5 Surprisingly Not-Evil Moves By Otherwise Evil Corporations

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Between pollution, conglomeration, morally questionable practices, and general disregard for ethics, giant corporations have done some truly awful stuff. Known in some countries (OK, fine -- known in my office chair) as Capitalist Voldemort, Corporate America has become the scary puppeteer that controls where misery is spread out among the masses. But even Voldemort had some stylish-looking robes, and even the most maligned companies in the world have done some good. For example ...

Walmart Is A Huge Solar Power Leader

Why People Hate Them:

Is there another company more synonymous with corporate greed than Walmart? They're the face of globalism, they're notoriously anti-union and anti-minimum wage, and they actively scam the government out of billions of dollars a year on a level that can only be described as Lex Luthor-esque. Not to mention that the family behind the company, the Waltons, would fit right in at the Capitol in The Hunger Games. And then sometimes, when it's run all the small businesses out of town, Walmart itself goes out of business, leaving small towns with no way to get groceries or John Cena shirts.

But ...

Despite being ultra-evil in pretty much every other way, the most politically hated company on Earth also happens to be the world's commercial leader in solar energy capacity. The combined roofs of their stores now have the capacity to suck 100 megawatts from our glorious Star King.

Now, before you start thinking the higher-ups at Walmart have suddenly seen the green light, it's a little more complicated. Basically, the suits were able to flex their muscles to get a really good deal from the solar company -- they put up shiny shingles all over middle America's favorite store, and in return, Walmart got access to the generated power at a discount. The solar company got a lot of sun and a permanent long-term customer, and Walmart was able to drastically reduce energy consumption in their stores. The fact that all this is good for the environment seems to be a coincidental side effect. I'm pretty sure Walmart would use door greeters as batteries like in The Matrix if it were actually energy efficient.

Walmart rooftop

However, though it's probably just a numbers game, there's no denying that it's a net gain for the planet -- even if some of their energy comes from solar, that's no chopped liver for a company whose electric bill is a goddamn billion dollars a year. Plus, the whole point is that other huge companies would see their example and want to do this, even if it's just for financial reasons. Which is why, since that chart was published a couple years ago, Target has caught up, installing 70 MW of power in 2016 alone. The fact that this makes Mother Nature happy is just a bonus in the grand scheme to sell as many pairs of Avengers pajamas as possible.

Listen, Walmart is pretty much evil incarn-glomerate and probably uses enough gasoline every day to make Deepwater Horizon look like a minor inconvenience, but if they're gonna exist, we'll take it.

CVS Voluntarily Stopped Selling Tobacco And Lost Billions

Why People Hate Them:

CVS doesn't have the reputation of devouring whole states like Walmart has. In fact, from research, Google searching "hate CVS" doesn't lead to any "CVS Revealed To Be Actual Satan, And Also Needs To Take Down Its Christmas Section Because It's Freakin' October, Man" articles. However, it does reveal that a lot of people who work at CVS hate the shiiiiit out of working at CVS. This goes double for the pharmacists, who cite understaffing and overly long hours and make it sound like their bosses replaced their Christmas bonuses with dog-turd-filled envelopes.

But ...

When CVS went through a rebranding that involved just adding the word "Health" after their name, the execs were faced with a conundrum -- selling cigarettes next to Tylenol probably doesn't make sense for the image. So they voluntarily stopped selling tobacco, and in the process they took billions in losses for years.

It's hard to say if this was 100 percent a PR move piggybacking on the already declining popularity of cancer sticks, but from a strictly financial sense at least, it was dumb. After years of soaring stocks, CVS took an 8 percent sales hit, amounting to $2 billion. You already know this scene is gonna be in the movie: The one defector screaming, "Because it's the right thing to do, dammit!" at the rest of the boardroom, then quitting the day after the ban goes into effect.

Sure, stocks are back up, bringing CVS to power again. But if it truly was in the interest of public health, this only works because CVS is such a big force in the drug store category. This move makes it a lot harder for John and Jane America to impulse buy a carton of Camels with their prescriptions, because now in some parts of America, there's nowhere else to go.

Well actually, there is one place. Walgreens, one of their main competitors, has been "discussing" this move due to calls from officials and the public to do the same. They have so far refused, probably because they now have double the customers in the lucrative "addict" demographic. So you can still hate Walgreens, if you feel inclined.

