Category Archives: corporations

Tenthers When They Wanna Be

I guess this is pick on Texas week at Southern Beale’s place.

Texas, you annoy me to no end. Sorry, but you do. Get your shit together, please. First we’ve got ignorant legislators mistaking “rape kits” for abortions, now we have major outrage that FEMA is only covering 75% part of the cost associated with the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion (sorry that was 75% of the state’s costs associated with debris removal and emergency response, not total costs):

Federal officials have so far paid or agreed to pay an estimated $25 million to the state and to affected families after the explosion — about $17 million for emergency work and nearly $8 million in grants and low-interest disaster loans for individuals. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency determined that under the federal disaster law, called the Stafford Act, the $17 million in uninsured public infrastructure damages were within the capabilities of the state and local governments. The state’s request to the president was denied because Texas failed to provide evidence that it “lacked the fiscal resources to address the remaining $17 million,” a FEMA spokesman said.

Mr. Perry has called the state’s strong economy “the envy of the nation.” Texas leads the country in job creation, and the two-year, $197 billion budget recently passed by state lawmakers provided Texans with more than $1 billion in tax relief. The state’s Rainy Day Fund, generated largely by oil and gas production taxes, has about $8 billion. The Legislature approved $2 million for West relief.

If you’re going to pass $1 billion in “tax relief” and deregulate your industries, then I’d say it takes a shit-ton of hubris to then demand the Feds bail you out when your chickens come home to roost.

Let me add, as was reported back in May, the fertilizer plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance, and Texas state law didn’t require any more.

Here’s how it looks from where I sit: Texas has lax laws governing hazardous industrial operations and even worse oversight. The Feds are chronically underfunded because the Tea Party Congress believes in small government, and is therefore ill equipped to do the kind of oversight needed in places like Texas, which are constantly touting their small-government Freedom-n-Founding-Fathers-States-Rights “business friendly” environment. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been going around the country touting that “business friendly” low-regulation, low-tax environment and how wonderful it is.

But when that “business friendly,” “low tax,” “low regulation” environment results in the predictable disaster as we saw in West, Texas? They still want the Feds to bail them out. And by “Feds” let me borrow a page from the Tea Party playbook: that’s you and me, bub. Mah Tax Dollahs.

I don’t think so. This is textbook “privatize the gains, socialize the losses” policy. And this shows just what big whiny babies the Tenthers really are. I seem to recall Rick Perry campaigning for president as a “state’s rights” Tenth Amendment guy, screeching about the Tenth Amendment when it’s something he doesn’t want to do (like Medicare, clean air standards, and education funds) — but when it’s something he wants (like disaster aid) he’s got his hand out like all the rest of them.

I’m just not feeling very sorry for Texas these days. Sorry your town exploded but maybe y’all should have shown some personal responsibility and actually regulated your hazardous industries and maybe even funded some inspectors. Or how about telling the idiots you guys send to Washington, D.C. that maybe funding agencies like OSHA and FEMA and the EPA is a good thing because you may need those folks some day? Instead of all your bluster and swagger about being rugged individualists who don’t need nobody fer nuttin’ and we’re better than y’all and churches can pay for it etc. etc. etc.

You know, that personal responsibility stuff you guys are always talking about? It’s not just for brown people and slutty ladies.

Adding ….

From the story:

Presidents have been generous to Texas when it comes to disaster declarations, despite the anti-Washington sentiments of the state’s political leadership. From 1953 to 2011, Texas received 86 major-disaster declarations, the most of any state in the country, according to a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service. California received 78, and New York 65.

That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with giving aid where it’s needed. But don’t be flapping your jaws about how evil Washington is and the oppressive hand of the gummint and all that. The Mayor of West, Texas says:

“We don’t ask for a lot of handouts here in West,” he said. “But at the same time, if West is to survive, the support and the aid needs to be available.”

Yes. That’s right, your town may not have asked for a lot of “handouts,” but others in Texas have. And trust me, I have nooo problem with that, none, zip, we all come together to help out when help is needed. But you guys need to stop whining about the requests for aid that come in when natural disasters not the result of corporate negligence and lax oversight are needed — the kinds that come in from some other town in some other place, a liberal place perhaps (*cough*cough*New Orleans*cough*cough*Hurricane Sandy*cough*cough*California wildifres*cough*cough).

And also? If you’re going to refer to FEMA aid as a “handout”? Really I have no time for you. You need a big attitude adjustment.

