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TODAY'S OPINION:
The Business of Crime
by Noam Chomsky

The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that crimes committed in the streets ultimately cost approximately $4 billion. The Multinational Monitor estimates that white-collar crime--what Ralph Nader calls "crime in the suites"--costs about $200 billion each year. But as Noam Chomsky notes in "The Common Good," rather than adopting a get-tough policy toward corporate crime, the U.S. government acts in ways to encourage it:

   In the 1980s the Reagan administration essentially informed the business community that it was not going to prosecute violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. As a result, the number of occupational and industrial accidents increased dramatically. Business Week reported that working days lost to injury almost doubled from 1983 to 1986, in part because "under Reagan and Bush" OSHA "was a hands off agency." Russell Mokhiber, editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter, contrasts two statistics: While some 24,000 Americans are murdered each year, some 56,000 Americans die each year from job-related injuries and diseases.

   Another possible check on these abuses is international labor standards. But the International Labor Organization (ILO) has condemned the United States for violating them. Sending a clear signal about how it regards these standards, the United States refuses to pay roughly $100 million that it owes the ILO.

   Recently the United States forced Mexico to cut back exports of its tomatoes. This constitutes a violation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and will cost Mexican producers close to a billion dollars each year. The official reason for the U.S. action was that Mexican producers were selling tomatoes at a price that American producers couldn't match.

   These are just some of the ways the U.S. bends or breaks the rules in the interests of the powerful in its society.

   For more, consult "The Common Good," published by Odonian Press and distributed by Common Courage Press or follow the Orbitals below.

Reprinted from the free Political Literacy Course from Common Courage Press: A backbone of facts to stand up to spineless power.


ORBITALS!


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