Should corporate ethics principles apply only to profit-making companies? Or should they also cover nonprofit corporations, especially those that badger for-profits to be more “socially responsible”?
Should corporations be judged partly on creating jobs, supporting communities, or improving and saving lives? And should nonprofit corporations be penalized for impeding the enhancement of human life?
The answers should be self-evident. But they’re not, as US nonprofits and politicians have repeatedly demonstrated.
Consider Greenpeace. This self-proclaimed paragon of virtue constantly harasses companies that it deems insufficiently virtuous in advertising their products, protecting the environment and promoting their public image. But the Rainbow Warriors’ own actions would frequently merit fines or even jail time if committed by profit-making businesses.
Greenpeace publicity stunts, anti-corporate campaigns and fund-raising appeals are often laden with false and misleading claims about companies and their operations. The Warriors justify their actions as necessary to advancing their legal, legislative and regulatory agenda – and getting people and foundations to write a check or click their website’s “donate now” button. Almost anything goes, because Greenpeace and its comrades in eco-warfare are apparently beyond the reach of the Lanham Act and mail fraud or tax laws that apply to ordinary corporations and citizens.
In the olden days, it made sense to carve out exceptions, to protect legitimate public interest organizations from persecutions and prosecutions based on inadvertent falsehoods or political motivations. But that was before the roster of tax-exempt nonprofits included so many unsavory elements, like unscrupulous eco campaigners and pressure groups for whom truth, ethics and real social responsibility mean little.
In 1995, Greenpeace attacked Shell Oil, claiming the company was going to dump tons of oil and toxic wastes in the ocean, by sinking an obsolete North Sea oil production platform as an artificial reef. A year later, after raking in millions in contributions and free publicity, the Warriors admitted they’d known all along there had been no oil or chemicals on the platform.
Their shiny armor got tarnished, but there were no legal repercussions. A few years later, the Rainbow Warriors were caught diverting funds raised for tax-exempt educational purposes into non-exempt, and sometimes illegal, lobbyist and activist programs. Donors got charitable deductions, and Greenpeace got more millions to stage protests against drilling, manufacturing and free trade; lobby Congress and EPA; and vandalize crops and corporate facilities.
The IRS sent Greenpeace a strong reprimand, demanding that it cease its money laundering, but again no real penalties. Canada, by contrast, refused to recognize the Greenpeace Environmental Foundation as a charity, saying its activities provided no discernable benefits to the public and, in fact, could send families “into poverty.”
But back in the USA, former EPA Administrator-turned-Climate-Czar Carol Browner and other federal agency heads continue to fork over large sums of taxpayer money to Greenpeace and similar eco-activists, to subsidize their anti-corporate, global warming, “sustainable” energy and regulatory thumbscrew campaigns. Meanwhile, the taxpayers are precluded from writing off contributions to congressional candidates who might support long overdue investigations, reforms and penalties.
The truly odious ethical violations, however, involve activities that directly damage the livelihoods and lives of innocent people, particularly in impoverished countries.
In Britain, France and elsewhere, Greenpeace vandals have destroyed bio-engineered crops, wiping out millions of dollars in research to develop food plants that require fewer pesticides, are more nutritious, reduce dangerous mold toxins, withstand floods and droughts, and increase crop yields. The people who would benefit most from this research are the poorest, most malnourished on Earth. They could improve their lives, simply by planting different, better corn, cotton or soybean seeds.
“With the old maize,” says South African Richard Sithole, “I got 100 bags from my 15 hectares [38 acres].” “With Bt maize I get 1,000 bags. And now I don’t have to buy any chemicals.”
In fact, Bt corn has enabled farmers like Sithole to cut pesticide use and expenses by 75%, triple their profits, save 35-49 days per season working in fields, and save enough to buy a refrigerator or even new house. And yet rich-country Greenpeace activists oppose the technology.
Greenpeace campaigns against insecticides and insect-repelling DDT are even more lethal. These chemicals could prevent malaria, which kills a million people annually and leaves millions more brain- damaged. Today, DDT is sprayed just on the inside walls of thatch and cinderblock homes, to keep mosquitoes out and serve as a long-lasting bed net over entire families.
But Greenpeace claims “some researchers think” DDT “could be inhibiting lactation because of its estrogen-like effects and may be contributing to lactation failure throughout the world.” No peer-reviewed medical studies back up these claims, and lactation problems are definitely associated with the malaria and malnutrition that would be reduced by technologies the Warriors oppose.
Worldwide, 1.5 billion people still don’t have electricity for lights, refrigerators, stoves, schools, shops, hospitals and factories that would bring health, opportunity and prosperity. Yet Greenpeace continues to battle hydrocarbon, hydroelectric and nuclear power, telling people they should be content with solar panels or wind turbines that provide intermittent, insufficient energy – and guarantee sustained poverty.
Greenpeace justifies its anti-energy ideologies by claiming they are preserving rivers, avoiding dangerous radiation and preventing “runaway” global warming. It has vilified me and two of my Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow colleagues as “climate criminals” and applauded a recent Rolling Stone magazine article that branded CFACT’s ClimateDepot.com director Marc Morano as a “climate killer.”
Our “crime”? Saying climate change is natural and cyclical. Noting that thousands of scientists agree there is no convincing evidence that human CO2 emissions are causing a global warming disaster. And pointing out that, even in the midst of a global cooling period and widening Climategate scandal, Greenpeace is still clinging to its tired fabrications and storylines.
Why the Rockefeller Brothers, Packard, Winslow, Schaffner Family and other foundations continue to support Greenpeace remains a mystery. That other donors are now using Fidelity, Vanguard and Schwab to hide their donations suggests that they don’t want their friends and neighbors knew they give money to this shady outfit.
Last month’s climate gab fest offered an opportunity for CFACT activists to highlight these ethical lapses and give Greenpeace a dose of its own medicine. They unfurled a “Propaganda Warrior” banner from the rails of the Rainbow Warrior ship, and a “Ship of Lies” banner from Greenpeace’s other vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, as they lay anchored in Copenhagen harbor.
“Greenpeace’s callous disregard for the truth and people’s well-being has become intolerable,” CFACT executive director Craig Rucker stated. “They need to start behaving honestly and ethically. We don’t expect them to be Mother Teresa, but it would be nice if they’d start helping people to improve their health and living standards, and began supporting real environmental stewardship.”
The world would be a much better place.