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[Essay] | Faustian Economics, by Wendell Berry | Harper's Magazine
"The general reaction to the apparent end of the era of cheap fossil fuel, as to other readily foreseeable curtailments, has been to delay any sort of reckoning. The strategies of delay, so far, have been a sort of willed oblivion, or visions of large profits to the manufacturers of such “biofuels” as ethanol from corn or switchgrass, or the familiar unscientific faith that “science will find an answer.” The dominant response, in short, is a dogged belief that what we call the American Way of Life will prove somehow indestructible. We will keep on consuming, spending, wasting, and driving, as before, at any cost to anything and everybody but ourselves.

This belief was always indefensible — the real names of global warming are Waste and Greed — and by now it is manifestly foolish. But foolishness on this scale looks disturbingly like a sort of national insanity. We seem to have come to a collective delusion of grandeur, insisting that all of us are “free” to be as conspicuously greedy and wasteful as the most corrupt of kings and queens. (Perhaps by devoting more and more of our already abused cropland to fuel production we will at last cure ourselves of obesity and become fashionably skeletal, hungry but — thank God! — still driving.)"



"The normalization of the doctrine of limitlessness has produced a sort of moral minimalism: the desire to be efficient at any cost, to be unencumbered by complexity. The minimization of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination — this is the culture of which our present leaders and heroes are the spoiled children.

Our national faith so far has been: “There’s always more.” Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. Thus an X marked on a paper ballot no longer fulfills our idea of voting. One problem with this state of affairs is that the work now most needing to be done — that of neighborliness and caretaking — cannot be done by remote control with the greatest power on the largest scale. A second problem is that the economic fantasy of limitlessness in a limited world calls fearfully into question the value of our monetary wealth, which does not reliably stand for the real wealth of land, resources, and workmanship but instead wastes and depletes it.

That human limitlessness is a fantasy means, obviously, that its life expectancy is limited. There is now a growing perception, and not just among a few experts, that we are entering a time of inescapable limits. We are not likely to be granted another world to plunder in compensation for our pillage of this one. Nor are we likely to believe much longer in our ability to outsmart, by means of science and technology, our economic stupidity. The hope that we can cure the ills of industrialism by the homeopathy of more technology seems at last to be losing status. We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.

This constraint, however, is not the condemnation it may seem. On the contrary, it returns us to our real condition and to our human heritage, from which our self-definition as limitless animals has for too long cut us off. Every cultural and religious tradition that I know about, while fully acknowledging our animal nature, defines us specifically as humans — that is, as animals (if the word still applies) capable of living not only within natural limits but also within cultural limits, self-imposed. As earthly creatures, we live, because we must, within natural limits, which we may describe by such names as “earth” or “ecosystem” or “watershed” or “place.” But as humans, we may elect to respond to this necessary placement by the self-restraints implied in neighborliness, stewardship, thrift, temperance, generosity, care, kindness, friendship, loyalty, and love.

In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define “freedom,” for example, as an escape from all restraint. But, as my friend Bert Hornback has explained in his book The Wisdom in Words, “free” is etymologically related to “friend.” These words come from the same Indo-European root, which carries the sense of “dear” or “beloved.” We set our friends free by our love for them, with the implied restraints of faithfulness or loyalty. And this suggests that our “identity” is located not in the impulse of selfhood but in deliberately maintained connections."



"And so our cultural tradition is in large part the record of our continuing effort to understand ourselves as beings specifically human: to say that, as humans, we must do certain things and we must not do certain things. We must have limits or we will cease to exist as humans; perhaps we will cease to exist, period. At times, for example, some of us humans have thought that human beings, properly so called, did not make war against civilian populations, or hold prisoners without a fair trial, or use torture for any reason.

Some of us would-be humans have thought too that we should not be free at anybody else’s expense. And yet in the phrase “free market,” the word “free” has come to mean unlimited economic power for some, with the necessary consequence of economic powerlessness for others. Several years ago, after I had spoken at a meeting, two earnest and obviously troubled young veterinarians approached me with a question: How could they practice veterinary medicine without serious economic damage to the farmers who were their clients? Underlying their question was the fact that for a long time veterinary help for a sheep or a pig has been likely to cost more than the animal is worth. I had to answer that, in my opinion, so long as their practice relied heavily on selling patented drugs, they had no choice, since the market for medicinal drugs was entirely controlled by the drug companies, whereas most farmers had no control at all over the market for agricultural products. My questioners were asking in effect if a predatory economy can have a beneficent result. The answer too often is No. And that is because there is an absolute discontinuity between the economy of the seller of medicines and the economy of the buyer, as there is in the health industry as a whole. The drug industry is interested in the survival of patients, we have to suppose, because surviving patients will continue to consume drugs.

Now let us consider a contrary example. Recently, at another meeting, I talked for some time with an elderly, and some would say an old-fashioned, farmer from Nebraska. Unable to farm any longer himself, he had rented his land to a younger farmer on the basis of what he called “crop share” instead of a price paid or owed in advance. Thus, as the old farmer said of his renter, “If he has a good year, I have a good year. If he has a bad year, I have a bad one.” This is what I would call community economics. It is a sharing of fate. It assures an economic continuity and a common interest between the two partners to the trade. This is as far as possible from the economy in which the young veterinarians were caught, in which the powerful are limitlessly “free” to trade, to the disadvantage, and ultimately the ruin, of the powerless.

It is this economy of community destruction that, wittingly or unwittingly, most scientists and technicians have served for the past two hundred years. These scientists and technicians have justified themselves by the proposition that they are the vanguard of progress, enlarging human knowledge and power, and thus they have romanticized both themselves and the predatory enterprises that they have served."



"If the idea of appropriate limitation seems unacceptable to us, that may be because, like Marlowe’s Faustus and Milton’s Satan, we confuse limits with confinement. But that, as I think Marlowe and Milton and others were trying to tell us, is a great and potentially a fatal mistake. Satan’s fault, as Milton understood it and perhaps with some sympathy, was precisely that he could not tolerate his proper limitation; he could not subordinate himself to anything whatever. Faustus’s error was his unwillingness to remain “Faustus, and a man.” In our age of the world it is not rare to find writers, critics, and teachers of literature, as well as scientists and technicians, who regard Satan’s and Faustus’s defiance as salutary and heroic.

On the contrary, our human and earthly limits, properly understood, are not confinements but rather inducements to formal elaboration and elegance, to fullness of relationship and meaning. Perhaps our most serious cultural loss in recent centuries is the knowledge that some things, though limited, are inexhaustible. For example, an ecosystem, even that of a working forest or farm, so long as it remains ecologically intact, is inexhaustible. A small place, as I know from my own experience, can provide opportunities of work and learning, and a fund of beauty, solace, and pleasure — in addition to its difficulties — that cannot be exhausted in a lifetime or in generations.

To recover from our disease of limitlessness, we will have to give up the idea that we have a right to be godlike animals, that we are potentially omniscient and omnipotent, ready to discover “the secret of the universe.” We will have to start over, with a different and much older premise: the naturalness and, for creatures of limited intelligence, the necessity, of limits. We must learn again to ask how we can make the most of what we are, what we have, what we have been given. If we always have a theoretically better substitute available from somebody or someplace else, we will never make the most of anything. It is hard to make the most of one life. If we each had two lives, we would not make much of either. Or … [more]
wendellberry  2008  economics  science  technology  art  limits  limitlessness  arts  ecosystems  limitations  local  humanism  humanity  humility  community  communities  knowledge  power  expansion  growth  interdependence  greed  neighborliness  stewardship  thrift  temperance  christianity  generosity  care  kindness  friendship  loyalty  love  self-restraint  restraint  watershed  land  caring  caretaking  morality  accountability  responsibility  respect  reverence  corruption  capitalism  technosolutionism  fossilfuels  waste 
20 days ago by robertogreco
‘People are finally talking about class’: Astra Taylor on US democracy, socialism and revolution | Film | The Guardian
"Astra Taylor hasn’t always been interested in democracy. “There was this vagueness about the word that just seemed to be not just corruptible but almost inherently corrupt,” says the writer, film-maker and activist. “I was attracted to words like liberation, emancipation, equality, revolution, socialism. Any other word would get my pulse going more than democracy.” For her, democracy was a word imperial America used to sell free markets and push its agenda.

Yet Taylor, a lifelong activist, says that she also always felt there was “a contradiction” inherent in democracy that puzzled her. For all the cynicism the word attracted, she could see there was power in an idea meant to strengthen the people, a power that she explores in her new documentary, What Is Democracy?, and her upcoming book, Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.

In the US, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 sundered the body politic, while that same year, the Brexit referendum split the UK. Trump has used his office to undermine the media, the legal system, the electoral process itself and anyone who questions his will – all while praising dictators and suggesting the US may one day have “a president for life”.

Russia has shown how foreign powers can use technology to hack democracy, the economic success of China’s one-party capitalism has demonstrated a different model, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of the 1% has laid bare how big money skews the system.

The D word really started to grip Taylor while she was writing her previous book, The People’s Platform, a critique of Silicon Valley’s self-interested “utopianism”, published in 2014. “I wanted to look at what a ‘democratic internet’ would look like,” she says. “Not an empty, Silicon Valley-type democracy, but a real one.”

Then there was her work with Occupy. In 2011, New York’s Zuccotti Park, a grim sunken square near Wall Street, became the focal point of a leaderless movement calling for change. Exactly what it wanted or how it would get it never really seemed clear, but the movement swept the US and the world. Occupy protests spread to 951 cities in 82 countries.

Critics were, and still are, cynical about Occupy. History may be kinder. “We are the 99%,” shouted the activists. The 1% had taken the reins of power. That idea has stuck and can be seen in most progressive political campaigns today, down to the eschewing of corporate cash for the small donations that are funding US politicians including Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren.

Taylor also co-founded the Debt Collective, which grew out of Occupy; this buys student and medical debt on the debt markets and forgives it. It has wiped out $1bn (£770m) of debts so far and helped put student debt on the political agenda.

Occupy was “a shitshow – that’s a technical term,” says Taylor. Zuccotti Park was as divided by its constantly percussive drum circle as it was by its politics. “I love democracy more than I hate the drum circle,” read one sign in the park. Many Occupy activists were reluctant to engage with the existing system or even agree to properly define what changes they wanted, she says. There was a failure to translate protest into action. Democracy can’t be a place where “everyone has a voice but no one has any responsibility,” she says.

Taylor’s experience did get her thinking more about democracy. “There was this call for ‘real democracy’. So when you say that then you obviously believe there is ‘fake democracy’.”

In her new film and book, Taylor traces democracy back to its origins in Athens (a patriarchal slave state – we should have seen trouble coming) and then quizzes a diverse group of people, from the academic Cornel West to Syrian refugees and Trump-supporting Florida teens, asking what they now think of the word. The result? It’s not clear what any of us think democracy is or should be, or even if true democracy has ever existed (Taylor thinks not, although she thinks of democracy as a dynamic evolving concept that has yet to be achieved, and is more interested in exploring what the idea means to others than giving her own tight definition). That is Taylor’s aim: to make us think, to ask new questions and hopefully come up with new answers.

She is excited by some of the recent political shifts in the US. “For the first time in my life people are talking about class,” she says. “It’s just ridiculous that this was an unspeakable concept for so long – that is why we are in the predicament we are in.”

She is heartened to see a new generation of politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, talking about “democratic socialism”. The S word was a no-no in US politics for generations, one that had “this sort of dated ring”, Taylor says. Now it is “something new, something that’s never been tried. Something in the future.”

While there has been plenty of bad news for democracy in recent years, there is no doubt that politics is changing. More women, more people of colour, teachers, LGBTQ candidates and people from low-income backgrounds are running for office, and winning. A new generation of activists are interested in union organising and strikes.

“People are thinking about power and how to take it, whereas the previous generation was more ambivalent about it, more anarchistic. Occupy was in that mould. There was a refusal to make demands – to do so was to legitimise the state,” she says.

And now? “You have millennials who are cheering on labour struggles. That’s amazing.”

While Taylor is hopeful change will come, she is wary of the powerful forces ranged against it and the left’s ability to mess it up. Nor does she think a “democratic socialist” future – if it’s even possible – would provide all the answers.

“We don’t live in an infinite world,” she says. Even a more equitable system would have to deal with inequality, not least in a world facing apocalyptic climate change. “To me, democratic socialism would just mean more interesting democratic dilemmas. We would no longer be arguing over whether billionaires should exist or be abolished – they should be abolished – but there are still so many questions,” she says.

Taylor is ready to ask those questions. Hip and lanky, she is the nice cool kid, the one in the band whose books and records you wanted to borrow, and who would let you. On top of her other work, Taylor is a musician who has played with her partner Jeff Mangum’s band, Neutral Milk Hotel. She’s a vegan who lives in Brooklyn (if this wasn’t obvious), and one of those interviewees who asks as many questions as she answers.

Her enquiring nature comes from her childhood. Born in Canada and raised in the other Athens, in the US state of Georgia, Taylor was “unschooled” – meaning she was allowed to learn, or not, when and how she liked and was never forced to go to school. The freedom inspired her. At 16, she enrolled at the University of Georgia, then quit for Brown, the elite Rhode Island university that counts John D Rockefeller Jr, the New York Times publisher AG Sulzberger and the actor Emma Watson among its alumni. She quit Brown too, deciding unschooling was a lifelong commitment.

The idea of unschooling is “built on a quite romantic notion of human nature”, she says. “That human beings are intrinsically good and curious and ambitious. Very Rousseau.”

She doesn’t think this is a good model for everyone. Some people need more structure, more guidance. “It’s almost rebellious of me that so much of my work as an adult activist is focused on public education, free public education,” she laughs.

But she believes in the ideas at the heart of unschooling – continual learning, encouraging curiosity, taking education outside the classroom and the school year and embracing trust. They are models we need now, she says, as we question a concept that many of us take for granted even as we worry about its future.

“For many, many students now education is anti-democratic,” she says. “It’s just a curriculum geared at essentially encouraging them to accept their lot in life.”

The decline in liberal arts and the rise of “practical” degrees in subjects such as pharmacology, nursing and construction management, she says, suggest a society that is tailoring people to the workplace rather than encouraging them to think about the big issues, while saddling them with major debts.

There is a structural reason for this, says Taylor. “I feel pretty pulled when young people ask me what to study, because I think they should study Plato and Rousseau. But not if it’s going to lead them to a lifetime of debt servitude. You can’t help but think of your education as something that needs a return on investment when it’s costing you $35,000 a year.”

Her book and film are an argument for the case that “of all academic disciplines, the one that demands to be democratised is political philosophy, which is basically the asking of the questions: how do we want to live? How should we live? What kind of people should we be? How should we govern ourselves? This is something that increasingly only the elites get to carve out time to think about. That is really a tragedy.”"
astrataylor  class  socialism  capitalism  democracy  2019  corruption  ows  occupywallstreet  activism  studentdebt  film  filmmaking  documentary  unschooling  publiceducation  education  curiosity  freedom  rousseau  plato  philosophy  debt  debtservitude  politics  policy  learning  howwelearn  donaldtrump  organizing  ancientgreece  athens  cornelwest 
29 days ago by robertogreco
The Rebel Alliance: Extinction Rebellion and a Green New Deal - YouTube
"Extinction Rebellion and AOC’s Green New Deal have made global headlines. Can their aims be aligned to prevent climate catastrophe?

Guest host Aaron Bastani will be joined by journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot and economist Ann Pettifor."
extinctionrebellion  georgemonbiot  gdp  economics  capitalism  growth  worldbank  2019  greennewdeal  humanwelfare  fossilfuels  aaronbastani  climate  climatechange  globalwarming  mainstreammedia  media  action  bbc  critique  politics  policy  currentaffairs  comedy  environment  environmentalism  journalism  change  systemschange  left  right  thinktanks  power  influence  libertarianism  taxation  taxes  ideology  gretathunberg  protest  davidattenborough  statusquo  consumerism  consumption  wants  needs  autonomy  education  health  donaldtrump  nancypelosi  us  southafrica  sovietunion  democrats  centrism  republicans  money  narrative  corruption  diannefeinstein  opposition  oppositionism  emissions  socialdemocracy  greatrecession  elitism  debt  financialcrisis  collapse  annpettifor  socialism  globalization  agriculture  local  production  nationalism  self-sufficiency  inertia  despair  doom  optimism  inequality  exploitation  imperialism  colonialism  history  costarica  uk  nihilism  china  apathy  inaction 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Great American Meritocracy Machine – alex posecznick
"Cheating is a thing. It happens a lot. A few years ago, I was having a conversation with Gregoire, who ran the testing center at an institution I will call “Ravenwood College.” Although Ravenwood accepted SAT and ACT scores, they also had their own in-house entrance exam which was administered on site. Gregoire was meticulous in proctoring exams, checking paperwork and especially photo identification carefully. He recalled one time, when an applicant claimed to have left her ID in the Office of Admissions and said she would be right back. Later, the applicant returned with the ID and escorted by an admissions counselor, but it was an entirely different person.

She tried to persuade Gregoire that he was mistaken – that they had just spoken and she had come back as instructed. But he responded, with a roll of the eyes and a dry comment: “Okay, who did you get to take your exam for you?”

Sound familiar?

The Operation Varsity Blues admissions scandal has splatted hard in the middle of the media, and already faded from our attention. Several days of non-stop coverage and opinion, followed by fatigue. Our attention is nothing if not fickle. It is outrageous that wealthy elites and influential celebrities and their consultants have falsified documents and bribed coaches so their kids can go to extremely selective universities. And it makes sense that this would catch our collective attention. The story fundamentally undermines our trust in American meritocracy.

Maybe it should. Maybe that’s a good thing. Because the most noteworthy thing about the scandal is not the cheating. There are other important observations to be made. And there have been many who have made important observations about how affluent families already game the system in entirely legal ways. But there is more still to consider here.

I’ve spent a lot of my professional life around colleges and universities and seen wonderful and transformative things happen there. But we have to also recognize that a big part of what colleges do is sort students into piles based on merit. “Going to college” is one sort of meritorious pile that employers pay a lot of attention to; and in some circles the most relevant pile is which college we went to. And even affluent parents are under a tremendous amount of pressure to make sure their kids are sorted into the most distinctive pile. There is thus a lot of consequence here.

The contradiction, however, is that the more people obtain degrees, the less distinctive those degrees become. This pushes people to find new ways to be distinctive: a degree from this elite college, or perhaps a master’s degree. But this is an anxiety-fueled, credentials arms race – and although it can benefit colleges and universities financially, I’m not sure it is sustainable. How many loans can the average American family bear?

Elite institutions flourish when demand is high and admission low. Demand is measured by how many people you reject every year. But admission offices need to constantly balance the demands of coaches, wealthy donors, trustees, campus executives, ranking metrics, and alumni. One’s job could be at risk if the wrong donor is unhappy, or if the institution falls in a popular ranking system. We therefore need to acknowledge that colleges and universities are not the ivory towers we like to pretend they are. Not any longer. Colleges and universities are extremely competitive, profit-focused enterprises that must reconcile competing aims: educational mission on one side and market on the other. The big secret is that admission offices are under as much pressure as parents are.

This pressure shifts in less-selective spaces, but does not diminish.

Less-selective institutions flourish based on higher enrollments, because their budgets are so closely tied to the number of students sitting in their classrooms. Such institutions may have some strong standing locally, but like “Ravenwood” College, are not household names across the country. For these colleges, the consequence to a bad year could be layoffs, contractions, budget cuts, or closures. In fact, Ravenwood itself experienced some of these challenges. And this is increasingly a concern: by some accounts, private colleges are closing at the rate of 11 per year!

Public universities are not cushioned from such pressures either; many states have so severely cut funding to public higher education in recent years that they must learn to play the market like private institutions. Colleges and universities want to appear distinctive for the same reasons that we all do.

In short, we have built a massive, comprehensive infrastructure to “objectively” identify, evaluate, measure, and sort us into piles. And this sorting machinery involves high school administrations, college recruiters, College Board test designers, marketing teams, private test prep centers, university administrations, college athletics, federal regulatory agencies, voluntary accrediting agencies, magazine publishers, student loan lenders, employers, faculty, students, and their families.

Attending college does not define our value as human beings, but it would be naïve to pretend that there was no consequence to how we get sorted. When employers take note of a particular name or brand, what they are really interested in is how we’ve been continuously sorted into the right bins across our lifetimes. This scandal (and the many editorials since it broke) has revealed that this infrastructure is not objective. The notion of meritocracy has long been at the heart of the rhetoric of education in American society, but is that machinery broken?

Students of history should know that we’ve never had an objective, merit-measuring machine; this is not the story of national decline that some have been preaching. As many have been pointing out, affluent families systemically use their resources to give their kids advantage all the time – and always have. There are boarding schools, expensive test-prep programs, legacy admissions, private counselors and coaches, private violin lessons and extravagant service trips to other countries that make for a great personal statement. And despite some recent and limited interventions through affirmative action, communities of color have been systematically and appallingly excluded for centuries.

Operation Varsity Blues reveals that although the meritocracy machine is powerful and active, we should not always accept it at face value. Not only in elite space, but at all levels, we must recognize individuals for their achievements while weighing them critically and skeptically. In short, the best measure against a broken meritocracy machine is vigilant, morally-grounded people willing to challenge what they see. As long as we have the credentials arms race, there will be cheats and scammers – and the most noteworthy part of this scandal is not that some cheated, but that the wealthy perpetrators will face consequences.

Unless of course the siren call of some new big scandal distracts us."
meritocracy  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  2019  operationvaristyblues  alexposecznick  markets  degree  sorting  ranking  rankings  society  degreeinflation  employment  elitism  objectivity  testing  standardizedtesting  cheating  credentials  scams  corruption  admissions  anxiety  education 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Noam Chomsky takes ten minutes to explain everything you need to know about the Republican Party in 2019 / Boing Boing
"Amy Goodman from Democracy Now interviewed linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky and asked him to explain Donald Trump; in a mere 10 minutes, Chomsky explains where Trump came from, what he says about the GOP, and what the best response to Russiagate is.

Chomsky lays out the history of the GOP from Nixon's Southern Strategy, when the party figured out that the way to large numbers of working people to vote for policies that made a tiny minority of rich people richer was to quietly support racism, which would fuse together a coalition of racists and the super-rich. By Reagan's time, the coalition was beefed up with throngs of religious fanatics, brought in by adopting brutal anti-abortion policies. Then the GOP recruited paranoid musketfuckers by adopting doctrinal opposition to any form of gun control. Constituency by constituency, the GOP became a big tent for deranged, paranoid, bigoted and misogynist elements, all reliably showing up to vote for policies that would send billions into the pockets of a tiny rump of wealthy people who represented the party's establishment.

That's why every time the GOP base fields a candidate, it's some self-parodying character out of a SNL sketch: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, etc. Every time, the GOP establishment had to sabotage the campaigns of the base's pick, until they couldn't -- Trump is just the candidate-from-the-base that the establishment couldn't suppress.

You can think of the Republican Party as a machine that does two things: enacting patriarchy and white supremacy (Trump) while delivering billions to oligarchs (McConnell, Paul Ryan, etc).

