Last week it was announced that Duke Energy pled guilty to nine felonies and was fined $102 million.
That is a lot of money, but let's put it in perspective.
Duke Energy had a profit of over $2.7 billion in 2013. The fine amounts to about 3.7 percent of that.
If you are a hard working Franklin County resident making $40,000 a year, do you think you could plead guilty to nine felony counts and walk away with a fine of $1,480 and no jail time?
Besides that, the $1,480 would come out of your pocket (after taxes) and the mouths of your family.
Duke Energy gets its money from us -- its customers.
The citizens of North Carolina will end up paying the fine for transgressions committed against us.
How can Duke Energy get a deal that is so much better than the average Tar Heel could?
The answer may have something to do with deep pockets, (filled with our money), and political investments. Former Duke Energy executive, (and at that time stock holder), Pat McCrory was the victorious Republican candidate for Governor in 2012.
Duke Energy invested heavily in his campaign. Reports of direct contributions run as high as $300,000, with another over $750,000 donated to the Republican Governor's Association, which financially subsidized McCrory's candidacy.
Do you think if you committed nine felonies that endangered the lives of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians you could avoid prison? I don't.
Many people, including some of our Supreme Court justices, subscribe to the theory that corporations are people.
Yet when they are guilty of felonies, normally nobody goes to jail. Until and unless we change our laws to incarcerate the top executives, directors and/or stockholders of corporations, the corporate culture will not change.
Currently, the offending corporations lower their cost of doing business and if necessary let a lower ranking employee do the time.
From a cash flow standpoint, corporations invest in amenable candidates, spending far less in campaign contributions than equitable fines and tax rates would cost, all while using their customers' money.
On another note:
When you write political op-eds, somewhere between one-third and half of the people are going to disagree with you.
They are also going to inspire some comments and letters to the editor. The disagreements are often humorous and illustrate a deficiency in reading comprehension to the point of reinforcing the message of the op-ed.
If you want to make your rebuttal credible, I'd suggest you commence by quoting accurately -- all you have to do is copy.