Author Releases "Corporateering Quotient"
SEATTLE -- Industry groups have long rated regions for how "business friendly" they are. A nationally known consumer advocate and Washington state public interest groups today released a scorecard measuring how Seattle compares to other major cities in controlling corporate power and unwarranted industry intrusions into the lives and culture of residents.
The groups, spearheaded by Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), rated Seattle a "C+", higher than other cities, but worrisome nevertheless. State and local groups joining in the announcement included Citizen Action, the Center on Corporations, Law & Society and the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.
Seattle ranks behind San Francisco and Portland on factors such as privacy rights, whistleblower protections, commercialization of education, and protection of community space. It rates higher than Los Angeles, Boston, and Philadelphia.
The "corporateering quotient" is based on a term coined by FTCR executive director Jamie Court in his new book, Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom And What You Can Do About It (Tarcher/Putnam), which Publisher's Weekly says is "keeping the muckraking tradition alive."
"Corporateering" describes when large corporations prioritize their gain over the individual's and society's. Court hopes to introduce the word into popular discourse in order to give the public a way to describe when corporations act inappropriately.
"The public needs a new yardstick to measure corporate power other than a company's stock price," said Court. "Corporations steal more than our money but also fundamental freedoms such as the right to privacy and to raise one's own child free of aggressive marketing. Corporate societal offenses must be discussed if they are to be prevented. The 'corporateering quotient' measures to what degree industries put themselves above the individual and society."
The quotient gives points for and against the region in 9 areas. For example, Seattle received points for having the public recourse of the ballot initiative process and protections for consumers when they are harmed by corporate malfeasance. But it lost points because of rampant naming rights and branding of public space. Following is a list of the grades in each area. Click here to review the Corporateering Quotient in full: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporate/pr/Seattle_Corporateering.pdf
"The 'Corporateering Quotient' is an important tool for everyone concerned about addressing the roles and obligations of corporations in society," said Dana Gold, Director of the Center on Corporations, Law & Society at Seattle University School of Law. "Rather than measuring the performance of individual corporate actors, the quotient measures how individual communities have allowed -- either wittingly or unwittingly -- corporations to shape their lives and culture. By articulating in concrete terms the extent of corporate influence in Seattle, FTCR provides all of us with not only a measure of the performance of local democracy, but also with the tools to make conscious choices about our own futures."
Privacy Rights: B
The extent to which individuals can protect their personal information from being bought and sold by corporations.
Legal Rights: B-
The power of corporations to limit the individual's legal rights and remedies when companies break the law or harm us.
Public Recourse: A-
The power of the people to counter corporate control.
Commercialization of Schools: B
Advertising and commercialism in schools.
Protection of Community Space: D
The impact of corporate branding in our cultural lives.
"Pay to Play": D
The influence of corporate money in the political process.
Media Independence: C-
The extent of corporate ownership of our airwaves and print media.
Whistleblower Protections & Executives' Duties: C+
The degree to which workers' dissent is respected and executives' disclosure is required.
Environmental Degradation: C-
The impact of corporations on our environmental health.
"The battle to protect the legal rights of ordinary Americans requires constant vigilance. The corporateers are ceaselessly working to strip our citizens of their legal rights," said Judy Massong, President-elect of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.
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