After every horrible disaster, the most common questions are usually A) "How do we prevent a crisis like this from happening again?" and B) "How can I, a complete asshat with a shriveled gerbil turd for a human soul, accrue obscene gobs of money off of human suffering?"
Well, we may never fully answer the first question, but the following companies have got the second down pat ...
Once another random date in the calendar, 9/11 is now a time for reflection -- about the victims of the attack, the heroes who gave everything, and the fact that a not-insignificant portion of our readership is now simultaneously too young to remember 9/11 and old enough to freakin' drive.
9/11 also evokes spinning dollar signs in the beady little eyes of a certain stripe of greedy dingus. In January 2002, a Georgia company called International Agile Manufacturing announced they'd bought 500 tons of steel from the destroyed World Trade Center and turned them into commemorative medallions. "At $30 anybody can buy it," IAM's president Alfonzo Hall said, presumably in his best Billy Mays voice.
Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images
IAM claimed they would donate 10 percent of the profits to the Fund for the City of New York, but the fund's spokeswoman said they never gave permission to use their name, nor did they agree to receive money from these ghouls. Hall explained to CBS News that they just wanted to "do something very tasteful where people all over the United States who have never been to New York could feel a part of the event." Finally: The perfect gift for that shitty person in your life who has to make every single thing about them! Even terrorist attacks.
Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images
The company also said they were willing to donate 5,000 to 10,000 of the six-million medallions to the families of the victims, but they weren't exactly thrilled by the offer ... for a very good reason. Fair warning: This is where this story veers dangerously into horror-movie backstory territory. As the head of a group of families explained, "There is going to be a large number of people never found because their bodies were pulverized. In all probability, their bodies could be with the steel in those medallions. Where would you display that?"
By the way, a quick eBay search reveals that the $30 medallions now go for ... $29.99. That's quite the investment right there.
By now, you've probably heard about how the citizens of Flint, Michigan got served a shit sandwich, only in liquid form. To recap, residents experienced a multitude of horrible symptoms and sparked a series of investigations that led to the discovery of a catastrophic amount of lead in their water. That was in 2015, and the situation still isn't resolved. What have the authorities been doing this whole time? Oh, lots of things. Like, for instance, making sure residents pay for that water they can't drink.
On top of facing hair loss, diminished IQ scores, rashes from just taking a bath, and a multitude of other short- and long-term consequences, people were looking at possibly losing their homes for the crime of not paying for lead-water -- because, unless you're really into S&M, when someone spits into your mouth, you don't say "thanks" and offer them $10.
In late April of this year, over 8000 people unlucky enough to live in Flint received letters telling them to pay up by May 19 or "be declared a delinquent" and face a lien on their homes. Al Mooney of Flint's Treasury Department said, "We have to have revenue coming in, so we can't give people revenue, I mean excuse me, give people water at the tap and not get revenue coming in to pay those bills." He then went into sleep mode as technicians replaced a broken transistor in his verbal modulation chip.
Exactly one day before the deadline, the city caved in to the public outrage (and the fact that only $400,000 out of $5.8 million had been paid) and put the brakes on their evil plan. To give them some credit, the city has also provided water filters for citizens to use on the water. And to take that credit right back, it turned out those things were like heart-shaped water beds and ceiling mirrors for dangerous bacteria -- 76 people got shigellosis last year last year from using the filters. But hey, getting the fever-shits for five to seven days is better than dying ... we guess?
If you want to help Flint, check out the appropriately named Help For Flint. There's instructions for donations and in-person volunteering, if you're into being an actual superhero.
On September 2008, tropical storm Ike leveled up into a hurricane and tore through the Gulf Coast before eventually slapping the island city of Galveston, Texas. All in all, Hurricane Ike racked up 37.5 billion dollars in damages and caused 195 deaths. Oh, but those are not the real victims here, though. No, this is who you should be weeping for:
After the hurricane, 81 residents in Galveston opened up their mail to find that Comcast was holding them responsible for damages done by the tempest of the gods. Not feeling particularly god-like, one resident called to clear up what was sure was a clear misunderstanding of her powers ... only for Comcast to confirm that they seriously expected her to dig through the detritus of her home to find their precious cable equipment. And if she didn't dig up the DVR and modem and whatever else, she would have to pay a thousand freakin' dollars. Again, this is what Galveston looked like a few weeks earlier:
Another Galveston resident was charged $600 for the equipment. After the media reported on the story, Comcast had a sudden change of heart and said they would call the 81 people who received the letter to apologize, pledging to cover some of the costs. "Some" being the key word here. This applied only to residents who had no homeowner's or renter's insurance -- those who had either of those still had to foot the bill, whether said insurance covered "cable companies being unimaginable dicks" or not. Those people were given 90 days to pay up before "restitution needs to be made," at which time folks either had to share responsibility with an act of God or face the unholy wrath of debt collectors.
