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We live in a world ran by the use and creation of products, after all we do live in a capitalist society which depends on the purchasing and selling of goods and the exchange of money. We are bombarded everyday with advertisements which appear to us pretty much everywhere we go in malls, streets, the …   Read More

We live in a world ran by the use and creation of products, after all we do live in a capitalist society which depends on the purchasing and selling of goods and the exchange of money. We are bombarded everyday with advertisements which appear to us pretty much everywhere we go in malls, streets, the subway and now through the internet and social media. However, how many of these brands are clean of having done mischief? And how much mischief would create hesitation on your purchasing decision of these products, if you only knew how severe these area. Yes, I am aware that we can’t expect an impeccable corporation to exist, in order to succeed in this capitalist system, it is almost impossible to not get your hands dirty. This can be an excuse that one can pose in order to think more light about our purchasing decisions, since it becomes less enjoyable when we have to think all the time about the stuff we purchase. Living busy lives, such as yours truly, it can also be very tough to give some attention to the probability that perhaps we could pay some attention to the products we purchase. Because I think there is merit in thinking twice before we support the livelihood of a corporation with our purchase, for me to purchase even the smallest item signifies your contribution to the perpetuity of a particular company or corporation. Here are just a small sample of the many companies I have collected which demonstrate just how much a company chooses to disregard ethics and even morals in exchange for business gain opportunity and financial gain: Hugo Boss hugoMuch awareness to the mischief that the founder of Hugo Boss, Hugo Boss himself has done when he decided to make deals with Nazi Germany during World War II to design the uniforms of Nazi soldiers and officers, including the feared SS division. Russell Brand did a good job to reiterate it when he received his GQ 2013 “Man of the Year” award sponsored by Hugo Boss. A confirmation to this historical event can be seen in this BBC News article. So, are you comfortable buying clothes from Hugo Boss knowing the history?   Bayer bayerBayer, most famous for their production of aspirin, is a German pharmaceutical which collaborated with the Nazis, most notably to produce the Zyclon B compound which is the gas used in the Nazi gas chambers which killed thousands. In addition, Bayer was also heavily involved in human experimentation which involved the use of camp prisoners. As if their involvement in World War II was not enough, Bayer has been involved in a number of controversies such as the release of the drug Baycol, which caused 52 deaths, the release of HIV infected products in 1978, multivitamins which caused prostate cancer, among many other known cases. Volkswagen/Porsche volkswagenThe famous car manufacturer owns the success of its cash cow model the Volkswagen Beetle to none other than the Fuhrer himself. Ferdinand Porsche, the owner of the Porsche company came up with the original design he named “Volkauto”, later Hitler saw to propose to the renaming of the car to Volkswagen or “The People’s Car.” In a speech Hitler gave in 1938, he said:

Hence, I believe there is only one name that can be given to this car, a name I shall give to it on this very evening. It shall bear the name of that organization that strives to instill both joy and strength in the masses. The name shall be: “Strength through Joy Car”! (Kraft durch Freude-Wagen)

Pfizer pfizerThe pharmaceutical industry has managed to somehow acquired this very negative reputation as being the very definition of the greedy corporation. With several failed harmful products, which has killed many, several lawsuits for which they need to spend hundreds of millions in settlements, drug companies do not enjoy a positive outlook. Pfizer is perhaps one of the biggest stereotypes of this. Pfizer has been involved historically in the use of trialing with real humans, such is the case of the infamous East Germany reporting by the Spiegel, which details the manipulation of more than 50,000 cases of patience who were used as guinea pigs without their consent. As if this is not enough unethical and inhumane practice, Pfizer has been recently involved in a shameful case of human trafficking and human drug trialing in Nigeria, where Pfizer has been accused by non other than the Nigerian government itself to having had experimented drugs, even with DNA testing on Nigerian children. The families and the Nigerian sought for compensation for the deaths of many affected as well for those who have become consequently permanently affected by these events. Coca Cola coca-colaPerhaps one of the most widely known companies in the world. It was well known to me, as I explained to a surprise audience of classmates during my university days, that Coca Cola owes its usage of the term “Coca” to the fact that they used to use coca leafs in their initial formula. Coca leafs which given a chemical process produce one of the most addictive drugs ever made by mankind, cocaine, is also an ancient plant domesticated by the Incan civilization and even before them. Despite of the dubious addition of a somewhat addictive leaf in its ingredients, Coca Cola has been widely known to have taken possession of sources of drinking water in places where drinking water is very scarce. As if it is not enough, there is infamous case of deception that Coca Cola pulled during War World II when they professed their patriotic devotion to American ideals while at the same time running a shadow business in Nazi Germany through products like Fanta, which were not publicized to be a Coca Cola company until years after the war ended. In addition to that, Coca Cola has simply marketed their sugary, then corn syrupy-full beverage to so many people, it is undoubtedly responsible for the obesity and diabetes rates increase around the world. Siemens siemensSiemens is yet another company who have their elbow deep in implications during the atrocities of the holocaust. Siemens was responsible for the building of the infamous gas chambers, for whom slave laborers help built, perhaps knowingly or unknowingly, their very own deaths. In fact, in 2001, Siemens reminded many of their involved in the holocaust when they tried to launch a line of gas ovens with the name “Zyklon” which translates into cyclone, a term closely resembling “Zyklon B” used for the gas chambers.   IBM ibmI left IBM as the last, not so much because I think they are the worse of them all, but also because they had and continue to have a very perceivable impact in our modern world. IBM has been responsible for facilitating the Nazis with early computer systems which would help the Nazis label and keep track of slave prisoners. If you are familiar with history or watched a holocaust movie, you would know that holocaust prisoners had a number tattooed into the arms, that number came from an IBM machine.   The list really can go on and on, as my ability to choose just a mere seven companies we encounter on a daily basis with a very tainted score sheet is really really tough. This just shows that we are surrounded by an offspring of companies whom at one point or another have been engaged in questionable practices. Some may say that they are a business and so they did business in whichever circumstance they could. Or perhaps that we can’t really hope for a giant corporation to have a clean score sheet. I would beg to differ on both explanations, for one, it is not impossible to expect corporation to be ethical, as a society, we should strive for this. Second, there are examples of corporations with a clean sheet and I don’t need to list them, but there exists some good examples. There is not going to be a company that did not make mistakes, because after all companies are ran by humans and we all know humans are not perfect. There is a difference though, between a company with history of mistakes and another is a company which knowingly engages in unethical and immoral activities with disregard of the damage and harm they create for other humans, those are the companies I propose we avoid.

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  • Vladimir Kazaukisky

    Oh yes let’s all boycott a company for something they did back in 1945.