Naive? You decide…

Everyone says that Robert is just a prince of a fellow. So when I read his opener, “I just did a speaking gig at Microsoft. Spoke to Nestle executives from around the world. Nice group of folks,” I naturally assumed that he’s had his head buried so far up the ass of technology that he hasn’t heard the news about certain multinational corporations and their cynical and rapacious greed.

It’s not just about the infant formula and the cash flow issues and the understimulated moms who are left with no alternative to formula feeding and an increasing infant mortality rate. Naturally, this is a story that can’t be lived down and the corporation should be broken up and asset values returned to the shareholders as a lesson regarding multinational corporate ethics. But there’s no international court to adjudicate that, no real hope for social justice. So we watch Nestle and try to curb their monstrous greed wherever we encounter it. And that “nice group of folks” line is bullshit. They, the so-called “nice executives from all over the world” are rapacious, greedy mother-fuckers or they wouldn’t have risen that high in the food chain at one of the most thoughtless and cruel corporations in the world.

Nestles corporate support of African slave labor in chocolate production should be enough to make any thinking, caring person turn his or her back on the nice-guy corporate execs, or spit on their shoes, or something.

Our local experience with Nestle/Perrier had to do with their corporate policies around illegal extraction of groundwater. We had to struggle for years to get these jerks to back-off their plans to dry up our aquifers in Wisconsin for their shareholders’ profits. Sadly, they moved on to Michigan and are now doing their best to suck that state dry.

Posted in People, Politics, Public Services
13 comments on “Naive? You decide…
  1. McD says:


    I give Scoble the benefit of the doubt on this one… He just doesn’t have the background or the peripheral vision to see the bigger picture with Nestle.

    The big story behind your post IS the potential blogging has to expose issues that would never surface in the MSM because of the ad-based business models.

    This is one of the themes that Dave Winer gets right about blogging… It’s power comes from the real, unaltered voice of the individual seeking to get the word out about some greedy, rapacious business entity.

    Keep putting out the news Frank. You should get TechMeme’d on this one but maybe not. It may already be too late for the blog-o-market to detect a blog-o-snafu darkly on their auto scanners.

    Every new revolution carries the seeds for an orchard… but nature still has inputs over the fruit produced. We must still weed, cultivate and protect the crop from easy answers that echo the problems of the past.

  2. James says:

    What a bunch of hyperbole.

    Exactly how are you any less cynical than Nestle?

    How can a blogger complain about someone else being “up the ass of technology”??

    If Nestle, with their dastardly support of beauty pagents, horrific desire for groundwater, and irresponisible baby formula-pushing is one of the most “thoughtless and cruel corporations in the world,” then apparently the business world is a lot better than I thought it was!!

    Well I thought conservatives were the biggest word banalizers, but liberals are doing their part now as well. Apparantly “evil” now means you market baby milk and support beauty pagents.

    I think you need a good philosophy of law class to knock you off your moral high horse. Telling right from wrong is never easy, especially without good laws and a healthy justice system as a guide. As Kant pointed out over 200 years ago, these problems aren’t caused by corporate “evil,” they are caused by the lack of a powerful UN or international justice system. They are also caused by the utter lawlessness that still persists in many parts of the world today. You can’t blame the executives at Nestle for the failings of mankind as a whole.

  3. I missed the part about the beauty pageants… but I’ve lived through the struggle and followed carefully the analysis associated with the Perrier groundwater extraction issues, and long been aware of the ethical dodginess of using slave labor to produce the raw materials of a high profit margin consumer item, and as for the baby formula thing… dude, don’t they teach you nuthin’ at the University of Minnesota?

    I am less cynical than Nestle by virtue of calling them on their shit, by virtue of not recommending to clients relationships with companies that fail to respect human dignity and the environment, by virtue of trying to live in a way that provides sustenance for all and removes the root causes of war. That was easy. Got any hard questions for me?

  4. James says:

    I still can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. I don’t know why onegoodmove linked to this. This Nestle crap is so 90s. Neither your post nor your response explained at all why, out of the million other problems we face, Nestle in particular is one worth worrying about.

  5. ChrisM70 says:


    You don’t know what the fuss is about?


    You know, treating people like they are people? Try reading a few of the links above (especially the one from Corporate Watch).

    Maybe then you won’t be so puzzled.

    Or, maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t care about the health and welfare of people you don’t personally know.

  6. Brian says:

    It’s possible for Nestle (the company) to be doing the horrid things you link to _and_ for executives of the company to be a nice bunch of guys.

    Bad men rarely walk around with Snidley Whiplash expressions or look like Dr. No in his island fortress. The most evil of people (child molestors, say) look like everyone else.

  7. We all have to take responsibility for our actions.

  8. The story on Nestle (and subsidiaries) remains the best kept dirty little secret of multinational corporate institutional wrongdoing. And due to a certain affection for chocolate bars, it is actually difficult for many to accept, or even process the facts, about this corporate wrongdoer.

    Corporate culture at Nestle is “we do what we do, we’re Nestle, you don’t like it, okay fine.” A mannered way of saying fuck you.

    And to think, Frank, I was originally just going to make a New! Listics Crunch Bar joke. But the cruel realities of Nestle took priority.

  9. One more thing: it comes as absolutely no surprize that MicroSoft would be doing business with Nestle. Maybe Bill & Melinda will spend some of Warren’s billions righting wrongs furthered by Nestle’s actions and corporate practices.

