Paul has a nice piece today on why the New Year should bring about a massive disconnection from Facebook and all its works. Conclusion and the how-to as follows:
Here is a link to instructions as to how to delete your Facebook account. If you have the strength, go for the real ‘deletion’ rather than the ‘deactivation’ method. If you just deactivate, you’re leaving your data there for Facebook and their partners to exploit…..
Meanwhile, from the Telegraph and also this morning, how Facebook’s own family sometimes gets the privacy settings wrong:
Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook chief executive Mark, has complained after a “private” photo she posted on the social network was spread on Twitter by someone she had not intended to see it.
No connection between one and t’other, of course.
What really caught my bleary eye though – being just after breakfast whilst I supped the last of my torrefacto coffee – was this report from the always ahead-of-the-pack Reuters: this time, on the subject of how rising profits by transnational corporations in the UK equal falling tax revenues for the state:
Big companies in Britain now pay less tax than they did 12 years ago despite a big jump in profitability, a Reuters analysis of official data shows. Tax campaigners say the trend is the clearest signal yet that tax avoidance has blossomed under a more business-friendly strategy at the UK tax authority Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The article, at least for me, makes sickening reading – especially when companies like Google find themselves in the following position:
Google, for example, channels $4 billion of UK sales through Ireland each year, most of which ends up in Bermuda. Google said it complies with tax law in every country in which it operates but that it also has an obligation to its shareholders “to run our business efficiently”.
The problem is that even when we are shareholders, and even when companies have a responsibility to us as such, we are never only shareholders. We are also frail human beings who will one day fall desperately ill and will be in need of the support of our fellow men and women; we are also parents, sons and daughters with responsibilities to children and progenitors; we are also democratic citizens with an obligation to participate in democratic discourse.
All of the above-mentioned does, therefore, have a cost – and a price. A cost – and price – the powerful prefer to ignore.
The limited focus that corporate executives choose to bring to their responsibilities is easy – and simultaneously facile. Facebook decides that advertisers’ wants must operate above and beyond even its owner’s family privacy; Google decides that its shareholders’ finances (even where these shareholders are also parents, pensioners or the disabled) must weigh more heavily than the schoolchildren, patients and infirm of the communities they make their humongous profits from; and, in the meantime, our very own governments – both Labour and Tory it would seem – decide that they must court corporate investors more carefully than the people who made the mistake of voting those selfsame governments into power in the first place.
It’s a fallacy, I’m afraid. Even those people who are made of money – and who make it their business to make more of it – aren’t ever only moneymakers.
One day they will also be helpless citizens – just like the rest of us. No amount of money can ever change that.
No amount of money can ever do more than postpone that event.
No. It’s not enough to say that we have a responsibility to shareholders. When we say that, we mean we only care to see one facet of terribly complex beings. It’s a lie to argue that we must make more money regardless of the hows – simply because these shareholders allegedly have their foot on the accelerator pedal of a massive multiplication of amoral income at the expense of other more thoughtful behaviours.
Please think again, those of you who can.
Please thing again, before this all blows up in our faces.
I was kind of involved, a couple of days ago, in a Twitter exchange between two diametrically opposed positions. One person argued fiercely in favour of an intervening state; the other argued, just as strongly, against the inefficiencies – and even the corrupting influences – of such structures. I bowed out of the debate, and let it rest there and then. But I didn’t forget the points made. And I was reminded of them today with the absolute absence of moral judgement which the Reuters’ investigation so sadly threw up. The behaviours thus described were the choice of men and women working in large institutions as big as many nation-states. Yet they were all, without exception, working in the very private sector. So when we talk about inefficiency and corruption in such nation-states, we tend to forget that private industry can be as inefficient and corrupt as any poorly-run state.
The only difference being, perhaps, that the public sector is eventually that: public.
Whilst the private sector prefers to remain generally t’other: private.
A final story tonight, again from Reuters, on that icon of 21st century corporate amorality which, in a very biblical sense, finds itself quite appropriately named Apple. In this case, we discover the obscenity that involves an annual salary of $4 million equalling a 99 percent cut – in relation, I do admit, to temporarily inaccessible paper values – on the previous year’s earnings.
It’s really too difficult for me to fully comprehend how casually upside-down our world has become.
Do you understand what’s happening?
For I certainly don’t.
Any explanation you can think of which doesn’t involve further biblical references?