Texas, get a reality check.

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Filed under corporations, Texas

Just Try Stuffing That Genie Back In The Bottle, Folks

[UPDATE]:

It’s The Corporations, Stupid: Juan Cole on why the Second Amendment is interpreted strictly, literally, fundamentally, but the Fourth Amendment is not. Good read.

———————————————————-

Last night I was watching “All In With Chris Hayes,” a rare oasis of intelligent, in-depth conversation on the day’s news. The segment on Edward Snowden, which you can see here (WordPress won’t let me embed the video) covered a lot of the main issues. The thing that got me out of my chair was this bit from Karen Finney; I have no idea who Karen Finney is — I gather she worked in the Clinton White House and she’s got a show coming to MSNBC — but she hit every point I’ve been thinking and saying about this story, and I want to say thank you because there are a couple of larger issues here that really need to be addressed.

She said:

[…] I remember very clearly when I was at the DNC, when we were fighting the Bush Administration on the warrantless wiretapping. I mean, many Democrats, Howard Dean among them, you know, the argument we made was, follow the law. We can do, you know, let’s follow the law and we can keep America safe, we said we wanted a process. We now have a process. I think the argument needs to be, if this process isn’t right, then let’s have that conversation. But the other problem, just quickly, Chris, that really bothers me about this is, you know, somebody could track my location just based on my cell phone. Somebody not the government and so, like, we’re already — it’s a farce if we think that we’ve got a level of privacy that we used to. I mean the amount of information that is out there and available about us that we are willingly giving away all the time, if we’re going to be this concerned about it, then let’s really have that conversation because I don’t want private companies having access to that information either, by the way.

Marc Ambinder then jumped in with his notion that there’s a big difference between corporations and the government having this information, the worst a corporation can do is send you coupons in the mail, but the government can actually put you in jail. That’s an extraordinarily dumb argument, and Ambinder should know better. First of all, being deluged with advertising messaging is incredibly invasive (I wrote about it here). But also, we live in an era when corporations are polluting our elections with dark money and trying to hide their true agenda behind shadowy groups like Americans For Prosperity and FreedomWorks. So to say the worst thing a corporation can do is send you some unwanted ads is extraordinarily obtuse. They’re trying to undermine our entire democratic process, Ambinder. They’re unraveling the very fabric of our democracy. You goddamn fool.

I’m not happy about any of this, but I’m slightly less concerned about the government’s activities than I am the private sector’s. We have control over the government. We have elections, and a certain amount of transparency built into that system. Private corporations? Not so much. Money corrupts, doesn’t it? So let’s not bring the profit motive into any situation that we don’t want money to corrupt. Like, you know, national security.

Let’s take this scenario to its logical end, when we’re all slaves to the board of directors of RJ Exxon Coca-Koch Bros. Industries, and quaint things like clean air, clean water, worker’s rights and a fucking Saturday off are a thing of the past. Yes I’m exaggerating but if you think things like income inequality are bad now, wait until we turn more of our institutions over to private, for-profit corporations. It’s called “corporate capture” and it’s the real problem, the one no one wants to talk about because it’s already too late.

If I seem a little “emo” on this issue it’s because the whole surveillance issue is something I’ve devoted a lot of time to in my life. Heck, I spent 10 years on a novel I never finished (I know, such a cliche, right?) whose title was “Panopticon,” okay? So I get it. The thing is, as Finney points out, this isn’t just big, bad gummint doing this. This is a private security contractor! A private corporation! The collusion between government and the private sector is extremely disturbing. And I guess we won’t ever address that issue until some Tea Party Republicans decide they don’t like it (which will be never) because apparently our corporate media doesn’t think any issue is worth discussing unless Republicans are upset about it.

So wake the hell up.

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Filed under civil liberties, corporations, FISA, FISA. telecom immunity, national security, NSA, warrantless surveillance

Memory Hole

I really am sick and tired of conservatives calling for the fainting couches over stuff happening under Obama which they actively defended when Bush was in office.

Seriously, I’m super busy today, guys? So look, if you want to know what I think about all of this NSA spying crap everyone is acting like is some new thing? Just click on the little tags and categories thingies below? Because I’ve been talking about this since I started blogging, which was like six years ago. It was bad under Bush, it’s bad under Obama, but no one wanted to listen to any of us hippies on the left (and some on the right) who were crying “civil liberties! civil liberties!” back in the day. So stop your fucking whining and Obama blaming now.

