Conservative Activist Accuses Al Gore of Apple Conflict

| Analysis

A Green Apple?The National Center for Public Policy Research is accusing former Vice President Al Gore of a conflict of interest concerning Apple’s plan to build a fuel cell power generator for its North Carolina data center. Speaking for the group, Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, said that Al Gore’s involvement on the board of a venture capitalist firm backing Bloom Energy, the company building the fuel cell generator, should be raising red flags for Apple’s shareholders.

The group, which regularly campaigns for conservative issues, including pro-fossil fuel policies and anti-green energy efforts, pink slime, voter ID requirements, protesting the Occupy movement, and most especially complaining about Al Gore and his role as a board member of Apple Inc., said that green energy companies are failing and that Apple shouldn’t be bailing out Al Gore’s failed investments.

“Apple buying technology from Bloom Energy, where Gore has a financial stake, is a clear conflict of interest. Shareholders must question why Apple is choosing to pay a premium for alternative energy when there are many sources of cheaper energy available in North Carolina, such as coal,” said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project.

In reality, it’s only a conflict of interest if Mr. Gore hid his involvement with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the legendary venture capitalist group that backed companies that went on to become tech giants, including Amazon, Google, Sun, Genetech, Intel, and a host of others. In that Mr. Gore’s position on the board of the VC firm is well and publicly known, it’s unclear what the basis of Dr. Borelli’s accusation is.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Borelli and his institute have tried to raise the hue and cry about Al Gore sitting on Apple’s board. At the 2012 shareholder meeting, Dr. Borelli presented Shareholder Proposal 3, which was an attempt to force Mr. Gore to admit that he has a conflict of interest relating to Apple having pulled out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest that organization’s lobbying against curbing greenhouse emissions.

That proposal was voted for by 1.9 percent of Apple’s shareholders. In its press release, the National Center for Public Policy Research said it failed because it was opposed by Apple’s management, but we were there when it was proposed.

At that time, it got precisely one shareholder’s personal clap of support, and that person was Shelton Ehrlich, who infamously claimed that the ice caps aren’t melting in his own attacks on Al Gore as an Apple board member (hint: the ice caps are melting).

Other issues opposed by Apple’s management typically get low double digit votes. One such measure imposing majority vote requirements for Apple’s board members, was long opposed by Apple’s management only to be voted in with 80.5 percent of of the vote this year (it had failed in prior years).

In any event, the drum beat from Dr. Borelli and the National Center for Public Policy Research has little basis in fact. It got enough attention from the financial press, however, that we felt it should be put into proper context.

Mr. Gore enjoys the support of CEO Tim Cook and Apple’s shareholders. Indeed, the entire management team of Apple enjoys the support of Apple’s shareholders. This is due largely on the fact that the company is making money hand over fist, and charges that Apple is working hard to preserve investments made by Al Gore or Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers at the expense of shareholders is not one that is likely to find any traction among those shareholders.

There is precisely one party making an issue out of this, and that’s Dr. Borelli and his National Center for Public Policy Research. In the context of the group’s broader campaign against green energy and just about anything that hints at being a progressive cause should put that effort into perspective.

Image made with help from Shutterstock.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

57 Comments Leave Your Own

Lee Dronick

Groan

furbies

Next they’ll accuse Al Gore of being a Communist!

Beware of RedsGreens under the bed!

MacFrogger

All you need to know about the National Center for Public Policy Research is that they were one of the many “public interest” orgs (along with Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform) that Jack Abramoff used to funnel money to in order to execute his dastardly deeds.  Just Bing the so-called Center along with Abramoff and you’ll learn more than you’ll ever want to know…

Now I’m no fan of Al Gore’s - but this “Center” is part of the extreme right wing propaganda machine and is about as bogus as they come!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Basically half the country thinks Al Gore is a douche, and half of the other half probably would if his environmental approach started to crimp their lifestyle. Even Keith OIbermann thinks Al Gore is douche, to the tune of $50 million lawsuit for installing a $10 million chandelier in his mud hut. Speaking of which, there are all sorts of stories about Al Gore’s electricity use at his Tennessee mansion, and who can forget him getting all Dominique Strauss Khan with the masseuse in Portland? Even Tipper eventually figured out that he is a douche.

