icubud (icubud) wrote,
icubud
icubud

Do as I say not as I do

Our government (sigh) has lowered themselves in my eyes even lower - I know! Really? Lower? To learn that our government gives licenses to companies/corporations to do sells their goods in places like - wait for it - Iran, even while posturing and frothing at the mouth about embargoes takes the trophy to chief action of hypocrisy, duplicity and greed yet. I came across an article in the NYT that has left me aggravated and exasperated. Here are a few snippets from the article which is located here. This is the stuff of current case studies for business ethics which reveals way too often that all (ethics) will be sacrificed under the guise of "increasing shareholder value" which is PC language for "increase profits".

Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has allowed American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found.

At the behest of a host of companies — from Kraft Food and Pepsi to some of the nation’s largest banks — a little-known office of the Treasury Department has granted nearly 10,000 licenses for deals involving countries that have been cast into economic purgatory, beyond the reach of American business.

Most of the licenses were approved under a decade-old law mandating that agricultural and medical humanitarian aid be exempted from sanctions. But the law, pushed by the farm lobby and other industry groups, was written so broadly that allowable humanitarian aid has included cigarettes, Wrigley’s gum, Louisiana hot sauce, weight-loss remedies, body-building supplements and sports rehabilitation equipment sold to the institute that trains Iran’s Olympic athletes.

In one instance, an American company was permitted to bid on a pipeline job that would have helped Iran sell natural gas to Europe, even though the United States opposes such projects. Several other American businesses were permitted to deal with foreign companies believed to be involved in terrorism or weapons proliferation. In one such case, involving equipment bought by a medical waste disposal plant in Hawaii, the government was preparing to deny the license until an influential politician intervened.

In an interview, the Obama administration’s point man on sanctions, Stuart A. Levey, said that focusing on the exceptions “misses the forest for the trees.” Indeed, the exceptions represent only a small counterweight to the overall force of America’s trade sanctions, which are among the toughest in the world. Now they are particularly focused on Iran, where on top of a broad embargo that prohibits most trade, the United States and its allies this year adopted a new round of sanctions that have effectively shut Iran off from much of the international financial system.

“No one can doubt that we are serious about this,” Mr. Levey said. [2 cents: I do! LOL]

Beyond that, he and the licensing office’s director, Adam Szubin, said the agency’s other, case-by-case, determinations often reflected a desire to balance sanctions policy against the realities of the business world, where companies may unwittingly find themselves in transactions involving blacklisted entities.

“I haven’t seen any licenses that I thought we should have done differently,” Mr. Szubin said.

The law defined allowable agricultural exports as any product on a list maintained by the Agriculture Department, which went beyond traditional humanitarian aid like seed and grain and included products like beer, soda, utility poles and more loosely defined categories of “food commodities” and “food additives.”

Even before the law’s final passage, companies and their lobbyists inundated the licensing office with claims that their products fit the bill.

Take, for instance, chewing gum, sold in a number of blacklisted countries by Mars Inc., which owns Wrigley’s. “We debated that one for a month. Was it food? Did it have nutritional value? We concluded it did,” Hal Eren, a former senior sanctions adviser at the licensing office, recalled before pausing and conceding, “We were probably rolled on that issue by outside forces.”

In response to questions for this article, companies argued that they were operating in full accordance with American law.

Henry Lapidos, export manager for the American Pop Corn Company, acknowledged that calling the Jolly Time popcorn he sold in Sudan and Iran a humanitarian good was “pushing the envelope,” though he did give it a try. “It depends on how you look at it — popcorn has fibers, which are helpful to the digestive system,” he explained, before switching to a different tack. “What’s the harm?” he asked, adding that he didn’t think Iranian soldiers “would be taking microwavable popcorn” to war.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GE fears news will come out and look bad on them so they take a pre-emptive move:

But if the government has sometimes been willing to grant American businesses a break, some companies have recently decided that the cost to their reputations outweighs the potential profit.

General Electric, which has been one of the leading recipients of licenses, says it has stopped all but humanitarian business in countries listed as sponsors of terrorism and has promised to donate its profits from Iran to charity.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Good business ethics example:

“I’m an American,” he said. “Even though it’s legal to sell that type of product, I didn’t want to have any trade with a country like Iran.”

Tags: ethics, government
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 0 comments