Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

more good news arrived at 4.19am...

That's the time GreenSmile posted a comment on an earlier post. The information provided was so good I thought it deserved a whole new post all of its own, so here it is:

General Electric, the world's largest company by market value, has decided to go seriously green. And I mean seriously green.

This can only be good. Some will argue that GE may not be too serious about it, that they will just go through the motions, but I think that would be missing the real importance of GE's stated commitments and plans. These will soon translate into GE claiming all sorts of green credentials. These credentials will become linked with GE's brand identity. Once this happens, GE cannot afford to have too much bad publicity with regard to its green-ness and this will give environmental watchdogs huge power in keeping GE honest, accountable and compliant. These are all good things.

Of course they're still just doing it for the profit motive and so they'll still need to be hounded and policed about their other global social responsibilities so there's still along way to go. But this is an encouraging step in the right direction.

And another thing: Because GE is so big it sets a huge example and it's competitors will be under huge pressure to clean their act up as well. Yes, this is a good thing.

Recantation: I don't know what got into me. Perhaps it was optimistic delusion, a momentary lapse of reason. So desperate was I to find something good about the corporate world that this article snuck in under my skeptic's radar. I had momentarily become blinded by belief.

I promise it won't happen again. And if it does it will only be because of my early childhood brainwashing experiences at the hands of a religion which sought to program me to be a blind believer, nay, a bigot who throws reason to the wind.

But my recantation would not be complete without an admission of the particulars of my act of heresy: I was guilty of forgetting that the corporation has one purpose, and one purpose only, enshrined in corporate law, and that is to generate as much money as possible for its shareholders. I was also guilty of forgetting that a corporation must not perform any charitable acts, or acts of benevolence, or acts of social responsibility, unless these can be shown to ultimately result in more money for the shareholders. Furthermore, I had forgotten that corporations now have the protection of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which has such vast powers that it now actually crafts the legislation of nations, imposing on them the protections and exemptions necessary for the corporations to make as much money as possible for their shareholders.

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned...


Anonymous paperwight said...

I'm at best cautiously optimistic about the GE effort. Without really digging into specific issues, it's hard to tell how good it will be, and I have grave concerns about the use of patents by GE and other megacorps to stifle innovation in this area.

May 19, 2005 5:49 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Bingo! Oh wretched one, I think you've hit the nail right on the head. My optimism was founded in ignorance and naïveté. I somehow knew I was being too generous with my positivity.

As I was reading the article I was trying to find an evil motive for their "green-ness" and you've highlighted one. Of course! The bastards are saying "We have to stitch this area up with patents. Once we've done that, we can either opt for making megabucks from our patents dominance or we can bury the patents and continue to make money as per normal." I fogot the prime directive governing corporations: Control the game in order to guarantee and maximise your profits.
This is just GE trying to control the "green" game. "If we can't squash it, we'll own it!"

To digress into the patent area for a bit: There ought to be a "use it now or lose it" clause in patent law. As well as a clause that limits the amount of monopolistic power a corporation can derive from a patent. Perhaps a law compelling them to make 50% of their money from a patent by selling the patent rights (or royalties) in a non-collusive way. And another law limiting patent protection to 200% of their R&D costs for that patent.

None of this can happen while we have "the best government corporations can buy".

Now where did I put the Prozac...

May 19, 2005 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Can't agree more patents are a shambles, use it or lose it has merits, but how to implement it is something else.

Anather curious bit is controling "green" with patents, where is the advantage or indeed the possibility?

May 20, 2005 9:01 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Theo, they can afford to do more R&D than most and thereby find better ways and thus snare more market share. i.e. more control. They can buy up others' patents. If they get the patent on something which is not in their interests to have out ther, they can prevent it from getting out there. As paperwight says, they can use patents to stifle R&D in the marketplace. All of these tactics are about controlling the market.

May 20, 2005 10:17 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Gerry wrote: "Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned..."

I forgive you... now say three, "I think Ron's the greatest!".

May 20, 2005 6:02 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

I think Ron's the greatest!

May 20, 2005 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Talking sense on a blog is a no go, but since you have gone in Mea Culpa mode and there are not many dirty pics to download here goes.

Patent law is a shambles and indeed favours the big companies, who of course use them to their best advantage.
The problem is that there would be no R&D if there weren’t a reasonable expectation of a return, hence patent protection is needed.

Fortunately patents do run out and then everybody can jump on the wagon, as evidenced by the host of generic medicines etc. competing with brand names established by the original patent holders.

So if there is a perceived problem simply follow the capitalist rule, a rule that has served us well, just have a look at countries that don’t subscribe to it.

In the case of patents look at the monetary value and duration if you feel there is something to fix.
Maybe reduce the exclusive term to something shorter, then allow the original holder extensions of this time based on value, i.e. if somebody wants to use the patent after it expires, a bid from that party to the company will determine it’s value.

If the offer is accepted the patent use is also granted to the bidder and the original holder made a dollar from the R&D investment, incentive IOW.
OTOH, they can hold on for another term by paying that amount to the tax man.
The timing before the patent becomes public can easily be fixed by relevant law.

I am a great believer in capitalism moderated by suitable laws, thats where you come in, push for these laws, but work with the system and recognize that companies do need to make a dollar so they can pay the workers, taxes and shareholders.

In other words, us.

May 21, 2005 8:55 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Theo, patents was a digression to some degree but it is still a valid issue, as far as I'm concerned, when looking at how corporations try to control, manipulate and exploit the market, i.e. the world.

With regard to capitalism: It's a dodgy word. What does it actually mean? If we look at other questions the pictue gets far more ominous. e.g.:

"What is the WTO doing to nations' sovereignty and local laws?"

"What shapes corporate behaviour and ethics?"

"Why is the legal entity known as 'the corporation' intrinsically psychopathic in nature?"

"Why is 'capitalism' going to enslave the world in the not too distant future?"

"Why is 'capitalism' anti-democratic, anti-freedom in its very essence?"

You might think some of these are "loaded" questions, but I don't.

Perhaps your rosy and naive view (IMHO) of "capitalism" may be somewhat challenged by reading "The Corporation" by Joel Bakan.

It is naive to say "try and get the law changed, Gerry", when you've got the WTO threatening to trash your national economy if you don't let them make the laws governing corporate behaviour and politics in your country. (And when you analyse some of the WTO-imposed laws you see why concepts like freedom, democracy, sovereignty and 'fair trade' are an absolute joke.)

I could go on and on, but it would be pointless until you can at least be bothered to try to get your brain around the stuff discussed in the book "The Corporation", and until you are prepared to open your eyes to what the WTO is really up to around the world and whom that really serves. And if, after that, you're still a "capitalist", I'll choke on my piece of cake.

May 23, 2005 7:45 AM  

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