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  • Back to index of Class Conscious, Second Edition
  • Class Conscious:
    The Injustice of Poverty

    Second Edition

    Chapter 8: The Brutal Result of Capitalism on the People of the World -- Poverty (Modern)

    By Punkerslut

    Start Date: May 24, 2003
    Finish Date: June 2, 2004

    Section I: Poverty and Waste (Modern)

    Every efficient and wise government has at last the support of public opinion, whenever it opposes class egoism and class abuses.

    -- Gustav Schmoller [*1]

         Bristol-Myers Squibb engaged in anticompetitive acts to prevent generic pharmaceutical competition. [*2] Fruit of the Loom has been moving its U.S. plants to cheaper areas, where sweatshop conditions flourish. [*3] Eastman Chemical, General Electric Company, and Mitsubishi were named as three of the top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990's for antitrust crimes, some of them being fined up to $26 million for their activities in destroying other businesses. [*4] In 1997, General Electric Company, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark Corp., Pfizer, and Whirlpool broke 89% of their promise to create jobs with the passage of NAFTA. [*5] Mitsubishi was found guilty of an international price-fixing scheme, by increase the price of electrodes by more than 60 percent, from 1992 to 1997. [*6] Eastman Chemical was found guilty of fixing the prices of a food additive between 1995 and June of 1997. [*7] 3Com hid $160 million loss at its U.S. Robotics subsidiary from its investors in April to November of 1997. [*8] In 1998, Fort James, Kimberly-Clark Corp, and four others conspired to fix prices on commercial paper between 1993 and 1998. [*9] Comcast has systematically engaged in price discriminating, charging satellite services more for sports programs than cable companies do, trying to eliminate competing business. [*10] In April of 1998, a class action suit against Knight-Rider claimed a price-fixing scheme. [*11] In December of 1998, CVS has used unfair reimbursement policies against independent stores. [*12] In 1999, the Government Accounting Office investigated companies for fraud and accounting irregularities. Over 900 companies were found guilty of irregular accounting, and had to restate earnings, including Aetna, BellSouth, Boise Cascade, Boston Scientific, Campbell South, Clorox, ConAgra, CVS, Dillard's, JCPenny, Gateway, Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Kmart, Kroger, Lands' End, Limited Brands Inc., Lucent Technologies, McDonald's, Monsanto, Pennzoil-Quaker State Company, Rite Aid, SBC Communications, Sony Corp., Texas Instruments, Tyson Fresh Meats (formerly IBP Fresh Meats Inc.), Unocal, and Warnaco. [*13]

         In 1999, a former CEO of Doman Industries was found guilty of insider trading. [*14] Over 500 Jamaican workers were laid off by Fruit of the Loom in search of cheaper labor. [*15] General Electric would transfer 1,400 jobs from the United States to Mexico, paying Mexican laborers $2 per hour, as opposed to the unionized rate of $24 per hour. [*16] In January of 1999, Hasbro closed down its factory in Fairfax, Vermont, to move to China. [*17] In May of 1999, Toys 'R' Us, with Hasbro, Mattel, and Little Tikes conspired to restrict the sale of certain toys. [*18] In November of 1999, Hollywood Media Corp. conspired with Blockbuster Video to restrict independents' access to videos. [*19] In December of 1999, AutoNation closed 23 of its superstores, laying off 1,800 workers, with profits as high as $490 million. [*20] Citigroup allowed laundering of over $800 million in Russian mob money through its banks in 2000. [*21] Jefferson Smurfit Group closed part of its plant in Des Moines, laying off 190 union members. [*22] In January of 2000, Danone's offices in Europe were raided in an investigation of a price-fixing cartel in French beer market. [*23] Jones Apparel settled a price-fixing lawsuit by agreeing to pay $34 million. [*24] Time Warner Inc. was involved in price-fixing scheme with other large labels by increasing the price of music CDs from $10 to $15. [*25] In early 2001, Hewlett-Packard announced it would cut 2% of its workforce world wide, about 1,800 employees. [*26] In 2001, Tyco International executives were using company money for illegal and unauthorized payments, causing a financial nosedive, with 18,400 Tyco workers losing employment. [*27]

