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Shareholders Pressure Internet Companies on Rights

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the battles-of-attrition dept.

Businesses 227

whamett writes "A group of investment firms is putting their shareholder weight behind asking high-tech companies that deal with repressive regimes to pay more attention to rights violations. Meanwhile, two of the firms have drafted a separate resolution for Cisco shareholders that's up for vote on Tuesday. All this comes not long after Yahoo's involvement in the jailing of a Chinese journalist left a bad taste in everyone's mouth." This isn't the first time that investment firms have stepped up to the plate on human rights violations.

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227 comments

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In other news (-1, Offtopic)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022819)

Slashdot has problems linking to its own stories: "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

I hope Im not the only one who saw that when I clicked the post for 2 minutes

My Peener (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14022824)

leaves a bad taste in your mom's mouth!

*sigh* not again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023396)

Go home dad, you're drunk again...

okay ... butt feirst, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023445)

let me sing the karaoke first .....

"testicles on fire" ........

this just in: m0n is a bastard (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14022825)

mighty mon is the worst person on the internet.

he is a mistake;

no
more
mon

The comedy of capital (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022828)

It is funny when I believe in voting only with your dollars (political voting is evil always), and get slammed for it. Yet here is proof that money is the only non-force mechanism for change. Unfortunately, no one external to a corrupt government can really stick to the capital solution for long. The problems in our own lives eventually take precedence.

Even if Cisco stops dealing with Badmanistan, the Badmanistanians can still import from other countries. How do you stop the use? Maybe DRM restricting what country an item works in? I don't think so. Yet funny if the thought crossed your mind.

Maybe we can make a more concerted effort. Get the U.N. involved and completely stop technology from getting there. I'm sure the hospitals and schools can get by without technology.

Here's a solution. Smuggle guns and ammo into countries with no respect for private property. Let the inner hope of revolution make real change. Rights won't be protected with sanctions. Only by blood do we truly stop those who dare to take our lives, our properties and our natural right to both.

Maybe after we've brought true freedom to everyone else, someone will kindly help us find it, too.

Re:The comedy of capital (5, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022849)

Maybe DRM restricting what country an item works in?

You mean like DVD Region Codes?

Re:The comedy of capital (3, Interesting)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022859)


Even if Cisco stops dealing with Badmanistan, the Badmanistanians can still import from other countries. How do you stop the use?


I think the primary problem for the shareholders is to stop people taking advantage of poor working conditions in foreign countries (which would be illegal in the USA) and to not aid overtly foreign governments to repress it's citizens (an example would be google and China).

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022937)

All good points. I'm not sure forcing our morals on others is the right goal.

We've become desensitized to some terrible property rights violations in this country (U.S.). Smoking bans, minimum wage laws even zoning laws are all inherently evil, yet the majority of /. readers will think I'm nuts for saying so.

If governments are beating their people or hampering any natural rights, I'm concerned.

As long as our own government continues to breech their responsibilities, I honestly can't focus on other countries.

Re:The comedy of capital (3, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022974)


As long as our own government continues to breech their responsibilities, I honestly can't focus on other countries.


Great. If everyone in America felt that way you would become irrelevant in the world wide community when it comes to human rights. You can't wait for America to reach perfection, because it will never happen (and the fact everyone disagrees on what perfection is doesn't help).

Re:The comedy of capital (5, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023113)

Well, it is rather hypocritical to tell other nations how they should behave, when our own govenment is violating fundamental rights on a massive scale. The best way to influence other countries is to set an example for them to follow, and we're not doing that very well right now. Even if we could force our ideology on other countries (and we can't), we have no right to do so. "Relevance" is far less important than integrity, whether on a personal level or as a nation.

Re: Your sig (5, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023145)

Support free speech. Don't post anonymously. If you are anonymous, don't bother replying to my comments, I won't see it.
If free speach is hurt in any way by anonymonity, then why do the most repressive, anti-free-speach regimes always try to stamp out anonymous speach? Anonymonity ensures that personal prejudice, association, and political or economic influence play no part in how the message is received, and allow people living under a repressive regime to speak out without putting themselves or others in even more danger than they are already in. Anonymous speach is an essential part of freedom of speach, and should be accepted or rejected solely on the basis of what is said, not rejected out of hand.

Re: Your sig (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023355)

If free speach is hurt in any way by anonymonity, then why do the most repressive, anti-free-speach regimes always try to stamp out anonymous speach?

That's the difference between slashdot and a repressive regime. Your post is good in theory. However I have no wish to see tons of GNAA posts on slashdot. So I have to have some way of filtering them. I can choose to surf at 0 or 1, but in that case, I'm filtering out tons of good informative posts merely because they don't conform to slashdot groupthink. Instead I choose to filter based on anonymity instead of slashdot's screwy moderation system. By doing so, I haven't filtered out anyone who has been forced to post because their government is a repressive regime (at least to my knowledge. I surfed slashdot for a few years without filtering out ACs and never encountered someone posting anonymously because of their government). I also haven't ever filtered out anyone who was verifiably posting anonymously because their employer would sue and/or sack them for posting (and because their claims weren't verifiable, their message was pretty much meaningless).

Sure, I do filter out some good posts. But in my experience they're in the minority of crap posted on slashdot. People still have freedom of speech, and I have the freedom to not listen to them.

Also, in a country like America where they do have free speech, it is important to use it responsibly, and a very important part of using it responsibly is being accountable. Most people who post on slashdot anonymously do so because they want to flame, harrass or be a general ass. Which (in my opinion) isn't using free speech responsibly.

Re: Your sig (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023536)

Its a rare post indeed that acknowledges rights entail responsibilities. Sir, I salute you.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023151)

"Smoking bans, minimum wage laws even zoning laws are all inherently evil, yet the majority of /. readers will think I'm nuts for saying so."

I happen to agree with you.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023203)

Zoning laws are evil only if you accept the idea of land ownership.

Many people have rather fundamental problems with the idea land can be owned. Land ownership is theft. It's a way for rich people to collect taxes from poor people.

Re:The comedy of capital (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023268)

So without land ownership, you would what... live... where? Have sewers where? Do what about someone coming up and taking a shit on your "front lawn"?

