Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Nestlé settles claim against Ethiopia

By codemonkey_uk in News
Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:00:51 AM EST
Tags: Food (all tags)
Food

In a decision that is being hailed by Oxfam as a "Fantastic Victory" for the Make Trade Fair campaigners, Nestlé dramatically reduced their claim against the Ethiopian government from $6 million to $1.5 million and agreed to immediately donate the money back to be spent on famine relief.


The agreement reached on 24th January 2003, ended a long-standing property claim on the part of Nestlé Germany. The property, a meat processing business, had been nationalised in 1975 by the Ethiopian government and sold to a private investor in 1998.

Ethiopia is currently facing a drought endangering the lives of many people.

In addition to donating the entire proceeds of the settlement to humanitarian organisations working with the Ethiopian government, Nestlé claims to be "exploring potential ways it could help Ethiopia to create longer-term food security and access to water. As the world's largest food company and largest bottled water company, Nestlé has extensive experience in sourcing water. These efforts are part of Nestlé's long-term commitment to create sustainable economic development and reduce hunger in Africa."

Campaigners for Oxfam, concerned that this is just a face-saving gesture said "Nestlé must follow up today's deal by paying coffee farmers in desperately poor countries like Ethiopia a decent price.", adding "In the last four years world coffee prices for farmers have crashed, yet coffee giants like Nestlé continue to make handsome profits."

For further information, see also:

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
Most evil organisation?
o Nestlé 4%
o Microsoft 27%
o Monsanto 32%
o Oxfam 2%
o Greenpeace 15%
o BP/Amoco 10%
o GNU 6%

Votes: 214
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Oxfam
o Make Trade Fair
o Nestlé
o Ethiopia
o Nestlé and Ethiopia settle dispute
o Oxfam Campaign Victory as Nestlé settles claim
o Also by codemonkey_uk


Display: Sort:
Nestlé settles claim against Ethiopia | 105 comments (73 topical, 32 editorial, 0 hidden)
Ignorant (3.29 / 17) (#2)
by godix on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 08:20:19 AM EST

"Nestlé must follow up today's deal by paying coffee farmers in desperately poor countries like Ethiopia a decent price."

There is a man who knows nothing about economics or supply & demand.


Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

maybe (4.80 / 10) (#5)
by tps12 on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 08:34:01 AM EST

He could also be proposing that the goals of humanity are not necessarily bound by the behavior of perfect free markets. Free markets benefit everyone with minimum waste, but can still fail to provide for some individuals.

People who adhere to a "leave no one behind" morality may therefore prefer a less efficient system that does not benefit society as a whole as much, but gives every individual the means to survive.

That's just a single example, but there are others. The fact is that free markets are amoral, and it's by no means a given that they are compatible with any single moral framework.

[ Parent ]

"Amoral" (3.66 / 3) (#25)
by bobpence on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 09:18:25 AM EST

Those amoral markets raise the living standards of many more people than any other system. While Marx had some decent criticisms and there is game theory to consider - as you almost touched on - Adam Smith's concept of the "invisible hand" causing the self-interest of the butcher, the baker, and the brewer to provide you with decent food at a decent price is still compelling.

Paying more on purpose for a commodity will result in higher costs which mean either lower profits or higher prices for consumers. They foregone profits could be reinvested into the business and result in higher employment, including in Africa. Higher prices for Nestle coffee would definitely result in reduced sales and therefore reduced profits, again with a result that may help neither the coffee farmer nor his unemployed neighbor hoping for a job in the new Nestle plant that never opens.

The realistic approach is for a percentage of the coffee farmers to change to a different crop, thus reducing coffee supply and uniformly raising bean prices to farmers worldwide. What other crop? Legalized marijuana, of course. Or maybe something else, Smith acknoowledged that the system wasn't perfect.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

If only it was that easy (4.75 / 4) (#61)
by Captain Trips on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 07:18:13 PM EST

Adam Smith's concept of the "invisible hand" causing the self-interest of the butcher, the baker, and the brewer to provide you with decent food at a decent price is still compelling.

Except that Adam Smith never really anticipated modern marketing. To be successful, a company doesn't need to have the best product or the best value, it just needs to convince consumers to buy it, and there's plenty of other, more effective ways to do that. Abercrombie & Fitch is an excellent example of this. Or if you're big enough, you can often buy out your upstart competitors.

Paying more on purpose for a commodity will result in higher costs which mean either lower profits or higher prices for consumers. They foregone profits could be reinvested into the business and result in higher employment, including in Africa.

Unfortunately that doesn't happen. While it may be in the corporation's best interest to reinvest in itself, it's in the personal best interest of the executives that run it to pay themselves more money.

The fact is, the reason our economic system works even as well as it does is that it's not amoral. It's things like labor laws and regulation of monopolies that have gotten us (mostly) past the robber baron days that inspired Marx.

--
The fact that cigarette advertising works, makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, Santa Claus is real.—Sloppy
[ Parent ]

Get smarter people. (2.00 / 3) (#62)
by bjlhct on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:47:31 PM EST

The fact that people don't take the cheaper thing for marketing is their own fault and an idiot tax. And it also hurts other people by not putting businesses with corrupt executives out of business.

The solution to both these problems is, as it so often is, to get smarter people.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

It's not dumb people, (4.33 / 3) (#67)
by twistedfirestarter on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 04:55:10 AM EST

even though arrogant pricks like to think it is. It's because it is impossible to find unbiased information about commercial products. Companies have so much $$$ to spend on advertising and editorial, that you can't find any reviews that aren't possibly corrupted.

