Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that America's top economists are running around with their hair on fire? (Or whatever passes for it with economists.) Nobel Prize winner Joe Stiglitz in Vanity Fair sounds the alarm about growing economic inequality in America. I wonder if anyone in a position to do something about it is listening?
America?s inequality distorts our society in every conceivable way. There is, for one thing, a well-documented lifestyle effect?people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means. Trickle-down economics may be a chimera, but trickle-down behaviorism is very real. Inequality massively distorts our foreign policy. The top 1 percent rarely serve in the military?the reality is that the ?all-volunteer? army does not pay enough to attract their sons and daughters, and patriotism goes only so far. Plus, the wealthiest class feels no pinch from higher taxes when the nation goes to war: borrowed money will pay for all that. Foreign policy, by definition, is about the balancing of national interests and national resources. With the top 1 percent in charge, and paying no price, the notion of balance and restraint goes out the window. There is no limit to the adventures we can undertake; corporations and contractors stand only to gain. The rules of economic globalization are likewise designed to benefit the rich: they encourage competition among countries for business, which drives down taxes on corporations, weakens health and environmental protections, and undermines what used to be viewed as the ?core? labor rights, which include the right to collective bargaining. Imagine what the world might look like if the rules were designed instead to encourage competition among countries forworkers. Governments would compete in providing economic security, low taxes on ordinary wage earners, good education, and a clean environment?things workers care about. But the top 1 percent don?t need to care.
Or, more accurately, they think they don?t. Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important. America has long prided itself on being a fair society, where everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead, but the statistics suggest otherwise: the chances of a poor citizen, or even a middle-class citizen, making it to the top in America are smaller than in many countries of Europe. The cards are stacked against them. It is this sense of an unjust system without opportunity that has given rise to the conflagrations in the Middle East: rising food prices and growing and persistent youth unemployment simply served as kindling. With youth unemployment in America at around 20 percent (and in some locations, and among some socio-demographic groups, at twice that); with one out of six Americans desiring a full-time job not able to get one; with one out of seven Americans on food stamps (and about the same number suffering from ?food insecurity?)?given all this, there is ample evidence that something has blocked the vaunted ?trickling down? from the top 1 percent to everyone else. All of this is having the predictable effect of creating alienation?voter turnout among those in their 20s in the last election stood at 21 percent, comparable to the unemployment rate.
In recent weeks we have watched people taking to the streets by the millions to protest political, economic, and social conditions in the oppressive societies they inhabit. Governments have been toppled in Egypt and Tunisia. Protests have erupted in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. The ruling families elsewhere in the region look on nervously from their air-conditioned penthouses?will they be next? They are right to worry. These are societies where a minuscule fraction of the population?less than 1 percent?controls the lion?s share of the wealth; where wealth is a main determinant of power; where entrenched corruption of one sort or another is a way of life; and where the wealthiest often stand actively in the way of policies that would improve life for people in general.
As we gaze out at the popular fervor in the streets, one question to ask ourselves is this: When will it come to America? In important ways, our own country has become like one of these distant, troubled places.
Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society?something he called ?self-interest properly understood.? The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what?s good for me right now! Self-interest ?properly understood? is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else?s self-interest?in other words, the common welfare?is in fact a precondition for one?s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook?in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn?t just good for the soul?it?s good for business.
The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn?t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.
Sounds like a bit of an implied threat there, Joe! Of course, predicting something is often confused with a recommendation...
I was not prepared. Not ready yet the people who love me and those I love most asked for a spring fire. My wood gathering crew, a four year old and two year old grandsons stood at the ready to pull sticks out of this woodland retreat to give[...]
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The good news for public sector labor unions is that they have very strong support among young people. The overall rate of support is so high among younger voters that unions could possibly use a strategy of just trying to increase turnout for the entire[...]
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Cam, they might love you in War Eagle Nation, but some folks ain't too thrilled with your act.
"If you haven't seen it, Nolan Nawrocki tore into Cam Newton in the Pro Football Weekly Draft Preview. Some NFL reporters are saying it's the most scathing review they've ever seen for a prospect in The Pro Football Weekly, which is a highly-respected publication that compiles comprehensive information about incoming rookies.
Under negatives, Nawrocki writes: "Very disingenuous -- has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them." Nawrocki wasn't done. "as an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law -- does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room."' [Source]
Ouch! I swear a black man can't "win for losing". If you don't smile you are angry, if you do smile, you are "disingenuous". Methinks this Nawrocki guy is a hater. (I hear he was actually a frustrated college player. before he got into writing.) Anyway, now, as is to be expected in A-merry-ca, it has become a racial issue.
