The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) has put forth a proposal for Apple shareholders that would force the company to disclose more information about its sustainability programs. The right wing think tank also wants Apple to be more open about its participation in "certain trade associations and business organizations promoting the amorphous concept of environmental sustainability."
The proposal is on the ballot for Friday's annual shareholder meeting, and will be voted on during that meeting.
The NCPPR describes itself as "free market activists," and it has been involved in Apple shareholder resolutions for years. In 2012, the group backed a proposal that would force Apple board member Al Gore to disclose what the NCPPR described as a conflict of interest relating to Apple's efforts to supply green energy to some of its facilities. That resolution was soundly rejected by Apple's shareholders.
The group is also an avid climate change denier, a point emphasized in the press release promoting this year's shareholder proposal. In a complaint about the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade group that lobbies on behalf of some of the largest retailers in the U.S., including Apple, the NCPRR said:
The elevation of greenhouse-gas emissions to a place of prominence, for example, puts RILA squarely on the side of alarmists who, in the absence of any compelling data, blame human activities, i.e., the burning of fossil fuels, for climate change
The phrase "absence of compelling data" regarding humanity's effect on climate change is all one needs to know to judge the validity of the NCPPR's radical agenda.
On the surface, what the NCPPR is asking for—more transparency from Apple for its shareholders—is reasonable. Transparency is a great goal. What's below the surface illustrates that the NCPPR is pursuing an agenda that elevates the pursuit of anything and everything in the name of profit as something approaching a holy goal.
Mixed in with language touting the importance of transparency are statements that also emphasize that outdated, unsustainable, and ultimately destructive agenda. The following quote from the proposal was highlighted in the group's press release:
Some trade associations and business organizations have expanded beyond the promotion of traditional business goals and are lobbying business executives to pursue objectives with primarily social benefits. This may affect Company profitability and shareholder value. The Company's involvement and acquiescence in these endeavors lacks transparency, and publicly-available information about the Company's trade association memberships and related activities is minimal. An annual report to shareholders will help protect shareholder value.
This proposal doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing. 2012's Shareholder Proposal 3, the one that targeted Al Gore, won just 1.9 percent of the vote. This proposal could garner three, maybe four times that epic showing.
What's interesting is that if the group had crafted a shareholder proposal that focused only on transparency, a proposal devoid of the NCPPR's myopic ideology, a proposal that didn't target membership in only "certain" trade groups, it might well pass.
The reality, however, is that the NCPPR isn't interested in transparency—that's merely the vehicle being used to hawk its actual agenda of exploitation and profit-at-all-cost.
I'll be there at the meeting and will be reporting on the NCPPR's presentation and its reception, as well as the rest of the doings at the meeting.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.