Are you a walking billboard? Christiano Ronaldo certainly is one – and an expensive one at that – so a simple act of moving the bottles of a branded drink out of shot at a press conference managed to wipe as much as four billion dollars off the share price of the company! If you watch the footage concerned, several points might strike you as to the absurdity of his gesture, and the fickleness of the stock market.
Tax time is here again, so continuing with the series of how corporations destroy the planet and exploit their customers in order to make astronomical profits, let us turn our attention to how businesses further exploit submissive or corrupt governments to deprive billions of people around the world of public funds, by avoiding paying reasonable amounts of – or any – tax. Businesses always trot out the same tired old excuses: that taxes limit economic growth, that every company does it, or that they completely comply with all the relevant laws in the jurisdictions where they “should” pay tax, but such duplicity is a feeble attempt to obscure the fact that many companies make it their number one priority to not pay tax whenever and wherever possible, and go to considerable lengths to shirk their responsibilities to society. In a word, they refer to their significant attempts to not pay the tax that is due as “tax minimisation”, while it is more often called “tax avoidance”. However, if corporations were truly held to account under their corporate social responsibility obligations, and forced to give back to the countries who have enabled them to do business in the first place, then they would not be doing everything in their power to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and we would refer to their greed as what it should really be called: “tax evasion”.
From Big Tech to Big Pharma, to Big Ag and Big Oil, it is plain to see how uncaring huge companies are towards their customers, and perhaps more shockingly, how little regard they have for the planet and the societies that have been making them rich. The concept of corporate social responsibility has been around for at least half a century already, but it is crystal clear that the expectation of many governments and citizens that individual corporations and whole industries could be trusted to self-regulate their practices in order to ensure that they are ethical, and have beneficial, or at least benign impacts on society, was naïve to say the least. What is surprising is that many people are only just waking up to this blindness now, when in many cases the damage wrought on the environment, people, and cultures of the world by profit-driven greedy, selfish, and destructive businesses may be irreversible.
Hot on the heels of last week’s revelations that Apple willingly sacrifices the privacy and data security of millions of its users in order to appease despotic governments and increase the corporation’s profits, in the first article this week we have yet another extremely concerning sign that Apple’s products are not just hackable and reprogrammable, but that they could also be potentially used for other nefarious purposes. The researcher in the article on the Conversation speculates that, since Apple’s AirTags have already been hacked, they could be used by stalkers to track owners, which is an alarming enough prospect on its own. What should really make you stop and wonder how secure your tech devices are though, comes from the fact contained in the headline – Apple, along with other hardware, social media and tech companies – are running their own covert, unaccountable in-house surveillance networks. Although you may regularly hear companies like Apple claim that they totally respect their users’ privacy and data, from recent news we know for a fact that companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon almost always favour profits over users’ rights, and even when they are exposed for their greedy and dubious practices, they rarely even own up to their misdeeds.
Do you use an Apple product and think that your personal data is safe? Chances are, it’s not. According to an investigation from the New York Times, your data is very possibly in the hands of the Chinese government already. Because Apple completely relies on China for every part of the supply chain and every step of manufacturing for every one of its devices, the Chinese government has Apple over a barrel. This has led to repeated capitulations from Apple, as it has conceded to all of the demands of the Chinese government to remove and block all content on the Apple's App Store related to Taiwan, Tibet, the Dalai Lama, genocide of the Uighurs, the Tian'anmen Massacre, Chinese dissidents, and anything even slightly critical of the Communist Party or Xi Jinping.
Birthrates are falling in many places around the world. As the Guardian article notes, this can be immensely positive to the health of the planet, possibly leading to reductions in the consumption of natural resources, resulting in decreases in pollution, whilst also alleviating burdens on wildlife and their habitats. At the same time, the decrease in national population sizes also provides the perfect opportunity for people to embrace less racist and intolerant approaches to immigration, as governments are forced to accept that in this globalised era, welcoming and integrating migrants is much more effective than treating them as second-class citizens by preventing them from assimilating into society, thus viewing them as nothing more than temporary labourers, or completely excluding them from ever gaining citizenship. After all, as examples in many different countries have shown, the precipitous decline in birthrates is not something that can be reversed or meaningfully controlled by government intervention. So why is Taiwan continuing in its futile efforts to boost the birthrate and now allocating NT$9.1 billion for this purpose?
When is plagiarism not considered plagiarism? When the plagiarism is carried out by a globally renowned news organisation? Or when the blatant copy is just dissimilar enough to consider it original? The answer, of course, is that plagiarism is always the unethical (and usually illegal) copying or borrowing of others’ work without properly acknowledging the original author or creator.
If Taiwan didn’t already have enough reasons to give up nuclear power (which it does, as we have examined for several weeks already), joining the list right at the top now is the fact that Yangming Mountain National Park is home to a group of volcanos with at least one shallow magma chamber. Not only could an eruption of the shallow magma chamber in the Datun Volcano Group – which, by the way, is a group of as many as 20 volcanoes! – potentially destroy large parts of Taipei, starting with Beitou and Shilin Districts, it could also flow directly to two of Taiwan’s nuclear power plants at Wanli and Jinshan, leading to calamitous consequences. So now, in addition to the very real risks from earthquakes, typhoons, landslides, tsunamis, and Taiwan’s lax safety culture, you can include volcanic eruption and lava flow.
#里茲螞蟻批判性思考寫作專欄 #Alex專欄 #外師每週精選閱讀
A glance at the news for the past couple of weeks and some of the main stories are clearly enormous warning signs to Taiwan about the dangers of nuclear power. One terrible example is that Japan has announced that they are going to dump radioactive water into the ocean. This will not just pollute waters around Japan’s coast, but also flow around the Pacific Ocean, including to Taiwan, according to modelling of ocean currents. Predictably and understandably, Taiwan and other nations in the region are up in arms about how irresponsible dumping radioactive water into the ocean is, but what other options do the Japanese have left? They were foolish enough to put their faith in nuclear power and it failed horribly, and now they need to deal with the consequences.
#里茲螞蟻批判性思考寫作專欄 #Alex專欄 #外師每週精選閱讀
Yet another horrific accident, yet more finger-pointing and empty apologies, no doubt to be followed by half-hearted promises and ineffective policies. That’s the takeaway from the situation that the author of this week’s article, Michael Turton, sees when surveying the aftermath of Taiwan’s latest disaster. His analysis borrows heavily from Charles Perrow’s text Normal Accidents, which finds accidents to be a normalised part of modern societies that rely on a whole host of complex and integrated systems. In addition to Perrow’s theories, Turton also suggests that these accidents occur from “operating in an atmosphere of intense production pressures and a lax safety culture”; however, of these two, Turton presents the intense production pressures to be the more dominant factor leading to many of these disasters. Thus he seems to suggest that blaming the “operator” – whether it be the train driver, bus driver or power station operator – as somewhat of a cop-out, with higher authorities treating “lowly” operators as scapegoats.