Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Sometimes, a document tells you something without meaning to. Suppose a much-reviled company's ethics manual turns up on the net, and it's full of references to the company's respect for human rights. May we infer that they've been been accused of human rights violations? Well, yes:

... in the Indian state of Maharastra ... leading activists were dragged from their homes and beaten by Enron-paid "police" in what Human Rights Watch describes as "serious, sometimes brutal human rights violations carried out on behalf of the state's and the company's interests." "Enron is now being widely accused of arrogance and lack of transparency, but the people of Dabhol have known that all along," says Arvind Ganesan, who directs the group's business and human rights program. "Enron was complicit in human rights abuse in India for several years."

Libertarians are fond of pointing out the government is more of a threat than corporations because government has a monopoly on force. Which is only true, as Ginger Stampley points out, when the corporations are being restrained by the government.

(The article I quoted, incidentally, goes into U.S. government arm-twisting on behalf of Enron by several administrations --- including that of Ken Lay's erstwhile golf partner, Bill Clinton, which "threatened to cancel development aid to Mozambique if the country did not accept the plan to have Enron construct a pipeline to South Africa"; Mozambique's former natural resources minister says that "it was as if [the U.S. Ambassador] was working for Enron"; also noteworthy is Arthur Andersen's push for uniform accounting standards, so Andersen could offer its valuable services abroad).


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