Corporate Philanthropy-Misanthropy Ratio Holding Steady
by The Onion
WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Corporate Philanthropy-Misanthropy Ratio
held steady at 1:770 in the third fiscal quarter of 1998, the U.S.
Department of Commerce announced Tuesday.
According to the department's latest quarterly report, for every
scholarship program, literacy drive, art exhibition or tree-planting
project sponsored by U.S. corporations between July and September 1998,
there were 770 acts of covert pollution, foreign-labor exploitation,
worker-safety violations and profit-driven downsizing.
Though corporate America doubled its conspicuous good works during the
third quarter of 1998, the increase was offset by a concurrent doubling
of unethical and illegal acts, leaving the overall
philanthropy-misanthropy ratio unchanged.
The Commerce Department report cited the example of Dallas-based
oil-refining giant ITX Petroleum, which in October raised $50,000 for
the United Negro College Fund with a $400-a-plate charity ball. That
same month, oil spills from unsound ITX offshore wells contaminated
hundreds of miles of Gulf of Mexico coastline, killing millions of
sea-dwelling creatures and putting hundreds of fishermen out of work.
"The men from the American company gave everyone in my village free
measles vaccinations when the camera crews were here two summers ago,"
Mexican laborer Jorge Sanchez said. "On the other hand, their pipeline
burst last week, burning thousands of villagers alive in a lake of
Though it has fluctuated over the years, the National Corporate
Philanthropy-Misanthropy Ratio has not dipped below the 1:600 mark since
the 1930s, when automobile tycoon Henry Ford established the Ford
Foundation, his art- and education-funding organization. During those
same years, the Ford Motor Company was profiting from trade with Nazi
Germany chemical giant and Zyklon-B poison-gas manufacturer I.G. Farben,
and publishing anti-Semitic editorials in The Dearborn Independent.
The Corporate Philanthropy-Misanthropy Ratio was established by the
Commerce Department in 1914. The ratio hit an early peak of 1:300 in
1920, when Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller began making a public
show of distributing dimes to children while ruthlessly crushing his
competitors, often through violent means.
In the decades since, corporate philanthropy has steadily grown, today
encompassing everything from funding AIDS research organizations to
underwriting PBS' Mystery! That growth, however, has been accompanied
by an even greater rise in misanthropy, as the corporate elite continues
to consolidate its power base and operate under fewer and fewer
constraints, abusing its power whenever profit motive dictates.
"I never miss the Environmental Media Awards," said NBC executive Carl
Unger, arriving at the annual gala awards ceremony honoring excellence
in positive media portrayals of environmental issues. "The pomp, the
glamour, the celebrities -- it's a fabulous night of black-tie opulence
that can be enjoyed without guilt." NBC's parent company, General
Electric, continues to manufacture thermonuclear weapons components,
producing profits at a staggering rate.
According to Wharton Business School professor Milton Scheidt, one
publicly donated charity dollar is the equivalent of 100,000 privately
hoarded ones. "By keeping a limited number of these 'inflated' charity
dollars in circulation at all times," Scheidt said, "corporations can
generate sympathy and public-perception 'breathing room' for
misanthropic expansion in the future."
"By tossing the occasional crumb to a worthy cause, I'm able to feel
much better about the rest of my vast fortunes," Consolidated Chemicals
CEO Patrick Farnsworth said. "The best part is, I don't actually have
to give away all that much. Where charity is concerned, a little goes a