Category Archives: Corporate

Just how bad can the Olympics get before people realise the original sentiment’s been long since corrupted?

You’d have thought that in the last couple of thousand years we’d have moved on from allowing governments to do whatever they like provided they’re prepared to entertain us with circuses. But maybe not. As is now the tradition, the upcoming Olympic Games are an opportunity for authoritarian control-freaks to indulge themselves. Welcome to Lockdown London.

London is set to meet and exceed Beijing for civil liberties violations, violent suppression of dissent, and overwhelming surveillance during the games, from the rule that says you’re not allowed to display anti-Olympics posters in your own home to the sniper-toting helicopters hovering over the town. “Security” trade magazines are buoyant about the enormous sums of money the industry stands to take out of “austere” Britain’s tax-coffers to buy razor-wire, drones, and water cannons.


Faster, higher, stronger

Yes, that crushing of civil liberties doesn’t come cheap. Pay for the privilege of living in a police state, peasants:

The imminent Olympics will take place in a city still recovering from riots that the Guardian-LSE Reading the Riots project showed were partly fuelled by resentment at their lavish cost. Last week, the UK spending watchdog warned that the overall costs of the Games were set to be at least £11bn – £2 bn over even recently inflated budgets. When major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, speeded up for the Games, are factored in, the figure may be as high as £24bn, according to Sky News. The estimated cost put forward only seven years ago when the Games were won was £2.37 bn.

And adding insult to injury:

And on top of it all, some of London’s public roads will be turned into “priority” roads that are only open to corporate sponsors’ vehicles — off-limits even to the athletes competing in the games (and ambulances).

One day the corrupt plutocrats of the IOC will run out of cities run by gullible suckers prepared to prostrate themselves before them. One day they’ll get the reception they deserve – no tribute, just doors slammed in their grasping faces.

One day. If there’s any justice in the world.

Improving our skill capability by leveraging global scale of sourcing providers

We’re not making enormous profits and then forcing Australian staff we’ve just sacked to train incompetent but much cheaper overseas replacements, says Westpac – we’re

“improving our skill capability by leveraging global scale of sourcing providers,” a spokeswoman said.

Bravo. I like the way that sentence in no way responds to the allegation that they are in fact reducing their “skill capability” by hiring cheaper, less qualified staff to fund obscene executive salaries.

Just out of interest – and obviously I’m not an economist – what would be the negative effect of offering tax incentives to companies who employ, say, 90% or more of their staff physically in Australia?

Do US citizens realise that this is what their government does with their authority?

How an unjust, ridiculously punitive copyright law gets passed.

  • Step 1: Industry makes up outrageous lies about the industry’s “losses”:

    In IPI-land, when a movie studio makes $10 selling a DVD to a Canadian, and then gives $7 to the company that manufactured the DVD and $2 to the guy who shipped it to Canada, society has benefitted by $10+$7+$2=$19. Yet some simple math shows that this is nonsense: the studio is $1 richer, the trucker is $2, and the manufacturer is $7. Shockingly enough, that adds up to $10. What each participant cares about is his profits, not his revenues.

    Lazy journalists, particularly those working for media companies with related movie or TV studios, repeat this lie as if it were true.

  • Step 2: Donate huge amounts of money to both US political parties, who pretend to believe your lie.
  • Step 3: Both US parties support draconian anti-citizen copyright laws like SOPA. Oh, and expend the power of the US state bullying other countries to do likewise:

    The US ambassador in Madrid threatened Spain with “retaliation actions” if the country did not pass tough new internet piracy laws, according to leaked documents.

    Nice country you have there. Shame if something happened to it.

And that’s how an obscenely greedy person – untouchable corporate entity, in fact – who wants to lock up grandmothers because their kids downloaded a music file gets their way. Hooray!

Digital distribution the future of software? Only if you don’t mind having stuff you’ve paid for deleted

Game publisher Electronic Arts has a special new power it’s given itself over products consumers buy from it – the power to block them from playing their own software.