Here’s a nice little trip into the memory hole for y’all:

U.S. President George Bush called on Congress Monday night to broaden protection for telecommunications carriers that helped the government monitor phone calls and e-mail.

The Protect America Act, which allows the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists without first obtaining a court warrant, is due to expire Friday and Bush called for its extension as part of his final State of the Union address.

“To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning,” he said in the televised address. “Last year, Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, Congress set the legislation to expire on Feb.1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted.”

Failure to extend the legislation won’t just hit the NSA. The telecommunications carriers that worked with the agency despite the lack of court warrants also face privacy lawsuits and an extension to the legislation would provide them legal protection. Bush touched on that point as well.

“Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We’ve had ample time for debate. The time to act is now,” said Bush to applause from mostly Republican members of the audience. Vice President Dick Cheney, seated behind Bush, also applauded the call.

Cheney and the White House last week pushed Congress to extend the act and provide protection for telecom carriers. AT&T and other carriers are facing lawsuits in San Francisco by civil liberties groups and individuals who allege that the surveillance program is illegal.

Earlier Monday, efforts by Republicans to curtail debate in the U.S. Senate and force a vote on an extension to the act failed, and debate is due to resume Tuesday.

Got that? This isn’t some new thing under Obama, it’s something we’ve been talking about for about 10, 11, 12 years now. Since 9/11 at the least. And by the way, that article above is from January 29, 2008. Not only did they want the NSA wiretapping without warrants to continue, the Republicans in the Senate tried to ram it through and were thwarted thanks to the Democrats. As I wrote at the time:

I’m sure the Republicans will be up to their usual screetching about terrorists, but we all know this has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with protecting corporate cronies at Big Telecom. Liberals refer to it as telecom immunity, neocons as “liability protection,” but it all comes down to protecting AT&T and Verizon Wireless from scores of lawsuits because they knowingly broke the law.

Please. Y’all are getting on my last nerve with this IOKIYAR shit. Knock it off. We’re not that stupid.

4 Comments

Filed under corporations, FISA, FISA. telecom immunity, NSA, telecom, telecom immunity, War On Terror, warrantless surveillance

Horrible Pilot Flying J People Plead Guilty

Remember Pilot Flying J regional sales director Arnold Ralenkotter, joking about ripping off “a fuckin’ Russian mafia guy” in Illinois named “Pav”, whom he referred to as a “dumbass”?

Yeah. He pleaded guilty to ripping off the trucking company’s customers. Also pleading guilty: Ashley Judd. No, not that one.

I’m guessing there’s going to be some sweet singing by these two — especially Ralenkotter, who might want to avoid running into Pav’s friends and associates in prison.

I think it defies credibility that Jimmy Haslam didn’t know about this scheme, especially seeing as how the fraud was openly discussed at meetings where Haslam was present. But even if Haslam slithers away, the company is facing a rash of lawsuits.

So, again: do we have any bets on what new name the Haslam family will dream up to rebrand the family business? I’m thinking “Patriot Family Red White And Blue Freedom Oil Of America.”

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Filed under Bill Haslam, corporations, fraud, Tennessee

Great Moments In Corporate Citizenship

The West, Texas fertilizer plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance, reports AP:

Tyler lawyer Randy C. Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer’s owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant’s insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday in an email to The Associated Press, after the Dallas Morning News first reported it.

“The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we’ve seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he expects the plant’s owner to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.

He said he wasn’t surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.

“It’s rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity,” he said. “We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation.”

A $1 million policy is not gonna do squat for West, Texas or the 14 families who lost a loved one, or those 200 injured people. But I guess the glorious free hand of the market will be there for them, right? That and federal disaster aid, of course!

By the way, maybe in addition to all of the prayers and moments of silence, the Texas House and Senate might want to pass a few regulations to help ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. After all, taxpayers all around the country are going to be footing the bill for the negligence of a Texas business — and the failure of Texas legislators to adequately regulate their dangerous industries. So yes, Gov. Rick Perry, as long as we all have to pay for it, you can take your “states rights” and shove it, you arrogant phony cowboy.

And since we’re talking about this, Texas is starting to look an awful lot like Bangladesh and China. Except in those places, the evil business owners are arrested.

