Irish Daggers Come Out for Amazon – But Why?

I  think amazon is a great shop. It allows me to buy what I want, when I want it  and at a good price.

Amazon – A Lifeline

I have given up on shops. Often they don’t stock what I want to buy. I don’t enjoy mulling around in noisy, airless and messy public places.  I find it strange be treated with indifference, disdain or ignorance by sales staff – after all I want to do do is give them my money – so as I grow older I do it less and less.

A cousin is able to ship in dockers from the US and amazon ships my books (my basic vice in life) and now it ships any electronics I need. Software and music I download. I’ll look at online shopping for food in 2012!

The High Street Dies – So What?

Amazon gives me what I want, when I want it. Given that most shops don’t want to do that, fine by me.

But, some shops don’t like the idea that me and many millions of others like me don’t want to be abused by poor service and expensive prices.

The High Street Fights Back

A way to limit my choice is to force amazon to take back old electronics. That the law does nto require shops to do so (I have tried) has escaped many people and politicians by. I take my old electronics to the local council drop off point. It works fine.

The high street shops are  fighting  back, but not in the right way.  Shops could offer a pleasant shopping experience with good prices, good choices and good service.  That would be great, but it would not be easy. It would mean doing things differently. There is another way. They can use their  friends in high political places to stop me (and countless millions) using amazon and force back to the high street.

Be Careful When Irish Eyes Are Signing on You

Two Irish MEPs in an end of year flourish have raised their concerns about amazon. Strangely neither MEP contributed much in the debate on the review of the directive they are now asking  very detailed questions about, so maybe something or someone piqued their interest.

Question for written answer E-012015/2011
to the Commission
Rule 117
Liam Aylward (ALDE), Brian Crowley (ALDE) and Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE)
Subject:    WEEE Directive and online companies
The WEEE Directive (2002/96/EC) is an EU directive founded on the principle of ‘producer responsibility’, and its general objectives are to prevent the generation of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and to promote the reuse, recycling and recovery of such wastes.
Could the Commission clarify its position on adherence to this directive by online sales companies, with regard to their producer responsibility to promote the reuse, recycling and recovery of wastes outlined in the directive?
Could the Commission confirm whether there are any specific provisions with regard to online sales companies and their adherence to the WEEE Directive?
Does the Commission have any plans to implement further policy concerning online sales and distribution companies and enforcement of the WEEE Directive?
Could the Commission clarify whether online companies which operate in one Member State will be held responsible for either the recycling or recovery of such wastes in another Member State under the WEEE Directive? Do online companies have to register in each Member State in which they trade, in order to comply with the requirements concerning recycling and recovery of their waste electrical products?

How do NGOs know if they are delivering progress (or doing anything at all)?


Are we delivering progress?
Until recently I headed a large programme at WWF. I admit I was slightly obsessed about a few things, including delivering on what donors had paid us to do, and showing that the work we did do delivered progress.

My obsession on these basic metrics was not universally shared by colleagues.  After all, some worried, what would happen if this showed we were not doing what we were being paid to do, let alone if what we were being paid to do was not delivering progress.

Can Your Measure Progress?
That I worked on delivering political change  for conservation seemed  enough to put   donors off from asking if their investments were working. Winning votes or loosing them seems mysterious and off putting (it is not).

But, I got tired of fobbing off donors, and read everything I could get my hands on to see how you can show if you are delivering. Sales have an easy time of it. Did you make the sales or not? Sales progress can easily be defined.

But, did your intervention push a country or President to take a decision they otherwise would not have done?  Well, after a lot of work, I realised it is possible to measure those metrics. I may write it about it one day. There is not huge demand from anyone  about showing that kind of progress.

Metrics for NGOs?
But, Peter Day, one of my favourite Radio 4 presenters, discussed just this issue with Harvard’s Robert S. Kaplan and Allen S. Grossman. They have written an excellent piece that shows that most donors don’t ask if their investments are working.

Who Succeeds in Delivering Progress?
A few donors did ask these questions to the NGOS they paid for.  Good things happened.  NGOs returned to a unrelenting focus on their core goals – helping the poor and disadvantaged, protecting our planet etc –  and refound their addiction to delivery. They have returned to their core mission and now are able to show to themselves and their donors that they are working.

Day Light Robbery in the 21st Century – Fishing for Subsidies

The EU’s fishing department, DG MARE, had proposed that some projects could not benefit from EU aid, including “temporary and permanent cessation of fishing activities”. However, the proposal published today saw only the “temporary cessation of fishing activities” being illegible for fishing activities.

Even today, many fishing Ministers are demanding more taxpayers money to build new vessels “for their aging fleet”. Today, under this proposal,  EU taxpayers’ money will be used to pay to decommission old vessels. Boats, often built with taxpayers’ money will be bought out with taxpayers’ money.

The problems of this miss use of money are many. Why taxpayers from one country should have their money spent on buying out  derelict boats in France, Spain and Italy etc is not clear. Second, these buy outs have never addressed the imbalance in the size of the fleet, why it should do today is beyond me. Third,  it is not clear if the fishermen getting our money for their derelict vessels, often at inflated prices, won’t use the money to build big new vessels!

What is strange, is that until the last moment the proposal contained many improvements. But, at the last moment, a department in the Commission got the proposal watered down. It will be interesting to see who wanted to protect the interests of fishermen rather than hard working taxpayers.