Editor’s note: Raleigh-based veteran tech attorney Jim Verdonikfounder of hearth cell who is dedicated to exploring issues of freedom, and co-founder of Innovative Capital LawVerdonik has been actively involved for several decades in advising technology start-ups on raising capital and other legal matters.
RALEIGH- Some people see history as a straight line going in one direction. Personally, I think the story is more like a pendulum. The more the pendulum swings to one side, the greater the pushing force in the opposite direction.
Freedom suppressors come from a variety of backgrounds – from mega billionaires to Chinese dictators, Wall Street money managers and international bureaucrats. They all march under the common banner of Environment, Social and Governance is the banner held up by the liberty suppressors.
It was a big ESG week at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Among what happened:
- China’s Alibaba Group has announced personal carbon footprint tracking software that will monitor and assess your entire life: what you eat, where you travel, how you get there
- Wall Street fund managers have flaunted their power to depress market prices of companies they believe aren’t sufficiently EGG compliant
- Biden administration seeks to hand over pandemic decision-making to World Health Organization
- Social credit scores are used to penalize both businesses and individuals around the world
- Big Tech is working diligently to try to create a uniform global system for rating businesses and individuals
Wow. All is lost, right?
Love, hate and distrust: for Big Tech, the stakes and the risks are getting even higher
More like a pendulum than a line
Not so fast. Some people see history as a straight line going in one direction. Personally, I think the story is more like a pendulum. The more the pendulum swings to one side, the greater the force of the push in the opposite direction.
We see the first signs of this pushback using the same weapons as the ESG supporters. Alliance Defending Freedom recently launched the ViewpointDiversityScore.org website and annual business index. ADF describes its efforts as follows: The Business Index focuses on industries that have the greatest potential to impact freedom of expression and religious freedom.
These include industries that provide essential banking, payment processing and cloud services, or serve as platforms for third-party expression in the digital space. Many companies are household names, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bank of America.
In addition to scoring companies, Viewpoint Diversity Score will provide companies with viable solutions through policy templates, research, toolkits, surveys and constructive dialogue.
We can expect more countermeasures to follow, just as states push back on Disney to support political causes.
Like ADF, they will use the same tools that ESG forces currently use.
What do you think?
Free speech is at stake: Twitter, Big Tech, mainstream media versus Elon Musk…and you
Who are the winners
I like a good fight as much as the next guy. Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you about it. And freedom of expression is one of my most fundamental values. So you would expect me to be a big supporter of the ADF.
The software amplifies the power. So software that ranks in favor of free speech has to be good, right?
But I ask this fundamental question. Where are all those software reviews that will be used by both sides of leading companies?
I guess I’m old fashioned. I think businesses should focus on creating and selling products and services that their customers want. If customers don’t want it, they won’t buy it. Then businesses must change or die. Anything that detracts from that goal is bad for business.
What happens to an economy where too much attention is paid to ideological evaluations of software and not enough to delivering what people want to buy?
We have seen many economies driven by ideology:
- In medieval Europe, the Church often shaped economic policy
- In many Islamic societies, religious doctrine still shapes business decisions
- The ideology also led the Soviet Union
These are not very good examples of flourishing economies, are they?
What is ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing? The Kenan Institute says…
Role of software
The software concentrates the power. When it is put at the service of an ideology, it amplifies both the good and the bad effects of this ideology.
So while I’m willing to fight to uphold freedom of speech and other values, I want both sides to lay down and let companies fulfill their primary mission: to sell the products and services that customers want.
Another question: why would you want your company to be caught up in an ideological war?
When you see half the country fighting the other half, maybe you don’t want your business to be in the middle.
Here is how you can avoid this spell:
- No comment. Freedom of expression includes the right not to speak.
- Clearly define your mission. We make products and services that people want to buy.
- Let employees, customers, suppliers, etc. be free to do what they want.
Or jump into the middle of war and suffer the consequences.
Tweet this: Elon Musk won the Twitter battle with lightning speed