The other day I attended a training session with other licensed auditors in Poland all about the published statements that Public Interest Entities or “PIEs” have to issue to report on their Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development, etc.
Someone raised the very valid point based on one example that had been offered by the seminar leader for discussion, that it is all very well a cigarette company telling us about their diversity and equal opportunities for employment, when they are giving kids cancer. The few social initiatives that they give back barely pays for all the suffering and ruination that cigarettes cause, yet they make a big play on it. This participant was searching for a metaphor, and I supplied “like the icing on a poisoned cake”. The icing might be fine but you don’t get it without the cake, which kills you.
Afterwards, I remembered that Jesus Christ said it best, as usual, when he called the Pharisees “whited sepulchres” tombs with decaying bodies on the inside, but made to look all white and clean on the outside. That was the state of those religiously proud hypocrites that ran the Synagogue in Jesus’ day, who pretended to be honourable people yet they “devoured widows’ houses” in secret. It is the same to be said of many heads of the Church and of course many people in Show Business who set themselves up as these great role models and then it is discovered that they are rapists, perverts and predators. I don’t necessarily refer to the person who is at allegation stage this week, since we know from the UK purges that not all the allegations made stand up in court, but the USA and Hollywood in particular are well past due date for their Yewtree, although in their case it is likely to be a Californian Redwood, one you can make a tunnel in and drive a truck through. So let the games commence and let them all go through due process.
Going back to the tobacco companies, maybe the only thing we should like to read from them is a bit of honesty in their CSR statement, something like this:
“Sure, we gave a tenth of our profits to giving some inputs to useful projects that served society and paid back a little bit.
But this is but a fart in the wind compared to the way our products are enslaving people, including your kids and grandkids, nephews and nieces, shortening their lives, making them pay us large sums they can ill afford to feed their nicotine addictions and giving them lung cancer, as well as those around who have to breathe their filthy stench.
All we can say is, if we didn’t do it, someone else would, and we don’t know any better way of getting rich than at these people’s expense. It’s up to them to sort themselves out and stop smoking, it’s up to you to help persuade them to stop. You all know how governments have made us put health warnings on every pack, but we will go one stage further here, and tell you not only does smoking kill you and harm you, but it also makes you look stupid and look and smell unattractive.
Smoking cigarettes? It is for morons, and we are in the business of farming morons, and your lovely governments are using the excises taxes on cigarettes to co-farm morons with us. So, if you don’t have to be a moron, don’t be one.”