Editor’s note: Veteran Raleigh-based tech attorney Jim Verdonik, founder of Fire Pit Cell which is dedicated to exploring freedom issues, and co-founder of Innovate Capital Law, Verdonik has been actively involved over several decades in advising technology start-up businesses on capital raising and other legal issues.
RALEIGH – Some people view history as a straight line that goes in one direction. Personally, I think history is more like a pendulum. The farther to one side the pendulum swings the greater the force of the pushback in the opposite direction.
Freedom suppressors come from variety of backgrounds—from mega billionaires, to Chinese dictators, to Wall Street money managers to international bureaucrats. They all march under the common banner of Environmental, Social and Governance is the banner raised by freedom suppressors.
This was a big ESG week at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Among what happened:
- China’s Alibaba group announced personal carbon footprint tracking software that will monitor and rate your whole life—what you eat, where you travel, how you get there
- Wall Street money managers flaunted their power to tank the market prices of businesses who they think aren’t sufficiently EGG compliant
- The Biden Administration is seeking to hand pandemic decision making over to the World Health Organization
- Social Credit Scores are being used to penalize both businesses and individuals around the world
- Big Tech is diligently working on trying to create a worldwide uniform system to rate businesses and individuals
Wow. All is lost, right?
More like a pendulum than a line
Not so fast. Some people view history as a straight line that goes in one direction. Personally, I think history is more like a pendulum. The farther to one side the pendulum swings, the greater the force of the pushback in the opposite direction.
We are seeing the first signs of that pushback using the same weapons ESG supporters use. 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 free speech and religious freedom.
These include industries that provide essential banking, payment processing, and cloud services, or that serve as platforms for third-party expression in the digital space. Many of the companies are household names, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bank of America.
Along with scoring companies, Viewpoint Diversity Score will provide companies with workable solutions through model polices, research, toolkits, polling, and constructive dialogue.
We can expect that other countermeasures will follow, just like states are pushing back against Disney for is supporting political causes.
Like ADF, they will use the same tools ESG forces are using now.
What do you think?
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 free speech is one of my most basic values. So, one might expect me to be a big ADF supporter.
Software amplifies power. So, software that rates in favor of free speech must be good, right?
But I ask this basic question. Where is all these software ratings that will be used by both sides leading businesses?
I guess I’m old fashioned. I think business should focus on creating and selling product 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 diverts from that focus is bad for business.
What happens to an economy where too much attention is being paid to ideological software ratings and not enough attention to delivering what people want to buy?
We’ve seen many economies that were driven by ideology:
- In Medieval Europe, the Church often shaped economic policy
- In many Islamic societies, religious doctrine still shapes business decisions
- Ideology also drove the Soviet Union
Not very good examples of thriving economies, are they?
Role of software
Software concentrates power. When it is harnessed to serve an ideology, it amplifies both the good and bad effects of that ideology.
So, although I’m ready to do battle to support free speech and other values, I do wish both sides would disarm and let businesses fulfill their primary mission—selling products and services customers want.
Another question: Why would you want your business caught in an ideological war?
When you see half the country fighting the other half, maybe you might not want your business to be in the middle.
Here’s how you can avoid that fate:
- No comment. Free speech includes the right not to speak.
- Clearly define you mission. We make products and services people want to buy.
- Let employees, customers, vendors etc. be free to do what they want.
Or jump into the middle of the war and suffer the consequences.