In the tortured language of CorporateWorld, workers are no longer fired, they've just experienced an "employment adjustment."
But the most twisted euphemism I have heard in a long time comes from DuPont: "We are investigating the reports of these unfavorable tree symptoms," the pesticide maker recently stated in a media release.
How unfavorable? Finito, flat-lined ... the tree is dead. Not just one tree, but hundreds of thousands all across the country are suffering the final "symptom."
The culprit turns out to be Imprelis, a DuPont weed-killer widely applied to lawns, golf courses, and — ironically — cemeteries. Rather than just poisoning dandelions and other weeds, the herbicide also seems to be causing spruces, pines, willows, poplars, and other unintended victims to croak.
"It's been devastating," says a Michigan landscaper who applied Imprelis to about a thousand properties this spring and has already had more than a third of them suffer outbreaks of tree deaths. "It looks like someone took a flamethrower to them," he says.
At first, DuPont tried to dodge responsibility, claiming that landscape workers might be applying the herbicide improperly. The corporation even urged customers to be patient and leave the tree corpses on their lawns to see if they come back to life in a few years.
However, faith-based landscaping was a hard sell, and disgruntled homeowners began filing lawsuits — and then DuPont had its own "aha!" moment: Trees on the grounds of the DuPont Country Club also developed the "unfavorable symptoms" of Imprelis poisoning.
So, with the cooperation of DuPont, the EPA has finally banned the sale of the tree killer. But, because of inadequate testing and a rush to profit, the poison will remain in soils and water across the country for many moons — and the deaths will continue.
Will we never learn?
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.