Tuesday, June 6, 2017

5 Corporate Scandals

Oops! I accidentally got carried away while working on a freelance writing project and wrote way over my projected word count about corporate scandals. So please, enjoy this short list of awful things done in the name of capitalism.

If you are horrified and fascinated by these events, perhaps you would like to browse this blog's history tag.

1. Ford Pinto (1978). Ford made its Pinto models between 1971 and 1980. In 1971, Ford recalled 20,000 of its Pintos because of reports of vapors from the fuel tank leaking into the back of the car through the carburetor. In two legal cases, Ford was accused of producing a car it knew was unsafe, particularly in low-speed rear-end collisions. Three deaths and four incidents of serious injury were reported 1971-1974.
In 1978, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ruled that the design of Ford’s fuel tank was defective. In 1980 the state of Indiana charged the Ford corporation with murder after three teenage girls were killed in one accident involving a Pinto, but the company was found not guilty.

2. Union Carbide (1984). The chemical manufacturer’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, India was so poorly maintained it caused the largest industrial disaster in history. The accidental release of methyl isocyanate caused the immediate suffocation deaths of more than 2,000 people, injuries in more than 50,000 people, and an additional gas-related death toll of perhaps another 8,000 people. Although the Indian government charged Union Carbide executives with homicide, the company claimed it was not under Indian jurisdiction and these officials did not appear in court to face these charges.
3. Lincoln Savings and Loan (1989). The Lincoln S&L had been a respected financial institution since it was opened in Los Angeles in 1925. Its management ran the institution conservatively and made a modest profit.

When Charles Keating purchased Lincoln S&L in February 1984, Keating increased the company’s profits five-fold by taking on riskier and riskier investments. As a result, the parent company was forced to declare bankruptcy and 21,000 investors, many of them elderly, lost their savings.

4. Firestone Natural Rubber Company (1990). Firestone Tire and Rubber Company opened this natural rubber plantation in Liberia in 1926. Leased from the Liberian government, the plantation was the largest of its kind in the world. Human rights groups have documented numerous worker complaints about conditions in the plantation, ranging from accusations of child labor violations to modern-day slavery.

Civil war broke out in Liberia in 1990, and a resistance group took over the Firestone plantation. Although all the details of the what happened on the plantation at that time are unclear, what is known is that warlord Charles Taylor made Firestone Natural Rubber Company his base of operations and that Taylor was convicted in international criminal court for war crimes.

5. Halliburton (2010). Founded in 1919, the Halliburton Company is among the world’s largest oil field service companies. It has been involved in numerous scandals over the years, from accusations of illegal trading with the enemy when a subsidiary opened an office in Tehran to charges of obstructing an investigation by deleting data related to the Deep Water Horizon oil rig explosion of 2010. Halliburton was found to be jointly responsible, along with BP and another oil company, of negligent practices that caused the deaths of 11 employees and the discharge of 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.