It’s like if you bought a car from Holden, and then said something publicly that Holden didn’t like, and so Holden came around and disabled your car and it was now worthless.

Meanwhile, EA and other dinosaur publishers think they can charge more for a digital download than a physical product, as part of their cunning strategy to delay digital distribution (from which they profit handsomely, having no physical costs and no retailers to cut in on the profits).

Which, given what they want to do with it, is possibly a blessing in disguise.

V for vastly increased sales

Professional grumpy person, and original V for Vendetta author Alan Moore, finds something ironic in the sudden popularity of Vendetta-style Guy Fawkes masks for anti-corporate protests:

“I find it comical, watching Time Warner try to walk this precarious tightrope.” Through contacts in the comics industry, he explains, he has heard that boosted sales of the masks have become a troubling issue for the company. “It’s a bit embarrassing to be a corporation that seems to be profiting from an anti-corporate protest. It’s not really anything that they want to be associated with. And yet they really don’t like turning down money – it goes against all of their instincts.” Moore chuckles. “I find it more funny than irksome.”

Although I doubt any corporations are really ashamed of flogging stuff to anti-corporate protesters. I suspect they giggle to each other about it.

Don’t you dare oppress my religious beliefs by wishing me a happy holiday!

I must have signed up to some loyalty program at Strandbags when I bought a briefcase some time. Tonight I received this:

Dear Jeremy,

We have received a number of complaints in relation to our ‘Happy Holidays’ promotion.

It was never our intention to offend or in any way reduce the importance of Christmas, and if it has done so, we sincerely apologise.

To this end, we have instructed our stores to remove the ‘Happy Holidays’ promotion immediately.

As always, your valued input and feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

Yours Sincerely

Rory Crawford
Chief Executive Officer

You have got to be kidding. Somebody actually complained that saying “Happy Holidays” didn’t pander sufficiently to their religion? And instead of responding with something pointing out how silly that is, and how even Christians can have happy holidays, they actually caved?

Well now you’ve pissed off people who aren’t insane fundamentalists. And there are a lot more of us. And our objection – that you think we’re some kind of theocracy where you must pander to the religious in order to do business – makes a hell of a lot more sense than theirs.

Strandbags’ contact details, if you’d like to let them know what you think of their cowardice.

PS Talking of cowardice, despite ending the email with “your valued input and feedback is welcomed and appreciated”, Rory’s email comes from the presumably not-checked “noreply@loyalty.strandbags.com.au” and there’s no return email address given. Funny, that.

More for the copyright parasites

Naturally, the only sorts of shift we see in national copyright law are the ones making it easier for corporate copyright holders to screw over Australian citizens:

The Federal Government has proposed to modify federal regulations to make it easier for anti-piracy organisations to request details of alleged Internet pirates from ISPs, in a modified process which would make it easier for organisations such as Movie Rights Group and AFACT to pursue individuals allegedly illegally downloading content online.

No shifts to protect parallel importing and enable Australians to circumvent anti-competitive regional blocks that artificially prevent them accessing material at the same price and same time as those in other countries. No shifts to protect the public domain from ever-increasing copyright terms. Nothing to protect fair use from copyright trolling (as in the outrageous Down Under case). Just more help for IP parasites to rip off Australians and for non-commercial copyright infringement to be treated more seriously than theft or assaults.

There’s no balance in this debate, and the big parties are just giving the well-funded lobbyists everything they want, at the expense of ordinary (if unfortunately disengaged) Australian citizens.

Ruin before taxes

So, the US government has a problem staying under its debt ceiling, and – according to Slate – is left with the following choices:

Eventually, though, the United States will need to do one of three things: default on its obligations, start making drastic cuts in federal spending, or raise the debt ceiling again.

Hmm. There seems to be an option missing from that list. What could it be?

