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Selasa, 30 Oktober 2007

Research corporate boards influence and potential corruption


This page looks at the people within and behind corporations in the context of their interconnectedness. This is an important and often unmentioned part of the power that corporations manifest. This page also provides you with the means to research "tell-all" public documents that corporations are required to file with the Federal Government. Finally it shows how corporations directly control some aspects of environmental policy-making and parts of the environmental movement.

The often asked question, "why doesn't the media talk about corporate power?" and the frequent answer "because the corporations own the media...", really is a simplification of a wide-ranging process of power-sharing and wealth-retention that goes more to the kinds of people behind the corporations than the actual corporations themself.

If progressives are to have any chance of limiting corporate rapaciousness and the spread of corporate influence, they must know the strengths and the weaknesses of their enemy and not merely rely on cliches and mantras like "the corporations own the media". The knowledge of how money and power and corporations interlock is vital in the fight to preserve the environment and build a sustainable society. Like all things that haven't been understood, it seems complex and mysterious and unknowable to the uninitiated. It is a process that anyone of reasonable intelligence can understand.

At this point you can go on and learn about corporations and how to research them below the red bar about one page down.
OR you can read about the largest bankruptcy in U. S. history, the ties of this company to the Bush administration and possible connection to our current difficulties. --->
Warning: this is dense and confusing reading. It requires some knowledge of how corporations work and is a good illustration of why it is important to learn about these things.

Here it is in simple declarative English:
Letter to Dick Cheney from the
United States House of Representitives-Committe on Government Reform
that asks the hard questions about the secret deals. Slow PDF file-worth the wait.
Learn about corporations:
Corporations ranging from General Motors to some small supermarket are legally created fictitious individuals that do business. The legal process of incorporation gives all the rights of a person to the corporation. It also shields the owners from liability.

Corporations have boards of directors, officers and other legally prescribed functionaries that are a part of their publicly granted state license to do business. These individuals overall duty and legal obligation is to make money for the corporation's stockholders.

Excellent History of Corporations and Four Masks of Corporate Power

Forget the little old lady that owns a few shares of stock. Most shares are owned by tremendously wealthy and thus politically influential individuals and most importantly by other corporations, many of which are investment banks.

Corporations often facilitate local environmental, social and economic suicide, taking the people of the surrounding area along with them following their mandate which is to make more and more money by continuous growth. Many of the people running corporations are charming, well educated and pleasant individuals who serve on the boards of charities and other social-veneering activities. These people are not setting out to deliberately do the bad things for which they are damned. These ill effects are a byproduct of their myopic quest to raise the value of the stock. Much of these corporate executives' pay is in stock options, which is the right to take possession of a certain number of shares now or at a future date, for nothing or for a fixed price that may allow them to turn around and sell the shares for a large profit now or in the future.

Once one has their first 100 Million Dollars, how much better can one sleep or eat or travel or dress? The thing to be attained is power. The power to influence and to actualize what you believe in or have been programmed to believe in by your education and social contacts.

Such individuals work their way up through the ranks of a company learning skills the details of the business of the corporation and work their way to the top. These are the people that really do the useful work of managing the corporation and allow it to create or do whatever it does. What about people that run corporations without having ever worked their way up through the ranks-or for that matter, even know anything real about the company? What about a corporation that buys other corporations and or lends money to other corporations. What skills do the people that run these corporations need?

Where do they get these skills? Once they have invested most of their life building and refining these skills and working themself into places where they can exercise them, will they ever repudiate or abandon them? These are questions that we hope to answer by illustration and example.

THE REVOLVING DOOR is especially odious when government officials that are in charge of regulating corporations later become corporate employees or know that they can so become if they are obedient and do a good job of defending the corporate interests while in the employ of the government. This is the "revolving door" well described in books such as Toxic Deception by Dan Fagin and Marianne Lavelle, which catalogues the entry of government regulators into corporate chemical company employ after failing to enforce existing laws and working to weaken them by oversight, inaction and sabotage.
An excerpt from the book

