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Google Christmas Cheer Education

Did Google.org Steal the Christmas Spirit? (theregister.co.uk) 103

Google.org gives nonprofits roughly $100 million each year. But now the Register argues that festive giving "has become a 'Googlicious' sales push." Among other things, The Register criticizes the $30 million in grant funding that Google.org gave this Christmas "to nonprofits to bring phones, tablets, hardware and training to communities that can benefit from them most," some of which utilized the crowdfunding site DonorsChoose (which tacks a fee of at least $30 fee onto every donation). "The most critical learning resources that teachers need are often exercise books, pen and paper, but incentives built into the process steer educators to request and receive Google hardware, rather than humble classroom staples," claims the Register. theodp writes: [O]ne can't help but wonder if Google.org's decision to award $18,130 to teachers at Timberland Charter Academy for Chromebooks to help make students "become 'Google'licious" while leaving another humbler $399 request from a teacher at the same school for basic school supplies -- pencils, paper, erasers, etc. -- unfunded is more aligned with Google's interests than the Christmas spirit. Google, The Register reminds readers, lowered its 2015 tax bill by $3.6 billion using the old Dutch Sandwich loophole trick, according to new regulatory filings in the Netherlands.
The article even criticizes the "Santa's Village" site at Google.org, which includes games like Code Boogie, plus a game about airport security at the North Pole. Their complaint is its "Season of Giving" game, which invites children to print out and color ornaments that represent charities -- including DonorsChoose.org. The article ends by quoting Slashdot reader theodp ("who documents the influence of Big Tech in education") as saying "Nothing says Christmas fun more than making ornaments to celebrate Google's pet causes..."
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Did Google.org Steal the Christmas Spirit?

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  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @12:25PM (#53552015)
    it's just how these sorts of things work. Corporations give to charity for three reasons: Tax write offs, Marketing/Publicity and to advance their long term agendas. This is why we shouldn't rely on charity to maintain the public good.
    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @12:42PM (#53552081)

      Corporations give to charity for three reasons: Tax write offs, Marketing/Publicity and to advance their long term agendas.

      Wow! You, Sir, have just written the plot for a modern age parody of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"!

      Ebeneezer Scrooge goes to sleep and discovers the True Meaning of Christmas in his dreams, when visited by:

      - The Ghost of Tax Write-Offs
      - The Ghost of Marketing/Publicity
      - The Ghost of Advancing Long-term Agendas

      "God damn us! God damn us, everyone!"

      • Wow! You, Sir, have just written the plot for a modern age parody of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"!

        "A Christmas Carol" is anti-capitalist agitprop that could have been written by Karl Marx himself. Sure, Ebenezer could have bought a Christmas goose for Tiny Tim's family, but that would have just helped one family one time. But if he had instead kept the money, and reinvested it in his business, he could expand and create jobs, goods, and services that would benefit far more people, and benefit them permanently. The prosperity of the modern world wasn't created by people giving away their money.

        • Well played. I honestly can't tell if you're sarcastically trolling or if you're serious. Either way, well done.
          • Zorg: Why? What's wrong with me?

            Priest Vito Cornelius: I try to serve life. And you seem to want to destroy it.

            Zorg: Oh, Father. You're so wrong. Let me explain.

            [Puts and empty water glass on his desk]

            Zorg: Life, which you so nobly serve, comes from destruction, disorder and chaos. Now take this empty glass. Here it is: peaceful, serene, boring. But if it is destroyed

            [Pushes the glass off the table. It shatter on the floor, and several small machines come out to clean it up]

            Zorg: Look at all these little t

        • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @01:53PM (#53552241)

          Sure, Ebenezer could have bought a Christmas goose for Tiny Tim's family, but that would have just helped one family one time.

          The contracting agency I worked for gave everyone an extra five weeks of pay (which is less than a month of pay after taxes) as a Christmas bonus. The author for an essay on Hanukkah goose wrote that it cost him $250 for kosher goose. With my unexpected holiday bonus, I could have bought kosher goose for a dozen families.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/24/opinion/goose-a-hanukkah-tradition.html [nytimes.com]

          But if he had instead kept the money, and reinvested it in his business, he could expand and create jobs, goods, and services that would benefit far more people, and benefit them permanently.

          Or bought a yacht. Which is what the CEO of a Fortune 500 company was rumored to have done after getting a 60% raise for having lousy fiscal year and laying off 10% of the workforce. As one of the laid off employees, I had a lousy Christmas in 2013.

          The prosperity of the modern world wasn't created by people giving away their money.

          That's funny. Every how-to book on becoming wealthy recommends starting a charitable foundation.