“Everything should be on the table, except raising taxes,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Because raising taxes will hurt our economy and hurt our ability to create jobs in our country.”

Oh, yes. Of course! The only thing off the table is the main thing that the rich don’t like. We can’t fund public services because there’s not enough money. Why’s there not enough money? Because we refuse to collect it. The only thing you can do with public services is cut them or borrow from overseas to fund them, which we’ll then whinge about. Don’t even think about taxing the rich on the huge amounts they inherit, or they pay themselves by exploiting the people who actually produce things. If you even try, they’ll just refuse to take that money – they’ll deliberately live in poverty, just to spite you – and you’ll get nothing.

So there.

No, you want to debate progressive taxation that could fund public services? Sorry, that’s not even on the table. We will not talk about it. Talking about it is SOCIALISM, which is the same as communism, which is the same as brutal authoritarian dictatorship. You say you want to provide dental care, but I know you really just want to put me in a gulag. Or my money, which is just as bad.

You’ve got to hand it to the right – that’s a very effective job they’ve done, defining out of debate anything that would actually threaten their interests. But don’t worry, I’m sure the other side will stand up to them in the interest of the rest of the country.

What else are they going to do? Completely cave like they did on the Bush tax cuts?

Fukushima 50 not doing it to save some executives’ hides

The Japanese PM “lays down the riot act” to Tepco executives:

Kan, who had already announced he would take personal control of a new joint-response headquarters involving the power company and the government, reportedly warned Tepco of serious consequences should it decide to pull its workers out before the plant has been made safe. “In the event of a withdrawal, I’m 100% certain that the company will collapse,” he said. “You must be determined to solve this.”

And so the workers stay:

Between 50 and 70 employees – now known in English as the Fukushima 50 – all in protective gear, were left at the plant to battle myriad problems. Some are assessing the damage and radiation levels caused by the explosions, while others cool stricken reactors with seawater to try to avert a potentially catastrophic release of radiation.

Something seems somewhat odious about this. The PM could’ve spoken to the workers directly, or passed on to them through their bosses that the nation was grateful for what they were doing, and would look after them and their families, and recognised that they are heroes – but instead it’s put in terms of how the executives can save their hides.

All I can say is, these brave people had better be lauded as heroes, and their names known around the world. (Like those who died smothering Chernobyl aren’t.) Their sacrifice isn’t being made for the company.

UPDATE (18/3): That’s more appropriate:

THEY are being hailed as the modern-day samurai – the 180 brave men who stayed behind to fight the crisis at Fukushima nuclear power plant knowing it was very likely they had volunteered for a suicide mission…

Prime Minister Naota Kan told the volunteers: “You are the only ones who can resolve a crisis. Retreat is unthinkable.”

I’m sure there was something in there about his gratitude, too.

iiNet’s pyrrhic victory over the copyright parasites

Australians celebrating iiNet’s win over the copyright parasites may want to reconsider their elation:

[The appeal court] considered that iiNet, by sitting on its hands, would have been liable for authorising the infringements if the notices had contained more verified and more specific information. However the notices given by the film companies were, in the form that they were given, insufficient to require iiNet to take steps to prevent the infringements. The appeal court also rejected the trial court’s view that iiNet had adopted a repeat-infringer account termination policy that qualified iiNet for an immunity from damages.

Although iiNet won the appeal, this was simply because of the shortcomings in the way that the notices had been given.

Australians who wish to access content that the copyright industry has deemed unsuitable for our eyes and ears (mainly because it can’t be bothered releasing it here), or in relation to which it has decided to charge us punitive pricing because it thinks it can get away with it, should be aware that the IP industry will be waiting to pounce.

There’s only one thing that will restore Australian consumers’ rights, and that’s an Australian government with the guts to repeal the copyright provisions of Howard’s FTA with the US. And Julia’s got a better chance of getting her carbon price through than of getting anything like a fair hearing in the commercial media on this subject.