Warren Moon has weighed in on the subject, and if anyone has the right to talk about this subject it's Warren Moon. Folks, you remember Warren Moon, don't you? He is the guy with a cannon of an arm and --the brains to match-- who broke all kinds of records at U Dub and led them to the 1978 Rose Bowl, but didn't get drafted in the NFL because of the color of his skin. He had to go North and play in Canada and had to win five straight Grey Cups before he could get a shot in the NFL. Now, as is to be expected, white folks are calling out Moon for playing the race card.
Nawrocki himself is getting all defensive. (As if he didn't want the attention) Now I don't know if Nawrocki is a racist, a hater, or both. But what I do know is how defensive some folks can get when the R charge is made.
"As long as people keep playing the race card for every little thing, racism will never go away."
"At least Moon left out the slavery issue. What a doofus. "
"Why do people try to make everything into a racial issue?" "
Nothing new here?.you can never criticize a black player?if so you are obviously a racist. It is interesting that football can have a black coaches association?Congress has a Congressional Black Caucus?and there is a Miss Black America Beauty Pageant. Funny how that goes. Oh?and if you fire a black coach or manager?its oviously racially motivated."
An then, of course, Mr. Nawrocki himself had something else to say:
The content of their throwing arm not the color of their skin. Right Nolan?
A highly suspicious email subject
Are you a public employee of any kind?from a day care worker to a college professor? You could be vulnerable to broad open records requests from rightwing groups, as labor studies faculty at three Michigan campuses are finding out:
A free enterprise think tank in Michigan -- backed by some of the biggest names in national conservative donor circles -- has made a broad public records request to at least three in-state universities with departments that specialize in the study of labor relations, seeking all their emails regarding the union battle in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, TPM has learned.
So, yes, the Koch brothers and the Waltons are paying to try to get any emails a bunch of college professors sent that mention Rachel Maddow or Scott Walker. As Chris Bowers wrote when the Wisconsin GOP went after Professor William Cronon's emails:
It's hard to conceptualize this as anything but an attempt by the Republican Party of Wisconsin to discredit all of their critics by looking for a couple of questionable emails in the personal files of one of their critics. Further, the request cuts against the spirit of transparency laws, which are intended to help relatively powerless individuals learn about the activities of very powerful organizations.
Hopefully, the universities, departments, and professors will fight this. But meanwhile, if I was a professor at a public university? I'd be doing two things: switching to Gmail so that if, after a prolonged legal battle, the Koch brothers got their hands on my university email account, they'd be getting a big load of nothing. And preparing my own open records requests, because it sure would be interesting to know what state legislators have been saying about the Mackinac Institute, the Koch brothers, and other corporate donors.
Time to dig grandma's old manual typewriter out of the attic and starting conversing face to face with real people.
Prompted by privacy concerns, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is circulating draft legislation that would require law enforcement officials to obtain warrants before using data collected from mobile devices for tracking purposes.
If formally proposed as it's now written, the bill would severely curtail the ability of police to use geolocation information acquired by wireless carriers. Such data is utilized frequently to pinpoint the whereabouts of criminals through items such as cell phones, global positioning systems and computers.
Sorry, I honestly thought protective measures were already in place. I have dealt with the FCC and other communication regulations, and I had no idea. Shows what I know. It appears in the era of spying and then justifying the data once you have it, that your location and other information is up for grabs and not that hard to get. Now for the bit that made my stomach actually churn:"Law enforcement will say, 'I don't have time to get a warrant, so I guess we can't do that,'" Wormeli said. "That puts the life of [a] victim in danger. There are consequences."
Wormeli conceded that current law could be revised for clarity and strengthened regarding commercial use of location data. But he was steadfast that Wyden's bill unduly restricts police from ensuring the public's security.
"When it comes to public safety, we have a history in this country allowing the law enforcement agencies ... to use whatever tools they need as long as they can show that it is a reasonable application of the tool," Wormeli said. "I much rather see legislation that started from that whole notion of permission."
To which I humbly reply: I just bet he freaking would.
I am sorry if our rights are an inconvenience to law enforcement, but do your job. If a judge would not justify a warrant, that means there is a reason. The article mentions the reasonable application of the tools, but we also read daily about gross abuses of authority. This is the foundation of checks and balances put in place to protect us, and ones that should never be sacrificed. To let this slip and go unprotested is to allow our privacy to be manipulated by people who just want us to trust them to do what's right. Kind of ironic, since they're stomping the hell out of our rights to privacy and control of our private data. Highly abusable private data, who we talk to, what we say, where we are. Already there are "helpful" services that allow remote "technical support" of devices. That means we're one step away from the day when law enforcement, without the burden of getting a warrant, can point a finger and snoop on anyone they please. This remote support capability means that our text messages, emails, control of our phone functions, pictures, instant messages, browser history and cookies, documents, music, videos, GPS location, call history, contacts, calendar and more will be subject to the whim of a power that does not have a counterbalance. It is for the greater good that those rules are in place. Backup services could become mines of information in the wrong hands.