Here's the latest list of people in "our" government and where they used to-or will soon-work after they complete their assignments: Monsanto and G.W. Bush Administration: Who Will Own the Store?
Here's another Monsanto connection: Donald Rumsfield.
Rumsfeld Lobbied FDA Approval of Toxic Aspartame (continued)
A hard-right Republican who served four terms in Congress (1962-69),Rumsfeld voted against food stamps, Medicare and anti-poverty funds. Rumsfeld'spolitical ideology encompasses the stockpiling of chemical weapons,downsizing the Federal government, and eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."
And this:
"James Turner, the anti-aspartame advocate alleges that Searle hired Rumsfeld to handle the aspartame approval difficulties as a "legal problem rather than a scientific problem."
And this:
"On September 30, 1980, the PBOI voted unanimously to reject the use of aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) until additional studies on aspartame's potential to cause brain tumors could be done. On January 21, 1981, the day after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President of the United States, Searle
Pharmaceuticals reapplied to the FDA for aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) approval.
A former G.D. Searle salesperson, Patty Wood-Allott, revealed that Donald Rumsfeld, president of Searle, told his sales force that, if necessary, "he would call in all his markers and that no matter what, he would see to it that aspartame would be approved that year." (mgold, Gordon, US Senate Record)
From the Amylin Pharmaceuticals webpage: Donald Rumsfeld Bio
Mr. Rumsfeld is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gilead
Sciences, Inc. He also serves as a member of the boards of directors
of ABB (Asea Brown Boveri) Ltd., Tribune Company and RAND
Corporation. He is currently Chairman of the Salomon Smith Barney
International Advisory Board. He recently completed service as
Chairman of the U.S. Government Commission to Assess the Ballistic
Missile Threat to the United States. From 1991 to 1996, Mr.
Rumsfeld served as a member of the board of directors of Amylin
Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Rumsfeld was Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer of General Instrument Corporation from October 1990 to
August 1993 and served as a senior advisor to William Blair & Co.,
an investment banking firm, from 1985 to 1990. He was Chief
Executive Officer of G.D. Searle & Co. from 1977 to 1985. Mr.
Rumsfeld formerly served as U.S. Secretary of Defense, White
House Chief of Staff, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, and U.S.
Congressman. He has also served as the President's special envoy to
the Middle East. He is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of
Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award.
Top corporate criminials of the 1990s.
Here's an incredible catalog of how corporations are robbing the American People. This is a long transcript, it's an education and should answer all questions on just what is the problem with big business. Testimony of Ralph Nader Before the House Committee on the Budget, June 30, 1999

Is it in the corporate interest for our country to be at war?
Here's a list of the top 100 government contractors:
Look at number 16. It's the Carlyle Group. Check out its People page. When you're there do an Edit-find for "Bush" you will see lots of connections to the administration of George the First.
He's on the Board of Directors as well.
This information is, at least for now, available to the public. Would you like to see an inside look at how the Disney Corporation really works? Not the Public Relations story or the advertisements or the ubiquitous cartoon characters; the real story: Here's Walt Disney's Quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing (583K)

Go ahead, have a look around inside their financial house. You can learn a lot from reading the various documents filed with the U.S. Government Securities and Exchange Commission.(SEC).
What the SEC does.
Oops!, that link is now dead. Guess what the new title is? The investor's advocate"
You're not picturing some little old lady researching her stocks are you? Picture investment banking houses.

To see the yearly and quarterly documents that all corporations must file, and thus all the information within them, search for the corporation by name at EDGAR, the server at the SEC.

Or you can go to
Hoover's Searchable information and CURRENT SEC filings

for more than 10,000 public and private companies worldwide.

Most of what you will see in the SEC filing is financial gobbledygook, standardized formulaic boiler-plate language and boring details. Where you can really learn interesting things is in the sections dealing with the legal actions against the corporation and the Board of Directors.

When the financial statements of a corporation are audited as they must be to protect the interests of the stockholders, all legal actions against them have to be revealed to the auditors and these become part of the Quarterly, (10-Q) and Yearly,(10-K) reports filed with the SEC. Go to the index of Pacific Gas and Electric's Quarterly filing. Use your "back" button to return here. Notice the sections dealing with "legal actions".

Check out PG&E's Nuclear Liability. They are saddling the ratepayers with the cost of their nuclear mistakes and not only are the owners of PG&E removed from immunity because it's a corporation, but even the corporation itself has limited liability, if for example, San Luis Obispo gets irradiated by the Diablo Canyon reactor. It's all there.


These are people who have specific duties of governance of the corporation. Often they are major stockholders. Often they become or have been government officials.These people make up the group that is truly controlling America. We're not talking about small businesses that are incorporated for tax reasons or the isolation of their owners from potential liability, we're talking about the
Fortune 500 corporations.

Also from Fortune Magazine; (owned by Time Warner)
Top Lobbying Groups

You cannot look to corporations to do the right thing for people, the economy or the environment--it goes against their interests. This is one reason why we wrote the Overcoming Consumerism web site; to provide a few tools to help people abandon as much support of corporate business and remove as much corporate influence from their lives as is possible if we are to ever attain a sustainable society.