          According to the most recent statistics, the number of family foundations like the Cordes Foundation has exploded since 2001. There are now over 40,000 family foundations in the United States, making grants totaling more than $21.3 billion a year, up from about 3,200 family foundations doling out $6.8 billion in 2001, according to the Foundation Center in Washington.

          https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/your-money/family-foundations-let-affluent-leave-a-legacy.html [nytimes.com]

          • I could have bought kosher goose for a dozen families.

            I once gave a holiday goose to a dozen secretaries. My employer got slammed with a sexual harassment lawsuit, and I had to attend "Sensitivity Training".

            Nobody understands the Winter Holiday Spirit anymore.

            • Your story doesn't sound exactly kosher....
            • My employer got slammed with a sexual harassment lawsuit, and I had to attend "Sensitivity Training".

              The secretaries would have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, not your employer, and more likely it would have been a complaint and not a lawsuit. If HR determined that your were guilty of the complaint, then you would have "sensitivity training" class to attend. Of course, it's not the 1990's anymore.

          • It's because companies are allowed to buy back their own stock. It sounds weird, but that used to be against the law. Something about manipulating their own stock prices. Well, after that little rule change CEOs started being paid in stock and most of their pay was made by cashing out that stock. This is why raising the stock prices is job # 1 for a CEO. The easiest way to do that is buy backs, and the easiest way to do that is to score some quick cash in the form of outsourcing and layoffs.

            As a funny l
          • The prosperity of the modern world wasn't created by people giving away their money.

            That's funny. Every how-to book on becoming wealthy recommends starting a charitable foundation.

            Those foundations are created after becoming wealthy for tax breaks, positive publicity, and to make statements - not to become wealthy. You've got cause and effect completely reversed.

            • Those foundations are created after becoming wealthy for tax breaks, positive publicity, and to make statements - not to become wealthy.

              Not necessarily. Most private foundations have less than $1M in the bank. Depending on your tax situation, it might make sense to start a foundation on the way up than wait until you have it all to give away.

              You've got cause and effect completely reversed.

              You're obviously need to read more about becoming wealthy.

        • Except that Scrooge was hoarding all the profits, like our current billionaires. He also had only one employee, whom he paid minimum wage (which is like our current billionaires who outsource everything).

        • "The prosperity of the modern world wasn't created by people giving away their money."

          The prosperity of the modern world wasn't created by capitalists.

    • Corporations give to charity for three reasons: Tax write offs,

      There's a huge misconception about how tax deductions (tax write-offs) work. You can't make money from a tax deduction for money* donated to charity. Mathematically, a tax deduction just eliminates the tax you would've paid if you'd kept the money for yourself. Without the tax deduction, if you donated $1000 to charity, your actual expense would be $1000 + taxes on that $1000. The $1000 would still be part of your income, so you'd still hav

      • So if a company donates a bunch of software licenses to a school, they get to deduct the market value of those licenses from their taxes, while they spend exactly 0 dollars to produce those licenses. Their only "expense" is the school not buying licenses since they are now getting them for free (provided that the school was going to buy them in the first place).

        Sounds like a great racket. As a software developer I need to look further into this.
    • it's just how these sorts of things work. Corporations give to charity for three reasons: Tax write offs, Marketing/Publicity and to advance their long term agendas.

      The thing is, there are still a few people who see Google as a different sort of company - one which seems driven by motives other than pure profit. But that version of Google - if it ever existed at all - is long gone. I think Larry may have driven that attitude for a while, but he seems to be... somewhat disconnected from reality nowadays (plus it's not as if the founders are running the company now).

  • "Charity" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2016 @12:26PM (#53552017)

    These aren't charities... Just corporate tax breaks that helps expand the Google brand.
    Just another reason to block all google domains on my home network.

  • Next you'll be outraged that Microsoft donates windows and office licenses and support to RNC and DNC conventions. How selfish of them to donate their own products!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's kinda the point though - google aren't donating windows. They're donating money, getting a tax break on that money, and then requiring that that money is spent on google products.

      Effectively, google are forcing the tax payer to buy a bunch of google products that schools don't need.

  • by SpankiMonki ( 3493987 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @12:27PM (#53552027)
    You're a monster, Alphabet.
    Your heart's an empty hole.
    Your brain is full of spiders.
    You've got garlic in your soul, Alphabet.
    I wouldn't touch you with a
    Thirty-nine and a half foot pole!

    ...

    Merry Christmas everybody!

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @12:49PM (#53552099)

    The Christmas we knows today - with the garish fat man dressed in red and gaudy lights that waste gigawatt hours of energy for nothing every year - is a pure invention of the Coca Cola company [coca-colacompany.com], designed solely to sell Coca Cola products. Also, the contemporary Christmas "spirit", based on ultra-consumerism and overeating, that start at least a month before the actual fucking Christmas Eve, is nothing but a massive effort by companies to brainwash people into buying tons of shit without realizing they're being manipulated into consuming. When was the last time Christmas was a strictly christian celebration, with Christians going to church to pray for a whole day and night, while the Jews, Muslims and all the others went about their business as usual on December 24?

    So no, Google didn't steal the Christmas spirit: they *are* the Christmas spirit. They're pushing their products, like everybody else

    • Christians going to church to pray for a whole day and night

      Meh, I'll take stuffing my face and exchanging useless gifts over that, thanks.

      Santa Klaus was not invented by Coca Cola by the way, he's mostly based on Sinterklaas [wikipedia.org], a Dutch tradition.

    • The Christmas we knows today - with the garish fat man dressed in red and gaudy lights that waste gigawatt hours of energy for nothing every year - is a pure invention of the Coca Cola company, designed solely to sell Coca Cola products.

      Christmas was a Roman pagan holiday back in the day.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia [wikipedia.org]

      • Everyone replying about the origins of Xmas, please read his first god damn sentence. The Christmas we know today.....

        He isn't saying where Xmas originally came, it's origins, etc.

        • Everyone replying about the origins of Xmas, please read his first god damn sentence.

          And you're surprised that everyone else is pointing to the true origin of Christmas, which has nothing to do with a baby being born in a manger?

    • by Nikkos ( 544004 )

      Tired old anti-corporate/anti-coke myth.

      Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      "The popularity of the image spawned urban legends that Santa Claus was invented by The Coca-Cola Company or that Santa wears red and white because they are the colors used to promote the Coca-Cola brand.[35] Historically, Coca-Cola was not the first soft drink company to utilize the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising—White Rock Beverages had already used a red and white Santa to sell mineral water in 1915

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Also, the contemporary Christmas "spirit", based on ultra-consumerism and overeating

      Not to nitpick, but overeating goes back a LOOONG time, before we had words like "consumerism" :)

    • When was the last time Christmas was a strictly christian celebration, with Christians going to church to pray for a whole day and night

      I'm not sure that ever happened. In Austria (and I assume a lot of other places in Europe) people go to mass, but that's not all day and night. The Christmas markets are great, delicious food.

    • The Christmas we knows today - with the garish fat man dressed in red and gaudy lights that waste gigawatt hours of energy for nothing every year - is a pure invention of the Coca Cola company [coca-colacompany.com], designed solely to sell Coca Cola products

      Since you seem to be so critical of "corporate bullshit" I'm surprised you take their statements at face value.
      Coca Cola's "Santa Claus invention" is not at all as clear cut as they make it seem — see these old posters [whiterocking.org] from the White Rock company, for example, for Santa Clauses that drink not just Coke...

  • by TheRealHocusLocus ( 2319802 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @01:01PM (#53552129)

    Google just replaced everything familiar with a bunch of foofy gnarly dinky shit that's difficult or impossible to comprehend. I'm even starting to lose track of which of their NONDESCRIPT CAREFULLY ANDROGYNOUS RACELESS FLATFACE TOON-THING critters are supposed to represent real people. When cartoon people become indistinguishable from cartoon mammals and cartoon bugs I think to myself, geez we should keep this shit away from infants.

    I think Google/Alpha&Omegabet has been contacted by space aliens in advance of their arrival, who have instructed them to remove all specific cues of human kind from their sites. The aliens would have Google populate its doodles with critters that resemble the aliens but NO, the aliens themselves have forgotten what they look like because their version of Google had been contacted by another race whose Google had done the same thing, to them.

    The other day I unpacked a chlorine injection pump that had a 32 page full color comic book that smelled like a +$30,000 art project where someone literally spent days, weeks to come up with illustrations that communicate hazards and instructions without a breath of English for fear of offending someone. I had to stare down the damned thing for an hour to figure out (mostly from experience NOT direct comprehension) what specific things were being communicated. In the end how much will it cost them to remain 'sub-literate'?

    I found something that claims to be a Google Decoder Ring but every time I slip it on I disappear. Time to take up writing again.

    Disclaimer: I was negatively triggered by Thomas The Train but (oddly) Teletubbies were fine. I think it's about the level of presumption involved.

  • It isn't charity when it is done to promote the interests of the giver.
  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @01:28PM (#53552187) Homepage
    If google makes chromebooks, it makes sense that they are donating chromebooks and not donating paper and pencils. Where are the paper and pencil makers stepping up to donate????
  • You're complaining about how an organization chooses to donate money to help people because they are not donating their money in the exact way that you want them to?

    Get the stick out of your ass, donate your own money as you see fit and shut the hell up!

  • by ysth ( 1368415 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @02:42PM (#53552371)

    If he isn't getting paid under the table for his decades of relentless google-bashing, he's an idiot.

