C … Corporations


If someone were to enter your home on the pretext that repairs were needed, flooded your kitchen and bathroom by leaving faucets running, secretly installed a remote control to allow him to repeat the entire process at will [and did so, repeatedly], I wonder if you might get a little upset? You might even consider him an anti-social criminal. But then, he would be a person, and you do not expect such behavior from a person you have not harmed.

I am getting this treatment from a corporation; its name is Microsoft. Many tens of thousands, probably millions, of their other customers are getting the same treatment. Microsoft wants to push sales of its new-ish Windows 10 operating system. To do this, they download a piece of malware under the pretext that it is ‘a recommended upgrade’. It upgrades nothing at all, has no benefits to any user. What it does do is this. First, it generates an annoying pop-up window suggesting you upgrade to their Windows 10. No big deal, close the pop-up, just a minor irritation every time you start the computer. Second, it downloads, with neither permission nor warning, a very large file – you guessed it, Windows 10, but de-activated. This it hides on your hard disk. Memory is cheap nowadays, but not everyone has a lot to waste; Microsoft don’t care about that. So your system may run slower, too bad. But the download itself is a lot of data; many of us, in rural areas especially, are capped on both the amount and the speed of data download. The computer’s access to the internet is blocked for considerable periods and the monthly cap is blown. Microsoft don’t care about that. Too bad, you ought to live in a city. And finally, once you discover this is going on, you can remove the malware if you know how; Microsoft simply re-installs it next time it sends out any of its [almost daily] security band-aids.

But Microsoft is not a person, it is a corporation. Morality is not expected from a corporation; they are amoral, incapable of being good or evil, concerned only with making money. We all know that; we regulate them by making and occasionally enforcing laws defining criminal corporate behavior; we are happy for them to make money within those legal limits.  Making money honestly is good; using crime, fraud, deception, and political corruption to make more money is bad.

Now take a look at other big corporations. Enron, downright fraud on a huge scale, manipulating energy markets. Big banks, swindling their customers and their competitors alike, causing the housing crash and then foreclosing on their victims. Volkswagen, faking their emissions testing, polluting the air and cheating their customers with false promises of fuel economy. Fossil fuel companies bribing scientists to falsify data showing CO2 buildups in the atmosphere. Big tobacco knowingly killing their customers. The list goes on, and I know I’m using dramatic language; it’s well-deserved and accurate. The legal limits on what corporations may do are routinely flouted, usually with impunity.

Either we bring big corporations to heel and enforce social responsibility, or they will destroy our society. They have already destroyed our concept of democracy by corrupting national, and some local, politics; corporate lobbyists and flacks are more powerful than the voices of citizens, they own most of the media, they consider themselves above the laws of the land, they buy the courts and the legislatures. It is time for people, real live breathing human people, to retake control of this republic from corporate ‘persons’.

And if you agree with me, discuss it with a friend who is unenlightened. Open argument and discussion are good, while thoughtless acceptance of ‘things as they are’ leads only to servitude.

Also find these older posts…
A … Autonomy B … Bear C … Corporations I … Introduction J … Judgment P … Potholes R … Review S … Snoozers W … Weather

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IP Doorman

Copyright 2016 Flight of Eagles

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Writer of Kern.

4 thoughts on “C … Corporations”

  1. I think you are being a bit harsh with Microsoft. I too have similar problems with 10 and don’t like, but it’s unreasonable to ask them not to advance technology. What if you had all American tools and the the industry you worked in changed to metric? TVs no longer receive signals the same way over the airways. What if you owned a pay phone business 10 years ago? Microsoft is trying to advance technology and I don’t think they should be weighed down trying to maintain old and vulnerable technologies. Yes, some people are going to be hurt, but comparing them to Enron isn’t fair.


  2. Well, John, maybe life is unfair. Comparing a thief to a murderer may be unequal, but both are still criminals, so I think my larger point stands.

    Microsoft is an interesting case. As advancers of technology they were outstanding 30 to 40 years ago, since then they have slipped badly. Since the early days of DOS they have not made significant innovations; Windows was a copy of the Apple GUI, built on the old DOS base. Excel was a copy of the original Visicalc. Word processors were around long before MS had one. Web browsers and e-mail came from Netscape and DARPA. Microsoft now stands for old technology re-packaged and showing its age, lumbering patched-up ox-carts on a super-highway, but with a huge inertia in its user base. My opinion, others may reasonably differ.

    Their right to appropriate MY time, MY bandwidth, MY storage to advertize their latest defective product is what I object to in this case. Not nearly as big an offense as those practiced by the other companies I used as examples, let’s keep a sense of proportion, but still offensive and mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow.

    As an aside, I’d like my old SAE tools still to be available, to fit the SAE nuts and bolts on my old still-working machines – not to be forced to scrap them prematurely. Over-the-air TV used to be freely available to nearly everyone; now you need cable or internet access, not universally available and far from free. And not everyone has a cellphone; payphones were a socially useful niche market when 90% of people had a landline phone, they would still be a socially useful niche market today even when 90% of people have a cellphone. Advancing technology does not necessarily imply abandoning all proven and affordable old technologies, although that is a strategy that is good for corporate profits.

    Thanks for your response, which is thoughtful and made me think too.


  3. I’ve already had numerous discussions with different friends and my husband regarding Windows 10 and the horror stories of upgrading. I am a lifelong Apple person and never can understand why everyone else puts up with all the issues that come with windows and their apps. That said, after 20 years, the last upgrade to my Mac screwed my computer up, and I live in fear of the next one. I usually wait to upgrade until what I’m using is no longer supported.


  4. Ian,
    I upgraded to Windows 10 on my laptop with no problems. My desktop was a nightmare. I spent hours (and hours) on the phone with tech support to no avail. Finally, my husband realized because he built the computer, he needed to download some software upgrades to make the transition from Windows 7 to 10. After that everything was fine.

    I understand your frustration and why we should not be forced to install something we don’t want on our own computers. But, as John mentioned it will help advance technology. It seems if we want to use technology we have to figure out the cost to our privacy and personal choice.


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