         In early 2001, Viacom forced independent video store operators out of business, 150 of them uniting in a class-action suit. [*28] In January of 2001, DaimlerChrysler announced a three year plan where it will lay off 20% of its North American workforce, a loss of 26,000 jobs. [*29] In February of 2001, Bausch & Lomb settled a lawsuit for $17.5 million where it conspired with American Optometric Association to force customers into buying replacement contact lenses through optometrists. [*30] In March of 2001, New York Appeals Court upheld a lower court's decision against Prudential Financial, for breach of contract, fraud, and deceit and improper interference with existing contractual relations. [*31] In April of 2001, Amazon.com patented parts of its e-commerce operation, including the site's "one-click purchase" 'technology,' -- the most simple, important, and obvious idea for e-commerce. [*32] In April of 2001, Bristol-Myers Squibb tried to stop other companies from selling low-cost generic versions of its drugs. [*33] In May of 2001, Johns & Johnson paid $60 to settle an antitrust case, in which it conspired with other companies to refuse to sell contact lenses through alternative channels, which offer lower prices. [*34] In May of 2001, PG&E Corp. gouged consumers in the Boston Area by increasing electricity prices during power shortages. [*35] In June of 2001, Schering-Plough, Wyeth Corporation, and one other corporation conspired to keep cheap generic drugs off the market. [*36] Time Warner Inc. refuses to broadcast ads on its television channels to its digital subscriber line, engaging in anti-competitive activity. [*37] In July of 2001, St. Laurent Paperboard Inc. purchased Smurfit-Stone Container Company, closing five of its paper mills. [*38] In August of 2001, CVS submitted false prescription claims to government health insurance programs. [*39] Sony Corp. has pressured retailers to sell video games at fixed prices. [*40] Wal-Mart was selling some items below cost to drive out competitors in Wisconsin. [*41]

         In October of 2001, Barnes & Noble and Borders secured cheaper prices and preferential treatment from publishers, an antitrust activity. [*42] DaimlerChrysler was fined $65.5 million for violating competition rules by restricting sales of its Mercedes cars in Europe. [*43] Wyeth Corporation maintained a monopoly by requiring health plans and pharmacy benefit managers to sign exclusive contracts. for its pharmaceutical drugs. [*44] In December of 2001, Ernor laid off 25% of its staff, about 5,100 people. [*45] In 2002, Hasbro was fined $7.9 million for price fixing on toys and games. [*46] Kmart was named as having one of the worst corporate boards by 2002 BusinessWeek, for multiple investigations into its accounting irregularities and irregular pay practices. [*47] Four ex-Rite Aid executives were indicted for inflating the company's profits while understating losses, causing stock to soar. [*48] Schering-Plough was under investigation for price fixing and criminal investigation because its ingredients were not FDA-approved. [*49] In March of 2002, Disney destroyed massive amounts of documents, hundreds of boxes, that would have revealed Disney's practices of withholding royalties from innovators. [*50] In April of 2002, Du Pont cut over 2,000 jobs, mostly in the US. [*51] Levi Strauss announced its intention to close six U.S. manufacturing plants, affecting 3,300 workers. [*52] Monsanto said it was closing one of its plants and cutting five percent of its workforce. [*53] In 2002 of May, America Online cut off access to other internet service providers from its own customers. [*54]

