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Go Tim!

In my last blog entry I criticised Apple – and specifically mentioned CEO Tim Cook – for the company’s actions regarding tax avoidance. But I believe nothing is ever black and white, because there are always two sides to a story, and good and bad in every person and organisation.

So today I want to congratulate the same company – and especially Tim Cook himself – for acting in the complete opposite way by specifically rejecting the “profit at all costs” mentality.

If you follow technology or business news you will probably have realised by now that I am referring to the recent well known incident where Cook completely rejected the policies of the National Center for Public Policy Research in a recent investor meeting. The NCPPR suggested that Apple should maximise return to its shareholders above all else and that it should provide costings for its activities with environmental and social elements, with the added implication that they were unacceptable because they reduced return on investment.

If you read this blog you will be very aware of my opinions of the “greed is good” philosophy. No, greed isn’t good in general, and is rarely good even for the greedy individual. These same people want less government intervention in business yet they encourage the exact behaviour which makes intervention necessary. Well they can’t have everything!

The NCPPR is a right-wing “think tank” based in the US. I really object to this term “think tank” because it seems to imply that deep research and philosophical thought is happening there where really all most of them do is work on ways to produce propaganda to progress their ideology and find ways to influence the political process in their favour.

The NCPPR, like almost every right-wing organisation, is deeply deluded and has little grasp of reality, and is also challenged in the area of morality. They think climate change is a myth invented by “Al gore” and they think companies shouldn’t concern themselves about the environment because their entire focus should be on ROI.

It’s an interesting philosophy and one shared with extreme libertarian dogmatists. The idea is that a company can do whatever they want to maximise profits, but if they do anything too bad their customers or shareholders will react against them reducing their profits and forcing a change in behaviour. So the pursuit of profit itself becomes a factor leading to the environmental (and social, etc) policies the customers want.

Of course it sounds fine in principle and no doubt it works in Cloud Cuckoo Land or wherever else conservatives and libertarians live. But in reality it is a total disaster and every person who works in the real world with all it’s inconvenient truths (and I deliberately used of that phrase) will realise this.

Tim Cook certainly did. His usual calm demeanour seemed to disappear and he gave quite an emotional response to the statement from the NCPPR.

So here’s the sort of thing they said: “…an area of concern to all shareholders: Company affiliations that may primarily advance social or environmental causes rather than promoting shareholder value.” and “…finding that dubbed carbon dioxide as a pollutant that is now driving much of the corporate climate change hysteria.” and “…we object to increased government control over Company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards.”

So it’s the old standard conservative/libertarian agenda: deny climate change, demand total freedom for corporations to do whatever they want, and make the governments look bad when they are just trying to control the excesses of corporations.

What would most CEOs have said? Maybe they would have agreed with a lot of this stuff, or maybe they would have just pretended to agree so that the shareholder was happy. But no, Cook did the right thing and said “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI” and then “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.” Go Tim!

If only we had more people like this in charge of big corporations. But now Tim, how about doing something about those dodgy tax deals?

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