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Abuse of Power by Corporate and Governmental Elites

The Rich Get Richer & the Poor Get Prison 
Class & Crime
Identity theft, Internet Fraud & other scams
My White Collar Crime Class

Criminology and Criminal Justice focus on crimes on the streets and give passing mention to crimes in the suites, even though all the research indicates that white collar crimes cost far more than street crime.  Unfortunately, the government collects almost no data on the toll taken by corporate crimes, even though there are annual reports on street crime from the FBI and the National Crime Victimization Survey. There's enough of it, though, that Fortune magazine had a cover story: Send Them To Jail [3/13/2002] - "They lie; they cheat; they steal and they've been getting away with it for too long." Rather than go to jail, corporations sponsored tough on crime laws that help a variety of industries from private prisons to telephone companies to construction and prison supply. Three strikes does not apply to corporate 'citizens' who continue to be called before Congress to testify, while convicted felons loose their right to vote. Corporate tax breaks and subsidies are not considered 'welfare' or even 'aid to dependent corporations.' Further, corporate crime isn't covered on TV news, reinforcing the idea that street crime is the only serious crime worth mentioning

Inequality, Corporate Power and Crime Powerpoint presentation by Paul Leighton

A Tale of Two Criminals: We're tougher on Corporate Criminals, But They Still Don't get What They Deserve by Paul Leighton & Jeffrey Reiman (2004)

Getting Tough on Corporate Crime? Enron and a Year of Corporate Financial Scandals by Paul Leighton and Jeffrey Reiman [see Paul's blog: Ebbers' 25 Year Sentence for Worldcom Fraud Upheld. Good.]

White Collar Crime blog (by a law prof, part of the NY Times)

Restore The Trust.com: Campaign for Truth in Financial Corporate Reporting

Monsanto: The world's poster child for corporate manipulation and deceit

A new corporate villain - drugmakers? A number of charges against the pharmaceutical industry damages its credibility and further erodes public support. (Christian Science Monitor)

The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (recommended book - Amazon.com)

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Political Cartoons: Enron ~ Bush & Corporate Crime ~ More Corporate Follies ~ Worldcon

Too frequently, 'white collar crime' is about employees who rip off the employer or people who pad their insurance claims. What gets neglected is the dynamic where the most powerful victimize the less powerful - where corporations and government victimize communities, consumers, workers, and the environment. 

The problem is that corporations are becoming larger and larger, plus they have acquired many media outlets (all the major networks are owned by Fortune 500 companies). In 1999, 51 of the top 100 largest economies are now corporations and 49 are countries. [See the list from corporations.org.] 

This finding is based on research by the Institute for Policy Studies, whose full report notes that of the top 200 largest corporations, "the U.S. corporations on the list [included] 44 that did not pay the full standard 35 percent federal corporate tax rate during the period 1996-1998. Seven of the firms (including the world's largest, General Motors) actually paid less than zero in federal income taxes in 1998 (because of rebates)." They have a good overview of other crucial issues like campaign donations and economic clout (click on full report - adobe/.pdf recommended)

See Nader's Congressional Testimony on Corporate Welfare


SOLUTIONS? For starters, companies should publicize their misdeeds (rather than use all those prime-time advertising dollars only to tell us what wonderful corporate citizens they are). We could make better use of probation, including a 'rehabilitation' plan where the company identifies what went wrong in the decision making process and how to correct it. There's also more extreme measures like a corporate death penalty - revoke the charters of corporations that have way more than '3 strikes'. 

Stop Corporate Control.org

How to overthrow Corporate Rule in 5 Not So easy Steps (corporations.org)

Ending Corporate Governance explains the history of corporate charters and how to take back democracy 

Center for Corporate Accountability (UK)

Business for Social Responsibility

ELITE DEVIANCE RESOURCES: 

Excellent page of links

see also:


I have developed a companion website for Jeffrey Reiman's book The Rich Get Richer & the Poor Get Prison, 7th edition. You can also read a talk he gave on on Ideology, Economic Bias & (the lack of) Moral Outrage


White House for Sale.org (nonpartisan, campaign finance)

Check out Public Citizen (Nader's group) and the Campaign for Corporate Reform. 

companies like Nike use sweatshops (yes, there are US sweatshops too)

 Whistle Blower.org

Directory of Allegedly Unethical Companies - the ones making the news now are the tip of the iceberg. 

Stop Exxon Mobil ~ Expose Exxon Coalition 

Find out what's wrong with McDonalds, why the Gap Sucks and about Wal-Mart worker rights

Adbusters highlights many of the problems of corporate values and corporate advertising in a humorous way. 

The game of monopoly for a stratified society? [exposing the the Great Lie of traditional Monopoly that everybody has an equal chance - great for teaching stratification & includes instructions for teacher].

Resources on the Tobacco Industry.  

Each week The Memory Hole picks at least one particularly important new story that was reported by at least one mainstream news outlet but basically ignored by the rest. Typically, this is a story that should be, but isn't, getting major coverage on the nightly news and the 24-hour cable news channels.

National White Collar Crime Center

Reclaim Democracy - Corporate Accountability

Profit Without Honor: When It Comes to Ethics, Business Schools Get an F (WashingtonPost.com) It was in 1987 that John S.R. Shad, then chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, made a personal donation of some $20 million to Harvard Business School to support the teaching of ethics. On April 21, 1989, after months of contentious debate, an initial proposal was put up for a faculty-wide vote. Reactions ranged from distrust to outright hostility. One economist argued that "we are here to teach science." Another faculty member wanted to know, "Whose ethics, what values, are we going to teach?" And a third pointed out that the students were adults who got their ethics education at home and at church. By meeting's end, the project had been sent back to the drawing board.

By the way: Ben & Jerry's ice cream was bought out by multinational Unilever. The Washington Post's columnist was sanctimonious as hell and danced on the grave of socially conscious businesses with their 'airheaded' 'do-gooder socialist salary structure'. People with 'hippie-dippy, lefty-loony' beliefs should pull their 'VW Microbuses of self-righteous fervor into the parking spaces of global capitalism'. Well, dude, look out 'cause I'll try to park my VW bus on top of capitalist pigs. [The link goes to a letter I wrote to the editor of the Post, but which was not published - maybe because I used 'capitalist pig' and pointed out the appropriateness of the expression.]


DIEBOLD, makers of electronic voting systems, usually without a paper confirmation that can be used to audit the results or recount. Diebold's CEO is an ardent Bush supporter. Diebold systems have numerous security flaws in the software that are documented by company memos - and most of Diebold's response has been to threaten to sue websites that post the company's internal memos about problems. Welcome to the future of our democracy. (see also)

"Suppose you had a situation where ballots were handed to a private company that counted them behind a closed door and burned the results," said Dill, founder of VerifiedVoting.org. "Nobody but an idiot would accept a system like that. We've got something that is almost as bad with electronic voting." (E-Vote Machines: Secret Testing, Wired magazine)

As the November Election Draws Near, Congress Should Require That Electronic Votes Leave a Paper Trail (Findlaw.com)

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