         In June of 2002, WorldCom was found to being covering up $1.22 billion in loses through improper accounting. [*55] Xerox restated five years of results when it was found to be inflating results and defrauding investors. [*56] In July of 2002, Viacom used improper accounting to boost income by $118 million. [*57] In August of 2002, Michael Kopper of Enron was found to be withholding $12 million that was obtained through fraudulent Enron transactions. With others, it totaled $23 million. Thirty other companies had to forfeit money to investors and employees. [*58] In September of 2002, Du Pont paid $44.5 million to settle allegations that it blocked competing drug manufacturers. [*59] Tyco International issued a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission, detailing "illegal activity by former management that included nearly $100 million in unauthorized payments to dozens of Tyco employees at various levels." [*60] In October of 2002, Gap was awarded the title of having one of the worst corporate boards, cited for inside deals and other failures. [*61] Qwest Communications would take a write-down of $40.8 billion, due to irregular accounting. [*62] Time Warner was one of five record companies to pay $67.3 million for price-fixing. [*63] In November of 2002, Gateway was investigated and found to using insider trading and wasteful spending on executive severance pay. [*64] In June of 2000, a judge found Microsoft Corporation guilty of illegal business practices that push out competition and harm consumers. AOL Time Warner sued Microsoft Corporation for anti-competitive actions. Microsoft influenced international government officials from using open-source software, including Peru and India. In March of 2002, Sun Microsystems filed a private antitrust suit against Microsoft. In May of 2003, Microsoft paid $750 million in an antitrust case. In July of 2003, a judge approved of a $1.1 billion settlement between Microsoft and California consumers. Microsoft paid $23.5 million to the defunct software company Be Inc. in an antitrust case. Microsoft was sued in October of 2003 for predatory practices to protect its monopoly. In December of 2003, European Union held hearings in its antitrust proceedings against Microsoft. Seattle-based company RealNetworks filed a $1 billion antitrust suit against Microsoft in December of 2003. [*65]

         In 2000 and 2001, Qwest inflated the company's revenues by $144 million. [*66] In March of 2003, a jury found 3M guilty of using monopoly powers over big retails to destroy competition. [*67] In March of 2003, Bristol-Myers announced the restatement of its previously issued financial statements between 1997 and 2001, and part of 2002, reducing their earnings by almost half. [*68] In March of 20034, Halliburton was given a contract to Iraq without a bidding process. [*69] In March of 2003, Lucent settled lawsuits by its shareholders for about $600 million, for misleading investors. The Export-Import Bank of the US is providing funding to Lucent Technologies for outsourcing to China, Mexico, and Vietnam. Lucent was also cited for overpaying its board. [*70] In March of 2003, PepsiCo was found using unfair trading practices against competitors. [*71] In April of 2003, Time Warner Inc. was sued for using "tricks, contrivances and bogus transactions" to inflate its stock and help top executives gain almost $1 billion in inside trading. [*72] In May of 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against Enron with violating antifraud provisions and reaping more than $150 million in unlawful profits. [*73] In June of 2003, two former vice presidents of Kmart were charged with securities fraud, making false statements to the SEC, and conspiracy to commit those offenses. [*74] In July of 2003, the SEC announced that Citigroup and J.P. Morgan agreed to pay $236 million to settle charges that they helped Enron manipulate books to appear financially healthy. [*75] In July of 2003, Kodak announced plans to cut between 4,500 and 6,000 jobs. [*76]

         In August of 2003, Bank of America and nine other US banks moved more than $17 billion into investment funds to shelter hundreds of millions of dollars from taxes. [*77] In August of 2003, AOL Time Warner executives were found to use accounting irregularities, by overstating their revenue by at least $1.7 billion. [*78] In September of 2003, Coca-Cola sought dismal of a $44.4 million lawsuit, filed by a former finance director who was fired for revealing alleged fraud and other wrongdoing in the company. Coca-Cola also made a decision to cut 1,000 jobs in North America. [*79] In September of 2003, Enron's former treasurer pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge, becoming the first executive sentence to prison. [*80] Levi Strauss & Co. announced that it would close its North American manufacturing plants, laying off almost 2,000 workers. [*81] Coca-Cola violated a contract with Iranian soft drinks counterpart, and was levied $7.15 million against the company. [*82] In October of 2003, a former manager for Tricon's business analyst was indicted for insider trader. [*83] In December of 2003, Hasbro announced plans to close a chain of stores. [*84] In January of 2003, a former finance executive of Computer Associates admitted to lying to federal prosecutors, FBI agents, and members of the SEC during an investigation. He was aware of accounting irregularities. [*85] An Enron former top accountant surrendered to FBI to face six federal fraud charges related to the company's collapse. [*86] Another employee of Enron, former Chief Financial Officer, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, that caused the company to collapse. [*87] Disney is one of several media companies outsourcing jobs in information technologies and back-office operations to India. [*88] In April of 2004, Gateway announced closing 188 retail stores and laying off 2,500 workers. [*89]