It's a simple fact that we can't all go through life making perfectly informed choices about the products we buy. Who has the time to research every single purchase they make? I sure don't.


[ Parent ]

They *keep* buying the stuff. (1.00 / 1) (#71)
by bjlhct on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 01:51:12 PM EST

There's you, your friends, the price, and some stuff like the ingredients.

All it takes is being a little informed. You don't have to be perfect -- just not stupid.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

Nestlé (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by ambrosen on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 01:12:12 PM EST

Makes profits of 40% on Nescafé. Which would seem a little excessive, and you can't call all people who buy Nescafé stupid.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
Why not? NT (1.00 / 1) (#70)
by bjlhct on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 01:48:17 PM EST



*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Yes you can (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by BLU ICE on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 03:39:56 PM EST

Nescafe is horrible. Not cheap, either. It's almost as bad as their chocolate.

"Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
"As good as gold."

-- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

[ Parent ]

As that evil commie RMS would say... (1.66 / 3) (#26)
by enterfornone on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 09:21:15 AM EST

no one is forced to become a coffee grower.

Tho as someone else pointed out, many of them probably wouldn't be growing coffee were it not for the war on drugs.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]

As the evil commie StrontiumDog says (5.00 / 11) (#38)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 10:33:41 AM EST

no-one is forced to live either. If you can't hack it in daily life or have no other marketable skills than coffee growing, or too little capital to do anything else other than subsistence farming with few cash crops on the side, you can just get a length of rope and hang yourself. Or, if you can't afford the rope, bash your brains in with a rock.

It's for the good of the market, of course. Heaven forbid any fuckwad who finds himself in such circumstances should turn to such commie measures as tariffs and subsidy and the like. That's not natural. To put one's own welfare against the greater good of the market's welfare goes against the fundamental grain of human nature. Even dumb Ethiopian farmers should know this fundamental fac.

[ Parent ]

Actually heaven does forbid that (2.00 / 4) (#58)
by RyoCokey on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 06:30:49 PM EST

While we're doing stuff for our own benefit rather than the market, let's just go rob other people of their property and land like a good commie? That's always worked well in the past.

If we fail, obviously someone else is guilty and culpable. Thus, we should make those other people pay, right?



"Like all important issues, gun control is an emotional issue that will be resolved by politics, belief, and conviction, not by a resort to "facts'." - [ Parent ]
Free markets (1.75 / 4) (#60)
by godix on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 07:13:21 PM EST

You speak about the free market as if it were a choice or something. Every country that has tried to avoid the basic laws of economics has either ended up in ruin (Russia for example) or is heading down that road (North Korea). Free market is a force with it's source in human nature and interaction. You can't remove the free market anymore than you can remove humanities violent tendencies. The best you can do is prohibit the free market then spend decades wondering why there's a black market around ( the war on drugs for example). Any attempt at a 'leave no one behind' morality that doesn't take how free markets work into consideration will be about as successful as any attempt to go to mars without taking gravity into account.


Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

[ Parent ]
free market my ass (4.66 / 3) (#64)
by turmeric on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 01:25:43 AM EST

if a global corporate giant monopoly is free then i am a purple polka dot elephant. the only 'free' market ive ever seen is the flea market, and even that was full of communist-subsidized chinese tools. supermarkets are infested with monopolies forcing them to only carry certain goods, thats not freedom. thats not a free market. there are hundreds of examples of how gigantic corporations w the same 'rights' as individuals destroy freedom of markets. you cant sell things because some company will kill the 'little guy' through illegal means: not by competition, mind you, but by buying off patents, buying off lawyers, using millions of dollars of laweyers, buying off politicians, etc. that is NOT A FREE MARKEt. IT IS EVIL AND IT SHOULD STOP AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FREE MARKETS

[ Parent ]
Well said (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by Rogerborg on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 08:59:44 AM EST

If there's a problem, it'll be the usual globalisation one of a few huge companies running a price fixing cartel, which won't be solved by whinging about it.

Of course, it's just as likely that there's oversupply in the market.  Hmm, I wonder if the US's War on Drugs is forcing coffee growers to actually grow coffee?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Since people seem to be fixating on this issue (4.66 / 6) (#50)
by nowan on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 01:16:20 PM EST

Currently it costs less to buy (cheap) coffee than it does to produce it -- even the cheap stuff.

Partly this is because Vietnam recently got into the coffee business -- because of loans, gov encouragement, and poverty.  Unfortunately, Vietnamese coffee sucks rocks.  Bad.  Vietnam simply isn't a good place to grow coffee.  So suddenly there's a ton of dirt-cheap, piss-poor coffee on the market.

It's also because companies like Nestle decided they could use lower-quality coffee and steam the hell out of it, removing all the nasty flavors.  This results in tastless coffee instead of bad coffee.  Then they add sweeteners, flavorings, etc., in order to sell it.

It's also because, after the cold war, the US decided they didn't need to support the coffee cartel (they were no longer concerned that coffee producing nations would go over to comunism becaues of economic pressures).  So it fell apart and there was no structure in place to avert the impending disaster when it happened.

So what's happening?  The farmers who sell the good coffee (quality variants of arabica -- the better of the two species of coffee) can't sell it.  The good stuffs costs even more to produce than the nasty stuff like Vietnam produces, so they default on loans, sell their land, etc, and go to the big city for a government handout.  The coffee they produced, which may not have existed in the wild, disapears, possibly never to be seen again.