That said, I think the real point here is that to the extent he keeps his head low and brings lefty cred to the company for that constituency, they’re using him right. When Apple tries to be green by removing Lorax testicles and baby seal intestines from its products, that is a good synergistic use of Al Gore’s brand. When it invests millions in unworkable “green” technology, it conjours up the excesses of the enviro-nuts, and that will hurt the Apple brand with half to three quarters of the public.

MacFrogger

Brad,

With all due respect, many of your comments are way over the top. Do you really think Al Gore is on the Board for “lefty cred”?  If so, who’s on the Board for “righty cred”, as the folks on this side of the aisle love to claim AAPL as a shining example of free market capitalism?  And really - calling Gore a “douche” because you disagree with his politics?  And “enviro-nuts”?  C’mon Brad, the name-calling is something I thought you gave up. This is what’s wrong with our politics today; it starts with the disrespect epitomized by silly name calling…

furbies

it starts with the disrespect epitomized by silly name calling?

+1

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

FYI Frogger, I’d go off on any Republican twice as hard. Also, I’ll give up name calling [deleted by Bryan]. Deal? Didn’t think so. Finally, I’m not interested in participating in politics where we all get raped by people like Al Gore who wave “science” in our faces without having a basic understanding that it’s a process, not an answer. But I digress. You can all go back to driving your Priuses solo in the carpool lane and sniffing your own flatulence grin. That’s how the other half sees you.

Bryan Chaffin

You’re over the line, Brad. I don’t appreciate it.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

The South Park episode “ManBearPig” was 20x nastier to Al Gore than I have been. Bryan, how about just addressing the point of the criticism, which is that green power is far more expensive? Are you saying that the “conservative activists” were making that up? Because I’d be happy to cite line and verse from organizations that are anything but conservative that offer the same evidence. Some do so to justify draconian taxes on fuels they don’t like and carbon emissions (as calculated by methods they do like) to make these green technologies more favorably priced.

RayCon

I?ll give up name calling when you give up beating your wife.

What kind of arrogant twit remark is that?  Your high-handed, jingoistic nonsense is ill-advised and vituperative without really saying much of anything, other than you don’t believe our environment is really in great danger.  The earth’s resources are not limitless, and even if cost costs more up front to preserve what we have, we should embrace green technology.  It is a sign of maturing of the human race to do so.  A dog knows not to defecate in its own kennel.

Bryan Chaffin

Brad, we can debate the merits of the issues all day long, but your comment to MacFrogger is beyond the pale. I love South Park, but this is not South Park.

In fact, edit your post or I’ll do it for you.

Obey the spirit and not the letter of that, too.

Bryan Chaffin

I took care of it.

That’s it for the aggressive ad-hominem attacks?back to discussing the article.

Green energy is more expensive, but that’s hardly the only factor involved with any and all aspects of energy. There’s how clean or dirty it is, renewability, corporate goals of sustainability…

These are subjective issues, but for me the other factors have a higher weight than price alone.

In addition, history has shown that the price of producing energy comes down as more R&D is performed, as technologies improve. This desire by some to stick our heads in the sand and burn up every ounce of fossil fuel we can just because it’s what we’ve always done is perverse and short sided.

I’m not directing that at you, Brad, because I have no idea where you actually stand on these various issues. It was aimed at the reactionary pro-fossil fuel forces as exemplified by Dr. Borelli.

1stplacemacuser

Green energy will of course start more expensive than established energy sources.  But over time, it will drop in price.  Solyndra is an example of that:  Their business plan assumed a competitive pricing of so many cents per watt generated, enough cover the cost of producing their product.  But the price dropped quicker and farther than they anticipated and they couldn’t sell their products at a price-point to cover their costs.  That’s a good thing.

The reason green is a holy grail is because it’s dependent on a free energy source, the sun, which washes the face of the earth with terawatts of power every day.  The question is how to do that with the materials we have on earth.

Petroleum will never disappear.  Eventually, the cost to extract, refine and transport the fuel will cost more than other options.  When that happens, no one would bother to use petroleum, and the remaining amounts of petroleum in the earth would still be around.  (At the very worst, it would be possible for humans to synthetically create gasoline and other fuels.  All it takes is carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, the latter may not even be necessary.  The issue is only the cost of manufacturing synthetic fuel.)