In the end, Comcast learned a valuable lesson: They can just keep doing this evil shit without consequence. They pulled the same stunt on a couple whose house was almost destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and who knows how many others. So remember: If you see a vortex of death coming your way, forget about the family heirlooms, the dog, and Grandma. Just grab as much Comcast equipment as you can carry!
In 2015, the Zika virus spread from Brazil into the South and North Americas, and every 24-hour news channel from there. Babies who are infected in the womb may suffer from microcephaly, something we don't really recommend Googling unless you want to spend the rest of the day huddled in a cute-dog-pictures coma.
Obviously, we as a people have a strong desire to protect our future generations, so a vaccine was developed last year by the U.S. Army. Just as obviously, we as a people are greedy bastards, so now we have to fight to make sure this vaccine is actually affordable.
You see, the Army is great at testing and mass-producing things that murder you, but apparently not so much at things that do the opposite. You see, they're giving sole reign over the manufacture and sale of the Zika vaccine to Sanofi Pasteur, a French pharmaceutical company. The problem is that, as Bernie Sanders points out, medications that Sanofi sells for $745 in France are sold in the U.S. for over $5,000. This happens all the time. A different Army-funded (that is: you-funded) prostate cancer drug that costs $30,000 a year in Canada balloons up to $129,000 a year below the border. In short: Start practicing those fake French accents, people.
We don't actually know how much the vaccine will cost in America, but according to negotiation reports, when the Army asked Sanofi for assurance that they won't go nuts with the price, they were basically met with a big "NAH." (A Sanofi executive has denied said "NAH.") But to be fair, we're only giving Sanofi a measly $173 million for their trials, in addition to the boost they got in their stock price just from being in the same neighborhood as the word "Zika."
This situation is especially problematic in states like Louisiana, where weather conditions make it an ideal spot for future Zika mosquito orgies. According to Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health Rebekah Gee, "We'd then be in a situation where we'd have to decide between funding for K-12 education and the Zika vaccine." Kids lose either way, it seems.
In the wake of the death and destruction brought on by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, some homeowners in Mississippi had a small comfort: It turns out their houses weren't destroyed by the hurricane after all! Nope, it was all just "water damage," you see.
Or so declared insurance giant State Farm, which, what do you know, doesn't pay up for this type of damage. Since the company only covered wind insurance and the federal government covered flooding, the state ended up shelling out around half a billion buckaroos to homeowners left stranded after the disaster. To be exact, 6,810 policy holders received assistance from the state. Considering that the rebuilding process took years and some of the areas destroyed by the hurricane were never rebuilt, we're gonna go ahead and say Mississippi could have used that money.
In 2006, two sisters working for State Farm blew the whistle on the fact that their bosses had told adjusters to develop temporary dyslexia and write down "wind damage" instead of "flood damage." A clusterfuck of a court case ensued, with the insurance company trying to get the case thrown out on technicalities -- the mark of an innocent party.
It was only ten years after the hurricane, in 2015, that the courts finally ruled on Mississippi's favor, allowing the state to recover the massive losses suffered by basically doing State Farm's job for them. The company abided by the ruling and doesn't harbor any ill feelings, said a spokesman for the newly renamed Any-State-But-Mississippi Farm.
If you've always had an irrational hatred of Starbucks baristas, well, here's a pretty damn compelling reason. As we mentioned earlier, 9/11 was a day when some people decided to step up, risk their lives, and become exemplars of the very best of humanity. But for those employees of one NYC Starbucks, it was a good day to make a few extra bucks.
John Li/Getty Images
After the World Trade Center collapsed, emergency workers helping people in the rubble of the towers went out to look for some water for the victims. Luckily, this was still Manhattan, so they probably had to walk five steps before running into a Starbucks, and the employees inside were totally willing to help. For $130. That's how much they charged for three cases of bottled water, which the workers paid out of their own pockets. Hopefully the bills weren't too dirty with the dust that was once the massive buildings standing right near them until that morning.
Suspecting that something was amiss, ambulance officials who heard of the incident began calling and emailing representatives of the chain ... to no response. Starbucks president Orin Smith later said he didn't know why they were ignored, but he did issue a public apology, gave a personal phone call to the head of the Midwood Ambulance Service, wrote a reimbursement check, awarded free coffee, gave "other gifts," and generally sounded sincerely horrified by his employees' lack of basic humanity.
Of the employees themselves, Smith said, "It's totally inconsistent with the kind of behavior we would have expected from our people, so it has been very upsetting to learn of this." The worst part is that they presumably suffered no consequences, since they were now 130-naires and could afford to blow off their job and live large for the rest of their lives.
Follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.