It’s unfortunate that the Wall Street protesters (remember them?) weren’t savvy enough to focus on some real corporate culprits. Their message might have resonated with mainstream citizens and reminded all of us that corporate greed really is alive and well in America. GlaxoSmithKline, one of the large drug companies, was just slapped with a three billion dollar fraud settlement after being sued civilly and criminally by the DOJ. Although touted as the largest such settlement in history, the reality is that once again, a corporation simply paid off the feds after being caught with its hand in the cookie jar. The company’s market value is 110 bil and its latest profits run about 50 bil a year. Anticipating the payoff, the company had already set aside almost the full amount of the fine and immediately after the payoff was announced, its stock rose 1.3 percent. What makes this case different is that the company was prosecuted criminally as a result of harm caused users of several of its drugs. When people commit crimes of a serious nature, they usually are sentenced to more than paying a fine. They go to jail. But in the case of corporate crime, apparently no one is at fault. Someone somewhere in the company hierarchy decided that they could misbrand and market drugs with claims they cured conditions they didn’t much like the old snake oil salesmen in the old West who sold Dr. So-in-so’s Elixir as a complete cure all for everything that ailed ya. Unless or until responsibility is fixed on an individual level, corporations will continue to have the incentive to just keep on truckin when it comes to violations of the law. After all, they can write off the fines as just another cost of doing business. Rather than trying to penalize states for enforcing immigration law or filing law suits to stop states from requiring voters to show ID, the DOJ might spend more time actually prosecuting people who really do harm our citizens.
Just Another Cost of Doing Business