Terrin

Generally speaking most long term investments are more expensive up front. Take Apple’s investment in aluminum manufacturing. It had to invest a ton of money up front to secure the necessary equipment. The process was expensive. Now other companies are complaining they can’t compete with Apple because they can’t duplicate this process for a reasonable price.

The same with when Apple prepays for supplies or invest in a manufacturing partners’ operations. Apple has to dole out more money up front, hoping the initial investment pays dividends down the road.

Moreover, doing the right thing in terms of lessening one’s impact on the planet has value.

Bryan, how about just addressing the point of the criticism, which is that green power is far more expensive?

skipaq

This could get into a long debate over very spurious claims. The biggest problem I have with the so called “Green” energy cause is the attempts to manipulate prices to favor an industry. Investing in R&D for solar and wind is good. Wasting taxpayer money investing on green companies or making it more expensive to use fossil fuels is not.

The whole claim that solar and wind is neutral or good for our environment seems not to attract such projects in most areas. The costs are prohibitive. No one wants them in their back yard. Here in Maine there is plenty of wind; but few wind farms. Every new project of this type has lots of local opposition. The costs to produce wind energy are not competitive even with all the tax favoritism. The impact of these projects are not earth friendly to most people.

The fact is that solar and wind projects do impact the planet. Have you looked at the satellite photos of Apple’s project in North Carolina? What energy was used to accomplish clearing this section of the planet for the solar project? What energy is used to manufacture the equipment for said project? There is a long list of other issues associated with these so-called green projects.

Steve

This is not the first time that politics has come up on this site, but it ought to be the last. We stop by for news about Apple not your political views. There are a multitude of sites for political news and, for that matter, Apple.

MacFrogger

Egads - my simple request for civility resulted in this?!  OK, we’ll start out with a few basic points - just for Brad. Let’s see if he can be civil in his response:

1. I don’t have a wife, so I can’t beat her. (But I wouldn’t if I had one!)
2. I don’t drive a Prius, I drive a 99 Nissan Altima.
3. I can’t help but smell my flatulence, as it follows me around despite my best efforts. (Fortunately, it doesn’t stink!)  wink
4. Even though I don’t insist on it, you may address me as Dr. MacFrogger if you’re the type impressed by scientific creds. (Which mine are very real and very relevant to this discussion)
5. You take Bryan to task for not addressing your criticism that green energy is more expensive, but when you factor in all the externalities (e.g. the cost of our wars and military spending to ensure access to oil, the incredibly expensive subsidies for oil/coal/gas, and yes, the externalized environmental costs) it is not the bargain you seem to think it is. But this is a debate too large to have in comments on an Apple blog post triggered by some random comment from a long ago discredited org with an apparent purpose of agitating AAPL stockholders because they have a problem with Al Gore personally and/or green energy more generally.  Capeesh?

Now - where were we?  Oh yeah, let’s try civility Brad, OK?

Lee Dronick

Your right Skipaq, wind turbines can be a blight on then landscape. They can also artistic when you look at the with a different eye. We have a lot of them here in California, but they are not everywhere, not yet. I have three turbine ventilators on the roof of my house and I wonder why they couldn’t be used to trickle charge a battery that would power LED lamps in the evening.

The coast up in Maine has a greater tide range than we do in San Diego; Perhaps water turbine generators would work there and they mostly be under the water surface.

Geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear, methane, we have a lot options other than petroleum and coal.

For those with an iPad check out Al Gore’s book/app. Ignore his politics if they bother you, but focus on what he is saying. It also is a fine example of how a digital book can be more than just pages of text and graphics.

skipaq

Thanks Lee, but my point is simply that no energy source is green in the sense that most people use the term. To me this is not a green versus fossil issue. It is an energy issue and to frame it in fossil is black (bad) and solar is white (good) is missing the point. There are a lot of complex factors that are ignored.

Who would prefer to look at wind farms on the hilltops of Maine rather than the forests that were cut down? They have discussed possible sites for tide generators; but even those have opposition. Twenty years from now we will be using more of these so called green sources; but we will also still be using fossil fuel and other so called non-green sources. The “green” holier than “fossil” attitude just gets under my skin.

Lee Dronick

Zealots can be can be annoying no matter what is their agenda.

wab95

Tim Cook to Al Gore: “Greenpeace to the left of me, Borelli to the right; here I am, stuck in the middle with you”.

