Awoke today to an email from the organization Public Citizen — having been on their mailing list at least a couple of years now. Well, this one had to do with Google and their creed about them not supposed to do evil (which they began reneging on about a decade ago, not too long after the company first came into being). Says Google’s donating money to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which lobbies to promote unsavory internet policies and contradicts climate change information and asks me to sign some petition pressuring them to knock it off.
I can see a situation like this from more than a couple angles. As a consumer, I’m much more interested in Google ceasing to monopolize the internet in general, but money brought in from advertising revenue at a time when so many companies were first jockeying for position online has allowed that be the case. Now we can’t find a decent search engine since all use the Google algorithm, so far as I’ve been able to find. That’s a problem all unto itself, and a petition isn’t going to make a dent in that since we’re not Google’s customer base, advertisers are.
I do agree that companies should be transparent in letting the public know what their money is funding, particularly publicly-traded companies. People deserve to know what it is they’re helping support.
BUT, I’m also not cool with these witch-hunts to push all businesses and all people toward accepting and embracing climate change information. For as much scientific consensus people claim there is, we also see how many of these scientists work within government-funded institutions, which is problematic when we realize this climate change bandwagon push is a heavily politicized matter. And what sort of solutions are they offering? Carbon tax schemes and an enhanced focus on shifting to nuclear power, and that I remain hung up on. I smell a rat up in that.
Anytime the government is heavily pressuring people to get on board with some gameplan, you can bet it comes down to business and economic interests first and foremost. That’s my bet anyway. Since when did our government care so much about the planet or human posterity? It doesn’t, and I doubt it ever will, because that’s simply not what drives it. So when they push, push, push for everybody to go along with a scheme and encourage people to pressure and boycott and ostracize in order to get it done, I figure it’s a matter of time before we all wind up further disillusioned.
I don’t think Google (or any major corporation) ought to be handing out money on these matters, but I’d need to see more specific information on what all it is they’re financially supporting before I can form a firm opinion.
But even still, if we find out Google truly has gone in some corrupt direction, how do we effectively boycott them when they’ve bought up so much of the internet? Are we going to boycott Youtube and most search engines and Picasa and the Chrome browser and countless other sites and apps? Because without doing so, all people have is a dinky petition that no one truly cares about. Won’t change a thing even if we all signed the thing. Because we have no alternatives to turn toward, that is unless we’re willing to turn off our computers, which I seriously doubt most would even consider.
So, I think if you want to punish a mammoth like Google, you do so by creating alternatives to it so that the public has choices so as to be in a position to negotiate with these companies. As it stands right now, Google is buying up a great portion of popular internet sites and we’re going along with it. People say we lack the money to create alternatives, but people threw what amounted to millions at president candidates in each election, and we collectively raise money for all sorts of other schemes, so I’m willing to bet there are possibilities here as well. The main concern would be keeping an alternative in the public domain where it won’t be sold off to major corporations once it’s finally made a name for itself.
Is that a sufficient solution? Probably not, but neither is signing a petition. And laws only take us so far since these major corporations have more lobbying power than we do in getting what they want from politicians. It’s a corrupt situation, and the only way to defy it is to ultimately create some sort of alternative to it, to undercut it, and to force it to play among others instead of dominating the scene and doing as it wishes. That takes breaking up monopolies, which calls on us to provide alternative choices. If we can’t do that, at the end of the day what can we really do?