In this capitalist society, it's no secret that many industries throw their morals right out the window.
1."Avocado farms. Many of the farms in Central America are taken over by the cartel because of how much money is in selling avocados."
"The US briefly banned avocado imports from Mexico last year after a USDA inspector was threatened."
2."Nursing homes. Owners need a yacht. One nurse for 50 old people it is!"
"Fifty old people at $10,000/month is $500,000. The wage for one nursing home employee is $3,000/month, on the high side."
"My mom works at one and basically tells me she is hiring a new person every month. Why would anyone want to clean up old people's shit for $15/hour when they can make $20/hour at Target? So my mom, who is close to retirement age, is stuck working herself to the bone to cover shifts because she genuinely cares about her patients. She is so burnt out but can’t leave because she never made enough to retire, and she knows if she leaves, her patients will get even worse care in her absence. The company basically preys upon her empathy, and it's sick. It breaks my heart."
3."Recycling. A lot of stuff gets shipped to Asia or just dumped in a landfill."
"I work for a recycling company; we're an aggregator. We take in large amounts of recyclable materials and sort and package them (largely by bailing if it's used material). Then, we move off trailer loads of single grades or sometimes mixed loads of smaller amounts of higher value materials. It's commodity trading with waste. The value of different materials fluctuates, and this is mostly what determines how recyclable something is: whether something is worth the return to handle it."
4."The wig industry. There are pretty much only a couple wig makers in the world, and they repackage the wigs according to what company you buy from. So a Beyoncé at one company might be another company's Auburn blonde. Also, when I worked for a company, we had a lifetime guarantee on the wigs, so people would have it for a few years, then return it. All we did was wash it in an industrial washing machine, restyle it, then sell it as new."
"I've heard stories of shady businesses manipulating and conning cancer patients into overpriced wigs, only to sell them a product that doesn't fit well and then refuse to adjust or replace it."
5."The addiction treatment industry. There are some good programs, but there are also a lot of very greedy, evil people who capitalize on providing you treatment, then you relapsing, and getting you into the cycle of treatment/relapse/treatment. Very shady."
"It's called body brokering. There are some really good documentaries on it."
6."Jokes aside, forestry can actually be kinda shady. Big corporations planting vast monocultures and destroying ecosystems so they can offset their carbon and greenwash their brands is the perfect answer to this question."
7."Funeral business. Guilting little old ladies into spending money they don't have to give their husbands a funeral 'they deserve.'"
"A popular news show did a great exposé on the abuses of funeral home businesses years ago. It was sickening how vulnerable people were manipulated into wasting huge sums of money. My parents both got cremated as a result. There was a video of funeral home salespeople recommending expensive brand-name mattresses for a casket."
8."College textbook industry."
"One of my professors wrote his own textbook for his music history course. It was just 650-ish pages of bullet point notes, and it cost, like, $100."
"And the schools will happily cooperate. My wife's nursing program required they buy all texts through the school store. They also had to show up the first day of class with proof of purchase from the university store. No buying used, even the same edition, no borrowing, no sharing. Cost more than a month's rent to get those textbooks. Fuck that entire industry."
9."Realtors. They are a cartel with little motivation to actually assist their clients."
"I think Gen Z is going to break realtors. It's hard enough buying a home in our generation. Damn near impossible for most people. I was only able to purchase one because of military benefits. Buying isn't the problem, though; selling is. When you sell, you are responsible for both agents' commissions. I'm currently in the middle of selling my home and expect to pay north of $40k in realtor fees. Absolute dog shit."
10."Palm oil industry. A lot of displaced orangutans are sold to circuses or collectors."
11."Nonprofits. The way laws are at the moment, a CEO and board of directors of a nonprofit can pay themselves as much as they want instead of reinvesting in the nonprofit (setting up new facilities, doing more outreach, hiring more workers, etc.)."
12."Clothing donation bins. It all gets sorted, separated, and sold. The trash gets donated at the very, very bare minimum required. Around 12 years ago, my old warehouse landlord had a $50 million business just sorting the clothes. Vintage/designer stuff got sold for top dollar. Medium quality sold in bulk. Shitty quality sold in bales by weight. Garbage quality donated."
"Same goes for book donations. It all gets sold on Amazon, and the trash gets recycled or exported to developing countries. Less than 5% of PROFITS got donated."
13."Healthcare (at least in the US)."
"Healthcare management and health insurance management, followed closely by medical implant/device/supply sales. Frontline providers get the shaft."
"It’s a scam. If you look at an itemized list of charges from a hospital stay, you’re being overcharged out the ass for every last thing."
14."Department of human resources in every industry. Despite the name, they are not there to help the employees. They are there to keep the employers out of trouble."
15."Fine art dealing. Apparently, it's a massive, unregulated 'gray market' that is largely about money laundering."
16."Academia is corrupt/shady AF. Adjunct professors are paid peanuts, and the use of adjuncts is becoming far more common. Tenure sucks, but so does adjunct. The politics are RIDICULOUS, especially at the most elite institutions. You better fall in line or you’re done. Tuition has shot up exponentially due to federally subsidized student loans. The shameless plunging of students into crushing debt is a disgrace."
"Let’s not get into athletics. The highest paid state employee in most states is usually a football or basketball coach. Most of these coaches make far more than the President of the United States. They also get incredible payouts when they get fired."
"And that's not even touching upon how exploited grad school students are by professors, administrators, and institutions that only care about themselves."
17.And finally, "The maritime industry. Most of the big companies do things by the book and treat crews well because they’re afraid of lawsuits and unions. But many smaller mom and pop companies break laws and violate safety regulations with reckless abandon because they’re not as visible and can stay under the radar. It’s very common for a small company to ask a captain/crew to do something illegal and dangerous in order to increase profit, and for the captain/crew to comply out of fear of losing their jobs."
"And that’s just the US maritime industry; sailors from poorer nations who work on ships are often fed little more than rice and cheap ramen for months at a time and paid pennies for their backbreaking work. I love running tugs for a living, but the industry as a whole is rife with shady business."
Know of any other industries that are surprisingly shady? LMK in the comments below!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.