Nestle & co, pressured by the likes of Starbucks, sells worse coffee at lower prices.  Pretty soon they won't have the option of going back to better coffees, even what they used to sell.  My prediction is that they're going to realize how stupid a move that was, one of these days.  Instead of modeling the coffee industry after the wine industry (a plethora of varieties that you pay good money for) they produce it like cheap beer.  You get a more competative industry with lower margins.  But by the time they realize that it may be too late.

And it will be especially too late for those of us who like good coffee.

(See my other post for some links, if you want more info.)

[ Parent ]

Campaign for Real Coffee (4.50 / 2) (#84)
by Paul Johnson on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 03:15:13 AM EST

Over here in the UK there is the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). IIRC they were created during the 70s in response to a tendency in the brewery industry that is very similar to the one you describe in the coffee industry: a few big players dominating the market and telling consumers to like their (ahem) piss-poor product.

CAMRA action was two-fold: they acted as a pressure group to oppose anti-competitive efforts by the giant breweries, and they gave free advertising to small breweries. The result has been very effective and small breweries now have a reasonably safe future.

You could do the same with coffee. Stop promoting "fair trade" (which is just charity for coffee buyers) and start promoting the better product to coffee lovers. Demand that supermarkets put a wide range of coffees on their shelves. You can already buy single-estate tea, so why not coffee? Coffee is a fairly expensive drink, so the "connaisseur" tag will sell well to snobs who want to prove that they are more socially upwardly mobile than the Gold Blend couple.

BTW, if you do this, please leave me off your mailing list. I don't drink coffee or ale. Yeuch.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Like CamTim? (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by unDees on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 01:47:17 PM EST

Is that what Douglas Adams was making fun of in the third Hitchhiker book when the Campaign for Real Time lobbied against time travel? God, that's funny! I never knew!

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]
You're so right. (4.00 / 3) (#51)
by NFW on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 02:09:07 PM EST

In light of the demand crops like for opium and marijuana, those coffee farmers are in the wrong business to begin with.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

I've never figured that one out myself... (3.00 / 3) (#53)
by SvnLyrBrto on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 02:12:36 PM EST

I live in San Francisco. Not long ago, some lawyer in Berkeley was trying to get a law passed making it ILLEGAL to sell non organic/fair trade coffee there. It made the news occasionally, and I wound up reading his, and a few other websites on the topic.

I was expecting to read that there was some cartel of coffee buyers that was conspireing to force the price of coffee down. I was expecting to read about corperations growing coffee on a massive scale and forcing the small growers out of business. I was expecting at least an attempt to *CLAIM* some sort of foul play!

I found NONE of that.

So far as I can tell, from what I've read; there is NO conspiracy. There is simply a glut in the market. Overproduction in the last several years has led to a higher supply than demand, making the fair market price drop. It is, as you say, basic economics.

When I found that their own websites don't even claim foul play, but just want artificial subsidies (which, of course, is absolutely EVIL when the US does it for, say, the steel indusrty), I decided the Berkeley guy was just another looney (Berkeley does have plenty), and quit paying the attention to the issue.

Now that I look again, google reveals that the Berkeley coffee loon was unsucessful... WooHoo!!!

cya,
john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

Sounds Weird (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by Hast on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 09:10:19 AM EST

The Ethiopian government borrows property from its citizens in order to reimburse Nestle who it had previously borrowed property from.

+1, Doesn't Appear to be Fiction (4.33 / 12) (#29)
by egg troll on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 09:34:48 AM EST


He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

Think of it as markets in action (3.20 / 5) (#31)
by czth on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 09:36:02 AM EST

Campaigners for Oxfam, concerned that this is just a face-saving gesture said "Nestlé must follow up today's deal by paying coffee farmers in desperately poor countries like Ethiopia a decent price.", adding "In the last four years world coffee prices for farmers have crashed, yet coffee giants like Nestlé continue to make handsome profits."

The supply is plentiful and the farmers want Nestlé's money more than they want their coffee; on the other hand, in Nestlé's markets, there is demand for coffee. Nobody's stopping Ethiopia from starting their own coffee company (if they were, then we'd have something to talk about). Nothing to see here, move along.

czth

Bit more complicated than that. (4.66 / 3) (#49)
by nowan on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 12:55:08 PM EST

See http://www.coffeegeek.com/columnists/markprince/11-27-2002
or http://www.fortune.com/fortune/articles/0,15114,393075,00.html

In the end, if Nestle (and others) don't wake up and smell the coffee burning, their market is going to dry up because of the incredibly poor quality of the coffee they're selling.  The circumstances leading to the coffee glut are quite complex, but the coffee farmers aren't the only ones who will be hurt (just the first).

[ Parent ]

I learned something from those sites (4.50 / 2) (#54)
by czth on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 02:32:44 PM EST

Thanks. Maybe you should consider writing an article about it?

