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.”

I Wanna Know What Love (of America) Is

One can’t be surprised that Rudy Giuliani goes out and makes some asinine comments about the President, and double-downs on the asinine-ness in trying to explain them away. It has been the only real means he’s gotten any attention for years, saying something provocative so people will talk about him, trying to still coast on the image of “America’s Mayor” from 9/11, surviving on the support of people who refuse to read the post-attack investigations that showed how many times he chose wrong in preparing NYC for an inevitable attack.
But he goes after Obama for a supposed lack of “Love of America”. Whatever the hell that means. In the context of what Giuliani says, it means having a different philosophy on how to move forward than Giuliani, or any of the Republicans who flash the flag as a means of distracting from the actual political actions they take.
It means their view of military action as the ultimate answer to foreign policy is right, anyone who thinks different is surrendering. It means claiming that America has by far the best healthcare system in the world is right, any anyone who cites the actual data and looks to counties with better systems for solutions are socialist bastards bent on destroying our economy. It means that since 1964, race relations would be fair and level if it weren’t for the problems African-Americans bring on themselves, and anyone who acknowledges that African-Americans are perceived as “less American” that whites, or that there are less opportunities to advance to that same population and wants to try to fix them, is a race baiter, looking for America to fall in a race war.
No, none of those are signs of people who hate America, who want to see it go away, who wants to harm the citizens. It is, indeed, different from the love Giuliani and his supporters. The question is, what is the real difference?
When we are kids, we love our parents, unconditionally. When we are grown up, most of us are lucky to still love our parents and have a better relationship than when we were younger. But the nature of that love is quite different.
As a kid, one’s dad or mom can do anything. Arguments erupt in schoolyards over whose dad is better than whose. My dad can beat up your dad. Oh, yeah, my dad can dunk a basketball standing still? Oh, yeah, my dad can jump so high he stands on the rim when he dunks. And so on, and so on. And as kids, we say these things out of an innate love for our parents. But there is no basis in facts. In fact, as kids, we ignore anything empirical that might tarnish our superhero parental image, calling those who dare bring that up crap-head or some other creative curse.
As adults though, we can see our parents’ faults. Some you just accept. Oh, that’s just how Mom is. Some might be a matter of contention. But when we love our parents as adults, we do it fully recognizing the areas where they fall short. We may even appreciate more the things they were able to do even with their faults.
Obama has repeatedly mentioned in his books and in speeches about the opportunities the United States provided him as the son of a single mother. He’s talked about the promise of America, how it has acted as a beacon for nations and peoples around the world. But he’s also mentioned where America has stumbled, where the deeds have fallen short of the words of her promise. How the echo of 400 years of racist policy still affects people’s day-to-day lives, how not everyone is born with the same opportunity as everyone else, how we are a prosperous nation that is an outlier in making people go without proper medical attention.
To say those things is not to hate America, but to love America and want to see it live up to its potential. To recognize that like everything else in the world, nothing is perfect, but we should keep striving to be better and better.
The alternative is to pretend that America is the most awesomest nation in all things. America, as a country, is better than your country. America can beat up your country. America cannot only dunk a basketball, but jumps so high that it stands on the rim when it does so. That when faced with the data that shows our health system ranked in the mid20s in many major categories, to give the rhetorical equivalent of “Nuh-uh! Shut Up! America is the bestest!” That’s the behavior that Giuliani and his supporters want to see.
That is still a love of America. But it isn’t a very useful one. If we don’t stop and assess what is wrong, beyond the fact that there are politicians who disagree with us so they must be evil, we cannot get better. We will not improve. We will, in fact, atrophy, because as long as we stay in place and the rest of the world adapts and changes and moves ahead, we’ll just fall behind.
So, unlike Giuliani, we shouldn’t turn the tables and say that it’s really him that doesn’t love America. We need to recognize how much he really does, just as a 5-year-old loves his dad. And if you don’t agree with him, well, you’re just a poopy-head.