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Lethal But Legal: Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health by [Freudenberg, Nicholas]
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Lethal But Legal: Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health Kindle Edition

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Review

Lethal But Legal has scholarly merit and marshals compelling evidence to support its central thesis. (Bonnie Stabile, George Mason University; World Medical and Health Policy)

Freudenberg details how six industries (food and beverage, tobacco, alcohol, firearms, pharmaceutical, and automotive)

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)

About the Author

Nicholas Freudenberg, PhD, MPH, is Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College and founder and director of Corporations and Health Watch (www.corporationsandhealth.org), an international network of activists and researchers that monitors the business practices of the alcohol, automobile, firearms, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and tobacco industries.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5505 KB
  • Print Length: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (21 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HQFO66Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #659,292 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition
Nicholas Freudenburg attacks what ails us from a slightly different angle. He collects a litany of woes under the rubric of what he calls the Corporate Consumption Complex, as opposed to the military-industrial complex made famous in a warning by Dwight Eisenhower three days before he left office – to someone who expanded it greatly.

There are half a dozen fat targets in this book, with copious footnotes to back the figures that are so frequent they are largely forgettable. But the underlying theme is that corporations want us to consume more, far more than a normal diet has ever required. This includes not just processed food, (Hyperpalatable processed food is softer and easier to chew than real food, leading to faster and increased consumption), alcohol and tobacco, but also cars and guns. It’s all about larger share of bank account, and anything that stands in the way, eg. health services, inspectors, government – be damned.

He is particularly incensed at all the marketing to children. From Ronald McDonald and Happy Meals toys to underage drinking (every year, there are 4 million hospital visits and 4700 deaths from alcohol for those under 21) and shootings (every day, 60 children are shot, and 12 die of it). These are avoidable, expensive, not to mention pointless, premature deaths. As for tobacco, Freudenburg says that for every dollar made by Phillip Morris, $7.39 has to be spent in healthcare.

Meanwhile, the new non-communicable (chronic) diseases account for 75% of US healthcare costs. 44% of Americans have one and 13% have three or more. Freudenburg doesn’t say, but they are the result of chemical compounds, 88,000 of them, that have never been tested or approved. They are in processed food, the air, manufactured furniture, fish, animals, and water.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do not hate it. I have yet to read it - a lot on my plate for the moment.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taking on the Corporate Consumption Complex 27 Jan. 2014
By David Wineberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Nicholas Freudenburg attacks what ails us from a slightly different angle. He collects a litany of woes under the rubric of what he calls the Corporate Consumption Complex, as opposed to the military-industrial complex made famous in a warning by Dwight Eisenhower three days before he left office – to someone who expanded it greatly.

There are half a dozen fat targets in this book, with copious footnotes to back the figures that are so frequent they are largely forgettable. But the underlying theme is that corporations want us to consume more, far more than a normal diet has ever required. This includes not just processed food, (Hyperpalatable processed food is softer and easier to chew than real food, leading to faster and increased consumption), alcohol and tobacco, but also cars and guns. It’s all about larger share of bank account, and anything that stands in the way, eg. health services, inspectors, government – be damned.

He is particularly incensed at all the marketing to children. From Ronald McDonald and Happy Meals toys to underage drinking (every year, there are 4 million hospital visits and 4700 deaths from alcohol for those under 21) and shootings (every day, 60 children are shot, and 12 die of it). These are avoidable, expensive, not to mention pointless, premature deaths. As for tobacco, Freudenburg says that for every dollar made by Phillip Morris, $7.39 has to be spent in healthcare.

Meanwhile, the new non-communicable (chronic) diseases account for 75% of US healthcare costs. 44% of Americans have one and 13% have three or more. Freudenburg doesn’t say, but they are the result of chemical compounds, 88,000 of them, that have never been tested or approved. They are in processed food, the air, manufactured furniture, fish, animals, and water.

He traces this corporate hegemony back to the Nixon administration, when the president swapped out his Agriculture Secretary to become CEO of Ralston Purina, in exchange for a Ralston Purina Director, Earl Butz. Butz was notorious for promoting agribusiness against the small farmer. In the Reagan era, government became the problem instead of the solution. As agencies’ budgets were cut back, critics pointed to how ineffective they were. And of course, corporations have infiltrated agencies, commissions and government to ensure the rules favor them over all comers. Including the UN.

Finally, in a single paragraph on the third to last page, Freudenburg mentions (almost in passing) what I consider to be the linchpin of the entire problem. Corporations have all the rights of a real person (“Companies are people too, my friend” – Mitt Romney), plus the superpowers of limited liability and bottomless financial resources. This leads to bullying tactics and overwhelming the opposition with truckloads of money, lobbying, lawsuits and absurd settlements that don’t require admission of wrongdoing. It all stems from an incorrectly expressed (and therefore misinterpreted) statement by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes at the turn of the last century. It needs to be undone and rationalized but at very least examined. One paragraph won’t do it. Fixing this one problem would change everything in the direction Freudenburg seeks.

David Wineberg
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book 1 May 2014
By Fred Musante - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone interested in the affect of major corporations' business practices on public health in the U.S., Europe and around the world, this is an important book. I even cited it as a reference in a paper for one of my MPH classes.

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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent addition to the literature on corporate power and its consequences 2 Aug. 2014
By Fred Curtis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This well-written and exhaustively researched book is a major addition to the literature on the negative impacts of corporations. Exploring the "corporate consumption complex", Freudenberg brings the concerns of public health to the discussion of the for-profit corporation. Drawing on the literature about corporate power and rights, he lays out a comprehensive analysis of the corporate system and its pernicious effects. He focuses on six industries: food and beverage, alcohol, tobacco, guns (non-military), automobiles and pharmaceuticals. Beyond looking at the damaging impacts of corporations in these industries on health, he has a systemic analysis of corporate power and consumption ideology, as well as two excellent chapters on previous successful efforts to rein in corporate health injuries and a vision of how to create a broader movement that would have more long-lasting effects in creating a healthy and sustainable future by restoring democratic values and influence over corporations. This book is a welcome addition to the literature on corporate malfeasance, including Jeffrey Clements, Corporations are not People, Ted Nace, Gangs of America, and Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto. This is a much more successful treatment of the issues addressed than the earlier It Ain't Right but It's Legal: Harmful Social Consequences of Legal Industries. While I would have liked some greater depth in a few of the case studies and missed the inclusion of energy corporations, the book is well-focused and brings an important and previously missing public health focus to the debate about corporate power and its consequences.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only read one book this year... 3 Mar. 2014
By D. M. She - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the book you want to read. It is a page burner, well written and moves well for a story that is also well documented. Throughout the horrors the author describes are well-thought-out analyses of the development of and potential of regained control over corporate madness. This book belongs on your shelf.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put a copy in every briefcase and lunchpail 8 May 2014
By Leonore Tiefer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book synthesizes many issues I care about and packs a ton of documentation into its simple arguments. Guns, alcohol, tobacco, food, pharmaceuticals and auto safety -- they all play by the same corporate rules which are anti-public health. Large corporations are not interested in your health or mine or the planet's. They are focused on short-term profits and hire clever minds to exploit American values (individualism, free trade, anti-authority) and think up new products (hyperpalatable food, dangerouser guns, new kinds of alcohol) to persuade the public (and buy the politicians) in order to get them. Pure and simple. I have post-it's scattered throughout the book, especially on the pages with tables and boxes. They are clear and memorable. We KNOW everything in this book, but it is PUT TOGETHER really well. It should go in every public health course, of course, but also be required reading in MBA programs and law schools, too.
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