Twisted Bizter: Corporations Are Killing Ethics and Integrity In Business
This is all behind us, to a degree
The Culprits? Check the Mail
I'm a proponent of capitalism and, specifically, of profiting from business and other investments including those mentioned here. What I detest is dishonesty, and the lack of consideration for, and unfairness to, the customers. I'm aware there are good sides to many of the entities mentioned here. I also believe the "dark side" of each weighs in much more heavily.
Thinking constantly about this stuff could depress, infuriate, or certainly confuse anyone, none of which are desirable. But, we must recall it occasionally because to forget it completely is tantamount to giving up, which would only allow things to become worse.
So, who are the culprits squeezing us and playing us for patsies? Well, go get your stack of mail and set aside the outstanding bills, anything you owe money for. Chances are several of your creditors are somehow screwing you, albeit with your permission. Allow me to generalize.
Oil and gas companies have dissed us for decades. They pushed the envelope to learn what American consumers would tolerate back in the 1970’s. Drivers (and families, by extension) have since been gouged routinely at peak travel times and during the summer, and we really have developed no recourse except to deal with it by paying more and driving a little less (better for the environment).
Banks surely have people stashed away in little vaults without any distraction, tasked with nothing but inventing new and incontestable methods of picking our financial pockets. Oh, here’s a new or more expensive fee for this, a penalty or service charge for that. Banks legally can no longer hide these fees from us, and they sometimes even use larger print now instead of that “fine print” we often ignored, not that they want us to begin paying attention.
Wall Street? Anyone above ground for 10 minutes between 2008 and 2012 already knows about this fiasco. Trusted financial advisors who were much less than trustworthy; scams manufactured with “toxic” investments that were a catastrophe yet were lauded and sold guaranteeing high returns and stability; money-hungry zombies gorging themselves with your money! Ok, that’s not real but it’ll work metaphorically.
Who got hurt? People nearly overwhelmed with expenses that already impacted food, shelter, or clothing, likely felt financial pain. Even solidly middle-class Americans, who had none of those worries and considered themselves invulnerable, were absolutely demolished. Years of savings and retirement funds, evaporated. Long-time (or new) family homes, lost.
U.S. Attorney may file charges
UBS Financial Services
Lying about mortgage backed securities
$885 million settlement
Hearing scheduled; Guilty plea expected
Recently In the News
These are internationally recognized companies that have all been in the news within the last few weeks. Each of them are suspected, or have been accused of, criminal wrongdoing.
SAC Capital Advisors is facing charges of insider trading. The FBI stated that SAC tolerated and encouraged cheating, and the U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara believes the company has a "seemingly tremendous tolerance for questionable conduct." SAC has denied all allegations.
UBS just settled, agreeing to pay a hefty fine for lying about mortgage backed securities to government lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Frequent government contractor Halliburton will pay a $200,000 fine for destroying evidence in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon well disaster in the Gulf. This amount is a mere pinch for a company that does $29 billion business annually. The decision will, however, likely weigh in to future attempts at unraveling primary responsibility for the incident.
Real World Business Principles
- 25 Biggest Corporate Scandals Ever
Blog synopsis of the 25 biggest corporate scandals ever.
Best Tourism Season In Years
While we're here, allow me to mention BP. I get a sarcastic kick out of their recent ads. One claims 2012 as the best tourism season in years, while another claims BP is "committed" to the Gulf. I believe many BP employees genuinely care about their mission.
Well, given that the Deepwater Horizon accident occurred prior to summertime in April of 2010, it stands to reason 2010 and 2011 tourism sucked. 2012 could only be better.
And I suppose it's good that BP convinces itself ('cos I'm skeptical) they've spent loads of money on fines, damage recovery, and related costs for restitution because of their commitment, not because it was legally mandated. At least they didn't fight it for years in court.
Ethos Out Of Control
So, add up all of this output from these companies. Add in the messages sent by Lance Armstrong and, most recently, Alex Rodriguez, both stars in their discipline who outright lied over and over about their use of performance-enhancing drugs. Lots of people with lots of lies. Arrogant, psychotic, selfish egoists. Thanks for the lessons.
Video games have gotten a bad rap over the years for influencing gamers toward violent tendencies in real life. I think it has to do with how kids are brought up. Either way, if our kids are sponges, how about the morals and life-lessons they are soaking up from these cases? It's on TV, the Internet, and in newspapers and magazines; it's hard to miss. Is this dishonest activity teaching our kids to act responsibly? Get real.
About the only positive thing to come out of this is the emphasis on "crime doesn't pay", which is better than no lesson at all. Maybe some will glean that the only real problem was that they were caught. If they'd only been a little more careful...
Only a percentage of criminal or unethical activity comes to light, what we see is what we get. Some who are caught end up convicted and go to jail or pay a fine. The rest get away with it, and perhaps turn around and do it again, and again, and again. What a wonderful work ethic to model for the community.
Who's Got The Power? Certainly Not the People.
Oh, I am a derrière perforation, no doubt! I can't leave without mentioning utility companies. If you want electricity you have to buy it. Fair enough. But there are things going on behind the scenes that will cost you, and you'll never know.
When a utility company in California purchases new equipment it can legally pass the cost on to consumers. Hopefully, consumers will consider the rate raise worthwhile and the new equipment will be necessary. It's bad enough that customers can only hope that the bean-counters and management/ownership at any utility company makes fiscally responsible decisions based on actual need-versus-cost regarding new acquisitions, rather than overspend because they know their customers will pay for it.
And how about when a utility company blames every entity but itself for damages caused by its own faulty equipment? And, if a court-mandated settlement occurs involving fines of the company, it will immediately gouge their own customers to make up any shortfall.
In circumstances like that, investors who choose to believe in these corporate leaders should be the ones to pay, despite any impact on company stock. Investors can leave when things get expensive; customers have little choice and are usually stuck with the provider.
So, there's something to mull over, at least often enough to keep things in check. We can control our destiny only after we first take charge of it. Start with this:
1. Stay alert to your billing notices,
2. Always read the fine print,
3. Keep up on the shenanigans of the companies that impact your life, and
4. Don't initially trust any company that profits off the masses; research the truth.
Not meant to be a downer; I simply believe paying attention beats paying higher bills.