Davos or Die: a Difficult Decision

I had a choice this year between going to the World Economic Forum at Davos and sticking pins in my eyeballs. I chose the latter – OK, hanging around the Sunshine Coast.  (Actually, we saw Wayne manfully striding down Alexandra Parade the other day, yacking away on the mobile.  Funnily enough, he didn’t stop to say hello.)

But for some strange reason, the World Economic Forum organisers keep sending me all the usual bumf as if I am attending.  I just love the Global Risk Report, which is quite a highlight, but it is embargoed until next week so I won’t talk about it until then. (Tip – complete bollocks)

But I did receive this piece of tommy-rot from Greenpeace about its annual Public Eye Awards, which amazingly are announced at the Davos convention which is attended by all sorts of business types. (Last year, I couldn’t help but feel that many of these mushy business types had missed their true vocation – politics – although I guess many were just playing to the crowd, bad though that sort of behaviour was.  For the sake of the shareholders, I hoped so.)

Online polls for Public Eye People’s Awards 2013 now open! Fighting corporate crime with the help of business ethicists, an ex-bank regulator and ad parodies
During the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of January, the Berne Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland will present the dreaded Public Eye Awards for the worst cases of corporate human rights abuses and environmental misdeeds. The polls for the Public Eye People’s Award open today at www.publiceye.ch and the site features a number of caustic ad parodies to mark the occasion. The nominees for this ignominious award include seven companies from four continents. At the press conference for the awards presentation in Davos the well-known ex-banking regulator William K. Black will talk about the criminal energy of corporations and the oligarchy in the finance industry.
Online voting for the worst offender of the year runs from today until midday January 23, 2013. This year’s shortlist features the seven most egregious cases of corporate crime selected by our newly conceived jury of internationally known business ethicists from 20 expert reports about potentially deserving candidates. The reports were compiled by the Institute for Business Ethics at the University of St. Gall. More than 50 NGOs from all over the globe nominated companies.
The French energy and transport conglomerate ALSTOM is involved in countless corruption scandals all over the world. The company’s practice of offering bribes to local politicians, sometimes in the seven figures, in order to secure contracts, and the frequency of new cases becoming known suggest that the company handles corruption as a deliberately chosen business strategy.
The Indian energy group COAL INDIA is the world’s largest coal producer. The company produces 400 million tons per year, operates 90% of all coal mines in India and continues to plan new coal-powered power plants that would make India the world’s third largest emitter of CO2. The coal mines destroy the habitats of numerous large mammals and rob tribal peoples of their homelands thus condemning them to a life in bitter poverty.
With some 650,000 security forces in its employ, the British security firm G4S fields the largest private army in the world. These security forces are often badly trained and paid. Operating in 125 countries, the company stands accused of countless violations of international law and human rights. G4S is present in the occupied Palestinian territories—manning checkpoints and managing prison security—and other regions of conflict, often serving repressive regimes such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain or Saudi-Arabia.
GOLDMAN SACHS is the vampire of finance capital. Never one to waste a crisis—whether a subprime mortgage bubble, a bank collapse, or a Euro-failure—Goldman Sachs makes good money from most of them. And the company does not shy away from deals that might ruin entire countries. Goldman’s financial constructions eventually ruined Greece and plunged the EU into the current financial crisis. And Goldman made good money this way: billions of dollars at the expense of European taxpayers. Goldman Sachs maintains an opaque and matchless global network of former bank managers in top political positions such as European Central Bank president Mario Draghi.
Managers of the world’s third largest platinum producer LONMIN urged the South African Mining Ministry to take „appropriate measures“ against striking miners at the Marikana mine—using the police or the army. 44 workers were shot dead by the police shortly thereafter and another 77 seriously injured. One day after the massacre Lonmin announced that all workers who continued to strike would be fired. The workers, who live in bitter poverty, walked off the job because Lonmin management had repeatedly failed to appear for scheduled wage negotiations.
The Swiss energy concern REPOWER wants to build a hard-coal power plant in the southern Italian region of Calabria, against the opposition of the local population. The site of the planned power plant is right in the middle of `Ndrangheta territory, Italy’s and probably Europe’s most influential Mafia-type alliance. Repower deliberately chose to engage with corrupt politicians in order to build an unwanted, socially and environmentally unsustainable coal power plant. The company’s determination prompted former Prime Minister Berlusconi to pass a „Repower Act“ that robs regions of their right to have a say in the decision.
SHELL wants to drill for oil in the Arctic at all costs. The oil company ignores the disaster warnings of scientists and millions of people who want to protect the arctic. Pete Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska told the BBC: «I’m not going to gloss things over: I think there will be oil spills, and no oil spill is ok.“ Neither this remarkable admission nor a series of incidents in the first round of preparations in the Arctic, however, have inspired Shell to invest more money in safety precautions. Shell also dropped the shift to renewable energies from its long-term strategy.
On Thursday, January 24, 2013 (9:00 a.m. at Kirchgemeindehaus Davos Platz) the WEF-critical Public Eye will focus on the irresponsible behavior of large corporations at an international press conference. The recipients of the Jury Award and the People’s Award will be presented there. The well-known economics professor and former banking regulator William K. Black (book: The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One) will speak about the criminal energy of corporations, the oligarchy in the finance industry and the state of democracy today.

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20 Responses to Davos or Die: a Difficult Decision

  1. stackja

    Greenpeace needs more money. Pay up and we will be friends with your corporation and make your shareholders happy too.

