- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another newspaper carried an essay this morning suggesting buyers can, and perhaps should, vote with their wallets over the recent “pretexting” scandal involving some executives at Hewlett-Packard Corp. who allegedly snooped on reporters and others to determine a source of leaks from the corporation’s boardroom. Buy another computer or printer, but don’t think it’ll bring HP to their knees in repentance is, in short, the writer for the Other Paper’s concluding thought.

I don’t know about the need — or wisdom — of a boycott on these grounds. What HP’s “security” people did was, frankly, idiotic and reeks of the paranoia that has brought other great institutions, or their leaders, down. But if I’m buying hardware for my business or home, I want to get the best value for my money, and that might well mean an HP product, particularly where printers are concerned. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, HP makes some of the best printers out there today, bar none. Desktop and notebook computers from HP and its Compaq subsidiary are also excellent values, as has been noted in my column recently.

If you want to make real difference in a corporation’s operating practices, buy stock in that company and get together with other shareholders to change leadership. This isn’t the Second World War, and Hewlett Packard isn’t the Hitler-friendly German manufacturer I.G. Farben, or even IBM, which sold counting systems to Nazi Germany. “Pretext-gate,” or whatever it will be called, is a sad lapse by a very good and generally responsible corporation. Neither that corporation, nor its employees, should be punished at the cash register for this transgression — at least not based on the accounts I’ve seen thus far.



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