I posted a link to a Truthout story on FaceBook that listed a lot—a lot—of huge, wealthy companies as having many offshore bank accounts and paying little or no income tax. One of the companies mentioned was General Electric.
Now, the other day, one of my FB friends posted a story about what a great company GE is, and how the reason it doesn’t pay any income taxes is because of its research and investment in green industries. Well…he wants to think they’re the good guys, the ethical company investing money and creating jobs in an industry that will benefit mankind, therefore they’re entitled to…well entitlements, like paying zero taxes on earnings of $3.9 billion in 2010. Why does he so desperately want to “prove” that GE is a good, ethical company? Because he just invested money in GE stock. He didn’t comment on my post; he just posted one of his own, a link to a site called Covalence by ethicalquote.com.
It’s a Swiss company. They gather data from the internet that mention big company names, good, bad or indifferent. Then they have college kids rate the information according to prescribed criteria in several different categories, and then they rate the companies. According to the FB friend, GE was given an ethical rating on the site of #1 in its class for 2008. Of course, WalMart got high praise for its human rights efforts in 2008 as well, so what does that tell you?
When I did a search on Covalence for General Electric, they were given an honorable mention in a couple of areas, nothing really too wonderful. But nothing that praised them all over the place as a pioneer in green energy, investing money everywhere for the good of mankind, nothing like that. It mentioned that Siemens was backing off on nuclear energy following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, but GE and Toshiba in partnership were going ahead with their plans to bring more nuclear plants to our shores! And GE owned the company that made the Japanese plants that are now hanging on by their fingernails lest they melt down!
I did a search on Google for mention of GE and green energy. They started up Ecoimagination in 2005, a green company. They bought out a little green technology company in Ireland and have been operating there. By 2009 they had invested $5 billion in Ecoimagination. None of their green ventures are located in the US; in fact, they believe that China and Korea are more “poised to launch” that industry than anywhere else in the world. (Those people won’t be making any good wages, believe me! I think GE is ready to “launch” itself into a $10 billion a year company!)
So, it doesn’t appear that they have plans to open any new factories in the U.S. All of the jobs created from their green efforts will be in China.
In the past few years GE has developed some new things that might be good, and others that are a joke, like their fucking “energy-saving” fluorescent light bulbs that are supposed to last for years—what a scam! GE supported the legislation that stopped the manufacture of incandescent bulbs in the U.S. and made the new “environmentally friendly” bulbs the only bulbs to be sold here starting in 2014. (They made it earlier, in 2012, for some wattages.)
Here’s the rub: GE got to shut down the last plant in the U.S. that manufactured the incandescent bulbs we all grew up with. Two hundred jobs gone. Those people’s jobs aren’t yet obsolete, however. Those jobs eliminated at The Winchester Lamp Plant in Winchester, VA will be exported to Mexico, where there aren’t any regulations about minimum standards for light bulbs. So, those bulbs will continue to be manufactured in Mexico. There will be a much larger demand for bulbs in places like India, where the always-booming population is getting more access to electricity…and they have no environmental regulations about light bulb usage either.
So, booming market for GE!
The “energy efficient” bulbs? They’re made overseas in China. Now, I’m not a big fan of stuff made in China, and it has nothing to do with xenophobia or racial prejudice. First of all, companies that bring their manufacturing operations to China are looking for the cheapest labor they can possibly find. China has truckloads of poor people jumping at the chance to earn a few pennies an hour for 12-hour days. They’re just hungry; they don’t question what their employers tell them to do. So, when they handle all kinds of toxic crap for shipping back to the good old U.S. for retail sale at grand mark-ups, they may not even know what they’re handling. They’re just earning their $0.17 an hour, happy to keep body and soul together (sort of). I own a desk lamp my sister bought at Kohl’s during a going-back-to-school sale. I had mentioned I needed a new reading lamp and she happened to see these lamps for sale, so she got me one. It’s made in China. When I unpacked it, there was a large tag on the power cord cautioning me not to touch it; it has lead in it. If I happen to touch the cord, I should immediately wash my hands, or whatever other body part came into contact with it.
Kohl’s sold lamps with lead-tainted power cords during a going-back-to-school sale? And why is there lead in this power cord? I’ve never had an appliance with a lead power cord before. Don’t they know about copper wire and plastic/rubber coating?
Okay, so what about the “environmentally-friendly” fluorescent bulbs that are manufactured in China for sale here? Well, instead of a little glowing filament of tungsten giving off light, they have chemicals, one of them being mercury, and they make the phosphorous coating on the glass glow. If a bulb breaks in your living room, they tell you to open the windows for at least 15 minutes and then they give some tips for picking the mercury out of your living room rug. But your space is contaminated, baby; don’t let ‘em fool you! In fact, when one of these bulbs burns out (or breaks) there are special disposal methods for them because of the mercury.
Someone tell me how these bulbs are environmentally friendly? They seem pretty hostile to me. With an incandescent bulb, if it broke the worst thing that could happen is you cut yourself on broken glass. With these “environmentally friendly” bulbs, you risk brain damage! As my friend pointed out as well, these lights can cause migraines and epileptic seizures because of the flickering…
Of course, these bulbs will be very friendly to GE and its investors! At three bucks a bulb, they stand to make a bundle! Of course, if the bulbs don’t last as long as they say they will, you’re SOL if you don’t save the receipt. So, that will be a good thing for GE and its investors as well! Are you going to save your light bulb receipts for 10 years?
You know…I think I’m going to make a point of it!