Evil Money Good Money

Wolf-Günter Thiel

Another project by Kristian Hornsleth

"Things" cannot be evil or good. It is only people that are evil or good. Most times, people are a combination of both. I suppose it is easier for folks to place the blame on a thing, than it is to acknowledge that the problem lies with people. It makes the problem so much more manageable, get rid of the thing, and you get rid of the problem. But if the problem is people, what do you do? That is the sad result of this delusional thinking; it takes away from addressing the true problem. The true problem is people. It is people who are evil, not businesses. We have a people problem, not a problem with "big businesses."

Dr. Stephen. D.


Evil indicates a negative moral or ethical judgment. It is often used to describe intentional acts that are cruel, unjust, or selfish. Evil is used in many cultures to describe acts or thoughts which are contrary to some particular religion. Evil is usually contrasted with good.

Good describes intentional acts that are kind, just, or unselfish. As a philosophical concept, good represents the hope that natural love be continuous, expansive, and all-inclusive. In a monotheistic religious context, it is by this hope that an important concept of God is derived. Good is an infinite projection of love wich is manifested as goodness in the lives of people. In other contexts, the good is viewed to be whatever produces the best consequences upon the lives of people.

In some religions, evil is an active force, often personified as an entity such as Satan or Ahriman. The duality of 'good versus evil' is especially expressed by monotheistic religions.Those who believe in the duality theory of evil believe that evil cannot exist without good, nor good without evil. Hence it follows that good and evil are objective states and opposite ends of the same scale.

In Western philosophy, evil is usually limited to the idea of doing harm or damage to an object or creature. Depending on the context, good and evil may represent personal judgments, societal norms, or claims of absolute value related to human nature or to transcendent religious standards. In the philosophical concept of evil, the intent to cause harm is crucial. Acts which are considered evil are not called evil when performed by very young children, by animals, or by the insane. There is also a class of deliberate acts, known to be harmful to another, which are not considered evil because: they are acts of self-defense or defense of another or they are considered justified like wars.

"Beyond Good and Evil", subtitled "Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future" is a book by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1886. In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche attacks past philosophers for their alleged lack of critical sense and their blind acceptance of Christian premises in their consideration of morality. The work moves into the realm "beyond good and evil" in the sense of leaving behind the traditional morality which Nietzsche subjects to a destructive critique in favour of what he regards as an affirmative approach that fearlessly confronts the perspectival nature of knowledge and the perilous condition of the modern individual.

adj., e•vil•er, e•vil•est.
1. Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.
2. Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.
3. Characterized by or indicating future misfortune; ominous: evil omens.
4. Bad or blameworthy by report; infamous: an evil reputation.
5. Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.
1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.
2. That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: a leader's power to do both good and evil.
3. An evil force, power, or personification.
4. Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice.

Evil Business:
In business, evil refers to unfair or unethical business practices. Firms that have a monopoly are often able to maintain the monopoly using tactics that are deemed unfair, and monopolies have the power to set prices at levels which are not socially efficient and fair. Some people therefore consider monopolies to be evil. Economists do not generally consider monopolies to be "evil" though they recognize that certain business practices by monopolies are often not in the public interest.
Recently the term "evil" has been applied much more broadly, especially in the technology and intellectual property industries. One of the slogans of Google is "Don't be evil," in response to much-criticized technology companies such as Microsoft and AOL, and the tagline of independent music recording company Magnatune is "we are not evil," referring to the alleged evils of the RIAA. The economist David Korten has argued that industrial corporations, set up as fictive individuals by law, are required to work according only to the criteria of making profits for their shareholders, meaning they function as sociopathic organisations that inherently do evil in damaging the environment, denying labour justice and exploiting the powerless.
The multi-national congolmerates that have no ties by honor to any country are the most dangerous. It isn't Walmart or McDonalds or any one retailer. Those two are bottom feeders in a big sea of predators. Who do you think is profiting by the war in Iraq? Who has been preventing innovation in the energy sector so that they can keep a tight rein on what is and isn't used for transportation and heating. What companies get unbidded contracts to rebuild areas that are devastated by war? Follow the money trail during a war or during an energy crisis and find out who profits. Then you will find the comapanies that do the most harm, not just to individuals,or employees, but to entire national economies.