Then Chomsky moves onto Russiagate: Russian interference may have shifted the election outcome by a few critical points to get Trump elected, but it will be impossible to quantify the full extent and nature of interference and the issue will always be controversial, with room for doubt. But campaign contributions from the super-rich? They are undeniable and have a massive effect on US elections, vastly more than Russian interference ever will (as do election interventions of US allies: think of when Netanyahu went to Congress to attack Obama policies before a joint Congressional session right before a key election): "The real issues are different things. They’re things like climate change, like global warming, like the Nuclear Posture Review, deregulation. These are real issues. But the Democrats aren’t going after those."
Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid-1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues. Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation.

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off."

[Full interview: https://truthout.org/video/chomsky-on-the-perils-of-depending-on-mueller-report-to-defeat-trump/
https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/18/chomsky_by_focusing_on_russia_democrats
https://www.democracynow.org/shows/2019/4/18?autostart=true

"NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, Trump is—you know, I think there are a number of illusions about Trump. If you take a look at the Trump phenomenon, it’s not very surprising. Think back for the last 10 or 15 years over Republican Party primaries, and remember what happened during the primaries. Each primary, when some candidate rose from the base, they were so outlandish that the Republican establishment tried to crush them and succeeded in doing it—Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum. Anyone who was coming out of the base was totally unacceptable to the establishment. The change in 2016 is they couldn’t crush him.

But the interesting question is: Why was this happening? Why, in election after election, was the voting base producing a candidate utterly intolerable to the establishment? And the answer to that is—if you think about that, the answer is not very hard to discover. During the—since the 1970s, during this neoliberal period, both of the political parties have shifted to the right. The Democrats, by the 1970s, had pretty much abandoned the working class. I mean, the last gasp of more or less progressive Democratic Party legislative proposals was the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act in 1978, which Carter watered down so that it had no teeth, just became voluntary. But the Democrats had pretty much abandoned the working class. They became pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans shifted so far to the right that they went completely off the spectrum. Two of the leading political analysts of the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, about five or 10 years ago, described the Republican Party as what they called a “radical insurgency” that has abandoned parliamentary politics.

Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid-1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues. Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation.

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off.

And, I should say, the Democrats are helping him. They are. Take the focus on Russiagate. What’s that all about? I mean, it was pretty obvious at the beginning that you’re not going to find anything very serious about Russian interference in elections. I mean, for one thing, it’s undetectable. I mean, in the 2016 election, the Senate and the House went the same way as the executive, but nobody claims there was Russian interference there. In fact, you know, Russian interference in the election, if it existed, was very slight, much less, say, than interference by, say, Israel. Israel… [more]
amygoodman  noamchomsky  corydoctorow  donaldtrump  republicans  us  politics  extremism  billionaires  inequality  campaignfinance  money  power  policy  mitchmcconnell  paulryan  abortion  nra  guns  evangelicals  richardnixon  ronaldreagan  georgehwbush  govenment  corporatism  corruption  russiagate  legislation  wealth  oligarchy  plutocracy  paulweyrich  southernstrategy  racism  race  gop  guncontrol  bigotry  misogyny  establishment  michelebachman  hermancain  ricksantoram  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  netanyahu  barackobama  congress  climatechange  canon  democrats  democracy  insurgency  radicalism  right  labor  corporations  catholics  2019  israel  elections  influence 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
David Graeber on a Fair Future Economy - YouTube
"David Graeber is an anthropologist, a leading figure in the Occupy movement, and one of our most original and influential public thinkers.

He comes to the RSA to address our current age of ‘total bureaucratization’, in which public and private power has gradually fused into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations, whose ultimate purpose is the extraction of wealth in the form of profits.

David will consider what it would take, in terms of intellectual clarity, political will and imaginative power – to conceive and build a flourishing and fair future economy, which would maximise the scope for individual and collective creativity, and would be sustainable and just."
democracy  liberalism  directdemocracy  borders  us  finance  globalization  bureaucracy  2015  ows  occupywallstreet  governance  government  economics  politics  policy  unschooling  unlearning  schooliness  technology  paperwork  future  utopianism  capitalism  constitution  rules  regulation  wealth  power  communism  authority  authoritarianism  creativity  neoliberalism  austerity  justice  socialjustice  society  ideology  inequality  revolution  global  international  history  law  legal  debt  freedom  money  monetarypolicy  worldbank  imf  markets  banks  banking  certification  credentials  lobbying  collusion  corruption  privatization  credentialization  deschooling  canon  firstamendment 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Greta Thunberg full speech at UN Climate Change COP24 Conference - YouTube
[See also:
https://grist.org/article/call-the-cops-this-swedish-teenager-just-wrecked-u-n-climate-negotiators/
https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/16/world/greta-thunberg-cop24/index.html ]

"15 year old activist Greta Thunberg speaks truth to power at the UN COP24 climate talks:

"My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now.

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn't matter what we do.

But I've learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn't do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

Thank you.""
gretathunberg  climatechange  2018  sustainability  youth  sweden  change  globalarming  activism  civilization  crisis  flight  action  money  corruption  anthropocene  goodancestors  resistance  science  climatescience  hope 
december 2018 by robertogreco
School strike for climate - save the world by changing the rules | Greta Thunberg | TEDxStockholm - YouTube
"Greta Thunberg realized at a young age the lapse in what several climate experts were saying and in the actions that were being taken in society. The difference was so drastic in her opinion that she decided to take matters into her own hands. Greta is a 15-year-old Stockholm native who lives at home with her parents and sister Beata. She’s a 9th grader in Stockholm who enjoys spending her spare time riding Icelandic horses, spending time with her families two dogs, Moses and Roxy. She love animals and has a passion for books and science. At a young age, she became interested in the environment and convinced her family to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community."
gretathunberg  climatechange  2018  sustainability  youth  autism  aspergers  sweden  change  globalarming  activism  extinction  massextinction  equity  climatejustice  inequality  infrastructure  interconnected  crisis  flight  action  money  corruption  anthropocene  goodancestors  resistance  science  climatescience  hope 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff - YouTube
"Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more."
richardwolff  karlmarx  academia  academics  capitalism  accounting  us  inequality  communism  socialism  marxism  berniesanders  labor  idealism  materialism  radicalism  philosophy  dialecticalmaterialism  humans  systems  change  friedrichengels  slavery  automation  credit  finance  studentdebt  poverty  unions  organization  systemschange  china  russia  ussr  growth  2016  power  democracy  collectives  collectivism  meansofproduction  society  climatechange  environment  sustainability  rosaluxemburg  militaryindustrialcomplex  pollution  ethics  morality  immorality  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  corruption 
november 2018 by robertogreco
John Warner on Twitter: "So It looks like the whole damn thing is rotten to its core with lots of powerful, privileged people protecting each other from scrutiny or punishment. Of course we all know this has been going on, but it's rare that it's exposed
"So It looks like the whole damn thing is rotten to its core with lots of powerful, privileged people protecting each other from scrutiny or punishment. Of course we all know this has been going on, but it's rare that it's exposed quite this openly.John Warner added,

[quoting @sarahposner (https://twitter.com/sarahposner/status/1042782775168958464 ):
"'No accident' Brett Kavanaugh's female law clerks 'looked like models', Yale professor told students https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/20/brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court-yale-amy-chua
A top professor at Yale Law School who strongly endorsed supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “mentor to women” privately told a group of law students last year that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and would provide advice to students about their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him, the Guardian has learned.

Amy Chua, a Yale professor who wrote a bestselling book on parenting called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was known for instructing female law students who were preparing for interviews with Kavanaugh on ways they could dress to exude a “model-like” femininity to help them win a post in Kavanaugh’s chambers, according to sources.
]

What's interesting is how mundane all this is to the people inside the privileged spaces. This is just how things work for them, powerful men who get to prey upon women to varying degrees, with women who are granted admittance to that club willing to be some of the enforcers.

This is the meritocracy at work. As someone who has moved in meritocracy-adjacent spaces, but never joined, I've always known the meritocracy was total bullshit based on the people I knew who were inside it, but maybe, just maybe, the lid is being peeled back a bit.

I'm highly skeptical that these revelations will have any impact on the meritocracy, places like Yale/Harvard, the Supreme Court. Ultimately, these places are about power and no group in power has ever relinquished it willingly. The only alternative is to shift the locus of power

At the least, we should end the fiction that these privileged institutions are places of great wisdom or probity, rooted in enduring values. They're among the most corrupt places we have. Note this from the Guardian story about how Kavanaugh likes his female clerks to look.

[image: "Sources who spoke to the Guardian about their experiences with Chua and Rubenfeld would only speak under the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution and damage to their future careers."]

Those who are telling the truth know that to tell the truth publicly about the cesspool they're required to navigate would result in expulsion from the group. Next time someone says someone like Kavanaugh comes from the "best" places, remember it's more like the opposite.

The deep irony is that if all that these people are up to was truly known and exposed, a huge proportion of those coming out of these elite law schools would never be able to pass the American Bar Association's ethics requirement.

Here's how one of the court chroniclers of the meritocracy tries to thread the needle on the accusations. It should be embarrassing to commit this opinion into print, but to hold onto the perch, must placate the powerful while giving a sop to audience. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-there-a-kavanaugh-doppelganger/2018/09/18/88418f52-bb86-11e8-a8aa-860695e7f3fc_story.html

I mean can we believe for even a second that this is Kathleen Parker's genuine opinion? How foolish do they expect us to be? Don't answer that. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-there-a-kavanaugh-doppelganger/2018/09/18/88418f52-bb86-11e8-a8aa-860695e7f3fc_story.html

This Chua statement at the end of the Guardian article is an illustration of the self-reinforcing insularity of the meritocracy. In her mind, Kavanaugh only hires the most qualified clerks because so many are go on to the SC, as though the network of connections didn't matter.

[image: "The couple have hired a well-known crisis communications expert but he did not respond to specific questions from the Guardian about Chua’s remarks or the internal investigation.

In an emailed statement, Chua told the Guardian: “For the more than 10 years I’ve known him, Judge Kavanaugh’s first and only litmus test in hiring has been excellence. He hires only the most qualified clerks, and they have been diverse as well as exceptionally talented and capable.

“There is good reason so many of them have gone on to supreme court clerkships; he only hires those who are extraordinarily qualified. As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal, he has also been an exceptional mentor to his female clerks and a champion of their careers. Among my proudest moments as a parent was the day I learned our daughter would join those ranks.”"]

Consider the psychology underpinning this. Amy Chua is convinced she's helping identify the best, a very important perch, and it matters little that she may be perpetuating sexist and abusive practices as long as these people are reaching the heights of SC clerkships.

It's as thought success inside the meritocracy absolves all previous sins (if they were sins to begin with). If you achieve the spoils, who cares about who or what was damaged on the way? The connections to Chua's tiger mom-ing seem obvious.

Chua and her husband's championing of self-control is also interesting here. Apparently one of the things you're supposed to have self-control over is reporting potentially predatory behavior by powerful people. Chua new about Kozinski for years. Great ethics there.

In sum, those elite spaces are always going to be totally fucked up and if you want to play in those circles you figure out how to justify either tolerating and/or doing some fucked up shit. That we let these people run our most important and powerful institutions is a scandal.

When you hear that someone came out of an exclusive D.C. prep school, Yale undergrad and Yale law, we shouldn't be thinking how great they are, but instead wondering what kind of fucked up shit they've seen or done in order to navigate in such corrupt spaces.

Like a good way to trip up a Kavanaugh-type in an hearing would be to just say: Where did you and friends bury the drifter you hit with the car when you were driving home drunk from the Cape that one summer, and their eyes will go wide and they'll say, "How did you know?"

Now dreaming of a future where a big appointment is announced: Prep school educated, Yale undergrad, Yale law, Supreme Court clerkship, and the public knows to say, "Uh-oh."""
johnwarner  meritocracy  corruption  elitism  2018  privilege  brettkavanaugh  amychua  jedrubenfeld  collusion  politics  scotus  donaldtrump  ivyleague  law  legal  alexkozinski 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Amid a toxic landscape, SF found a home for its elite cops - San Francisco Chronicle
"Sent to work on a Superfund site, they were told they were safe. But the S.F. cops stationed at the old Hunters Point shipyard had good reason to doubt."
sanfrancisco  hunterspoint  housing  police  politics  williebrown  2018  jasonfagone  cynthiadizikes  bikiniatoll  contamination  radiation  shipyards  ww2  wwii  superfundsites  history  development  corruption 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @thrasherxy: "Jimmy Carter remains the one & only interesting post president from a social justice angle. Obama would have turned Habitat for Humanity […]"
[original here: https://twitter.com/thrasherxy/status/998918171791937536 ]

"Jimmy Carter remains the one & only interesting post president from a social justice angle. Obama would have turned Habitat for Humanity into an app or a "public-private partnership with Home Depot, designed to foster innovation & inspire for the next generation of homeowners!"

He'd start a student worker program by placing Starbucks in charter school cafeterias, "staffed, and managed, by students, to inspire the next generation of baristas and foster innovation in management!"

To my knowledge, Obama hasn't ever tweeted about a dead Black child killed by police or in support of BLM activists since leaving office. But he HAS donated to a Chicago youth summer jobs program (GET TO WORK, BLACK KIDS!) & applauded the Black child helping the homeless.

Worthy goals, fiiiine...but Black children don't need to work more or need more "grit," they need to be kids. And it always saddens me when he acts as though Black ppl (especially kids) need to work harder to end our own oppression & death.

Which brings me to his current phase of the post-presidency: hosting and producing "content" on Netflix. No Habitat for Humanity or teaching Sunday school for him! He'll create incremental change in the private market by creating "content" for a private network.

After he & Michelle got $65 million for their books, one might hope "my brother's keeper" might, say, wanna host a special for PBS or something public. But a neoliberal (in the sense of market "innovation" forces leading to change) in the post-presidency, Netflix makes sense.

After all, Obama installed Arnie Duncan, a neoliberal who believed in school "choice," as the pre-Betsy Devos. The Obamas didn't send their kids to Duncans' charterized Chi schools, but Obama elevated Duncan & promoted "Race to the Top" neoliberal/increasingly private schools.

THEN, Obama sent many of his White House alumni off not to public service, nor even to private industry, but to Silicon Valley upstarts focused on colonizing public goods & undermining public laws for private profit. For instance:

- Uber hired David Plouffee (Which busts public transit resources & labor regs)
With Uber's new hire, Obama alumni invade Silicon Valley: D.C. to Silicon Valley is a well-worn path.
http://fortune.com/2014/08/19/uber-plouffe-obama/


- Natalie Foster went to shill for "Share," the "front group for AirBnB (which busts housing regs)

- Michael Masserman went to Lyft
With Uber's new hire, Obama alumni invade Silicon Valley: D.C. to Silicon Valley is a well-worn path.
http://fortune.com/2014/08/19/uber-plouffe-obama/


So, it's fitting the Obamas went not to PBS but--like the depressing move of Sesame Street from PBS to HBO--took their show to Netflix.

Converting public post-presidential comms (which maybe should open to the public?) to private Netflix capitalization is on-brand-Obama.

In their Netflix press release, the Obamas wrote: "we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples."

Meaningless pabulum.

Hoping for change through cultivating & curating "voices who are able to promote greater understanding" only to Netflix subscribers is pretty status quo.

Without critique of capitalism, empire, racism, and sexism, a vague dream to "promote greater empathy" are empty.

I wish the Democratic leaders (Pelosi, Schumer, the Clintons, the Obamas) were out here barnstorming the country, railing against the facscist they've helped install. I wish they had a fraction of the rage & courage of of ADAPT and BLM.

Reading the horrific labor SCOTUS ruling, I wonder what could have been if Obama had fought his last year for his SCOTUS nominee, rather than saying, "Now let's stay calm everyone, if we're reasonable enough, they'll be reasonable, too."

Calmness hasn't helped much. And it's nauseating to see the Obamas rolling off to the bank & hiding their little bit of discourse behind a Netflix Paywall--while Hillary's hat routine seems to be the extent of her public "resistance" (cc @kath_krueger )
Hillary Clinton Did a Bit With a Russia Hat at Yale and I Want to Die
Have you felt an acute-but-nagging desire to fade back into the nothingness of the universe yet today? No? Well look no further!
https://splinternews.com/i-yearn-for-deaths-sweet-embrace-1826207903


The market is NOT the answer to every American problem. As @B_Ehrenreich wrote, the reason people are poor is NOT that they aren't educated enuf, inspired enuf, nor that they're insufficiently "innovative." Yet the Ds, just like the Rs, say it is.
Why are people poor? Because they are uneducated? No, because (1) they are paid so little for their work and (2) the pittance they are paid is quickly sucked off by landlords, credit companies, the medical industry and other predators. Solutions are obvious. [from: https://twitter.com/B_Ehrenreich/status/998571038727458816 ]


This, to me, is neoliberalism--addressing everything from market driven schools to market driven healthcare to the market driven post-presidential philanthropy (Clinton Global Inititiative, Obama media empire) to the "choice" of the market.

One of the unfortunate meeting points in thinking about Black liberation & in anti-Blackness is questioning the Obama's hauling of tens (more?) of millions in the post-presidency. White supremacists don't want him to have that money.

But I, too, have questioned his money haul, particularly in the face of his public giving going first to Black kids who work summer jobs & while raking it in to talk to the banks who bankrupt Black people...
Barack Obama's $400,000 speaking fees reveal what few want to admit | Steven W Thrasher
His mission was never racial or economic justice. It’s time we stop pretending it was
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/01/barack-obama-speaking-fees-economic-racial-justice


And it makes me sad to see the limits of viewing Black liberation imagined as "this man, for whom so many of us did so much to put into office, needs to be able to haul as much cash as possible in the coming years as a signifier of Black success."

In the name of the Black ppl who worked their butts off to install him, the Latinx people he deported in record numbers, and the the ppl who are QTPoC, immigrants, Latinx, women and/or Muslin made vulnerable by his successor, I would hope Obama would be out here fighting for us.

But that is just a dream. Obama is who he is. The hope he'd "really speak his mind on race" when he left office was a denial of who he was in office.

The presidency is the head of the American empire, in all its complexity and violence.

And only Carter has wrestled with this in the post-presidency, largely outside of the market.

Neoliberal structure encourages liberals to retreat to safe spaces created by the market. If market "choice" can provide safe schools or healthcare or water or transport for someone, they're less inclined to demand society provide these things for whom "choice" has failed.

So, I fear Obama TV will encourage a neoliberal retreat for liberals to choose to have President Obama on Netflix, even as Trump runs rampant IRL running over the rest of us who can't much retreat to safety...

..and we can only wonder what Obama TV would have looked like if, perhaps, 44 had shown up on the public airwaves sometime, marching with ADAPT or BLM.

Mind you, I am not thinking about this as a character flaw in the Obamas as such. The presidency, post-presidency, the Obamas & all of us are formed by neoliberal logic. It's the dominant frame of our polticual consciousness.

But it's still distressing."
steventhrasher  barackobama  jimmycarter  hillaryclinton  neoliberalism  2018  ntflix  uber  lyft  airbnb  siliconvalley  corruption  markets  finance  banking  inequality  privatization  race  habitatfohumanity  money  politics  scotus  democrats  liberation  philanthropy  arneduncan  chicago  schools  education  batsydefos  rttt  davidplouffee  natalifoster  michaelmasserman  grit  poverty  society  publicservice  charterschools 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: The Coup Has Already Happened | Literary Hub
"Over and over we’ve seen Trump contort his administration to serve Russia, whether he’s trying to hold back sanctions or to undermine the Paris climate treaty. The question isn’t whether we’re in a zombie horror movie starring an insane clown puppet with some very long and yankable strings, but what we’re going to do about it. Because what all those little pieces add up to, what the tangle sorts out as if you pay attention is: this is life after the coup.

After the coup, everything seems crazy, the news is overwhelming, and some try to cope by withdrawing or pretending that things are normal. Others are overwhelmed and distraught. I’m afflicted by a kind of hypervigilance of the news, a daily obsession to watch what’s going on that is partly a quest for sense in what seems so senseless. At least I’ve been able to find the patterns and understand who the key players are, but to see the logic behind the chaos brings you face to face with how deep the trouble is.

We still have an enormous capacity to resist the administration, not least by mass civil disobedience and other forms of noncooperation. Sweeping the November elections wouldn’t hurt either, if that results in candidates we hold accountable afterward. Or both. I don’t know if there’s a point at which it will be too late, though every week more regulations, administrators, and norms crash and burn—but we are long past the point at which it is too soon."
rebeccasolnit  2018  donaldtrump  republicans  coups  politics  resistance  elections  corruption  collusion  christophersteele  elliottbroidy  jamescomey  johnmccain  karenmcdougal  marckasowitz  michaelnova  nastyarybka  olegderipaska  paulmanafort  robertmueller  russia  sergeiprikhodko  voktorvekselberg  vladimirputin  us  columbusnova 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Baratunde on Twitter: "Ok. I made it through the indictment. Yes I was hoping to see Donald Trump Jr's stupid face in there proving he was knowingly wiring money to the Russians. Didn't get that. Instead found a more frightening reality: we got hacked big
"Ok. I made it through the indictment. Yes I was hoping to see Donald Trump Jr's stupid face in there proving he was knowingly wiring money to the Russians. Didn't get that. Instead found a more frightening reality: we got hacked bigtime. Based on known vulnerabilities.

We build a giant deception machine called marketing and advertising, and an adversary used it against us.

We build a giant influence machine called social media, and an adversary used it against us.

We left open, unreconciled divisions in our society, and an adversary used it against us.

We weakened our press such that all the phony conflict inspired by this information warfare campaign was reported in real-time with little to no vetting, and an adversary used it against us.

We allowed our democracy to become so corrupted by money and self-serving, power-hungry folks that we already didn't trust it, and an adversary used it against us.

If the election had turned out differently, would we even know half of what we do? We only got Robert Mueller because Trump is president but also bad at wielding his power.

And even though the Russians amplified divisions to be greater than they are, those divisions are real now. There is a basic level of trust we have to have in our environment to act appropriately, and that's severely broken.

On top of that, one-half of the political establishment (the republican half) is completely uninterested in acknowledging, investigating, or responding to this sophisticated act of information warfare. They've done NOTHING to prepare us for the next campaign.

The president still hasn't imposed the Russia sanctions that Congress passed overwhelmingly. And everybody's just acting like, "Meh. TRUMP WILL BE TRUMP! Undermining national security is just his THING ya know?"

And Facebook. Oh Facebook. So happy to monetize the destruction of our civil fabric. They made $7B in the 3rd quarter of 2016. Zuckerberg smugly said 99% of posts are "authentic." We cannot trust this company to do what's best for us. Not just FB btw.

This indictment isn't just about Trump. It's about us needing a better vision for how we do this whole "society" thing. What forms of power get held accountable. What voices we listen to. This is ultimately about reality and our collective agreement on what THAT is. /END"
baratundethurston  donaldtrump  2018  politics  russia  hacking  marketing  elections  facebook  civics  division  infowarfare  deception  advertising  socialmedia  republicans  democrats  power  corruption  news  media  medialiteracy  robertmueller  money 
february 2018 by robertogreco
2017 Civilisation has been corrupted, would you like to open a new file?
"Moving Forward.

Moving forward in the 21st century requires us to systematically de-corrupt civilisation.

1. We need to collectively buy out legacy interests, dependancies, and blocks – like we did with slavery in the UK to allow us to all move forward, we will need to buy out and systemically make redundant our carbon economy.

2. We need to work to bridge the gap between the sense of justice and the law and reinventing regulation & Goverance to match.

