In France, workers contemplate throwing Molotov cocktails when the government threatens a 5 percent cut in dental insurance benefits. Here at home, we debate the fine line between corporations that provide us with jobs but sometimes barge in as uninvited guests.
& ull; Lessons in corporate respect: Corporate interests want school time to tell students that file-sharing is a crime worse than hurling spitballs. According to an Associated Press report syndicated recently in the Deseret News, the Motion Picture Association of America is lecturing grades five through nine about the evils of copyright infringement. Even Junior Achievement is in on the deal, with prize offerings for the best student essay on the subject. These days, even writing contests enshrine corporate interests. Parents who themselves made cassette copies of the Doobie Brothers might not be amused.
Corporate hormones: As one reader took the trouble of pointing out to this column by e-mail, the Monsanto Corp. has gotten awfully defensive of late regarding what people might believe about its artificial growth hormone. One target is the Maine company, Oakhurst Dairy, which splashes “Our Farmers’ Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones” across its cartons. Monsanto apparently felt that boast indirectly derided the quality of its hormone, and took the New England dairy to court in an effort to have the label removed. (Hey, Ben & Jerry’s says plenty about this topic on its ice-cream cartons.) This column could say something really snarky about Monsanto, but we don’t want to get sued.
& ull; Corporate fortune transplant: Sometimes the story ends on a much more upbeat note. Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, must have listened to lots of “Morning Edition” before succumbing last month to brain cancer in her hometown of San Diego. With a Forbes’ magazine estimated wealth of $1.7 billion behind her, the heiress decided to leave $200 million of it to National Public Radio. Don’t expect pledge drives to end anytime soon, however, as that amount represents only twice the station’s annual operating budget. You might remember Joan Kroc from 1997, when she anonymously donated $15 million (or $2,000 per household head) to residents of Grand Forks, N.D., and East Grand Forks, Minn., after flooding decimated the area. Kroc remained anonymous until the local Grand Forks Herald revealed her identity. F—king media! But with Mrs. Kroc now gone, is there any good reason to eat at McDonald’s?
& ull; No company dogs: In a somewhat unrelated item, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has, for the moment, dropped its campaign of comparing slaughterhouses with Auschwitz and recommended that the Salt Lake County District Attorney “vigorously prosecute” a Glendale man facing six counts of training dogs for the fighting pit. PETA’s press release quotes an authority warning that “drugs, weapons, and illegal gambling are commonly associated with dog fighting.” Dog fighting is a third-degree felony, but the specter of illegal gambling is what is bound to worry the locals.