Ex-Exxon CEO's Massive Pension Draws Fire

I don't begrudge "Big Oil" their profits: lately they've had something of a windfall, no doubt, as much due to luck and markets as anything. What I do object to is ripping off their shareholders in such a blatant fashion - more than $150 million to one man. Those are company profits, generated by the capital the owners (shareholders) invested. They should be outraged.

But such is the state of corporate governance in the US, that there's probably little or nothing they can do about it. The longer I live and the more I see of it's operations the more I become convinced that the business form known as "the corporation" is a real enemy of free markets. The abstractions engendered by this form of artificial person with limited liability for the real owners are actually counterproductive to the operation of the market, and in fact lead almost inevitably to oligarchy and cartel.

I note with some interest that in the novels of the famed defender of capitalism, Ayn Rand, none of the Captains of Industry she used as heroes had to deal with Boards of Directors or shareholders at all. And far from bringing democracy into business, corporatism has more often resulted in outrageous excesses like this one.

If we are truly committed to free minds and free markets, I think it's high time we re-examined the basics of business organization, compensation and the linkage between ownership and responsibility.

AP - A $69.7 million compensation package and $98 million pension payout to Exxon Mobil Corp.'s former chief executive and chairman Lee R. Raymond has some shareholders and economists asking, "how much is enough?"

(link) [Yahoo! News: Top Stories]

23:00 /Politics | 2 comments | permanent link

The Real Inventor of Wireless Email?

In an open society, the truth will eventually come out. This tale should serve to give supporters of the current system of patent and copyright blackmail pause.

The NY Times reports on Geoff Goodfellow, possibly the real inventor of wireless e-mail, who says NTP was concerned that his earlier work might undermine its patent claims and went to some lengths to ensure that it did not, including gagging Goodfellow during the RIM lawsuit. Not only did high-school dropout Goodnight - who hung out as a teen in the lab of Doug Englebart - describe wireless e-Mail in 1982, he implemented it in the early 1990's.

(link) [Slashdot]

23:00 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Making and Breaking HDCP Handshakes

Unbelievable! It's DeCSS all over again - this protocol will be broken in a matter of a day or two once it's released into the wild. Will Hollywood give up? Or will they try to sue their customers into submission? I wouldn't bet on the former option.

Ed Felten describes the handshaking routine used by HDCP and how if any 40 devices conspire together, they can break the security of the system.

(link) [Slashdot]

23:00 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Da Vinci disclaimer demanded

Haven't they heard the news? If they'd have just threatened to send a few suicide bomber nuns to Poughkeepsie they couldn't gotten the entire movie nixed. I mean, it worked for the Muslims and South Park, right?

Roman Catholic group Opus Dei has asked for a disclaimer to be placed on the film of The Da Vinci Code.

(link) [BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition]

23:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link