Tag Archives: corporate greed

Hero of the Week Award, September 20: Russell Brand

20 Sep

Russell BrandI am the first to admit that I am not one that has been able to appreciate the work of Russell Brand. I’ll further admit that the only thing I have seen him in was the re-make of  Arthur, which should never have been remade.  When you have a cast like Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, the late Sir John Gielgud, and the late Geraldine Fitzgerald what are the hopes of doing better than that, even with my beloved Helen Mirren?  As it turns out, Russell Brand is a rather impressive young man with a keen awareness of homophobia, class, distribution of wealth, and history.  Bravo, Mr. Brand!

Brand was just recently the recipient of a British GQ Oracle award, which is sponsored by Hugo Boss.  Upon receiving his award, Brand took the opportunity to remind the audience of the deep ties Hugo Boss had to the Nazi Party during WWII.  Hugo Boss not only supported the Third Reich, but made an enormous amount of money making the uniforms for the Nazi soldiers. The uniforms were often made by prisoners of war — a truly horrific irony. Despite Boss’ prohibition from operating the business after the war, he transferred power to a relative and the business continued on its ill-gotten gains. During the push for reparations in the 1990s, the company paid lip service to the effort but refused to publicize any findings regarding their activities and contributed what adjudicators called “a bare minimum” to the reparation fund. What an awful example of soulless corporate greed.

In Brand’s most impressive speech, he also deftly addresses the persecution of gays during WWII — sadly we have a redux in Russia now.  And with great aplomb, Brandon also gives a much needed smack down of classism and the inequitable distribution of wealth.   I have to love Brand’s understanding of power dynamics and how corporations and governments are implicated. Note this portion of his speech as transcribed in the Guardian:

Now I’m aware that this was really no big deal; I’m not saying I’m an estuary [sic] Che Guevara. It was a daft joke by a daft comic at a daft event. It makes me wonder, though, how the relationships and power dynamics I witnessed on this relatively inconsequential context are replicated on a more significant scale.

For example, if you can’t criticise Hugo Boss at the GQ awards because they own the event, do you think it is significant that energy companies donate to the Tory party? Will that affect government policy? Will the relationships that “politician of the year” Boris Johnson has with City bankers – he took many more meetings with them than public servants in his first term as mayor – influence the way he runs our capital?

Sadly, GQ editor Dylan Jones reprimanded Brand on Twitter, stating, “What you did was very offensive to Hugo Boss.” Brand responded aptly, sticking to his important thesis: “What Hugo Boss did was very offensive to the Jews.”

I hope you will be equally as impressed with Russell Brand, as I let him speak for himself here.  I also have to add how much I love Danny Glover for initiating a boycott of Hugo Boss back in 2010, when the company tried to stomp out any signs of unionization.

Number 4 Bigot of the Year Award 2011: Corporate America

29 Dec

Number 4 Bigot of 2011

Corporate America received more than two dozen nominations from TSM readers as Bigot of the Year. 2011 was a particularly nasty and ugly year to witness how corporations are willing to discriminate based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender conformity.  Here were some of the top offenders of 2010: Target and its significant donation to key anti-gay politicians that profit from being homophobic and anti-woman; Gold’s Gym funding the misogynistic and homophobic Karl Rove; Walmart holding such enormous political clout as a corporation that even the United States Supreme Court refused to heard the collective voices of millions of women who faced and continue to face discrimination; and of course Lowe’s which helps to perpetuate the vile myth that Muslims should be feared and can’t be trusted.  Yes, these are just a few of the corporations that are lumped together as a cancerous mass that have earned the dubious honor of the number 4 Bigot of the Year Award.

Flashback 2010: The Number 4 Bigot of 2010 was the ever charm free Family Research Council.

Wednesday Word of the Week, October 5: Purity

5 Oct

Great for soap, lousy for candidates.

This week’s word is PURITY

being undiluted or unmixed with extraneous material

This quality is being used by the Republican base to measure their candidates for President. In this case they are not judged to be necessarily pure

having no faults; sinless

but adherent to all the tenets of the most vocal and virulent members of the party.