The future of our lives will be digital. We'll never gain privacy rights, this is a purely downhill ride. This is not where we should start. We're talking about setting a foundation that will protect us from unwarranted intrusions, pun intended.
It's an odd story: GoDaddy CEO decides he wants to shoot an elephant, videos his hunt, and then is surprised when animal rights activists drop their GoDaddy accounts. Don't they know he is being a conservationist?
So maybe it wasn?t such a good idea for Big Bad Bob to videotape how he gets his African thrills? Maybe it was a bit much for people to take in the sight of him standing with an elephant he shot dead, grinning like a kid on Christmas?
GoDaddy?s CEO Bob Parsons flies to Zimbabwe loaded for the biggest land animal on Earth. He hangs around the farming villages known to have trouble with bulls in must. They ask him to kill the troublemakers, he cranks up the video camera, and he pretends Jack the Ripper lives next door. The elephants come by and ? bang! ? he shoots one dead.
Awesome. Then he posts the whole heroic episode online, and, oops. Well, wouldn?t you know? People like elephants.
Bob doesn?t understand why anyone?s upset ? didn?t you see all the villagers tearing the carcass to bits??The people there have very little, many die each year from starvation and one of the problems they have is the elephants, of which there are thousands and thousands, that trash many of their fields destroying the crops. These people have literally nothing and when an elephant is killed it?s a big event for them, they are going to be able to eat some protein.?You thinking what I?m thinking? I?m thinking a smarter CEO would have thought a little about the consequences of starring in an animal bloodbath.
I can't lie, I don't even begin to understand the appeal of big game hunting. It is horrifying to contemplate, but even more so to gloat on video over. I wasn't a big fan of GoDaddy because of their sexist advertising, but this is horrible.
Unsurprisingly, GoDaddy is losing clients over this unapologetic move (Parsons says he's planning on doing more hunting soon). Clients like PETA and the Humane Society don't find shooting endangered species something worth supporting. Vegansaurus outlines how disingenuous Parsons' defense is:
Unbelievable. From my calculations, the absolute BARE BONES MINIMUM you can spend on an elephant murdering murder tour of murder in Zimbabwe is $21,000. Do you know how many f***ing hungry people you can feed with $21,000?! To give a comparison, Food fo Life Global can feed over 100 meals for $100. That?s 2,100,000 meals for the price of his elephant killing safari. (UPDATE: My numbers were wrong, they can do 100 meals for $30, so it?s actually 69,930 meals. That?s still insanely more than one dead elephant can provide.) And that?s a low estimate that doesn?t include his plane ticket, taxes, fees, whatever the f*** else these rich murdering pieces of sh** pay to murder legally.
He?s also saying that he?s helping thin the herd so that they don?t infringe on the resources of locals. OMG WHAT LOLZ. There are much more humane ways to do this, from contraception to electric fences. In fact, murdering elephants might have the exact opposite effect, as other ellies race to procreate.
If you are a GoDaddy client and want to voice your discontent, here's a slideshow on how to boycott GoDaddy.
When I first wrote about the Libyan uprising and the US' role in helping the rebels, I wondered about the reasons that Britain and France might have for a) wanting to help the rebels militarily, and b) wanting the US to help with their efforts.Turns out[...]
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Call me crazy but I would rather have a rested pilot instead of a tired one. Maybe there's a grass roots movement screaming for less airline safety but then again, maybe it's the same old corporate boot-licking by the GOP. Bloomberg
:A U.S. rule to require more rest for airline pilots may stall under a proposal adopted by the House, according to cockpit crews, lawmakers and other plan opponents.
The 215-209 vote today in Washington requires that the Federal Aviation Administration, before issuing any rules, consider alternatives, differing industry segments and adverse effects on the economy. The provision was added to legislation that will fund the FAA for four years, which the House also approved, 223-196.
The proposal will ensure rules ?are not overly burdensome? and ?based on the best available science,? Representative Bill Shuster, the Pennsylvania Republican who wrote the plan, said yesterday on the House floor.
Two former Afghan Mujahedeen and a six-year detainee at Guantanamo Bay have stepped to the fore of this city’s military campaign, training new recruits for the front and to protect the city from infiltrators loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi. The[...]
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