    It really isn't worth reading anything he writes. Even when he has an interesting story or information to share, his biases make anything he says untrustworthy.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @02:51PM (#53552407)

    "The most critical learning resources that teachers need are often exercise books, pen and paper, but incentives built into the process steer educators to request and receive Google hardware, rather than humble classroom staples,"

    The U.S. is near the top in education spending per student [oecd.org] among OECD countries (change Perspectives to "primary to non-tertiary" to eliminate college costs). Only Austria, Norway, Switzerland, and Luxembourg spend more. If a U.S. teacher doesn't have enough money for "humble classroom staples" like exercise books, and pen and paper, it is not Google's fault.

    About 5 years ago I stumbled across a full internal accounting report of a local school district online. The biggest expense wasn't teacher salaries, classroom supplies, or building construction and maintenance. It was administrative salaries. Think about that. The administrators at the school - the people who sit in offices, push paper, and rarely interact with parents or kids - take a bigger chunk of the school's budget than the teachers.

    I'm convinced the administrators massage the numbers to cover their tracks in the official budgets. You can see a side-effect of this in the published stats. According to ED [ed.gov], the salaries of teachers, student support, and instructional staff is $4271, $388, and $291 per student respectively - total $4950. The benefits these teachers resceive is $1596, $142, and $102 per student - $1840 total.

    The student to teacher ratio [ed.gov] has been about 16:1 since 2000. So according to these ED stats, the average teacher salary is $80,000/yr, and benefits just under $30k/yr. Yet ED lists the average teacher salary as just $56,383 [ed.gov]. These numbers don't match up, not by a long shot. My hunch is administrators have shifted some of their salaries into the teacher salary figures to hide just how big a slice of the pie they're taking.

    I suspect what's going on is a scam of epic proportions. Every time the education budget is cut, instead of applying the cuts to the least important programs and staff like any good business, the administrators apply the cuts to the most essential items like exercise books, pen and paper. They tell the teachers there's not enough money in the budget, and the teachers go into a frenzy telling the public we're not spending enough on education. When the education budget is increased, the administrators spend a few dollars per student to restore the textbooks, pen and paper, and siphon off most of the increase for themselves. How else can you explain teachers not having money for exercise books, pen and paper, when we spend more on education per student than all but 4 other countries on Earth?

    Anyhow, Google is donating money - giving it for free. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Yeah it would've been great if the donation didn't have restrictions on how the money was to be used. But from the school's perspective, a donation with restrictions is still better than no donation at all.

    • But that is the entire point. Sure Google donates a little to the school board, but they do that so to get billion dollar orders of classroom tech. While Administrative salaries are a problem, that does not mean their are not other problems. And Google is not giving away money, they are running a campaign to sell more units, at the expense of our school system. They are not idiots, they know Google Tablets will provide zero benefit to children's education.

    • Administrative bloat is a plague over here as well, and not just in schools; health care suffers from the same problem. I recently visited a high school and was surprised at the size of the administrative wing. My old high school (about 30 years ago) only had a handful of non-teaching staff: a janitor, lab assistants, cafetaria staff, librarian, and 2 secretaries. There was no school director, we had a rector to run the school, but this did not take up all of his time and he taught Latin as well. Some s
    • by ttsai ( 135075 )

      About 5 years ago I stumbled across a full internal accounting report of a local school district online. The biggest expense wasn't teacher salaries, classroom supplies, or building construction and maintenance. It was administrative salaries. Think about that. The administrators at the school - the people who sit in offices, push paper, and rarely interact with parents or kids - take a bigger chunk of the school's budget than the teachers.

      It's possible that your suggestion that administrators claim a lack of funds for supplies in order to garner government support for budget increases may be true. However, the assertion that administrator salaries are greater than that of teachers is not believable. For example, for my local school district in the previous school year, teacher salaries were $65.5 million versus $8.7 million for administrators. I'm confident that it's similar for the vast majority of school districts simply because there m

  • Many of their charity gifts and settlements were in the form of MS software, hardware, training, and support contracts

  • Now people are criticizing charities for not giving what the want them to give? Okay guys, if you want "pencils" that bad maybe sell a chrome book or two or simply don't accept the charity if it is soooo bad. If you can't get "pencils" for your school you have bigger problems than getting the wrong type of charity.
  • Google gave contributions to people and entities that may align with their interests?
    Fuck that! Either give and make sure it benefits you in no way whatsoever of keep your fucking money.

    Fucking triggered fucking socialist scum. Left leaning fucktards that spend all their time demanding what other people should be forced to do for the poor while never giving a dime in charity and bitching that those that do give to charity should feel bad because it dose not align with your shitty, fucked up and useless

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