3. We need a new governance model which acknowledges our global interdependence at all scales & focuses on the quality, diversity and integrity Of feedback in all its natures – & recognises the future of Goverance is realtime, contingent and contextual – for more see – Innovation Needs a Boring Revolution [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/innovation-needs-a-boring-revolution-741f884aab5f ]

4. We need to invest in a restorative justice national programme to acknowledge and respect the economic, social, gender and cultural violence many in our society have been faced.

5. We need to out forward a Grand Jubilee not of debt by transgression focused on establishing a fresh start with new ground rules and new social contract. Inviting us all into this new world.

6. We need to put Homo Cívica as the centre of our world as opposed to Homo Economicus – further explored here – Towards a Homo Civica Future [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/its-time-to-rediscover-homo-c%C3%ADvica-bef94da3e16f ]

7. Structurally, this transition needs us recognise the progress in science of being human & the reality of a social injustice 2.0 – as outlined more fully here – Human(e) Revolution [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/the-human-e-revolution-267022d76c71 ]

8. We need us to democratise agency, care, creativity and innovation – as outlined here – Beyond Labour [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/beyond-labour-96b23417dea3 ]

9. Detox our emotional addition to a mal-consumer economy driven by Bad Work. Further explored here – The Case for Good Work [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/there-is-nothing-wrong-with-the-consumer-society-as-an-idea-3c408b17ce ]

10. We need to embrace Moonshots and System Change – to misquote Cooper from Interstellar – “help us find our place in the stars as opposed to fighting for our place in the dirt.” Further explored here – Moonshots & System Change. [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/moonshots-system-change-368c12e2e2ab ]

11. We need to break the duopoly of Market and State – rebuilding the role of Learned Societies, as decentralised agents for advancing the public good – driven by the legitimacy of knowledge, to compliment the legitimacy of the vote and the consumer. Further explored here – Remaking Professionalism. [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/beyond-the-good-words-2d034fd82942 ]

12. We need to re-embrace freedom – a democracy of freedom. A freedom not just “to do”, but a freedom for all, where we nurture the conditions for all to be free, all to be intrinsically motivated, organised and purposeful. There can be no coercive pathway to a 21st Century. Further explored here – Democracy of Purpose [https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/purposeful-democracy-9d9966655d63 ]

But perhaps, most critically of all, what this reboot requires is for all these programmes, activities and investments to be made together, simultaneously, and openly – a systematic reboot of our civilisation. This future cannot be crawled away from – it must be audaciously fought. It requires audacity, and a belief in a radically better tomorrow. A belief in our humanity, not a grudging nod to diversity – but our complete full on belief in humanity as a whole. This is a tomorrow which needs the future to not be a zero sum game but a world of great abundance. Let us reignite our democracy of dreams and fuel the audacity that is the antidote to fear and our zombie society.

I would put forward any viable new government wishing to take us into the real 21st century as opposed to sustain us in a zombie 20th century, must systemically de-corrupt society. If we are to rebuild a new inclusive economy, we must rebuild trust in ourselves – personally and also collectively – without this there can be no progress."
indyjohar  change  systemsthinking  2018  2017  civilization  society  democracy  governance  economics  carbon  regulation  reinvention  revolution  interdependence  gender  culture  violence  science  care  agency  consumerism  capitalism  work  meaning  purpose  moonshots  systemschange  markets  decentralization  audacity  abundance  inclusivity  corruption 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Who Is Reality Winner?
"Those who criticize whistle-blowers often suggest that the offender ought to have followed a more “responsible” course — what Obama once called in his criticism of Snowden the “procedures and practices of the intelligence community.” There are reasons notorious leakers have stopped doing so, and those reasons involve a man named Thomas Drake. In 2002, Drake had concerns about a wasteful and unconstitutional $1 billion warrantless-wiretapping program later revealed to be among the worst and most expensive failures in the history of U.S. intelligence. He alerted the NSA’s general counsel, informed Diane Roark, a Republican staffer on the House Intelligence Committee in charge of NSA oversight, and, anonymously, informed congressional committees investigating the mistakes that led to 9/11. He alerted the inspector general of the Department of Defense, which launched an investigation. Colleagues warned him that he ought to stop. Eventually, the FBI raided Drake’s home and the Justice Department charged him with “willful retention of national defense information.” An assistant inspector general later claimed that the Pentagon was punishing Drake for whistle-blowing and had improperly destroyed material related to his defense. Drake lost his job, his pension, and his savings. His marriage fell apart. He now works at the Apple store in Bethesda, Maryland.

William Binney, a longtime NSA technical director, went to both the inspector general of the Department of Defense and Roark, with complaints about massive amounts of wasteful spending; the FBI raided his home, pointed a gun at him while he was in the shower, and revoked his security clearance. He was 63. (For good measure, they raided Roark’s house, too.)

Drake and Binney, among others, had attempted to work through the system, only to be retaliated against. But something shifted in 2010, when a 22-year-old private named Bradley Manning sent a trove of secrets straight to WikiLeaks. Snowden, 29, went to particular journalists he trusted (one of whom was Greenwald). These whistle-blowers spent far less time at their respective agencies or contractors and had considerably less faith that their superiors might be sensitive to their concerns. They were in their 20s, a time of great ideological foment for many intelligent people, and an age at which many are at their most ideologically rigid. Snowden and Manning were not career service people who had grown concerned with the way some work being done by colleagues violated the values of the institution in which they still believed, but newcomers — an IT contractor and a soldier — suddenly face-to-face with the whole system of American surveillance. And Snowden, in particular, knew exactly what happened to people who followed proper channels.

“The disclosure system, the whistle-blower system, the ability to bring wrongdoing and questions about policy, is fraught with corruption,” says Drake, who speaks mostly in a kind of outraged abstraction. “It does not protect the whistle-blower, the truth-teller. It’s designed to ferret them out and hammer them from within.”

For those inside the web of secrecy, that makes a bad mood on a bad day, a snap decision in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, potentially catastrophic."



"I didn’t want to see the river and think about satellites, just as I didn’t want to think about intimate conversations in Iran violated by linguists in Georgia, or sisterly banter on Facebook probed by prosecutors in Washington, so I thought about a story the family had told me, about a vacation to SeaWorld when Reality and Brittany were just girls. The Winners took in a show, watched sleek gray dolphins leap in unison, their sweet-sounding squeals elicited on command. Brittany was loving it. At which point her little sister — ever the explainer, ever the scold — declared that in captivity, the dolphins’ signals bounce crazily off the walls; their capacity for echolocation drives them mad. For Brittany, the show was ruined. It had been easier not to know what was hidden below the visible, beneath the bright surface of the cage."
realitywinner  2017  us  nsa  whistleblowers  chelseamanning  edwardsnoden  kerryhowley  military  airforce  languages  theintercept  glenngreenwald  corruption  surveillance 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Adventures in lifelong learning: Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum
"Yesterday's Warsaw demonstrations were shocking in their scale (60,000 nationalists marched on Poland's independence day; many calling for 'a white Europe of brotherly nations'), but were also disturbing in the way that, whilst confronted with new displays of far-right extremism almost daily - we just don't seem shocked enough. Fascism is like that, of course. It is out-there in the Charlottesville marches, echoed in the words of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, yet it is also insidious. It creeps into lives - and becomes normalised in our language and behaviours. As Umberto Eco wrote in 'Ur-Fascism' (1995, p.8), 'Fascism..can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – every day, in every part of the world.'

The warning signs

I won't use this blog to attempt to summarise important political discussions or try to analyse fascism in any detail; I am not a historian. But given the international rise of the far-right I believe that, as educators, we have a duty to be sensitive to these shifts and as a result should be reshaping our curricula and pedagogy to take account of it.

According to Merriam Webster, fascism is 'a political philosophy, movement, or regime... that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition'. Eco suggests a list of features that are typical of what he calls Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. As he states, 'These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it'. The first principle, that fascism derives from individual or social frustration, is enough in itself to set alarm bells ringing. Four other key features are:

1. The cult of tradition. The desire to return to a better age, and a fear of modernism: 'Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message'. (It should be noted that the first thing that fascist states seize is the curriculum).

2. Irrationalism, and the promotion of action over thought. 'Distrust of the intellectual world'.

3. Fear of difference (fascism is racist by definition). 'The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.'

4. The fostering of a spirit of war, heroism and machismo. 'Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual 8 habits, from chastity to homosexuality).'

An anti-fascist curriculum

I suggest here that an anti-fascist curriculum should take account of warning signs such as Eco's, and should also pay heed to Lawrence Britt's 'Fourteen signs of fascism' which include Cronyism and Corruption, the suppression of organised labour, obsession with national security and identification of scapegoats as a unifying cause.

The word 'curriculum' here refers to more than just the syllabus; it incorporates all influences on a child (or adult's) education (buildings, pedagogy, classroom management, the implicit and explicit things that are taught). As teachers we often distract ourselves from the bigger picture; arguments about the specifics of practice give a sense that our classrooms operate as micro-entities, where children are unaffected by the social dysfunction surrounding them. Managing behaviour is seen as a battle of 'them versus us,' and the 'othering' of pupils causes us to neglect the development of our own self-awareness. For this reason, such a curriculum can only start with the teacher.

Below are a few ideas for what an anti-fascist curriculum manifesto might practically include. It can only ever be a guideline; wanting it to become policy or enacted in some way defeats the object of a movement that should sit outside the state. Likewise, it should not dictate the behaviour of teachers, only act as a stimulus that has the potential, not to make large-scale change, but to spark a 'line of flight' that disrupts the status quo. If any of the manifesto chimes with you or you want send any thoughts or ideas as I continue to extend it, please do not hesitate to comment or get in touch with me.

Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum - A Manifesto for Educators

1. We start by examining the 'fascist inside us all.'

“The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.” (Foucoult, 1983)

We recognise our own interior desire for power and accept our responsibility as educators to reflect on this with others in spirit of critical challenge. We undertake critically reflective processes that make us question our own assumptions and prejudices, such as tests of cognitive dissonance to expose gender, race, age, disability bias, and intersections of these and other identities. We examine our own values, as individuals and within our organisations and consider the roots of these and their influences on our practice. Our reflective activity extends to our roles as leaders; we aim to continually refine and develop ourselves as human beings, alongside our students.

2. We promote difference over uniformity.

This includes de-centring the Enlightenment idea of the 'perfect human' in order to augment the voices of oppressed 'others'. We celebrate the living knowledge of our students, and examine the genealogy of the subjects we teach to decolonise and diversify our curricula. We make efforts to connect with others globally to inform our practice and maintain perspective. We challenge the threat of toxic masculinity through deliberate educational approaches which liberate men and boys from the need to conform to 'gender-specific' ideals (which further male supremacy). We reflect on our own privilege.

3. We accept complexity and uncertainty.

Whilst welcoming research-informed practice, we reject the fetishisation of science and the search for the 'ultimate truths' of education theory, which can limit educational autonomy.

4. We resist the reduction of 'education' to instrumentalism.

We widen the purpose of education to take into account the socialisation and subjectification of our students (Biesta, 2010). We believe in education as the practice of freedom (hooks, 1994) and consider each subject we teach as a potential vehicle to promote agency and social justice.

5. We are pro-social, critical pedagogues.

We use teaching methods that place an emphasis on the building of community, togetherness and belonging, which have a strong critical and reflective focus. Specific teaching innovations may include philosophical inquiry, restorative practice and thinking environments (and would include the implementation of critical digital pedagogies)."
fascism  sfsh  2017  education  uniformity  difference  complexity  cv  uncertainty  instrumentalism  schools  learning  freedom  community  togetherness  belonging  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  bellhoooks  teaching  howweteach  openstudioproject  lcproject  restorativejustice  thinking  socialization  agency  socialjustice  science  scienticsm  autonomy  truth  enlightenment  humansism  othering  others  decolonization  diversity  curriculum  masculinity  gender  race  reflection  disability  power  responsibility  canon  love  exploitation  xenophobia  irrationalism  action  machismo  war  heroism  nationalism  tradition  modernism  cronyism  corruption  classroommanagement  manifesto  foucault  supremacy  patriarchy  privilege  disabilities  michelfoucault 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump | Literary Hub
"This year Hannah Arendt is alarmingly relevant, and her books are selling well, particularly On the Origins of Totalitarianism. She’s been the subject an extraordinary essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books and a conversation between scholar Lyndsey Stonebridge and Krista Tippet on the radio show “On Being.” Stonebridge notes that Arendt advocated for the importance of an inner dialogue with oneself, for a critical splitting in which you interrogate yourself—for a real conversation between the fisherman and his wife you could say: “People who can do that can actually then move on to having conversations with other people and then judging with other people. And what she called ‘the banality of evil’ was the inability to hear another voice, the inability to have a dialogue either with oneself or the imagination to have a dialogue with the world, the moral world.”

Some use their power to silence that and live in the void of their own increasingly deteriorating, off-course sense of self and meaning. It’s like going mad on a desert island, only with sycophants and room service. It’s like having a compliant compass that agrees north is whatever you want it to be. The tyrant of a family, the tyrant of a little business or a huge enterprise, the tyrant of a nation. Power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts the awareness of those who possess it. Or reduces it: narcissists, sociopaths, and egomaniacs are people for whom others don’t exist.

We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation."
politics  donaldtrump  rebeccasolnit  2017  equality  inequality  delusion  power  corruption  kistatippet  lyndseystonebridge  hannaharendt  occupywallstreet  ows  fscottfitzgerald  tyrants  loneliness  resistance  russia  parables  privilege  vldimirputin  pushkin  greed  overreach  democracy  society  collectivism  evil  morality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
When Power Makes Leaders More Sensitive - The New York Times
"I’ve long heard the old warning about leaders who rise too high. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton once said.

But recent psychological research upends this adage. Sure, power in the wrong hands can be dangerous. It turns out, however, that power does not always lead to bad behavior — and can actually make leaders more sensitive to the needs of others. Several studies suggest ways to encourage positive power.

Some psychologists separate power, defined as the control of valued resources, into two concepts: power perceived as freedom, and power perceived as responsibility. How you view power can affect how you use it.

When you see power as a source of freedom, you are likely to use it to serve yourself, selfishly. But when you see it as responsibility, you tend to be selfless.

Who you are — your character and cultural background — affects your approach to power. But contextual clues about how power should be used can be surprisingly effective in altering leadership behavior.

For example, according to one survey, published last year in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people generally had the notion that those with power should act more ethically than those without but in truth act less ethically. And when people reflected on how they felt power was actually used — that is, unethically — obtaining a sense of power themselves made them more likely to cheat in a dice game. But when they thought about how they felt it should be used — ethically — power made them less likely to cheat.

A separate study found that awareness of the good behavior of others can improve the behavior of those with power. In that research, published in The Leadership Quarterly, students assigned to lead a group behaved less selfishly when told that other leaders had been unselfish.

A heightened sense of accountability can also keep power in check. A study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that making people feel powerful increased their clarity and compassion when they had to lay off an employee in a hypothetical situation, but only when they knew they had to explain their layoff approach to others.

Merely shifting leaders’ focus to the experiences of others can lead them to use power in more thoughtful ways. In a forthcoming study in the British Journal of Social Psychology, researchers had undergraduates write about something that had happened to them or to someone they knew. Then the students evaluated their peers in a product-naming task, and some of them were given the power to help determine a winner. The researchers found that people with that power were more concerned about the peers they were evaluating than were those without it — but only if they’d first been asked to recount another’s experience.

“Any policy, any values, any organizational climate that draws attention to those lower in power should do the trick,” said Annika Scholl, a psychologist at the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, in Tübingen, Germany, and the lead author of the study.

When people don’t personally identify with a group, Professor Scholl said, giving them more power tends to reduce their feelings of responsibility for people in the group. But when they start with the sense that they belong to the group, greater power tends to make them more concerned about their effects on others. If you can find common ground, she said, “you think in terms of ‘we’ rather than ‘I.’”

Simply leaving a cloistered office and spending time with subordinates can shift a leader’s attitude. Melissa Williams, a psychologist at Goizueta Business School at Emory University, said physical proximity in shared office space often makes leaders more sensitive.

Companies in the marketplace have been using such insights for years. For example, TDIndustries, a privately held construction firm in Dallas, has embraced a principle known as “servant leadership” since 1970. What sounds like an oxymoron neatly describes power seen as responsibility. TDIndustries uses a number of techniques to ensure that its leaders work not to exploit workers but to enable them to flourish.

Every year, for example, employees evaluate their supervisors. They are asked whether their manager treats them fairly, offers appropriate training and includes them in their team. The feedback affects supervisors’ salaries and promotions.

“You’ve got to walk the talk here,” said Maureen Underwood, the executive vice president for human resources at the company. “And if you get lousy scores, then you get some extra adult supervision.”

There is another important factor in using power responsibly: When leaders feel that their power is being threatened, they tend to behave more selfishly, Professor Williams wrote in an article in the Journal of Management. She cited studies showing that such behavior increases when leaders feel insecure in their positions, doubt their own competence or sense that they are not respected. Precarious authority can lead people to lash out in order to maintain control. She notes the importance of selecting people who are a good fit for their tasks, whatever their positions, and then treating them with fairness and gratitude, ameliorating any resentment or self-doubt.

TDIndustries, which has appeared consistently on Fortune’s annual list of the top 100 workplaces in the United States, sees sensitive leadership as a matter of policy. “We say our supervisors have to do two things,” Ms. Underwood said. “You have to be servant leaders, and you have to make money. And they’re not mutually exclusive.”"
power  corruption  leadership  administration  management  2017  matthewhutson  psychology  freedom  responsibility  behavior  policy  hierarchy 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary says school is a waste of time - Telegraph
"Terry Deary says he is "poisoning the minds of children" by sneaking anarchic messages into his Horrible Histories"



"With titles such as Terrible Tudors, Rotten Romans and the Measly Middle Ages, author Terry Deary has never been one to sugar coat the Horrible Histories of the world.

He has now admitted deliberately littering his books with subversive messages for his young readers, as he condemns school a “waste of time”.

Deary, who has sold around 25 million copies of his Horrible Histories series across the world since they were first published in 1993, said laced his stories with radical ideas in the same way “sneaky propagandists” do, insisting: “I’m poisoning the minds of children.”

Deary’s best-loved books include the Terrible Tudors, Rotten Romans and Vile Victorians, along with the Groovy Greeks, Vicious Vikings and Awesome Egyptians.

Telling history through timelines, quizzes and a series of cartoons, they delight in telling children that “history can be horrible” before unveiling the rude, quirky and amusing anecdotes to bring the period to life.

Calling himself an “anarchist”, he has now disclosed his delight in sprinkling his books with radical ideas, with a profound dislike for authority stemming from his own schooldays.

“The teachers put my back up,” he told the Sunday Times. “They kick conformity into children. Teachers are just bullies and schools are a waste of time.

“They’re an ancient Greek idea that the Victorians borrowed to get kids off the street. It’s fundamentally wrong.”

Dismissing the government as “just a bunch of muppets in Whitehall telling teachers what to teach”, he argued children should instead be offered mentors tailored to their specific needs.

“Every child has an entitlement to be education for their needs,” he said. “The key is to identify talents. Schools can’t do that in classes of 30. Mentors could.

“If you’re a writer then someone attaches you to a write. Art to an artist. Mechanics to a mechanic. What is your skill? Everybody has a skill.”

Speaking of his books, which have been adapted into a popular television series, he attributed their success to the concept of “treating children with respect”.

He added: “Never talk down to children. Their ability to understand human nature has to be respected.”

When asked about the radical undertones of his work, he told the newspaper: “That’s the way snaky propagandists do it. I’m poisoning the minds of children…yes!”

He has previously said of his Horrible Histories: “I think what underlies Horrible Histories is the goodness of ordinary people as opposed to the evil and stupidity of people in power.

“They may start out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but in power your mindset becomes hanging on to that power whatever it takes, and if that involves corruption, you’ll use it.”

His 1998 book, Frightful First World War, begins: “History can be horrible. So horrible that some boring old fogies think young people should not be told the whole, terrible truth.”

It goes on to challenge young readers to “try this quick quiz on your teacher and watch as they strain their brain cell to the limit.

“If they get a question wrong you can jeer because they’re a dunce – if they get it right you can jeer because they’re probably old enough to remember the First World War!”

Rotten Romans refers to teachers “droning on”, while Barmy British Empire tells of “brutal Britannia” and the “dreadful deeds down under”. An entire book is dedicated to “Churchill and his Woeful Wars”.

A stage version of Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain is currently touring theatres."
2014  terrydeary  horriblehistories  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howelearn  anarchism  government  subversion  schools  schooling  schooliness  society  teaching  howweteach  children  corruption  power 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Lana Del Raytheon🌹 on Twitter: "The Democrats: we keep losing even though the opposing party wants your family to die horribly because we love our major donors too much"
"The Democrats: we keep losing even though the opposing party wants your family to die horribly because we love our major donors too much

The Democrats: we squandered two years of complete power and totally failed poor people and immigrants but at least now we have drone murder

The Democrats: We like our voters engaged with politics like Americans like soccer—intensely, shallowly, and only every 4 years

The Democrats: We lost the easiest election ever because we love money, provincial power, and the existing capitalist system too damn much

The Democrats: We would rather you all die horribly *and* keep losing elections than lose our personal money/power
sick transit, gloria @samknight1
.@EvanMcS asks @NancyPelosi if single payer should be a Democratic Party platform in 2018.

"No," she says, without missing a beat

The Democrats: We will sell you all out if it means even just a fleeting amount of money and power from donors

David Sirota @davidsirota
EXPOSED: Dianne Feinstein held fundraiser with healthcare lobby firm days after slamming Sanders' single-payer bill http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/dianne-feinstein-takes-money-health-care-lobby-rejects-single-payer-insurance

The Democrats: We will claim credit for anything good even though we are too useless + craven to ever accomplish it
The New York Times @nytimes
Hillary Clinton has a new message for voters: Universal health care was her idea first http://nyti.ms/1UjcoFU
"
democrats  us  2017  elections  nancypelosi  healthcare  universalhealthcare  poer  elitism  change  politics  policy  corruption  democracy  poverty  immigration  capitalism  economics  money  influence  governance  diannefeinstein  california 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?"



"HALPERN: We almost seem to hardly notice that it’s there. So it’s incredibly consequential and we see it in lots of areas of policy that we touch on.

DUBNER: So you write this about low trust: “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder, where deals need lawyers instead of handshakes, where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish since you doubt your neighbor will do so, and where employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who’d probably be much better at the job.” So that has all kinds of business and ultimately economic implications. However, when you talk about high trust being good for us on a personal level, whether it’s health or individual income, do the two necessarily go in hand? In other words, can we have a society that has a business climate where there isn’t a lot of trust and, therefore, you do need all those lawyers instead of the handshakes, but where you have good social trust among neighbors, family and friends, communities and so on, or are they really the same thing that you’re talking about?

HALPERN: Well, there is a key distinction and Bob Putnam has often made this too, between what’s sometimes called bonding social capital and bridging social capital.

PUTNAM: Social capital is about social networks. But not all social networks are identical, and one important distinction is between ties that link us to other people like us, that’s called bonding social capital.

HALPERN: Bonding social capital often refers to your closeness to your friends, your relatives, those that are immediately around you. It’s particularly important, it turns out for, things such as health outcomes.

PUTNAM: Because, empirically, if you get sick, the people who are likely to bring you chicken soup are likely to represent your bonding social capital."



"PUTNAM: What strategies I would want to emphasize for moving in a positive direction would be more contexts in which people connect with one another across lines of race or economics or gender or age."