Concur with the comments that this is not the venue for settling energy disputes or the relative merits and cost/benefit ratios of energy options - the thoughtful posts of 1stplacemacuser and Terrin, notwithstanding.

‘Huzzah!’ to MacFrogger and others for championing civility. Courtesy is the surest conduit for ideas, and the cynosure in the halls of reason and discourse.


Regarding your piece, Bryan;

Despite their limitations of vision and imperfect methodology, I view Greenpeace as an organisation engaged in activism to bring about a ‘green revolution’ (however defined), wherein they are not above shamelessly using Apple as a fulcrum to move an industry towards that end. A visit to their website suggests that the policy objectives of the National Centre for Public Policy Research, on the other hand, are far more partisan than they are energy-specific.

As for Apple, I see this as a ‘little ado about nothing’ story, whose antagonists will only be lent credibility by Apple dignifying them with a response.

zewazir

Who would prefer to look at wind farms

I’ve seen large wind farms.  They are not pretty, by any stretch. The idea that just because an energy source is either renewable or non-consumptive equates to little or no impact on the environment is one of the larger fallacies of the green energy movement.  When we erect several thousand large towers with 30+ foot long impeller blades, it is going to have a significant negative impact on the environment, and not just in the appearance of the landscape. Some of the larger wind farms have been shown to disrupt bird migratory patterns.  Solar farms are somewhat less intrusive on the landscape, but still have their impact.

The thing is, we have plenty of energy in multiple forms.  The trick is converting it to forms which we can easily use.

IMO, we need to concentrate on those alternatives which involve the least change in the current infrastructure.  The problem with both solar and wind is it requires an enormous up-front cost in building new infrastructure, and then ongoing costs of maintaining the infrastructure - costs which are proving to be more expensive than the maintenance of current infrastructure.

Another approach would be to look at the current infrastructure, such as coal burning electrical plants, and find a way to feed them that does not involve the use of coal. Converting a coal fired electrical plant to a renewable fuel wold only involve changing the burners, and possible the fuel transport and storage system of the plant. The rest of the infrastructure remains, at a huge cost savings of conversion from fossil fuel to renewable fuel.

zewazir

As to the accusation, while I am not a fan of NCPPR, if a person on a board says “let’s use this contractor” when they are also involved with the chosen contractor: that IS, by definition, a conflict of interest. It does not matter if everyone knows about the relationship.

Now, I can understand why Apple would want to build their own power source for their server farm.  Makes sense to not be dependent on outside sources which can and do sometimes fail.  And the type of source makes its own sense considering what is available. And it may even make sense who they chose to build the system for them.  That does not change the fact that having a relationship with both defines a potential conflict of interest.  Usually, when this kind of situation arises in a corporate decision, the board member who has a relationship with a potential contractor recuses themselves from the decision.

1stplacemacuser

This could get into a long debate over very spurious claims. The biggest problem I have with the so called ?Green? energy cause is the attempts to manipulate prices to favor an industry. Investing in R&D for solar and wind is good. Wasting taxpayer money investing on green companies or making it more expensive to use fossil fuels is not….

So we (the US Gov) should get rid of the $8 billion/year oil company subsidies, right?  We should also stop fighting wars in the Mid-East for the benefit of the oil companies as well.  And we should actually take control and prosecute oil/coal companies for mismanagement of the land and workers, too, right?  By doing the above three, we would save trillions of dollars every year and thousands of lives.

If you want a fair competition among developing energy sources and the established oil/coal companies, then let’s do it.

1stplacemacuser

Greenpeace used to be pro-environment.  Now, it has been invaded and held hostage by enviro-attorneys trolling all projects, expecting to extract a few bucks.  Their goal now is to make money by suing or extorting major projects.  That’s why building the California high speed rail will be so expensive: gotta throw in a few million to help save the such-and-such frog.

geoduck

Usually, when this kind of situation arises in a corporate decision, the board member who has a relationship with a potential contractor recuses themselves from the decision.

Do we know that he did not?

So we (the US Gov) should get rid of…etc…

Yes on all counts. Right now too many in government seem to think that they work for Exxon/BP/Chevron/Shell et.al rather than their constituants. Witness the shameful “apology” one Republican congressmen offered to BP for the Presidents actions regarding their soiling hundreds of miles of the gulf. If the cost of energy was actually controlled by the market it would be a lot flatter playing field.

skipaq

1stplacemacuser, I am all in favor of getting rid of subsidies in total. Your other points are spurious at best. And our government doesn’t know how to save a dime let alone a trillion.

Never said fair competition; but I am totally against competition that is rigged by the federal government. And my point still stands: this discussion framed as “Green” equals good progressive anti-conservative thinking is essentially mind pollution.

Bryan Chaffin

This is not the first time that politics has come up on this site, but it ought to be the last. We stop by for news about Apple not your political views. There are a multitude of sites for political news and, for that matter, Apple.

Politics and business intersect all the time. I understand your aversion to reading my opinion, even though I think it’s the bee’s knees, but I do not understand the notion that when politics intersect with Apple and the tech world we should ignore it.

It was political when Dr. Borelli put his shareholder agreement forward. The accusation that he leveled on Monday was political.

It was political when Apple pulled out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It was political when Apple donated money to fight Porp 8 in California. It was political when Steve Jobs talked about the Kerry campaign needing help on the marketing front and how he had offered to give that help.

It was political when the Senate called Apple, Google, and others to testify on privacy concerns.

It was political when the DOJ tried to break up Microsoft and it was political when that case was settled.

Etc.

Are you suggesting that we shouldn’t cover those things, or that we do so in such a way as to provide zero context for them?

Neither option is palatable to me.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

You forgot one Bryan. It was political when Apple added Al Gore to its BOD.

Lee Dronick

We should be able discuss politics and business while keeping it civil. However, human nature being what it is emotions can run high. For me I will do my best in trying not to throw vitriol and be understanding of dissenting views. One of the reason I changed my handlle/identity here was so I wouldn’t be hiding behind anonymity.

A few months ago Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said that by the end of his second term that we would have achieved a trip to Mars. He was panned for that, but even though I am not a supporter of his I think he has a good idea. Great technology would come out of that venture even if it failed, jobs would be created, youngsters encouraged to pursue science and engineering. It would be like space program of the late ‘50s and the ‘60s.

Bryan Chaffin

You forgot one Bryan. It was political when Apple added Al Gore to its BOD.

Agreed.

akcarver

So we (the US Gov) should get rid of the $8 billion/year oil company subsidies, right?

Yes, we absolutely should. The government should not be subsidizing ANYTHING! If it can’t succeed in the open market, then them’s the breaks.

MacFrogger

Egads again!  So I went away for a day (to my real job), and come back (after working this evening too) to throw in two more cents:

1. Despite some disagreements, it seems like the civility factor has gone up in this joint.  That’s a good thing!
2. “?Huzzah!? to MacFrogger and others for championing civility.” - Thanks wab95! I believe in civility, and think most people prefer it to the kind of trash talk that has become all too common in our politics.
3. “Do we know that he [Gore] did not [recuse himself]?” Excellent point Mr Duck. We don’t.
4. “Politics and business intersect all the time.” - You are absolutely correct Bryan, and to think otherwise is not to think. You do a good job IMO of bringing in ONLY the politics that affect AAPL’s business. In the current case (no pun intended), Gore’s BOD presence is drawing an attack from an org designed to turn AAPL shareholders against an existing board member cuz they don’t like him or his politics. 

Re Brad: I’ve always appreciated his presence here (though not necessarily his style), as he plays the role of agent provocateur and challenges all of his to think - when he’s being civil.  When he’s not civil (and its not always Brad that fires the first shot!), things quickly go downhill.  So I say let the civility continue!

vpndev

The government should not be subsidizing ANYTHING! If it can?t succeed in the open market, then them?s the breaks.

Well, that means no Internet then, doesn’t it.

It all depends upon your point of view. If we think of the Government as “them” then there should probably be no subsidies. If we think of the Government as “us”, then I think it’s OK for us to subsidize something. I prefer the “us” option but will agree that there are things I don’t like about it.

That’s just my personal opinion.

geoduck

Well, that means no Internet then, doesn?t it.

I see a difference in seed money and subsidizing one corporation and industry over another. At this point the Internet could probably be privatized and well regulated. It is established. Another example is space travel. NASA has no business running supply missions to low earth orbit. That should have been turned over to the private sector a decade or more ago. Same with routine missions to the ISS. That’s not what NASA was created for. But no private company is on their own going to send people to Mars. That requires a government or governments to push the boundaries. Going back to the moon will require government seed money. If a profit can be made by going to the moon then let private industry take over.

The oil industry is well established. The make the profits and they should be willing to take the risks. The US shouldn’t be paying to keep a fleet in the Persian Gulf protecting them. You roll the dice and take your chances. Without that and the special tax breaks and all the rest alternative energy sources would be much more competitive.

One of the dumbest things I read about in the last few weeks was the buckets of tax money Texas and Austin is throwing at Apple (the richest company on the planet) to expand there. That was just stupid.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Hey Bryan, would you agree that the whole point of putting Al Gore on the BOD was to keep Apple from getting Microsofted by the DOJ? Because that was the whole point. I’m not even saying that he is a stuffed shirt or a pocket joker they could hold for situations like this. “Hey, you can’t send your anti-trust people here, we have Al Gore on the board.”

The political point was that Al Gore would know when the company was up to its ears in this crap, and would at least tell them they were up to their ears. He would presumably keep his fingers on the political pulse. The company would presumably know that he was super serial about this anti-trust stuff.

Lee Dronick

One of the dumbest things I read about in the last few weeks was the buckets of tax money Texas and Austin is throwing at Apple (the richest company on the planet) to expand there. That was just stupid.

I don’t think thatTexas, as a state, gave them the tax break, but it was the City of Austin. Anyway they probably ran some numbers and think that they can make up the revenue loss from taxes on the Apple employees. Plus the rippling effect on the local economy as those employees shop and spend money on services.

skipaq

You got that right Lee. States are meant to compete with one another for businesses. That is a whole different thing than the feds favoring companies.

Lee Dronick

You got that right Lee. States are meant to compete with one another for businesses. That is a whole different thing than the feds favoring companies.

Here in California we recently changed regulations to help keep businesses from decamping to other states. The Apple-Austin deal was probably put into motion several years ago.

I would love to see another QualComm here in San Diego, they are the 600,000,000,000 lb gorilla in the room.

Bryan Chaffin

Hey Bryan, would you agree that the whole point of putting Al Gore on the BOD was to keep Apple from getting Microsofted by the DOJ?

No, I give that suggestion zero credibility. Gore was appointed in 2003, in the middle of the Bush reign. Al Gore had zero pull in the executive branch. I would doubt any former VP’s pull with any DOJ, even one of his own party. For instance, should Romney win in 2012, I do not see Cheney having pull with the DOJ.

Pull with other branches of the federal government? Sure. Congress and the White House itself? Sure. Even if it’s not “pull,” a former VP has access.

In addition, Apple is in zero danger of being Microsofted by the DOJ. The company doesn’t have a monopoly or monopoly power anywhere.

Even the dustup over ebooks would never, ever result in Apple being busted up. It could certainly result in Apple’s publishing deals being axed, but it wouldn’t result in being busted up.

And in 2003 when this decision was made? Apple was a recovering PC company with a tiny sliver of market share.

So, seriously, I give zero credence to the notion.

Bryan Chaffin

The government should not be subsidizing ANYTHING! If it can?t succeed in the open market, then them?s the breaks.

Every single day you use many, many things that were originally a product of government subsidies.

There is a difference between crony capitalism (something Dr. Borelli’s group also protests, and about which I am more sympathetic to their message) and the government’s role in jumpstarting industries and technology.

I abhor the former and support the latter.

What so many people who decry any role for government forget is that our country was built on the back of protectionist policies and government subsidies (after we ended slavery, that is). The U.S. wouldn’t be what it is without our ancestors having employed the blunt club of government’s involvement in the economy.

vpndev

I do not see Cheney having pull with the DOJ.

Bryan, please be more considerate.

I nearly lost a keyboard over that remark.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Wow, Bryan. So you think they bring a guy with basically zero business experience in his entire adult life on board because _________________. Fill in the blank.

I don’t think it’s about pull. I think it’s about being connected. It’s about having a finger on the pulse. Microsoft was absolutely blindsided when the politicians and then the DOJ got involved. They had a 1/2 time lobbyist on staff at the time. All the upstart companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) established serious lobbying presences in DC early on specifically because of what happened to Microsoft, who, at the time, had no expectation of being pursued as a monopoly either.

