Boiling it down to three words.

We have gotten a lot of stories of people being killed without any real consequence lately. But let me tell you of one case that really hasn’t gotten a lot of attention.
In this case, we have 4 people killed – two initially, two more trying to save the first victims. There was a third person who was only injured and not killed, but that was largely by luck. The investigation showed exactly who was responsible. Not only that, they had killed someone a few years before in nearly the exact same way.
What is the punishment for such a crime?
How about a quarter. Not a quarter century behind bars, I mean the little coin we used to use to power video games that had George Washington’s face on it (he must be proud).
How the hell are we not hearing about this? Where are the protests. Because, this is a case of DuPont Chemical, not a human being. DuPont is a company that is valuated at around $60 billion, with $35 billion in revenue. A worker was hit with a component in a pesitcide in a dosage enough to kill her almost immediately. Two coworkers, not knowing what happened to her, tried to save her and died themselves. One of the rescuers brothers, who also worked there, tried to use a gas mask to get to his brother, but died in the effort. An investigation found that DuPont had not taken the steps to protect or train its workers enough around such a deadly chemical.
And, after the investigation, what was the penalty? $99,000. Less than 25k per life lost. And when you are a company that makes $67k a minute, 24/7, that is just a minute and a half of your income.
Maybe it seems unfair to try to analogize a huge company to a person, to try to equate things they do to acts of people. But, lest you forget, corporations are people.
That what we’re told, that’s how they should be treated. I’ve considered that for a few years, I’ve had my rebuttals, but in light of this case, I think I have a much more succinct way to rebut that argument.
Fuck… that… shit!
Perhaps the choice of language seems a tad harsh, not the sort of thing for a proper debate on that argument. But really, what reaction can we really have other than, “fuck that shit!”
If corporations are people, they are sociopaths, creatures who are built not to act out of any empathy or concern for anyone but themselves.
In the DuPont case, they did exactly what they are supposed to do. Not only that, but really what they are legally required to do, at least legally required on the people making decisions for a publicly traded company. They went the way that was going to save them cost, allowing a maximization of profit. If it would cost $10 million to make sure all their plants have the proper safety equipment in place, and another $10 million in training of their staff… well, that’s 0.4% of their profits in a year. Paying off OSHA and if they can settle with the families for $4 million each, well, they are still bringing a few million more to the bottom line. It makes perfect sense. They can afford 4 deaths a year, easily.
And is the mentality of a sociopath. Not only that, but they demand – and we are giving to them – the rights of an individual. Give money to the politicians willy-nilly, as if they didn’t already have enough of a voice with them. But with that voice, they are securing the rights of a person, but none of the responsibility of one. Which allows them to act without concern for the consequences of their action. It’s the same thinking Ford used back in the 70s, but I suppose it was the 70s man, who’s going to remember back that far.
That points to the “S” word, once again.
Now, here is the thing. Wanting the right to do stuff, without any responsibility to anyone… that’s getting pretty commonplace nowadays. I hear it regularly, particularly from friends who have a job where they manage a lot of people. There are some, and it seems a growing group, who’d prefer to get paid, while not doing any work. Or at least, as little work as possible. From an economists POV, this is actually a rational position. As a manager, though, my job is to ensure they are doing their work. They need to be held accountable to do their responsibilities, and play nice with the people around them, or they won’t continue to get a paycheck.
So, it may not be surprising that corporations would want to have all the freedoms they can with a minimum of responsibilities. It is, as with an individual, an economically rational position to take and push for. But they do need to be responsible, they do need to be accountable for their actions.
What should the penalty be? I don’t know. What is the equivalent of jail time for a company? Of a death sentence? Corporations are corporations for one reason – the government says they are. Perhaps a penalty of rescinding their Articles of Incorporation? Small companies go away, bigger companies are forced to break up into smaller ones? A fine of 1 years’ profit, or even more, grosses? Something that would really hit the stock price, making the shareholders who vote for the board have an interest in having smart businessmen who can manage real risk, rather than just maximizing profit for the next quarter, no matter the cost to anything not categorized as “money”.
Maybe none of those are workable. But who knows? No one, because we’re not having that conversation. Rather, we’re taking an entity which is predisposed towards sociopathic behavior, and allowing them to run without boundaries, without any real danger that their actions will be more harmful than not. Sure, that’s what they’re asking for, but so does a four-year old, and we wouldn’t let them run without some sense of consequences. And at least a four-year old can feel sad about what they did. No, we’re letting this behavior go on because corporations make campaigns run and give politicians places on the board when they retire or get beat. So they’re not holding the corporations feet to the fire to just act a little bit human. And we’re doing the same with politicians, who have no fear of consequences pushing for an environment that openly allows such behavior.
Four people die, and the “person” responsible is fined just enough to get each family member a Honda… not the fanciest one, just a middle of the road Honda, no add-ons. Though, one family can get 2 Hondas, since they lost two brothers. And that’s just considered normal. The “cost of doing business”. Not enough to make a headline on a news site.
So, I have to ask myself, is this how it should be? And the only answer I can think of is, “fuck that shit.”

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