All kinds of people do horrible things, small and big corporations, NGOs, government organizations, religious groups… and these same groups also do wonderful things…it’s about the human race.
wow, I can see this Open Forum is literally open for everything.
I thought it must be language related.
Yup, very much agree with you Steve. Also, beautiful things.
I think that the corporation, having the almost central position it does in today’s world, is in a position to do some rather horrible things. Much like the church formerly. I would consider that the influence of the corporation is even greater that that of the church in previous times. Also, that influence comes in very different ways. It’s convinced us that we need what it’s selling.
With influence and power comes abuse, of course.
Daisuke, this is an open forum in English. No problem.
The danger with big corporations is that they are so extremely powerful and are so much harder to confront if warranted than smaller businesses. If big companies do indeed pay better, I don’t really know. The many workers at Foxcom, a key Apple supplier here in China, who commited suicide certainly did not seem to thrive in their jobs.
"Capitalism is to a degree, inherently exploitive. "
Our economies certainly want to be fed by ever increasing amounts of key natural resources in order to keep growing. At the same time we clearly start to bump up against physical limits, especially evident here in China.
I dunno Friedemann. The US government was prepared to square up to Microsoft with threats of anti-trust legislation, wasn’t it?
And if you’re ready to face up to Microsoft, then you’d face up to just about anybody, I guess…
I am not too familiar with what the outcome of the MS case was that you mentioned, but in our world money is power. The bigger multi-national corporations become the more means they have at their disposal to mostly get what they want.
Look what is happening on the internet: google, amazon and facebook are now everywhere. Those “like” and “share” buttons are now everywhere, even my Chinese dictionary has now an f-button incorporated into its core menu functions. The other day I was buying something online and at the checkout they asked me whether I wanted to check out through amazon. I think all big corporations become scary once they approach a certain size and market penetration.
In my experience the bigger the companies become the more they start to bully suppliers and their customers. Take Amazon and Apple for example, Amazon prides itself to be the most customer focused or centric (something like that) company, well my experience is a different one.
@Friedemann - How is it scary to see Like buttons or to be asked to check out through Amazon? That’s just convenience and providing a good service. If I wanted to pay through Amazon and my supermarket offered that, I would be thrilled. Where is that “scary”? I find this anti-corporation thing is yet another bogeyman that people talk about and repeat as if just by repeating it it makes it true. I don’t find corporations, big or small, scary. Corporations are filled with people just like you and me. Some people are good. Some are bad. Some are good at what they do. Some are incompetent (…our Italian ship captain). I find incompetent people much more scary than “evil” corporations for example.
Of course power corrupts and we need counterbalances to all the power sources in our country, especially the different levels of government, and the public sector unions which are far too powerful. We also need to check the power of corporations. However, corporations are subject to a lot of scrutiny. In any case, an open society where these different forces compete is the best guarantee of a nice place to live. Unilateral dictates based on any grand vision or ideology will only create more North Koreas.
Meanwhile, most of the products I use , including this Apple computer, google mail, my car, much of my food, my television, the aluminum foil that I wrapped the left over roast in, and on and on, are made available by large corporations. They do the amazing job of organizing the creative labour of millions of people that I don’t know who contribute to my enjoyment of life.
Small companies also have a major role to play (LingQ for ex which is smaller than small), and we need a mix of all of them. Meanwhile the enormous sovereign debt problems of developed countries tells me that the unchecked power of bureaucracy, which governments are afraid to confront, is a bigger problem than large corporations today.
Mark, those like buttons track people’s internet usage. If you’re in the ‘you should have nothing to hide’ crowd, then I really don’t know what to say to you…
Providing a good service can be intrusive. Some people either don’t know or don’t care about that intrusion. Others do.
I can’t see why I’d want to pay through Amazon at my local store. I go to Amazon to buy things from Amazon (as I did today). I do not wish to pay through them at my local store.
Perhaps you don’t have any concerns because you just don’t know about it. People didn’t have any fear about smoking or sun-bathing once upon a time either. If you were to read about the abuses which corporations have committed, you’re have a different view on the matter. This is not urban myth. It’s all very well researched…
Steve, counterbalances are exactly what are needed. And they do exist - but they are incomplete. Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of industry influence, which is increasing, which tries to remove those counterbalances. It’s a constant battle really.
