Haiti and Corporate Greed

Photo by AP/Gerald Herbert

Photo by AP/Gerald Herbert

It isn’t too often that I produce a rant like this, but after recently coming across some startling data, I was too appalled to sit here and do nothing.

Anyone familiar with my website knows that there is no love lost between me and cubicles, or giant corporations for that matter. After working in one for eight years before I began vagabonding, I know first hand the cold, soulless drive they all possess to make more money at the expense of humanity.

Even being a former victim, I still threw up a little in my mouth after researching the following numbers. Have I become too jaded or has the world lost its mind?

You read and I welcome your opinion:

The Research

I recently came across an article detailing how my local University of Kentucky had raised US $1 million dollars for Haiti relief — not bad for a small university in a relatively broke state.

This prompted me to go out and see what other universities and companies had donated…but what I found was an article on the Huffington Post disclosing how much money big companies had donated to the relief effort.

Banks

  • Fifth Third Bancorp: $100,000
  • US Bank: $100,000 + match employee donations
  • Visa: $200,000
  • Wells Fargo: $100,000

Yes, you are reading those zeros correctly. All the other banks such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs donated just $1 million dollars — the same as my local little university.

These are the same tyrants, that despite Obama’s best sword rattling and ridiculous slaps on their wrists, still continue to give bonuses much larger than any of the donations you see above.

But wait, it gets even better!

Other Giant Corporations

  • Coca-Cola: $1 million
  • Sprint: $50,000 ($1.5 Billion spent on advertising last year)
  • Wal-Mart: $600,000
  • Google: $1 million (the same Google with a revenue of $23.65 billion, stock price of $531 a share, and profit margin of 27%)
  • McDonalds: $1 million  (the CEO earns $12.32 million per year)
  • Microsoft: $1.25 million (once the richest company in the world based on cash reserves)
  • Walt Disney: $100,000 (the CEO earns $21.34 million per year)
  • Cigna: $50,000  (a giant health insurance provider)

The list goes on with very little improvement. I am not naive enough to believe that corporations in America have the ability or own the responsibility to fix every disaster that happens to every developing country.

But to think that a company with the sizes and resources of Walt Disney or Wal-Mart could only muster enough interest to give a portion of what one university’s basketball team could raise is frightening.

For a comparison, here are the salaries of the CEOs for some of the companies above:

  • Coca Cola / Muhtar Kent: $6.35 million
  • Sprint / Daniel Hesse: $5.39 million
  • McDonalds / James Skinner: $12.32 million
  • Walt Disney / Robert Iger: $21.34 million

Simply fascinating. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and a dollar there goes quite a long way for relief effort. Just a wild guess, but the kids in Haiti would probably notice that dollar a lot more than someone making $20 million a year plus stock compensation.

People wonder why I now preach not to give the best years of your life to corporations.

If these guys can throw the equivalent of spare change at one of the largest humanitarian disasters of our time, how long do you think it would take them to help you out the door with a boot when cheaper overseas labor comes along?

In Closing:

If you found these numbers to be as disgusting as I did, share this with friends — this is public-domain knowledge and helping educate others might bring some awareness to just how deadly the cubicle can be.

Go check out www.thecorporation.com for a chilling documentary about just why and how these guys can think like that.

Sources:

Advertising budgets

Forbes

Huffington Post article

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9 Responses to “Haiti and Corporate Greed”



  1. Great, albeit telling piece Greg.

    Sadly, it isn’t surprising after the behaviour of those same corporations and banks over the past year’s economic crisis.

    I 2nd your recommendation to watch The Corporation. IMO, it should be viewed by everyone at least once before they enter the job market.

  2. I agree but sadly it doesn’t just apply to corporations and big business it is regular people as well.

    2004 Tsunami
    Death toll: 184,000 Confirmed
    Displaced: 1.7 Million
    NGO and public donations: $280AUD Million

    2010 Haiti Earthquake
    Death toll: 180,000 Confirmed
    Displaced: 1.2 Million
    NGO and public doantions: Not yet availible ($400,000AUD donated to Red Cross appeal on the 15th Jan)

    2009 Australian Bushfires
    Death toll: 173
    Displaced: 7562
    NGO and public doantions: $372AUD Million

    Donation amounts are Australian private donations, you might like to compare donations to hurricane Katrina for a US perspective.

    There exists a very strong “take care of our own” mentality worldwide completely ignoring that wherever a crisis like these happen they are all “our own”.

    Wiki was sourced for the numbers.

  3. Oh forgot to mention insurance, most Australian would have been insured in the bushfire. In the other two events it would be a minority who will be covered.

  4. Greg,
    Check out The International Book Project, http://www.intlbookproject.org.
    I am not sure of the exact quote is but educating one woman in a third world country lowers infant mortality rates more than sending one doctor!
    I have done book drives at my office the last couple years during the holidays for this non-profit. They are located here in Lexington as well.

  5. I am happy people are donating, and for sure business needs to donate. I suspect it is possible the Kentucky University had a few large corporations donate to them.

    I have been to Africa five times, I was in Haiti for two months prior to the Earthquake and left by accident five days before it occurred.

    Haiti has become a welfare state, the United Nations has been providing the Police force there for years.

    I just talked yesterday with a airplane pilot who went into Haiti within 7 days of the quake, I will interview him soon on my Blog.

    Business or Corporations are worried. They want to support the creation of jobs for Haiti, so the people have price, dignity and sustainable happiness. They are not happy to make more welfare recipients.

    I was in Niger when they had a malnutrition crisis.

    The money is first used by the NGO’s to build a building….
    Because they are never leaving.

    Micro-Entrepreneur Ideas is the answer, these countries need good ideas.

    Thanks, Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com in Dominican Republic 2010

    A Gift to Africa – Haiti

  6. Dan has somewhat of a point when it comes to regular people. However, NGOs operate differently than corporations. A majority of their dollars come from government funding. Programs go through rigorous proposal stages until a program is approved. There are restrictions and sometimes limited budgets for NGOs. If government were to reduce funding programs to study child trafficking for instance, there’s nothing an NGO can do, other than partner with another agency or fund raise.

    However, corporations have unlimited growth and much of the money flows upwards, in a pyramid pattern. The folks at the bottom lose, while the guy at the top makes 20 mil.

    Greg, nice touch by using The Corporation to drive your point home. 🙂

  7. Corporations are profit-creation entities, so it’s not unethical for them to reward their owners with large bonuses. If the amounts given by each of the corporations you mention isn’t enough, what is?

  8. Understand that corporations are “for profit” but with a growing death toll of 250,000 people in one of the largest catastrophes of our generation, I think we should do our most to help.

    Some of the CEOs earn US $1 every 2 seconds day and night – 365 days a year. I can ask the same question, at what point is there enough money in the bank and when is it time to keep a few more kids from dying?

  9. The greed we are aware of is to be expected from the economic system we are subjected to. We can only guess as to how the military establishment and the politicos work together to ensure their poosition of power. As Howard Zinn said, “they can only have their power as long as we let them have it”

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