hempreport.com home

The Hemp Report thanks our loyal readers for their support of this site
and special thanks as well to:

Hemp Resource - www.hemp-resource.com
Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance - www.hemptrade.ca
Ontario Hemp Alliance - www.ontariohempalliance.org
Farmer Direct - www.farmerdirect.ca
Saskatchewan Hemp Association - www.saskhemp.com
The Hemp Industries Association - www.thehia.org
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps - www.drbronner.com
IndustrialHemp.net - www.industrialhemp.net
Vote Hemp - www.votehemp.com

Please Support The Hemp Report

The Hemp Report

An online trade journal covering the North America hemp industry: agriculture, processing, marketing, research, business and regulatory news, and updates. Strong focus on hemp farming and developments in Canada.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Google, the Hemp Report and the Right Way to Do Business 

A Hemp Report Editorial

     Checking the World Wide Web news, there's a lot of controversy about Google and its new business relationships in China. For those who haven't been paying attention, Google has agreed to censor its excellent search engine so that it can enter the Chinese market and keep up with its competitors Yahoo and MSN.

Handy Visual Aids:

http://images.google.com/images?q=tiananmen [google.com]
http://images.google.cn/images?q=tiananmen [google.cn]

     For many people, the debate splits two ways: on the one hand, there are the commentators who are sticking to the classical adage that a business is in business to please shareholders by making money. And that it should, sensibly, adhere to the laws of the state it is doing business in.

     At the other extreme, there are critics who distrust market forces, think business and profit is inherently evil, and that Google must operate to a higher standard than the Pope, and possibly even Marx, would hard pressed to meet.

     The Hemp Report recently made the decision to pull Google ads from our web site because we believe in a third proposition: that a company can use the marketplace as a positive force for change. Our decision to get involved in hemp many many years ago, was the result of the desire to merge the heady ideals of changing the world, while meeting the practical necessity of putting food on the table.

     Not that we made much money from those ads (we are a rather specialised and low traffic site so Google ain't going to miss us). Nor in fact have ever really made money doing the Hemp Report. But I can tell you this: in our own quirky way, we must be doing something right, for the HR has served as a gateway for other opportunities that have rewarded us many many times over. These gifts have been personal, intellectual, creative and, oh yeah, financial.

     Besides showing that we had some brains, something of a work ethic, and being good at what we did, I believe that a large part of the reason that we received these gifts was that we had integrity and were committed to doing the right thing. People noticed. Today, all of us work today in companies and ventures that match our values (plug time see: www.hemptrade.ca, www.saskhemp.com, www.nutiva.com, www.farmerdirect.ca, www.votehemp.com.) In a lot of ways we are pretty lucky. And the good news for you is that the HR survives, on a when-we-have-time basis,

     Now Google is one of the largest Internet-based companies in the world and working on a business scale that makes ours somewhat comical. And China has emerged as a massive trading partner for North America as well as a major investor in our domestic economies. Generally speaking, trade is much more constructive than boycotts or a heavily-armed policy of containment, and is definitely much more constructive than resurrecting the racist Yellow Peril of the 19th century.

     But you know, we are not just talking about goods such as energy, wheat, timber rights, mineral concessions and cheap Wal-Mart stuff. And not just services such as tourism, media, and education either. Modern business is also trafficking in the marketplace of ideas. For when you think about it, products are not solely physical artifacts anymore. They are also mental constructs. They have become Brands.

     Good Brands rely on the successful bundling of symbols and values with product. Ben and Jerry's is not just an ice cream company: they are also known for philanthropic and environmental leadership. The Body Shop is not just another soap line, they are promoting health and environmentally-progressive issues. And if you are successful in today's business, one of the more destructive things you can do is to work against the brand image that you have created. And when your brand is dependent on the idea of the free flow of information, supporting censorship is NOT the right way to present your message or your product.

     So as a media venture that believes in the free flow of information, HR is rather sensitive about certain issues. So when we have a situation where a western media company chooses to gloss over the fact that the Chinese government uses tanks to turn its own citizens into small pieces of bloody pavement, well, a line had to drawn in the proverbial sand. Google's corporate decision to self-censor their Chinese search engine puts them on the other side of that line. And since they showed that they don't match our values -- our Brand -- the relationship had to end. Bye bye. We think maintaining values is the Right Way to Do Business.