  2. Andrew

    I had a choice this year between going to the World Economic Forum at Davos and sticking pins in my eyeballs.

    Judith, I remember hearing you on the ABC saying that Davos was all built up and had nice ski fields. There were also lots of celebrities there. Couldn’t you just bail on the forum and go to the ski fields? Surely tolerating a few loony greens is worth going to beautiful Switzerland?

  3. johninoxley

    Judith, Goldman Sachs did the right thing and protected their shareholders investment. It is a pity governments world wide did not do the same thing and protect their own shareholders (citizens) investment. Do not buy what you cant afford.

  4. Skuter

    I like it how the politicians are let off the hook regarding the corruption scandals. The simple fact is that corporations wouldn’t offer bribes if at least some of the people in trusted positions of power weren’t willing to accept them. It is the power granted to (or taken by, perhaps???) politicians and bureaucrats to influence outcomes that is at the heart of all corruption.

  5. GS-PUT

    I had a little chuckle reading johninoxley’s comment that GS protected its shareholders. I’m sure they’re breathing a sigh of relief now that stock prices are back to where they were in 2006, but still over $100 short of the price it reached back in those heady days of late 2007. I hope you didn’t buy then, John.

    I made some nice money trading multiple short term GS put options as the stock price fell about $200 from its $240 high during 2008. I haven’t traded them since, but I’m sure I’ll take a look at them again when they get above $200. I’m just hoping GS does the right thing again when they do!

  6. NoFixedAddress

    How about a Catallaxy Award for the Most Destructive NGO supported changes to society….

    Here are 2 current examples,

    “Organic” Is The Latin Word For “Grown In Pig Shit”


    Great news: Federally-permitted lightbulbs a cancer risk

    Perhaps someone might be able to get a comment from a former Howard Government minister on that last one

  7. John A

    Davos – close to Davros, name of the inventor of the Daleks (worst enemies of every Doctor in Dr Who).

    Davros is a megalomaniac with fascist tendencies and the Daleks only know how to “Exterminate!”

    Hmm, could be something in that…watch out for those Public Eye Awards.

  8. Green Peas came off looking so slimy this year after their multiple hoaxes against Shell, even their fellow travelers on the Left declared their campaign “self-defeating”.

    The real villain here is Greenpeace. This is an NGO that thinks it is acceptable to lie to the public, to lie to bloggers and journalists, and to then intimidate writers with threatening emails warning of legal action. This absolutely is not okay. I don’t care if you’re saving the Arctic, rescuing kittens from YouTube’s vicious pet-celebrity training camps, or training pandas to pull famine-ridden children out of earthquake debris; to behave in this deceitful way demonstrates an astonishing amount of contempt for the public – not least for environmentalist supporters who spread their message in good faith only to find themselves forced into embarrassing retractions.

    Green Peas are the ones who deserve a “Public Eye Award” after that.

  9. John A

    How did G4S miss out on an exemption, since they work with regimes considered friends of the lefties in the Green movement?

    Somebody must have slipped up somewhere…

  10. NoFixedAddress

    NGO = New-age Global Opportunists

  11. Toiling Mass

    Ad parodies?

    I can see why people associate the average Greenpeace drone with drug usage. No grand principle, it is just that it takes months to find someone in their ranks with the ID to go to the bottle-o.

  12. Pickles

    Judith you are supposed to be having a nice holiday. Couldn’t get the Getz up on the footpath and over Swan?

    Immersion therapy has its uses but being up to your neck in riff raff will not refresh. Come up the road a bit to Hastings St my dear. Much better class of idiot up here.

  13. I think they really embarrassed a lot of their Green-Left mates, who fell for the parodies hook line & sinker and reported them as “fact”, then had egg on their face when normal sane rational people pointed out that they’d fallen for (yet another) hoax.

  14. NoFixedAddress

    And if Catallaxy were to award a special prize for absolute Scum of The Earth Day Hypocrite I nominate Al Gore.

    Perhaps he has been in the pay of Big Oil all along.

  15. WhaleHunt Fun

    All Greens are utter scum. Where’s Pol Pot when you need him? Bet that ten years subsistence farming rice in typhoidic water would get rid of the ignorant stupidity of these inner urban cretins. The burrowing nematodes would also serve to raise the total IQ within the braincase.

  16. lotocoti

    I noticed ‘bitter poverty’ got a couple of mentions.
    With relatively few results, goggle-wise, for that specific phrase, one can’t help but think it might be The Next Big Thing being run up the flag pole.

  17. Mother G

    Judith. Davos is summer is about as useful as Davos at the end of Januray when so much of the conference is really a a place to be seen and to have earnest discussions which add nothing to the world’s sum of knowledge.
    One Cabinet Minister years ago wished every time the train would get snowed in so he would not have to play nice when listening to garbage.

  18. johninoxley

    GS-PUT, glad I provided some light relief for you, Why didnt you pick them with a long call while still on the way down. That aside, the private sector are accountable in the short term, government isnt. Although you didnt say so, you describe how the real world works. Prices too high, correction; too many high prices, crash. Government see prices only going higher showing the suckers how clever they are. Hence the so called treasurer claiming there would be a budget surplus when Blind Freddie could see there wouldnt be.

  19. Matt

    Comparing bankers to vampires is straight from the Nazi anti-Semitic play book. Greenpeace – keeping it classy as usual

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