A GARBLED GOOGLE MESSAGE
by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Boca Raton, Fla.
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The young, fabulously rich, brilliant minds of Google, need to learn the toughest thing in business: when to fire a client.
In accommodating the censorship wishes of the repressive Marxist-Leninist regime of the Peoples' Republic of China, the Google inheritors of the "me-me-me" generation, have demonstrated to the world just how flimsy is their "Do No Evil" credo.
Speaking from the annual Davos, Switzerland annual economic love fest early today, Google co-founder Sergey Brin told CNBC-TV about his participation in discussions of deep "social issues."
Apparently the PR spinmeisters are working overtime on the Google-China story, when this morning's London Financial Times serves up a dose of platitudes by a new apologist for Google Light, the prestigious Lex column of the FT.
"Google's pragmatic decision, which does compromise its principles, should not be enough to affect users' behavior in its core markets. But if Google one day gets the balance wrong between commercial opportunities and nurturing the brand, it could be painful. After all, users can switch search engines at the click of a mouse," concludes Lex.
One would have expected a much harsher scolding of Google by the premier global bastion of capitalistic journalism. Instead, earlier in the piece, Lex admitted that if Google had not cut a deal with the devil "Otherwise, rivals who accept censorship will build strong positions…"
The bottom line is that Google wants a billion new customers for its advertisers. In order to play nice with the anachronistic, archaic, and often vestigial Beijing goons and apparatchiks, Google agreed to allow China to filter out controversial or pro-democratic sites, stories, web pages, etc. Google feels it will soften the blow by popping up some message, such as "Confucius say: your search has been punked!"
Every pub owner has had to toss a big spender who was vomiting on the bar.
Any reputable stock broker, faced with a compulsive punter day trading the rent money has had to decline future trades an invite them to transfer his or her account elsewhere.
Even a multi-millionaire becoming abusive to a dealer at the roulette table in Vegas eventually is strong armed into the street, and if resisting, gets his ears boxed.
The potential revenue for Google in China is great, but bribery by any other name ain't so sweet.
Bribery? Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! My dear, methinks thou art too harsh.
Well, a generation ago when ITT was nailed for payoffs in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America, it was bribery.
When Royal Dutch Shell admitted schmearing millions of dollars to corrupt Nigerian oil officials for greasing the bureaucracy, "usual and customary business practices" were called what they were: bribery.
When visitors to Mexico stop going there because of "La Mordida" (literally, "the bite") fatigue, from being shaken down by cops, it's bribery.
When the fourth largest economy in the world (China bypassed France yesterday and is about to bypass the United Kingdom) says "welcome to our country, but make sure your search engine helps us keep our people in the dark" it's bribery.
The market economy in China has, as its catalyst, a young, mercenary middle class. These savvy entrepreneurs will find ways of getting to Google's full search engine, uncensored. Where there's a cyber will there's a financial way.
On my first day in Bosnia I was told I could not access the internet. In one hour, a U.S. Army private had me up and running with some weird Serbo-Croatian Hotmail account translated back into English.
After a few inquiries on the street, I was able to trade foreign currency options on the Philadelphia Foreign Currency Options Exchange, from an an internet café hidden behind a Chinese dry cleaner two blocks from the British Museum.
When dedicated library and Internet café search engines kept directing me to Yahoo and crashing the AOL home page, I learned to sign on to AOL through Canadian, Latin American, and a dedicated Mexican portal.
You don't read Spanish?
The delete buttons, send mail buttons, etc., are all in the same place as in English.
With a $300 Ericcson cable and ethernet card, I used a faint cell phone signal to send email from a New Mexico mountainside where all the electricity was in the air, not in an outlet.
With unlimited long distance on a landline, I've logged onto dial up accounts in eight different area codes. When the phone company started cutting me off after 10 minutes, I started preparing my emails "off line", logging on for 30 seconds and hitting the "mail waiting to be sent button."
A nation which has figured out how to build cheap space rockets, knock off Gucci bags, and 99-cent calculators can figure out how to search Google for last night's "Project Runway" results.