A hypothetical example:

"Someone invents a simple device to generate a certain amount of useful electricity or heat with no pollution and low cost. Corporate executives see device as threat to the energy reserves of fossil fuels and large centralized infrastructures that they control to finance, process, and market energy. Useful energy generation device languishes and is ignored, ridiculed or downplayed by corporate owned and controlled media. Corporate influenced, (controlled), Government officials don't do anything meaningful to promote this device or make it economically feasable through tax codes or regulations. Fabulously rich countries that control enormous wealth because they sell oil don't like device and the corporations that they own or control do everything to downplay or ignore it. Other countries that receive Billions to act as threat and leash on oil countries don't like device because it would make them redundant. Defense companies that make Billions and get Billions of taxpayer dollars to sell arms to both oil producers and other countries don't like device because it would destroy their markets. Mid-level technocrats that hope for corporate employment don't like device because it threatens their importance and future employability.
The point is that this influence is almost always exercised by corporate executives and their interlocking boards of directors using the tool called money to control "elected" officials.
By the way, the simple device already exists.
...It's called a Solar Panel.
A fun exercise. Go to the list of the Names, occupations (and needs) of the top 400 donors to the Democratic Party. Look at the names of the donors and [their] corporations listed there. Then go to the SEC Edgar site and look up their corporations. Note the names of the Board of Directors.

Look at some other boards of directors. Chrysler's [LINK'S DEAD as of 2/11/03] is a nicely illustrated with photos and biographies. Notice the last person on the list. "Mr.Wilson is also a director of Chrysler Canada Ltd., Bell Canada International Inc., BCE Mobile Communications Inc., Bell Canada, Bell-Northern Research Inc., Northern Telecom Limited, Stelco Inc., Tate & Lyle PLC, Teleglobe Inc. and the C.D. Howe Institute. He also serves as a Governor of the Olympic Trust of Canada, and of McGill University and is a member of the International Council, J.P. Morgan and the Trilateral Commission.

You are reading about someone with a tremendous amount of influence in the world and one who can effect more change in a community where one of the enterprises he is associated with are located than can many an elected local official.

Also on Chrysler's Board of Directors:
[LINK'S DEAD as of 2/11/03]
Is Mr. Kent Kresa: "Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Northrop Grumman Corporation. Mr. Kresa earned degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from 1959 to 1968 was associated with various scientific and defense oriented research organizations and government agencies. He joined Northrop Grumman Corporation, a diversified aerospace manufacturer, in 1975 and after several positions with increased responsibility in the company, Mr. Kresa was elected Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of that company in 1990. Mr. Kresa is a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Visiting Committee for the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Aerospace Industries Association, and is a director of the John Tracy Clinic for the hearing-impaired and the Atlantic Richfield Company. He serves on the CEO Board of Advisors of the University of Southern California's School of Business Administration, the Board of Trustees for the California Institute of Technology, the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, and the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles Music Center."

Look at the bios of the Board of Directors of Arco Oil. [dead link]{now swallowed up in a bigger company}
There's Mr. Kresa again. He is obviously a competent and talented individual and well respected in his community of fellow CEO's etc.--we don't care about his personal qualities. What we do care about is what he represents and the influence that his loyalties exercise on industry and thus on society.

Let's hypothesize; If Chrysler could make and market a car that got 100 MPG, how would Mr. Kresa favor that as he also works for Arco? Is this a conflict of interest? How would such a conflict be resolved in favor of the Earth? The consumer? or status-quo Corporate Profits?

What this conglomeration of titles show is that it is in, and that it becomes Chrysler's interests to block solar power, electric cars and to support certain ideologies with whom it shares certain interests. Even if that means expensive oil. i.e. The world car market is saturated. The Directors and executives like Mr. Kresa, in our opinion, would rather see things continue the way they are, rather than see oil go to $1 a barrel, even if it meant selling a few million more cars and benefited the vast majority of Americans, (while speeding up the destruction of the environment.) Fewer Grumman components would be sold, Arco would suffer catastrophic losses, MIT's and the University of Southern California School of Business's defense establishment bound students would have fewer employment opportunities...etc.

"General Dynamics, which sold $7.4 billion worth of weapons to the Pentagon in 1991, has other means of persuasion at its disposal. The corporation contributed almost $307,000 to influential members of Congress in a recent 15-month period. The General Dynamics board of directors includes a former secretary of defense, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the former Supreme Commander, Europe and a former secretary of state."
From "AMERICA'S DEFENSE MONITOR" (Center for Defense Information).
Radio program title THE SEAWOLF & THE CITIES. Full transcript here

Are some of these connections becoming clearer to you?

Read about every progressive's favorite chemical company: Monsanto's 1998 Annual Report
(See page 10 thru 13)
Be sure to read "PART III, ITEM 10. DIRECTORS AND EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT." Here are some of the preceeding jobs of the Monsanto directors:

Steven L. Engelberg, 54, Senior Vice President, Partner, Keck, Mahin & Cate, 1986; Partner-in-Charge,-Monsanto Company eck, Mahin & Cate Washington, D.C. office, 1986; Chief of Staff of Office of the United States Trade Representative (on leave from Keck, Mahin & Cate until May 1993), 1993; Vice President, Worldwide Government Affairs--Monsanto Company, 1994; and present position, 1996.