    As for Scoble…. my guess is that he knows little or nothing of Nestle’s nefarious activities, and was, to quote a famous phrase, “just doing his job.”

  10. McD says:

    Re: Scoble’s culpability

    Dispassionately, I think it’s fair to say that not being part of the solution means you’re a part of the problem… but I it’s also fair to consider that most of us walk silently and ignorantly past problems every day.

    Activism and fighting for human rights take a dedication and vision that few possess.

    Scoble’s heart seems to be in the right place based upon some of his stances. He’s a player in the corporate PR world and sees a lot of benefits for people having good jobs with solid benefits and that’s a pretty widely held view of the world in the US. Capitalism fits well with the Horatio Algier world view of infinite opportunities based upon hard work.

    I just wish we could see some political leadership emerge that makes the case for more balance in public policy regarding public welfare vs the advantages of applying free enterprise dynamics in every sphere of endeavor.

    De-regulating health care leads to a society that will eventually make hard decision about the relative value of humans based solely upon the ability to pay. This leads to applying market forces to humans as a commodity and is at the heart of the issues Frank is attempting to spotlight with Nestle.

    Dispassionately, I think it’s fair to say that not being part of the solution means you’re a part of the problem… upon learning about the problem it’s wrong to shoot the messenger because “problems” are simply every where. It’s totally anti-conservative to ignore the issue of accountability for business decisions that cause suffering simply because nature and war and ignorance do as well. When nature, war and ignorance have that next “stockholders meeting” it would be easy to get people there to protest their actions too.

    Nice color choice for your blog crayon kit Frank… It’s in the color that is different for each reader: “flesh”.

  11. I like to call it “The Human Web.”

  12. Jon Husband says:

    I still can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. I don’t know why onegoodmove linked to this. This Nestle crap is so 90s. Neither your post nor your response explained at all why, out of the million other problems we face, Nestle in particular is one worth worrying about.

    Instantiation of an example, where the example meets opportunity ?

    No doubnt it’s not THE worst corporation on the planet, but it ain’t pretty. Robert’s talking to them about where things may be going, “human webs” etc. and those Nestle execs aren’t likely high on the “how humanistic is our buisness strategy” index. His phrase ‘nice folks” probably means their teetha re more or less white, hair combed, deodorant, appropriate dress, pleasant manners, one or two more-or-less on-point questions, etc. Robert probably wasn’t busy thinking about the corpocratic hijacking of planet Earth.

    My $0.02 ? Frank chose an useful example to elaborate on his perspective and values.

  13. George says:


    I am a senior executive at this so called cruel corporation you speak of. I attended the workshop and met Robert Scoble. It was his presentation that has urged me to reach out to the bloggers of the world. Let me say that working at a senior level for 22 years with Nestle gives me a pretty good first hand view of this so called “evil corporation”. Maybe it is you that is naive and not Robert. Do you think that the 270,000 employees are all droids that carry out the evil doings of the CEO. We are raising our children, taking care of our pets and contributing to society like every other human being. We are people just like you that have strong personal values and care about others. We are extremely sensitive to local laws and any employee that knowingly breaks those laws will be terminated. This is the message that comes down from the top. I have been privy to many meetings with the CEO and never witnessed any sign of covert plans or actions that you may find in an “evil corporation”. Why would we do this, our Consumers make a purchase decision every second and they vote with there choice of our brands. Social responsibility is not just good practise but it is critical for good business.

    When Countries are in crisis with Hurricanes, floods, etc. it is Nestle employees (not evil corporations) that are taking decisions to send food and aid. Then because of badpress and easy target we are then accused of trying to sway the poor for profits. There are many situations when we choose not to publically announce our donations because we know that some group will try to twist the gesture in to a corporate profit scheme.

    But why try and change your mind, you seem to be fixated on the non profit NGO articles that exist(3rd party accounts). I am actually writing this blog to support my new friend Robert Scoble who shared 2 hours of his valuable time and is passionate about what he does.

    George Vezza
    Senior Leader

5 Pings/Trackbacks for "Naive? You decide…"
  1. […] “A Passionate Observer of The Human Web” (my title for Frank’s blogging core value) […]

  2. […] Corporate Community and Ethical Blindness By Frank Paynter Nestlé seems to be on the offensive regarding their reputation on the web. This discussion page from Wikipedia illustrates a balanced and reasonable approach by corporate PR to keeping their public image clean. Another facet of this campaign emerged this morning in a comment on my post regarding Scoble’s open-faced warmth and the hospitable welcome he gave Nestlé leaders on a recent occasion at Microsoft. George Vezza of Nestlé disagreed with my representation of his firm and shared his disagreement here: Frank, […]

  3. […] Robert Scoble wrote about addressing executives at Nestlè about weblogging. Frank Paynter responded with post listing out several concerns about Nestlè’s corporate behavior. An executive from the company responded in Frank’s comments–not about the concerns Frank raised, but what a nice guy he is, and how he’s only responding in the interests of supporting his ‘new friend’ Robert Scoble. […]

  4. […] Frank reacted to a blog post from Robert Scoble. […]

  5. […] Samedi dernier pourtant, la hiérarchie de Nestlé a pointé le bout de son nez par la bouche de George Vezza. Ce fut sous la forme d’un commentaire sur le blog de Frank Paynter, répondant à une critique de ce dernier. George se présente comme un Senior Executive mais on ne sait pas quel est son titre exact; selon Frank, il serait en fait Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Nestlé Region Caribe. Peu importe finalement. […]



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