The Ten Worst Corporations of 2001
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
In a year marked not only by the now-standard forms of
corporate marauding but also by brazen wartime profiteering,
it was no easy chore to identify Multinational Monitor's
10 corporations of 2001.
The competition was even tougher than usual. But choices
had to be made. And now decisions have been reached.
Multinational Monitor has named Abbott Laboratories,
Argenbright, Bayer, Coke, Enron, Exxon Mobil, Philip Morris,
Sara Lee, Southern Co. and Wal-Mart as the 10 worst corporations
Appearing in alphabetical order, the 10 worst are:
Abbott Laboratories, for its TAP Pharmaceuticals, a joint
venture with Japanese Takeda Pharmaceuticals. TAP was
forced to pay $875 million to resolve criminal charges
and civil liability in connection with allegations of
major Medicare reimbursement fraud. Among other alleged
fraudulent activities, as a way of hooking doctors on
prescribing Lupron, its prostate cancer drug, TAP gave
doctors free samples and then encouraged doctors to bill
Medicare for the free samples.
Argenbright, the security company, for repeat violations
of regulations for airport security. Argenbright's appalling
record -- including violations of security rules it had
been caught breaking just a year earlier -- helped convince
Congress to federalize U.S. airport security operations.
Bayer, for its overcharge of the government and public
for the anti-anthrax drug Cipro, based on a patent monopoly
that may well be improperly maintained by virtue of a
collusive arrangement with a generic manufacturer. Bayer
also secured a place on the 10 worst list for its dangerous
peddling of antibiotics for poultry (contributing to antibiotic
resistance among humans) and its harassment of a German
watchdog group, Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, for maintaining
a BayerWatch.com website.
Coca Cola, for its sponsorship of the first Harry Potter
movie and possible sequels, using a children's favorite
to hawks its unhealthy product, and for alleged complicity
with death squads in Colombia targeting union leaders
Enron, for costing many of its employees their life savings
by refusing to let them dump company stock from their
pension plans, as Enron plunged toward bankruptcy.
ExxonMobil, for leading the global warming denial campaign
(even O'Dwyer's a leading rag of the public relations
industry, has chastised the company for its "stubborn
refusal to acknowledge the fact that burning fossil fuels
has a role in global warming") and blocking efforts
at appropriate remedial action, plus a host of other reckless
Philip Morris, for its "we've changed" marketing
campaign -- revealed to be a hoax by a Czech study it
commissioned alleging cost savings from smoking-related
premature deaths, as well as the company's ongoing efforts
to addict millions of new smokers.
Sara Lee, for a scandal involving its Ball Park Franks
hot dogs. Listeria-contaminated Ball Park Franks killed
21 and seriously injured 100 in 1998. In 2001, with civil
and criminal litigation around the case heating up, the
Detroit Free Press reported that Sara Lee stopped performing
tests for bacteria after it started recording too many
positives. The U.S. attorney, which handled prosecution
of the criminal case, insists Sara Lee did not know about
the presence of listeria in its hot dogs. In an extraordinary
move, the U.S. attorney issued a joint press release with
Sara Lee announcing settlement of the case. The final
tally: 21 dead. A misdemeanor plea. A $200,000 fine.
Southern Co., the largest electric utility in the United
States, for its efforts to defeat sensible air pollution
regulations. Southern is a heavy user of coal, and leads
the fight to maintain a ridiculous "grandfather"
clause in the U.S. Clean Air Act, which exempts power
plants built before 1970 from Clean Air Act standards.
Wal-Mart, for continuing to source products from overseas
sweatshops, for viciously battling efforts to unionize
any fraction of its workforce (the largest in the United
States, among private employers), and for contributing
to the sprawl that blights the U.S. landscape.
For a complete version of Multinational Monitor's article
naming the 10 worst corporations of 2001, see www.essential.org/monitor.
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington,
D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors
of Corporate Predators: The
Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe,
Courage Press, 1999; http://www.corporatepredators.org)
(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman