Category Archives: Uncategorized

How do Americans rate the fairness of US corporate practices?

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Responses to: Which of these behaviors is most important in evaluating how just a corporation is?   Source

What do Americans think of corporate practices?  And what business practices most disturb Americans?  Each year JUST Capital conducts a poll of a representative sample of U.S. adults to answer these questions.

JUST Capital, a nonprofit group, seeks to “build a more just marketplace that better reflects the true priorities of the American people.”  The group believes that “business, and capitalism, can and must be a positive force for change.”   We believe that if they have the right information, people will buy from, invest in, work for, and otherwise support companies that align with their values. And we believe that business leaders are searching to win back the trust of the public in ways that go beyond money. By shifting the immense resources and ingenuity of the $15 trillion private sector onto a more balanced – and more just – course, we can help build a better future for everyone.

The findings from its 2017 survey of about 4,100 adult US respondents, shown above, provides some informative insights.  First, the outcome most important to corporate managers, i.e., providing returns to investors, is the least important practice that respondents use to rate the fairness of a corporation. Second, the national discourse on jobs and job creation makes that practice by far the highest rated factor in judging a corporation’s fairness. Third, some of the practices of greatest interest to health advocates, such as the health consequences of products (rated as most important by 35.4% of respondents), efforts to minimize pollution (38.6%), and providing a safe workplace (11.5%) rank lower than other factors.

The survey also compares responses by several demographic characteristics, including age, gender, income, region, political party, ideology and investor status.  Of interest, none of these factors predict large differences in beliefs about fairness.  Any survey is of course influenced by the wording of questions and other surveys have shown age and other differences in how Americans view corporations.

JUST Capital provides more detailed reports of their annual surveys from 2014 to 2017. It also publishes Roadmap for Corporate America, its summary of the 2017 survey and recommendations for how corporations can respond to survey findings.

The Public and Nonprofit Sectors: An Alternative to Corporate Control

The practices of the pharmaceutical, unhealthy food and automobile industries contribute to premature deaths and preventable illnesses and injuries throughout the world.  One strategy for reducing these burdens is to strengthen the public and non-profit sectors.  This can create alternative healthier sources for needed goods and services, put pressure on the market sector to address health externalities more directly, and make the common good a higher public goal than profitability. The posts illustrate ways to grow this sector in pharmaceuticals, food, and transportation.

Fast Facts on the Public Health and other Benefits of Public Transportation

 

  • A person can reduce his or her chance of being in an accident by more than 90% simply by taking public transit as opposed to commuting by car.
  • Traveling by public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile.
  • Communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually.
  • The average household spends 18 cents of every dollar on transportation, and 96% of this goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest expenditure after housing.
  • A household can save nearly $10,000 by taking public transportation and living with one less car.
  • ​Public transportation’s overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.
  • The average household spends 18 cents of every dollar on transportation, and 96% of this goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest expenditure after housing.
  • A household can save nearly $10,000 by taking public transportation and living with one less car.
  • Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption
  • Public transportation’s overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.

Source: American Public Transportation Association. Public Transportation Benefits

Can Public Health Advocates in Europe and the United States Together Protect Public Health Regulation?

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Nicholas Freudenberg speaks on corporations and health at DeBalie, a public lecture hall in Amsterdam.

In both Europe and the United States, public health regulation is under attack.  Despite the Volkswagen Dieselgate emission cheating scandal, the European Union has not yet developed guidelines to prevent future cheating.  Monsanto continues to block stronger regulation of glycophates in Europe and North America. In the United States, President Trump and the Republican Congress are slashing funding and rescinding public health regulations at several federal agencies.  Can public health professionals and advocates in  two of the world’s largest markets join forces to resist these trends?