Weappon industrie: landmines!

Colombian singer and anti-landmine activist Juanes:
"Colombia is the country with the most landmines in the southern hemisphere. Planted on Colombian soil lie more than 150,000 landmines and probably more than half of these will still be active 50 years from now - that is if a child, a farmer or a soldier doesn't step on them first. […] Even though all Latin American countries have signed the Ottawa treaty which prohibits the use of these fatal, economical, horrifying weapons, in Colombia they remain the weapon of choice for the guerrillas and drug traffickers. Landmines are used to protect the coca plantations as well as the trafficker once the produce has been collected. The landmines are part of the escape plan and help protect the guerrillas after they have attacked villages. […] At this pace, Colombia will be the country with the most landmines in the world
In Colombia - my country - contrary to what people may think, landmines do not only kill and ruin the lives of military personnel. More than 40% of victims are civilians and half of these are children of less than 14 years of age. The removal of all landmines on Colombian soil is a duty that will remain a dream for some time to come due to the existence of an armed conflict that is financed by the largest business in the world after oil: DRUGS. The drug money comes from the most powerful countries in the world, home to the largest number of drug addicts. Colombia in turn provides the mutilated children and the numerous deaths.[…] Violence supported in the most part by the drug consumers of rich countries. Drug consumption which increases everyday, as does the blood shed by Colombians."

Mismatch between personal and company values:

Who produces the weappons and who works for evil companies?
Even if you're not actually making the land mines - let's say you're just the receptionist - this may weigh heavily on you. Every single day. Mismatch between personal and company values is a huge stress factor. This means, that on a daily basis you are doing things that you can't defend to yourself. Even CEOs are not immune to this temporary blindness. Here, Ray Anderson, the CEO of Interface the world's largest manufacturer of carpets, explains how he suddenly realized that his company was bad for the environment. The good news is that he made this realization and that he was in a position to act on it and make Interface environmentally responsible. The higher your investment in the company, the easier it is to blind yourself and I'm not just talking stocks. You can invest money, but also time and identity in your work. And more than anything, the system you exist in, can shape your perception.

The Milgram experiment

In it, subjects were lead to believe that they were part of a study in learning that required them to give another test subject electrical shocks. In reality the other person was an actor and no shocks were given. The study showed that 65% of the subjects continued administering ever more powerful electrical shocks - even though the actor was screaming in pain and later on pretended to pass out. The subjects were never pressured - if they protested they were simply told in a calm voice that "The experiment requires that you continue" or "You have no other choice, you must go on. Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process (an argument many german citizens used after the Holocaust, the war and the Nazi-Terror). Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority. So when people in authority tell us to do something that we know is wrong, when the entire system just acts as if unethical, damaging behavior is just business as usual, many of us are powerless to resist. You may think that YOU are exempt from this, but in reality we're all subject to this effect. This is part of the reason that the Enron scandal could go on for as long as it did, even though many people inside the company ought to have known that something was rotten: everyone acted like everything was fine. As in "The company requires that you continue." Ultimately, it may even explain something like Abu Ghraib."

Different Cases:
Richard Doll about Smoking and Advertising:
I feel promoting smoking – encouraging people to smoke – is evil. I hesitate to say every evil should be banned but it should be discouraged, and that this evil went on so long is a very severe criticism of governments of all parties. […] I don't expect banning advertising will make a dramatic difference but it will make some difference. The real problem is that people don't appreciate the risks. Regular smoking doubles the risk of death in adult life – equal to all other risks put together. Nobody really takes that in. […] The tobacco industry, and the media, made the link seem controversial. Each time a report said smoking caused lung cancer a doctor would be found to say it was just statistics. Not much changed this situation. Professor Sir Richard Doll published the first paper linking smoking with lung cancer in the British Medical Journal in 1950. He still works at Oxford University, aged 90, today.