Was talking to someone recently, we both agreed that the US should be more isolationist, as in:

  • Only buy from other countries what is not available in the US, and only from those that treat workers fairly (e.g. various personal freedom, minimum wage). If this is considered "trying to remake the world in the image of the US", well, so be it (up to that point, at least and not the whole "McDonalds in every city" part of it). I don't think that free nations should be giving money to non-free nations for anything (*cough* China), especially if they can get it elsewhere.
  • Spend money at home before spending it abroad (giving billions in aid to Africa is nice and all, but there are people closer to home that could use it).
  • Ditto for jobs; now, whereas I agree this is right, I must admit that if it was adhered to strictly I wouldn't be here, since I'm a Canadian working on a NAFTA visa (and am probably going to marry my girlfriend, who is an American, and live here indefinitely and perhaps apply for citizenship, but that's all in the future). Regardless, back to the first point: tax heavily US money that's spent in foreign countries when products are available locally. I live in the US, I spend money in the US, and am back in Canada quite rarely.
In my original comment I said that I think markets should be allowed to settle things, and that's true, but only insofar as everyone's playing on a level field. And if you lie to your customers and can get away with not paying people enough to live on, that's hardly level.

Except for greed, this would all be possible: the US is well beyond self-sufficiency. If other countries refuse to trade under these conditions, the US can well afford to thumb their nodes at them. For a little while, yes, prices may be higher, but they'd probably balance as more local jobs were created. The US is a strong country, but the lure of cheap labour and products in foreign countries is going to bleed it dry.

And while I'm ranting, I'd also like a flat income tax for everyone (but that would put too many accountants and lawyers out of work), sensible federal and state laws, and a pony.

czth

[ Parent ]

Can Marconi sue the US? (4.00 / 6) (#34)
by aphrael on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 09:51:38 AM EST

I wonder if Marconi could sue the United States government. After all, during the first World War, the US nationalized the US property of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Network, and then after the war, determined that these assets were too valuable to allow to fall back into foreign hands, turned them over to a newly created conglomerate owned by AT&T, GE, and Westinghouse: the RCA.

Or Oil Companies could sue the middle east (4.66 / 3) (#43)
by RyoCokey on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:08:03 AM EST

Virtually all the fields and wells in the Middle East legally belonged to foreign oil companies before they were nationalized a gunpoint. I have the feeling Nestle only sued because the country they were prosecuting was dependant on foreign opinion and money, and hence would be in bad shape if they refused payment.



"Like all important issues, gun control is an emotional issue that will be resolved by politics, belief, and conviction, not by a resort to "facts'." - [ Parent ]
Actually (4.00 / 2) (#48)
by Skywise on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:20:05 AM EST

(from the article) Ethiopia nationalized its currency and got involved with the World Banking system to get itself out of the poverty level its in, The World Bank demanded that it make good on past debts to attract foreign development.  That led to companies (like Nestle) making their claims.


[ Parent ]
huh? (none / 0) (#52)
by aphrael on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 02:09:19 PM EST

'nationalized its currency' makes no sense whatsoever.

[ Parent ]
That's how it was printed... (none / 0) (#55)
by Skywise on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 02:53:25 PM EST

I think they mean either Ethiopia developed one financial system for the entire country, or (more likely) Ethiopia standardized its currency to link with the world markets.

[ Parent ]
I would suspect (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by Skywise on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:15:07 AM EST

Marconi has already been compensated in some way shape or form... But not in a direct manner.  Britain certainly wouldn't have let us "yanks" get away with it.
I would suspect royalties, or foreign aid packages, maybe a better slice of Germany's payouts from the "Great War"...  Maybe even an under-the-table lucrative military contract guarantee...

[ Parent ]
Cites? (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 03:03:17 PM EST

This is the first I've heard of this; could you provide a reference?


--
"Your article (and I use that term losely) is just a ad-hominem filled rant from a right-wing extremist loony." - Psycho Les


[ Parent ]
Guardian coverage (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by rleyton on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 10:19:09 AM EST

The Guardian has done a good job of covering this issue over the last few weeks.

They claim to have led the coverage in the UK and broken the story (presumably after Oxfam raised it).

--
Ooooooooooooooh! What does this button do!? - DeeDee, Dexters Lab.
My Website

Nestle and Ethiopia (3.76 / 13) (#41)
by m0rzo on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:06:40 AM EST

Yesterday, Nestlé appeared here, at Leeds University, to fight its corner regarding baby milk powder in the Third World, Ethiopian debt repayment and a whole host of other, somewhat spurious, points raised by the rabidly far-left anti-capitalist conspiracy theorists. Yes, Leeds University Union, in their infinite wisdom, backed by a whole army of rebel-chic middle-class firebrands has banned the sale of Kit-Kats in the Union shop. Exposed, unashamed, the insidious face of `democracy' which allows one group, a majority, to put another group's liberty to the vote. Amidst the snarls and spitting volleys synonymous with mildly autistic, socially introverted, curiously minging lefties, against a tide of uncouth raucousness, the Nestlé representatives actually put up a good fight. Ignorance, however, is bliss.

Now my little anti-anti-capitalist spiel is at an end, to the issue: The decision by Nestlé to do this could be seen as two-fold (or perhaps three fold), but I'll try not to split hairs. The cynical amongst you might come to the conclusion, not entirely unfounded, that Nestlé stand to receive back a hefty tax rebate as they will be effectively making a charitable donation. Also, naturally, it's good Public Relations for them. But is Nestlé really morally obliged to turn a blind eye to Ethiopia's theft? I would say `No'. If morality has anything to do with it, Ethiopia should pay back Nestlé - and not just the $1.5million which has been agreed upon. I would concede, however, that the moment is somewhat inopportune, or ostensibly so, given the time of year and how Ethiopia is on the brink of famine. Nevertheless, this money will be going straight towards alleviating the problem of famine in this desperately stricken country. What use, may I ask, would $1.5million have been laying dormant in the coffers of the Ethiopian treasury? Answer: not a lot. We all know that the reason the third world is in the situation it is in is not, as leftists would have you believe, because of the evil, conspiring Multinational Companies but, instead, because of truly evil, truly sadistic dictators and their fudpudge, sticky-fingered governments who embezzle most, if not all, money sent for aid on their own narcissistic projects usually involving weapons and personal luxury.