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Filed under corporations, Texas

Look At The Label & Remember

Next time you see “Made in Bangladesh” on your clothing, remember this picture:

bangladesh__factory_collapse_AP809812716191_1_620x350

This is the factory in Bangladesh which supposedly made clothing for Wal-mart, Dress Barn, Benetton, and others, where workers were ordered inside despite the sudden appearance of large cracks in the building, and a hundred or more died as a result:

The cracks that suddenly appeared on Tuesday afternoon in the Rana Plaza building were large enough to send workers fleeing into the street.

They made the television news that night, but the building’s owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, told reporters the sudden appearance of cracks was “nothing serious”.

He did not say that police had ordered him to shut the factory. Nor did he mention that the top four floors of the building, in Savar, north of Dhaka, were constructed illegally without permits.

I know the New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof has been trying to convince us that outsourcing our manufacturing to poverty-stricken countries like Bangladesh is a good thing because jobs and blah blah. Pretty sure he’s not saying such things with anything close to a straight face any more, though. As NPR notes:

The collapse comes just five months after 112 workers were killed in a fire in another apparel factory in Bangladesh that had supplied Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.

I’d like steal a phrase (and documentary title) and say this is the high cost of those low prices. But actually, it’s not even low prices anymore; Benetton ain’t cheap. I’ve seen “Made in Bangladesh” on clothes I’ve purchased at higher-end stores, too. This seems to be “the way it’s done” these days. Clothing manufacturing has been outsourced to desperately poor countries where people work in Triangle Shirt Waist Factory conditions. I certainly didn’t ask for that, and I have no control over it. Even if I don’t buy a $10 T-shirt from CostCo, my clothes are still made overseas under specious conditions. At least if they were made in the U.S. I’d have some, tiny shred of confidence that the workers weren’t abused in the process (though the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion has even put that to the test). It’s damn hard to avoid it.

I really don’t want people dying to make my stuff. I don’t get why that’s so hard for Wal-mart and Dress Barn and Macy’s and The Gap and everyone else to understand.

10 Comments

Filed under corporations, globalization, outsourcing, poverty

Horrible People, Pilot Flying J Edition

More details have emerged in the fraud case against Pilot Flying J, the family business of Gov. Bill Haslam which is run by his brother. The company headquarters was raided by the FBI on Tuesday. And man, is this turning out to be a big ol’ shitpile.

The allegation is that the company intentionally reduced monthly rebates due trucking company customers to increase the company’s profitability on monthly P&L statements — and thereby increase sales commissions, which were based on those figures. According to the FBI affidavit, the practice was shockingly commonplace and widespread, involving a wide array of employees — account executives, regional supervisors, executive management; it was even openly discussed in a meeting attended by Pilot’s President Mark Hazelwood and CEO Jimmy Haslam III. This was no whispered back-room deal done under the cloak of secrecy — unless you’re a Pilot Flying J customer, of course. Nope, as layed out in the FBI affidavit, it was business as usual, even something discussed in sales meetings. Everyone, save customers, seemed to know about it. [UPDATE: The Tennessean, which operates the worst website in the history of journanimalism, now has a dead link to the FBI affidavit, because I guess they figure no one ever digs through the memory hole on the web. However, I think this one goes to the same information.]

Even more shocking is the incredible hubris on display in recorded conversations. “Fuck ’em early and fuck ’em often,” says John Freeman, Pilot’s VP of sales on page 50 of the affidavit. What a swell guy.

On Page 52 we hear Arnold Ralenkotter, Pilot regional sales director, joking with Brian Mosher, Director of National Sales, about ripping off what Ralenkotter called “a fuckin’ Russian mafia guy” in Illinois named “Pav”:

MOSHER: How’d it end up?
RALENKOTTER: Well, we agreed to the across-the-board deal. And we didn’t change a thing.
MOSHER: He doesn’t fuckin’ have a clue. He doesn’t have a clue.
RALENKOTTER: But he slid that, he slid the, you know, the Love’s offer letter, where they kinda lay it all out? Walked out of there, I said don’t change a thing. Let him believe whatever the hell he wants.
MOSHER: He didn’t have any fuckin’ clue.
RALENKOTTER: Dumbass.