Re:The comedy of capital (3, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023394)

You're not too bright, are you?

Lots of people in this country don't own any land, and they live in places called "apartments". Before the rise of the middle class, back in feudal times, this was pretty much normal: everyone rented their land from some Lord or Duke or whatever. You don't need to own land to live, have sewers, or even protect your living space from people trying to shit in it (try taking a shit in someone's apartment and see if they don't call the police).

What the parent poster was advocating, I believe, is something alone the lines of a communist/socialist government where all the land is owned by the State, and then leased out to various companies and people. Of course, being an ignorant American I would guess, you'll probably have something negative to say about this because of the "C" word, but the idea does have some merit (although, like anything, it also has problems). With government ownership of land, the gov't could put a quick stop to land investment and speculation, which seems to drive up prices, making it hard for poorer people to find affordable housing. Many realty markets in the US now are having problems because the value of property has risen so much (much faster than wages and salaries), so people are no longer able to afford the same level of housing as they were 5 years ago, unless they were smart/lucky and were investors/speculators themselves. For instance, if you owned 5 rental properties in a hot market, and they all doubled in value over the past 5 years, then you could sell them all now, take the profit, and buy yourself a very expensive residence. But if you only owned one house, it may have doubled in value, but so did everything else nearby, so you can't upgrade to a nicer house, and your pathetic 2% raise last year won't help either. With central control of realty leasing, this would be ended, and people would have to find other things to invest in.

Also, it'd be a lot easier for the gov't to get things done if it owned everything. If they want to put in a new highway to stop congestion and accidents, they no longer need to spend exorbitant amounts of (taxpayer) money on over-valued land to get people to sell; they'd just give them eviction notices and help find comparable places to live, and then they could build the highway in just the correct spot. If a company is polluting too much and going through the court system is too slow, the gov't can just cancel their lease on their factory.

Of course, the downside to all of this is that if you don't own the land, then you probably don't own the buildings on it either (what would be the point), and there's not much incentive to do more than the bare minimum with it. You might not going to get the gov't to build you a luxurious mansion on your leased property. Or if you're a large corporation looking for someplace to build a $3 billion semiconductor fab, why would you build it someplace where the gov't can decide next week that it needs the land back for a highway? And how exactly would you get the gov't to build a $3 billion fab?

I don't think gov't ownership of land is the greatest idea either (unless someone can explain a better way in which it'd work), but your comments are totally nonsensical.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

pomo monster (873962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023554)

Er, zoning laws give you New Yorks and Chicagos. Lack of zoning gives you cities like Houston. And you think zoning is evil?

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023213)

You have to remember, corporations are not farming stuff out overseas because they're easier to manipulate, use, get around laws that would raise problems in America. They're doing it because they are smarter and work harder.

The fact that Americans have some expectation of rights and safety and personal freedom and a decent wage has nothing at all to do with it.. Not a thing... Absolutely not!.... *cough*

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023501)

I hope you're kidding here, because your post is fundamentally flawed.

  US corporations are not concerned with smarter and harder workers, they're concerned with *cheaper* workers. Any moron in India can read scripts off a page to be SBC tech support, sure, but it's their super low hourly wage and state-funded telecom connectivity that won them contracts. What US companies love more than anything are devastated economies and broke-ass 3rd world nations full of people that will work for next to nothing. Nike was a big pioneer when it came to exploiting desperate third world labor, and other companies followed their lead.

  I heard an interesting story from a Chinese friend of mine who immigrated here and is an LCD engineer. The company he used to work for here in the US would farm out his expertise to companies they did business with. If some mysterious control board fried on a machine, out he went. He can do component-level repair. On one occasion, he was sent to repair a machine, pulled the control board, and started diagnosing which chips and etc. needed to be replaced (i.e. desoldered, removed, replaced, resoldered). The boss at the plant approached him, incredulous, asking what the problem was. My friend replied that he'd isolated the problem to a handful of components and he was going to replace them. The boss laughed and said 'well hell we'll just order a new control board then'. My friend couldn't believe his ears. Why? Because in China, skilled labor is soooo cheap, that a guy sitting somewhere for 10 hours replacing components is actually cheaper than the value of the board itself. It's hard to understand from a US perspective just how valued skilled labor is here.

Job of a corporation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14022882)

Is to do the bidding of the owners .. aka shareholders .. so a cmpany can be "responsible" .. if he shareholders demand that responsibility .. even if it means reduced profit or share price. So if you want a company to be moral, a good way to acheive that is make sure society is moral.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

The Slashdotted (665535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022949)

Unfortunatly, the majority of times, these are nothing more than a footnote in an proxy, followed by a paragraph by the board recommending against it, claiming they are doing all they can, and the resolution cripple the businnes.

The only people who *really* have a say are pensions and mutial fund companies, and they don't want to shake the boat w/ other's money.

Most people trust others to manage their investments, and only direct owners can vote. That's why they almost always lose.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023177)

"voting only with your dollars", eh?
And I'm sure everyone gets an equal amount of votes...

Re:The comedy of capital (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023219)

Life is not about equality, it is about equal rights to our bodies and the property we worked hard for.

Today, no one but the ultra-wealthy have a vote. Your ballot choices means zilch -- everyone you vote into office just extends the future power of that office.

In a true free market, every ollar is vote, but being a billionaire isn't total control of the poor.

How much can a billionaire buy in respect to need? Only so many bananas, eggs and gallons of milk. Overbuying leads to waste and loss of wealth.

Maybe the wealthy will buy all the land? How will they maint in it? How will they build on it? How will they clean it, paint it, power it?

Hording doesn't make wealth, hard work does. Many children of the wealthy lose the family fortunes. I know of 3 100-year old contractors in the Midwest that went bankrupt at the hands of the third generation.

Money in the hands of the majority middle class has more power than the minority, except with regards to government. Don't be fooled by what is mostly class hatred. The poor have more opportunities to become rich in a free market than in a regulated one.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023407)

That is so uninsightful. Free market is the poors worst enemy. Freedom favors those prepared to use it. Poor people are not prepared by definition. Or perhaps you mean a 'pure' free market where money is not power. As you can see even NAFTA is not providing the free market it claims.

