Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Corporate America - Meet the New Boss
The Occupy Movement's central theme is disgust with what corporations are doing. They control health care. They control media. They control finances and they control what we eat. They control energy and they want to control the earth's water supply.
And the bottom line, for all of it, is profit.
I recently interviewed one of the authors of "Good Company", a book that studied the behaviors of the Fortune 100. They established a list of criteria that studied them as employers, as producers and as stewards of the environment and communities. And most of them scored no better than a D.
The good news is that the study also showed that those companies who scored better also were more profitable. Consumers respond positively to good companies. But most companies studied aim for a quick profit and chew up employees, communities, the environment and produce poor quality products while skirting regulations or break laws while building the cost of fines into the price of doing business.
While researching a story on the shortage of psychiatrists in my region, I found that insurance companies manipulate the market. They collect profits while offering seemingly-sufficient panels of specialists. But those panels are composed of doctors who don't accept new patients, who no longer accept their insurance, or who've been dead for years. Other psychiatrists take only cash because they cannot spend the time filling out the reams of paperwork required by insurance companies. Treatment centers have to fight with insurance companies to get continuing coverage for patients who still need care.
Doctors are pressured to prescribe the newest medicines because they have a better profit margin. Companies spend millions on ad campaigns to get you to ask your doctor for them.
And it's so "normal" we haven't even stopped to ask what the hell is going on. It's capitalism run amok - create the demand to satisfy the needs of an ever hungrier group of investors. Maximize profit, minimize expense. Taken to extremes, it means shortcuts. Cheap labor. Defective, insufficiently tested products raced to market. Minimal care with maximum profit.
Thank you, Occupy Wall Street. You're forcing a second look. And the view is disturbing.