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Lethal But Legal: Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health 1st Edition
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In a nutshell, public-health professor Freudenberg finds that the greatest threat to the health and well-being of humanity is an upside-down health system. He contends that, rather than a political-economic system that supports the health of the general population, public health is compromised to support the well-being of our current political-economic system. He refers to what he calls a “corporate consumption complex,” a disproportionately small group of business and political interests, as if it is an entity that thrives on “hyperconsumption” by a mass populace whose good health is being sacrificed in the name of profit. He makes his case via examples of both blatant and unintentional disregard for public health within the food, alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical, gun, and automobile industries, which value profit over consumer health. His argument is so strong, passionate, and laced with intemperate phrases that it is clear that Freudenberg’s intention is less a call to reason than a rallying cry for an army of Davids against a systemic Goliath. --Donna Chavez
"Superb, magnificently written, courageous, and compelling exposé of how corporations enrich themselves at the expense of public health--and how we can organize to counter corporate power and achieve a healthier and more sustainable food environment. This should be required reading for anyone who cares about promoting health, protecting democratic institutions, and achieving a more equitable and just society." -Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University; author Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
"Freudenberg details how six industries -- food and beverage, tobacco, alcohol, firearms, pharmaceutical, and automotive -- use pretty much the same playbook to defend the sales of health-threatening products. This playbook, largely developed by the tobacco industry, disregards human health and poses greater threats to our existence than any communicable disease you can name." --New York Times
"A reservoir of constructive indignation that can arouse all Americans who adhere to basic human values." --Ralph Nader
"Freudenberg lays out the labyrinth of connections between corporate misbehavior and the health of the world, then and gives a roadmap to fix it. I love this book." --Cheryl G. Healton, Director, NYU Global Institute of Public Health; former President and CEO, American Legacy Foundation
"After documenting how multinational corporations manipulate us into hyperconsumption, this book goes on to identify the strategies we can, together, use to liberate ourselves." --Richard Wilkinson, Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology, University of Nottingham
"Freudenberg brings clarity to our understanding of these fundamental determinants of population health in a way that no one else has." --Sandro Galea, Dean, Boston University School of Public Health
"A richly detailed account of how corporate power has been used to corrupt health and well-being, along with excellent advice on what readers can do about it." --Kirkus
"An exceptionally detailed and thought-provoking historical profile of how corporations have risen to power and maintained their influence in the shaping of our societies." --The Lancet
"Provides an advocate's perspective on how industry shapes health, and in Freudenberg's words, 'This is something not only to think about, but to rant about.'" --Health Affairs
"This book may well make you angry and inconsolable. You will ask yourself how a few industries--food, tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceutical, gun, and auto-have managed to act with virtual impunity and enrich themselves at the expense of our health and the health of the planet... This is a comprehensive, gutsy, and absorbing book that tells a compelling story of the major vectors of 21st century diseases... It should be required reading." --American Journal of Public Health
"The text offers compelling evidence that an audience beyond academia could benefit from reading this book." -World Medicine and Health Policy
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Like a prosecutor representing the people, Nicholas Freudenberg lays out the case against the "corporate consumption complex," a term chosen to liken it to the "military-industrial complex" that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us against. The corporate consumption complex is the alliance of big, multinational corporations, industry associations and public officials, who mutually benefit by sharing the profits gained from the promotion of the corporate consumption ideology into expanded markets. He focuses on six industries, automobiles, guns, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, alcohol and tobacco, and explores how each has built its political influence in order to prevent governments from protecting their citizens. The tobacco industry alone was responsible for 100 million premature deaths in the 20th Century, and is on track to better than tenfold in the 21st.
A well informed person probably will have heard some of the material in this book before, but not all of it. And one of Freudenberg's strong points is how well he explains the context of corporate consumptionism. For instance, most people know that unions, public interest groups and environmentalists oppose NAFTA and other recent multinational trade treaties, such as the TPP that is currently under negotiation. In a few pages, Freudenberg explains why these are bad, how they hurt public health in the U.S. and its trading partners alike, and how big corporations use their financial might to get government leaders to go along with them. And you might have heard that the National Rifle Association represents the corporate interests of gun manufacturers and dealers, not the personal interests of gun owners. Freudenberg explains how this came to be.