Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Lions and Sheep

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep. I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” Alexander the Great

I had just had a California roll and looked forward to a quick cross-country ski at Lost Lake before heading home. It was a beautiful day, the kind we, who live in Whistler, brag about. The sky was clear blue and a light breeze teased at my cheeks.

A few kilometers into the trail my hands got incredibly itchy. My stomach started to protest and I found it hard to catch my breath. Pretty soon I felt as though I needed to peel my skin off, my lip was swollen (across my face, apparently) and my breathing became even more laboured. It got worse from there.

I wouldn’t know until I was in the emergency room that I was having an anaphylactic attack.  By that time, I didn’t know my name or where I was, let alone what I’d ingested and really the nurses and doctors who worked on me didn’t care either. I was aware of a lot of activity around me. I remember someone putting something into my arm. Instantly everything came back into focus.

That was five years ago and I’ve carried an Epi Pen ever since. Still don’t know what I reacted to, but I am allergic to scallops and while I didn’t have any, we’ve all surmised that I was the victim of some cross contamination (fancy way of saying, the knife that cut my California roll had likely touched scallops).

The cost, or at least 80%, of my Epi Pen is covered by my insurance. So this life saving medicine is available to me in this country for less than $20.

In the U.S. where this medicine is produced, the cost now is $600 ($785 Canadian). And to further add to the outrage, this new price tag does not reflect what it takes to make the drug, but rather the desire by the CEO and the executive to make a buck . I wonder how these executives come to decisions that would put more importance on their bonuses than a person’s life.

And what of others, employees, other management? Why wouldn’t they question their executives when they decide to raise the cost of such an important drug? Would money ease the obvious guilt these people will undoubtedly feel if a child died because her family couldn’t afford an Epi Pen?

Bad behaviour is apparently rampant among certain executives. Apple, Google, Starbucks, Facebook, Amazon and others who make money hand over fist choose not to pay their fair share of taxes. Why? Who knows? The rest of us do.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook wrote an open letter stating his company’s case and bemoaning the EU’s ruling against Apple. They were ordered to pay a whole whack of taxes this week. For each of Cook’s points, there are counter points.  

I am loath to hear his side of the story or shed a tear for any company that has surely lost its moral compass (if it ever had one). After all this is a man who, when asked in a 60 Minutes interview what he was doing about the suicides of workers at his plants in China, said, “manufacturing in China has brought serious labour concerns to Apple about low wages, long hours and unsafe conditions. After a series of suicides at Foxconn in 2010, the company installed safety nets outside its employee dormitories.”

Big of them! Such compassion. It warms the heart. Not.

Why do employees feel compelled to commit suicide? That would be my first question. And I’d be trying to figure out what the problem was so I could find solutions to help my employees, you know, the people who make sure my company makes a ton of money each year.

Sure a safety net is nice, but it doesn’t deal with the core issue.

I suppose you could call these types of leaders lions, and their clients and employees the sheep. After all, these so-called leaders have been put on pedestals for sales, profits, and growth. Yes, these are measures, I suppose, but in my opinion not the ones that are paramount in running a business ethically and morally.  Besides no self-respecting lion (or sheep, for that matter) would be associated with them.

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