"HALPERN: People that go to university end up trusting much more than those who don’t, particularly when they go away residentially. It doesn’t look like it’s explained by income alone. So there’s something about the experience of going off as a young person in an environment where you have lots of other young people from different backgrounds and so on, hopefully, and different ethnicities. You learn the habits of trust because you’re in an environment where you can trust other people; they are trustworthy. And you internalize these habits and you take them with you the rest of your life. So we tend to not think of going away to university as being the reason why you’re doing it is to build social capital and social trust, we think about learning skills and so on, but it may well be that it has as much, or even more value, in terms of culturing social trust going forward. The question is: do you have to do that in university, can you do it another way? So in the U.K., following partly an American lead, the government has championed a national citizen service. And what this means is for every young person, essentially a 17-year-old, increasingly, starts off with a — not everyone does it alone, but more and more every single year, goes and does voluntary experience, community service. This deliberately includes a couple of weeks which are residential and deliberately includes mixing with people from all different walks of life. Look, it’s only limited data, but in terms of before-and-after data, we see significant impacts in terms of higher levels of trust between groups and individuals, as well as instantly higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being too. So it looks like we can do something about it."



"HALPERN: In the most recent data, it looks like it’s one of the biggest risers. So the Netherlands had pretty similar levels of social trust in the 1980s to America and the U.K., but whereas we have now drifted down towards sort of 30-odd percent, they are now up close to 70 percent in levels of those who think others can be trusted.

DUBNER: What would you say it’s caused by?

HALPERN: Well, I mean, one of the characteristics of the Netherlands, and you have to be a bit careful when you pick off one country, is it has wrestled quite hard with the issues of, not just inequality, but social differences. They’ve really tried to do a lot in relation to making people essentially build cohesion. Particularly Amsterdam, is a very famous area for — it’s long been an extremely multicultural city. It’s had issues over that over time, but they’ve really in a sort of succession of governments have tried to quite actively make groups get along with each other in quite an active way. So that may itself, of course, root in the Netherlands, it’s quite a deep culture of a strong sense of the law, being trustworthy and that contracts will be honored and so on. It’s what helped to power its economic success in previous centuries, so it does have that tradition also to draw on."



"PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.

“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”

HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time. To some extent it looks like, to me, that we get the technology that we want, and even this is true at sort of a societal level. So one of the arguments you can make, in my view is true anyway, by explaining some of these differences in the trajectories across countries is in Anglo-Saxon countries, we’ve often used our wealth to buy technology and other experiences. That means we don’t have to deal with other people — the inconveniences of having to go to a concert where I have to listen to music I really like, I can just stay at home and just watch what I want and so on and choose it. And even in the level of, if I think about my kids versus me growing up, I mean when I was growing up we had one TV and there were five kids in the household. You know, had to really negotiate pretty hard about what we were going to watch. My kids don’t have to do that and probably not yours either. There are more screens in the house than there are people. They can all go off and do their own thing. To some extent, that is us using our wealth to escape from having to negotiate with other people, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Some people and some countries seem to use their wealth more to find ways of connecting more with other people. And the technology has both these capabilities and we can’t just blame it. It’s the choices we’re making and how we use it and the technology which we’re, kind of, asking and bringing forth.

DUBNER: It reminds me a bit of — we once looked into the global decline of hitchhiking, for instance. One of the central reasons being that people no longer trusted strangers to not kill each other, really, is what it boiled down to, even though there was apparently very little killing involved, but just the fear of one. And yet now, Uber is a 60-some billion-dollar company that’s basically all about using technology to lure a complete stranger into your car. Which, I guess, argues, if nothing else, the fact that technology can be harnessed very much in either direction.

HALPERN: That’s right. Indeed, so, as you say, there’s actually two points here, and there’s a really important behavioral one, which I think we’ve only figured out in recent years to bring together these different literatures, how does it relate to behavioral scientists versus those people studying social capital? We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings. So why is that relevant and why does this have to do with technology? Actually, technology can help you solve some of those issues. So when you’re buying something on eBay or you’re trying to decide where to go using, you know Trip Advisor, you’re actually getting some much better information from the experiences of other people as opposed to your guesstimate, which is often systematically biased. So it turns out it’s a way we can sometimes use technology to solve some of these trust issues. Not just in relation to specific products and “Should I buy this thing from this person?” but, potentially, more generally in relation to how do we trust other people because, ultimately, this social trust question must rest on something. It must be a measure of actual trustworthiness. "
trust  diversity  socialtrust  2016  us  society  socialunity  via:davidtedu  trustworthiness  socialcapital  australia  uk  netherlands  davidhalpern  stephendubner  bobputnam  italy  corruption  socialnetworks  civics  government  governance  community  brazil  brasil  norway  edglaeser  tobymoscowitz  hunterwendelstedt  ethnicity  stockholm  education  colleges  universities  military  athletics  multiculturalism  culture  law  economics  behavior  technology  videogames  socialmedia  television  tv  toolsforconviviality  hitchhiking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Can I Be Honest? | Online Only | n+1
"WE WERE TESTING WHETHER THE FASCINATOR on Amanda McIllmurray’s head, which spelled out the phrase “War Hawk,” would attract journalists the same way a similar sign had earlier in the week. The previous sign was more straightforward—it had simply read “Bernie.” But nothing happened as we strolled around the corridor of the arena, proving, it seemed, how fickle and thoughtless the press were. Then everyone materialized at once, pressing cameras and microphones and tape recorders. “Are you ‘Bernie or Bust’?” one of them asked, eager and hopeful. She was, Amanda said, in the sense that she would always support Sanders and the movement he helped start, but she would vote for Hillary Clinton in November. “I like that, that’s a really smart position!” the journalist said, but apparently not enough to record. The official DNC Microsoft Skype recording studio asked her to sit for an interview and talk about her experience as a delegate from Pennsylvania at the convention. “Can I be honest?” she asked.

From the campaign through the last day of the convention, it has been one endless season of parental scolding for the Sanders supporters, from Clinton’s comment that Sanders needed “to do his homework” to Sarah Silverman informing the delegates chanting Ber-NIE that they were “being ridiculous,” prompting Al Franken—one of the convention’s many primetime dad-jokers—to bang the podium with his palms. Aggressions, micro- and macro-, were rampant. Sandy Watters, a delegate from Minnesota, reported getting screamed at by Clinton delegates for holding up an anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership sign. Like many Sanders delegates, it was her first national convention, but not her first convention: one had to go through municipal and state party conventions to arrive at the DNC. What made the DNC different was the intense overaccumulation of scrutiny—the sense, thanks to media and social media, that her every move was being relentlessly judged, and argument was forbidden.

There were other ways of making the Sanders delegates feel unwelcome. On Thursday, the DNC hadn’t bothered to inform McIllmurray, a delegate whip, that they’d moved the gavel time back, from 4:30 PM to 4. She found out from the Clinton delegates. She nonetheless got to the arena an hour early, but her delegation seating area had already been filled with Clinton “honored guests” as a way of keeping the Sanders people out. As she settled on a place for her disabled friend, who was confined to a wheelchair, she found herself confronted by Blondell Reynolds Brown, a Philadelphia councilwoman, who claimed that the seats belonged to her. They argued: Amanda said that this was discrimination against a disabled person, and an aide to Brown told Amanda she should watch herself, she was talking to a councilwoman. Amanda let her know that she knew very well: she had voted for her, though she probably wouldn’t next time. Once they had found other aisle seats, security forcibly moved them yet again. After being moved once more, they found seats secluded and unchallenged in the rear of the Arkansas delegation. Amanda had contemplated various forms of protest, but all proved logistically difficult. The evening’s discord was, for the most part, limited to signs protesting the TPP: “Walk the Walk,” and “Keep Your Promises.” By never mentioning the TPP in her speech, Clinton signaled that she would contravene the last.

One of the things the Clinton Democrats lorded over the Sanders supporters, and indeed over Trump, was their superior and more committed chauvinism. It was a sign of their adulthood, which they blared in alternately childlike and violent phraseology. America was already great, it was the greatest country on this planet. “This is the greatest nation on earth, a nation that so many are willing to die defending,” said Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois congresswoman and a candidate for Senate there. The Democrats would secure Israel’s future, they would destroy ISIS, they would honor and strengthen our commitment to our allies.

But it would all be moral. Our armed forces, General John Allen said, “will not be ordered to engage in murder,” a statement that will be falsified the moment Clinton orders her first drone strike. During his speech, in a spirit of savagery equal to anything at the Republican National Convention, pro-Clinton delegates shouted “U-S-A” at protesters holding up their fingers in peace signs. I saw one man in the Florida delegation get up on his chair to get in better chanting position, prompting his antagonist to get up as well, before they were both gently pulled down by friends. And this was for the candidate who had protested the Vietnam War and campaigned for Eugene McCarthy. Even the searing dignity of Khizr Khan’s speech memorializing his son, Humayun Khan, in which he called Hillary Clinton “the healer,” obscured the uncomfortable fact that Humayun had been killed while serving in the occupation of Iraq, the most consequential and terrible vote Clinton had ever cast.

Throughout the week, Clinton’s resume was marshaled to portray her as a social justice crusader and a champion of children and the woman you come to for solace. She was the most qualified candidate in history, it was said, a line that was as grueling to hear as the task must have been for Clinton to accomplish. We heard countless times about Clinton’s time forsaking a corporate job for the Children’s Defense Fund—though we didn’t hear that it, too, would be forsaken less than a year in, when Clinton left to join the team prosecuting the Watergate case, and subsequently worked for a corporate law firm. (Her mentor, Marian Wright Edelman, had for a time abjured her relationship with Clinton over welfare reform.) Her attempt at health care reform having foundered, she at least delivered insurance to children—a genuine success. To underscore it, there were photos of children, and videos of parents speaking to children, and videos of children watching Trump, and videos of children speaking to Hillary: so many children that it began to resemble a 34-year old’s Facebook feed. “Any parent knows your every dream for the future beats in the heart of your child,” Morgan Freeman intoned over a video introducing Hillary, an inadvertent condemnation, perhaps, of any child that dares to dream of a future differently from their parents. Clinton’s own child, serenely inexpressive but quavering, introduced her by speaking about her child, who loves Elmo, blueberries, and FaceTiming with grandma.

When grandma arrived, she brought with her the Clinton gift for noncommittal discourse. I had a sharp pang when Clinton mentioned—halfway through her abstract, mealy-mouthed, and woodenly-delivered speech—that she was the first woman candidate of a major party, which was then vitiated by her strange assertion that she would work to ensure every woman “has the opportunity she deserves to have.” But what does she deserve to have? We’re going “to raise the minimum wage to a living wage” (but how much?). We’re going to ensure “the right to affordable health care” (but how much is affordable?). “We must keep supporting Israel’s security,” and even this—the most predictable aspect of her presidency—was strangely without substance. I imagined her FaceTiming with her grandchild, saying “I look forward to committing ourselves to playing with some toys.” In a way, Ted Danson—one of the week’s many arbitrary celebrities—had prepared us best for this drab performance, when he said, gnomically, “Hers is the poetry of doing.” But doing what?

The evening’s earlier session on economic justice had been heartening, exuding the influence of Occupy Wall Street (Clinton bracingly made reference in her remarks to the top 1 percent—though not the bottom 99) and the Fight for 15. The Reverend William Barber, delivering a barnstorming oration, spoke forthrightly about fighting for “$15 and a union.” Tim Ryan, a representative from Ohio, began his speech by describing a long car ride with his father to multiple grocery stores on the outskirts of town—all because the meat cutters’ union was on strike, and they had to avoid crossing a picket line.

I wondered what the delegates thought of this, since hundreds of them had crossed a taxi-workers picket line when they arrived at a welcome party sponsored by Uber. Clinton had affirmed the Democratic Party as the party of “working people,” but earlier in the evening, when California congressman Xavier Becerra asked “Who here makes a living with their hands?” the arena responded with silence. Long gone—partly thanks to the Clintons, though it goes as far back as the candidacy of Stevenson—was the Democratic Party in which Harry Truman could say as a matter of course, that a particular “Republican rich man’s tax bill . . . sticks a knife into the back of the poor.” The line of the week, and maybe beyond that, belonged to the great Jesse Jackson, who said, with a glint, “the Bern must never grow cold.” Among all the speakers, he alone probably understood what Sanders and his supporters were feeling, and he gave them the truest form of solace: solidarity."
nikilsaval  elections  hillaryclinton  2016  berniesanders  democrats  campaigning  campaignfinance  money  influence  corruption  solidarity  uber  labor  tpp  condescencion  williambarber 
july 2016 by robertogreco
welcome to the future – Fredrik deBoer
"For several decades, neoliberal politicians worked tirelessly to remove any checks to our systems of financial speculation, causing the inflation of massive bubbles, driven by elite greed. They simultaneously shredded the social safety nets that would allow the lower classes to better endure the consequences of the inevitable collapse of those bubbles. The bubbles did collapse. The lower classes were devastated with unemployment, instability, and economic hopelessness. Those same elites responded by insisting that the only path forward was deeper austerity, even more vicious cuts to our already-tattered redistributive systems. Anger, naturally, grew. Nativist, nationalist demagogues responded by seizing on this anger, telling ignored and marginalized people that their problems were the fault of even-more-marginalized minorities, migrants, and refugees. Their political adversaries, rather than appealing to those angry people by offering them an economic platform that works for them and by arguing that their best interests are also the best interests of those minorities, migrants, and refugees, have doubled down on austerity politics and have dismissed those voters as deluded racists who are not fit to be appealed to. In general, liberals have entrenched deeper and deeper into geographical and social bubbles that permit them to ignore vast swaths of increasingly-embittered voters. They thus ensure that those many among the angry people who are not in fact incorrigible racists but who could be convinced to join forces for a political movement of shared prosperity never do so. The worst people appeal to the desperate, while their political opponents dismiss that desperation, and the outcome is predictable.

This is the future of the West: a contest between elitist greed and populist proto-fascism. On one side, the limitless self-interest of a financial and social elite that has created not only an economic system that siphons more and more money into their own pockets but also a bizarre, jury-rigged ideology of cultural liberalism divorced from any foundations in economic egalitarianism which argues that anyone who opposes the neoliberal order is not worthy even of trying to convince. On the other side, an increasingly-unhinged movement of racist grievance-mongering and fear-stoking populist demagoguery, which utilizes the age-old tactic of pitting different groups of poor people against each other to powerful effect, helped immensely by the corruption and callousness of the pro-austerity class. These sides share nothing except for an absolute commitment to preventing the kind of robustly redistributive platform of economic and social justice that could unite the needs of all suffering people into a formidable political bloc that is devoted to opposing austerity, inequality, racism, sexism, nativism, nationalism, and the rest of humanity’s political ills.

The choice humanity had was between socialism and barbarism. Decades of neoliberalism have ensured that we’ve chosen the latter. The choice ahead is less substantive and more aesthetic: which would you prefer crushing down on your neck, the combat boot of a fascist or the business shoe of a plutocrat?"
freddiedeboer  politics  neoliberalism  history  2016  policy  us  humanity  socialism  barbarism  bubbles  economics  greed  elitism  socialsafetynet  inequality  class  classism  marginalization  austertity  brexit  fascism  corruption  finance  capitalism  self-interest  eglitarianism  socialjustice  racism  sexism  nativism  nationalism  plutocracy  desperation 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions
"IN SUM, THE West’s establishment credibility is dying, and their influence is precipitously eroding — all deservedly so. The frenetic pace of online media makes even the most recent events feel distant, like ancient history. That, in turn, makes it easy to lose sight of how many catastrophic and devastating failures Western elites have produced in a remarkably short period of time.

In 2003, U.S. and British elites joined together to advocate one of the most heinous and immoral aggressive wars in decades: the destruction of Iraq; that it turned out to be centrally based on falsehoods that were ratified by the most trusted institutions, as well as a complete policy failure even on its own terms, gutted public trust.

In 2008, their economic worldview and unrestrained corruption precipitated a global economic crisis that literally caused, and is still causing, billions of people to suffer — in response, they quickly protected the plutocrats who caused the crisis while leaving the victimized masses to cope with the generational fallout. Even now, Western elites continue to proselytize markets and impose free trade and globalization without the slightest concern for the vast inequality and destruction of economic security those policies generate."



"Because that reaction is so self-protective and self-glorifying, many U.S. media elites — including those who knew almost nothing about Brexit until 48 hours ago — instantly adopted it as their preferred narrative for explaining what happened, just as they’ve done with Trump, Corbyn, Sanders, and any number of other instances where their entitlement to rule has been disregarded. They are so persuaded of their own natural superiority that any factions who refuse to see it and submit to it prove themselves, by definition, to be regressive, stunted, and amoral."



"BUT THERE’S SOMETHING deeper and more interesting driving the media reaction here. Establishment journalistic outlets are not outsiders. They’re the opposite: They are fully integrated into elite institutions, are tools of those institutions, and thus identify fully with them. Of course they do not share, and cannot understand, anti-establishment sentiments: They are the targets of this establishment-hating revolt as much as anyone else. These journalists’ reaction to this anti-establishment backlash is a form of self-defense. As NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen put it last night, “Journalists today report on hostility to the political class, as if they had nothing to do with it,” but they are a key part of that political class and, for that reason, “if the population — or part of it — is in revolt against the political class, this is a problem for journalism.”

There are many factors explaining why establishment journalists now have almost no ability to stem the tide of anti-establishment rage, even when it’s irrational and driven by ignoble impulses. Part of it is that the internet and social media have rendered them irrelevant, unnecessary to disseminate ideas. Part of it is that — due to their distance from them — they have nothing to say to people who are suffering and angry about it other than to scorn them as hateful losers. Part of it is that journalists — like anyone else — tend to react with bitterness and rage, not self-assessment, as they lose influence and stature.

But a major factor is that many people recognize that establishment journalists are an integral part of the very institutions and corrupted elite circles that are authors of their plight. Rather than being people who mediate or inform these political conflicts, journalists are agents of the forces that are oppressing them. And when journalists react to their anger and suffering by telling them that it’s invalid and merely the byproduct of their stupidity and primitive resentments, that only reinforces the perception that journalists are their enemy, thus rendering journalistic opinion increasingly irrelevant.

Brexit — despite all of the harm it is likely to cause and despite all of the malicious politicians it will empower — could have been a positive development. But that would require that elites (and their media outlets) react to the shock of this repudiation by spending some time reflecting on their own flaws, analyzing what they have done to contribute to such mass outrage and deprivation, in order to engage in course correction. Exactly the same potential opportunity was created by the Iraq debacle, the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Trumpism and other anti-establishment movements: This is all compelling evidence that things have gone very wrong with those who wield the greatest power, that self-critique in elite circles is more vital than anything.

But, as usual, that’s exactly what they most refuse to do. Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, they are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to de-legitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures that there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future."
glenngreenald  economics  europe  politics  brexit  2016  vincentbevins  michaelsandel  elitism  garyyounge  ianjack  jeremycorbyn  hillaryclinton  donaltrump  neoliberalism  policy  government  eu  uk  us  establishment  inequality  greatrecession  2008  freemarket  markets  finance  refugees  iraq  libya  tonyblair  financialcrisis  disenfranchisement  alienation  corruption  journalism  media  jayrosen  class  classism  globalization  insularity  oppression  authority  berniesanders  christopherhayes  capitalism  nationalism  racism  xenophobia  condescension  michaeltracey  authoritarianism  fascism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
American Capitalism’s Great Crisis | TIME
"America’s economic problems go far beyond rich bankers, too-big-to-fail financial institutions, hedge-fund billionaires, offshore tax avoidance or any particular outrage of the moment. In fact, each of these is symptomatic of a more nefarious condition that threatens, in equal measure, the very well-off and the very poor, the red and the blue. The U.S. system of market capitalism itself is broken.

[…]

America’s economic illness has a name: financialization. It’s an academic term for the trend by which Wall Street and its methods have come to reign supreme in America, permeating not just the financial industry but also much of American business. It includes everything from the growth in size and scope of finance and financial activity in the economy; to the rise of debt-fueled speculation over productive lending; to the ascendancy of shareholder value as the sole model for corporate governance; to the proliferation of risky, selfish thinking in both the private and public sectors; to the increasing political power of financiers and the CEOs they enrich; to the way in which a “markets know best” ideology remains the status quo. Financialization is a big, unfriendly word with broad, disconcerting implications.

[…]

The changes were driven by the fact that in the 1970s, the growth that America had enjoyed following World War II began to slow. Rather than make tough decisions about how to bolster it (which would inevitably mean choosing among various interest groups), politicians decided to pass that responsibility to the financial markets. Little by little, the Depression-era regulation that had served America so well was rolled back, and finance grew to become the dominant force that it is today. The shifts were bipartisan, and to be fair they often seemed like good ideas at the time; but they also came with unintended consequences.

[…]

This sickness, not so much the product of venal interests as of a complex and long-term web of changes in government and private industry, now manifests itself in myriad ways: a housing market that is bifurcated and dependent on government life support, a retirement system that has left millions insecure in their old age, a tax code that favors debt over equity. Debt is the lifeblood of finance; with the rise of the securities-and-trading portion of the industry came a rise in debt of all kinds, public and private. That’s bad news, since a wide range of academic research shows that rising debt and credit levels stoke financial instability. And yet, as finance has captured a greater and greater piece of the national pie, it has, perversely, all but ensured that debt is indispensable to maintaining any growth at all in an advanced economy like the U.S., where 70% of output is consumer spending. Debt-fueled finance has become a saccharine substitute for the real thing, an addiction that just gets worse. (The amount of credit offered to American consumers has doubled in real dollars since the 1980s, as have the fees they pay to their banks.)

[…]

Remooring finance in the real economy isn’t as simple as splitting up the biggest banks (although that would be a good start). It’s about dismantling the hold of financial-oriented thinking in every corner of corporate America. It’s about reforming business education, which is still permeated with academics who resist challenges to the gospel of efficient markets in the same way that medieval clergy dismissed scientific evidence that might challenge the existence of God. It’s about changing a tax system that treats one-year investment gains the same as longer-term ones, and induces financial institutions to push overconsumption and speculation rather than healthy lending to small businesses and job creators. It’s about rethinking retirement, crafting smarter housing policy and restraining a money culture filled with lobbyists who violate America’s essential economic principles.

It’s also about starting a bigger conversation about all this, with a broader group of stakeholders. The structure of American capital markets and whether or not they are serving business is a topic that has traditionally been the sole domain of “experts”—the financiers and policymakers who often have a self-interested perspective to push, and who do so in complicated language that keeps outsiders out of the debate. When it comes to finance, as with so many issues in a democratic society, complexity breeds exclusion. "

[via: http://finalbossform.com/post/146159698129/americas-economic-problems-go-far-beyond-rich ]
ranafarhoo  culture  economics  us  capitalism  banking  taxes  accounting  policy  politics  finance  banks  hedgefunds  inequality  financialization  wallstreet  debt  speculation  interestgroups  corruption  government  instability  regulation  democracy  markets 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Ruling Classroom | Jigsaw Productions
"The Ruling Classroom is an in-depth look at teacher George Muldoon’s experiment with his class at California’s Mill Valley Middle School in 1979. The class creates a simulation of American society, only to see it end in corruption at the highest levels of “government,” complete with its own “Kidgate” scandal. As soon as the kids write their own laws, and start their own businesses, the problems arise: white-collar crime emerges, a group of students attempt to monopolize resources, and the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” grows. The experiment is halted when a child writes an article in the school paper about a teacher slapping a student, and the familiar but make-believe world comes crashing down."
film  1979  documentary  towatch  teaching  education  corruption  government  georgemuldoon  kidgate  simulations 
april 2016 by robertogreco
I Used to Be In Love With Hillary Clinton | theindependentthinker2016
"I used to be in love with Hillary Clinton.