Given the rabid nature of these candidates, it should be terrifying to any thinking, compassionate, or reasonable person that any of them are insufficiently pure. Yet somehow, they are. To brew a sufficiently bitter cup of tea, one must

  • Oppose any form of equality for LGBT Americans
  • Refuse to allow women to make any choices about their own bodies and health care
  • Oppose any approach to immigration other than deportation
  • Protect corporate interests at all costs, despite the impact on the average American
  • Reject any increases in taxes or revenue, even when levied against the wealthiest 1% of Americans

Rick Perry? He’s been nice to brown people (plus there’s that whole vaccination scandal, which, while it served a corporate donor, involved forced medication and was therefore socialist). Michele Bachmann? Pretty pure, but mysteriously her favorables fell rapidly when Perry, initially an equally nutty candidate who had the benefit of a penis, showed up. Herman Cain? He talks about taxes a lot and, well, the GOP is a big tent and all, but he’s >gasp< black. Rick Santorum? He sure hates gays enough, but his tax record is a bit weak. Mitt Romney? Does he really stand for anything other than getting elected? He’s too shallow even for the Republicans. Get the picture?

Democrats are faced with a more nuanced problem. We know who our candidate will be, but many of us are disappointed and frustrated with his approach to leadership. That’s all well and good, but we cannot afford to let that frustration turn into apathy. As we pointed out on TSM earlier this week, President Obama has done a great deal already, enough to merit our support. A whole, charmingly-titled website is devoted to reminding us that, flaws aside, our President has done much of what he promised on the campaign trail.

Could he do more? Could he lead more forcefully? Certainly. But we are not Republicans.

Let the Teahadists bloody all their candidates. Let them strive for so much ideological purity that they present such a distasteful disaster that even the rightward center is repulsed. It may be early, but the election season is, sadly, in full swing. Democrats need to show we support the man who will clearly be the best choice come December 2012. Once he’s back in office, we can continue to push him. While he needs our enthusiasm, however, let’s show the Republicans that there is something more important than artificial purity

something difficult that you succeed in doing, especially after working hard over a period of time

ACCOMPLISHMENT.

(All definitions courtesy of Macmillan Dictionary Online)

We the Corporations, In Order to Form a More Perfect Profit…

23 Jan

That doesn’t sound quite right.

Eleven score and fifteen years ago, our forbearers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in greed, and dedicated to the proposition that most should toil for the bottom line while few profit mightily.

Still off, isn’t it?

Ask not what your company can do for you, but what you can do for your company!

Okay, I suspect you get the picture. Are we a nation of citizens or a nation of companies? The two ought not be mutually exclusive, but which has primacy? When laws are made and cases decided, where does the privilege lie? One look at the shrinking middle class, the power of the lobby, and corporate greed even in the face of shameful behavior nearly toppling the economy gives us the sad answer.

The highest court in the land ruled not just that companies were effectively people, but that they had even more powerful rights to anonymously influence our elections. People run for office without any understanding of minimum wage, proudly pushing unfunded tax cuts while dodging their own taxes.

You have meddled with the Primal Forces of Nature!

When one of the few truly liberal journalists in the country suddenly announced that he was terminating his show, people widely assumed it was because of the new corporate masters. Our media certainly are not left-wing, but, other than FOX, few are aggressively right-wing. They are a strange mix of sinister timidity because they are driven by corporate desire for profits. We are truly living out Mr. Jensen’s dream.*

The bread-and-circuses media and the crumbling educational system leave us stultified and ill-prepared, little better than yahoos, distracted by shiny baubles while living miserable, petty lives.

So what can one person do in the face of these pressures? Hit them in the bottom line. Don’t spend money at places who use that money against your best interests. Pay attention to where you shop and what it means in the bigger scheme of things. Just as the accumulation of votes, one citizen at a time, elects our leaders, the reduction of profits, one refused purchase at a time, puts pressure on the corporations.

It takes time and effort to learn what corporations are up to. It takes some fortitude and a little sacrifice to give up a favorite store. It also takes compromise, since like people, corporations are seldom all good or all bad. Besides the usual suspects like Wal-Mart, find out which corporations spend against civil rights and don’t give them your money. (Are you listening Chik-Fil-A, Target, McDonald’s, Gold’s Gym?) Look at the regular business practices of the companies you patronize and shop accordingly. Does a retailer abuse employees just to run big sales around the holidays? Go somewhere else!

It’s easy to feel resigned, that one person’s efforts are meaningless. But the actions of a single person, living with integrity, accumulate. We can only be powerful together if we choose to be powerful individually.

*  Just for fun, I searched Google for “olbermann mad as hell” just for the past 24 hours and found over 44,000 hits. Coincidence? I think not.

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