     Back to Hemp. There is a lot of Hemp opportunity in China (see http://english.people.com.cn/english/200111/04/eng20011104_83867.html), and while some companies are working with Chinese ventures, its very important that they do not take the regrettable route that Google has chosen. Your values come first. So if you are importing Chinese hemp textiles, don't buy ones manufactured through sweatshop labour. If you are importing organic hempseeds, make sure its Certified Organic and not "brownbag" or "backdoor" Organic. If you are buying hemp oil in bulk, please make sure its not rancid. And if you are selling Pedigreed Seed to them, what is in place to prevent them from pirating the genetic material? Taking short cuts will undermine your business. Avoid the race to the bottom, and work to bring Their standards up to Ours. Do not choose to overrun your ideals with tanks for a dollar.

Arthur Hanks

Regina Saskatchewan

March 2006

posted by Tom  # 5:08 PM
I strongly agree with sticking to your values, but I disagree with your analysis of Google's situation - they're doing the best they can under the situation.

Consider first that they actually tell Chinese users when results have been withheld. Neither MSN nor Yahoo present this type of transparency, and make no mistake that Google is going out on a limb to do this, and many in the Chinese government are less than happy.

Second, note that google.com is still available in Chinese and does not censor search results. However, users may sometimes have trouble reaching it due to Chinese Internet filtering. But for those looking for sensitive information, they're more than welcome to try, and Google does what it can. For those not looking for sensitive information, Google launched google.cn to provide better, more consistent service.

Finally, note that Google refuses to store personal information on Chinese soil. There is no Chinese Gmail, Blogger, or Personalized Search. This is in stark contrast to MSN and Yahoo, which both store the personal information of Chinese users, and routinely give this information to the Chinese government upon request.

You honestly think they can do better business than they're doing? I see a company doing all it can to advance our ideals (hopefully) without getting kicked out of China.
February 15, 2006 there was a joint hearing of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific chaired by Rep. James Leach (R-IA). The
hearing was entitled, "The Internet in China: A Tool for Freedom or Suppression?"

The Senate Banking Committee is concerned about the issue of China not letting its yuan float.

My comment to the House joint committees was that if you're so concerned about human rights violations, what about cleaning up your own house first?

Why incarcerate for years nonviolent users of marijuana?

Why imprison sick and elderly Americans for using marijuana medically?

Why seize property and possessions for possession of hemp?

Why not allow American farmers grow hemp and compete with the Chinese farmers on the world market? Why not let American farmers sell their hemp on the American market?

And, if American hemp farmers could compete with Chinese hemp farmers, might that not be enough of an economic incentive for China to want to allow the yuan to float?

The Senate Banking Committee responded to me, They didn't directly address the hemp issue, but seemed to have left a door open that it might be something worth considering.

Google wasn't the only offender. Microsoft and some other Internet service providers were also mentioned.

Too, House committees cannot be contacted directly. You have to send your comments to your local representative who supposedly will forward your comments to the committee(s). I seriously doubt that since members of Congress don't like to talk much about any aspect of hemp.
"You honestly think they can do better business than they're doing? "

Thanks for your comments. I think where we differ is that I think Google is media company, while others think of Google as primarily a search engine.

To be sure, Google is doing things differently from their competitors. But as a former customer and media partner, it is my privelege to hold them to a high standard of Journalistic ethics.

I believe that media companies should champion free speech, and not be making compromises in order to secure a larger market.

A parallel example would be if Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty agreed to co-publish Pravda during the Cold War. Kind've unthinkable.

Dave: as a Canadian, its not likely any House representative
would listen to me. Anyhow, last time I checked, USA elected their governments,while the Chinese still had no choice.So while the health of the American system is faily suspect, I am an optimist that that the system can be used to cure istelf.
Post a Comment


March 2004   June 2004   July 2004   August 2004   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   August 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008  

Please support our current sponsors.
(Click on logo to enter their web site!)

Hemp Resource


Ontario Hemp Alliance

Farmer Direct

Farmer Direct

Sask Hemp

Saskatchewan Hemp Association


Dr. Bronner's



Search the Hemp Report web site and back issues.

Home Current Issue Archives FAQ News About Us Links Events Search Classifieds Sitemap Photo Gallery Issue 20 Hemp News News Archives Recipes

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?