Phillips Petroleum Kills Another Man

We hear a lot from politicians and the media about crime in the streets. But what about crime in the suites?

In Pasadena, Texas, a chemical plant owned by Phillips Petroleum recently exploded, killing one employee and sending 71 others to the hospital. A chemical explosion is nothing less than horrendous violence, with a deafening blast that itself can rip a body apart, plus shrapnel firing through the air for hundreds of yards, as well as liquid and gaseous chemicals that spew out, capable of dissolving your body, blinding you, suffocating and poisoning you. If you survive the explosion, the toxic exposure can get you later, and one never fully recovers from the sheer terror.

After the Pasadena blast, a Phillips spokesman said, "We've got some employees unaccounted for. I couldn't feel worse about it." Well, with all due respect, Phillips executives really could feel worse about it -- they could feel so bad, for example, that they'd actually do what it takes to stop this from happening. No other industrialized nation tolerates the frequency of workplace killings that occur in our country -- killings that mostly are preventable, yet the avaricious, bottom-line ethic of the faraway corporate executives dictate shortcuts on safety ... and thousands of American factory workers pay the price with their lives. It's gross manslaughter.

This is not the first "incident" at the Phillips plant in Pasadena. Ten years ago, an explosion there killed 23 workers. And only a year ago, another blast killed two people. Phillips was cited for 13 safety violations. What was its punishment? A $200,000 fine -- not even a slap on the wrist for a multibillion dollar company like Phillips.

And, of course, the CEO and the big investors who personally profit so richly from the business activities of Phillips, paid no personal price at all for their business' murderous ways.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Wouldn't a little jail time for CEOs stop this crime in the suites?


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