Freitag, Juni 03, 2005

NGO Extortion at its best...

Now this is really amazing and blatant. I'm surpised that not more have taken up on it.

This from Bob Geldorf's current attempt to do good: he is attempting to extort services from a private company for his own needs and goals.

O2 refuses to handle a planned 70 million SMS messages for free. Bob and his buddies want them to do it for free. O2 drops the price and it's not enough:

Phil Willis MP, the head of the all-party mobile communications group, called for the company to give all the money to Live8.

"It seems wherever there is a buck to be made there is always a mobile company willing to do it. They are trying to cream off an exorbitant fee for what is a very simple service. There is no reason they could not simply donate their systems for free," he said.

Now what he is really saying is that the reason that they are not doing it - corporate responsibility to their shareholders comes to my mind immediately - doesn't meet his expectations of what he wants them to do.

The government, who is tied of course into this, has no compunction with using other people's money, or actually simply not taxing the lottery in question:

The news emerged as Gordon Brown today threw his weight behind the Live8 campaign by promising to write off its £500,000 tax bill.

Isn't that nice: Brown is simply willing to forego income from taxes on the results of the lottery: this they equate with actually bearing the costs of the mechanism of the lottery. They are comparing cherries with watermelons.

But politicians today described O2's decision as "disgraceful" and urged the company to follow the Chancellor's example.

Fine. O2 should simple say that they won't impose any additional surcharges. That's what a tax is: it is imposed. What the politicans want is for O2 to take a significant financial hit to pay for what is fundamentally a political stunt that will probably see more harm done than good.

And the chancellor doesn't work in a commercial environment.

And now the best part of the article from This Is London:

"We are charging 10p per entry to cover our administration costs, and we have no plans to waive that fee. This is a huge operation and we will still be making a loss," said an O2 spokesman.

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: "O2 have actually lowered the rate of the text message, but I think given the massive number of texts being sent, obviously economies of scale come into play.

"If you do the sums, it does seem they could make a big profit. I think it's reasonable that they cover their costs and make a modest profit, but nothing more than that." O2 refused to bow to the pressure today.

I've added the emphasis.

Linday Boswell is the Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, the lobby of the fundraisers in Great Britain. He's ex-army and has been in social work since, so I won't impune his bonafides since they appear sincere.

I just checked their on-line financial statements and wasn't able to get his salary, but they spend over 600.000 Pounds Sterling on 20 people, and two of them were earning more than 60.000 each. So his sincerity certainly pays.

But he is, I think, obviously clueless when it comes to understanding economies of scale when applied to telephone networks.

Here is the first clue: telephone networks of any kind do not benefit from economies of scale, nor do they recognize it. Telephone network economics operate on the basis of the number of people attached to the network: the marginal cost of any, literally any service on the network simply doesn't exist.

Telephone networks have very high investment costs and minimal operating costs. You only make money when people use it intensively, and people only use it when they feel that the value offered is higher than the marginal costs of using the network. Once set up, the major operating costs are administrative, and that is where O2 is, IMHO, absolutely correct in refusing to act as a mattress.

They have already indicated that they will lose money, not earn any.

And when you think of it, this sort of muddled thinking is part of the whole NGO problem: they want to maximize their income by using existing, commercially and government financed infrastructures but are unwilling to accept that there are costs involved.

Tragedy of the commons indeed.

The Chancellor today outlined his agenda for Gleneagles, where he hopes to persuade the leading industrialised nations to back his ambitious plans for a "new deal" for Africa.

Describing the programme as a "modern Marshall Plan" for the developing world, he set out proposals to grant 100 per cent debt relief to the poorest nations.

Great. What he is proposing here is a massive abdication of responsibility which at the end of the day will be extraordinarily destructive.

First, debt relief means that you will reward corruption and incompetence. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the wrong approach: what these countries need is to go after those who squandered the millions and billions in question and to punish them for having done so. He rewards, actively, corruption, and will reinforce the current conditions which have led to corruption and waste: lack of responsibility and lack of real, meaningful sanctions not on countries and the defenseless, but rather sanctions on the corrupt and incompetent.

Mr Brown's four-point plan would also see the financing of a mass immunisation and vaccination programme designed to save five million lives by 2015, a doubling of international aid to £27.5billion and improved trade agreements with developing nations.

Oddly enough, no problems here: just that he will end up increasing poverty, destroying local infrastructures that are desperately needed for local economic independence and will further the interests not of the local nations, but rather the interests of the EU.


Mr Brown also backed plans for a million-strong demonstration in Edinburgh to coincide with the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

"We want to get some big decision out of the Gleneagles summit-that people can say 'look, what we have done has some enduring purpose, it's going to change the world, it is going to make it better," he told GMTV.

In other words, distract people from their own problems and interests. If you want to change the world, then by all means go out there and actually do something to change it: but going to a demo is nothing more than emotionally satisfying intellectual masturbation. "Some big decision": what he means is that it'll look great on his resume that he got the G8 to do "something". Doesn't matter what they do, just do something.

But being there is probably a great way to meet chicks.

Scottish police have expressed concerns about the scale of the march through Edinburgh, fearing it could pose a security problem. But Mr Brown said the demonstration should go ahead.

He also insisted he would push ahead with the International Finance Facility (IFF) - his favoured scheme for raising £27.5billion of aid - despite US reservations.

In a challenge to the Americans, he said: "When many have suggested to me it is a demand too large, a programme too ambitious, my reply is that it is not a time for timidity nor a time to fear reaching too high."

Sheesh. Of course it's going to turn into a security nightmare and will attract all sorts of loonies from the left and right, as well as the usual mob of luddite globalization opponents coupled with anarchists who will probably end up doing the usual massive property damage and through activist-instigated riots - and that is where the anarchists have so much fun - so that Brown and all the other fine, nice upstanding socially active and politically correct fellows can feel so good about themselves.

Makes me wanna puke.

Want to do something good in Africa?

For a start, kill subsidies for agricultural products being exported there. Stop destroying local industries by price dumping. Expose corrupt politicians for what they are, parasites; reinforce local rule of law. Remove import restrictions.

Want to do something personal?

Go there and teach. Not sociology or political science - as an institute, the Sorbonne has probably done more damage in the 3rd world than most colonial wars - but engineering, math, literacy.

You don't need much of an infrastucture to teach literacy and math. You need books and patience, coupled with time and food for both teachers and students.

But thinking that getting a really, really neat rock concert together and going to Edinburgh to meet girls is actually doing anything is, for me, intellectually dishonest and politically opportune. It's the exploitation of the poor for specific political gain. And it's something I fund really, really repugnant.


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