Hording does not make wealth, but it helps to keep in. Actually its the governments primary function (in USA) is to ensure the protection of wealth. Certainly the wealthy are pushing laws every day to ensure this as well.

I agree, don't be folled by class hatred, racism, religious extremism. They are all ways to get one powerless person to blame another powerless person for the results of the exploits of the wealthy.

Of course as long as poor people desire to be 'rich' the situation will never end. Richness itself requires a degree of exploitation.

Re:The comedy of capital (3, Insightful)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023421)

"the property we worked hard for"
Hard work often results in very different outcomes, especially when someone lacks the means to overcome a barrier to entry. A rich person with a good idea can develop and implement it, and reap many rewards. A poor person with the same good idea needs to attract investors to overcome the barriers, and then once they do, they have to share the profits with the investors, whose only required skills are having money and being able to tell a good idea from a bad one (not trivial, sure, but it's still infinitely preferable to being the poor guy).

"Hording doesn't make wealth, hard work does."
Investing is an opportunity the poor don't have.

"The poor have more opportunities to become rich in a free market than in a regulated one."
Depends how it's regulated.

Re:The comedy of capital (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023433)

When I look around I see many groups of people; but, the group of people working hard and the group of people getting wealthy do not seem to have a significant number of the same people in them.

Not to say that hard work can't make you wealthy. However, it seems that being wealthy is more likely to make you more so than hard work.

Hordes (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023506)

Hording doesn't make wealth, hard work does.

That may have been true before the term "Intellectual Property" was coined. Given the existence of laws against manipulating markets and regulations on monopolies though, I find the assertion highly suspect. The old cliché "The rich get richer" is also strong evidence to the contrary. Had there been no truth to the phrase, I doubt it would have endured for so long.

Maybe the wealthy will buy all the land? How will they maint in it? How will they build on it? How will they clean it, paint it, power it?

Or maybe they'll monopolize information. Digitize it, lock it up, and insist you pay a fief for access to it. Welcome to the digital dark ages.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023226)

Freedom (of the individual) is highly overrated. Corporations should be free and while I don't believe that individuals should own slaves, I believe corporations should be allowed to.

Think of it as a sort of feudal system. You would be the property of the corporation you work for. They would provide for all of your needs and you would work for them as long as you live (or until another corporation paid your corporation to take you from them... or just took over your corporation).

Then there's no more conflict of government trying to balance representing their constituants (you and me) with lobbiests (CEO fat-cats).

Re:The comedy of capital (3)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023366)

Here's a solution. Smuggle guns and ammo into countries with no respect for private property. Let the inner hope of revolution make real change. Rights won't be protected with sanctions. Only by blood do we truly stop those who dare to take our lives, our properties and our natural right to both.

I'm all for creating revolution and anarchy in badmanistan, but we must be careful which revolutionaries we help out. This is essentially what we did in Afganistan with the help of Bin Laden before we realized that he wasn't on our side either.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023403)

Here's a solution. Smuggle guns and ammo into countries with no respect for private property.

Careful now. After Kelo, [findlaw.com] you might get yourself branded a terrorist.

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023412)

Dammit CIA, stop astroturfing slashdot!!

Re:The comedy of capital (1)

SparafucileMan (544171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023437)

political voting is evil, but economic voting isn't? shit dude, you realize who prints that paper we call money, right? how is the Central Bank any less evil than government?

Re:The comedy of capital (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023541)

Stop techology getting there ?

Quite a dumb proposition, if I may say so. How much of the technology you use daily do you think actually is made in China ?

Oh ? It says "Assembled in L.A.", does it ? Now that makes everything better, doesn't it ? Makes you safe from the little yellow men with the bad attitude ?

BAH.

Ignorant yankee. Most of what you use comes from Asia, and while US companies outsource their manufacturing to get cheap labor, it will keep flowing. Oh, and incidentally, USs outsourcing to Asia [ China] is one of the reasons human rights keep being trampled on. If humans had any rights in that part of the world, you wouldn't be paying $39.95 for that DVD-player of yours.

Re:The comedy of capital (4, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023542)

"Here's a solution. Smuggle guns and ammo into countries with no respect for private property."

WTF? Repressive regimes and respect for private party are not really mutually exclusive. The West is so eager to deal with China today because they abandoned Socialism for Authoritarian capitalism(a.k.a. Fascism) in the last 20 years. They do have private property as a result and it hasn't stopped them from being a repressive regime. Repressive regimes trample private property rights when it suits them, but as a rule they don't because they want capitalists to invest there so they respect private property, especially of foreigners, to get investment. China really isn't very different from the U.S now. Since a recent Supreme Court ruling government entities in the U.S. can seize your property, reimburse you what suits them, and turn it over to a private developer to profit on.

Western countries are pouring capital into China, and transferring IP there because they think there is a buck to be made there, more so than in any of the aging economies in the U.S. Europe or Japan. When there is a buck to be made Westerners could care less if they are dealing with repressive regimes. Americans were enthusiastic investors in Nazi Germany in the 30's including the Bush family who were the American bankers for the Thyssen family who helped put Hitler in power. The U.S. went out its way to install the Shah of Iran who was one of the Middle East's most repressive rulers, right up there with Saddam. The U.S. installed countless right wing dictators in the Western Hemisphere who "respected private property" of U.S. corporations and the wealthy and ruthlessly killed, kidnapped and tortured everyone else.

"Get the U.N. involved and completely stop technology from getting there."

That is pretty out of touch with reality. Many of the electronics you buy today are MADE IN CHINA, the U.S. or U.N. couldn't boycott them if you tried. I guess you boycott buying stuff them which would have an impact but you would quickly realize the U.S. economy is totally dependent on China. Stop buying there and Walmart's shelves would empty and many smaller towns would realize they have no place to shop without Walmart and its Chinese goods.

The main thing China is importing are raw materials. In the case of oil, for example, they are securing their own oil fields and supplies so they will be largely immune to an oil boycott, which has been a weapon of choice by the U.S. in the past. Pearl Harbor was precipitated by a U.S, British and Dutch oil embargo against Japan. The Chinese are securing oil from Venezuela in particular because Chavez would never follow a U.S. lead boycott against China without the U.S. parking warships next to their oil terminals.

