Tag Archives | Corporation Watch

Soaring Profits Do Not Equal Investment

It is taken for granted in conservative circles at that lower taxes on the rich will lead to greater investment in the economy, and therefore jobs—but the data tell a very different story. This analysis comes from Gerald Friedman of Dollars & Sense:

Net Investments and Profits

“The share of national income going to investment (net of depreciation of existing plant and machinery) has been declining since the beginning of the “neoliberal” era, around 1980. Since the start of the Great Recession, net investment as a share of GDP has plummeted to its lowest level since the 1930s. This sharp drop in investment comes despite sharply rising profits.”

Monetary Policy Isn’t Working: The Federal Reserve has helped to shorten past recessions by driving down interest rates to lower the cost of borrowing and so spur investment. During the current crisis, the Fed has conducted an aggressive monetary policy, raising the money supply to lower interest rates.… Read the rest

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Advergaming: Instilling Corporate Logos Through Video Games

brandsCluster Mag on corporate branding inside the virtual worlds of video games:

Video games offer particularly lush marketing opportunities because they allow us to exist as agents in the digital beyond, a fantasy realm we’ve merely glimpsed through other media.

Once upon a time, a couple of consumer food brands partnered up with video game moguls like Capcom, Sega, and Nintendo to develop new games starring their bizarre spokescreatures like the jazzy, anthropomorphic California Raisins and Chester Cheetah.

Since the prehistoric days of advergaming, the transparent strategy of monopolizing the game world through an embodied mascot has mostly been ditched for a more savvy attempt at realistic product placement.

Several recent games go so far as to make the searching out and identification of brand names its central task, including Fashion Finder: Secrets of Fashion, in which 150 fashion brands participated, and Brandmania: Hidden Objects, an app created for the iPad, which sends players to different cities around the world to identify major brand logos “hidden” in realistic scenery.

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Badge Classes And Segregation Inside The Googleplex

Filmmaker Andrew Norman Wilson's eerie short Workers Leaving the Googleplex reveals his brief time employed as a temp in video production at Google's headquarters and how things went terribly wrong. Google fancies itself as creating the future, and its system of separating workers into white, red, green, and yellow badge classes reads like a preview of how society will be organized in some dystopian future. Wilson was fired and threatened with legal action after Google campus security caught him interacting with lowly yellow badge workers, who are not granted the privileges of red and white badge holders, such as riding Google bikes, eating free gourmet Google meals, setting foot anywhere else on Google's campus, or even talking to employees with other badge colors, many of whom do not know that the yellow badge class exists:
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Enraged Workers In Bangladesh Burn Down One Of The Gap’s And Wal-Mart’s Largest Supplying Factories

This is one effective form of protest. Buzzfeed writes:
Workers incensed by rumors of a co-worker’s death in a police firing burned down one of Bangladesh’s 10 biggest garment factories supplying to major Western brands on Nov. 29: According to authorities, factory workers were enraged after a loudspeaker from a mosque announced a worker’s death during a police firing to disperse a road blockade by factory employees earlier that day. Six months’ worth of supplies for U.S. brands, including Gap and Wal-Mart, were burnt in the fire. Other burnt garments included those from huge global brands such as American Eagle Outfitters, Marks and Spencer, Sears, Uniqlo, and Zara. A Standard Group official estimated that the firm could lose well over $100 million in the fire.
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Google Is Now Pouring Money Into Far-Right Wing Organizations

google earthPR Watch notes that Google’s political activities don’t necessarily match up with the views held by its workers:

Google, the tech giant supposedly guided by its “don’t be evil” motto, has been funding a growing list of groups advancing the agenda of the Koch brothers.

Organizations that received “substantial” funding from Google for the first time over the past year include Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union (best known for its CPAC conference), and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.

In 2013, Google also funded the corporate lobby group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), although that group is not listed as receiving “substantial” funding in the list published by Google.

What Google considers “substantial” is not explained — no dollar amounts are given — but the language suggests significant investments from Google and, with a stock value of $330 billion, Google has considerably deep pockets.

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Watch Wal-Mart’s Protester-Demonizing Commercial “Black LieDay”

Via the Nation, Wal-Mart strikes back against its critics in a mind-bending new advertising campaign:
As activists continue to organize demonstrations at McDonalds, Walmart and other low-wage firms, big protests are planned against retailers for mistreating their workers this Black Friday. In response, consultants are ramping up efforts to marginalize them. Last night Worker Center Watch, a new website dedicated to attacking labor-affiliated activist groups, began sponsoring advertisements on Twitter to promote smears against the protests planned for Black Friday. “This Black Friday, just buy your gifts, not their lies,” instructs the narrator. Parquet Public Affairs, a Florida-based government relations and crisis management firm for retailers and fast food companies, registered the Worker Center Watch website. The firm is led by Joseph Kefauver, formerly the president of public affairs for Walmart.
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The Brave New World Of Corporate Espionage

320px-BodywornSurveillanceEquipment“Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations” is the title of a report by Gary Ruskin of Essential Information on a topic that he says we know little about because the “entire subject is veiled in secrecy.” The report is available as a 53-page PDF; below is the introduction:

In the United States, corporations have hired private investigators since the colorful and enterprising Allan Pinkerton set up a detective agency in 1850. It was a benign start. Pinkerton enforced a strict code of ethics on his “private eyes,” and he focused much of their work on solving crimes and catching criminals. But when Pinkerton died in 1884, his business was taken over by his sons, who had ideas of their own. They undertook controversial work, such as anti-union and strike-breaking operations. Thus began the long rise of the corporate spy-for-hire, and the effort to counteract those who dared to impair the profits of corporate America.

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Wal-Mart Holds Food Drive For Its Hungry Employees

walmartWal-Mart tries to show its concern for some of society’s most vulnerable and deprived: Wal-Mart workers. What seems like an Onion story come to life, reported via Cleveland.com:

It’s a food drive – not for the community, but for needy workers. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” read signs affixed to the tablecloths at the Walmart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton.

The food drive tables are tucked away in an employees-only area. Is the food drive proof the retailer pays so little that many employees can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner?

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, said the food drive is proof that employees care about each other. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said.

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AT&T Sells Call Data To CIA For $10 Million Per Year

towerThis of course raises the question, are you the telecom’s customer, or their product? The New York Times reports:

The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials.

The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate. AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers.

The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers.

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