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Corporations and Public Health: Profits Before People

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Title: Corporations and Public Health: Profits Before People


1
Corporations and Public Health Profits Before
People
  • Martin Donohoe

2
Am I Stoned?
  • A 1999 Utah anti-drug pamphlet warns
  • Danger signs that your child may be smoking
    marijuana include excessive preoccupation with
    social causes, race relations, and environmental
    issues

3
Corporations Dominate the Global Economy
  • Almost 6 million corporations
  • 90 of transnational corporations headquartered
    in Northern Hemisphere
  • 500 companies control 70 of world trade

4
Corporations Dominate the Global Economy
  • 53 of the worlds 100 largest economies are
    private corporations 47 are countries
  • Wal-Mart is larger than Israel and Greece

5
The Stock Market
  • The top 1 of Americans owns 51 of all stocks,
    bonds, and mutual fund assets
  • Consequences of Differential Stock Ownership
  • Corporations are answerable to their shareholders
  • Governments are answerable (at least in theory)
    to their citizens (either through elections or
    revolutions)

6
Corporations
  • Internalize profits
  • 2 trillion (2012)
  • Externalize health and environmental costs

7
Corporate Taxation
  • Corporations shouldered over 30 of the nations
    tax burden in 1950 vs. 8 today
  • Nearly 1/3 of all large U.S. corporations pay no
    annual tax

8
Corporate Taxation
  • Big business claims that U.S. corporations pay
    the highest corporate taxes in the world (35)
  • FALSE The rate actually paid, after foreign
    governments get their cuts, money sent to foreign
    subsidiaries, loopholes, etc. 2.3 (U.S.
    Treasury Department) 17 for corporations with
    assets over 10 million

9
Reasons for Inadequate Corporate Taxation
  • Corporate tax breaks/loopholes
  • Corporate welfare
  • Cheating and under-payment common

10
Offshore tax havens shelter capital
  • Up to 32 trillion estimated (1/3 of all global
    wealth)
  • 11.5 trillion in individual wealth
  • U.S. GDP 16 trillion
  • Cayman Islands
  • Population 150,000
  • Home to 92,000 corporations

11
Ugland House, Cayman Islands 18,000 Corporations
Registered Here
12
Job Creators?
13
Corporate Taxation
  • 2004 Bush administration offered temporary tax
    holiday on foreign earnings
  • 300 billion in profit repatriated
  • 92 went to dividend payouts, stock buybacks, and
    corporate coffers
  • Only 8 went to R and D, new factories, and hiring

14
Exorbitant CEO Pay
  • CEO salaries up 759 since 1978
  • Average worker pay up 6
  • Performance pay loophole allows corporations to
    skirt 30 billion/yr in taxes

15
Exorbitant CEO Pay
  • The average CEO makes 250-400X the salary of the
    average U.S. worker (1960 - 41X)
  • Mexico 451
  • Britain 251
  • Japan 101
  • US Military 201 (top rank lowest rank)

16
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17
Corporate PR Tactics
  • Advertising
  • The art of convincing people to spend money they
    don't have for something they don't need. (Will
    Rogers)
  • Astroturf - artificially-created grassroots
    coalitions
  • Corporate front groups
  • Invoke poor people as beneficiaries

18
Corporate PR tactics
  • Characterize opposition as technophobic,
    anti-science, and against progress
  • Portray their products as environmentally
    beneficial despite evidence to the contrary
  • Corporate espionage spying, bribes

19
Greenwash
  • Public relations / ad campaigns
  • BP invests 100 million annually in clean energy
    amt. it spends annually to market itself as
    moving Beyond Petroleum

20
Sponsored Environmental Education Materials
(Examples)
  • International Paper
  • -Clearcutting promotes growth of trees that
    require full sunlight and allows efficient site
    preparation for the next crop
  • Exxons Energy Cube
  • -Gasoline is simply solar power hidden in
    decayed matter
  • -Offshore drilling creates reefs for fish

21
Academics/Professional Organizations Affected
  • Increasing corporatization of academia
  • ?Private commercial funding of university
    research
  • Secrecy/Gag Clauses
  • For-profit colleges growing, marked by
    corruption, high interest rates on loans to the
    un- and under-qualified

22
Academics/Professional Organizations Affected
  • Dramatic decrease in tenured faculty, rise in
    administrators
  • Gagging of researchers at federal agencies
    demoralizing, can affect recruitment of quality
    scientists

23
The Media
  • 5 corporations control majority of US media (down
    from 50 in 1983)
  • Extensive corporate-media links
  • American Council on Science and Health

24
Global Warming Controversial?
  • Of 928 articles in peer-reviewed scientific
    journals, none were in doubt as to the existence
    or cause of global warming
  • Of 636 articles in the popular press (NY Times,
    Washington Post, LA Times, WSJ), 53 expressed
    doubt as to the existence (and primary cause) of
    global warming
  • Science 20043061686-7
  • (Study covers 1993-2003)