Chinese technological and manufacturing prowess is rapidly eclipsing the U.S. partially thanks to Western companies transferring their manufacturing base and technology R&D centers to China. Cisco gear can't be boycotted from China. Much of it is developed and manufactured there. Cisco's CEO Chambers routinely broadcasts the fact that Cisco is a "Chinese company" now.

Bottomline is the West has more to fear from China boycotting them than the other way around.

Re:The comedy of capital (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023571)

Here's a solution. Smuggle guns and ammo into countries with no respect for private property. Let the inner hope of revolution make real change. Rights won't be protected with sanctions. Only by blood do we truly stop those who dare to take our lives, our properties and our natural right to both.

One needs to be careful with this. For two reasons:

1. If you fail to time things correctly, the revolutionists will be caught (one by one) with the guns in their homes and charged with a crime.

2. Violence tends to begat violence.

Of all the revolutions that come to my mind at the moment, only two stand out as only going as far as necessary, and no farther. The first was the American Revolution. They only shed blood after they declared independence from England, and carried the war only to the extent necessary to defend the new nation. Note that the American situation was rather unique in that American were normally well armed, and that their forces were vastly inferior to those of the enemy.

The only other situation I can think of was the transition from the Communist Russian government to the psuedo-democratic government. It was largely a bloodless affair, as the remaining people in power just wanted to make their problems someone else's.

Every other coup that I can think of was a bloody mess with a questionable outcome. The French Revolution was a particularly good example of things going from bad to worse. France eventually recovered, but not until after a series of civil wars, exectutions, and other unpleasentries. From a lot of the feedback I've been getting, it sounds like the Chinese are not really there yet.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that you have to be careful in supporting revolutionaries. Sometimes they're in it for the right reasons, but sometimes they're just looking to seize power themselves.

Hurt them where it counts (4, Insightful)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022830)

The only way most firms will push to respect human rights is if we make serious domestic penalties for companies that break human rights laws overseas or use companies that break codes.

We can't even get Walmart to stop hiring illegal immigrants and hiding them in the backs of stores in America, how are we going to stop The Gap from using sweatshops or whatever it is they do to get clothing made?

Re:Hurt them where it counts (2, Informative)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022953)

The only way most firms will push to respect human rights is if we make serious domestic penalties for companies that break human rights laws overseas or use companies that break codes.

Umm, did you read the article? It's the investors of these companies (in this case) that are pushing for protection of human rights. However, their intetions aren't exactly altruistic.

FTA:
"On the broadest possible level, democracy provides the best possible environment for investment," Kanzer said.

and
Wolfe maintains that filtering and stifling Internet traffic runs against a good Internet business model.

"Internet traffic creates demand for IT infrastructure networks. So, any activity that serves to quell Internet traffic threatens the long-term viability and growth opportunities of IT infrastructure and networking companies."

Re:Hurt them where it counts (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023003)

"Umm, did you read the article?"

You must be new here.

"It's the investors of these companies (in this case) that are pushing for protection of human rights."
If it doesn't hold a profit incentive to be respectful of human rights, odds are a company won't do it. Corporations remove the humanity from humans in power of them.

The Irony Is Projectile Vomiting Me In The Face (5, Funny)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022836)

I mean if the shareholders of multi-national corporations won't stand up for human rights, then who will?!

Re:The Irony Is Projectile Vomiting Me In The Face (5, Interesting)

c0dedude (587568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022904)

We are just like you. We live in the same world, and have similar concerns. We want human rights just as much as you do. Not only that, a loss of goodwill can result from poor business practices. China has an emerging market we want access to, but we see better returns from a free market with free organization, thus leading to human rights concerns.

Re:The Irony Is Projectile Vomiting Me In The Face (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023124)

We are just like you. We live in the same world, and have similar concerns.

We are also immortal! Inviolable! Unassailable in our Glory! Our mighty hosts of lawyers sweep all before us!

Kneel plebain! Kneel and gaze upon the world which we have wrought for you! Bite not the hand that feeds thee!

So Preacheth The Church Of The New Global Capitalism!! Hail Satan!

Color me cynical... (4, Insightful)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022837)

...but the almighty dollar will still end up ruling all. If ethics mattered, there wouldn't be any US company at all dealing with China.

Re:Color me cynical... (1, Interesting)

NevDull (170554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023156)

If ethics mattered, companies in what other country would be dealing with the US? You can't possibly be so deluded to imagine that we're ethical. Maybe in some cases we're "more ethical", but in absolute terms, we're far from the ideal.

Compromise is necessary to get anything done, including some compromise of ideals. You do it with yourself every day.

Re:Color me cynical... (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023222)

Exactly my thoughts.

But apparently the mods... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023323)

...prefer to just brand any such suggestion as "Flamebait", thereby giving a whole new meaning to that "Yes, Slashdot is US-centric" entry in the FAQ.

Re:Color me cynical... (1)

rgoldste (213339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023519)

If the west hadn't been willing to invest in China, I doubt China would have liberalized its economy or government at all. The strategy is somewhat akin to a drug dealer, who offers free or cheap free samples to hook the user and then charges increasing prices for future drugs: get China hooked on western trade, then demand increasing concessions on economic and political liberty for the continuance of that trade. Like junkies don't quit drugs even when they can't afford the dope (or when they realize its harmful) due to withdrawl, China won't be able to quit liberalization even when they are unwilling to pay the price in terms of social and economic change.

Left a bad taste in everyone's mouth (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14022838)

involvement in the jailing of a Chinese journalist left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

But an hour later, they were hungry for totalitarianism again.

Just say "no" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14022839)

Personally, I said no, and explained why. I was unsure of what would happen, but I'm still gainfully employed; my performance review noted a commitment to integrity, and I just got promoted.

Re:Just say "no" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023237)

To clarify: I meant that I'd declined to work on a project of unsavory character for a totalitarian government. Sorry to be obtuse.