These days, not so much.

It always hurts when you allow yourself to be duped.

I didn’t really know Hillary.

I projected my wants onto her.

I believed that she represented me and when I found out that she didn’t it hurt.

I’ve moved on and I sincerely hope others will learn the things that I did.

I do not believe that Hillary supporters are bad people.

I believe they are just like I was.

Life is busy.

Who has time to research politicians.

Pretty lies are more fun than ugly truths.



But I can’t support someone who has done the things she has done.

Maybe you will think I am just a scorned, former lover.

All I know is that the more I learned, the more it hurt me to see someone with so many people looking up to her, do things that hurt so many.

I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.

I cannot live with blood on my hands."
2016  hillaryclinton  us  politics  policy  corruption  money  campaignfinance  tpp  prisonindustrialcomplex  inequality  welfare  taxes  unions  labor  walmart  monsanto  climatechange  arms  miltary  democrats  podestagroup  childlabor  wallstreet  finance  racism  doma  iraq  history  libya  syria  campaigning  vicitmblaming  gender  feminism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015: The Business of Ed-Tech
"Beyond VC Funding

“US education is a $1.5 trillion industry and growing at 5 percent annually,” McKinsey wrote excitedly this summer. Of course, venture capital is just one source of the money that’s pouring into ed-tech. There’s government funding, of course. There’s personal spending. And there’s lots and lots of “philanthropy.”

The Gates Foundation is perhaps the most famous of these philanthropic organizations, having spent billions of dollars pushing various education initiatives. In October, Bill Gates gave what Education Week observed was “his first major speech on education in seven years,” and indicated his foundation would “double down” on teacher preparation and common academic standards.

The other two giants in education foundations: the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

In September, the LA Times obtained a memo written by the Broad Foundation, outlining its $490 million plan to put half of LAUSD students in charter schools. The memo “lays out a strategy for moving forward, including how to raise money, recruit and train teachers, provide outreach to parents and navigate the political battle that will probably ensue.” It cites several large foundations and California multi-millions who could be tapped for more financial support.

[image: @EdSurge tweet: “Melinda Gates is saying that the role of foundations is to direct where government funding goes #GatesEd"]

And this underscores one of the major criticisms of these philanthropic efforts: they are profoundly anti-democratic. As John Cassidy wrote in The New Yorker earlier this month, “people like Zuckerberg and Gates, by virtue of their philanthropic efforts, can have a much bigger say in determining policy outcomes than ordinary citizens can.”

Zuckerberg’s name is next to Gates’ in that sentence because he has signed the “Giving Pledge,” Gates’ and fellow billionaire Warren Buffet’s challenge to the 1% to give away at least half of their wealth. After the birth of his daughter this fall, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan wrote her a letter (and posted it on Facebook, of course). In covering the contents of the letter, the New York Times got the headline totally wrong: “Mark Zuckerberg Vows to Donate 99% of His Facebook Shares for Charity.” The paper later clarified that it’s not a charity but an LLC – a “$45 billion tax loophole,” some suggested. Headlines from Gawker: “Mark Zuckerberg Will Donate Massive Fortune to Own Blinkered Worldview.” And from Rolin Moe: “You’re Not an Asshole, Mark Zuckerberg. You’re Just Wrong..”

Among the projects that the new Zuckerberg Chan Initiative will fund: “personalized learning” (whatever the hell that means).

Zuckerberg’s interest in such a thing is no doubt connected to investments that he’s already made – in the private school AltSchool, for example. And in September, Facebook announced that it had been working on building software for the Summit charter school chain. “Facebook’s move into education may be unexpected, but it seems to be sincere,” wrote The Verge’s Casey Newton about the collaboration in an article that’s not much more than a “longform expanded version of the Facebook press release.”

Joining Gates and Zuckerberg in venture philanthropy is Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’ widow. Her organization, the Emerson Collective, announced a campaign – XQ: The Super School Project – to get folks to “rethink high school.” 5 of the “best ideas” will receive a share of the $50 million Jobs has earmarked for the project. The Emerson Collective also invested in AltSchool and Udacity this year to give you an idea of what “best ideas” might look like.

“I can conceive of no greater mistake… than that of trying to make charity do the work of justice” – William Jewett Tucker"



"All the Best Ed-Tech Narratives Money Can Buy

All this business. All this disruptive innovation. It’s just magnific… Wait, what? Academic research challenging Clayton Christensen’s famous business school concept outlined in The Innovator’s Dilemma and applied to education in Disrupting Class and The Innovative University and invoked by just about every ed-tech entrepreneur and investor ever? Oh yes please.

Jill Lepore had already skewered the idea in The New Yorker last year. I wrote a little something on the topic back in 2013.

But now, as The Chronicle of Education wrote in September,
a new paper, the most extensive test yet of Christensen’s theory, may prove more difficult to dismiss. Andrew A. King, a professor at the Dartmouth College business school, and Baljir Baatartogtokh, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, spent two years digging into disruption, interviewing scores of experts, trying to determine whether 77 of Christensen’s own examples conformed to his theory, studies involving big names like Ford, McDonald’s, and Google, along with lesser-known makers of blood-glucose meters and blended plastics. Only a tiny minority – 9 percent – fit Christensen’s criteria. Disruption is real but rare, King and Baatartogtokh conclude, which suggests that it’s at best a marginally useful explanation of how innovation happens.

King says he’s not out to take down Christensen, although that may be what he’s done. Instead, he wants to prove a point. “A theory is like a weed,” King says. “Unless it is pruned back by empirical testing, it will grow to fill any void.”

Much like the business of ed-tech…"
philanthropy  philanthrocapitalism  capitalism  siliconvalley  audreywatters  2015  edtech  education  charities  charitableindustrialcomplex  corruption  policy  billgates  gatesfoundation  facebook  markzuckerberg  priscillachan  power  influence  democracy  melindagates  williamjewett  charity  justice  technology  johncassidy  rolinmoe  zuckerbergchaninitiative  broadfoundation  elibroad  altschool  summitcharterschools  udacity  emersoncollective  venturephilanthropy  vc  disruption  disruptiveinnovation  innovation  claytonchristensen  andrewking  baljirbaatartogtokh  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control  charterschools 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Mark Zuckerberg and the Rise of Philanthrocapitalism - The New Yorker
"The announcement, on Tuesday, by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, that, during their lifetimes, they will donate to philanthropic causes roughly ninety-nine per cent of their Facebook stock, which is currently valued at close to forty-five billion dollars, has already prompted a lot of comment, much of it positive. That is understandable. The fact that Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and a number of other billionaires are pledging their fortunes to charity rather than seeking to pass them down to their descendants is already having an impact.

Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was founded in 2000, dispensed almost four billion dollars in grants. A big slug of this money went toward fighting diseases like H.I.V., malaria, polio, and tuberculosis, which kill millions of people in poor countries. Zuckerberg and Chan have also already donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various causes, including eradicating the Ebola virus. In their latest announcement, which they presented as an open letter to their newborn daughter, on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page, they said that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the new philanthropic organization that they are setting up, would focus on “advancing human potential and promoting equality.”

It’s not just the size of the donations that the wealthy are making that demands attention, though. Charitable giving on this scale makes modern capitalism, with all of its inequalities and injustices, seem somewhat more defensible. Having created hugely successful companies that have generated almost unimaginable wealth, Zuckerberg, Gates, and Buffett are sending a powerful message to Wall Street hedge-fund managers, Russian oligarchs, European industrialists, Arab oil sheiks, and anybody else who has accumulated a vast fortune: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Speaking at Harvard in 2007, Gates attributed this quotation to his dying mother. (A slightly different version of it appears in St. Luke’s gospel.) In 2010, Gates and Buffett challenged fellow members of the ultra-rich club to give away at least half of their wealth. Since then, more than a hundred billionaires have signed the “Giving Pledge.” Some of these mega-donors, such as Buffett, are content to let others direct their donations. (In 2006, he signed over much of his fortune to the Gates Foundation.) Increasingly, however, wealthy people are setting up their own philanthropic organizations and pursuing their own causes—a phenomenon that has been called “philanthrocapitalism.”

That is the positive side. It is also worth noting, however, that all of this charitable giving comes at a cost to the taxpayer and, arguably, to the broader democratic process. If Zuckerberg and Chan were to cash in their Facebook stock, rather than setting it aside for charity, they would have to pay capital-gains tax on the proceeds, money that could be used to fund government programs. If they willed their wealth to their descendants, then sizable estate taxes would become due on their deaths. By making charitable donations in the form of stock, they, and their heirs, could escape both of these levies.

The size and timing of the tax benefits to Zuckerberg and Chan are uncertain, but they are likely to be large. In the initial version of this post, based on the open letter Zuckerberg and Chan posted on his Facebook page, and on the opinions of several tax experts, I said that the couple, in donating stock to the new philanthropic organization, would gain immediate tax credits equal to the market value of the stock, some of which could be rolled over into future tax years. Typically, that is what happens when a rich person donates stock to a family foundation or to certain types of L.L.C.s constituted for philanthropic purposes, such as ones owned by family foundations.

On Wednesday, in a follow-up post on Facebook, Zuckerberg provided more details about the couple’s plans. Evidently, the L.L.C. that he and Chan are setting up will not be seeking tax-exempt status. “By using an LLC instead of a traditional foundation, we receive no tax benefit from transferring our shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, but we gain flexibility to execute our mission more effectively,” Zuckerberg wrote. “In fact, if we transferred our shares to a traditional foundation, then we would have received an immediate tax benefit, but by using an LLC we do not.”

Even if the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative doesn’t obtain tax-exempt status, over time its activities will most likely have a big impact on the taxes its founders pay. The I.R.S. treats ordinary L.L.C.s as “pass-through” structures, and shifting financial assets to such entities doesn’t usually generate any immediate credits or liabilities. But whenever the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative issues grants to nonprofit organizations, it will almost certainly do so by donating some of its Facebook stock, and that will generate tax credits for Zuckerberg and Chan equal to the market value of the stock at that time. As the years go by and the Initiative steps up its charitable activities, these credits seem likely to add up to very large sums.

Unlike a regular family foundation, the L.L.C. may also generate some tax liabilities for Zuckerberg and Chan. If it invested in a commercial enterprise, such as an online-learning company, taxes would be owed on any profits the investment generated. And if, as Zuckerberg also pointed out, the L.L.C. sold some of the Facebook shares that he and Chan have donated to it, they would have to pay capital-gains taxes on the proceeds. But since the couple will control the L.L.C., they will be able to decide how it finances itself, and whether it sells any stock.”

If what Zuckerberg is doing were an isolated example, it wouldn’t matter much for over-all tax revenues. But the practice is spreading at a time when the distribution of wealth is getting ever more lopsided, which means the actions of a small number of very rich people can have a bigger impact. In 2012, according to

By transferring almost all of their fortunes to philanthropic organizations, billionaires like Zuckerberg and Gates are placing some very large chunks of wealth permanently outside the reaches of the Internal Revenue Service. That means the country’s tax base shrinks. As yet, I haven’t seen any estimates of the over-all cost to the Treasury, but it’s an issue that can’t be avoided. And it raises the broader question, which the economists Thomas Piketty and Anthony Atkinson, among others, have raised, of whether we need a more comprehensive tax on wealth.

Arguably, there is another issue at stake, too: democracy.

Although organizations like the Gates Foundation portray themselves as apolitical, nonpartisan entities, they aren’t completely removed from politics. Far from it. The Gates Foundation, for example, has been a big financial supporter of charter schools, standardized testing, and the Common Core. (It has also given some money to public schools.) Zuckerberg, too, has also provided a lot of money to charter schools. They featured prominently in his costly and controversial effort to reform the public-school system in Newark, New Jersey, which Dale Russakoff wrote about in the magazine last year. In the letter posted on Facebook, Zuckerberg signalled that he isn’t done with such efforts. “We must participate in policy and advocacy to shape debates,” the letter said. “Many institutions are unwilling to do this, but progress must be supported by movements to be sustainable.”

My intention, here, isn’t to enter the education debate. It is simply to point out what should be obvious: people like Zuckerberg and Gates, by virtue of their philanthropic efforts, can have a much bigger say in determining policy outcomes than ordinary citizens can. (As Matthew Yglesias pointed out on Vox, one of the advantages of registering the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as an L.L.C. is that it can spend money on political ads.) The more money billionaires give to their charitable foundations, which in most cases remain under their personal control, the more influence they will accumulate. And relatively speaking, anyway, the less influence everybody else will have.

Some Americans—not all of them disciples of Ayn Rand—might say that this is a good thing. I have already cited some of the Gates Foundation’s good works. Isn’t Michael Bloomberg, with his efforts to reform gun laws, promoting the public interest? Isn’t George Soros, through his donations to civil-rights organizations, lining up on the side of the angels? In these two instances, my own answers would be yes and yes; but the broader point stands. The divide between philanthropy and politics is already fuzzy. As the “philanthrocapitalism” movement gets bigger, this line will be increasingly hard to discern.

So by all means, let us praise Zuckerberg and Chan for their generosity. And let us also salute Gates, who started the trend. But contrary to the old saying, this is one gift horse we should look closely in the mouth."

[via: http://hackeducation.com/2015/12/23/trends-business/ ]
philanthrocapitalism  charitableindustrialcomplex  2015  facebook  markzuckerberg  johncassidy  philanthropy  influence  corruption  democracy  power  charity  capitalism  gatesfoundation  taxes  billgates  thomaspiketty  inequality  anthonyatkinson  dalerussakoff  newjersey  education  michaelbloomberg  georgesoros  priscillachan  warrenbuffett  policy  politics  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Philanthropy Hustle | Jacobin
"Management scholars and investors champion the growth of charitable giving to corporations with terms like “philanthrocapitalism” and “shared value,” claiming with a nod to Adam Smith that market expansion is a naturally philanthropic process, contributing to rising living standards globally, and therefore tax-exempt gifts to wealthy companies shouldn’t be questioned but wholeheartedly embraced.

Business executives point enthusiastically to the “blurred” line between for-profit and nonprofit activities in order to justify the growing charity they receive.

“There are shifts in the world that are creating a much more sincere conversation between the development community, NGOs, governments, for-profits and the academy,” Walt Macnee, vice chairman at Mastercard, commented to media after receiving the Gates Foundation grant. “Corporations like ours understand we are all in this together.”

The rhetoric of Davos elites — overly confident ted Heads who descend on global summits proclaiming that the “revolutionary” rise of a new, market-driven, for-profit philanthropy will end poverty altogether isn’t new. During the mid-twentieth century, the belief that private interests inevitably yield public rewards was encompassed in a remark by the former General Motors CEO Charles Wilson, who claimed that what’s “good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Long derided as an exemplar of unbridled CEO hubris, in reality Wilson uttered the remark in a regretful manner during a confirmation hearing after his nomination as US Secretary of Defense. Asked about his competing roles as a business leader and an elected official, he said “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Such humility is absent from the rhetoric of today’s TED talkers: self-professed revolutionaries who parrot a super-charged version of Wilson’s conflation of private and public interest — what’s good for the next online education tech start-up is obviously good for American students and their counterparts across their globe.

Contrary to the conventional wealth-creation narrative, large multinationals are increasingly assuming less financial risk when it comes to investing their own capital — even as they reap excessive financial rewards by exploiting subsidies from the public sector and philanthropic foundations. Companies like Mastercard are just as bullish and self-satisfied about the charity they receive as the charity they give away.

But challenging the new corporate charity claimants will not, alone, mitigate the unrivalled power of large philanthropic funders to frame the terms of debate in the fields of education, health and global poverty or shape the policies of institutions such as the WHO.

Over a century ago, when Andrew Carnegie published his first “Wealth” essay suggesting that private philanthropy would solve the problem of rich and poor, he was met with fierce rebuke. “I can conceive of no greater mistake,” commented William Jewett Tucker, a theologian who went on to become president of Dartmouth College, “than that of trying to make charity do the work of justice.”

Today’s philanthrocrats share Carnegie’s gospel of wealth. To take back the mantle of justice and equality, the Left must delegitimize private foundations and refute the centrality of charity in solving the world’s most pressing problems."

[via: http://hackeducation.com/2015/12/23/trends-business/ ]
2015  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  economics  inequality  charity  linseymcgoey  philanthrocapitalism  capitalism  gatesfoundation  billgates  influence  corruption  policy  power  politics  democracy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The fanatic, fraudulent Mother Teresa.
"I think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great credit for, and owed its longevity to, its ability to handle and contain fanaticism. This rather oblique compliment belongs to a more serious age. What is so striking about the "beatification" of the woman who styled herself "Mother" Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the church, to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism.

It's the sheer tawdriness that strikes the eye first of all. It used to be that a person could not even be nominated for "beatification," the first step to "sainthood," until five years after his or her death. This was to guard against local or popular enthusiasm in the promotion of dubious characters. The pope nominated MT a year after her death in 1997. It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or "devil's advocate," to test any extraordinary claims. The pope has abolished this office and has created more instant saints than all his predecessors combined as far back as the 16th century.

As for the "miracle" that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn't have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican's investigators? No. (As it happens, I myself was interviewed by them but only in the most perfunctory way. The procedure still does demand a show of consultation with doubters, and a show of consultation was what, in this case, it got.)

According to an uncontradicted report in the Italian paper L'Eco di Bergamo, the Vatican's secretary of state sent a letter to senior cardinals in June, asking on behalf of the pope whether they favored making MT a saint right away. The pope's clear intention has been to speed the process up in order to perform the ceremony in his own lifetime. The response was in the negative, according to Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Canadian priest who has acted as postulator or advocate for the "canonization." But the damage, to such integrity as the process possesses, has already been done.

During the deliberations over the Second Vatican Council, under the stewardship of Pope John XXIII, MT was to the fore in opposing all suggestions of reform. What was needed, she maintained, was more work and more faith, not doctrinal revision. Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is "the greatest destroyer of peace," as MT fantastically asserted to a dumbfounded audience when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.* Believers are likewise enjoined to abhor and eschew divorce, but they are not required to insist that a ban on divorce and remarriage be a part of the state constitution, as MT demanded in a referendum in Ireland (which her side narrowly lost) in 1996. Later in that same year, she told Ladies’ Home Journal that she was pleased by the divorce of her friend Princess Diana, because the marriage had so obviously been an unhappy one …

This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

The rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for "the poorest of the poor." People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the "Missionaries of Charity," but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell's admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda.

One of the curses of India, as of other poor countries, is the quack medicine man, who fleeces the sufferer by promises of miraculous healing. Sunday was a great day for these parasites, who saw their crummy methods endorsed by his holiness and given a more or less free ride in the international press. Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality. Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of MT: Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions."
2003  motherteresa  christopherhitchens  poverty  catholicism  cotholicchurch  religion  sainthood  popejohnpaullii  beatification  india  corruption  biography 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Google’s insidious shadow lobbying: How the Internet giant is bankrolling friendly academics—and skirting federal investigations - Salon.com
"Google habitually increases their presence in Washington and the ivory tower whenever their business lines are at risk. In 2011-2012, when the FTC and multiple state investigations opened, Google more than doubled their lobbying expenses, hiring twelve outside lobbying firms and a former Congresswoman from New York, Susan Molinari. And with the FTC’s decision to not prosecute, Google’s activities clearly were money well spent. (Google did pay the FTC $22.5 million in a separate case about privacy violations.)

The growing peril of corporations buying off academics to support their perspective recently came to light when Senator Elizabeth Warren called out Robert Litan, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, for producing suspect industry-funded research. Litan was subsequently relieved of his position with Brookings. It should come as no surprise that Litan also received money from Google to issue a paper in May 2012.

Joshua Wright recently ended his tenure at the FTC, going back to George Mason to teach. With Google again threatened in the U.S. and Europe with additional lawsuits over anti-competitive practices, he is free to write on their behalf again and benefit from Google’s large storehouse of funds for academic underwriting."
google  lobbying  regulation  2015  policy  politics  influence  telecommunications  ftc  corruption  academia 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Lady Moustache: “Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance…”
"Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position, which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship.

For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence. If anything can denature, neutralize, and finally kill a passionate intellectual life it is the internalization of such habits. Personally I have encountered them in one of the toughest of all contemporary issues, Palestine, where fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual."

—Edward Said
edwardsaid  avoidance  principles  integrity  controversy  habitsofmind  corruption  intellect  habits  injustice 
october 2015 by robertogreco
HUMAN Extended version VOL.1 - YouTube
"What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight ? That we laugh ? Cry ? Our curiosity ? The quest for discovery ?

Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness.

Watch the 3 volumes of the film and experience #WhatMakesUsHUMAN.

The VOL.1 deals with the themes of love, women, work and poverty.

If you want to discover more contents, go on http://g.co/humanthemovie (https://humanthemovie.withgoogle.com/ )

Filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent 3 years collecting real-life emotional stories from more than 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Those emotions, those tears and smiles, those struggles and those laughs are the ones uniting us all. Watch the 3 volumes of HUMAN on YouTube and experience #WhatMakesUsHUMAN

“I dreamed of a film in which the power of words would resonate with the beauty of the world. The movie relates the voices of all those, men and women, who entrusted me with their stories. And it becomes their messenger.”"

[The YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJy4nUo1D4R3hlcP8XCLX9Q ]

[See also:

HUMAN Extended version VOL.2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShttAt5xtto

"The VOL.2 deals with the themes of war, forgiving, homosexuality, family and life after death."

HUMAN Extended version VOL.3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0653vsLSqE

"The VOL.3 deals with the themes of happiness, education, disability, immigration, corruption and the meaning of life."]
documentary  via:aram  2015  yannarthus-bertrand  love  life  living  human  humans  poverty  war  homophobia  domesticabuse  marriage  relationships  international  happiness  women  disability  education  corruption  meaningoflife  families  family  homosexuality  forgiveness  forgiving  death  afterlife  immigration  migration  disabilities 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Why company towns are bad for people | The Sacramento Bee
"City of Industry lives on incestuous ties between corporations and government

City embodies California’s tendency to hand over public institutions to private enterprise

City of Industry shows that we need to change how we think about government"



"Don’t expect much from the investigations. There have been about nine of them over the years. Although Stafford went to prison, the city of Industry’s structure has proven to be resilient. And business interests there find the city’s present configuration too good to give up.

To change the city of Industry, California would need to dismantle those specific technologies that have transformed governmental functions into property and that have, as a result, made so many California cities immune to meaningful reform. Industry’s most important strains of governmental DNA include its industrial-only purpose; creative boundary drawing that keeps out the meddling rabble; media narratives that code its recurring “corruption” scandals as breaches of individual morality; a model of city management that outsources municipal services to private contractors; the old California redevelopment laws and financing mechanisms that paid for its industrial development; and city charter laws that guarantee Industry its sovereignty in the face of repeated scandals.

The best way to address our city of Industry problem, in other words, is to change how we think about government. We need to shift our focus from blaming all systemic corruption on the moral failings of individuals, and look for the specific technologies that have made the privatization of government, from City Hall to the White House, seem natural and necessary."
losangeles  cityofindustry  lapunete  cities  companytowns  2015  victorvalle  via:javierarbona  california  government  corruption  corporations  corporatism  governance  privatization  property  management 
july 2015 by robertogreco
How a curmudgeonly old reporter exposed the FIFA scandal that toppled Sepp Blatter - The Washington Post
"If you can’t tell already, Jennings is an advocate of slow, methodical journalism. For half a century, the 71-year-old investigative reporter has been digging into complex, time-consuming stories about organized crime. In the 1980s, it was bad cops, the Thai heroin trade and the Italian mob. In the ’90s, he turned to sports, exposing corruption with the International Olympic Committee.

For the past 15 years, Jennings has focused on the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), international soccer’s governing body. As other journalists were ball watching — reporting scorelines or writing player profiles — Jennings was digging into the dirty deals underpinning the world’s most popular game.

“Credit in this saga should go to the dogged obsession of a single reporter, Andrew Jennings,” the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins wrote last week, citing in particular Jennings’s BBC “Panorama” film called “The Beautiful Bung: Corruption and the World Cup.”

Now, after decades of threats, suspicions about tapped phones and intermittent paychecks, Jennings is being vindicated with every twist and turn in the FIFA scandal."



"Shortly after Jennings spoke to The Washington Post, Sepp Blatter, just four days after being reelected, announced that he would be stepping down as president of FIFA. A special election will be called later this year. “It is my deep care for FIFA and its interests, which I hold very dear, that has led me to take this decision,” said Blatter, who has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime. “While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.”

As for the reporter behind the biggest sports scandal of the century, Jennings said he can retire soon knowing that his investigations led to real change.”Then I can do my garden up here in the hills and play with my lovely children,” he said, staring out his window at the English countryside.

“I’ve had satellite trucks blocking the quarter-mile drive up to my farm here in the hills” since the scandal broke, the freelance journalist said. “It’s great fun.”

After years of being barred from FIFA news conferences, Jennings said he’s looking forward to seeing the indicted executives in a U.S. court.

“I just hope I can afford the airfare to New York and that someone will let me sleep on their couch,” he said, “so that I can be there in the [courthouse] press box to say, ‘Hi guys! It’s been a long run, hasn’t it?’”"
slow  slojournalism  journalism  fifa  soccer  football  2015  corruption  scandal  reporting  andrewjennings  persistence  futbol  sports 
june 2015 by robertogreco
How Power Makes People Selfish - YouTube
"“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said the British historian Lord Acton. Unfortunately, this is not entirely a myth."

[via: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/content/how-power-makes-people-selfish ]
power  2015  behavior  psychology  control  selfishness  corruption 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Ferguson Report - The Atlantic
"The residents of Ferguson do not have a police problem. They have a gang problem. That the gang operates under legal sanction makes no difference. It is a gang nonetheless, and there is no other word to describe an armed band of collection agents."



"What are the tools in Ferguson to address the robber that so regularly breaks into my house? One necessary tool is suspicion and skepticism—the denial of the sort of the credit one generally grants officers of the state. When Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown there was little reason to credit his account, and several reasons to disbelieve it. The reason is not related to whether Michael Brown was "an angel" or not. The reasons are contained in a report rendered by the highest offices of the American government. Crediting the accounts of Ferguson's officers is a good way to enroll yourself in your own plunder and destruction.

Government, if its name means anything, must rise above those suspicions and that skepticism and seek out justice. And if it seeks to improve its name it must do much more—it must seek out the roots of the skepticism. The lack of faith among black people in Ferguson's governance, or in America's governance, is not something that should be bragged about. One cannot feel good about living under gangsters, and that is the reality of Ferguson right now.

The innocence of Darren Wilson does not change this fundamental fact. Indeed the focus on the deeds of alleged individual perpetrators, on perceived bad actors, obscures the broad systemic corruption which is really at the root. Darren Wilson is not the first gang member to be publicly accused of a crime he did not commit. But Darren Wilson was given the kind of due process that those of us who are often presumed to be gang members rarely enjoy. I do not favor lowering the standard of justice offered Officer Wilson. I favor raising the standard of justice offered to the rest of us."
2015  ta-nehisicoates  ferguson  race  racism  whitesupremacy  police  government  lawenforcement  corruption  oppression  injustice  darrenwilson  dueprocess  justice 
march 2015 by robertogreco
We will all be illiterate soon — Medium
"It all seems fairly intuitive: test the kids, measure their performances, find the pass rates for your teachers at each grade-level and school. A sixth-grader, after all, ought to do well on a sixth grade test.

But here’s the catch. At least in reading, schools and testing companies have been changing what it means to be on-grade-level from year to year. But how?

First, we must understand that schools’ tests are produced and marketed by commercial firms. Private companies like Pearson and Scholastic wield unconscionable powers of vendor lock-in, in public education. It’s not uncommon for school systems to buy products like leveled reading books, so-called “interventions,” curricula, electronic gradebooks, and student information management systems from the very companies that sell them tests. The resultant interoperability of these systems helps drive the sorting of our kids. Our kids’ test results drive the market for more Pearson and Scholastic products. We have legislated and acculturated ourselves to consumerist purchasing and sorting practices.

Next, it’s important to remember that reading levels are fairly arbitrary things. They’re social inventions. We didn’t have them once upon a time. They generally don’t account for growth without more context.

Most importantly, all of our tests reward privilege — and privileged kids generally don’t have much trouble scoring at or above grade level. Schools use tests to answer questions that inherently favor the privileged, like this: ‘Based on what we know about already successful readers, how should we judge the struggling ones?’ A better, more ethically sound question goes something like this: ‘How do make tests and schools that help all kids access everything we do (including reading), regardless of how well they read or perform on tests right now?’

And although we should know that reading levels are arbitrary and favor the privileged, we codify and enshrine them every chance we get."



Finally — and most insidiously — the SOL can be rewritten each year, changing the complexity of the tests. This lets us — or the interests we are beholden to — manufacture success and failure. Sometimes we do it for more ‘rigor.’ Sometimes we do it so that companies can field-test new products and technologies on our kids through tests we purchase from them. And I really can’t tell you more. I can’t even discuss a student’s performance with her parents in any meaningful way. If I look at a test item while a student is taking the test, I could lose my license. If I talk about the test with anyone, I could lose my license, too. I sign a paper that says I understand all of this weeks before I actually give any tests.

I cannot be clearer: these tests are designed to disempower schools and to convince us that we see and do during the school year is not what we have seen and done. It’s not a bad thing to want to make sure no child is “left behind” at school, but that is not what these tests do, despite all the double-speak we’ve heard about public education throughout its history in our nation.

Buy why does this really matter? Life goes on. School goes on. The kids on kid shows and the teens in teen movies go to school again and again and again. You can Netflix it.

It matters because schools are destroying literacy and imperiling our society more and more each day.

At the start of the 2012–2013 school year, my middle school English department colleagues and I got new Lexile cut-off scores that (we were told) our kids would have to reach, in order to stand a chance of passing their next SOL tests. When we looked at the scores, we saw that the new middle-school cut-off matched what had been defined, the year before, a 10th-grade reading level. Yes, we were told, that’s right, but the 8th grade reading test is now more rigorous because it’s written at a 10th grade Lexile.



"We have created a public education system designed to assess our students and teachers on measures we perpetually keep just out of reach, so that the most successful students, teachers, and schools have nothing to worry about while the least successful among us must worry constantly about whether we’re smart or not, under review or not, employed or not — worth something or not. We demand that the people we fail define self-worth as judged by us. Other kinds of literacy (or even last year’s literacy) simply need not apply.

With reading tests like this that at once erase meaningful, sustainable definitions of literacy and assure the privileged that they are the literate ones (whatever that may mean), we are creating a society that has no idea, generally, how people really learn or how we can learn despite our reading levels. We fetishize and gate-keep reading and writing, and behind the visible gates we’re building invisible ones. In the meantime, the privileged ‘literate,’ assured of their success, fail to see that they, too, are being cut off in the middle. On one side, the powerful keep them sated, at bay, entertained and provoked to look down on their fellows. On the other side, the disadvantaged, whose life experiences might help the broad middle question the ‘experts’ who run their lives, are held back by social structures like school as we have conceived it, and by the institutional prejudices those places breed. The institution here is not just school itself, but the white, middle class that has become its benchmark.

We are reinforcing a society in which the distant, powerful, and moneyed call the shots, in which the privileged middle classes believe they have power without knowing how, why, or what power is, and in which the disadvantaged, who understand all of this best of all, are cut off from the rest of society by tests — formal and informal — that say no matter what you’ve accomplished, you are not us. It’s gates and moving goalposts all the way down.

Those of us in schools, who live and work between the powerful and disadvantaged, have a special responsibility to cooperate in building communities instead of walls, to resist sorting mechanisms, and to teach the world as it is rather than as it’s portrayed in school media — both the materials we’re told to use in schools and the messages TV and cinema send about schools.

Otherwise, we will all be illiterate soon. We’ll continue building a system that assigns us our illiteracies at birth and reinforces them throughout our educations, careers, and civic lives, all in order to maintain the status quo."



"When people say we would have better schools if teachers did a better job, they miss the point. Teachers do an excellent job of doing what the system asks them to do. If we assessed teachers on how well they teach their assigned lessons, using their assigned texts, towards the taking of their assigned tests, we’d have to agree that our teachers do a wonderful job. That they do all of this and still don’t have the moving-goalpost test scores a politically-motivated, federal law from the 1990s tells us they should have is not a teacher problem. That they don’t have passion for a dispassionate machine isn’t a teacher problem. It is a system problem. It is a societal problem. It is an us problem. Only we don’t know it because, again, we will all be illiterate soon."



"When I think about the far future, I think about caring for others in the face of dying planets and suns, and about the kinds of wordless understandings and cooperation that we’ll have to maintain to partner with one another across incomprehensible distances, using technologies opaque to us and effortlessly transparent to our cosmic babies. I think that our present conception of literacy, for all the best reasons, will ultimately and rightfully be an impoverished one — or the root of a great and branching tree.

And though it seems at once a big thing for schooling to let go of power — to loosen its grip on a narrowly-defined literacy and a people being squeezed of life and meaning — it also seems like such a cosmically little thing to me, as just one teacher, that I wish I could give away so much more. Culpability and responsibility are only difficult to own so long as we insist on staying blind to the gifts they offer us — to readers’ inexhaustible capacity for change."
chadsansing  2014  testing  education  policy  privilege  literacy  corruption  sorting  grading  standardizedtesting  capitalism  lexilescores  publicschools  teaching  learning  schools  howweteach  howelearn  measurement 
december 2014 by robertogreco
“Two Cheers for Anarchism” reviewed
"There are lots of stories about follies arising from central planning. One such is that a factory was incentivized based on the number of shoes it manufactured. It ended up producing a lot of shoes — but only for left feet. Contracting out with performance measurement in ultra-modern capitalism can generate similar results, not least, God help us, in the public education of children. When you attach high stakes to a narrow measurement, hijinks ensue.

For Scott, performance measurement and testing are futile efforts by a state to regiment what would otherwise be more productive, creative, unplanned work. Such practices are an over-extension of meritocracy. Meritocracy is an improvement over rewards according to the accidents of birth, much less to predatory behavior. But meritocracy can degrade itself, as society’s winners massage the rules to perpetuate their privileges for their less-deserving descendants. Such practices of course build on the inherent advantages derived from gender, race, and class that provide unequal advantages in the establishment of merit.

One of Scott’s more compelling passages is about how the ubiquity of regimentation in schooling and large organizations, both public and private, for the purported exercise of a benign meritocracy, actually generates an attitude of fear and supplication that is not conducive to democratic citizenship.

Again I’ll resort to one of my pet peeves. The corruption of the American institution of the “town meeting.” In folklore, if not in fact, the town meeting was a setting where citizens gathered as equals and engaged in democratic discussion and debate. In small towns, familiarity made it difficult for people to promote their own narrow interests above those of the community, because everybody knew everybody else’s business.

These days the town meetings one usually finds are commanded by a local elected official. He or she controls the microphone. Constituents — supplicants, really — are allowed brief questions. Ushers will escort troublesome people out, aided if necessary by the local police. The fun part of these affairs is when control breaks down and critics reach critical mass. Meeting adjourned!"
jamescscott  2014  twocheersofranarchism  anarchism  meritocracy  education  townmeetings  democracy  us  society  governance  government  inequality  corruption  incentives  elites  control  power  piolicy 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Civil Forfeiture (HBO) - YouTube
"Did you know police can just take your stuff if they suspect it's involved in a crime? They can!
It’s a shady process called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it would make for a weird episode of Law and Order. See?"
civilforfeiture  johnoliver  lawenforcement  justice  law  legal  us  policy  politics  police  power  corruption  2014 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Gates Money Attempts to Shift the Education Conversation to Successes
In 2011, NBC news anchor Brian Williams stated during an Education Nation broadcast,
Gates Foundation, one of the sponsors of this event, and the largest single funder of education anywhere in the world. It’s their facts that we’re going to be referring to often to help along our conversation.

So money buys you the very facts that guide the public discourse!

It was often repeated and became widely accepted as a result of their campaign that “public education is broken.” This was the narrative that has allowed for wholesale experimentation in the deconstruction of public education. Now, the story is shifting, and the new narrative is “Reform is Working!”

Where do we go for facts? We go to journalists. We go to academics who are doing research. We go to “experts.”

When journalists and academics are challenged about the insidious effect this one-sided funding plays in the public arena, rarely is the problem acknowledged. The most common defense to this practice is “we have not changed what we believe or write because of the funding.” And this may, in large part, be true. But what happens when a whole sector of journalism becomes part of telling whatever story the sponsor wishes told?

And what happens when, out of a thousand articulate and passionate participants in a discussion about education, the fifty who are most closely aligned with the agenda of the Gates and Walton foundations find themselves showered with grant opportunities, enabling them to mount rapid response teams, conduct “research,” pose as unbiased “consumer reports” style reviewers of educational products, issue ratings of schools of education, and so forth."
edreform  journalism  bias  billgates  gatesfoundation  2014  power  influence  policy  corruption  education  funding  schools  via:Taryn 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Hullabaloo: Are we holding the leash or wearing the collar?
"Post-Reagan, deregulated capitalism has long looked like something out of Mary Shelley or science-fiction films, a creature we created, but no longer control. Billionaires and their acolytes see only its benefits, but as Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Ian Malcolm says in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, "Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that's how it always starts. Then later there's running, and then screaming." Where once We the People held capitalism's leash, now we wear the collar.

Whether it's turning your child's education from a shared public cost into a corporate profit center; or turning the principle of one-man, one-vote into one-dollar, one-vote; or carbon tax credits and accounting tricks for addressing rising sea levels; questioning the universal application of a business approach to any human need or problem prompts the challenge, "Do you have something against making a profit?" A more subtle form of red-baiting, this ploy is supposed to be a conversation stopper. Yes? You're a commie. Game over.

Maybe it's time our billionaire problem-solvers got over themselves."
2014  latecapitalism  corruption  inequality  economics  capitalism  tomsullivan  naomiklein  globalelite  commongood  publicgood  government  policy  regulation 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty - The Washington Post
"Until recently, the Florissant court was one of many that had barred outsiders from its proceedings. After critics like the ArchCity Defenders pointed out that this violated the Missouri Constitution, a circuit court judge ordered these towns to change their policies. Defense attorneys say some courts still haven’t gotten the message. But in Florissant, the city council had a particularly odd response to the order. Town officials claimed the old courtroom was too small to accommodate all the defendants and attorneys, plus journalists, families, and observers. In addition to moving its municipal court to a gymnasium, just last week the council voted to add a $10 fee to every ordinance violation to fund a new, larger courthouse.

After all the recent national attention on Ferguson, local attorneys are floored. “It’s just completely tone deaf,” says Khazaeli. “They got caught violating the law. So in response they’re going to build themselves a new courthouse, and they’re going to finance it on the backs of the poor. It’s incredible.”

Harvey says there’s a much easier way to address the crowded courthouse problem. “They could just hold more court sessions. That would easily take care of the overcrowding. It would also make life a little easier for the people who have to come to court. But that would cost the city money. So instead they’re just going to slap a new tax on the poor.”

Still, local attorneys say that even before the rule change, the lines for municipal court sessions in these towns — particularly the poorer towns — could often outside the courthouse doors and wind down sidewalks for blocks.

Florissant is one of the larger towns in the county, with a population of about 52,000. It’s also a bit more affluent, which an average household income above the state average, although its employment rate is slightly lower. Last year the town issued 29,072 tickets for traffic offenses. Florissant collected about $3 million in fines and court costs in fiscal year 2013, about 13 percent of its 2013 revenue. As of June of last year, Florissant’s municipal court also held more than 11,000 outstanding arrest warrants.

For comparison, consider Lee’s Summit, a suburb of Kansas City in Jackson County with a population of 92,000. Yet despite being nearly twice Florissant’s size, in 2013 Lee’s Summit issued a third as many traffic tickets (9,651), and collected less than half as much revenue from its municipal court ($1.44 million) as Florissant. As of June of last year, Lee’s Summit held 2,872 outstanding arrest warrants, only one fourth as many as Florissant.

There are many towns in St. Louis County where the number of outstanding arrest warrants can exceed the number of residents, sometimes several times over. No town in Jackson County comes close to that: The highest ratios are in the towns of Grandview (about one warrant for every 3.7 residents), Independence (one warrant for every 3.5 residents), and Kansas City itself (one warrant for every 1.8 residents).

Just inside the courthouse/gymnasium door in Florissant, two police officers and a court clerk check people in. In the middle of the gym, about 200 chairs sit neatly aligned in rows. Court has been in session for over an hour now, but most of the seats are still occupied. About 80 percent of the people in the gym tonight are black, even though blacks make up just 27 percent of the town. According to statistics compiled by Missouri’s attorney general’s office, 71 percent of the people pulled over by Florissant police in 2013 were black. The search and arrest rates for blacks were also twice as high as those rates for whites, even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband, a contradiction that has also been widely reported in Ferguson.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, blacks make up less than eight percent of the Florissant police force. The judge and both prosecutors are white. In nearly all the towns in St. Louis County, the prosecutors and judges in these courts are part-time positions, and are not elected, but appointed by the mayor, town council, or city manager. According to a recent white paper published by the ArchCity Defenders, the chief prosecutor in Florissant Municipal Court makes $56,060 per year. It’s a position that requires him to work 12 court sessions per year, at about three hours per session. The Florissant prosecutor is Ronald Brockmeyer, who also has a criminal defense practice in St. Charles County, and who is also the chief municipal prosecutor for the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood. He is also the judge – yes, the judge — in both Ferguson and Breckenridge Hills. Brockmeyer isn’t alone: Several other attorneys serve as prosecutor in one town and judge in another. And at least one St. Louis County assistant district attorney is also a municipal court judge.

“I had a felony criminal case in state court a few weeks ago,” says a local defense attorney, who asked not to be quoted by name. “Sometimes criminal cases can get contentious. You have to do everything you can to defend your client, and sometime your interaction with a prosecutor can get combative. A few days later, I was representing a client who had a few warrants in a municipal court where the same prosecutor I was just battling with is now the judge. Is my client is going to get a fair hearing? You hope so. But it sure looks like a conflict to me.”"

Florissant is one of the larger towns in the county, with a population of about 52,000. It’s also a bit more affluent, which an average household income above the state average, although its employment rate is slightly lower. Last year the town issued 29,072 tickets for traffic offenses. Florissant collected about $3 million in fines and court costs in fiscal year 2013, about 13 percent of its 2013 revenue. As of June of last year, Florissant’s municipal court also held more than 11,000 outstanding arrest warrants.

For comparison, consider Lee’s Summit, a suburb of Kansas City in Jackson County with a population of 92,000. Yet despite being nearly twice Florissant’s size, in 2013 Lee’s Summit issued a third as many traffic tickets (9,651), and collected less than half as much revenue from its municipal court ($1.44 million) as Florissant. As of June of last year, Lee’s Summit held 2,872 outstanding arrest warrants, only one fourth as many as Florissant.

There are many towns in St. Louis County where the number of outstanding arrest warrants can exceed the number of residents, sometimes several times over. No town in Jackson County comes close to that: The highest ratios are in the towns of Grandview (about one warrant for every 3.7 residents), Independence (one warrant for every 3.5 residents), and Kansas City itself (one warrant for every 1.8 residents).

Just inside the courthouse/gymnasium door in Florissant, two police officers and a court clerk check people in. In the middle of the gym, about 200 chairs sit neatly aligned in rows. Court has been in session for over an hour now, but most of the seats are still occupied. About 80 percent of the people in the gym tonight are black, even though blacks make up just 27 percent of the town. According to statistics compiled by Missouri’s attorney general’s office, 71 percent of the people pulled over by Florissant police in 2013 were black. The search and arrest rates for blacks were also twice as high as those rates for whites, even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband, a contradiction that has also been widely reported in Ferguson.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, blacks make up less than eight percent of the Florissant police force. The judge and both prosecutors are white. In nearly all the towns in St. Louis County, the prosecutors and judges in these courts are part-time positions, and are not elected, but appointed by the mayor, town council, or city manager. According to a recent white paper published by the ArchCity Defenders, the chief prosecutor in Florissant Municipal Court makes $56,060 per year. It’s a position that requires him to work 12 court sessions per year, at about three hours per session. The Florissant prosecutor is Ronald Brockmeyer, who also has a criminal defense practice in St. Charles County, and who is also the chief municipal prosecutor for the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood. He is also the judge – yes, the judge — in both Ferguson and Breckenridge Hills. Brockmeyer isn’t alone: Several other attorneys serve as prosecutor in one town and judge in another. And at least one St. Louis County assistant district attorney is also a municipal court judge.

“I had a felony criminal case in state court a few weeks ago,” says a local defense attorney, who asked not to be quoted by name. “Sometimes criminal cases can get contentious. You have to do everything you can to defend your client, and sometime your interaction with a prosecutor can get combative. A few days later, I was representing a client who had a few warrants in a municipal court where the same prosecutor I was just battling with is now the judge. Is my client is going to get a fair hearing? You hope so. But it sure looks like a conflict to me.”

Many of the appointed judges and prosecutors not only don’t reside in the jurisdictions they serve, they have very little in common with the people who do. For example, in the tony town of Clayton, there’s a sheen office building on South Bemiston Avenue with darkened, opaque windows. On the second floor, behind a grand oak door, is the law firm of Curtis, Heinz, Garret, & O’Keefe. The firm employs several attorneys who serve as either prosecutor or assistant prosecutor for at least nine different municipalities. One of the firm’s attorneys, Keith Cheung, is the municipal prosecutor for the towns of Velda City, Hazelwood, and St. Ann, and is also the municipal judge for the city of Ladue. The firm also includes attorneys who serve as the official city attorney in several more … [more]
law  legal  poverty  inequaliity  politics  2014  ferguson  stlouis  race  corruption  courts  lawyers 
september 2014 by robertogreco
New Left Review - Wolfgang Streeck: How Will Capitalism End?
"In summary, capitalism, as a social order held together by a promise of boundless collective progress, is in critical condition. Growth is giving way to secular stagnation; what economic progress remains is less and less shared; and confidence in the capitalist money economy is leveraged on a rising mountain of promises that are ever less likely to be kept. Since the 1970s, the capitalist centre has undergone three successive crises, of inflation, public finances and private debt. Today, in an uneasy phase of transition, its survival depends on central banks providing it with unlimited synthetic liquidity. Step by step, capitalism’s shotgun marriage with democracy since 1945 is breaking up. On the three frontiers of commodification—labour, nature and money—regulatory institutions restraining the advance of capitalism for its own good have collapsed, and after the final victory of capitalism over its enemies no political agency capable of rebuilding them is in sight. The capitalist system is at present stricken with at least five worsening disorders for which no cure is at hand: declining growth, oligarchy, starvation of the public sphere, corruption and international anarchy. What is to be expected, on the basis of capitalism’s recent historical record, is a long and painful period of cumulative decay: of intensifying frictions, of fragility and uncertainty, and of a steady succession of ‘normal accidents’—not necessarily but quite possibly on the scale of the global breakdown of the 1930s."
capitalism  disaster  economics  failure  finance  decline  labor  government  democracy  plutocracy  oligarchy  inequality  comingrevolution  wolfgangstreeck  corruption  politics  latecapitalism  commodification  growth 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Charter School Profiteers | Jacobin
[part one here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/07/no-excuses-in-new-orleans/ ]

"My interactions with this “ordinary hero” were limited. The most memorable instance occurred during a school staff meeting last May.

Kilgore had been gone from the school for a year and a half, but his influence was still pronounced. When he left for Skillman, the board never appointed a new superintendent, instead promoting the chief academic officer to interim superintendent. This move left the school’s leadership in limbo and meant many on staff continued to view Kilgore as an authority. Nobody batted an eyelash when he occasionally called staff meetings, like this one in May.

Adding to the confusion of Kilgore’s consistent behind-the-scene machinations were rumors that he was still being paid by the school. And so at the meeting, feeling frustrated by all I was witnessing, I decided to ask. We locked eyes, more or less, and without a moment’s pause Kilgore flatly denied being on payroll during his leave of absence. “No, I’m not,” he said matter-of-factly before flashing the room his electric smile. He continued with the next line on the agenda.

Needing to return to my classroom for a meeting with a parent, I got up a few minutes later. As I made my way towards the back of the gym, Kilgore stopped me. “Lady in red!” he called out. I had been on staff for three years, and he did not know my name.

“For transparency,” he began, stressing the second word. “I just want to say I am not on payroll, but my consulting company is.”

The words “consulting company” hung in the air, but no further explanation was given. What the company did, or even what it was called, remained a mystery. That August I sent in a Freedom of Information Act to the school’s board and lawyer."



"In 2007, while he was running PEC, Kilgore founded Transitions Consultants, LLC (and its counterpart, Transitions Employment Services, LLC) with fraternity brother Jegede Idowu and businessman Kareim Cade. At the time Kilgore was PEC’s superintendent, Idowu was PEC’s chief financial officer, and Cade worked for Colonial Life, a supplemental insurance provider used by PEC.

With the founding of Transitions, Kilgore extended and broadened his entrepreneurial reach in the booming charter sector. From school leader to consultant, Kilgore positioned himself as the head of a for-profit EMO providing services to competing schools.

Peddling a five-phase plan that decreased in price as schools transitioned to self-management, Transitions landed contracts for the 2008-9 school year with George Washington Carver Academy (GWCA) and its neighborhood competitor, Northpointe Academy. Both schools had track records of low academic performance, and GWCA had recently been dropped by its authorizer, Central Michigan University. When Transitions came along, both schools were chartered by the bankrupt and swamped Highland Park School District — which was most likely attracted to the 3 percent per-pupil fee it was entitled to as authorizer. Desperate for transformation, the GWCA was drawn to Transitions’ seemingly attractive business model and ostensibly successful founders. It seemed too good to be true.

And it was. By the end of year one, the academy was still in terrible academic shape. As the management company prepared for its second year with the school, rumors circulated about financial challenges and an inability to pay teachers in a timely fashion.

After a disappointing meeting in August 2009 where Kilgore announced pay would be late by two weeks, the frustrated teachers attempted to form a union. Threatened or simply unwilling to countenance opposition, Transitions Consultants, LLC gave their sixty-day notice of contract termination that September. In board meeting minutes from that month they cite “teacher tension” as one of the reasons. The school year had just begun.

What should have been a clean break was anything but. In November, Transitions sued GWCA for over $230,000 in unpaid invoices. The for-profit EMO felt entitled to the monies not because of a contractual obligation, but because the school had not objected to the invoices in a reasonable amount of time.

Reviewing board meeting minutes from that time period, questions about unnecessary, exorbitant, and disorganized billing arise time and again.

For example, in August, a Transitions employee, Carlos Johnson, (who has also been contracted by PEC over the years) ran a marketing campaign for the school by handing out postcards and t-shirts at a booth in downtown Detroit. Transitions invoiced GWCA $30,000 for the weekend marketing stint. When asked about remaining funds at an October 12 board meeting, Johnson said he would get back to the school. There is no documentation of him following up.

At a budget meeting on October 20, it is revealed that GPS Educational Services (a company Transitions contracted for special education services that has also been contracted by PEC) invoiced the school for $200,000, even though the school budget allocated only $111,000 for their services.

At the same meeting, Carmella Hardin, an independent accountant who GWCA hired after Transitions gave notice, recommends the discontinuation of the electronic signature feature because while reviewing the books she noticed, “Checks were being cut without approval and duplicate invoices were being entered and paid.”

With GWCA and Transitions battling over money, the school’s day-to-day responsibilities of educating kids took a backseat. Board meeting minutes from the time period show a slew of angry parents, guardians, and educators vocalizing concern."
education  corruption  forprofit  detroit  oney  privatization  edreform  consultants  graft  2014  alliegross  tfa  neoliberalism  teachforamerica  charterschools 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Upward Anthropology Research Community - Turning the Ethnographic Gaze on the People, Sites, and Practices of Power
"In 1972, Laura Nader called for anthropologists to “study up” – to turn the ethnographic gaze on the people, sites, and practices of power. With the creation of this community, we hope to provide resources, advice, information, and other forms of support to anthropologists who are currently or are interested in beginning this practice.

The seed for the community was planted about a year ago when a group of us were discussing the potential for anthropological methods (including all four fields) to document structures of power, identify weak points, and inform those who are engaged in resistance or simply trying to navigate those structures. Historically anthropological methods have been used to document and make visible the lives of marginalized or oppressed peoples. We don’t want to diminish the value of that work – it is important and necessary. However, in a world of increasing inequality, of power structures that encompass the globe, of unmitigated racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination, and of environmental crisis, we believe that making the invisible visible is not enough. By turning ethnography on those in power, we also make the visible more visible, and – hopefully – make it possible to “hack” the structures of power in order to undermine their inherent inequalities and create a more just and sustainable world.

Following these conversations, my friends and I organized a panel at the Fall 2013 Public Anthropology Conference at American University. We had a fair turnout – particularly thanks to that conference’s commitment to inviting members of the public, NGOs, activist groups, and practicing anthropologists. Many important issues were discussed in that first meeting, and we committed to holding regular meetings at conferences in the DC Metro area. A second panel was organized for the University of Maryland’s AnthroPlus conference this past Spring, and we are planning an event to coincide with the American Anthropological Association meeting in DC later this year (details to come).

In light of this upcoming event, we have decided to go public and broaden our community. This group started modestly as a DC Area research group, but power operates and proliferates all over the world. We hope that this community and the resources we are in the process of assembling will provide a useful base of support to those who are engaged in this type of research anywhere in the world. With that in mind, we hope you will help us in any way you can – by providing advice, suggestions, or material support, by contributing data, publications, and essays. We claim no privilege or monopoly on this community, and we hope to make it as open and accessible as possible, so if you’re interested, please feel free to contact me at jmtumd (a) gmail or through our twitter and facebook accounts."

[via: http://disabilityhistory.tumblr.com/post/90108204719/shrinkrants-laura-nader-quoted-from-up-the ]

[Related: Janine R. Wedel

"Professor Wedel has been a pioneer in applying anthropological insights to topics that are typically the terrain of political scientists, economists, or sociologists. After 25 years studying the role of informal systems in shaping communist and post-communist societies, Professor Wedel also turned her attention to the United States, and has identified some surprising parallels."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janine_R._Wedel#Shadow_Elite

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htC-tivdzj8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiXGcEpI-sI
http://shadowelite.net/
http://janinewedel.info/shadowelite.html
http://www.alternet.org/story/145533/shadow_elite%3A_how_the_world%27s_new_power_brokers_are_upending_our_democracy
http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_The_Shadow_Elite_WikiLeaks_And_Living_In_A_Dangerous_Era/2128991.html ]
lauranader  1972  2014  ethnography  anthropology  power  control  visibility  inequality  powerstuctures  gender  race  discrimination  environment  sustainability  capitalism  janinewedel  shadoelite  behavior  corruption 
july 2014 by robertogreco
William James - The PhD Octopus
"America is thus a nation rapidly drifting towards a state of things in which no man of science or letters will be accounted respectable unless some kind of badge or diploma is stamped upon him, and in which bare personality will be a mark of outcast estate. It seems to me high time to rouse ourselves to consciousness, and to cast a critical eye upon this decidedly grotesque tendency. Other nations suffer terribly from the Mandarin disease. Are we doomed to suffer like the rest?

Our higher degrees were instituted for the laudable purpose of stimulating scholarship, especially in the form of "original research." Experience has proved that great as the love of truth may be among men, it can be made still greater by adventitious rewards. The winning of a diploma certifying mastery and marking a barrier successfully passed, acts as a challenge to the ambitious; and if the diploma will help to gain bread-winning positions also, its power as a stimulus to work is tremendously increased. So far, we are on innocent ground; it is well for a country to have research in abundance, and our graduate schools do but apply a normal psychological spur. But the institutionizing on a large scale of any natural combination of need and motive always tends to run into technicality and to develop a tyrannical Machine with unforeseen powers of exclusion and corruption. Observation of the workings of our Harvard system for twenty years past has brought some of these drawbacks home to my consciousness, and I should like to call the attention of my readers to this disadvantageous aspect of the picture, and to make a couple of remedial suggestions, if I may.

In the first place, it would seem that to stimulate study, and to increase the gelehrtes Publikum, the class of highly educated men in our country, is the only positive good, and consequently the sole direct end at which our graduate schools, with their diploma-giving powers, should aim. If other results have developed they should be deemed secondary incidents, and if not desirable in themselves, they should be carefully guarded against.

To interfere with the free development of talent, to obstruct the natural play of supply and demand in the teaching profession, to foster academic snobbery by the prestige of certain privileged institutions, to transfer accredited value from essential manhood to an outward badge, to blight hopes and promote invidious sentiments, to divert the attention of aspiring youth from direct dealings with truth to the passing of examinations,--such consequences, if they exist, ought surely to be regarded as drawbacks to the system, and an enlightened public consciousness ought to be keenly alive to the importance of reducing their amount. Candidates themselves do seem to be keenly conscious of some of these evils, but outside of their ranks or in the general public no such consciousness, so far as I can see, exists; or if it does exist, it fails to express itself aloud. Schools, Colleges, and Universities, appear enthusiastic over the entire system, just as it stands, and unanimously applaud all its developments."

[via: http://submittedforyourperusal.com/2013/12/03/badges/ ]
williamjames  badges  credentials  credentialization  1903  snobbery  teaching  education  diplomas  highered  highereducation  institutions  institutionalization  exclusion  corruption 
may 2014 by robertogreco
America the voiceless: Voters can’t compete with big campaign cash | Al Jazeera America
"It’s not just your imagination: The influence of money in politics has indeed drowned out the voices of American voters, a new analysis shows, with runaway corporate lobbying and a lack of campaign finance reform to blame for giving much more political weight to the wealthy."
government  policy  influence  us  money  corporatism  2014  corruption  democracy  oligarchy  campaignfinance  lobbying  campaignfinancereform  congress  elections 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Dymaxion: Don't Vote, Do.
"Yes, when you pull the handle, you'll get just enough crumbs, just enough of the time, to keep you coming back.  This is basic psychology — a random reward leads to addictive behavior, and you'll be constantly second-guessing the system, trying to understand it.  Voting means acting like a slot machine zombie, politely waiting for a few more crumbs, a few more rights to roll out of the slot, wasting your life and your agency, pouring it into the machine.

Screw that.

Get out a sledgehammer and claim the real right you have to remake the system.  If you're not American, if you live in a place where your vote really can change the fundamentals of your world, great; go do that first and then act.  For everyone who lives in the US or a place like it where your vote is consent and nothing else, don't vote in the booth, vote in the street.  Don't consent to a poisonous system that isn't listening or let it confuse you into thinking the consent you give means anything.  Organize.  Strike.  Demand.  Whistleblow. Speak.  Build.  Rebuild.  Insist that the world treat you and those around you with decency, dignity, kindness, and equality.  Start by making sure you do the same to those around you.  Keep doing it until your vote matters again, and then keep doing it some more.

Do not consent to be governed by a man who would kill you in the street just because the other man would kill you in the street and piss on your corpse.  Do not consent to be governed by the system that made them.  Do not give your life to a machine designed to absorb it without a trace.

Don't vote.  Do."
democracy  elections  politics  us  voting  eleanorsaitta  2012  via:caseygollan  rights  activism  government  statusquo  corruption 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Cash Rules Everything Around Me — Medium
"Political protest is a Potemkin village, and everyone knows it. It is pure spectacle, free of real world consequence. It can be safely ignored or marginalized on the edges of real American politics, as long as it doesn't interfere with the kleptocracy. If it does, or even threatens to talk about the kleptocracy, it will be violently put down.

Speech is welcome in America, as long as it doesn’t do anything. There are exceptions to speech, where needed. Criticizing agribusiness comes with special gag laws. The DMCA allows those with the most lawyers to use copyright claims to silence critics and shut down competition. Anti-racketeering laws are increasingly used to criminalize political organizing.

Through all of this, Americans are some of the most hardworking people in the world. Which we have to be, because we labor under the most personal debt, largely rising out of bills for education and medical treatment. We are simply not our own people, living most of our lives under a kind of mild but prevailing indenture that numbs our willingness to speak out of turn. Only the rich can take chances, everyone else faces ruin at risking anything.

There is no place with more personal debt and heavier patterns of obligation than the Land of the Free. We are free to try to get expensive degrees to get jobs that barely exist, we are free to spend most of our lives paying student loans, we are free to lose everything we may have gained the moment we get sick. Along the way we can buy more things and get into more housing debt than almost anyone in the world, making our freedom one of consumption — consuming and being consumed by the systems we are born to.

We are free to vote in gerrymandered districts, and free to vote for two federal parties that are largely identical. We are free to vote on machines and systems that it is often illegal to audit for security purposes. We are all free to talk at once, and listen to no one at all. We are free, ever free, to chase as many dollars as we can, all the way to Hell.

It’s time to call America what it is: a kleptocracy, run by corporations and governments with only cosmetic distinctions. It is full of good people whom the kleptocrats keep fighting against each other, as they have for over 150 years, and will until the good people drown in rising saltwater or epic storms, or simply die, exhausted and used up."
us  quinnnorton  2014  policy  politics  money  power  torture  militaryindustrialcomplex  corruption  democracy  kleptocracy  wealth  inequality  labor  government  speech  business  corporatism 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The internet is fucked | The Verge
In a perfect storm of corporate greed and broken government, the internet has gone from vibrant center of the new economy to burgeoning tool of economic control. Where America once had Rockefeller and Carnegie, it now has Comcast’s Brian Roberts, AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, and Verizon’s Lowell McAdam, robber barons for a new age of infrastructure monopoly built on fiber optics and kitty GIFs.

And the power of the new network-industrial complex is immense and unchecked, even by other giants: AT&T blocked Apple’s FaceTime and Google’s Hangouts video chat services for the preposterously silly reason that the apps were "preloaded" on each company’s phones instead of downloaded from an app store. Verizon and AT&T have each blocked the Google Wallet mobile payment system because they’re partners in the competing (and not very good) ISIS service. Comcast customers who stream video on their Xboxes using Microsoft’s services get charged against their data caps, but the Comcast service is tax-free.

We’re really, really fucking this up.

We’re really, really fucking this up.

But we can fix it, I swear. We just have to start telling each other the truth. Not the doublespeak bullshit of regulators and lobbyists, but the actual truth. Once we have the truth, we have the power — the power to demand better not only from our government, but from the companies that serve us as well. "This is a political fight," says Craig Aaron, president of the advocacy group Free Press. "When the internet speaks with a unified voice politicians rip their hair out."

We can do it. Let’s start.

THE INTERNET IS A UTILITY, JUST LIKE WATER AND ELECTRICITY

Go ahead, say it out loud. The internet is a utility.

There, you’ve just skipped past a quarter century of regulatory corruption and lawsuits that still rage to this day and arrived directly at the obvious conclusion. Internet access isn’t a luxury or a choice if you live and participate in the modern economy, it’s a requirement. Have you ever been in an office when the internet goes down? It’s like recess. My friend Paul Miller lived without the internet for a year and I’m still not entirely sure he’s recovered from the experience. The internet isn’t an adjunct to real life; it’s not another place. You don’t do things "on the internet," you just do things. The network is interwoven into every moment of our lives, and we should treat it that way.

Yet the corporations that control internet access insist that they’re providing specialized services that are somehow different than water, power, and telephones. They point to crazy bullshit you don’t want or need like free email addresses and web hosting solutions and goofy personalized search screens as evidence that they’re actually providing "information" services instead of the more highly regulated "telecommunications" services. "Common carrier rules are basically free speech," says the Free Press’ Aaron. "We have all these protections for what happens over landline phones that we’re not extending to data, even though all these people under 25 mostly communicate in data."

It’s time to just end these stupid legal word games and say what we all already know: internet access is a utility. A commodity that should get better and faster and cheaper over time. Anyone who says otherwise is lying for money.

THERE IS ZERO COMPETITION FOR INTERNET ACCESS

None. Zero. Nothing. It is a wasteland. You are standing in the desert and the only thing that grows is higher prices."



NO INTERNET PROVIDER DESERVES SPECIAL TREATMENT



THE FCC IS WEAK AND INEFFECTIVE



"So there’s the entire problem, expressed in four simple ideas: the internet is a utility, there is zero meaningful competition to provide that utility to Americans, all internet providers should be treated equally, and the FCC is doing a miserably ineffective job. The United States should lead the world in broadband deployment and speeds: we should have the lowest prices, the best service, and the most competition. We should have the freest speech and the loudest voices, the best debate and the soundest policy. We are home to the most innovative technology companies in the world, and we should have the broadband networks to match.

We should stop fucking it up.

"There is much greater consensus around the fundamentals of the open internet than this binary up and down debate that’s going on," says former FCC Chairman and current NCTA President Michael Powell. "There is common ground to find an answer."

Free Press president Craig Aaron is blunt. "What we need right now is decisive action," he says. "We can still unfuck the internet.""
broadband  cable  internet  netneutrality  publicutilities  2014  nilaypatel  corruption  regulation  monopolies  monopoly  control  power  access  fcc  competition  us  freespeech 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Broken (with tweets) · ayjay · Storify
"I tried to bring together some of the best responses here, but Storify's search is br — um., somewhat inconsistent in its results."

[The tweets that sparked the conversation:]

"The vague use of "broken" is really problematic in an age of planned obsolescence. People used to fix broken things; now they're discarded. So to say "the economy is broken" or "higher ed. is broken" can be a way of evading the responsibility to make something better."



"Neither higher ed. nor the economy are broken. They're more like cars that run pretty well but are headed in the wrong direction. My point is: the language of "brokenness" breeds fatalism. Let's try a different and more precise set of descriptors."



Erin: "I think education could use a serious regression rather than innovation or 'disruption.' Too many promises broken."
alanjacobs  storify  audreywatters  erinkissane  language  words  meaning  corruption  compromise  jenniferhoward  ashergelzer-govatos  jrschmitt  justice  education  highered  highereducation  society  economics  fatalism  progress  obsolescence  change  innovation  disruption 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Pure Capitalism = Pure Fantasy? | Interview Richard Wolff - YouTube
[See also: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17256-pure-capitalism-is-pure-fantasy ]

"Abby Martin talks to Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, and author of 'Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism', about the recent school closures in Chicago, and how it reflects a systemic problem within the current capitalist model."
richardwolff  economics  2013  abbymartin  austerity  capitalism  policy  government  inequality  taxes  socialsecurity  democracy  employment  greatrecession  work  wealth  schoolclosures  chicago  politics  corruption  corporatism  horizontality  hierarchy  cooperation  grassroots 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Anti-Government Left: Elizabeth Warren Is Stronger Than Bill de Blasio | New Republic
"De Blasio’s rhetoric sounds more leftist, implying a relentless competition between underclass and overclass. But the substance of Warren’s agenda is far more radical. She wants to upend a fundamentally corrupt system, one in which big banks and other interests have coopted the apparatus of government. By contrast, de Blasio implicitly accepts “the system”—which in New York means an economy built around the financial sector and the real estate industry—and wants to mitigate its least desirable effects.1

Or, put differently, de Blasio accepts that today’s rich and powerful will continue to be rich and powerful; he just thinks they should do more to help the rest of us. Warren questions the very legitimacy of their wealth and power. “I’ve been in the Senate for nearly a year and believe as strongly as ever that the system is rigged,” she said in a recent speech.

This difference of emphasis isn’t shocking: New York City would fall into a deep depression if the financial sector shrunk substantially. And I don’t mean to belittle de Blasio’s agenda, which I consider important. But neither is that agenda especially ambitious in any cosmic sense. As other politicians have demonstrated before him, there’s no particular tension between a concern for the poor and a deference to the rich.* It’s why some have begun to think of de Blasio’s worldview as “Bloombergism with a populist mask.” De Blasio helped nurture this impression himself by courting the lords of finance and real estate during his general election campaign, then making a handful of Bloomberg-esque appointments, like the Goldman Sachs executive he named as his deputy mayor for housing and development.2

But here’s the thing: In addition to being more radical substantively, Warren’s agenda is much more sale-able politically."



"Against this backdrop, the problem for de Blasio-style populism is not that reducing inequality isn’t a worthy goal, or even one that’s widely shared. It’s that support for government is so low that few outside the left are likely to believe government can achieve it. Warren-style populism, on the other hand, goes right to the source of the cynicism. In the same way that Middle America believed government was mostly benefiting the undeserving poor in the 1980s and early 90s, today they believe it mostly benefits undeserving rich and powerful. And, just as Democrats had to dispel the former belief before they could advance the rest of their agenda, today they must dispel the latter. Warren’s approach does that."
elizabethwarren  left  finance  financialcrisis  government  money  politics  2014  billdeblasio  noamscheiberpolitics  policy  populism  corruption  systemschange  us  inequality  banking  incomeinequality 
january 2014 by robertogreco
David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show' | World news | The Observer
[video of the full talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNttT7hDKsk ]

"The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It's a juvenile notion and it's still being argued in my country passionately and we're going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I'm astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?"



"And that's what The Wire was about basically, it was about people who were worth less and who were no longer necessary, as maybe 10 or 15% of my country is no longer necessary to the operation of the economy. It was about them trying to solve, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. In their irrelevance, their economic irrelevance, they were nonetheless still on the ground occupying this place called Baltimore and they were going to have to endure somehow.

That's the great horror show. What are we going to do with all these people that we've managed to marginalise? It was kind of interesting when it was only race, when you could do this on the basis of people's racial fears and it was just the black and brown people in American cities who had the higher rates of unemployment and the higher rates of addiction and were marginalised and had the shitty school systems and the lack of opportunity.