At a recent series of lectures in Brussels, Amsterdam and The Hague, Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the City University of New York School of Public Health and author of Lethal but Legal: Corporations, Consumption and Public Health examined some of the issues confronting those seeking to reduce corporate practices that harm health.  In his lectures, he suggested five broad goals for a transatlantic agenda to protect public health against corporate efforts to roll back regulations.  These included:

  1. Remove corporations from public health and trade policy decisions
  2. Protect science from corporate manipulation and conflicts of interest
  3. Revitalize public sector in food, medicines and transportation to provide an alternative to corporate control
  4. Protect democracy from corporate interference
  5. Challenge the view that no other world is possible

The lecture and trip was sponsored by Wemos Foundation, a Dutch global health foundation, the European Public Health Alliance and Corporate Europe Observatory, timed to coincide with the translation of Freudenberg’s book into Dutch, Legaal Maar Fataal. Each of these organizations provides useful resources for North American public health professionals who want to better understand recent developments in Europe.

The Wemos Foundation, for example,  sponsored a forum on the interactions between the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the pharmaceutical industry and explored strategies for reducing conflicts of interest.  A summary of the event is available here.

The European Public Health Alliance(EPHA), an organization of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals and disease groups, works to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe. Several recent reports focus on issues also of concern in the United States:

  • In another recent  report, EPHA and other groups call for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), to end a newly formed partnership with the world’s largest beer producer, AB InBev.
  • The Unhealthy side effects of CETAexamines the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada, the first trade agreement  between  the  EU  and a  major  world economy and  the  most far-reaching  bilateral  trade and  investment  agreement negotiated  to  It concludes that the agreement “limits the  policy  space of  governments  in the  area  of public health, tariff elimination, market access commitments, negative listing of services, its  lack  of recognition  of  the health-relevant  aspects  of the  Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs) and ignoring key health risk  factors  and threats  such  as alcohol-related  harm  or antimicrobial  resistance.  In short, CETA fails to ensure policy coherence between trade and public health.”

The Corporate Europe Observatoryis a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.

For public health advocates in the United States, these organizations and their reports can be useful resources for developing strategies to resist deregulation and reduced enforcement.  “As the U.S.  government dismantles the public health regulatory agencies developed over the last 50 years,” said Freudenberg, “researchers need to document the impact of these changes and develop new strategies to protect public health.  By partnering with European scientists and advocates, we can accelerate this process.”

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Judge: Assault weapons ban doesn’t violate 2nd Amendment

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Credit

Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment, a federal judge said in a ruling upholding Massachusetts’ ban on these weapons, reports the Washington PostU.S. District Judge William Young dismissed a lawsuit challenging the 20-year-old ban, saying assault weapons are military firearms that fall beyond the reach of the constitutional right to “bear arms.” Regulation of the weapons is a matter of policy, not for the courts, he said. 

Cutting-edge NHS drugs do more harm than good

Almost all new drugs approved for Britain’s National Health Service  do more harm than good, according to a study using  modelling adopted by the government, reports The Times (London).  Saving a life with a new drug can cost about twice as much as doing the same through more staff or equipment, according to official calculations that led to calls for reform of the way the NHS pays for medicines. The Department of Health and Social Care has implicitly conceded that the cost of most cutting-edge medicines kills more people through diverting money from other NHS services than the treatments themselves save.

Corporate practices and health: a framework and mechanisms

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Steve Lukes’ Three-Dimensional View of Power  credit

The Global Burden of Disease estimates that approximately a third of deaths worldwide are attributable to behavioral risk factors that, at their core, have the consumption of unhealthful products and exposures produced by profit driven commercial entities, write Joana Madureira Lima and Sandro Galea  in a new report in Globalization and Health. They use Steven Lukes’ three-dimensional view of power (see above) to guide the study of the practices deployed by commercial interests to foster the consumption of these commodities. They propose a framework to systematically study corporations and other commercial interests as a distal, structural, societal factor that causes disease and injury. Their framework offers a systematic approach to mapping corporate activity, allowing public health researchers to anticipate and prevent actions that may have a deleterious effect on population health. They conclude that their framework may be used by, and can have utility for, public health practitioners, researchers, students, activists and other members of civil society, policy makers and public servants in charge of policy implementation. It can also be useful to corporations who are interested in identifying key actions they can take towards improving population health.