“Corporation, n: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.” Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
Companies, lacking physical form and spiritual essence, are nothing more than legally sanctioned concepts—principles, if you will—that serve to organize and direct human behavior. They do, however, provide a screen of legal and moral buffers behind which evil can be perpetrated with less consequence to the individual. During the financial crash of 2008, society as a whole paid the price for unchecked corporate greed and dishonest practices, but was anyone truly surprised? No one should have been. Cooking the books, hiding lousy debt, and abusing the public trust are hardly commendable, but they are far from the worst things companies have done. Corporations have allegedly been guilty of so many heinous crimes, in fact, that I find I cannot limit myself to 3, 4, or 5, which is why what started as an article has turned, instead, into a short series. The examples below are presented in no particular order; I cannot rank them, as however I read them, each seems more evil than the last. If you are interested in knowing the deplorable depths to which human beings will allegedly sink in pursuit of the dollar, read on, but be warned: some of these get a bit serious.