Ethiopia paying the money it rightfully owes will send a message to the developed world that African nations can still be invested in and the investment is relatively safe. A refusal to pay will allow ordinary Africans to sink deeper and deeper into a greedy, oppressive sludge of more and more poverty.
My last sig was just plain offensive.

Nestlé's past transgressions (4.25 / 4) (#56)
by curunir on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 05:09:26 PM EST

is Nestlé really morally obliged to turn a blind eye to Ethiopia's theft?

As you alluded to in the beginning of your post, Nestlé has far more points of conflict with Ethiopia and the third world than just this case. The major one that I've heard about is their dispicable behavior when it comes to marketing their baby milk products in the third world. For those who haven't heard about it, Nestlé spread lies throughout many third world countries saying that a mother's breast milk is not healthy for their baby and that they should use Nestlé's baby milk product instead. This statement, being the reverse of what is true, resulted in increased malnutrition in areas of the world where malnutrition is already a common occurance.

Given the past behavior of the company, I would say that the answer to your question is yes, they are morally obliged to ignore this incident and are probably morally obliged to offer additional restitution to areas affected by the company's past transgressions.

WRT your university banning the sale of Nestlé products, I agree that the activism has gone too far. It should be up to each individual to decide what behavior warrants a boycott.

[ Parent ]
Do the hokey cokey (5.00 / 3) (#59)
by walwyn on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 07:07:09 PM EST

Yer puts yer left leg in, yer left leg out.

To my knowledge Nestlé have beeen boycotted, unboycotted, boycotted, unboycotted, and boycotted again since the late 1970s.

Malnutrition is one of the problems, another is that some 5 million kids under 5 die each year from dysentery due to contaminated water supplies.

Here is a Nestlé advert that was used in Mexico in the early 1980s. The association of evaporated milk with breast feeding and health is made by the letter to the doctor:

Your trust in Carnation Evaporated Milk shows itself every day in your prescriptions. This signifies a bond for us.
Of course Nestlé have never been alone in this bollocks, one British Company, Bestoval, promoted custard powder as a baby food in Nigeria.

Twenty years later and a new generation is debating the same old story.
----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]

Limited supply of chocolate vending machines (5.00 / 2) (#76)
by frabcus on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 09:44:07 PM EST

Yes, Leeds University Union, in their infinite wisdom, backed by a whole army of rebel-chic middle-class firebrands has banned the sale of Kit-Kats in the Union shop. Exposed, unashamed, the insidious face of `democracy' which allows one group, a majority, to put another group's liberty to the vote.
Come now, how else could democracy work? There's a limited supply of chocolate vending machines, why should they have any Nestle chocolate in them? There are lots of other brands of chocolate. Your assumption that somehow Kit Kats have a god given right to be stocked in chocolate machines is undemocratic, if the union democratically decides the machines should stock different chocolate.

You have had no loss of liberty at all. If you want Nestle chocolate, go to another shop and buy it there.

(Note that the only reason you assume Kit Kats should be stocked is because of advertising for them when you were a child, and a taste for them acquired when you were a child. On a more practical level, get them to stock some Sainsbury's Double bars instead, which are a Kit Kat clone and just as good. And cheaper, so you'll be making the free market more efficient as well ;)

[ Parent ]

Nice response but... (3.00 / 3) (#94)
by m0rzo on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 12:45:31 PM EST

Wrong. My objections do not lie in the universities failure to stock Kit-Kat; there are a number of goods that aren't stocked by a good deal of other outlets. Fine. My objection is with the campaign which has been launched specifically villifying Nestle and the Union motion dictating that Nestle will not be stocked in the Union. Kit-Kats were stocked, prior to this ridiculous boycott, and now they're not -- because a small clique of idiots have denounced it and come to the conclusion that they know what's best for me, and they're best suited to making decisions for me.

Concerning your harpings on about Democracy. Democracy is an over-rated sham; this example clearly proves it. The collectivist student body has no right making these kind of motions.


My last sig was just plain offensive.
[ Parent ]

Try reality on for size... (4.75 / 4) (#89)
by Alhazred on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 07:41:03 AM EST

Our wonderful world economic system works something like this:

3rd world nation A has some valuable natural resource (or just perhaps a lot of people desperate to work, even for $2 a week).

Multinational X decides they can make a bundle of money there, so they support the installation of some bloodthirsty scumbag to rule the rat-infested place with an iron fist. He gets all the guns and graft he can handle, and in return anyone foolish enough to point out that working for $2 a day is slavery gets a bullet in the left temple.

If at any point said country, despite all the odds against it, manages to reform its government or make some economic progress then the World Bank and IMF get to step in and remind them that all the billions donated to the last 50 years worth of scumbag dictator's Swiss bank accounts was a "loan" and now must be "repaid". Naturally this nixes any chance of real progress, country A no longer has any hope of getting any real investment and "austerity measures" wipe out the little progress that WAS made.

Now the "aid organizations" step in to try to mitigate the resulting disaster, wiping out the local market for agricultural goods in the process, the army (or fill in the blank) of country A now steps in to "restore order" and the cycle is allowed to repeat itself.

I'd hardly call this capitalism and I'd be hard pressed to blame the citizens of said 3rd world countries if they don't give a FLYING FUCK about the 'property rights' of their oppressors.

I say 3 cheers to Ethiopia for telling Nestle where to go.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

You. (1.00 / 5) (#93)
by m0rzo on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 12:39:44 PM EST

Are an ignoramous with a distinct lack of understanding when it comes to economics, particularly the concept of 'supply and demand'. I don't know about any 'Third World' but you're clearly an idiot living in some kind of abstract 3rd dimension, and I'd suggest you are the one that needs to "try reality on for size." As irrational fools, by their very nature are intransigent in their bilge, you don't warrant a detailed response. Goodbye.


My last sig was just plain offensive.
[ Parent ]

Far out (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by Happy Monkey on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 04:33:21 PM EST

I don't know about any 'Third World' but you're clearly an idiot living in some kind of abstract 3rd dimension, and I'd suggest you are the one that needs to "try reality on for size."

Trippy, man. He's living in the "third dimension"? I hear Homer Simpson went there once...
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
ROFLMAO! (none / 0) (#105)
by Alhazred on Wed Feb 12, 2003 at 10:48:00 AM EST

Yeah, I just went back and saw this. Guys like that always make me laugh. Oh well...
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
Really hit a nerve huh? (4.00 / 2) (#100)
by amarodeeps on Tue Feb 04, 2003 at 12:22:36 AM EST

Is that why you can only respond with the nasty invective and not with some sort of factual argument? How does economics work then pray tell? Or is name-calling the last refuge of this scoundrel?



[ Parent ]
No winners here... (5.00 / 5) (#42)
by Skywise on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:06:50 AM EST

Ah yes... a great victory for the poor and starving...

"According to Nestle, the Ethiopian Government sold the Schweisfurth subsidiary to a local private business for about $8.7m in 1998."

Meanwhile Ethiopia is asking for $575m in Food Aid, blames "donor fatigue" for needing that much, but 0xFam is thrilled that Nestle only took 1.5m and will give it right back...

Meanwhile another (not publically trashed company) is asking 4 times as much:  "Nestle's demand is dwarfed by that of a UK-based conglomerate, the Besse Group, which is asking for more than $20m."

This is interesting stuff... (none / 0) (#91)
by squigly on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 10:05:20 AM EST

Do you have sources?  If they sold it for more than $6million, it throws a whole new light on the subject.

[ Parent ]
too many nazis on k5 (2.00 / 8) (#57)
by turmeric on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 05:46:33 PM EST

dont understand shit, just wanna justify their overconsumption and wanker jobs

missing poll option (3.75 / 4) (#63)
by Hired Goons on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:50:17 PM EST

PETA
You calling that feature a bug? THWAK
Surely not? (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by scruffyMark on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 02:33:30 AM EST

Wouldn't PETA fall under the category of 'harmless' or 'well-meaning weirdos' or similar? Or do I not know something I should?

[ Parent ]
your post intruiges me. (3.00 / 1) (#85)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 03:18:21 AM EST

there are rumoured to be infections of PETA member colonies swarming around here - in highschool they held some weekly or so presentaions, and now that i'm in uni in a different city, in the same province, i keep hearing about them. but i've never met one, and i've never seen any of their propeganda - only people shuddering away in discust [and seriously - everyone from one side of the spectrum to the other i've talked to thinks they are nuts. i would like to agree - but i just havn't seen their side of the story yet...]. "this would be a whole lot funnier if you and your orginization had a lot more i mean less money" - jello biafra. do these people really have any resources whatsoever? i mean, obviously they are not unkown, but they can't be that big, can they? in the meanwhile, i'm seeing american - chrsitian - abstinence posters all over the place now. these i would figure are at least moderately more seirous...

in the meanwhile what about Wal-Mart ? the Church of Scientology? the Catholic Church?
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Someone help me out here (3.33 / 18) (#66)
by Godel on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 03:59:15 AM EST

Why is Nestle evil for sueing a country for stealing its property? The plant was useless until Nestle developed the land, built the plant, and trained the workers. Then once Nestle invests all the infrastructure, the government steals it. How would you feel if you worked for years to build a house for you and your family and just as you get the roof finished, someone steals it?

Ironically, nationalizing businesses is incredibly BAD for the nation's economy because no one else wants to invest their money and have it stolen. As a result the whole country stagnates, no workers are trained, no infrastructure is built, and you get more poverty.

Politics (2.83 / 6) (#68)
by holdfast on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 08:36:18 AM EST

nationalizing businesses is incredibly BAD for the nation's economy
From the tone of your letter, can we surmise that you are from the USA?
The rest of the world has many people who think differently!

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Re: Your reply (2.00 / 2) (#73)
by wierdo on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 05:28:21 PM EST

Perhaps you could have responded to the parent's premise, rather than making some off the cuff remark about the geographic location of the poster(???) that served no purpose whatsoever, since it fails to convey a complete thought by itself, lacking a reasoning for your apparent opinion.

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Appology (4.50 / 2) (#82)
by holdfast on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 07:28:26 PM EST

Many of the things I say are "off the cuff". But was it wrong though?