The tobacco industry is certainly the most evil big business today. Concealing the truth about tobacco's harmful effects for decades, intentional addicting "The Greatest Generation" through their use of government contacts to include cigarettes in all rations, and their recent move to increase the nicotine level in cigarettes so that those who still smoke will have a harder time quitting are all part and parcel of their lack of morals. And the perfidy of the industry does not stop at lobbying and marketing. Tobacco corporations for decades have funded research into to alter levels of of nicotine in plants. The goal of these experiments is to increase the addictive power of cigarettes, thereby reducing the number of cigarettes it takes to become hooked. The tobacco industry has been masters of propaganda, utilizing false or incomplete "scientific" reports to discredit health research into the dangers of tobacco. One of their most successful ploys was the appeal to "smoker's rights" and the "freedom to smoke". This is particularly hypocritical given their efforts to create and constantly refine one of the most addictive substances on the planet. This includes methods like adding toxic and abrasive materials like asbestos to the tobacco. The asbestos causes micro-cuts in the mouth, which helps deliver the nicotine to the bloodstream more effectively.

Food :

Roby Thomas on food
The world wants cheap food that tastes good, easy meal preparation, and a quick fix to all problems. Past generations ate food fried in lard, ate sweets and butter. They lived through unbelievable hardships yet faced life with hope. Why is our generation paralyzed by depression, obesity, and high cholesterol? Could the answers be hidden in the foods we eat? Do we worry excessively about terrorist attacks when we should be worrying about the foods we put in our mouths? Are political donations more important to the government than the health of citizens? "The most evil big businesses? For one, I have to say McDonald's. But before I give out my patented "McDonald's is evil and should burn in hell" speech, I personally should not entirely blame good ol' Mickey D's for being 'evil.' Yet, I should say it is also the frequent customers not putting mind over matter. So, you can say that McDonald's and all there executives and shareholders have been playing there cards right. However, the obesity and overweight count is climbing in the United States and also a person who I talk to in Toronto also states that Canada is also increasing. McDonald's is not to blame for the whole fiasco, but it can be considered a contributor to the statistic." The huge agri-businesses that actively hire undocumented and illegal aliens so they can pay them what basically amounts to below the lowest poverty standard wages. Those workers don't get any benefits, and the companies know that the workers won't complain, because they are illegal.

Oil and Gas & Exxon

"Exxon-Mobile Corporation could be considered for this category [evil business], as they have posted the largest profits in U.S. history. To make this case, though, we also would have to say that they are doing harm by promoting an oil-based economy. They would likely say that they are only delivering a product we demand. I think you could get closer to the "evil" tag if you could prove that executives from Exxon and a few other oil companies met with Vice-President Dick Cheney back in 2001 and helped plan the Iraq War. Some reports maintain that they had maps out of the Iraqi oil fields, and were taking turns marking which areas they wanted to control. If this is not true, why are all the minutes of that meeting still secret? If it is true (as journalist Greg Palast writes in Armed Madhouse), obviously they knew there would be loss of life, so then you could tag them as "evil," for a "blood for oil" policy."


Working conditions and slave labor level
"There wouldn't seem, on the surface, that there is any evil intent by big box retailers like Wal-Mart. After all, you choose to go to their stores and buy their products, they don't force you. The "other hand" here is their treatment of workers, especially in China (they used to stress "American made" in their ads, but no more). At least in some cases they force Chinese suppliers to sell to them at such low prices, that the manufacturers have to lower wages and conditions to almost the slave labor level, just to keep their contract (buying in tremendous quantities has its down side). But they are not alone. Likely we have all read about the clothing industry, and the conditions of the workers in places like Saipan (Mariana Islands), where they legally sew in "Made in America" labels on the clothes."

