Not Saussure

September 2, 2006

Vandalised DEFRA Wiki (II)

Filed under: Community, environment, Politics, press, Spin, UK — notsaussure @ 8:05 pm

The fun which some folks had with David Milliband’s Environmental Contract wiki has not, of course, found favour with everyone; Simon Dickson complains about it in a comment in The Daily Telegraph and at greater length in his blog:

Guido’s mob censorship makes the proper media « I’m Simon Dickson.

He approvingly quotes someone who thinks, ‘Effectively, they’ve tried to censor a forum for the discussion of a subject that affects us all.’


This would be in the same way that Stephen Colbert’s viewers tried to censor Wikipedia on Elephants, would it?

It’s not the end of the world that some people have fun with a wiki; wikipedia manages to cope with such annoyances without great difficulty — heavens, they even manage to cope with my accidentally trashing a whole article when I tried to add an extra reference the first time I had a shot at editing it.

Many of the emendations, apart from the sublime silliness of some of them — I rather liked the way that ‘Who are the parties to the environmental contract?’ turned into ”Where is the party for the environmental contract? Can I come? Will there be cake? Hooray!’ — made perfectly valid points about the fatuity of this exercise; for example, (and this isn’t, as far as I can tell, the contribution of one of Guy Fawkes’ vandals — someone was paid to write and someone else was paid to approve it), apparently as part of ‘an environmental contract for sustainable finance’,

‘citizens will

  • understand the impact of their savings and investments on environment and society;
  • spend the financial gains from their savings and investments in a sustainable manner;
  • explore ways that they can use their investments to support sustainable businesses and promote one planet living; ensure that their voice is heard by voting at company annual general meetings in a way that supports sustainable business;
  • check that their fund manager is actively voting their shares in a way that is consistent with the principles of one planet living;
  • request regular reports on the responsible ownership actions of their product providers;
  • ask fund managers for the portfolio of companies where their money is invested and check that the companies in these portfolios are consistent with their own principles;
  • encourage neighbours to think about the environment when saving and investing.

I have no intention of promising HMG that I’m going to do any such thing; I’ll spend the financial gains on my savings and investments — such as are left after Government’s taken its cut — how I bloody well like, thank you very much, and if David Millibrand thinks I’m going to promise to emulate one of my more eccentric neighbours who actually does nag people about the environment every time she gets a chance, he’s even more foolish than I thought.

And what do I get in return for all these commitments I’m invited to take on?

In return, government will:

  • provide access to high quality information on how savings and investments impact on environment and society;
  • ensure that consumers are asked whether they would want advice on one planet finance as part of their general financial advice;
  • give simple advice to customers on what information they should ask financial institutions to provide;
  • provide better access to information to consumers on company voting to individual investors.

That is, it’ll impose various obligations, which won’t acheive very much, on others and spend taxpayers’ money on anodyne PR. ‘High quality information about savings and investments’, indeed; it’ll be fun to see what that looks like.

Confronted with all that, I far prefered

Businesses will:

  • respect general and sector specific waste regulations pay additional landfill taxes
  • identify opportunities to increase resource productivity and use waste as a resource reduce the use of packaging in all products while still maintaining the risk avoidance attitude which made the packaging a requirement in the first place.
  • endeavour to produce products locally, remembering that we are now a global village.

In return government will

  • incentivise business to use less weight through landfill tax by shortchanging and using flimsy materials.
  • provide pre-natal advice and support programmes
  • enforce regulations to prevent other businesses free riding or finding a way of increasing untaxable profits
  • work with the packaging industry to reduce packaging waste
  • increase recyclability by closing all MacDonalds?.
  • work with retailers to reduce waste at the end point

See if you can work out, by the way, which of those are ‘vandalism’ and which are the government’s ideas.   Answers at the comparison between the two versions.


1 Comment »

  1. Are you interested in my mighty lifestyle I have a joke for you =) What did the worm say to the caterpillar? What did you do to get that fur coat?

    Comment by Bychoancy — October 30, 2008 @ 4:12 am

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