblower and "manage the narrative" to protect its precious profits. Never mind that the public pays the price for corporations saying one thing and doing another, for hiding what they dare not let regulators, users, customers and patients learn about their practices and behind-closed-doors goals.
The Prime Directive of Corporate America is to hide the rot that's permeated the entire corporation, starting at the top.
We shouldn't be too surprised that Corporate America is rotten to the core--the entire status quo is rotten to the core. Ethics and regulations are annoyances to be skirted, and if some random regulator catches insiders in the act, the corporation pays an inconsequential fine and then returns to BAU--business as usual, rotten to the core.
Any citizen who desires to be well-informed would be well-served to read this report closely: BMJ Investigation: Researcher blows the whistle on data integrity issues in Pfizer's vaccine trial.
As further documentation, I am honored to share a remarkable data base of Corporate Fines and Settlements from the early 1990s to the present compiled by Jon Morse. Here is Jon's description of his project to assemble a comprehensive list of all corporate fines and settlements that can be verified by media reports:
"This spreadsheet is all the corporate fines/settlements I've been able to find sourced articles about, mostly in the period from the 1990s up to today (with a few 80s and 70s). This is by far the most comprehensive list of such things online. At least that I could find, because the lack of any decent list is what made me start compiling this list in the first place."
What's noteworthy is the sheer number of corporate violations of laws and regulations--thousands upon thousands, the vast majority of which occurred since corporate profits began their incredible ascent in the early 2000s--and the list of those paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and settlements, which reads like a who's who of Corporate America and Top 100 Global Corporations.
I encourage you to open one of the three alphabetical tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet on Google Docs and scroll down to find your favorite super-profitable corporation.
Many have a long list of fines and settlements, and many of the fines are in excess of $100 million. Many are for blatant cartel price-fixing, not disclosing the dangers of the company's heavily promoted medications, destroying documents to thwart an investigation of wrong-doing, etc.
In other words, these were not wrist-slaps for minor oversights of complex regulations-- these are blatant violations of core laws of the land.
Jon offered this commentary on Corporate America's slide to the bottom of the moral cesspool:
"With the increases in concentration of wealth there has been a culture of idolizing wealth, one example is how prosecutors no longer find it appropriate to put bankers and CEOs in jail. I think one side-effect of the culture changing has been an increased willingness to break the law to increase profits.
The settlements with the banks along with the ongoing investigations have shown that virtually every market is being manipulated; the stocks, metals markets, LIBOR, FOREX, everything. The companies would only break so many laws if they felt they would have a reasonable chance of getting away with it; they would also need a reason to do it, which is provided by the infinite growth model our economy is based on."
Thank you, Jon, for compiling a tremendously important and valuable database, and for connecting this staggering list of violations to the cultural worship of maximizing private gains at any cost. I am reminded of socio-economist Immanuel Wallerstein's description of the current system of central-state/private-corporation collusion as "a particular historical configuration of markets and state structures where private economic gain by almost any means is the paramount goal and measure of success."
If America's total dependence on corporate profits and stock market / housing bubbles is just fine because the bubbles just keep inflating, there's nothing left but rot. The once solid timbers of America are now so rotted that you can push your finger right to the centers of power and find nothing but the crumbling remains of ethics, accountability, competition, transparency, regulatory oversight or responsibility to anything beyond maximizing private gain and masking the rot with cleverly designed narratives full of pretty sentiments.
The gruel being served at the banquet of consequences won't nourish a revival. The rot is too deep and too pervasive.
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