A more complete basis for my statement was as follows
In many parts of the world, certain things are done by central government. These include Old age pensions, free health care and nationalisation of some activities.
The writers statement that nationalising something is bad for an economy shows an attitude more common in the USA than anywhere else in the world. If he is not from the USA and is unhappy with my assumption, I am more than willing to appologise. It wasn't intended to be an insult. Another example - If someone made certain types of comments about UK food or fashion, I would wonder if they were French.
Certain attitudes come from certain cultures. That looks like one...


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
I'm not from USA... (3.00 / 1) (#101)
by tekue on Tue Feb 04, 2003 at 05:58:38 AM EST

...yet I too think that nationalizing something is bad for the capitalist economy. So you're wrong.
--
A society that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither. -Milton Friedman
[ Parent ]
Think != prove (4.00 / 1) (#103)
by holdfast on Wed Feb 05, 2003 at 04:15:51 AM EST

If you, or I, think something it does not prove it.

Anyway, your spelling shows you may have had a US inclined education so some US attitudes are possible.

BTW That was not a criticism of US spelling, just an observation that people where I went to school spell it nationalising


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Examples? (3.50 / 2) (#74)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 05:38:48 PM EST

Care to give an example of a company that did better after being nationalized?


--
"Your article (and I use that term losely) is just a ad-hominem filled rant from a right-wing extremist loony." - Psycho Les


[ Parent ]
how about (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by holdfast on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 07:00:04 PM EST

In the UK, the railways did far worse after being sold into private ownership.
I know that I would much rather our police were answerable to democratic control than not. I understand that some places elect their senior police officers. That sounds like they are part of the state.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
How is that an example (2.50 / 2) (#83)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 11:18:07 PM EST

of doing better after being nationalized?

It's not even a good example of privitization, since British Rail is a case study of how not to privatize anything.


--
"Your article (and I use that term losely) is just a ad-hominem filled rant from a right-wing extremist loony." - Psycho Les


[ Parent ]
OK then (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by holdfast on Wed Feb 05, 2003 at 04:08:28 AM EST

How about the NHS?

Despite all its (politically caused) problems, The UK national Health Service provides a lot of health care to a lot of people. If someone is involved in a car accident they are picked up by an ambulance, taken to a hospital and treated. At no point is their next-of-kin told that they must provide health plan details or they will be left on a trolley somewhere.

OK, politicians keep trying to introduce "market forces" in there, but so far they have done little but cut back on the ammount of money it gets.

There is private health care in the UK but most people see to be using the nationalised option. I have heard a lot of unimpressive things about the standards of some private health care. I am sticking with the NHS.

PS I am not a doctor, nurse or healthcare worker. I am a practicing BOFH!


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Austria (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by Kuranes on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 05:55:25 AM EST

In Austria, after WWII, the Russian local government often "required" Industry sites to decomposite and transport them into the East. The solution was to have certain important branches of industry nationalized.

That way, at least those companies couldn't get "required" anymore.


--
Visit Graz, the Cultural Capital of Europe 2003.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Renault. (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by linca on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 09:55:27 AM EST

Renault collaborated with the Germans during WW2. As a result it was nationalised, unlike its main competitor Peugeot. Both are doing quite as well right now, and are among the better performing European car companies. Renault has recently bought Nissan

It seems the nationalized company is doing quite well. And certainly better than it was doing pre-WW2, but then the world has changed.

[ Parent ]

Interesting. (none / 0) (#92)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 10:06:11 AM EST

Didn't know about Renault buying Nissan. All I really know about Renault and Peugeot is they've both pulled out of the US market.


--
"Your article (and I use that term losely) is just a ad-hominem filled rant from a right-wing extremist loony." - Psycho Les


[ Parent ]
Surely you jest! (4.00 / 2) (#75)
by MessiahWWKD on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 05:41:16 PM EST

The rest of the world has many people who think differently!

Are you saying that the majority of the world believes that it's all right for the government to take private property for its own interests?


Sent from my iPad
[ Parent ]
No Jest (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by holdfast on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 06:52:00 PM EST

I said many people
That does not say that >51% of the world.... It just says that there are a lot of people out there who think that governments are better at doing some things than corporations.
Anyway, I never said anything about its own interests which you mention. In a democratic society things are nationalised for the benefit of the citizens, not the government.
In reply to another supposition in your comment, governments may choose to give compensation where they judge this appropriate.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Many people believe in ludicrous crap. (2.00 / 2) (#86)
by MessiahWWKD on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 05:00:36 AM EST

That does not say that >51% of the world.... It just says that there are a lot of people out there who think that governments are better at doing some things than corporations.

Many people believe in ludicrous crap. Why does that matter? Of course there will be people who believe that governments should do the jobs of corporations. They are called communists. However, nobody in their right mind will take them seriously.

Anyway, I never said anything about its own interests which you mention. In a democratic society things are nationalised for the benefit of the citizens, not the government.

In a democratic society, the government is ran by the people, and the people are the ones who will benefit from the pillaging of other people's property. Therefore, it still is in its interests.


Sent from my iPad
[ Parent ]
Stupid analogy (4.42 / 7) (#77)
by wji on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 02:46:50 AM EST

How would you feel if you worked for years to build a house for you and your family and just as you get the roof finished, someone steals it?

That's not relevant. Nestle is a corporation, not a person with feelings. The people who lost were shareholders. The relevant questions are "how would you feel if you put money into the stock market and lost a fraction of it because the Ethiopian government nationalized a plant?" and "how would you feel if your working conditions improved dramatically because your government nationalized a Nestle plant paying starvation wages?".

