Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Johnson And Johnson's New War On Consumer Protection

Hitler outlawed independent unions, removed safety and work hour regulations, and cracked down on any complaining workers. Plus, real incomes for the workers fell. He was doing what his boss's, the aristocracy and oligarchs of Germany wanted - he was always a creation of the German upper class wanting to take back the little gains that the working class had made.

An excellent book on this "Big Business and Hitler" by Jacques R. Pauwels, you can probably fund one of his talks on youtube as well.

The elites installed Hitler (made the Chancellor by Hindenberg against the wishes of the electorate) after the Nazi vote went down and more voters were moving to the left wing parties - producing a panic within the elites.

Fascism is the tool used by the elites when "liberal democracy" cannot be managed in such a way to provide the required outcomes. Just like in Italy, Spain and Portugal in the same period (also the military dictatorship in Poland). The elites attempted a fascist coup in France in the 1930s but it was defeated, then implemented fascism in Vichy France.

newyorker  |  Johnson & Johnson is one of America’s most trusted companies, and as Berg moved through her cycles of chemotherapy she kept thinking about a slogan for its body powder: “A sprinkle a day helps keep odor away.” For more than thirty years, she had taken that advice, applying the powder between her legs to prevent chafing. But that powder wasn’t like her chemo drugs: their side effects were awful, but they were keeping her alive. The powder felt, instead, like an unnecessary gamble, one she thought other people should be warned about.

Slippery to the touch and soft enough to flake with your fingernail, the mineral talc is found all around the world, in deposits that can be more than a billion years old. Such deposits are sometimes laced with actinolite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, and tremolite. These accessory minerals, better known in their fibrous form as asbestos, grow alongside talc like weeds in a geological garden. As early as 1971, Johnson & Johnson scientists had become aware of reports about asbestos in talc. They and others also worried about a connection between cancer and talc itself, whether or not it contained asbestos. By the time of Berg’s diagnosis, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer had designated talc containing fibrous particles a carcinogen and the genital application of any talc powder possibly carcinogenic. The F.D.A. had safety concerns, too, but its authority over products like baby powder was and remains, in the words of Ann Witt, a former senior official at the agency, “so minimal it’s laughable.”

Johnson & Johnson has always insisted, including to this magazine, that its baby powder is “safe, asbestos-free, and does not cause cancer”; however, a 2016 investigation by Bloomberg and subsequent revelations by Reuters and the New York Times, based in part on documents that surfaced because of discovery in suits like Berg’s, exposed the possible health risk related to its powders. Following those reports, tens of thousands of people filed suits against the company, alleging that its products had caused their cancers. In 2020, after juries awarded some of those plaintiffs damages that collectively exceeded billions of dollars, Johnson & Johnson announced that it would no longer supply the talc-based version of its product to American stores.

And then, quietly, the company embraced a strategy to circumvent juries entirely. Deploying a legal maneuver first used by Koch Industries, Johnson & Johnson, a company valued at nearly half a trillion dollars, with a credit rating higher than that of the United States government, declared bankruptcy. Because of that move, the fate of forty thousand current lawsuits and the possibility of future claims by cancer victims or their survivors now rests with a single bankruptcy judge in the company’s home state, New Jersey. If Johnson & Johnson prevails and, as Berg puts it, “weasels its way out of everything,” the case could usher in a new era in which the government has diminished power to enforce consumer-protection laws, citizens don’t get to make their case before a jury of their peers when those laws fail, and even corporations with long histories of documented harm will get to decide how much, if anything, they owe their victims.

0 comments: