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Re: A moral question

  • Subject: Re: A moral question
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 19:34:58 -0500

Hi Andrew,
     I have to admit that I had to head for the dictionary to look up one of
those words that I kinda thought was a ten-cent word. It's a noun rather
than an adjective. Just goes to show you that you don't need big words to
leave me behind. Here's what Websters had to say about ........

greed n 1: excessive desire to acquire or possess more (esp material wealth)
than one needs or deserves 2: reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable
desire for wealth (personified as one of the deadly sins)

     Really, I think we all know the situation regarding there being no
protection for hybridizers. We already did that. There isn't any. Someday
there probably will be, but there isn't any now. We can stop on that. Some
nurseries are crooked, and some are not. We did that too.
     Would consumers care if hostas were fifty cents more or whatever - I
doubt it, given the truly remarkable mark-ups on some of them now. There
isn't any union or whatever either, although we may be seeing the early
stages of unionizing with the FOoSF group and the Hybridizers' Society. Hard
to say where they are going. Boy, would we see some kicking and screaming
about that if it happened. The only real point I was advancing was that with
more public discussion, business dealings were becoming more honest.

     So, let's get on to the more interesting territory. The word "greed"
has a specific meaning as quoted above. I won't pretend I'm shocked that
someone actually wrote a book explaining why it isn't a bad thing. I've
heard lots of interesting rationalizations before, and those are kind of
run-of-the-mill. I guess there might even be companion books coming from
that guy on why the other six deadlies (mentioned in the definition, no
less) are actually good things too. Gluttony could be great for an
entrepenour in the food industry for example, or sloth for the furniture
industry. Hey lust and pornography - perfect together! Sure, they can all be
good things really if you just put the right spin on them. Marketing
positives each and every one.
     "Martha will now pay the penalty for letting her personal goals for
financial freedom step on others needs for honesty in financial
transactions.  On this, I'm sure most of us, including Bill, agree."
     This is an interesting way of putting it. I believe the terminology
used in the news reports is  - "Stewart was convicted of obstruction of
justice, conspiracy and two counts of false statements for lying to federal
investigators". Somehow that seems a little easier to understand. For me at
least. She lied to everybody and tried to cover up her dishonest and illegal
stock activities. Basic cheating and lying. Not any reasonable attempts to
further her personal goals for "financial freedom", nope, just old fashioned
cheating and lying. Why? Well, just a guess here, but greed comes to mind.
Arrogance too. And just possibly believing what people like this Maslow
preach. She seems to be blissfully unaware that anything she did was wrong
in any way, hence she doesn't have to show remorse. The jail she goes to
will also have lots of "guests" who don't see where they did anything wrong
either. Where these rationalizations tend to separate from true mental
illness is in the knowledge of right and wrong. However deluded she may be,
she seemed clearly aware that she should cover up her actions.
     So we're back to right and wrong. Most of us were raised to know what
that means, as Mary said. Some of us are a little lacking in that area.
Until crunch time. If we know enough to cover up, then we know it was wrong.
If we can tell right from wrong then we share a common understanding of
morality. So I think we all really know what it is, probably even Mr.
Maslow, who after all is just looking to make money pandering to those who
would like to indulge their greedy impulses while alleviating their nagging
consciences at the same time.

     It is interesting that you point out the self-replicating nature of
hostas as a reason why hybridizers should have no rights to their own
plants. Using photographers as a counter-example brings to mind the
discussion on Hostapix about the rights of the photographers who send in
pictures. In short, there were those that claimed that the photos were
essentially free for the taking, having been freely duplicated on the
internet. That the photographers had no rights to them anymore, and couldn't
complain if Hostapix members wanted to use them as they wished. Bob Axmear
looked up the law on that and it turned out that copyright laws were in full
effect on the internet. I just bring this up to point out that those are not
grounds for saying the hybridizers should have no rights, just
rationalizations on why it's OK to take what you want. They don't, but I
think they should, and will someday. Would that really be so awful?
                                    ......Bill Meyer

> Bill, Chic, Glen, Dan, Lu, Narda, Mary, et. al.,
> This has been an intriguing discussion.  And, as long as we can keep it
from getting too personal, I think it could be very productive.  I'd prefer
to steer clear of name calling or adjectives that imply intelligence levels
greater than mine, or even Chic's, for that matter... :-)
> I am not implying that anyone is becoming too emotional, I'm just stating
that we need to keep the emotional rhetoric and use of personally
descriptive adjectives to a minimum while we explore what are the tangible
facts.   Make sense?
> Bill mentioned Martha Stewart.  Here is an excellent example of "greed"
run amuck.  From my 20 years experience in installing multi-user accounting
systems in businesses that ranged from the very small to fairly large, I can
assure you that only the greedy survive.  I, therefore, accept Brian Tracy's
analysis of the word greed--"greed is neither good nor bad but just is".  It
is when greed runs amuck that others rights are infringed upon.
> Maslow also explored this innate tendency in man/woman to protect oneself
through "greed".  It is my belief that some foundational level of greed is
necessary for success in business.  Without greed, one has very little
motivation to achieve profits and profit is job numero uno--even
not-for-profits have to make ends meet.  Martha will now pay the penalty for
letting her personal goals for financial freedom step on others needs for
honesty in financial transactions.  On this, I'm sure most of us, including
Bill, agree.
> When I was installing systems, most of the time I was "consulting" with
the business owner about the areas of their business they hoped, or needed,
to improve.  During the course of those 20 years, I became familiar with
many different types of businesses and their owners.  I mention this solely
because I learned that those most successful are those LEAST NAIVE about
business practices and the requirements to survive in a free market economy.
> The arguments Bill advances clearly point to a need among serious
hybridizers to form an association, or to join an existing one (alas, to the
best of my knowledge, no hybridizers have formed such a group).  I'll assume
the reader understands a good deal about associations, but what the typical
person who is in a "commodity market" doesn't understand is that without
cooperative efforts, a producer is only a price-taker.  Unfortunately from
the business person's perspective, about 95% of Hostas are now a commodity.
Consumers, however, love it!   And, I agree with Chic that if a hybridizer
requires too many hoops to be jumped through to do business, there are
plenty of other Hosta varieties to choose from.
> If a hybridizer sees their work more like the work of an artist than a
grower of new plant varieties who is simply assisting mother nature, the
emotional involvement with the product may be very high.  This is a form of
greed yet once again, this is neither good nor bad.  It's what makes us go
out and do it again and again, hoping for some improvement.
> Laborers form unions; business people form associations and WE THE PEOPLE
need associations inspite of the notion that such are "special interest
groups".  The notion that nursery people are somehow "immoral" in their
desire to not have the government, religious clerics, or hybridizers,
dictate what should be, in their perception, moral, is intriguing.  However,
to base this discussion on "morality" condemns it to perpetual dialogue with
no practical solution being attainable, ever.
> Because I believe the interests of all parties involved in this discussion
have merit and may even be valid, I am attempting dialogue, yet it is clear
that we all see the world through different colored glasses.  This is where
the power of an "association of ones peers" could actually get something
accomplished.  Unfortunately, if we focus on the "moral" aspects of this
discussion rather than what it takes to successfully accomplish a goal of
"Hybridizing Hosta for fun and profit", we will consume vast resources yet
have little or nothing to show for the effort.
> Hostas reproduces themselves, so making a copy is as easy as sticking it
in a medium and waiting for a natural process to occur--vegetative
reproduction.  Micropropagation is simply vegatative propagation on a
smaller scale.  We can dance around this issue in anyway you'd like, Bill,
but the reality is that a purchaser's investment in plant material INCLUDES
the rights of ownership in progeny unless those rights are expressly
prohibited.  Photographs and art do not reproduce themselves, without human
assistance, but plants do.  What do hybridizers expect nursery people to do
with these offspring if not sell them?  And who gets to specify how much
propagation is too much?
> A producer/hybridizer/creator/manufacturer can limit distribution of the
progeny through patents or through agreements, either written or oral.  I
think you already know which makes the most sense for a savvy business
person--reduce all agreements to writing.  In his last message, Chic made a
good case that this should not be all that difficult.  Agree on something
with your distributors or retailers, reduce it to writing, and
voila--protection.  And, as Glen has stated, if the hybridizer provided tags
with each plant s/he produces for a nursery which could put on the plant,
some nursery owners might agree to do so, if it did not involve too much
work. But for many, this would be out of the question.  There are costs
associated with bureacracy and don't kid yourself into thinking that nursery
people would be anxious to add more work to their day, especially without
> If you, and other hybridizers more accomplished than I, would like to
advance your cause, working with some horticulturally savvy industry
association seems prudent.  Developing a document which protects/controls
the propagation rights of hybridizers to their original work could be an
early agenda item.  Maybe the Michigan group would take this on?  If not, I
know of an association management firm that works with seed and patents in
Iowa and they might consider representation.
> An attorney's input in this process is a good idea and should not be all
that expensive.  Within the agreement there could certainly be a provision
for a royalty to be paid and the levels of payment could be bilateral and
unique to each, though standards might prove helpful.
> Would such agreements be 100% enforceable?  Of course not, but in a large
percentage of the cases, a written agreement would be all that would be
needed and it would be honored.  In the United States, we may not all agree
on what is "moral" in business, but we very often do agree on what is
"honorable".  Practices that are MUTUALLY beneficial are considered
honorable.  Against such, there is no law (unless it's illegal! :-)
> As for "morality", let us allow GWB continue to believe he has a corner on
the market for understanding that term...
> Ciao,
> Andrew -- still in Colorado where it's too nice to be on a computer!
> _____________________________________________________________________
> Get your own family web site at www.MyFamily.com!

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