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Death by Corporation, Part II: Companies as Cancer Cells

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The financial industry, chemical industry, drug companies, nuclear industrial complex and dirty energy empire work "like tumor cells for the relentless destruction of the environment that they themselves depend upon for their very lives. And the rest of us stand by and watch it happen."

Also See: Part I - Mankind: Death by Corporation

The Financial Industry

The global financial crisis of 2008, at a cost of more than $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression. The financial crisis became a human crisis. The World Bank estimated that 53 million people worldwide were thrown into poverty and that between 200,000 and 400,000 babies died annually as a result. Millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa have suffered severe malnutrition and long-term brain damage as fallout from the financial disaster.

Suicide rates rise and fall with the state of the economy. Unemployment and foreclosure are the largest triggers in increased suicide risk. About 35,000 Americans die every year from suicides, up about 28 percent since 1999. Suicide rates in Europe, where the recession has been even more severe, are even higher. Ervin Lupoe from Wilmington, California, shot his five children and wife to death before turning the gun on himself. Lupoe was deep in debt, behind on his mortgage and had been fired from his hospital job. Anxiety, fear, crime, domestic abuse, murder and suicide all increased worldwide because of the financial crisis.

It was an "avoidable" disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street, according to the conclusions of a federal inquiry. It was the private market, not government programs, that made, packaged and sold most of these wretched loans without regard to their quality. The packaging, combined with credit default swaps and other esoteric derivatives, spread the contagion throughout the world. That's why what initially seemed to be a large but containable US mortgage problem touched off a worldwide financial crisis.

The speculative binge was abetted by a giant "shadow banking system" in which the banks relied heavily on short-term debt, snake oil mortgage hucksters and credit rating agencies that essentially prostituted themselves for cash from the investment banks. Regulators "lacked the political will" to scrutinize and hold accountable the institutions they were supposed to oversee. The financial industry spent $2.7 billion on lobbying from 1999 to 2008, while individuals and committees affiliated with it made more than $1 billion of campaign contributions.  


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