And a blanket statement about nationalization being bad is silly. Clearly, there are cases where nationalization of key industries is virtually a pre-requisite for economic growth. Many countries. especially third world countries, are essentially one- or two-horse economies based on natural resource reserves owned by foreign companies (oil, minerals, agriculture land). In these cases the often vast amounts of cash made are flowing right out of the country (usually into the USA, of course). The loss of other foreign investment is often worth it to gain control over these vital resources. (This is also the most common reason America goes to war, by the way...)

Foreign investment is not the only way to develop a country, anyway. Hell, look at the models for rapid industrial development. Let's see, the Soviet Union, communist China, South Korea, Japan... notice how these are all places with extremely activist governments intervening in and directly managing the economy? It's a silly myth that government "intervention" in the economy is always a disaster ("intervention" in scare quotes because the government can't "intervene" in capitalism, government protection of property is the very foundation of the system). Left to its own devices, capitalism rapidly tears itself apart. Short-term over long-term profits *always* win out in capitalism, which is why you see things like overfishing destroying lakes which could sustain lower levels of fishing forever. Huge conglomerates are able to destroy smaller, superior competitors by methods like selling at a loss, which leads inevitably to stagnation and decline. The great USian bastion of capitalism is really a bastion of extreme government intervention in the economy, if you bother to look. Look at the US's top exports -- every one of those products is either military technology (aircraft, computers) or produced under heavy subsidies and protectionism (agriculture, autos).

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

BS (3.25 / 8) (#79)
by Godel on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 11:32:19 AM EST

That's not relevant. Nestle is a corporation, not a person with feelings. The people who lost were shareholders.

That's just your way of justifying theft. Yes the corporation isn't a person but the shareholders are.

The relevant questions are "how would you feel if you put money into the stock market and lost a fraction of it because the Ethiopian government nationalized a plant?"

Here's where your greed and immorality shines through. I guess by your logic, there's nothing wrong with shoplifting. After all, you're not stealing from a person, just from a corporation, and your individual theft is just a fraction. That makes it right? Nationalizing a plant just means a whole bunch of people voted to steal from it.



[ Parent ]

Bad theft, good theft... (3.00 / 1) (#88)
by TuringTest2002 on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 06:22:48 AM EST

That's just your way of justifying theft.

Did you ever hear of Robin Hood? ;)

[ Parent ]

True story of Robin Hood (2.20 / 5) (#99)
by Godel on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 07:09:33 PM EST

Remember that in Robin Hood, the money was taxed away from the people who earned it by an oppressive government. Robin Hood was merely returning money to people from whom it had been stolen.

[ Parent ]
Nestle - an immoral company (4.66 / 3) (#78)
by hughk on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 10:16:40 AM EST

Nestle set up very early on in a lot of third world countries. They have been extremly good at showing how backward and unhygenic breastfeeding is to mothers there. This is incorrect and downright murderous because many people in these countries lack access to th proper facilities to make up the stuff cleanly (i.e., good water and proper sterilisation facilities). Thats not all because the last thing a poor country needs is expensive and highly processed food. However, it is profitable. Naturally the profits do not stay in the countries where they are earned.

As a company, you can't even take it over by conventional means. The share structure is two layered and only Swiss nationals may own voting shares.

The only bad thing that happened is at the end of nationalisation, Nestle should have been offered the first opportunity to reacquire their former assets. Nationalisation can occur when a company has abused its position for too long. It also tends to happen after the persons that were paid off in the government have left.

[ Parent ]

Not quite right (4.00 / 1) (#104)
by CaptainZapp on Thu Feb 06, 2003 at 04:49:14 AM EST

As a company, you can't even take it over by conventional means. The share structure is two layered and only Swiss nationals may own voting shares.

Quick introduction into Swiss security regulations:

A company may issue two types of shares: Bearer shares and named shares. Bearer shares are anonymous and named shares are not (they are listed in the share register of the company). Both shares usually have voting rights, but since there might be sales restrictions bearer shares may be traded at a _much_ higher price (can be factor 5).

It is not necessarily the case (actually in most cases it's not) that named shares can only be traded by Swiss citizens or inhabitants. (If there are restrictions this is usually due to real estate restrictions imposed by law, i.e. foreigners usually can't own more then 50% of a company, whoms main purpose is dabbling in real estate) But the thing is, that a company can impose rather arbitrary restrictions upon ownership or transfer of named shares.

Netle however is a bad example, since they abandoned this scheme about a decade ago and only issues one type of shares. Ownership is divided as follows (from Nestles web site):

Nestlé has about 260,000 shareholders, most of whom are in Europe. No single shareholder owns more than 3 percent of the total share capital.

As at September 30, 2002, Swiss investors held the major part of the stock (46%) followed by US citizens (15%) and British (10%), German (7%) and French (7%) shareholders.

You state correctly that you can't overtake the company (3% clause). You are wrong however, that none Swiss shareholders have no voting rights.

This doesn't change the fact, that Nestle displays some unbelievably rotten business ethics.

[ Parent ]

Property is theft. (4.50 / 2) (#98)
by TheMgt on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 05:12:23 PM EST

It's only Nestle's property if Ethiopia says it is. 'Property' on any scale larger than personal carried stuff is created by laws. The government of Ethiopia make the laws there. BTW where's the IMF and WTO options in the poll?

[ Parent ]
Nestlé settles claim against Ethiopia | 105 comments (73 topical, 32 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest © 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!