BP doesnâ€™t give a damn about the Gulf of Mexico. Mortgage bankers donâ€™t care about the millions whose homes are being foreclosed. And good olâ€™ American corporations donâ€™t shed tears when new factories in Bangladesh put millions of Americans out of work.
BP, banks and other corporations are charged with making money for their stockholders. Period.
Whether the product is oil or mortgages, corporations will stay in business only as long as they generate a profit. Their CEOâ€™s performance is watched just like colleges watch football coaches, and like coaches, they are judged on their performance. Follow the money. It doesnâ€™t matter if people really NEED oil or mortgages, once thereâ€™s no more profit there, the corporations either stop producing what they were producing or they go broke.
Paying decent wages and protecting the earth: that all takes away from . . . you guessed it . . . making a profit.
If enacting safety rules saves money, then corporations will run safe work places. If saving whales generates some good publicity, then Save the Whales it is. But if safety or whales are too costly, well then, the CEO with a soft spot risks getting replaced by someone who gives less of a damn.
Hard-hearted Hayward, BPâ€™s man on the Gulf was doing his job. We â€˜small peopleâ€™ would really have liked for him to do it humanely, please. But there was nothing in his job description that says he should have made decisions for the good of humanity. Why were we surprised that he didnâ€™t open up BPâ€™s coffers to help Louisiana? Profit, profit, profit… did I mention that itâ€™s all about profit?
Whoâ€™s Looking Out For the Squishy Bits?
Call me old-fashioned, but gee whiz, somebody has to look out for the earth, the critters and the people on it. We have four main checks and balances on the greed of corporations:
Government: We enact laws and hire regulators to monitor corporations. Funny, when the BP spill happened, we all started screaming for government to DO SOMETHING! Though we love to complain about government, we expect it to be there watching and regulating when bad things happen.
Courts: We can sue when corporations cause harm.
Unions: Workers can band together to protect themselves – and strike if their interests arenâ€™t protected.
Media: Journalism is our eyes and ears, alerting us to horrid work conditions or unsafe products.
Our Safeguards Under Attack
Well, wouldnâ€™t it seem logical that corporations would go after these institutions that interfere with their profit making? The U. S. along with the rest of the world is in a continual tug of war between corporations screaming to be released from anything that holds them back and sensible people figuring out ways to… hold them back.
Youâ€™ve heard the catch words: Big Government, Greedy Trial Lawyers, Bullying Unions and Muckraking Journalists. Corporations spend billions whittling away against these protective barriers against unfettered greed. With huge budgets dedicated to changing laws, rewarding sympathetic politicians and swaying public opinion in their favor, they often get what they want.
Because we are a world of fragile persons and fragile ecosystems, we MUST remain vigilant. We have to elect politicians who protect our right to regulate, sue, unionize, and publicize.
We shouldnâ€™t look the Tony Haywards of the world in the eye and expect to find any compassion. Dragging them in front of Congress for a scolding wonâ€™t do much either. Sure, it puts them in the hot seat for a day.
But the next morning, theyâ€™ll be back at work – making money.