Be very, very careful when choosing a company motto. People will hold you to it, especially if it’s as memorable as Google’s. And yes, I know that Google officially (if quietly) dropped the motto “don’t be evil” a couple of years ago, but I’m afraid I’m still going to hold them to it, because they touted it for several years and got everyone’s attention. And because taking notice of occasions when someone is being evil is one of those things I consider my responsibility as a human being.
As big companies go, Google seems to do a pretty good job of not being evil. It slips now and then, like when it allowed China to have a version of Google that would censor out inconvenient websites like ones implying that Tibet is actually a country under occupation, not a province of China, or that people were massacred in Tiananmen Square. But it has a strong commitment to sustainability, and, going by my informal survey of all the people I’ve known at Google, it’s great to their employees. (Also, I had lunch there with a friend last week, and its food lives up to its reputation.)
However, it’s time to hold its feet to that motto again. Google has just given a pot of money to legislators who are, look at that, supporting a tax holiday that would put millions of dollars back in its pocket.
Imagine what we could do with a trillion dollars. Instead, we’ll have to make it up by other kinds of taxes, on people who don’t have money to spend on lobbyists, or by cuts to services that are especially needed right now. I don’t think the US economy can afford to make a gift of that size to companies that are doing just fine without it, do you? In fact, I consider it such an egregious manipulation of tax policy for a few people’s gain that I would call it evil. Come on, Google, pay your taxes and quit yer bellyaching.
I don’t get to vote on Google policy (you have to own some of their stock to do that), but I do vote in Senator Boxer’s state, and work in Representative Eshoo’s district, so I’ve written to them.