5 Deeply Evil Corporations That Transcend Everyday Badness
A company does something evil, people get angry, said company has its publicists punch up a "sincere" apology, and the company waits for everyone to get distracted by a different scandal or the new iPhone. It's how the world works. But sometimes, major corporations pull off evil so epic that we must never forget it. We should build statues of it in the desert, to warn future generations.
Takata Corporation Manufactures Exploding Airbags -- And Car Dealerships Are Still Selling Them To You
The Takata Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer that "dreams of a world with zero fatalities from traffic accidents." Lovely. We all have dreams. There's this one we keep having in which Richard Dean Anderson and his superpowerful legs grasp us by the ... well, we digress. But dreams don't necessarily mean anything, and Takata understands this better than anybody. In 2016, they were ordered to recall 64 million cars with defective airbags in the U.S. alone. In fact, one out of eight cars in the U.S. might be affected.
"OK, new dream: 'a world with under 14 fatalities from traffic accidents.'"
But how defective are we talking, exactly? Do the airbags not fully deploy? Do they have a seam that inadvertently looks like a nipple while inflated? How bad could it be? At worst, they could only fail to save a life, right?
Nope! Turns out they "may or may not shoot metal debris into the car cabin upon inflating." Takata uses a gas called ammonium nitrate to inflate their airbags quickly during accidents. The problem is that ammonium nitrate is volatile and breaks down over time. To quote the experts, it "may lose density especially in the presence of moisture or humidity. It is believed that in some circumstances, the density loss may lead to less predictable performance criteria." To put that in layman's terms, ammonium nitrate might explode directly in your face.
The only way this could be any less effective is if the bag itself was just a giant whoopee cushion.
This is not merely a potential hazard, either; there have been at least 10 deaths in the U.S. and three overseas, and at least 100 injuries have been linked to these airbags. The company's known about it for a while, too. A former Takata engineer alerted them about this issue multiple times, but was ignored.
Ammonium nitrate is now being phased out, like your crazy militant uncle Bob from your family's Thanksgiving dinner. However, your dealer is still legally allowed to sell you new cars with ammonium nitrate airbags, as long as they promise to do a recall before it becomes dangerous.
"They double-pinkie-swore. What more do you want?"
Hands up: How many of you remember to ask the salesman whether or not a car comes standard with face explosions, and an IOU for "not face explosions" dated "sometime before it's too late?"
Philip Morris Says Dying Young Is Awesome For The Economy
In 1999, Philip Morris courted officials of the Czech Republic by explaining how smoking would in fact help their economy, due to the reduced healthcare costs from its citizens dying early.
That's real. That's a real thing they tried.
"True, Grandma's no longer buying L&Ms, but you're no longer paying to keep her in a home."
The Czech Republic had earlier issued complaints that smoking-related healthcare costs were a huge drain on their economy. Philip Morris' batshit-insane PR department chose to address this issue by releasing a study which showed that, while the country did indeed lose some money because of smoking, they were ultimately left with a net gain of $147 million per year, thanks in part to direct tax revenue and indirect savings on healthcare and pensions. Yes, a cigarette company suggested it was doing the country a favor by killing off its citizens. By that logic, consider how much money the average country could save if everyone died right now.
"You'll also be finding at least an extra $3.29 in dead peoples' wallets."
Philip Morris produced similar studies for Canada and the Netherlands, and were in the process of commissioning studies in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia. This was all brought to a halt when the Czech Republic politely pointed out that the whole premise was "tigerfuckingly insane."*
*May not be actual quote.
Some Charities Donate Literally Zero Percent of Their Proceeds To ... Charity
If you had the option of donating a million dollars to either of these charities, which would you pick?
1) The Defeat Diabetes Foundation, which helps with "prevention, early identification and self-management of the global epidemic, diabetes."
2) Trapped In The Cage, wherein some guy "will sit in a room and watch nothing but Nicolas Cage films for 24 consecutive hours."
If you picked "Trapped In The Cage," you complete maniac -- congratulations! That's the only one that might help people. Probably not, but maybe!
Organizations like Cancer Fund of America, Children's Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, and the Breast Cancer Society run their supposed goodwill organizations like personal bank accounts, using the majority of their proceeds to pay professional fundraisers, who rake in the money and, in turn, get more of that money. They spend almost all of the remainder paying the lavish salaries and bonuses of their employees (who are hired mostly via the careful applicant screening process of "rampant nepotism"). Together, these four charities have raised around $187 million ... and donated less than 3 percent to the cause they name-check, often by distributing ridiculous stuff like "cancer boxes," which contain random trinkets but nothing helpful.
Unless you count Little Debbie cakes and Moon Pies as medicine because "they make people happy."
The Federal Trade Commission sued them for fraud, but that money is already gone, spent on fancy cars, luxury cruises, gym memberships, and "board training" trips to Disney World. None of those were hilarious joke examples, by the way.
If you're having a hard time discerning between real examples of charitable fraud and funny stuff we make up, we'll help you out. Here's a hilarious joke example of charity fraud: "They spent the money developing a robot that high-fives Shia LaBeouf whenever he feels the need for validation, thereby keeping him from bothering the rest of us."