Mosher and the rest treated customers like the enemy. If you were a smart negotiator, they’re all like, “How dare you! You gonna mess with me? I’m gonna mess with you.” But if a customer didn’t understand Pilot’s complicated pricing program, they’re like “Stupid rubes! You deserve to get ripped off!” Indeed, these guys seemed to take special pleasure in preying upon — no, relishing — customers’ ignorance about pricing and rebates:

SCHIMMEL: Let me ask a question. Even though, do we have an idea of what percentage of people out there truly know, have an understanding of discounts? I mean …
MOSHER: I would tell you it’s, I’m gonna say way less than 50%. I’m thinking it’s 25% or less, that really, really know on a day-in-day-out basis. Now, again, that depends, right? Because if you’re sending that customer a daily price fetch, he doesn’t have to know, all he has to do is save his e-mails, okay? Because he can go back and recalculate this stuff. (Laughter.) But the guy that doesn’t– huh?
WELCH: Some of’em. (Laughter.)
MOSHER: Some of ’em, some of ’em don’t know what a spreadsheet is. I’m not kiddin’. So, again, my point is this: Know your customer. Know what you’re sending him, know what his preferences are, know how sophisticated he is, okay? If the guy’s sophisticated and he truly has gone out and gotten deals from the other competitors and he’s gettin’ daily prices from us, don’t jack with his discounts, ’cause he’s gonna know, okay? But the guy that’s just sayin’ “Cost-plus, cost-plus, cost-plus, I need cost-plus.” “Why do you need cost-plus and what do you know about cost-plus? How’s cost-plus compare to retail-minus over the last three months?” “I don’t know, but Love’s is sayin’ it, so I need it.” Solution: Tell him we can do it. Tell him we can do it on a rebate.

What despicable people. I wonder if Gov. Haslam regrets his decision to keep his Pilot Oil holdings out of his “near-sighted” trust, under the reasoning that,

… Tennesseans are “very familiar” with his relationship with Pilot, a privately held company with annual revenues of $20 billion.

Yes, we are very familiar, indeed. Grab the dang popcorn, peeps.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, corporations, Tennessee

When Pigs Fly

This will happen when monkeys fly out of Rick Santorum’s armpit:

The report calls on Republicans to counter the party’s image as an arm of business. It says Republicans should “blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”

Yes, you should! Why don’t you? Maybe because it’s really hard to blow a whistle with the same mouth you’re using to fellate corporate interests and Wall Street bankers?

It gets better:

Beyond that, however, there are no policy details. Indeed, the authors point out that they are not a policy committee, in a section calling on the GOP to “embrace and champion” comprehensive immigration reform without further specifics.

In addition, an extensive set of “inclusion” proposals for minority groups, including Latinos, Asians and African Americans, appears to mimic similar, failed outreach efforts by various RNC chairs over the last 30 years.

Of course there are no policy details. The Republican Party hasn’t had a new idea since Ronald Reagan. Conservatism by its very nature is the antithesis to new ideas. These are the same people who don’t believe in science, in evolution, in a living, breathing Constitution. They are cemented in the past, indeed that is the very definition of being conservative.

It’s hard not to look at this RNC “report” as nothing more than another canon fired in the war between establishment Republicans and the Tea Birchers. The RNC’s report is getting a lot of national attention today, and that’s no coincidence: conservatives just spent the weekend grumbling about how they want segregation back and cheering tired old Telepromptr jokes at the CPAC freak show. The Teanuts are the Neanderthals of conservatism, trying to drag the Republican Party back to the swamp. Reince Priebus has thrown this post mortem out as a warning to those rabble rousers that they’d better step in line or get thrown under the bus. Good luck with that!

Fun fact: remove all of the vowels from Reince Priebus and you get RNC PR BS. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

9 Comments

Filed under corporations, Republican Party

First Draft Tuesday

I have posted a rant about Big Food, Badvertising, and corporate idiocy over at First Draft today: Capitalism Has Failed. Catch me over there.

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Filed under corporations, food

A Few Words On The Whole Foods-John Mackey Thing

God, liberals, what can I say. Sometimes we annoy the hell out of me.

This is the second time the interwebs is in high dudgeon over something said/written by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Mackey, who is hawking a book (Conscious Capitalism, and no, I haven’t read it) used the word “fascism” to describe the Affordable Care Act. This got liberals all upset, especially since they well remember his 2009 Wall Street Journal op-ed proposing eight “free market” reforms that he thought would fix our healthcare problems better than Obamacare.