25
Lobbying
  • Approximately 40,000 lobbyists (12,600 full-time)
  • Estimates of return on lobbying range from 28 to
    100 for every 1 spent

26
Lobbying
  • Corporate federal lobbying groups spent 3.5
    billion in 2010 (3.3 billion in 2011)
  • All single issue ideological groups combined
    (e.g., pro-choice, anti-abortion, feminist and
    consumer organizations, senior citizens, etc.)
    76 million (2010)

27
Top-Spending Industries, 2011 (Low Estimates)
  • Pharmaceutical industry - 236 million
  • Insurance industry - 158 million
  • Oil and gas industry - 146 million
  • Electric utilities - 144 million

28
Campaign Cash and Lobbying
  • Citizens United
  • Lobbying promotes international
    non-cooperation/isolationism

29
  • The alliance between GE Medical Systems and
    NY-Presbyterian Hospital

30
General Electric
  • Ranked by Forbes as worlds largest company
    (based on equal weighting of sales, profits,
    assets, and market value)
  • 2013 revenues of 147 billion
  • Close to the GDP of more than 2/3 of U.N. member
    states
  • 2013 net after-tax profits of 13.6 billion
  • Just over 1/3 from U.S. operations

31
General Electric
  • Makes household appliances, lighting, and medical
    equipment
  • Plastics division, which produced bisphenol A,
    spun off in 2008
  • Produces jet engines and military hardware

32
General Electric
  • Charles Wilson (CEO of GE pre- and post-WW II
    helped oversee U.S. military production during WW
    II)
  • The revulsion against warwill be an almost
    insuperable obstacle for us to overcome. For that
    reason, I am convinced that we must begin now to
    set the machinery in motion for a permanent
    wartime economy.

33
General Electric
  • Has built 91 nuclear power plants in 11 countries
    (including the troubled Fukushima Daishi plants
    in Japan)
  • Including 23 plants at 11 sites in U.S.
  • e.g., Hanford
  • ¼ of GEs US reactors found to be defective

34
General Electric
  • Operates coal-burning power plants
  • Major releasers of toxic mercury
  • Produces nearly 40 technologies used in fracking
  • Increasing investments in fracking

35
General Electric
  • Operates a large financial services group
  • Responsible for over 50 of companys profits in
    recent years
  • Until recently, owned 49 of a multi-billion
    dollar media empire
  • Including NBC, Telemundo, and Universal Studios
  • Comcast owned 51 bought out GE in 2013

36
GEs History
  • Conducted unethical human subject experiments on
    prisoners, involving testicular irradiation, from
    1940s to 1960s
  • Intentionally-released excessive radiation from
    its Hanford, WA nuclear reactor in the 1980s, to
    determine how far it would travel

37
GEs Record
  • Sued radiologist who brought to light dangers of
    GEs contrast agent, Omniscan
  • Causes nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (FDA black
    box warning)
  • Ordered to pay 11.4 million to Bracco
    Diagnositcs for falsely/misleadingly claiming
    that its x-ray contrast agent Visipaque was
    superior to BDs Isovue

38
GEs Record
  • Americas largest corporate polluter
  • 116 Superfund sites nationwide
  • Approximately 13 in NY

39
GEs Record
  • Between 1947 and 1977, two of its capacitor
    manufacturing plants dumped at least 1.3 million
    pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River
  • Probable human carcinogens with adverse effects
    on liver, kidney, nervous system, and
    reproductive organs (EPA)
  • 200 mi of Hudson Superfund site

40
GEs Record
  • Eliminated 34,000 US jobs between 2000 and 2010
  • Added 25,000 overseas jobs over same period
  • One of nations top out-sourcers of jobs

41
GEs Record
  • Cited by Human Rights Watch for systematic
    workers rights violations in the U.S. and
    abroad
  • Extensive record of tax violations, military
    procurement fraud

42
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt
  • 2013 total compensation 25.8 million
  • Named Worlds Best CEO in 3 separate Barrons
    polls
  • 2006 - 2011 - On Board of NY Federal Reserve Bank

43
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt
  • 2008 Named one of the 100 Most Influential
    People in the World by TIME Magazine
  • 2009 - Appointed by President Obama to his
    Economic Recovery Board
  • GE then became eligible, via a loophole, for ¼ of
    the 340 billion Temporary Liquidity Guarantee
    Program (debt support)

44
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt
  • 2011 - Appointed by Obama as Chair of his outside
    panel of Economic Advisors and of his Council on
    Jobs and Competitiveness
  • On the board of directors of The Robin Hood
    Foundation!