Here's a real one: "The aforementioned Defeat Diabetes Foundation has raised millions and donated approximately 0 percent of their proceeds via direct cash aid."
Oh, and handsomely paying "Mr. Diabetes" to give speeches about how much diabetes sucks. Also not hilarious.
A Prozac Manufacturer Goes Full Drug Pusher
In 2002, pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly had a problem: Prozac's patent had run out, and people were turning to cheaper generic antidepressants. Not content with buttering up a few extra doctors or the usual practice of feeding pharmacies biased information, the sales banshees at Eli Lilly decided to cut out the middleman completely and straight-up mail antidepressants directly to sad folks and hope they get hooked. Yes, Eli Lilly's bold new marketing strategy was to become an after-school-special-caliber drug pusher for depressed people.
First, the company's sales reps acquired a list of patients with a history of depression in the Florida area from Holy Cross Medical Group in Fort Lauderdale. You know, just some data from your patient records, which are supposed to be completely confidential, given over to a marketing dude who "wanted to try some crazy shit."
"Did that last paragraph bum you out? We have just the thing for you ..."
Before long, the members of Lilly's new mailing list received a strange package in the mail. The accompanying letter talked about "Prozac Weekly," a fine new antidepressant that clearly makes your existing medicine look like hot poison garbage. Your doctor's opinion? Sure, it's right here in the letter, giving you a thumbs-up. Oh, and by the way, here's your free month's supply of Prozac Weekly.
The exact same way they get you hooked on crack, heroin, and Pokemon.
Look, we're all for drugs by mail. We get our drugs and we don't have to see other human beings. It's win-win. But outright pushing "the first one's free" on folks fighting depression seems a little morally shaky. More worrying: Although medical professionals were involved, this was ultimately a campaign by sales folks, so they didn't exactly vet their target group thoroughly. That's how 30-day supplies of prescription drugs ended up in the hands of a 16-year-old who had never been diagnosed with depression, and another patient who suffered violent psychotic reactions ... to Prozac.
DuPont Poisons Everybody For A Very Long Time
Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA if you're nasty, is commonly used in the creation of Teflon nonstick pans, Gore-Tex, and other slippery, waterproof surfaces. It's the Taco Bell of chemicals -- cheap, convenient, and extremely bad to ingest. It can give you cancer. It can give your ass cancer.
DuPont calls that chemical C8, and they rubbed it in its workers' faces for years and years.
DuPont first started dabbling in the Teflon business in 1953, when they purchased large amounts of PFOA from the 3M Company. DuPont managed to shoot itself in the foot almost instantly. Although 3M had provided strict rules on how to dispose of the stuff (incinerate it or treat it as chemical waste), DuPont somehow managed to pump hundreds of thousands of pounds of C8 straight into the Ohio River, and bury a further 7,100 tons of it in unlined sludge pits. Surely this happened via an elaborate, almost wacky series of accidents. Right, guys?
We're sure the 99.7 percent of Americans testing positive of C8 in their blood are busting a gut right now.
DuPont didn't take 3M's word that C8 was unsafe; they initiated four decades' worth of tests to confirm it. In 1961, their scientists discovered the chemical increased the size of the liver in rats, rabbits, and dogs. In the 1970s, they noted that the workers in their Washington Works premises had high concentrations of C8 in their blood. In 1981, they discovered that the chemical could cause birth defects in rats. At that point, they went full supervillain and moved to human testing. Seven pregnant employees in DuPont's Teflon division were monitored by corporate scientists. Two of them gave birth to babies with eye defects.
We're going to conclude "risk un-averted."
In 1984, DuPont also noticed that they were spreading C8 a lot further than they had assumed. The fine powder was present well beyond their premises' property line, and was also present in the water supply of the surrounding areas. By the 1990s, they had further discerned that C8 causes all kinds of unpleasant cancers (not that there are pleasant cancers, but balls and prostate cancer are the cancers even other cancers don't want to hang with).
But Teflon was a billion-dollar business for DuPont, and funnily enough, it turns out that "a lot" is the exact amount of money it takes for a company to stop giving a shit about human life.
Or cattle life. Or life at all, really.
In 2012, a seven-year study by third-party scientists -- jointly appointed by DuPont and the plaintiffs of their arguably "too many" lawsuits -- confirmed that C8 causes a whole host of human health concerns, ranging from cancer to high cholesterol, pregnancy complications, thyroid disease, and ulcerative colitis. It was already too late for many of the workers, but at least DuPont looks like they're getting what's coming to them. They're currently facing 3,534 multi-million-dollar lawsuits, and it's going to be pretty hard to spin "we carefully and willfully poisoned, like, everybody we could find" as a good thing even once. It's doubtful they'll manage it several thousand times in a row.
Chelsea writes tweets on a Twitter near you.
For more reasons to never trust big companies, check out The 5 Shadiest Crimes Ever Pulled Off By Famous Corporations and 16 Diabolical Acts Of Evil By Famous Corporations.
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