Starbucks Pays For College For Every Employee

Why People Hate Them:

I'm not gonna pretend that I haven't indulged in a Caramel Macchiato from time to time, but I can admit that Starbucks doesn't necessarily have the best rap. They are like the McDonald's of coffee, and it just feels icky -- despite the love they get from people that celebrate the fifth season, pumpkin spice, between fall and winter, they are a corporate giant that will put a store in any location that is more than 4 square feet in size. It's gotten to a point where hating Starbucks feels like a way that someone could describe themselves. "Hey, I'm Chris. I like hiking, video games, screw Starbucks, and music."

But ...

For a number of years, Starbucks had a generous college tuition reimbursement program for its employees, but in 2015, they revamped it to include a free ride for all four years to Arizona State.

Well, the online version.

That may seem like a scam, but Arizona State online isn't Trump University. (Even Harvard has an online program.) And all employees are eligible for full tuition reimbursement, even part-timers, with no requirement to even stay at Starbucks after graduating. That means you could Frappuccino your way through school and then use your new sociology degree to get an even better job at another coffee shop. Not too shabby. Sure, maybe an online bachelor's degree doesn't hold the same weight as an in-person one in some circles, but it's something for the 70 percent of Starbucks employees who don't have a degree (the other 30 percent are totally about to finish that novel).

Pfizer Stopped Selling Drugs For Lethal Injection

Why People Hate Them:

Walmart may be one of the most hated companies on the planet, but as a whole, I don't think it can get much worse for the PR department of the pharmaceutical industry. Not just because brats like Martin Shkreli are allowed on TV (though that certainly doesn't help), but also because of the many, many ways they put profit before health by gouging patients, falsifying information, and just generally being a cancer on society. (Unless you have cancer, in which case thank God for pharmaceutical companies.) Even Trump hates these jerks.

But ...

Well, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world recently made a bold move, and it's a name you would know, one way or another. Pfizer, maker of Lipitor, Zoloft, and Viagra, straight up decided to stop selling lethal injection drugs to the government. Ya, turns out when a death-penalty state needs their knockout juice, they pretty much just run to the pharmacy. Just one more reason to hate Walgreens. No, I'm kidding. Or am I?

That all changed in May 2016, when Pfizer stood up and said enough was enough: Their drugs could no longer be used to kill people (unless it was listed as a side effect, of course). And because they were one of the last open-market providers of the drugs needed for this kind of thing, this put death-penalty states in an awkward position. It's not like they could just abolish the death penalty -- there's killin' to do! While some states have postponed executions seemingly indefinitely, some have turned to the black market or otherwise bypassed the FDA entirely.

And then there's Utah, which said "Screw it" and brought back the firing squad in 2015 just in case. It's reassuring to know that when modern methods are cut off, some just take the 1850s'. And by "reassuring," I mean "Help us, someone, please."

The Worst Companies In The World Give The Most To Charity

Why People Hate Them:

Let's start with the bankers: JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs. You've seen at least one of them in the news, whether it was because they were fined millions of dollars "without admitting wrongdoing" or that time their corrupt business practices brought down the entire world economy and all they got to show for it was a slap on the gold-watch-laden wrist. Then there's the oil companies, like ExxonMobil and Chevron. You might as well grab the next ship off Earth, because these guys have destroyed it, and in Exxon's case, knowingly. If you could somehow put all these companies in a box and then throw that box into a volcano, God would personally come down and shake your hand, saying, "Congratulations. You've beaten the game. Input your initials to show off your high score."

But ...

All of these companies happen to be in the top ten on the list of the most charitable companies in the world.

Now coincidentally, they are also some of the most profitable companies in the world, so of course they can donate the most to charity, a fact that I'm sure you are screaming at your computer right now. However, in at least some of the cases, they willingly donate more than the average company. Goldman Sachs not only comes out at No. 4 overall, with $276 million in charity donations, but that accounts for 3 percent of their pre-tax profits, compared with the Fortune 500 average of 1 percent. Even that sounds small, but between all these companies (the ones mentioned above, rounded out with our old friend Walmart and a few others), we're talking billions and billions per year. Damn, I won't even throw a dime in the Salvation Army bucket if I'm in a hurry to get to the Dillard's before it closes.

In the end, maybe this isn't enough to offset the absolutely insane carnage these groups have caused, but I guess we now know how bankers and oilmen sleep at night.

Chris has a party game called Cheer Up! that you can download for free. Check it out on Facebook, too.

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