R. William Ide III, 56, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary--Monsanto Company; Partner, Kutak Rock, 1989; President, American Bar Association, 1993-1994; Partner, Long, Aldridge & Norman, 1993; and present position, 1996.

Note that William D.Ruckelshaus is a Director of Monsanto.

Mr. Ruckelshaus is Chairman of Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc. He was twice the EPA Administrator and served as Deputy Attorney General of the United States. In addition, he held the positions of Majority Leader of the Indiana House of Representatives, Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Senior Vice President of Weyerhaeuser Company. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He is also Chairman of the Board, Browning-Ferris Industries.

It's obvious that Monsanto is well connected in Washington. How does this insider power get used? Here's a nice example from Times Beach, Missouri:

In our humble opinion, Mr. Ruckelshaus', (director of Monsanto-ex EPA director) Enterprise For The Environment looks suspiciously like a greenwashing front for corporate interests. i.e.

Read a few excerpts from an Interview with William Ruckelshaus by Timothy K. Judge and Bruce W. Piasecki Published in Corporate Environmental Strategies, the Journal of Environmental Leadership

JUDGE: The effort you are leading at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Enterprise for the Environment has been underway for about a year now. How is Enterprise for the Environment changing the debate and ultimately the publics view on environmental issues?

RUCKELSHAUS: "Well, it's not changing any debate yet because we haven't agreed on anything. We may change the debate of the people going through the process, but as of yet we have had no impact on the public simply because what we've been doing has largely been screened from public view. But, if we are able to arrive at a consensus, given the broad based nature of the people trying to arrive at a consensus, it could have a significant impact on the way the public perceives the environment. It's just too early to tell exactly what we are going to come up with and how significant it will be. But, if we arrive at a consensus on a whole number of issues that we are dealing with, it could have a significant affect on environmental policy going forward into the next century...."

Subtle? Full Text of interview


Industry Deploys New Anti-Environmental Strategy From Environmental Working Group with links to corporate deception sites.

Today the environmental movement receives about $40 million a year from three oil companies which operate through front groups politely described as "private foundations".

Full info. from WHO OWNS THE SUN? People, Politics, and the Struggle for a Solar Economy.
Daniel M. Berman and John T. O'Connor, This extensive quote from this wonderful book says it all.

Investigative Journalism--free press--Alternative Media anybody?

PBS' board of directors. On it you will find directors from the following industries along with the corporations rating in size from the Fortune 500: AT&T #5, Rockefeller Brothers (Chase Manhattan Bank) #25, Phelp's-Stokes (Phelps-Dodge Mining) #362, FMC ("Farm Machinery Corporation"-builder of tanks etc.) #278, Mobil # 8, Chubb (Insurance)#222 and sure enough, Monsanto, #159

For a good example of corporate influence-peddling and issue clouding see the employers and corporate affiliations of the directors and Board of Policy Advisors of the Heartland Institute. (As of 7/10/00 the link is dead.) Suffices to say most of the big donors were oil companies, industry groups etc. You can still like to their main site and read such pearls as: "Despite the valiant efforts of grassroots property rights organizations, the House of representitives passed the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA). etc.".

Ending Corporate Governance An enormous series of eclectic links.
(scroll UP once you get to this page)
Bush administration to downplay environmental degradation.A great study of the different types of corporate sponsored disinformation and corporate interests groups working to continue obtaining profits through environmental degradation.

Of the world's 100 largest economies, 51 are now global corporations.
  • The richest 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of all U.S. assets.
  • The combined assets of 358 billionaires equal the combined assets of almost half the world's population.
  • The courts have given corporations the basic Constitutional rights of persons, but workers lose those rights on entering the workplace.
  • The corporate share of taxes paid has fallen from 33 percent in the 1940's to 15 percent in the 1990's. Individuals' share of taxes has risen from 44 to 73 percent.
  • The new World Trade Organization effectively gives corporations veto power over our U.S. environmental and labor laws, weakening your right to protect ourselves and our land by our legislation.
************************************************ Here's a lovely historical quote having to do with the "Free Press" in America.

John Swinton (considered "the Dean of his Profession" by his peers), Chief of Staff New York Times, when asked to give a toast at the New York Press Club in 1953 had this to say:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."
G.E. to cut 75,000 jobs? 2/1/01

Mobil Oil, on April 24, 1995 announced quarterly profits of $636 million, 19% above the previous year's level and sufficient to put Mobil on a pace to break all previous records for profitability in 1995. . . . Mobil announced one week later a 9% boost in its dividend payout citing a strong balance sheet, continuing cost initiatives and optimism about future growth opportunities. The following day, on May 2, Mobil announced it would layoff 4,700 workers or 9.2% of its workforce. . . . Mobil oil gained $3.88 or 4.1% in market value in the trading session following its announcement.

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