LR Poll: My Rights vs. Yours

So, how would you vote?

Two proposals dealing with executive pay, and two more addressing human rights issues, all failed to gain a majority vote at the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) shareholder meeting yesterday, judging from preliminary counts.

Still, they got some noteworthy support, particularly after Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO)'s adventures in Congress last week. (See Cisco Voters Down Human Rights Proposal and Moral 'Pygmies'.)

We'd like to know where your vote stands, and whether you think it's reasonable to demand more of corporations when it comes to human rights issues. To cast your vote in our new poll, click here.

Meanwhile -- we do understand that shareholder meetings aren't as exciting as, say, World Cup football, but we took some photos anyway. So, please take a moment and relive the magic:

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 2:58:37 PM
re: LR Poll: My Rights vs. Yours I am against the software vendors such as YHOO, GOOGLE since they are 'looking' at the personal content level that can be used to violate HRs.

They should turn of this feature and only after a legal request to 'tap' a user should the feature be enabled. Similar to tapping a telephone call.
Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 2:58:36 PM
re: LR Poll: My Rights vs. Yours According to the poll, so far, two thirds of respondents actually believe "that the best way to promote freedom is to aid technological and economic progress."
"It's been shown to work," they opine.
Mark Seery 12/5/2012 | 2:58:36 PM
re: LR Poll: My Rights vs. Yours Larry,

"Bourgeois society has been cast in a purely economic mold: its foundations, beams, and beacons are all made of economic material. The building faces towards the economic side of life. Prizes and penalties are measured in pecuniary terms....In part it appeals to, and in part it creates, a schema of motives that is unsurpassed in simplicity and force. The promises of wealth and the threats of destitution that it holds out, it redeems with ruthless promptitude. Wherever the bourgeois way of life asserts itself sufficiently to dim the beacons of other social worlds,...."

In the above words by Joseph Schumpeter lie an almost religious ode to capitalism that suggests a redemptive delivery from all other social worlds. In some cultures those other social worlds are thought of with some respect, though not so much on this message board ;-) Regardless, the obsessive nature of capitalisms' rewards and threats has the ability to cast aside all other concerns, for better and for worse (not either/or). In this potential then, is the ability to drive those accustomed and satisfied with tyranny away from it.

When I do consulting work in countries that are by our and any reasonable standard tyrannical, you end up being in touch with an affluent "liberal" class that want to change the countries they live in. The more of these people that exist, the more likely there will be change. In the 1990's a number of countries around the world were in economic trouble. They required shock treatment, that resulted in a flourshing market system. In some cases, it was hard to maintain political tyranny after that. A free market desires a free political system. The troubadours did not speak of a greater likeness between noble hearts when they spoke of amor.

While I understand the WTO is much hated by some, it is also an instrument of change. Just to be included in world trade you have to make some changes. Perhaps in the future to stay a member of world trade you will have to make other changes (and many countries learned during the 1990's that not participating in world trade can be deadly).

While we often contemplate the evils of economic obsession, there is an upside as well - many in fact. In this context, economic upsides can be discussed.

It is a hope that economic obsessions will have the same impact on society that they have on ours, with the same resultant good and bad effects; a mix that we have found a way to live with; if not in harmony, then at least with some measure of acceptance. For the building block of a free market is a single **voluntary** exchange - a symbol of liberty, a symbol to contemplate, and a symbol to build on.

But the above are hopes - not certitudes. The hope that one voluntary exchange becomes millions, and millions become billions of voluntary exchanges, and from that a culture of liberty and freedom emerges - for as Aristotle might observe, we are what we do. For sure it is not a slam dunk, and those that believe in this road will have to look upon the shoulders of these roads and be able to stomach the road kill that lie there - and not just the emergence of boom and bust cycles which can create road kill enough.


That a woman would get 90 lashes for being gang raped is hideous enough. That she would have her sentence increased to 200 for talking to the press about it, is beyond hideous. I was in Saudi Arabia when women were first allowed to own their own businesses. It felt good. It felt like progress was being made. That the above still happens years later rather dims my enthusiasm. If not for the knowledge that every unit of commerce, a voluntary exchange, is both an act and assertion of liberty, I would probably have no hope at all. If not for the knowledege that liberty's cause did not come over night even in the countries that take it for granted, and if not for the fact that liberty's cause remains an enduring fight everywhere with still more freedoms to be won, then I would also not have the encouragement to persevere. History shows that great victories require the perseverance of saints. Without hope, and without the encouragement to persevere, the journey ahead would of course look infinite and dark; as perhaps to some it already does.
Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 2:58:35 PM
re: LR Poll: My Rights vs. Yours Mark, thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Are you citing the old "Enlightened Self Interest" (A Smith? A Rand?) road to liberty? Not sure Self Interest and Enlightenment ultimately go hand-in-glove, nor Capitalism and Democracy.