I knew how they would use the technology in question, and wanted no part of it. Saying so was one of the best decisions I've ever made, and it turns out that management was surprisingly understanding. My conscience is clear.

UN & The Internet (0, Offtopic)

rlp (11898) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022840)

All this will be moot once the UN takes over the Internet. No doubt the Committee on Internet governance will include representatives from China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and other such beacons of freedom and demoncracy.

/Sarcasm

Does that include sanctions against CNN? (5, Interesting)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022883)

Given that "CNN's chief news executive Eason Jordan [admitted] that for the past decade the network [systematically] covered up stories of Iraqi atrocities" [honestreporting.com] prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in order to maintain access to Saddam's government, it would seem that CNN and TimeWarner would be prime candidates for sanctions/and or boycotts. Of course, the question now is: What crimes are CNN and their MSM brethern covering up to maintain access in countries like Cuba, Syria and Communist China to "maintain access" even now?

Re:Does that include sanctions against CNN? (0, Troll)

246o1 (914193) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022977)

God only knows why it should be surprising that media companies would cover up atrocities in foreign countries to maintain access. It's not like Americans would really care, or need any excuse to dislike Iraq. Considering that the media companies have repeatedly gone after the Bush administration's lies with only the most soft-hitting reporting, in order to maintain access to top-level officials by not pissing them off, who would be surprised that they do the same thing in countries that are even less important to their viewers?

Re:Does that include sanctions against CNN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023175)

Covering up bush lies? I think you mean "making up" bush lies.

Re:Does that include sanctions against CNN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023484)

Just because you conservatives keep saying that, it doesn't make it any more true.

Re:Does that include sanctions against CNN? (1, Informative)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023137)

Given that "CNN's chief news executive Eason Jordan [admitted] that for the past decade the network [systematically] covered up stories of Iraqi atrocities" prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in order to maintain access to Saddam's government, it would seem that CNN and TimeWarner would be prime candidates for sanctions/and or boycotts.

Yeah, well they covered up the fact that there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq either, so I guess it all balances out.

How is this Ciscos faule? (4, Interesting)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022899)

Can any company control how the product is used after purchase? Cisco isnt liable here for the same reasons gun companies arent liable in murder cases, there is a huge amount of legal network activity that Cisco enables, china is the bad apple here.

Yahoo handles content, the routers just pass bits

Re:How is this Ciscos faule? (3, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022928)

Can any company control how the product is used after purchase?

Apparently you can if your name is Sony. Just takes a Windows rootkit.

Re:How is this Ciscos faule? (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023000)

I would think that gun companies would be liable if they knowingly sold a gun to someone who was a convicted serial killer. Cisco knows exactly what China is going to do with the equipment they provide them with.

Re:How is this Ciscos faule? (4, Insightful)

rossz (67331) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023019)

It's not the same. Cisco is actively helping them to set up the firewalling to prevent freedom of speech. While the gun companies sells guns to a licensed dealer, who then sells it to an individual who later has it stolen by a crackhead who kills someone with it.

On the other hand, if the gun company sold large quantities of guns and ammo to a repressive government and sent over a bunch of buys to train government thugs on the most efficient means to kill large numbers of peaceful protestors, then we might have a reasonable comparison.

Wow... (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023201)

You know, we put Saddahm Hussein in power... along with several other "bad guys' in the world.

We have a hell of a lot of house cleaning to do here before we go judging others.

Re:Wow... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023233)

Indeed. But if we did put hussein in power, wouldn't that make it our responsibily to remove him when we're cleaning house?

Colonialism is evil (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023359)

Actually, "cleaning house" would be saying "we fucked up btu we're not gonna make that mistake again."

It is not our responsibility to "liberate" people. If you are being held captive it is YOUR responsibility to fight for your liberty. Nothing wrong with helping, but helping doesn't mean "we are here to liberate you."

Re:How is this Ciscos faule? (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023021)

To claim that they've got no clue what's going on is ridiculous. If they can't stop what China does with their stuff, then they shouldn't sell to China. They aren't just letting China, etc. use their stuff, they are going out of their way to help China in order to get access to the Chinese market.

Re:How is this Ciscos faule? (2)

Izago909 (637084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023030)

Can any company control how the product is used after purchase? Cisco isnt liable here for the same reasons gun companies arent liable in murder cases, there is a huge amount of legal network activity that Cisco enables, china is the bad apple here.
Cisco has a large role in building and maintaining much of their network, including the filtering and blocking of websites the state considers threatning. This is not like China is using off the shelf parts to demonstrate such extreme levels of access control; Cisco has a close business relationship which has tailor fit the censorship needs of China.
If a gun company formed an alliance with an organized crime syndicate and worked with them to make deadlier weapons, then most people (including American courts) would hold them partially liable.

Stock Trader POV (4, Insightful)

Sugar Moose (686011) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022929)

As someone who trades stocks, I don't really see this the same way. Generally, I don't buy a stock because I want to own that company, I buy it because I think later I call sell it for more. I wouldn't buy Yahoo because I think they are overvalued, and they are facing increasing pressure from Google which they aren't handling very well. In my opinion, the stock does not have very much upside potential.

Generally, making people mad is costly for a stock. Bad news is bad, but uncertainty is much much worse. Will all of their customers leave? What effect will this have? There's thousands of publicly traded companies out there, so there's no reason to buy stock in one which has an uncertain future.

While i'm glad to see there are some responsible investors out there, they don't amount to a very large portion. When you look at the ownership of Cisco [msn.com] , you see that the two investors mentioned in the article aren't even listed. They each own less than 1% of the company's outstanding shares.

Recently, I was amused by something that happened to Intel. They received an award for corporate social responsibility. The stock traded down that day.

Re:Stock Trader POV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023286)

Kudos! You have committed a "post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy. Pick up your prize on the way out.

Re:Stock Trader POV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023364)

And here is the reason that the stock market is such a detriment to this country. Everyone is out for the dollar, and nobody really cares much about the company itself. Maybe you should try walking a middle line here.

Have fun supporting companies that are leading to the downfall of the very country that created them.

