WBEZ | corporations http://www.wbez.org/tags/corporations Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The pointless boycott http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/pointless-boycott-104561 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/5101399_62ae450468.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="Flickr/Tiger Mask" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.7611763020019411">I used to date a guy who absolutely, positively would </span>not shop at The Gap. He simply thought it was evil, to the point that if we were shopping together and I wanted to pop in, he would wait outside the entire time. I found this boycott pretty dumb considering that he did patronize Banana Republic and Old Navy (all part of the same company), but he held firm. The Gap was bad for reasons he could not articulate and he would not shop there.</div><p><br />We broke up (unrelated to this) and now I am married to a man who feels similarly about McDonald&rsquo;s. No real explanation why &mdash; he will eat at Arby&rsquo;s, Burger King, Wendy&rsquo;s, any old fast food crap out there when the time calls for it &mdash; but not Micky D&rsquo;s, and, like with the other guy, has no particular explanation why. This perturbs me as sometimes (especially in the morning) I think McDonald&rsquo;s is the only option. Last summer we went on a road trip and were about to make separate fast food lunch runs: me to McDonald&rsquo;s, him to Subway (which I boycott myself but for a very good reason: the food has a bland taste in my mouth when I eat it) when we compromised on Sonic and neither of us was happy.<br /><br />But I am not immune to the steadfastness of the pointless boycott. Last week I asked a girlfriend what she had on her Christmas list, and she said she was hoping to receive some clothes from Lululemon, the ladies&rsquo; workout gear store.<br /><br />&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t shop there,&rdquo; I said. &ldquo;And I don&rsquo;t really have a good reason for it.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;I know why,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the symbolic clothing of rich stay-at-home moms who have extra money to blow on designer exercise clothing.&quot; Which was kind of a sick burn aimed at herself.<br /><br />&ldquo;Not really,&rdquo; I said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not as deep as that, and if it were, I wouldn&rsquo;t diss my friend like that by saying I thought she looked like an idle jerk. I happen to like workout clothes from Nordstrom and a company called Athleta (owned by the evil Gap) and they&rsquo;re really no different that I can tell from Lululemon. It&rsquo;s just that I have decided that this is going to be the one, really stupid and specific way I will resist a particular lady clothing tide. It&rsquo;s not them or their corporate practices or their clientele or their product; it&rsquo;s me. I am somehow different and unique this way. A special snowflake, you know?<br /><br />So, what have you got? What are companies that you refuse to patronize for no good reason?</p></p> Wed, 26 Dec 2012 09:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/pointless-boycott-104561 Whistle-blowing: Guilt or greed? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/whistle-blowing-guilt-or-greed-102374 <p><p>At the Securities and Exchange Commission, tips on financial misconduct and investment fraud have been pouring in at the rate of eight per day.&nbsp;According to the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>, as of mid-August the SEC&#39;s office on whistle-blowing had&nbsp;received in excess of 2,870 tips.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Money.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="SEC payouts to whistle-blowers may be behind rise in tips (Flickr/ 401(K) 2012)" />Why this sudden rash of tipsters? Are the big-time players working deep inside our financial institutions suddenly burdened with a conscience? I don&rsquo;t think so. Two factors are fueling this rush to disclosure: fear of exposure and financial reward.</p><p>The list of individual players and big companies making the front page for the wrong reasons has been embarrassingly long: Bernie Madoff, Bear Stearns, AIG, Barclays. . . Frankly the heat is on.&nbsp;According to a Harris poll, 67 percent of the public distrusts Wall Street. I may be cynical, but I think a lot of insiders are telling all because they don&rsquo;t want to be blamed for <em>not</em> telling what they know. Jordon Thomas, a lawyer who represents whistle-blowers has said, &ldquo;[My clients] like their life, but they know something that they can&rsquo;t pretend they don&rsquo;t know [anymore].&rdquo;</p><p>In 2010 Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, authorizing a program that rewards whistle-blowers who disclose high-quality, verifiable information. Under these new rules, the SEC created a program to encourage people to report and provide evidence of actual or potential securities fraud. Tipsters whose information proves crucial to a case could get 10 to 30 percent of the penalties over $1 million. The SEC&#39;s first payment under this program was $50,000 to an informant who alerted regulators to a major investment fraud.</p><p>This new brand of whistle-blowers dishing out dirt from deep inside corporate America are less interested in fairness of the functional stability of the marketplace than they are in getting a cut of the potential multi-million dollar penalties offered by the SEC. Sadly, their actions are motivated by Economics 101 &mdash;&nbsp;not Ethics 101.