The Hobby Lobby case has created more of a problem for businesses because it just means more power for businesses in deciding how they should treat the very people who help run their business. The case that the supreme court has heard now gives businesses, especially corporations, the right to decide what parts of the Obamacare they want to use, ignoring the rights of its own workers.
The supreme ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby saying that they have a right in restricting contraceptives in their health benefits because of the company’s religious beliefs. The same old story goes that if someone takes their car to a mechanic, who cares what religion the mechanic has if you are paying them to work on your car, and what is it to the person paying for the service anyway? Women, who tend to be hurt the most in workplaces on company policies, now must find another way to pay for birth control on their own. So if you look at the issue at hand here, if you put in full time hours in order to receive full time health benefits, something that should be managed through a government not a business, then you now have to use your own money to purchase additional health care needs. In most cases that is viewed as a regressive tax on the employee for something they need.
In addition to the case that corporations are now treated more like people rather than an entity created for one purpose the ruling now gives more power to companies for their right to freedom of religious expression. New York times talked about this in an article about the amount of power corporations are creating for themselves and how this is creating more problems instead of solving them. Anyone who can not see what is wrong with that probably also believes in more deregulation for companies. They probably also saw nothing wrong with how Wall Street tanked the economy in 2008 either. So now that companies are allowed more rights as an “individual.” What responsibility does that hold to the people actually running the company? In short, none whatsoever. Why? because there are no laws holding them responsible for their actions, but one senator would like to slowly change that.
Executives have no responsibility to anyone except shareholders
The recent GM scandal has shown that companies executives have no real responsibility to anyone outside the company because it is difficult to hold a group of people responsible for individual actions, but more importantly as the senate hearings are finding out personally, it is almost impossible to find anyone at fault when everyone else is pointing the finger at everyone else. The New York Times talked about how it is very difficult to hold company executives responsible for anything.
All the senate hearings are finding that even with all the inquiries they have requested of GM, none of the people answering questions are taking any responsibility for the number of people who have died because of their faulty cars and mistakes made; mistakes that were known as far back as 2006 but nothing was done about it. As of the date of this article still no one in the GM company has served any jail time or been accused of murder for the intentional deaths that were caused by faults they knew about in their vehicles but failed to report. If company executives are allowed to get away with poor decisions and plead ignorance in a senate hearing in order to escape fault, then how does anyone know if company executives are acting in the consumers best interest, or for that matter the company’s best interest? The short answer to that is, no one does. In fact if anyone was to try and find that out they would find themselves in a hot mess and be labeled a whistle blower and probably be slapped with a lawsuit of their own.
In the same NYTimes article one senator, Richard Blumenthal, would like to pass a bill that would hold individuals in a company responsible for failing to report any errors or faults in their products that could pose a risk to consumers. He labeled this the Hide No Harm Act and under this act it would label anyone a criminal who failed to report a fault or mishap or even mistake in which case that person could end up serving 5 years, which is nothing in terms of criminal prosecution. That’s a vacation sentence for most rich company executives.
The challenge with such an act is that many high end executives do not deal with everyday operations so they are not always aware of faults or defects right away. The bill of course limits this only to corporate officers and directors so if they fail to be notified right away from their lower level employees then they could end up in trouble. No personal liability would be pressed against any company employee though. The Hide No Harm Act requires any issue to be notified within 24 hours but this short window could also lead to many reports being filed just out of safety reason, requiring which ever government department they are reporting to, in this case for GM the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to be swamped with reports to be reviewed.
Reports will be filed just out of caution in order to avoid criminal prosecution but that now requires double or triple the amount of work for the government agency who has to respond. The action by Senator Blumenthal is commendable but not the right response. More regulation is needed in order to keep companies within their proper boundaries. Rather than passing a bill to slap the back of their hand more rules need to be put into place about how certain companies should operate.
High end lawyers are always brought in order to reduce the amount of time an executive has to sit and answer questions. Watch any senate hearing and you will see professional individuals lying about their own company’s actions without a concern or care that they might be fired or imprisoned, an action that rarely happens. So if company executives are allowed to get away with murder, in this case the number of people who have died because of the faults that were not reported since 2006, then why should any other company executive worry about getting caught?
Two Conflicting Actions
Any company now can sue in order to express their “individual” rights and if company executives are not really held to any level of responsibility than who is to say they won’t abuse the individual rights that a company has in order to achieve any personal gains? If you look at the companies that tanked the economy back in 2008 and have watched the movie “Inside Job” then you understand that by allowing companies more individual freedoms and more deregulation then the economy, and the people who live within them, are at risk for another financial disaster and even more problems in other industries.
You can look at the whole situation as a puppet master controlling the actions of a company and should anything go wrong, one can simply drop the puppet and move on to another job. A court can sue the company and win for damages but no one individual in the company is held responsible. If the person controlling the situation is doing it out of personal gain then who is it to them if something bad should happen to the company? In the case of employees who suffer at the actions of the company they work for the only solution that has been offered to them is to simply find another job. Since there is no long term careers anyone, because it is not worth the company to pay such high end benefits anymore, employees have to understand the risk they take on when working for any type of company. So when they ask you if you have any questions at the end of the interview, it is now important to ask what the religious beliefs are of the company and whether or not you want to deal with their over reaching values.
The difficulty of Holding Executives Responsible