I’ll agree to disagree with you, even though I still haven’t seen any other plausible reason why that guy gets a seat on Apple’s board. Seriously, did they think he was an expert on the music industry because wife Tipper led the PMRC and CCR wrote a song about him?

furbies

I don?t think it?s about pull. I think it?s about being connected.

Quoting (Copy & Paste) from WikiPedia:

Gore was previously an elected official for 24 years, representing Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives (1977?85), and later in the U.S. Senate (1985?93), and finally becoming Vice President in 1993. In the 2000 presidential election,

<SNIP>

Gore is the founder and current chair of the Alliance for Climate Protection, the co-founder and chair of Generation Investment Management, the co-founder and chair of Current TV, a member of the Board of Directors of Apple Inc., and a senior adviser to Google.[7] Gore is also a partner in the venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, heading its climate change solutions group.[8][9] He has served as a visiting professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Fisk University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.[7][10][11][12]. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of World Resources Institute.


So if it’s “evil” or wrong for Apple to have Mr Gore on the BOD then what about all the other companies/entities that Mr Gore is affiliated with ?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@furbies: It’s not wrong or evil. It’s just what it is. Examine the timeline over which he went from never having a significant private sector job to media conglomerate owner, on BOD of major company, VC, etc. There are really brilliant people who actually work for 5 or 6 years and never achieve such levels of success! Even the real inventor of the Internet doesn’t get these kinds of opportunities.

skipaq

Every single day you use many, many things that were originally a product of government subsidies.

Bryan, I am sure that there is a lot of truth in that. I don’t see a problem with the feds giving grants to scientists associated with universities or some other such entity. To a large extent that was done with the early internet getting a start. But it would piss me off for them to fork over a few million to Cisco, Comcast, Time Warner et. all to do the same thing.

I have a real problem with the feds handing millions over to Exxon. Why not send a few million Apple’s way? Giving money to scientists at universities who are doing research into solar and other energy projects is a completely different thing than wasting billions on companies in this business. Let them succeed or fail on the merits of their work.

The federal government is the least qualified and most wasteful manager of funds. We are in serious trouble financially as a nation. This is not a liberal/conservative issue. It is an issue of financial stewardship. The money is not theirs. It is ours and it is high time we hold them all accountable for their profligate ways. The alternative is that financial reality will hurt us all.

Bryan Chaffin

Turns out it’s good to be a former VP of the U.S…

Brad, I noted above that Gore has access. It’s that access that I imagine Apple found desirable. Plus, the company could have been looking ahead to a day when it would need to better ply the waters of Washington influence.

The reality is that when people leave government service, most enter the business world, with many of them peddling whatever influence, access, and experience they garnered while serving either publicly or in the bureaucracy.

Bryan Chaffin said: “I do not see Cheney having pull with the DOJ.”

vpndev said: “Bryan, please be more considerate.  I nearly lost a keyboard over that remark.”

Funny, vpndeve. smile

But I stand behind my statement. The Justice Department doesn’t work that way.

skipaq

Brad, once again I find myself having to agree with you. Shudders!!! The only two qualifications (if you can call them such) Al Gore has are political connections in government and “green” causes. Neither of those are impressive to me; but obviously were to Jobs.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@skipaq: And that is Borelli’s basic point. I won’t say it’s disingenuous, but it is certainly pretty rich to launch into Borelli for pointing out the turd in the punchbowl by claiming there is no punchbowl. I give it points for originality though.

vpndev

The federal government is the least qualified and most wasteful manager of funds.

Political opinion alert
I would not not accept that at face value. Nor would I automatically reject it. But “least qualified and most wasteful” is pretty specific. Wasteful? Certainly. I see a bunch of and I don’t even work for the Government. U.S. Federal spending with the major defense contractors is a bit for defense and a lot of corporate welfare. Ike warned of this in his farewell speech and it is quite true today.

The money is not theirs. It is ours and it is high time we hold them all accountable for their profligate ways.

No argument from me. I have suggestions, but they’re too far off-topic for this forum.  </alert>

I’m just glad Apple is doing as well as it is. I remember being miffed when the stock price was moving quickly that my purchase was $115 and I’d missed the dip at $85. Ahh - those were the days smile

Bryan Chaffin

Brad, I posit that it’s delusional. There’s no turd here. There’s no punchbowl here. There’s one crackpot’s crusade against Al Gore and green energy production.

