4 Straight-Up Evil Acts Committed by Companies
Hearing that some companies are evil is like hearing that some bands with "Imagine" in their name make bland rock music. Just look at Nestle stealing spring water from indigenous lands, or Pizza Hut continuing to advertise their food to people even though it's clearly only intended for raccoon consumption.
But there's the corporate malfeasance we've come to know and tolerate as somehow being crucial to maintaining our freedom, and then there's the evil that makes the CEO dumping chemical waste into an orphanage's water tank call the police.
State Farm Maintained A "Jew List"
State Farm promotes itself as being "like a good neighbor." And we suppose that's true, if you believe a good neighbor is someone who retains a list of Jewish lawyers and goes out of their way to label any claims those lawyers make as fraud. (Although if that's the case, you're probably reading this because you got lost on your way to Storefront.)
Back in the '80s, Erwin Sobel, a Los Angeles lawyer, filed a lawsuit against State Farm over their so-called "Jew List." Sobel discovered a State Farm memo with explicit instructions that any cases that came to the insurance giant through one of the listed lawyers was not to be settled. Instead, they were to be sent to the company's fraud division for further investigation, thereby muddling what should have been straightforward claims.
That seems kind of shitty on its own. It would be one thing if the company created the list with some kind of objective measurement in mind, like if they knew for a fact that all of these lawyers liked to kick puppies. But the only commonality the vast majority of the lawyers on the 240 person list had was their Jewish background. The odds of getting that many Jewish lawyers on a list by chance alone is so astronomical that Neil DeGrasse Tyson would try and fail to explain it on Twitter. Oh, and of the gentiles listed, State Farm appeared to be highlighting minorities they thought were troublesome. State Farm got halfway to discrimination bingo!
State Farm denied any profiling, which is the kind of thing you have to say in this scenario, but paid a $30 million settlement. Oh, and the documents uncovered during the legal battle led to another lawsuit where, long story short, the insurance company was found to have been acting in bad faith with a client and was ordered to pay $145 million. So State Farm is like a neighbor who borrows your lawnmower, breaks it, then calls you racial slurs when you ask them to fix it.
A Detox Tea Company Used A Photo Of An Anorexia Survivor In Ads
If you've never heard of detox tea, then congratulations for not wasting your spare time on Instagram. It's basically the latest incarnation of a supposed miracle product that can help you quickly lose a lot of weight, especially if you're a vulnerable young woman. Khloe Kardashian promoted one called Flat Tummy Tea despite it being linked to dehydration, diarrhea, stomach pains, and cramping. You probably just guessed that it hasn't been approved by the FDA.
Guilting people into poisoning themselves for the sake of looking better in their selfies is already messed up enough. But then you take into account how one detox company stole a photo of an anorexia survivor to promote their product and it descends into a whole new level of hell, which we'll refer to as Ultra Hell. In March 2019, a picture of Christina Grasso soaking in a bubble bath was used to promote SkinnyMe Tea, which somehow has an even dumber name than its competitors. Grasso happens to be the co-founder of The Chain, a non-profit organization that helps young women in the entertainment and fashion industries recover from eating disorders.
To steal a photo from one of your biggest critics is a strategy that should only be used by gentlemen cat burglars, not a company selling $58 eating disorder starter kits. SkinnyMe pulled the image, but the online backlash was swift. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to stop them from selling teas that will clear your body of horrific toxins like "extra money" and "the muscles that let you stand up without feeling light-headed."
Tyson Foods Made Employees Wear Diapers
Tyson Foods makes the kind of frozen meals you ate when you were a college freshman and didn't know or care how to cook. It's food that comes with oven instructions even though they know full well people just toss that shit in the microwave because we're all disgusting when no one's watching. But, even if you eat their meals in your underwear and spill half of them on your sweaty body, you're not as gross as Tyson themselves. Tyson Foods and other chicken processing companies, including Pilgrim's Pride, Sanderson Farms, and Perdue Farms, were recently discovered to be refusing their workers bathroom breaks.
Employees had to wear diapers so they wouldn't shit themselves right next to the chickens, which is a fun image to keep in mind the next time you bite into a nugget. Oxfam America published a report on the scandal where one anonymous worker said, "I, and many, many others had to wear Pampers." It's the most embarrassing story involving chicken since your shameful 2:00 am KFC binge.
Another report, from the SPLC, claimed that even when workers were given breaks they weren't pleasant ones. Employees in Alabama were given just five minutes to go to the bathroom, which isn't enough time to walk there, get out of your uniform, relieve yourself, and get back to your station. Some people were allegedly stripping off their clothes on the way so they'd be back in time which is a lot of stress for a job that pays $10 an hour yet is considered essential by a country that calls fried chicken a key food group.
OSHA found the allegations credible enough to fine Tyson $263,000, although that investigation actually started after a worker's finger got stuck in a machine while trying to remove chicken parts. Then that employee presumably added "By the way, they don't let me shit," and everything else was discovered. Tyson did own up to the bad behavior and started working with Oxfam to improve working conditions, but in 2018 President Trump passed legislation that allowed chicken processing plants to work at higher speeds despite safety concerns. But at least when someone gets their hand lopped off while fueling our insatiable demand for slurried chicken strips, they won't have to worry about their bowels in the middle of the ambulance ride.
TurboTax Lied So They Could Swindle Poor People
Did you know that many other countries don't have to go through the absolute Ultra Hell that is filing taxes each year? They still have to pay, but instead of average citizens doing a bunch of nonsense calculations, the government handles everything. In Japan and the Netherlands, for example, you just go online and double-check the government's math. But Americans have tax filing companies like TurboTax, which sell consumers a migraine every April. Recently, TurboTax and H&R Block lobbied Congress to prevent the IRS from launching their own free tax-filing software. Having to use TurboTax is like having to pay 25 bucks to file a police report. It has literally no reason to exist, but does everything in its power to take a bite out of your tax return. And, as a little bonus evil, TurboTax endeavors to make their ostensible service sleazy as hell.
Part of the reason TurboTax was successful at blocking the IRS is that it agreed to offer a free service for certain filers. This service, called Free File, does exist. But TurboTax completely buried it in the depths of their website, and falsely claimed it was run by the government. Low-income Americans who should qualify for it end up filing with TurboTax instead while under the impression they won't have to pay, then get hit with BS fees.
ProPublica spoke with 16 tax filers who, thanks to TurboTax, received smaller refunds than they should have. One was a Virginia grad student who only made $16,000, meaning he should've been able to file for free but was instead charged $105. He recorded a call with TurboTax's customer support, and it's a good listen if you feel like raising your blood pressure.
So yeah, TurboTax sucks, and we recommend that no one file their taxes. They can't throw all of us in prison, so it's a fool-proof plan. You go first, and we'll be right behind you.
Mike Bedard is probably on a government list now due to all of his anti-capitalist writing. The least you can do is make him feel good by following him on Twitter.