45
GEs Record
  • Named Americas Most Admired Company by Forbes
  • Named one of the Worlds Most Respected
    Companies in polls conducted by Barrons and The
    Financial Times

46
Concerns About the Agreement between GE Medical
Systems and NY-Presbyterian Hospital (2003)
  • Provides GE with financial incentives to promote
    high technology purchases
  • Hospital prohibited from purchasing more
    effective equipment from other companies

47
Concerns About the Agreement
  • Augments trend in academic medical centers to
    promote the use of expensive, high-technology
    care at expense of preventive care and public
    health measures
  • Highly reimbursable
  • Services may be redundant in certain locations

48
Concerns About the Agreement
  • Patients with developmental anomalies and cancers
    caused by GEs pollution diagnosed with GE
    scanners and treated with GE-manufactured
    therapeutic devices, increasing GEs profit

49
  • A macabre twist on cradle to grave care

50
Solutions
  • NY-P should cancel agreement
  • Health care providers and organizations should
    condemn this alliance
  • Medical and ethical organizations should develop
    standards regarding future agreements

51
Health Insurance Industry
  • Dubious practices
  • Delisting
  • Cherry picking
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Often lower quality of care
  • High administrative costs
  • 15-30 (vs. 2-3 for Medicare and Medicaid)

52
Health Insurance Industry
  • Large profit margins
  • Loyalty shareholders (not patients)
  • Corruption

53
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54
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55
Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Influence over physicians through control of CME,
    gifts, research funding
  • Physician Payments Sunshine Act reporting
    requirements
  • Conduct seeding trials to alter prescribing
    patterns
  • Secrecy, statistical torturing of data sets,
    selective publication

56
Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Data mining of prescribing practices
  • OKd by SCOTUS in Sorrell v. IMS Health
  • Unethical trials in developing world
  • Poor compliance with Clinical Trials Registry
    rules

57
Drug Company Malfeasance
  • The pharmaceutical industry is the biggest
    defrauder of the federal government, as
    determined by payments made for violations of the
    federal False Claims Act (FCA)
  • Accounted for 25 of all FCA payouts between 2000
    and 2010
  • Defense industry 11

58
Pharmaceutical Industry
  • 240 million dollars spent on lobbying in 2011
  • 1,228 lobbyists (2.3 for every member of
    Congress)
  • Revolving door between legislators, lobbyists,
    executives and government officials

59
Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Effectively lobbied and threatened trade
    sanctions against developing countries in order
    to prevent production and importation of much
    cheaper, generic versions of life-saving
    anti-AIDS drugs
  • Patent extensions

60
PPACA Patient Protection and Affordability Care
Act
  • Career arc of Elizabeth Fowler (architect of
    plan)
  • VP for Public Policy and External Affairs
    (informal lobbying) at WellPoint (nations
    largest insurer)
  • Chief health policy counsel to Senator Max Baucus
    (who drafted legislation)
  • Head of Global Health Policy at pharmaceutical
    giant Johnson and Johnson

61
Solutions
  • Restructure tax system
  • Punish corporate scofflaws with large fines and
    jail time
  • Increase enforcement budgets to combat corporate
    crime

62
Solutions
  • Eliminate confidential legal settlements and
    confidential business information relevant to
    public health and safety
  • Eliminate mandatory binding arbitration clauses

63
Solutions
  • Living wage laws
  • Work with corporations
  • Healthy PR
  • Shareholder activism
  • Risks/benefits

64
Solutions Fair, Representative Elections
  • Publicly financed campaigns and campaign finance
    reform
  • Overturn Citizens United
  • Proportional representation
  • Instant runoff voting
  • Halt disenfranchisement, overturn voter
    restriction laws
  • Vote

65
Solutions
  • Activism / Letter writing / Protesting /
    Whistleblowing
  • Work in groups
  • Lobby legislators
  • Run for office

66
Solutions
  • Increase funding of public education
  • Independent scientific review of school curricula
  • Prohibit use of sponsored curricula

67
Solutions
  • Establish safeguards re corporate involvement in
    academic research
  • Higher standards of journalism
  • Support alternative media

68
Solutions
  • Augment and improve international aid package
  • 0.9 of the total federal budget, 1.6 of the
    discretionary budget
  • Charitable giving approximately 250 billion/year
    (2.5 of income vs. 2.9 at height of Great
    Depression)
  • Sign, ratify, and adhere to major international
    treaties

69
Solutions
  • Based on Precautionary Principle
  • Recognize natures net worth
  • Measure prosperity based on Genuine Progress
    Index or Global Happiness Index, rather than
    Gross Domestic Product

70
  • All men are created equal
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Some people are more equal than others
  • George Orwell

71
Voltaire
  • The comfort of the rich rests upon an abundance
    of the poor

72
Hudson River, 2009
73
Primo Levi
  • A country is considered the more civilized the
    more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder
    a weak man from becoming too weak or a powerful
    one too powerful.

74
Günter Grass
  • The first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth
    open.

75
African Proverb
  • If you think you are too small to have an
    impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in your
    tent

76
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77
Contact Information and References
  • Public Health and Social Justice Website
  • http//www.publichealthandsocialjustice.org
  • http//www.phsj.org
  • martindonohoe_at_phsj.org
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