The Massey mining disaster brings this issue once again into sharp focus. Far too many US and multinational corporations engage in out and out criminal acts without cost or societies ability to use traditional law enforcement techniques to hold them accountable.
When a company willfully balances the cost of complying with regulations that protect human life against the balance sheet, that is actually manslaughter when it results in foreseeable loss of human life. The problem has always been how do you apply criminal law to corporate persons? There is an answer in drug enforcement law. Now, to be clear, I never believed that asset seizure prior to trial of drug dealers was even remotely Constitutional but better legal minds than mine have upheld it. The answer staring us in the face is simple, when a solid case can be made that a corporation willfully ignored regulations designed protect human life or willfully engages in policy that they know endangers human life balanced against their profits….they have those assets involved seized immediately as resulting from criminal enterprise and lose them for all time.
Such assets are likely to be business operations. In a case like Massey, those assets should be reorganized as a collective by the workers under guidance of court appointed leadership will an eventual goal of a cooperative corporation being formed so that jobs continue, workers rights are respected and those who do the work receive fair compensation instead of a life of corporate slavery as still exists today in the case of coal miners.
Corporations, when subjected to psychological analysis, fit the profile of sociopaths which should come as no surprise if one thinks about it. Societies have always had a problem with what to do with sociopaths because almost all societies assume some basic level of empathic humanity on the part of it’s members and most are loath to simply remove, by life imprisonment or extermination, those who can never be rehabilitated to make them less of a danger to others. Here we have a model that could deal with sociopathic corporations that actually removes the incentive to place profits over human suffering. Perhaps this is the answer to restoring sanity to our legal system when it comes to it’s takeover by criminal minded corporations.
Massey should have all it’s mining operations seized today, the smoking gun is openly available in memos and willful violation literally thousands of times of safety regulations and this is the perfect place for society to say “enough is enough”.