It's just plain sad (4, Insightful)

dragonfly_blue (101697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022938)

I'm not really a political or litigious person by nature, but as I've aged, I've come to this somewhat depressing conclusion; occasionally, the only way to effect change in this world is to exact some kind of financial cost on those who disregard the rights of their fellow human beings.

David Brancaccio (from public radio's Marketplace) wrote a quite entertaining book [amazon.com] that deals with the concept of socially responsible investing, and asks the question of whether or not applying fuzzy concepts of "good " and "evil" to publicly traded companies makes any kind of sense.

He was sort of sarcastic about it, and had a tendency to make fun of new-age hippies showing at the annual shareholder's meeting in Montana with their 100% natural non-bleached cotton moccasins, and painfully detailed dietary requirements, but overall it was funny, and it made an otherwise dry subject a lot more palatable. Check it out if you're sick of O'Reilly books - it was a good companion on the road last summer.

Hopefully, we will continue to develop more accurate and effective ways to evaluate companies and maybe even their corresponding Good:Evil ratios in the future; maybe then companies guilty of human rights violations or severe pollution disasters will feel a direct effect on their bottom line.

Re:It's just plain sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023214)

Is that a referral/affiliate link? I think it is, so I looked it up after directly going to amazon. I won't financially reward coporations or asshats on /.

I believe this is called 'Stakeholding' (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022983)

The idea being that democracy works better when voting is disproportionate based on the amount of self sacrifice that has been offered by the individual. For example, someone who works for a company and uses 90% of their salary to buy stock in the company has more say in the running of that company than someone who chooses to invest nothing in the company.

Speaking of investment firms (3, Funny)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022986)

I was walking around campus yesterday when I saw a poster saying "Is Slashdot Your Home Page?" in huge letters. Apparently it was a recruiting poster for some investment firm. Of course I immediately appropriated it and thumbtacked it above my laptop in my room.

Culture not money, it only looks different (1)

Device666 (901563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023001)

I think that (anti-)nationalist ideas are part in forming individual identity. China has a very old culture and saying their way of htink threatens the long term investment is one step to far from the reality. These western originated companies have different systems and they cannot trust in complete different systems (such as in China). And maybe we have problems with their culture, so do they. I do believe in human rights and I am from the culture which conflicts with those of for example China, on this matter. Money is not the only power, maybe it is even not the most important one. I would say having faith in oneself, trust another (to a realistic and wise level) and in mutual interests and benefit is the greatest. These are motivations to invest in clients and reflect also in these ideas of share holders. Thinking and behaving related to have faith and see mutiual interests is done differently in other cultures. Like most people they don't trust what they don't know and at the same time they compete on cultural level. I think it is to easy to believe if some shareholders says its only because of the human rights.. I think there is more to it.

Bias? (4, Informative)

nulldaemon (926551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023053)

The article talks about Cisco, Yahoo & Google but the summary only mentions Cisco & Yahoo.

What's This?! (2, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023101)

What?! Capitalists working on the side of good?! I smell a rat! A great big communist rat! Ronnie!! Ronnie come back and save us from these pinkos! How will I be able to afford my hummer if I can't sell a few activists out to the boys in Beijing? I blame television! Danm liberal media!

It's all about profits (1)

max born (739948) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023127)

Even if the majority of shareholders back such human rights declarations I'm not sure this is legal. Under US law corporations have an obligation to maximize profit irrespective of anything else. Strange but true.

This doctrine was established in a landmark Supreme Court case Dodge v. Ford Motor Company [wikipedia.org] which established that even minority share holders can prevent a corporation from doing anything that hinders the maximization of profits.

I could be completely wrong.

Re:It's all about profits (3, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023170)

I believe you are talking about a "Minority Shareholder Lawsuit". It doesn't matter how much stock you own, even if it is only a single share, you can sue a company/employees if it does something that damages the stock price for reparation. This can vary from monetary damages to giving the shareholder more stock.

Re:It's all about profits (2, Informative)

cnerd2025 (903423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023432)

That isn't the case at all. The issue in that case was that H. Ford owned a disproportionate number of shares, and the board was obligated to carry out Ford's interests. Since the majority of the minority shareholders wanted to make money and to earn dividends, not employ the poor, they took Ford Corp to court. Keep in mind that a corporation is really not answerable to anyone but the shareholders, and they are represented by the board (which to me at least is why the Chairman of the Board and CEO MUST be separate positions). Since the majority of shareholders was actually in favor of those favoring dividends, the court determined that Ford was to comply with their demands. Basically, they said that the board represents them, and therefore is legally bound to represent all shareholders' interests. This has nothing to do with profit maximisation or minimisation. The government couldn't give a hoot about the profits of those companies (or at least shouldn't ::cough cough::Haliburton::cough cough::). If the government forced companies to maximize profit, then progress would come to a screeching halt.

Better yet, sell your shares (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023189)

If thine eye offend thee pluck it the hell out. Divestment movements are built for this. But I as a shareholder, watching you demand they harm my investment, well I'd like to come to your house and burn it down. Or better yet, you can pay for my kid's college education.

Leave YOUR morality at the door, thank you.

Re:Better yet, sell your shares (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023220)

If the other shareholders who are pressing for the company to act morally are causing such a problem, why don't you divest? Frankly, I think the executives at Cisco and Yahoo who authorized aiding and abeting the oppression of the Chinese people should clapped in irons, tried for crimes against humanity and hanged.

Re:Better yet, sell your shares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023503)

You mean the same executives who sold them equipment for any type of internet access in the first place? Yeah, that will fix everything.

Is it still ok to make Linux? I'm sure they are using that too.

Re:Better yet, sell your shares (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023589)

You know this isn't just about the sale of generic equipment. It's about the provision of expertise and specific deliverables related to the Great Firewall. No one's advocating hanging Sam Walton's heirs because the Chinese could buy Linksys routers at Wal*Mart.

Re:Better yet, sell your shares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023611)

Yes actually it is, Cisco didn't make add any features or make changes for the Chinese to block the Internet with. No different then them using iptables and then you blaming those evil OSS developers.

