“Back in the 90s … there was a series of assumptions everybody had to accept in order even to be allowed to enter serious public debate. They were presented like a series of self-evident equations. “The market” was equivalent to capitalism. Capitalism meant exorbitant wealth at the top, but it also meant rapid technological progress and economic growth. Growth meant increased prosperity and the rise of a middle class. The rise of a prosperous middle class, in turn, would always ultimately equal stable democratic governance. A generation later, we have learned that not one of these assumptions can any longer be assumed to be correct.
… Capitalism does not contain an inherent tendency to civilise itself. Left to its own devices, it can be expected to create rates of return on investment so much higher than overall rates of economic growth that the only possible result will be to transfer more and more wealth into the hands of a hereditary elite of investors, to the comparative impoverishment of everybody else.
… The period when capitalism seemed capable of providing broad and spreading prosperity was also, precisely, the period when capitalists felt they were not the only game in town … rather than high rates of growth allowing greater wealth for capitalists to spread around, the fact that capitalists felt the need to buy off at least some portion of the working classes placed more money in ordinary people’s hands, creating increasing consumer demand that was itself largely responsible for the remarkable rates of economic growth that marked capitalism’s “golden age”.
… The 1% are not about to expropriate themselves, even if asked nicely. And they have spent the past 30 years creating a lock on media and politics to ensure no one will do so through electoral means.”
An inspiring read on the story of Fairphone. A promising glimpse into what future business may look like?
The company started life as an advocacy group, initially aiming to raise awareness among Dutch consumers and telcos about the issue of conflict minerals in mobile devices and then subsequently about the sustainability of mobile supply chains as a whole.
… In January last year, it became a social enterprise, a startup with a handful of staff and the ambition to build a fairer phone — a device that put the social aspects of mobile hardware front and centre, that opened up the mobile supply chain, and that would be funded purely by the public.
… Almost a year ago, Fairphone opened up its crowdfunding appeal … it reached 10,000. And that’s when the fear kicked in.
… Nevertheless, Fairphone found a Chinese contract manufacturer … Fairphone signed a memorandum of understanding with the factory, agreeing if Fairphone managed to raise the money, the project would go forward.
… It took van Abel a month to work up the courage to press that button and send the money onto GuoHong. Only when he did, he found that a single push was not enough … and then finding out you cannot transfer more than €250,000 in one go.
… Due to the size of Fairphone’s production batches, it had to rely on other mobile makers placing similar orders to get its own device made.
… The factory management were watching the orders rack up along with Fairphone’s execs … For them it was impossible that people had paid for something we still had to produce, and that we were were taking the risk on the one hand, and that people were taking the risk on something that wasn’t there yet on the other.
… From the the beginning, the company had wanted to make sure worker wages were reasonable … The idea of a worker’s welfare fund was hatched — a scheme whereby Fairphone would stump up an extra $2.50 per device made at the factory on top of the normal production costs, and the factory would do the same … The $5 extra raised on each device ($2.50 from Fairphone and $2.50 from the factory) is put into a fund — a separate legal entity to the factory — with the workers then able to vote on how the money should be spent.
… For most phone makers, mobile operators are the keys to the market — offering discounts on hardware when consumers sign up to long term contracts, getting their sales teams to push devices to corporate customers, and putting marketing collateral in retail shops have always been understood parts of how manufacturers sell their devices.
… Earlier in 2014, the company did a small deal with KPN — the biggest mobile operator in Fairphone’s home market of the Netherlands … It’s also in talks with Deutsche Telekom, the German mobile giant with operators across Europe, as well as UK carrier Vodafone …
… Fairphone, however, decided to stick with supplies from the country, working with the Conflict Free Tin Initiative and Solutions for Hope. It did so knowing that sourcing its tantalum and tin from the DRC could mean using mines with poor working conditions or child labour … we’re going to join initiatives that put economic perspectives into the region, otherwise people will join the militia because they don’t have any work any more … Further on down the line, it hopes to expand the the amount of conflict free and fairly traded minerals that are included in the phone …
… Fairphone hopes to eventually allow other operating systems to be ported to the phone, and has been in talks with the likes of Mozilla and Ubuntu on the subject.
So far, Fairphone has taken over €7m, shipped over 25,000 phones, and is planning a second manufacturing run in 2014 that will see it put 35,000 more devices in consumers’ hands … “
I am looking forward to seeing what Fairphone produce in 2015, especially the ability to use mobile Ubuntu … maybe 2015 will be the year I “go smartphone”
In my reading about the current battle in the war on Internet freedom taking place in the USA I came across these two articles which provided interesting and well presented information on the engineering and business aspects of this wonderous machine we all take for granted – the Internet:
I am happy to say this experience is not part of my life, but when I do venture out I see more and more of this … it isn’t new … I recall first signs of it over 10 years ago.
via Rob Hopkins
I enjoyed the short “demonstration” in the beginning of this inteview with Jane Goodall in which she shows how she would approach a dominant male:
Despite the comedic tone I felt that she brought to the surface something profound which continued to resonate throughout the short and unimportant interview. Colbert portrays a cynical individual that dominates interviews that usually succumb to humor and irony … and it was beautiful to watch her disarm him using the same feminine wisdom she introduced in the “demonstration”.