Category Archives: 9. Corporate Power is Protected

Very Simple Puzzle Pieces

“There’s something a lot more sinister in this trend. It goes something like this:

  • It’s too expensive to hire Americans locally to do grunt work, because they’re all too proud, and want to improve their lot, so they all get college degrees. And, hiring people with college degrees still comes at a premium.
  • We can outsource, or import uneducated immigrants, but those options have downsides.
  • Hey, why don’t we wage a campaign to start convincing Americans that they shouldn’t go to college at all? Then, we can get even closer to our ideal of a permanent underclass, who we can hire cheaply and locally, by taking people who would have been expensive to hire, and making them cheaper in the long run. It’ll take a while to get there, but we’re good at playing the long game.

Anyone notice how it’s all rich captains of industry who are poo-pooing higher education? You know, the same ones who imploded the economy and are blocking all manner of job recovery by insisting that the deficit is the biggest problem, rather than unemployment? It all fits together like very simple puzzle pieces.”

Commenter on MetaFilter

Hedge Funds Prep the Farmland Bubble

“Three years later, the purchase of farmland both in America and abroad by outside investors has increased-so much so that in February, Thomas Hoenig, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, warned against the violent possibilities of a farmland bubble, telling the Senate Agriculture Committee that “distortions in financial markets” will catch the U.S. by surprise again. He would know, because he’s seeing it in his backyard: Kansas and Nebraska reported farmland prices 20 percent above the previous year’s levels and are on pace to double values in four years. A study commissioned by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and released in January estimated the amount of private capital currently committed to farmland and agricultural infrastructure at $14 billion. It also estimated that future investments will “dwarf” what’s currently being thrown into land, by two to three times. Further down, the study makes a conservative projection that the amount of capital potentially entering the sector over the next decade will fly past $150 billion.”

Hedge Farm! The Doomsday Food Price Scenario Turning Hedgies into Survivalists | The New York Observer.

At a Guess

“At a guess, it will make a subset of random minutiae of everyday life more like Facebook while we continue to change the climate, burn up all our energy without developing any sort of sustainable replacement, turn dwindling supplies of rare earth metals into bullshit lifestyle gadgets that basically serve only to functionally make people be on call at their jobs all the time while socially engaging them in a hollow shared experience of morally and intellectually bankrupt media while isolating them from actual human contact, which will shortly be thrown into a landfill along with an undifferentiated torrent of unsorted solid waste, while we steadily push our population towards a peak of nearly 10 billion, and a tiny population of unimaginably wealthy oligarchs continue to further transform the global economic and political systems to their overwhelming benefit, whilst the majority of those 10 billion slip further into poverty, amongst endemic war, increasingly unreliable access to usable water, and the continued, heedless creation of pesticide resistant pests, herbicide resistant weeds, antibiotic resistant germs? Et fucking cetera?”

Commenter on Metafilter, Internet of Things: how it will change the world.

David Brooks is an Elitist Asshole

“Here’s the crux of what makes their system so admirable in [David Brooks’s] eyes:

‘Britain is also blessed with a functioning political culture. It is dominated by people who live in London and who have often known each other since prep school. This makes it gossipy and often incestuous. But the plusses outweigh the minuses.’

It has long been the supreme fantasy of establishment guardians in general, and David Brooks in particular, that American politics would be dominated by an incestuous, culturally homogeneous, superior elite “who live in [Washington] and who have often known each other since prep school.” And while these establishment guardians love to endlessly masquerade as spokespeople for the Ordinary American, what they most loathe is the interference by the dirty rabble in what should be their exclusive, harmonious club of political stewardship, where conflicts are amicably resolved by ladies and gentlemen of the highest breeding without any messy public conflict. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, Brooks fondly recollected that “once, there was a financial elite in this country” — “middle-aged men with names like Mellon and McCloy led Wall Street firms, corporate boards and white-shoe law firms and occasionally emerged to serve in government” — but that glorious “cohesive financial elite began to fall apart” in the 1960s.”

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com.

Feudal System 2.0

“America is the one place in the western world where, if you profess to liking leisure time, travelling, working-to-live instead of the other way around, you eventually get branded as a lazy do-nothing and, consequently, rarely build up enough years of service at one place to get more than two weeks per year of paid vacation. It’s not enough to put in 10 to 12 hours a day and several hours on a Saturday to be recognized as putting forth the minimum effort to do your job. You have to sacrifice the scant bit of time you get away from your masters promising to work on projects and answering your phone and work email. Combine that with flat salary growth, diminishing benefits, the disappearance of pensions, and essentially what we’re working toward is the feudal system 2.0.”

Commenter on MetaFilter.