More BS political activism from Slashdot (1)

sj88 (930814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023245)

Certain slashdot members have a political agenda and love to write comments and stories trying to further their agenda. "whamett" has written 3 comments in total and all have to do with attacking China. If Slashdot members, and Americans in general, are really concerned about people in Asia, why not address the sweatshops in Indonesia or sexual tourism in Thailand? Instead of worrying about "human rights" what about human poverty? People in China don't care much about political rights as long as the leaders are making their quality of living better. At my workplace, over 30% of the people are from China, and they *don't care* about the politics in China. They had a good childhood, got a good education, and now have a nice job. Sure, everyone in China isn't as well off, but you can't change everything all at once. People here complain about "human rights" in China, and then they also complain about China "stealing our jobs". Seems like people here would prefer them to work in sweat shops like democratic countries like Indonesia. Bottom line: Quality of Living > Political Rights This post will probably be modded down by people with a political agenda (ironic how they decry censorship in China), but something has to be said about the anti-China sentiment here. It's gotten so bad that *every* article about China always has some nut bringing up politics.

Re:More BS political activism from Slashdot (1)

agraupe (769778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023281)

Well, to be fair, this article *is* about politics in a way. You can hardly fault someone who brings it up. I think the trend you're seeing is a result of editor bias more than poster bias, or possibly it's because China chooses to do repressive things with technology, and this site is mainly about technology. That being said, you raise some very interesting points. Although I'm not sure I'd trade freedom for quality of living, it's true that I already have a fairly high quality of living compared to many people in China. It certainly is a question that can't be answered in a single post.

Re:More BS political activism from Slashdot (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023405)

...People in China don't care much about political rights as long as the leaders are making their quality of living better. ...

When I read that, it reminded me of a lady teacher in China who was accused of teaching disloyality to the chineese leader. (Mau?) She was arrested and tortured. She was dazed and confused because she had always taught her students to love and cherish Mau, and she had always been faithfull to his leadership and the teachings of the Communist party.

Well the ironic thing was, it was her loyality to him that caused the Chnieese government to single her out for punishment. You see, Mau had created a socialist food policy that caused 30 million people to die of starvation in the Chineese country side. He could not blame the farmers and pesants who nearly revolted and forced him to change, he could not blame himself without causing himself political ruin, so that ment that the only people left were his dumb faithfull followers who he could just accuse of misdirecting his will and betraying him.

Anyhow, the point is that human rights and economic rights are inseperable. If you deprive economic rights, it always eventurally leads to human rights violations. If you deprive human rights, it always eventually leads economic rights violations. As the Chineese economy grows, it will create incredible pressures on the system, and those pressures must not go past human rights violations or we risk having another Nazi police state, and all the ugly economic and political consequences that go with it.

Funny thing about totaletarian regimes (5, Interesting)

808140 (808140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023251)

You know, lately I've been seeing a lot of fear-mongering Slashdotters talking about how we all have a moral responsibility to not to business with companies that do business with China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, etc.

Now, last I checked it was illegal for US corps to do business with North Korea and Iran, so I'm never quite sure why those are brought up. But China is a popular target. I can only imagine this is because we are starting to get nervous about such a massive economic force. Sort of in the same way people in the eighties used to yell "Go Home, Jap!" to anyone who looked Asian on the street. But I digress.

Well-meaning (and I do believe they are well meaning) people have said lots of things about how we ought to "not buy Chinese goods" because the Chinese government doesn't respect basic human rights, and the only way to make them see the light of day is to hit them where it hurts -- financially. We say the same thing about "sweat shops" in Vietnam or wherever operated by firms like Nike or Reebok. Not sure if it's still the rage to go off about these.

Now, as a disclaimer, I actually live in China (I'm American, though). I want to advance a theory about totaletarian regimes: they are non-sustainable if the populace is becoming wealthy.

Now obviously this doesn't apply to a place like North Korea where trading with the country (if it were even legal) really means trading with the government, and not with the people. But China and Vietnam are not like that, despite what you may have heard.

In the 1970s, China was in the throes of the cultural revolution; people truly had no rights, they were expected to spend several hours of their day reciting "Wei Renmin Fuwu" and other works of Chairman and Poet Mao Ze Dong. But those days have been a thing of the past since Deng Xiao Ping's economic reforms in the late seventies and early eighties, reforms which continue to this day.

As a direct result of these reforms, money paid into China not only makes the government richer (you can't avoid this, people pay taxes on income) but also, and this is important, it makes the people more wealthy.

Chinese people are not living like beggars (unless you're in Guizhou or something). Especially people in the cities are beginning to do very well for themselves. And if you're in Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, well, you're essentially living at first world standards. Really.

The problem is, as people get more wealthy, more prosperous, more educated, more connected to the outside world -- read, not isolated from it as they were during the cultural revolution -- they come into contact with a lot of ideas that had previously been considered non grata by the government. You know, like democracy. The other week I was in Beijing and there was a huge advertisement for a development site with Chinese characters as tall as me saying "Bringing a little more culture, a little more civility, and a little more democracy (!!!) to Beijing."

This is the city that sent tanks against students demonstrating just 15 years ago.

Why is this happening? Because the Chinese government too wants to get rich. Even back in the days when Mao had a swimming pool built for himself in Zhong Nan Hai while everyone else was starving, the best the government cronies could hope for was a lifestyle equivalent to a beverly hills hillbilly. Not shabby, certainly. But nothing (and I mean nothing) like what they enjoy now.

Because they want to encourage more investment, they are continuously relaxing their controls. There are two reasons for this. One: certain technology, like the internet, is necessary for commerce. It can also be used by Chinese citizens to learn uncomfortable truths. Because they are addicted to wealth, they mostly ignore the second issue (the Chinese firewall is a joke -- it's there so they can say they're doing something: most of the stuff that's blocked is irrelevant and a surprising large amount of openly rebellious material in Chinese is not blocked). The second reason is practicality: they believe, rightly so, that a comfortable, wealthy, stable populace is unlikely to revolt.

