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Julie Becker: Alarm at the depths of irresponsibility

Economist William Nordhous's "ninth circle of corporate irresponsibility" applies to companies that use devious means to get us to trust them, and then let us down in a big way. Local resident Julie Becker tells us why she wants to include Rise Gold on that list.


The banner on the cover of Time magazine in late April read: “Climate Is Everything.” Inside the issue, among a selection of viewpoints, was an essay written by economist William Nordhaus, “The Ninth Circle of Corporate Irresponsibility,” an excerpt from his recently published book, The Spirit of Green.

The book focuses on “green thinking” — on finding cures for some of the most serious economic and environmental problems around the world.

Nordhaus praises businesses engaged in socially responsible practices, but feels it’s fruitful to be aware of businesses that do the opposite. Businesses with little or no concern for legal, societal or ethical obligations. Those that pollute the air and the water, drastically overpay executives, avoid paying their fair share of taxes (or any taxes at all) and sidestep well-grounded regulations. Those that turn a blind eye to the consequences of their actions.

Among these businesses, he assigns the most egregious, those that deliberately mislead or provide false information, to the ninth circle of corporate irresponsibility, drawing a parallel to the ninth circle of hell in Dante’s “Inferno” — a circle designed especially for those who practice treachery and betray our trust.

According to Nordhaus, star candidates for the ninth circle, all “languishing in their ethical filth,” include Philip Morris, which made mincemeat of research showing the harmful effects of tobacco; ExxonMobil, which famously played down any awareness of climate change, then went on to fund climate deniers; and PurduePharma, which made billions from the sales of OxyContin while playing dumb to its addictive qualities.

Read the rest in The Union.

Julie Becker lives in Nevada City.


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