The War-Industry

People die and people profit

"The single most evil business is Halliburton. The facts are there and impossible to dispute.
As a supplier of contracts to the US Armed Forces, Halliburton has overcharged in excess of 1.5 billion dollars to the US government since the beginning of the War In Iraq.
They and their main contractor KBR have been found to have supplied unsafe water to the troops, burned $100,000 vehicles because they had a flat tire, charged troops and contract laborers up to $46 for a six pack of Coca Cola (which is offered free on base), sent convoys of American workers unprotected into active fire, charged $99 a load to wash Marine's clothing,and have kept their executives in Hummer's, and Cadillac Escalades at a cost over 350 million dollars, which came straight from the taxpayers pocket. Perhaps more frustrating than that, they have even refused to allow troops the opportunity to eat except at specific times, which has drawn fire on mess halls filed with soldiers. A technician hired by Halliburton reported that out of their 67 water treatment facilities providing drinking and bathing water to the Marines 63 were infected with typhus, malaria, parasites, e.coli and the entire gammet of bacteria. He also reported than upon trying to notify troops he was relieved from his duty for Halliburton. Several pentagon officials and politicians on capitol hill, including the Vice President are major stockholders in Halliburton. Cheney has earned several million dollars over the course of this war in Iraq in dividends, though he claims to have severed all ties to it. Others who have benefitted include members of the energy advisory team, the ex CEO of Chevron (who now holds an office at the pentagon), the Lieutenant Navy Commander, G.W. Bush and G.H.W Bush, and the Secretary of State. In fact they were all profiteering from the beginning when Halliburton and KBR received their contracts without bidding against any other supplier. Halliburton represents the very idea of 'The Military Industrial Complex' that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the American people would threaten Democracy itself, and therefore should be considered the most evil big business of all time." "Iraqi investigators, supported by Iraqi witness accounts, have said unofficially that they could not find evidence of any attack on the Blackwater guards that might have provoked the shooting on Nisour Square, which the Iraqis say killed 17 and wounded 27. But the statement by Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the prime minister, is the first indication that the government considers its investigation completed and the shootings unprovoked. "This is a deliberate crime against civilians," Mr. Dabbagh said. "It should be tried in court and the victims should be compensated." Those conclusions contradict Blackwater's original statement on the shooting, which said that a convoy operated by the company's guards "acted lawfully and appropriately in response to a hostile attack." The Iraqi findings are also at odds with initial assertions by the State Department that the convoy had received small-arms fire. Blackwater provides security for American diplomats in Iraq. A convoy carrying diplomats was approaching the square when a second Blackwater convoy, positioned on the square in advance to control traffic, opened fire."Not even a brick was thrown at them," said Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassim, the Iraqi defense minister. "And until now we have been examining this matter."


"Multi-national companies turned philanthropist or just a good business idea?

In October 2005 Nestle announced that they would be releasing their first fairtrade coffee in the UK. This was followed later in the month by McDonalds' announcement that they would be replacing all their coffee with fairtrade coffee in North Eastern USA. This has recently been extended to other countries including the UK. The main question that arises from these decisions is, what are the motives?
One of many motives could be that these companies are trying to get rid of the "evil" image that they have with many people. Nestle were responsible for the deaths of many children when they sold breast milk substitutes to mothers in developing countries who, after an amount of time were unable to afford the substitute milk but were now unable to breast feed their children. McDonalds have been accused of child labour and animal cruelty, encouraging the sale of food high in saturated fat to children as well as destroying large amounts of rainforest and stealing land from tribal people to create cattle ranches. Selling fairtrade products is a perfect way to help heal their public image. One final possible motive is that they actually care about people in developing countries and are selling fairtrade to try and help these people. This could put fairtrade campaigners who are also boycotting these companies in a serious dilemma, should they continue their boycott or support their decision to sell fairtrade by lifting their boycott? The decision rests on whether they believe this is their true motive."
Investmentfonds and Assetmanagements which are buying up companies and split them up into profitable units and resale. The results are often traditional medium sized companies which loose their corporate identity and have to lay off people in order to be more profitable.

Wolf-Günter Thiel, art historian, Berlin