    Section II: Chapters 3 to 8 Summary

         For those who love truth, who honor equity, who are friends to justice and fairness, to understand the history of Capitalism is to put an unbearable weight on the heart, to fill the mind with such unspeakable horrors and pains. When trying to categorize what type of injustices have been committed upon the innocent, placing them into worker abuse or consumer abuse or poverty, the lines seem to thin and unmistakably fade. Where is it worker abuse and where is it poverty? Children aged 8 and 9 and 10 years old work for 14 hours a day in a factory, but for one undeniable fact: they have to, because they are in poverty and need to support themselves. Where is it consumer abuse and where is it poverty? People have to live in dilapidated and broken down homes in crime-stricken, disease-infested areas, because they have no money to afford anything else. Capitalism has managed to create a society where misery abounds in countless forms.

         Why? Why? Just why did these things have to happen, why did the lives of children have to be sacrificed for king coal, why did the honest families have to been robbed of everything, why did economic life turn into a fight-or-flight response? Was it bad karma, the curse of a god, simple misfortune, plain bad luck, natural disasters? What was the cause of all this misery, pain, and suffering? Ask it once and then ask it a thousand times, and the answer will still be crystal clear: Capitalism. The previous chapter covered the mechanics that produced the effects demonstrated in these chapters. What is it that caused all of this living horror on earth? It was the human desire to obtain wealth and to obtain it in a rational way; it was humans being organized into a society where trade was mutually beneficial; it it was the competition between people in trade, Proletarian workers competing for jobs by lowering their wages and Capitalists competing for consumers by lowering their prices; it was the division in the society of men, separating those who owned the means of production from those who worked the means of production; it was the ensuing Class War, that would result in conflict between employer and employee, creating a subsistence wage; it was the Capitalists straining their workers as hard as they can to buy extravagant luxuries. It was Capitalism that brought to our world such poverty, crime, misery, and death. Through this system, billions would become slaves -- sentenced to this life almost as if they had committed a crime.

    Section III: Prelude to Following Chapters

         The history of civilization is a bleak one. The people have forever been tormented by religion, by governments, wars that plagued their lands and bigotry that infected their hearts. Among their oppressors, there can be found perhaps the greatest one of them all: the beast of Capitalism. Between the wars, the famines, the blights, the death toll and casualty rate, there were those fortunate ones lucky enough to escape... to evade the oppression of kings and queens, they secluded themselves; to survive the slavery of the Capitalist system, they broke off from society and became self sufficient. They were the lone poets whispering to the winds, the strong lovers who had confided their humanity to everyone, the dead heroes of generations that will rise.

         Up to this point, there can be no denying that Capitalism is inherently responsible for creating most, if not all, poverty and economic-related suffering. To my reader, I can only hope that these facts appear to be well founded, and that they are proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. It was my intention to help others understand how the society of the world was formed, how and why the wealth of our labor has been distributed. Hopefully, I have done this effectively. It may very well be so that I have convinced others to thoroughly believe in cynicism, that I have converted others to the school of Pessimism For the following chapters, I hope to lend to my reader a little bit of hope, inspiration, and -- with the knowledge I have provided this far -- a little bit more freedom.



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    88. New York Times, February 9, 2004
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