See, when the Tiananmen thing happened, there were two issues at hand. The students saw what Gorbachev was doing in the USSR with Perestroika (political transparency) and were suggesting that the CCP follow that lead. They were also concerned with the fact that the increasingly large number of foreigners now resident in China (China had allowed foreigners long term visas for the first time a few years earlier) were granted rights above and beyond the rights of normal Chinese citizens. The students were concerned that reform was not happening fast enough, and that society was unstable. They were joined by many workers who had previously enjoyed a relatively stable, if not very wealthy existance under the socialist system, and had been badly hurt by the reforms -- the growing pains that Keynes used to joke about (in the long run, we're all dead, haha). These two groups actually wanted opposite things: the students more reform, and the workers less.

Just to put some perspective on it, they all got together and sang the "Internationale". For those of you that don't know, that's the global communist anthem. But I'm getting off on a tangent again.

What the CCP took away from all this was, the people are less likely to make a ruckus if society is stable. The best way to make society stable is by making it wealthy. Poverty creates terrorism, revolt. People who are busy trying to keep up with the Joneses don't want to buy an AK-47, join a militia, and try to overthrow the government (ESR not withstanding). So they pressed on with the reforms.

And it worked, remarkably well. But in order to make the reforms stick -- in order to facilitate trade and commerce and bring foreign investment -- the Chinese government has been forced, on its own, to abandon most of the draconian measures that were a mainstay during the cultural revolution. The result is a very open society, most of the time. People openly criticize the government, in public. As long as you aren't a journalist whose voice is likely to be heard by millions of people, the Chinese government puts up with it, because they've realized that in the grand scheme of things, letting the public complain doesn't have any effect. They aren't desperate, they aren't going to revolt. They aren't going to influence the opinions of anyone but the other people sitting at the same table in the restaurant with them. Not much effect.

But the plus sides are huge: lots and lots of foreign money, wealthier populace, more complacency, more stability, less revolt. So they sit by and let the freedoms come in. Slowly.

But you must see, if you're a thinking person, that this is a slippery slope. The old men that sit at the top of the party are retiring, being replaced, as is always the case, with their younger counterparts. Eventually, most of these people will be people who have no recollection of the cultural revolution, and who do not see the internet as something to restrict -- after all, they grew up with it. The result of economic investment in China is freedom. Freedom for the people.

People who talk about boycotting China to protect the rights of Chinese and Tibetans (I'm looking at you, RMS) haven't thought the matter through at all. Back when no one traded with China, we had an isolationist country that acted much like North Korea acts today. People were tortured and killed, they lived in abject misery and poverty, they had nothing. Now, there is no famine, people are (for the most part) doing well for themselves, and even though there is a substantial polarization of rich and poor, even the poor are better off now than they were twenty years ago. I lived in rural (as in, no plumbing, sewage, or running water) Hebei for six months. Trust me on this one.

If a boycott were actually possible -- and thank god people aren't organized enough to pull one off -- China and the other opening communist countries of the world currently benefiting from foreign investment (Vietnam, for example) might just close their doors. Go back to the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in China. North Korea is still like that.

When the capital of what slashdot fear mongerers like to call "Red China" has huge banners asking for "more democracy", well, I have to say that they've come a long way. Let's not antagonize them for the moment. We cannot bring democracy to China -- the Chinese must do that for themselves. They will, in time. Once the people get wealthy enough, educated enough, they will themselves demand the reforms. In their own way.

I think we can all look at Iraq as an example of how badly trying to force change on a culture different from your own can go, even if your intentions are all good (which I'm not convinced they were, but that's another story.)

Re:Funny thing about totaletarian regimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023298)

I know for a fact that Alcatel does business with DPRK. We also know that Halliburton has done work for Iran.

So I dunno what you're talking about.

Re:Funny thing about totaletarian regimes (1)

808140 (808140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023513)

Alcatel is a French company. As for Halliburton, well... I guess all I can say is that I'm not surprised. In all likelyhood you can get a waver for those sorts of trade restrictions from the US department of treasury. In the case of a huge oil company like Halliburton, what with Iran in the Middle East and oil being so important to the US economy, it doesn't surprise me at all that the government would step out of the way. Goodness, they practically gave Iraq to Halliburton.

Anyway... what was your point?

Re:Funny thing about totaletarian regimes (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023306)

"This Message was brought to you by the Counter-Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of The People's Republic of China. Stay tuned for a list of recently jailed Falung Gong agitators."

Kidding aside, you're right.

I have a friend from Shanghai, and it is as you say.

It's Totalitarian, btw.

Re:Funny thing about totaletarian regimes (1)

808140 (808140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023496)

Yes, thanks for the spelling comment. I hate making stupid mistakes like that. I also reside in Shanghai at the immediate moment (although Shanghai, regrettably, is not China ... but it is an example of what China could be.)

Re:Funny thing about totaletarian regimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023522)

actually, nike is only a design company, it licenses the design to be factored by someone else [who obviously pay some royalties]
i don't know, perhaps they could choose whom to exactly license the damn thing, but sweatshops are not directly their fault.

Shareholders pressure "content" companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023345)

Shareholders pressure "content producers/providers" etc... to back off or the gravy train stops.

What a novel concept! Essentially we as shareholders own these companies, we can put the screws to them to back off.

my USians on torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14023521)

Why don't y'all go tell Bush to sign the god-damn anti-torture amendment before grandstanding against other "evil" countries?!

Isolated Incidences (1)

external400kdiskette (930221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023539)

In the real world no huge company is going to launch a moral crusade against a country like China, I mean come on, yahoo could withhold information, google could not play along with the firewall and help dissidents, but it's not going to happen, because most shareholders will spew at the idea of such a huge and emerging market being boycotted.

Epoch Times = extremely biased (1)

gamer4Life (803857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023586)

Epoch Times is run by an anti-China group, why link to an article there? It's like sourcing a negative article about Linux from a Microsoft Magazine. ...or a negative article about PS3 from Redmond Magazine. ...or an anti-immigrant article from a KKK site ...an anti-Conservative article from a gay-rights article. ...you get the idea. Everything contains bias, but some at least try to be impartial and objective. The linking to biased sources tells more about the reader than about the situation.

Shareholder influence (1)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14023601)

IF shareholders are able to exert influence, as we see here, should they not be considered legally responsible for both the positive and the NEGATIVE things their companies do?
A share devaluation isn't enough. I would like to see shareholders tried for criminal negligence.
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