Justice Scalia and the Little Black Box

“I’ve always wanted someone to run a black box experiment with all the SCOTUS justices. Here’s how it would work. Take any case, X. Break it down along ideological grounds… an opinion/ruling … favored a corporation over the consumer or the other way around; or expanded/upheld/restricted civil rights; expanded/restricted government power vs citizen rights, labor vs owners etc. Now we assign Justice Scalia (or whoever) a certain profile – say, we assume that really, at bottom, Scalia is a social conservative with an authoritarian complex (for the sake of argument). … So it’s like a black box – feed Scalia on one end, and at the other end you get the ideological outcome. … A case comes up. I think to myself – “OK, how would someone rule in this case, so that they can stick it to the little guy, or favor a corporation over the consumer, or restrict civil rights, or have a negative outcome for women, gays etc.” – and then I say to myself: I put this in my magic black box, and I already know how Scalia is going to rule/opine – and darn, it, it’s right! … The black box works, folks.”

Commenter on MetaFilter

How Roger Ailes Failed at Setting Up a Strong Republican Candidate for 2012

‘”[Fox News’s Roger] Ailes is the most successful executive in television by a wide margin, and he has been so for more than a decade. He is also, in a sense, the head of the Republican Party, having employed five prospective presidential candidates and done perhaps more than anyone to alter the balance of power in the national media in favor of the Republicans. “Because of his political work”—Ailes was a media strategist for Nixon, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush—“he understood there was an audience,” Ed Rollins, the veteran GOP consultant, told me. “He knew there were a couple million conservatives who were a potential audience, and he built Fox to reach them.”’

‘”You can’t run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger,” one GOPer told me. “Every single candidate has consulted with Roger.” But he hasn’t found any of them, including the adults in the room—Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney—compelling. “He finds flaws in every one,” says a person familiar with his thinking.’

“It would be easy to look at Fox and think it’s conservative because Rupert and Roger are conservative and they program it the way they like. And to a degree, that’s true. But it’s also a business,” a person close to Ailes explained. “And the way the business works is, they control conservative commentary the way ESPN controls the market for sports rights. If you have a league, you have a meeting with ESPN, you find out how much they’re willing to pay, and then everyone else agrees to pay the same amount if they want it … It’s sort of the same at Fox. I was surprised at some of what was being paid until I processed it that way. If you’re ABC and you don’t have Newt Gingrich on a particular morning, you can put someone else on. But if you’re Fox, and Newt is moving and talking today, you got to have him. Otherwise, your people are like, ‘Where’s Newt? Why isn’t he on my channel?’ ”’

And then the wheels came off: How Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes Failed at Setting Up a Strong Republican Candidate for 2012 — New York Magazine.

Roseanne Barr on the Lack of Change in the TV Industry

“The line was a ridiculously sexist interpretation of what a feminist thinks—something to the effect of “You’re my equal in bed, but that’s it.” … Matt, who was watching from his office, yelled over the loudspeaker, “Say the line as written!” I said, “No, I don’t like the line. I find it repulsive, and my character would not say it.” Matt said, “Yes, she would say it. She’s hot to trot and to get her husband in bed with her, and give it to her like she wants it.” I replied that this was not what she would say or do: “It’s a castrating line that only an idiot would think to write for a real live woman who loves her husband, you cocksucker.” ABC’s lawyers were called in. They stood around the bed while the cameras filmed me saying, very politely, over and over, “Line change, please.”

I made a chart of names and hung them on my dressing-room door; it listed every person who worked on the show, and I put a check next to those I intended to fire when Roseanne became No. 1, which I knew it would.

When the show went to No. 1 in December 1988, ABC sent a chocolate “1” to congratulate me. Guess they figured that would keep the fat lady happy—or maybe they thought I hadn’t heard (along with the world) that male stars with No. 1 shows were given Bentleys and Porsches. So me and George Clooney  took my chocolate prize outside, where I snapped a picture of him hitting it with a baseball bat. I sent that to ABC.

If I could do it all over, I’d sue ABC and Carsey-­Werner under those provisions. Hollywood hates labor, and hates shows about labor worse than any other thing. And that’s why you won’t be seeing another Roseanne anytime soon. Instead, all over the tube, you will find enterprising, overmedicated, painted-up, capitalist whores claiming to be housewives. But I’m not bitter.”

Roseanne Barr on the Lack of Change in the TV Industry, New York Magazine

Private Insurance is a Defective Product

“Private insurance is a defective product. … Even middle-class families with supposedly good coverage are just one serious illness away from financial ruin. My colleagues and I recently found that medical bills and illness contribute to 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies — a 50 percent increase since 2001. Strikingly, three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had insurance — at least when they first got sick. In case after case, the insurance families bought in good faith failed them when they needed it most. Some were bankrupted by co-payments and deductibles, and loopholes that allowed their insurer to deny coverage. Others got too sick to work, leaving them unemployed and uninsured. And insurance regulations like those proposed in the tri-committee bill cannot fix these problems.”

Testimony of Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., to the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Making the Rich Look Poor

“Democrats have been arguing that their tax increases should solely affect income over $250,00 a year. The Journal makes that pot of income appear small by divvying it up into seven different lines [on the left]. See, the $100,000-$200,000 line is tall, and all the other lines to the right of it are short. That tall line must be where the money is!” … “As a public service, I’ve redrawn the chart for the Journal. On the left is the original. On the right is the chart that shows the actual amount of money earned by the tiny handful of people making over $200,000. It’s a lot.”

 

Mother Jones