Imyirtseshem, I am all against forced information gathering. But I’m pretty sure that most people know that using Amazon, Google, or Facebook Services means that information will be collected from them, and people always have the choice not to use the services, unlike with the government, where your “gracious participation” is mandatory.
@Mark: The Amazon checkout episode tells me how omnipresent and powerful they have become, that is the unsettling part of it. Dominance of a few huge players isn’t a good thing, not on the internet nor anywhere else.
Another thought: Anti-government sentiments are of course very much en-vogue these days in the US. Republicans claim that the US economy would rebound like that if only government gets out of the way.
I would submit though that innovative companies and products are not created in a vacuum. Innovation requires a certain innovation friendly “ecosystem” which in the US is at least partly a result of decades of sustained government investment in education, infrastructure, science and technology.
Well, funny you should said that Friedemann. There has been a lot of research done that shows that the US is ceasing to be this superpower in education, infrastructure, science and technology. Other countries are taking over. None have developed to the point where they rival the US or equal the size of its former glory, but it’s certainly becoming decentralised. Countries such as China, India, Turkey, Israel and others.
I would say that competition is the most innovation friendly “ecosystem” possible. If you need to innovate to survive and beat your competition, then you will. As the old saying goes “Necessity is the mother of invention”.
@Freidemann - I guess we just have different perspectives. If I am offered Amazon as a payment method, I see nothing but positives. As a retailer I see the opportunity to accept payment from people through Amazon who may not be able to pay any other way. As a consumer, I see the opportunity to pay for something I may otherwise not have a way of paying for. Without global, large payment systems we would not be able to accept payment from our users and we would not exist. Payment systems only work on a large scale. I am under no obligation to accept payment or make payment using Amazon but if it is an option, great. I hope it takes off in China and Russia, 2 places where our current system may not work for many people! Try as I might I see nothing scary in this.
@lmyirt - Yes, I am in the “nothing to hide” crowd. I am not a sky is falling on my head type. However, if I am worried about Facebook watching me, I don’t have a facebook account and I don’t click Like buttons. I also don’t have to pay using Amazon. All they are doing is providing a service option. For me, there are too many real issues in life to spend time inventing bogeymen. If and when the bogeymen turn out to be real, we can deal with them then. As for smoking, I have trouble believing that people ever thought it was good for them no matter what tobacco companies said.
Wanting privacy and being overly paranoid are two different things. I think privacy should be respected in all but situations other than serious criminal cases. Still, in this cases, the rule of law is still to be applied. For some people, the ‘bogeymen’ do indeed exist. I think in Canada, you’ve not got to worry about the government arresting you if you make a comment which opposes something a politician says or a law. The problem with the ‘nothing to hide’ crowd is that the ignoring of privacy and a person’s rights, is gradually leading to the point where countries like the US, Canada and Australia - are starting to develop a climate in which ‘bogeymen’ will arise easily. Here in Australia, the government is constantly trying to push a ‘Great Firewall of China’ type filtering system. Included in blacklists are topics which the government doesn’t want to discuss (euthanasia among others).
We don’t just wait until things get so bad that we need to act. You say ‘we can deal with them’. Like in China or Iran, right? I guess those people who are worries about privacy and personal freedom in China are seen as paranoid, tin-foil hat wearing idiots but much of the population too. Now, who can argue with the masses?
As an ex-smoker, I tend to agree with Mark about the issue of smoking. Of course, baccy barons were (and are) filthy murdering scumballs. BUT I don’t believe any single human ever inhaled smoke from a cigarette without knowing that it was doing bad things!
(That’s the paradox about smoking…how can it be so good and yet feel so bad…or vice versa…)
The only time you can get into trouble in Canada for what you say is when you fun afoul of the insidious Human Rights Commissions - Do gooders run amuck…
Insofar as comparing paying through Amazon to restrictions on freedoms under authoritarian regimes, I don’t see the connection. People in those countries aren’t in that position because they paid using Amazon or the equivalent at the time those regimes were established. They are in that position because they were brainwashed into having revolutions and installing governments who don’t believe in freedom. Those who stand up and fight against authoritarian governments are heros no doubt but it’s not the same issue in my book.
Well, that is the concern, Mark. That western democracies are becoming more and more authoritarian. There’s a lot of good research which has been done on this topic.