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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Corporations kill people too

We just don't tend to think of it as crime.

Even when the corporation is culpable for the actions that lead to the deaths.



Acting with knowledge that a harm will result.

Take Massey Energy, a company with one of the worst records in modern times. In this article, "Feds Reveal Theory On Why W.Va. Mine Exploded," we get a glimpse of what caused the deaths of 29 people (about 6 times as many as were killed by the recent Arizona shooting which is all over the news!).

From the article:

"Officials stopped short of blaming Massey Energy directly but said the mine was "noncompliant" in multiple ways."

That's a nice way of saying, the company chose to take actions that put its own employees at risk. And thus they died.

And it's not the first time either. Go ahead, "google it!" (Massey AND worker deaths)

I dare you.


  1. I'm just fascinated (repulsed may be a better word) at how we treat corporations in our society. We allow them personhood in ways that are beneficial, allow them to have "freedom of speech" with funding candidates, yet do very little in the way of punishment when it comes to egregious crimes.

    These types of "violations" will continue until there is some sort of criminal accountability for those in charge of these businesses. So, chances are there is no end in sight.

  2. I think it is very wrong that corporate news doesn't display these types of events as much as they should. Other than protecting other corporations' reputations, I think it is awful that Massey Energy didn't fix the issues before sending their men into their mines. I feel this didn't make headlines (vs. Arizona shooting) because it is a risky job and employees know that going in. Mainstream media would rather focus on smaller death count, in Arizona, (with a deranged man) than one that points finger at a mayor player in fossil fuel production. I am agreeing that it is important to receive news and updates on the Arizona shooting, but this is just as important for citizens to know (I believe).

  3. It is wrong of corporate news to not show these horrible stories. They leave this type of news un-shown in order to protect their corporate buddies and corporate counterparts.

    As awful as this is I feel that it is impossible to bring criminal suits against corporations. You cannot charge the CEO with the crime. He is sitting in an office miles away and probably has no clue that there was faulty equipment. Corporations are too big with too many different layers of employees to be able to charge one person or one group of people with the crime. The head of Massey probably didn't even know that the standards weren't being met because of how large a company he must run. In summary corporations should not be treated as people, in any case, but especially not when being charged with criminal acts.

  4. So if a corporation kills a human being, what is a just punishment? A fine? Should corporations just go the way Ford did with the Pinto,and come up with an easy fix then determine how much a human life is worth to you and then put the cost of the life against the cost of the fix. and guess what, if cost of fix > cost of life then there is just no sense to fix it. No fine, or financial compensation does the matter justice, a human life can not be replaced by any thing. Someone needs to be held responsible in these matters otherwise this sort of thing is just going to continue. Also its funny how the Pinto is forgotten, I would love to see Mike Rowe on a Ford commercial talking about the exploding Pinto.

  5. Actually, corporations and their Board of Directors can be held accountable for these actions. It is often the decisions they make that lead to the deaths, in fact.

  6. Would it be successful to the point of getting people's attention, though? Or would it just be a settlement out of court large enough to get the case out of the media's eyes quickly?
    It goes back to sno_boarder's point... The cost of settlement for a grieving family (in the corporation's eyes) is far more simple than taking responsibility and fixing the problem for the future.