April 7th, 2011


Boycott the UK census because of the war in Iraq ... what?

I just encountered a rather curious article in the Financial Times. I'd post a link, but FT.com articles are only available to registered users and subscribers and I don't want to link to something behind a paywall. In short, it's about somebody objecting to the upcoming recent UK census on the grounds that the automated reading of the census forms is to be done by Lockheed Martin and...

“Lockheed Martin played a major role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”

Funnily enough, I can think of somebody else that played a major role in those wars - the UK government. Why would a company's involvement in a war be grounds to boycott the census ordered by a government responsible for that war, if the government itself is not? I just don't see the logic.

If you don't like the idea of a defence company making money from something related to you, then I can understand your squeamishness. The idea of making a profit from killing people is certainly controversial, though personally I consider the defence industry to be a necessity for the protection of my family, friends and community. Selling those arms to other nations that may potentially use them against my family, friends and community is another question entirely, but I won't sidetrack myself into that right now!

On the other hand, I was interested to find LM won such a contract. Back at uni, we had multiple-choice assignments that were marked autonomously ... and I suspect a lot of academic stuff is automated these days. I never really wondered about who made those machines, until now. Somehow, I had expected it to be a company which specialises in making fax machines, photocopiers or scanners.