Bryan Chaffin

I?m just glad Apple is doing as well as it is. I remember being miffed when the stock price was moving quickly that my purchase was $115 and I?d missed the dip at $85. Ahh - those were the days

Indeed! smile

MacFrogger

Home early today - so I thought I’d check in.  Many good points here, and again I note the civility.  Let me offer a perspective as a former denizen of the Valley.

1. Al Gore works for Kleiner Perkins; Al Gore thinks green - even if he doesn’t practice it personally (witness his power consumption). Of course I’m sure you’re all shocked to learn that many politicians are hypocrites, but let’s continue.
2. Apple has taken lots of criticism over the years for not being green; there’s no question that the “green design” of the data center in NC was inspired at least in part by Apple’s desire to green its image. (All very common practices for large companies concerned about such things, esp “hip” cos like AAPL)
3. Bloom Energy, the maker of the fuel cells that will be installed at the NC data center, is also a Kleiner Perkins-funded company and may even be one Gore has in his portfolio.

Now let me put together a plausible scenario: K-P wants Bloom to succeed, because they stand to make big $$ if they do. (This is what VC cos do, right?)  Anything AAPL does (or doesn’t do for that matter) generates TONS OF FREE PRESS. Gore sits on AAPL’s BOD, a company concerned about the greenness of its image, and works at K-P. Matchmaker matchmaker make me a match?  IMHO, it’s very likely that AAPL scored an INCREDIBLE deal on however many MW of Bloom fuel cells they’re installing in NC, and may even be getting them for free!  Why?  Because you cannot buy this kind of publicity for a start-up company such as Bloom, and even if they are giving away their generators for free it’s likely being viewed as a “demonstration project” that will pay extraordinary dividends moving forward.

Who wins besides Bloom Energy?  AAPL, for adopting state of the art green tech - and all the image benefits associated therewith. Not to mention that once the capacity is installed, these things are cheap to run - again its the capital cost that’s high.  (AAPL doesn’t need this kind of subsidy any more than they need Austin to give them tax breaks, but hey - they’d be dumb to turn it down.)  But most importantly, Kleiner Perkins benefits, as it is the value of their investment in Bloom that will skyrocket if fuel cells really do take off commercially.  Oh yeah, and Al Gore wins too, for in the Valley the matchmaker always wins. But I’m guessing even Brad will agree that if Gore really is the party responsible for putting together a deal even remotely resembling one as outlined above - a win-win-win for Kleiner, Bloom, and AAPL - he deserves at least a few plaudits.  OK - will check in later…

Bryan Chaffin

Very plausible, MacFrogger. Quite likely scenario, in my mind.

1stplacemacuser

The federal government is the least qualified and most wasteful manager of funds. We are in serious trouble financially as a nation. This is not a liberal/conservative issue. It is an issue of financial stewardship. The money is not theirs. It is ours and it is high time we hold them all accountable for their profligate ways. The alternative is that financial reality will hurt us all.

I do not agree with this claim.  Medicare is more efficiently run than any health insurance for-profit company.  SSN has a lower administrative overhead than almost all retirement fund management companies, including the low-cost leader Vanguard.

Are there pork in legislative bills?  No doubt.  But the day-to-day running of the government for the main tasks are rather efficient.  And that’s true even at the local and state level.

skipaq

National debt is approaching $16 trillion. We can debate what that means and while we do it will pass that figure. The federal government has proven it can’t manage our money and so I say they aren’t qualified. Republicans and Democrats alike have proven they can spend our money and that of our grandchildren.

As for waste all you have to do is head on over to the GAO which is a government agency that reports on government waste (LOL). Or listen to any politician running for office promise to cut government waste by so many billions. Problem is they get elected and proceed to add more waste.

We are on a path that simply cannot be sustained. Even if there is efficiency in some programs (Don’t think waste and fraud are being factored in; let alone the hijacking of retirement programs for other purposes.) it will be of no comfort when there is no more money to pay for them.

In that this discussion has gone far afield, this is my last post on the topic.

vpndev

I think that Bryan has a workable stable if he wishes to start a political site. But this is not that thread.

The fact that both Democrats and Republicans are complaining about “The Government” should be a clue that it’s the Party System that’s broken.

We individuals need to take it back from the dominant influences today - commercial companies and special interests.

I’m not partisan here but I’ll not go further since this is a political forum.

Log-in to comment