&nbsp;</p><div><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></div></p> Thu, 13 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/whistle-blowing-guilt-or-greed-102374 Behind African ‘land grabs’ by U.S. institutions and universities http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-06/behind-african-%E2%80%98land-grabs%E2%80%99-us-institutions-and-universities-96133 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-February/2012-02-06/africa1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new report from Human Rights Watch says that Ethiopia is forcibly relocating 70,000 indigenous people from the city of Gambella. The reason? To free up land for foreign investment. The report goes on to argue that actions like this, which move people to areas where they can’t feed themselves, are a sure-fire recipe for large-scale famine.</p><p>Today, <em>Worldview</em> delves into land grabs. Entities such as USAID, the World Bank, and major U.S. universities are often the architects behind these land deals, which promise benefits for Africans but can often deliver food insecurity and displacement.</p><p><a href="http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/team" target="_blank">Anuradha Mittal</a>, founder and director of the <a href="http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Oakland Institute</a>, tells <em>Worldview</em> how these deals take place. The institute researches how land grabs force farmers out of their homes and livelihoods in Africa.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>To read research reports published by the Oakland Institute, <a href="http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/publications" target="_blank">click here</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-06/behind-african-%E2%80%98land-grabs%E2%80%99-us-institutions-and-universities-96133 Bloomberg report says ‘Koch Brothers Flout Law, Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales’ http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-12/bloomberg-report-says-%E2%80%98koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-secret-ira <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-12/koch2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Brothers Charles and David Koch are well-known for their libertarian politics. But chances are you don’t know much about their conglomerate, Koch Industries. It’s one of the world’s largest privately-held companies, with subsidiaries in manufacturing, trading and investment and a massive array of <a href="http://www.gp.com/forYourHome/viewbrands.html" target="_blank">everyday products</a>. From toilet paper to tableware, you may find some of these items in your own household pantry.</p><p>Today, Koch Industries finds itself in a public relations nightmare after accusations the company sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran in an end-run around a U.S. trade ban. The company has also made improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East, according to a new investigation by <em>Bloomberg</em>.</p><p>Journalists Asjylyn Loder and David Evans<em><cite> </cite></em>authored the report, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html" target="_blank">“The Secret Sins of Koch Industries,”</a> which appears in the November 2011 issue of <em>Bloomberg Markets Magazine</em>. Their investigation offers consumers and investors an extremely unflattering look at the powerful multinational corporation. We talk to Asjylyn and David about the company's dealings with Iran and its underreported business practices around the world.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>For more on the Koch Brothers, read Jane Mayer’s 2010 <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=all" target="_blank">article</a> in <em>New Yorker Magazine</em>.</strong></p></p> Wed, 12 Oct 2011 17:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-12/bloomberg-report-says-%E2%80%98koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-secret-ira At Emanuel budget forum, TIF question raises roof http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-budget-forum-tif-question-raises-roof-91374 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-01/Rahm2.JPG_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The questions Wednesday night ranged from potholes to bus fares, from school-day hours to traffic-aide layoffs. But nothing roused the crowd like the city’s 165 tax-increment-financing districts, which draw off half-a-billion property-tax dollars a year for economic development.</p><p>About 700 people overflowed a gym at Malcolm X College on Chicago’s West Side for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s second public meeting on a city budget gap he says will top $635 million.</p><p>Ashley Moy-Wooten of the Chicago-based Grassroots Collaborative told the mayor too many TIF dollars have gone to big companies like United Airlines.</p><p>“Would you commit to not giving any money to these giant corporations?” she asked, provoking the evening’s biggest round of applause. “And would you commit to shutting down these downtown TIFs?”</p><p>Emanuel made no promises but said it was “wrong” for the big companies to get TIF funds when neighborhoods were suffering. “I can’t reverse the past,” the mayor added. “I have to shape the future. That’s why I created a new standard that we finally have.”</p><p>Emanuel said a TIF overhaul proposed this week by a panel he appointed would bring more transparency and jobs.</p><p>The 90-minute forum followed a similar event Monday evening at Kennedy-King College on the city’s South Side.</p></p> Thu, 01 Sep 2011 05:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-budget-forum-tif-question-raises-roof-91374