Let me interject here and say, Mackey is an unabashed Libertarian. I do not agree with Libertarianism. At all. I think his “eight reforms” — stuff like tort reform, selling health insurance across state lines, and removing government coverage mandates — are horrible ideas, many already proven failures. He also wrote that if only everyone would just eat a vegetarian, low fat diet, all of our healthcare woes would magically go away. This was an astonishingly simplistic, insensitive and childish thing to say about a really complicated national issue. But hey, one of my biggest problems with Libertarians is their juvenile belief in magical thinking.

Anyway, that was around three years ago. This time, people seem to be hung up on Mackey’s use of the word “fascist.” The thing is, I said the same thing myself back in 2009. Put aside all of the totalitarian/nationalistic baggage the word carries, and consider its economic definition. Aren’t we always told that fascism is the merger of state and corporate power? So how is a government requirement that private citizens buy a product from a private, for-profit corporation without also offering a “public option” not fascism?

Mackey now admits his choice of words was poor. I watched him on CBS This Morning say we needed a new term, one that doesn’t allude to authoritarian regimes.

This made me laugh. Mr. Mackey, I believe the word you’re searching for is “corporatism.” Funny that wouldn’t occur to the CEO of a big corporation. Ah well. Libertarians, what can I say? They always wear blinders. I have to wonder: if Obamacare mandated that everyone buy organic food, would Mackey have a problem with that?

Mackey is entitled to his opinions, as are we all. I don’t agree with him on everything. But it seems a shame that he stuck his foot in his mouth on the Obamacare “fascism” stuff, because really liberals should be behind a big chunk of what he’s saying now.

Again, I haven’t read his book, but I’ve read several interviews he’s given about it. And basically what he seems to be telling his fellow corporate CEOs is, stop being such selfish, greedy dicks.

For example:

“I really don’t think shareholders should come first, I think it’s fundamentally a bad strategy,” Mackey said yesterday at a Captains of Industry series interview with Norman Pearlstine, chief content officer of Bloomberg News. “Happy team members result in happy customers, happy customers result in happy investors. If you put shareholders first, you won’t get there.”

The event at the 92nd Street Y in New York was sponsored by Bloomberg Businessweek.

Mackey, 59, a self-styled “conscious” capitalist and longtime nonconformist, has written a new book in which he criticizes companies that focus solely on maximizing profit. The book, “Conscious Capitalism,” was released this week.

In the book, Mackey and his co-author, Raj Sisodia, a Bentley University marketing professor, discuss ways to create value and lift people from poverty. Mackey’s bottom line: making money need not be a zero-sum game.

I agree with that 100%. And I’m not a Libertarian. I also agree with this:

Mackey tells Inskeep that companies must have a higher purpose than just making money.

For example, when Whole Foods decided it wanted to stop selling overfished species of cod and octopus at its seafood counters, it didn’t just abruptly cut off its suppliers. Instead, the company gave its suppliers three years to come up with a better way of fishing; during that time, the seafood stayed for sale — but with a label of “unsustainable.”

In the end, Whole Foods, working with the Marine Stewardship Council (we’ll have much more on them later), was able to find one supplier of sustainable cod.

I agree with that approach. I also find it a little strange that Mackey doesn’t recognize the flaw in his magical Libertarian ideology: why aren’t all corporations like Whole Foods? Why isn’t everyone focusing on the big picture, why aren’t they all doing the right thing, instead of just focusing on profit? Does Mackey not get that a health insurance company doesn’t make money off of certain groups of people? Like, really, really sick people? That Libertarianism requires a whole set of presuppositions that don’t exist in the real world?

I guess not. But c’mon, liberals. Let’s join in the conversation here, instead of calling for boycotts over the misuse of a word like “fascism” — especially when a lot of us were saying the same thing two years ago.

So no, I’m not boycotting Whole Foods. Nor am I nominating John Mackey for sainthood. Remember this? Remember when Mackey created an online sockpuppet to bash rival Wild Oats in online stock forums? At a time when he was trying to buy that company? Hilarious. Also, not nice. John Mackey, you’re kind of a dick, too. Something else I can say about most Libertarians.

By the way, this reminds me of the one bumper sticker I want to see. It goes something like this:

Who Is John Galt? And Why Is He Such An Asshole?

Ha ha. Love that one. So, boycott Whole Foods if you want to, but I won’t. But I will ask my fellow liberals to stop reacting in such a knee-jerk way to the use of loaded words like “fascism” and whatnot. Please. This makes us no better than the Teanuts who call for the fainting couches every time a liberal says a mean joke about Sarah Palin.

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Filed under boycotts, corporations, health insurance, healthcare, liberals, Libertarians