Tuesday, April 25, 2006

See No GE(vil)

General Electric Corporation’s 2006 Annual Shareholder meeting is currently taking place at the Philadelphia Convention Center, running from yesterday April 24th until Friday April 28th.

Well, since they have chosen our fair city to have their party, allow me to provide an appropriate welcome for them the best way I know how.

Let’s start with the following (from this link):

GE has a lengthy record of criminal, civil, political and ethical transgressions, some of them shocking in disregard for the integrity of human beings. Here are a few examples:

In 1995, with the establishment of a Presidential Advisory Commission, the full extent of GE’s human experiments with nuclear radiation was revealed. General Electric ran the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Washington as part of the U.S. weapons program. Beginning in 1949, General Electric deliberately released radioactive material to see how far downwind it would travel. One cloud drifted 400 miles, all the way down to the California-Oregon border, carrying perhaps thousands of times more radiation than that emitted at Three Mile Island.
Oh, but they “bring good things to life”, don’t they? And since they own MSNBC, they’re also responsible for developing the careers of titans of journalistic advocacy and integrity, such as Tucker Carlson.

And here’s more…

On September 29, 1998, General Electric agreed to a $200 million settlement in principle of environmental claims resulting from pollution of the Housatonic River and other areas by chemical releases from GE’s plant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. (The settlement was reached with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice.)
Such an environmentally friendly bunch, right

General Electric is currently attempting to overturn the US Superfund Law of 1980, which allows the government to hold polluters responsible for cleaning up their toxic chemicals. GE argues that it is “unconstitutional” for the Environmental Protection Agency to force the company to pay $500 million for the cleanup of the Hudson River, where GE dumped carcinogenic PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, over three decades. In March 2004, a federal appeals court has revived GE’s lawsuit. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that GE is trying to change the Superfund Law: the company is responsible for 78 Superfund sites around the US.
So the company is a “bad apple” concerning the environment, but they must at least be straight shooters, so to speak, when it comes to helping defend our country. Right?


On July 23, 1992, GE pled guilty in federal court to civil and criminal charges of defrauding the Pentagon and agreed to pay $69 million to the U.S. government in fines — one of the largest defense contracting fines ever.

General Electric said in a statement that it took responsibility for the actions of a former marketing employee who, along with an Israeli Air Force General, diverted Pentagon funds to their own bank accounts and to fund Israeli military programs not authorized by the United States.

Under the settlement with the Justice Department over violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, GE paid $59.5 million in civil fraud claims and $9.5 million in criminal fines.
And remember this if you ever hear General Electric mentioned in the same sentence with the words “nuclear reactors” again…

GE has designed 91 nuclear power plants in 11 countries, yet its nuclear reactors around the world have a fatal flaw. In the event of a nuclear meltdown, there is a 90 percent chance that radiation from GE-designed reactors would be discharged directly into the atmosphere. While the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is aware of the problem, it continues to license GE nuclear reactors.
But all of those happy, positive, soft focus commercials with the kids smiling and the dog running around in the grassy, white-picket-fenced backyard must be legit, right? I mean, this is the company that makes all of those wonderful consumer products that enhance our lives. How can this be?

I have a personal horror story to communicate about these people. When we moved into our home, our GE appliances were free, which we thought was a great deal. Over time, we have had to replace most of them, and we anticipate they all will have to be replaced after functioning for about 5-7 years (maybe we’re fortunate they lasted THAT long). During a period of great family stress, I had to communicate with some life forms in their consumer products service operations center in Lexington, Kentucky over a broken door handle for our microwave (which cost $70…stick the barrel of the gun a little deeper in my ribs next time, OK?). After dealing with individuals who were more fluent in something closer to guttural ebonics than actual English for about three days (trying to ship a replacement part for free), I finally found a handyman in our area who fixed the door handle at cost. I later found out that, like with most consumer products companies, you can’t catch influenza from GE in a situation like this unless you have a service contract.

Also, here is my fond tribute to that titan of industry and Friend of the Working Man Jack Welch. With all of this in mind, you can learn more about the documentary “Deadly Deception” about General Electric.

Finally, I noticed today that GE (and I must point this out to be fair) has joined the tiny chorus of companies calling out for Congress and Bushco to DO SOMETHING about the increase in greenhouse gasses emitted primarily from the U.S. and China in an effort to stem global warming, assuming that is still possible at this point. However, I don’t consider this a point in anyone’s favor; I know I’m being harsh, but I don’t care. The time to act on all of this came during ratification of the Kyoto Protocols.

The only reason GE is PRETENDING TO CARE about this now is because the polling data for their back-pocketed Repug politicians currently in power is SO BAD. This company wouldn’t understand the phrase, “corporate responsibility” if they had to write it a thousand times on a sign posted next to one of their faulty nuclear reactors.

Well, now that I’ve dispensed with all of that unpleasantness, I should back up and show the spirit of “the city that loves you back” (suuure) and wish everyone attending the GE Shareholders meeting a good stay. Take in a Phillies game. Buy some quality produce at the Reading Terminal Market. Go to Pat’s or Geno's for a cheesesteak (and remember to do the “Philly flip” if you’re wearing a tie). Have your picture taken next to the clothespin at 15th and Market or on the steps of the Art Museum, recreating the “Rocky” run of course. Better yet, go park illegally on North Broad Street and get ticketed by the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

I know I shouldn’t indulge in name calling, but I can’t help it. I truly loathe these bastards.

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