Not sure I understand Adam Smith either.

As you say, the growth of freedom in Saudi Arabia has hardly leapt and bounded, though they've been under our enlightened influence for a half century or more. Heck, so long as the oil keeps flowing...

The poll, of course, addresses both economic and technological progress. Economic progress may or may not be synonymous with the advance of capitalism. And economic freedom may or may not translate to political freedoms. The growing concentration of wealth in our own country makes such an equation rather problematical...

But technology is, of course, value-neutral. Nazi Germany was among the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Heck, I explete again, they even had Broadcast Television!

Neither Dancing With the Stars nor Facebook nor even the Apple iPhone-« will preserve and protect our right of Habeus Corpus. And they certainly won't deliver it to China.

Have I rambled enough for now?
bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 2:58:35 PM
re: LR Poll: My Rights vs. Yours Larry,

well written. HR even in affluent contries is well hidden...unless you have been there.

Most of us in the US do not get it.
Mark Seery 12/5/2012 | 2:58:34 PM
re: LR Poll: My Rights vs. Yours Hi Larry,

Orwell, Hayek, Lucas (george) and many others warn us of the freedoms we are willing give up in times of war, and of the road to serfdom paved by central planners. It is such a common literary theme that it seems more likely than not there may be some kernel of truth. So I imagine reading Orwell seems relevant during these times; and yes I guess there is nothing that absolutely guarantees Habeus Corpus remains...we are left with platitudes like eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

I tend not to say look at his system of thought and accept it as faith, because almost all are in error in some way, or have themes that were either unaddressed or undeveloped. This has many times lead to posters in this medium focusing on what was not said, as opposed to what was actually said.

But if you see some echos of self-interest in modern thought, incomplete as it may be, you are probably correct. It has been an enduring observation, reflected in modern thinkers such as:


And while the person in the above video is a confessed and proud idealogue, it is this same person that observed that we often expect businesses to do works of charity because they are so often encouraging us to think so by semantically overloading (my words, not his) their business motives with assertions of good works. And if that is the point of this whole exercise then let us just get it out in the open and admit it to be true. That said, there are acts of true charity and giving in the time of natural disaster by employees of corporations, so it is not a black and white picture we should draw.

It would be an intriguing irony for us to not sell technology to China which we sell to our own governments. I can only imagine the conversations that would spur; much to the liking of some I am sure - that would by definition make us worse than China would it not? (if we follow the reasoning that "I am just the gun maker" is no defense).

I concede that no one single dimension of life is a guarantee of liberty. But I would conjecture that systems that are based on liberty, provide support for other systems that are based on liberty.

When people make choices in a market place, they are asserting their human dignity and supporting liberty. This is the economic part. The "and technology" part comes from the role technology plays in expanding opportunitues to create wealth and the distractions it provides to other social worlds. Would you rather have someone obsessed with their iPhone or obsessed with their copy of the communist manifesto? Would you rather have someone contemplate the kind of society that bought them the iPhone, or would you rather they not know the iPhone exists? Now on the issue of Dancing with the Stars, I believe we are in violent agreement ;-) (though still better than reading the communist manifesto).

I believe the concern that we are supporting the most terrible regimes is the concern of good people - i have these concerns many times myself. But it is like the issue of poverty. Do we view it only through today's lense, or do we look at the grand sweep of history. 200 years ago, most of the world was poor. Today, only 1/6th of the world has escaped poverty. There is much work to be done. What is our plan, and if there is a better road than capitalism to improving the lives of the other 5/6ths of the world in poverty (unspeakable human suffering), what is it?

The long and short view have to be bought in to focus in this debate, and perhaps then there is a compromise to be found that is not obvious today.
Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 2:58:31 PM
re: LR Poll: My Rights vs. Yours "Would you rather have someone obsessed with their iPhone or obsessed with their copy of the communist manifesto?"

Damn. Are those my only choices?

I'm going back to bed.
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