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Companies Caught Doing Damage

Big business is about making money. Corporations’ obsession with raking in as much cash as possible can be great – after all, it’s what drives the economy – but it can be awful too.

Most of us have at least some insight into the “awful” side, like, for example, when there is an oil spill or when an exec gets busted for fraud. But mostly we tend to accept things as they are, tend to let big biz dictate how, what, when we consume.

But if we’re trying to get a good grasp on how we, as a nation, are going to help stop global warming we should understand we need to change some deeply ingrained habits. And we should understand big biz depends on us sticking to these habits. So to really help change things, we need to truly understand big biz, even (prob. especially) that awful side. One of the best places to start to understand? The Project On Government Oversight.

POGO, “an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government,” compiles the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database. So if we want to find out what sort of improprieties these guys have been up to, all we have to do is check out POGO’s easily-searchable list. Hmmm, what key word should we search under? Oh, for the heck of it, let’s try “environment.”

Exxon Mobil’s there, to the tune of fines totaling almost $40 million. And ChevronTexaco is there, blowing Exxon out of the oily water, with fines of almost $297 million (the bulk of which stems from a 2003 settlement for penalties at its refineries). And Royal Dutch Shell, and Valero, and BP. Yes, I’m filtering out certain companies to highlight a trend. But there is indeed a trend.

But, it’s not all bad. POGO points out that that “39 of the top 100 government contractors do not show a pattern of misconduct,” proving you don’t have to cheat to go big-time.

The point is that there are easily accessible, hand-dandy tools out there to help us understand why we should (or, if you’re so inclined, why we shouldn’t) change.

The beauty of it? Just the very act of using these tools means we’re breaking those old habits, starting with the biggie – we’re thinking for ourselves.

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“Companies Caught Doing Damage”