August is a time for vacations and reading on the beach—or in an air-conditioned library. For those dedicated Corporations and Health Watch readers who can’t resist an opportunity to find out more about how corporations influence well-being, here are a few recent novels that provide additional insights into this process. For those who worry about the quality of the scientific evidence in these accounts, remember it was the public outrage generated by Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle that played a key role in creating the United State Food and Drug Administration in 1906.
The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld, Harper, 2015.
This dystopian satire by Karl Taro Greenfeld imagines an America in which the 99%–the subprimes—live outside the de-regulated, hyperconsumption economy. They travel the climate changed landscape, searching for day jobs and a place to sleep. When a group of subprimes create a community based on the premise of “people helping people”, they show another world is possible. The resulting clash with right wing, corporate and religious groups predicts a dark future.
Immunity by Taylor Antrim. Regan Arts, 2015
In a near future New York City, a giant pharmaceutical corporation, in cahoots with a health department, develops and surreptitiously tests a novel vaccine against a flu that has killed millions.
According to Michele Simon, Fat Profits is a fun, suspenseful thriller about a massive food company that will stop at nothing, not even murder, to achieve the holy grail of processed foods: a weight-control additive. Former food industry insider Bruce Bradley hits all the right notes–from the corporate front groups, to the scientific cover-up, to the ‘food police’ trying to stop FDA approval before it’s too late. I found myself asking, ‘this couldn’t really happen, could it?”
For those with more academic tastes, Clare examines changing depictions of the corporation in American literature, film, and popular culture. His argument is that for both its corporations have become symbols for anxieties about the viability of a capitalist system.