- Joseph Heath discusses how the Volkswagen emission cheating scandal fits into a particular type of corporate culture:
(W)hen the Deepwater Horizon tragedy occurred, or now the VW scandal, it was hardly surprising to people who follow these things. Certain industries essentially harbour and reproducing deviant subcultures. This is one of the reasons that much of the best work on white collar crime has been inspired by, and draws upon, work in juvenile delinquency. Whereas delinquents tend to exist in subcultures that reproduce deviant attitudes toward authority, many corporations reproduce subcultures that promote organized resistance to regulation.- And on the subject of cultures where lawbreaking is seen as normal if not outright desirable, Andrew Nikiforuk reminds us of the multiple scandals surrounding Bruce Carson - involving both illegal lobbying and publicly-funded shilling for the oil industry.
This is a well-known feature of the automobile industry, and apparently this is what was happening at VW as well. One executive, speaking anonymously, blamed “the company’s isolation, its clannish board and a deep-rooted hostility to environmental regulations among its engineers. “
What can be said about this? Perhaps a few lessons: First, it serves as a helpful reminder that white collar crime remains a very serious social problem, one that attracts far too little public concern. This is partly because of an almost entirely supine business press – it remains that case that while the “news” section of newspapers focuses very heavily on criticizing the government, the “business” section almost never criticizes business, and does almost no investigative reporting or muckracking. (Notice that while political scandals are almost always uncovered by political reporters, the VW story was not broken by an “automotive” reporter.) Second, it is important to be aware that these criminogenic business subcultures, once developed, can be extremely difficult to eliminate. Thus it is a very important responsibility of management to set the right tone, to keep a careful eye on the corporate culture, and to take hard line when things start to get out of hand. Finally, there are many people who, for reasons of political ideology, are strongly critical of environmental law, health and safety regulation, financial regulation, the FDA, etc. These political ideologies are often appealed to by corporate criminals, as a way of legitimating their law-breaking activities. It seems to me, therefore, that those who express an ideological hostility to regulation bear a special responsibility for ensuring that their views are not misused in this way. This can be achieved, in part, by emphasizing the very significant difference between claiming that a law should be repealed and claiming that a law need not be obeyed.
- Meanwhile, Joseph Stiglitz sees the Trans-Pacific Partnership as nothing more than a means of entrenching corporate abuses into law around the globe. But Michael Harris notes that plenty of voters and activist groups will be fighting that choice in Canada.
- Edward Keenan makes clear that the Cons' campaign of discrimination is intended to foment hatred against Muslims in general, while Sean Fine reports that the Cons' target voters are taking up the invitation to do violence against fellow Canadians. And Paula Simons highlights the arrogance involved in claiming to tell women what they may and may not wear.
- Finally, Haroon Siddiqui discusses the domestic damage being done by the Cons' politically-obsessed foreign policy.