And kind of interesting in this last recession to see the economy shrug and start to throw white middle-class people into the same boat, so that they became vulnerable to the drug war, say from methamphetamine, or they became unable to qualify for college loans. And all of a sudden a certain faith in the economic engine and the economic authority of Wall Street and market logic started to fall away from people. And they realised it's not just about race, it's about something even more terrifying. It's about class. Are you at the top of the wave or are you at the bottom?

So how does it get better? In 1932, it got better because they dealt the cards again and there was a communal logic that said nobody's going to get left behind. We're going to figure this out. We're going to get the banks open. From the depths of that depression a social compact was made between worker, between labour and capital that actually allowed people to have some hope.

We're either going to do that in some practical way when things get bad enough or we're going to keep going the way we're going, at which point there's going to be enough people standing on the outside of this mess that somebody's going to pick up a brick, because you know when people get to the end there's always the brick. I hope we go for the first option but I'm losing faith."



"The last job of capitalism – having won all the battles against labour, having acquired the ultimate authority, almost the ultimate moral authority over what's a good idea or what's not, or what's valued and what's not – the last journey for capital in my country has been to buy the electoral process, the one venue for reform that remained to Americans.

Right now capital has effectively purchased the government, and you witnessed it again with the healthcare debacle in terms of the $450m that was heaved into Congress, the most broken part of my government, in order that the popular will never actually emerged in any of that legislative process."
davidsimon  2013  us  capitalism  politics  economics  warondrugs  lawenforcement  socialism  karlmarx  marxism  healthcare  addiction  prisonindustrialcomplex  race  neworleans  baltimore  labor  class  greatdepression  greatrecession  marginalization  work  corruption  systems  process  systemsthinking  bureaucracy  incarceration  elections  campaignfunding  nola 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Plutocrats at Work: How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy | Dissent Magazine
"From the start, the mega-foundations provoked hostility across the political spectrum. To their many detractors, they looked like centers of plutocratic power that threatened democratic governance. Setting up do-good corporations, critics said, was merely a ploy to secure the wealth and clean up the reputations of business moguls who amassed fortunes during the Gilded Age. Consider the reaction to John D. Rockefeller’s initial request for a charter from the U.S. Senate (he eventually received one from New York State):
In spite of his close ties to big business, Progressive presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt opposed the effort, claiming that “no amount of charity in spending such fortunes [as Rockefeller’s] can compensate in any way for the misconduct in acquiring them.” The conservative Republican candidate, William Howard Taft denounced the effort as “a bill to incorporate Mr. Rockefeller.” Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, sneered that “the one thing that the world would gratefully accept from Mr. Rockefeller now would be the establishment of a great endowment of research and education to help other people see in time how they can keep from being like him.”*



One hundred years later, big philanthropy still aims to solve the world’s problems—with foundation trustees deciding what is a problem and how to fix it. They may act with good intentions, but they define “good.” The arrangement remains thoroughly plutocratic: it is the exercise of wealth-derived power in the public sphere with minimal democratic controls and civic obligations. Controls and obligations include filing an annual IRS form and (since 1969) paying an annual excise tax of up to 2 percent on net investment income. There are regulations against self-dealing, lobbying (although “educating” lawmakers is legal), and supporting candidates for public office. In reality, the limits on political activity barely function now: loopholes, indirect support for groups that do political work, and scant resources for regulators have crippled oversight.

Because they are mostly free to do what they want, mega-foundations threaten democratic governance and civil society (defined as the associational life of people outside the market and independent of the state). When a foundation project fails—when, say, high-yield seeds end up forcing farmers off the land or privately operated charter schools displace and then underperform traditional public schools—the subjects of the experiment suffer, as does the general public. Yet the do-gooders can simply move on to their next project. Without countervailing forces, wealth in capitalist societies already translates into political power; big philanthropy reinforces this tendency.

Although this plutocratic sector is privately governed, it is publicly subsidized. Private foundations fall into the IRS’s wide-open category of tax-exempt organizations, which includes charitable, educational, religious, scientific, literary, and other groups. When the creator of a mega-foundation says, “I can do what I want because it’s my money,” he or she is wrong. A substantial portion of the wealth—35 percent or more, depending on tax rates—has been diverted from the public treasury, where voters would have determined its use.

The main rationale for both the tax exemption and the charitable contribution tax deduction (created in 1917) is to stimulate private giving. Yet this is a weak rationale when applied to the super-rich; a more effective way to stimulate their giving would be to raise the estate and capital gains taxes. It is a meaningless rationale for the 65 percent of American taxpayers who don’t itemize their deductions and therefore can’t use the charity tax break.

Despite scores of studies, the relationship of charitable giving to tax incentives remains unclear. Too many different factors determine giving: religiosity, innate altruism, family tradition, social attitudes, community ties, alumni loyalty, fluctuations in income. But other patterns of giving are well known. Less than 10 percent of all charity in the United States addresses basic human needs. The wealthiest donors devote an even tinier portion of their giving to these needs. Most major donations go to universities and colleges, hospitals, and cultural institutions, often for highly visible building projects carrying the donor’s name (New York Times, September 6, 2007).

Another public subsidy to private foundations comes from the “5 percent minimum payout requirement.” To prevent private foundations from hoarding all their wealth, the 1969 tax reform requires them to make grants annually that equal or exceed about 5 percent of their endowment’s value. There is, however, a loophole. The payout includes all “reasonable” foundation administrative expenses—from salaries and trustee fees to travel, receptions, office supplies, equipment, rent, and new headquarters. Only the cost of financially managing the endowment is excluded. Thus an extravagant “lifestyle” can cost a wealthy foundation nothing: any part of the 5 percent payout that a foundation doesn’t spend on itself must go to grants anyway.



A Modest Proposal

Big philanthropy is overdue for reform. The goal should be to reduce its leverage in civil society and public policymaking while increasing government revenue. Some possible changes seem obvious: don’t allow administrative expenses to count toward the 5 percent minimum payout, increase the excise tax on net investment income, eliminate the tax exemption for foundations with assets over a certain size, and replace the charity tax deduction with a tax credit available to everyone (for example, all donors could subtract 15 percent of the total value of their charitable contributions from their tax bills). In addition, strict IRS oversight of big philanthropy—especially all the “educating” that looks so much like lobbying and campaigning—is crucial.

Another reform would require private foundations to “spend down” their endowments over a designated number of years. They would no longer exist in perpetuity. This idea has some promise of success: the living donors of several mega-foundations, including Bill and Melinda Gates, have already decided to spend down and are recruiting others to do the same.

The foundation sector will fight reform ferociously—as it has in the past. When asked to forgo some influence or contribute more in taxes, the altruistic impulse stalls. The foundation sector acts like any other powerful interest group. The Obama administration, for example, tried several times to lower the charitable deduction cap, but the foundation lobby battled each effort successfully. Still, the reforms are sound, necessary, and worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, the public needs more critical, in-depth information. The mainstream media are, for the most part, failing miserably in their watchdog duties. They give big philanthropy excessive deference and little scrutiny. Public television and radio live on big philanthropy’s largess. Collaborative programming with mega-foundations has undermined the credibility of major for-profit news organizations as well as public media, especially on health and education issues.

Early twentieth-century skeptics were rightly suspicious of plutocrats deciding how to improve the human condition and then paying to translate their notions into public policy. Now it’s time for a new progressive era—complete with muckrakers and trust-busters to cast a critical eye on big philanthropy."
philantropy  charity  us  influence  corruption  wealth  power  capitalism  taxes  charitableindustrialcomplex  lausd  joannebarkan  progressivism  history  plutocracy  2013  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Chris Hedges: As a Socialist, I Have No Voice in the Mainstream - Pt 6 of 7
"I think we’re in this kind of strange period when the language we use to describe our economic and political system no longer matches the reality. I mean, laissez-faire capitalism—we don’t live in a system of laissez-faire capitalism when the federal government bails out these institutions to the tunes of trillions of dollars and then keeps pumping out free money from the Fed and handing it to—that’s not laissez-faire capitalism. And yet I’m sure that if you went to Wharton or Harvard Business School, they would still be teaching this fictional system. And we haven’t yet moved into a period where the vocabulary we use to describe our reality matches that reality. And that’s always a revolutionary period, because there’s a disconnect between the way we speak about ourselves and the way we actually function. And that’s where we are. And so we in many ways are searching for the words to describe what’s happening to us and then to articulate another vision of where we want to go. And we haven’t gotten there yet."

[via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/56796659481/i-think-were-in-this-kind-of-strange-period-when ]

[The rest in the series at The Real News website with transcripts:
part 1 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10441
part 2 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10449
part 3 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10456
part 4 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10461
part 5 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10468
part 7 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10486

And on Youtube:
part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1JF94vovww
part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR0oGJ2yrmc
part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vWcyetC3CI
part 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCjMdOo7KkY
part 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff-G0DPkBv8
part 6 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX6n861Gu6Q
part 7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNm_GAIXOWw ]
change  revolution  chrishedges  socialism  economics  language  capitalism  corporatism  environment  sustainability  2013  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  bailouts  corporatesocialism  businessschools  corruption  society  reality  transition  disconnect  nationalization  coldwar  neoliberalism  activism  socialunrest  socialactivism  movements  barackobama  trends  pauljay  elites  elitism  liberalelite  justice  gender  multiculturalism  identitypolitics  workingclass  nafta  outsourcing  stagnation  labor  wallstreet  finance  power  us  history  poverty  journalism  radicalism  radicalization  class  nytimes  socialjustice  goldmansachs  moralimperative  ralphnader  alternative  christiananarchism  anarchism  anarchy  richardnixon 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — Letter To A Young Programmer Considering A Startup
"But startups are the new big company. They are, as I’ll describe below, the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions."



I won’t equivocate: I am deeply skeptical of this system. I’m skeptical of this system’s slavering, self-congratulatory fetishization of “disruption” while so obviously becoming the sort of stolid institution it seeks to displace. I’m skeptical of the startup community’s often short-term outlook. I’m particularly skeptical of its callous disregard for both the lives of the people who participate in it and the lives of those who live in the world that startups seek to reshape. Let’s not even begin to discuss how commonplace collusion, price fixing, and other market-corrupting activities are in the world of VC. The point being: it’s a bad game and a rigged one.

And yet. There are startups I wouldn’t want to see disappear. There are people working at and funding those startups who are good, kind, balanced in their personal and professional lives, thoughtful of the impact of their work. Just as we might cast aspersions and accusations of corruption on other systems like politics, mass media entertainment, and professional sports, we must admire those who operate ethically and efficiently within them. We should further celebrate those who are pioneering new and alternative systems, for they work in the shadow of a community that has a constant hand on the crank of the hype machine.

Now, you could say that I’m laying too much responsibility at the feet of the startup world. Though this system daily broadcasts itself as the savior of everything from capitalism to culture, surely we can accept that business is business and ideals are best left at the door. As a VC at a top-tier Sand Hill Road firm told me during a pitch several years ago when describing a conceptual feature in Simple that would let users easily and regularly donate a portion of their savings to charity, “let’s not waste time on that stuff; we’re here to make money”.

You could take this tack, but I hope that your idealism hasn’t been worn down at such a relatively young age. I hope you want your work to be imbued with meaning, purpose, and value no matter what form that work takes. More than that, I hope you want your life to be defined by more than work.

Young programmer, I urge you to consider both sides of the startup coin. There are so many ways to make a dent in the world."
vc  alexpayne  change  idealism  ideals  2013  systems  responsibility  startups  labor  disruption  meaning  meaningfulness  vocations  collusion  pricefixing  corruption  finance  power  control  hierarchy  purpose  bureaucracy  incubators  accelerators 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Coming Revolution in Public Education - John Tierney - The Atlantic
"• It's what history teaches us to expect.

• Education policies based on standardization and uniformity tend to fail.

[Related: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0014.103/--why-standardization-efforts-fail?rgn=main;view=fulltext ]

• Policies based on distrust of teachers tend to fail.

• Judging teachers' performance by students' test scores is both substantively and procedurally flawed.

• More people are realizing that many of the organizations involved in "corporate reform" seem to need reforming themselves.

• People wonder why reformers themselves aren't held accountable."
education  policy  trust  2013  schools  schooling  reform  edreform  johntierney  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  commoncore  local  testscores  us  capitalism  business  pearson  accountability  teaching  learning  dianeravitch  thomaspaine  pushback  davidpatten  geraldconti  michellerhee  doublestandards  richardelmore  mildbreywallinmclaughlin  incentives  corruption  motivation 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Girlfriend In A Coma
"Italy. So beautiful. So talented. So sick. Will it make it?
 
An independent documentary film coming soon to cinemas worldwide."

[Trailer here too: https://vimeo.com/51765618 ]
optimism  hope  documentary  2012  politics  economics  government  corruption  italy 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Rootstrikers
"A network of activists fighting the corrupting influence of money in politics."

"Our republic is dangerously out of balance. Well-financed special interests routinely bend the levers of power to benefit the few at the expense of our general welfare.

Political bribery has been legalized by the courts, and both major parties have been co-opted and corrupted by the system.

The result: The upper 1% have done well. The other 99% of us have been left behind. And now we’ve reached a breaking point.

Rootstrikers aims to restore power over American politics and government to 100% of the people. We hope patriots of all political persuasions will join us to help build an unstoppable grassroots movement that demands and delivers lasting reforms.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Together, we must strike at the root of America’s problems.

Join us."
campaignfinance  money  grassroots  larrylessig  rootstrikers  media  opengov  government  activism  politics  corruption 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Soccer Violence in Argentina | Sports | OutsideOnline.com
"In Argentina, rival soccer fans don’t just hate, they kill, and the violent partisans of top clubs fuel crime syndicates that influence the sport at its highest levels. Patrick Symmes braves the bottle rockets, howling mobs, urine bombs, and drunken grannies on a wild ride through the scariest fútbol underworld on earth."

"Don’t cry for Argentina. Brazil may be more famous as a soccer nation, the beautiful game embodied today by the 20-year-old juggler Neymar. And Europe remains soccer’s ­center of gravity: English clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea rule the global bandwidth, and Spanish clubs have ruled the pitch, bringing home two European champion­ships in the past five years.

Yet, often enough the Europeans get there with an Argentine…

But what Argentina really excels at is not so much the play of soccer as the bloodsucking financial exploitation and mob atmosphere that accompanies it."
fifa  la12  ladoce  money  corruption  bocajuniors  2012  violence  sports  foodball  futbol  argentina  patricksymmes  football  soccer 
october 2012 by robertogreco
Why Power Corrupts | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine
"The experiment involving the adults found a similar relationship between moral identity, ethical behavior and innate aggressiveness. Assertive people who scored low on the moral-identity scale were more likely to say they’d cheated their employer in the past week than more passive types with similar moral-identity scores. But among those with high moral-identity scores, the assertive people were less likely to have cheated.

In sum, the study found, power doesn’t corrupt; it heightens pre-existing ethical tendencies. Which brings to mind another maxim, from Abraham Lincoln: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”"
character  morality  morals  ethics  psychology  2012  corruption  power 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Half an Hour: The Robot Teachers
"There is an ongoing and incessant campaign afoot to privatize education. In the United States, education is almost the last bastion of public expenditure. In Canada, both health care and education face the forces of privatization and commercialization.

The results are wholly predictable. In all cases, the result will be a system that favours a small moneyed elite and leaves the rest of the population struggling to obtain whatever health and education they can obtain with their meagre holdings. As more wealth accumulates in the hands of the corporations and the wealthy, the worse health and education outcomes become for the less well-off in society.

(Indeed, from my perspective, one of the greatest scams perpetrated by the wealthy about the education system is that it has a liberal bias. …)"

But here's where the challenge arises for the education and university system: it was designed to support income inequality and designed to favour the wealthy."
via:tealtan  economics  policy  politics  schooling  oligarchy  wealth  wealthy  sorting  tonybates  liberalbias  criticalthinking  higherorderskills  texas  california  corporations  corporatism  bias  corruption  influence  wealthdistribution  poverty  inequity  disparity  capitalism  adaptivelearningsystems  mitx  udemy  coursera  learninganalytics  programmedlearning  universalhealthcare  healthcare  deschooling  publiceducation  onlinelearning  canon  cv  technology  scriptedlearning  robotteachers  democracy  highereducation  highered  moocs  pedagogy  hierarchies  hierarchy  inequality  schools  education  privatization  privilege  us  canad  2012  stephendownes  mooc 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia (Matt Taibbi)
This incredible defense, which the attorneys for all three defendants led with, perfectly expresses the awesome arrogance of the modern-day aristocrats who run our financial services sector. Corrupt or not, they built this financial infrastructure, and it’s producing the prices they genuinely think are fair for us – and for them. And fair to them is the customer getting the absolute bare minimum, while they get instant millions for work they didn’t do. Moreover – and this is the most important part – they believe they should get permanent protection from the ravages of the market, i.e., from one another’s competition [...]

That, ultimately, is what this case was about. Capitalism is a system for determining objective value. What these Wall Street criminals have created is an opposite system of value by fiat. Prices are not objectively determined by collisions of price information from all over the market, but instead are collectively negotiated in secret, then dictated from above.
organized_crime  wall_street  corruption  finance  capitalism  via:Taryn 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Philanthropic Complex
"The truth is that organizations whose missions foreground the “sociological and spiritual” go mostly without funding. Take for instance the sad tale of the Center for the New American Dream (NAD), created in 1997 by Betsy Taylor (herself a funder with the Merck Family Fund). NAD’s original mission statement gave a priority to “quality of life” issues.

We envision a society that values more of what matters—not just more…a new emphasis on non-material values like financial security, fairness, community, health, time, nature, and fun.

This is exactly the sort of “big picture” that philanthropy has been mostly unwilling to fund because, it argues, it is so difficult to provide “accountability” data for issues like “work and time” and “fun” (!). (To which one might reasonably reply, “Why do you fund only those things that are driven by data?”)…

One of the most maddening experiences for those who seek the support of private philanthropy is the lack of transparency…"
nonprofits  halclifford  orion  markets  publicadvocacy  nad  newamericandream  95-5  corruption  investment  conflictsofinterest  gatesfoundation  transparency  anonymity  self-preservation  wealth  thephilanthropiccomplex  privilege  mediocrity  influence  wallstreet  2012  riskmanagement  ngo  biggreen  environmentalism  change  government  policy  environment  restrictedgifts  control  fear  foundations  jacobinmag  progressivism  power  money  capitalism  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit 
june 2012 by robertogreco
David Graeber, On Bureaucratic Technologies & the Future as Dream-Time [at SVA]
"The twentieth century produced a very clear sense of what the future was to be, but we now seem unable to imagine any sort of redemptive future. Anthropologist and writer David Graeber asks, "How did this happen?" One reason is the replacement of what might be called poetic technologies with bureaucratic ones. Another is the terminal perturbations of capitalism, which is increasingly unable to envision any future at all. Presented by the MFA Art Criticism and Writing Department."
occupywallstreet  ows  anarchism  davidgraeber  alvintoffler  timothyleary  futurism  situationist  capitalism  collapse  economics  anthropology  robots  robotfactories  future  labor  efficiency  sva  self-governance  paperwork  decentralization  scifi  sciencefiction  humanrights  corruption  politics  policy  organization  2012  startrek  automation  technology 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The next SOPA – Marco.org
"MPAA studios hate us…w/ region locks…unskippable screens…encryption…criminalization of fair use…see us as stupid eyeballs w/ wallets, & they are entitled to constant stream of our money. They despise us…certainly don’t respect us.

Yet when we watch their movies, we support them.

Even if we don’t watch their movies in a theater or buy their plastic discs of hostility, we’re still supporting them…on Netflix or other flat-rate streaming or rental services, the service effectively pays them on our behalf next time they negotiate rights or buy another disc…if we pirate their movies, we’re contributing to statistics that help them convince Congress these destructive laws are necessary.

They use our support to buy these laws.

…instead of waiting for MPAA’s next law & changing our Twitter avatars for a few days in protest, it would be more productive to significantly reduce or eliminate our support of the MPAA member companies starting today, and start supporting campaign finance reform."
legal  law  us  lobbying  copyright  corruption  campaignfinance  politics  miaa  pipa  sopa  2012  marcoarment 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist | Orion Magazine
"What this adds up to should be clear enough, yet many people who should know better choose not to see it. This is business-as-usual: the expansive, colonizing, progressive human narrative, shorn only of the carbon. It is the latest phase of our careless, self-absorbed, ambition-addled destruction of the wild, the unpolluted, and the nonhuman. It is the mass destruction of the world’s remaining wild places in order to feed the human economy. And without any sense of irony, people are calling this “environmentalism.”

It was, perhaps, inevitable that a utilitarian society would generate a utilitarian environmentalism, and inevitable too that the greens would not be able to last for long outside the established political bunkers. But for me—well, this is no longer mine, that’s all. I can’t make my peace with people who cannibalize the land in the name of saving it. I can’t speak the language of science without a corresponding poetry…"
society  climatechange  sustainability  utilitarianism  meaning  purpose  2012  2011  corruption  politics  environmentalism  environment  paulkingsnorth 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Education Week: When Test Scores Become a Commodity
"…when we speak about value-added evaluations, let’s be clear…It is a system that turns student scores into a market &, as such, creates cheating, disreputable practices, & dislocations…let’s also talk straight about the cheaters. Like dishonest or corrupt traders, the educators are not the victims, but rather sophisticated, savvy players. Many will get away with it & be honored for their work, as some cheating administrators & teachers were before they were caught. & many teachers & administrators who don’t technically cheat, but find ways to game the market “legally” will also be duly honored. Where could this lead? Schools could become little more than test-preparation institutes, ignoring subjects & skills that are not assessed, with faculty members who resent & distrust one another. Meanwhile, many honest & dutiful teachers will go down in flames.

If this is the kind of public school system the American people want, then fine. Let’s just be honest about it."

[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/13830805235/ ]
jonathankeiler  testing  education  educationindustrialcomplex  gamingthesystem  thegameofschool  teaching  learning  economics  behavior  valueadded  systemsgaming  testprep  standardizedtesting  dishonesty  cheating  2011  evaluation  corruption  misguidedenergy  policy  schools  schooling  schooliness  us 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Pepper spray nation - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"If one looks again at the Board of Regents, one sees that it's packed with oligopoly capitalists, well insulated from the rough-and-tumble of the idealised competitive marketplace that conservatives rhapsodise over. Both the actual capitalists and the idealised marketplace are far removed from everyday reality - as far removed as any theocracy on Earth.

Indeed, market fundamentalists are like any other fundamentalists: sacrificing the lives of their young in the self-deluded service of their gods. And that's the real bottom line behind the pepper spray video, and pepper spray nation for which it stands."
democracy  ows  occupywallstreet  repression  onepercent  firstamendment  freedom  freedomofspeech  corruption  police  policestate  brutality  violence  policebrutality  lawenforcement  california  UCD  ucdavis  highereducation  highered  education  higheredbubble  paulrosenberg  via:gpe 
november 2011 by robertogreco
The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy | Naomi Wolf | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
"So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.

Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us."

[Pushback: http://www.angryblacklady.com/2011/11/25/ows-the-shocking-truth-of-naomi-wolfs-journalistic-hackery/ AND http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/11/26/no-the-crackdown-against-occupy-wall-street-is-not-the-work-of-the-shadowy-elite/ AND http://dirtyhippies.org/2011/11/26/naomi-wolfs-shocking-truth-about-the-occupy-crackdowns-is-anything-but-true/ AND http://joshholland.blogspot.com/2011/11/naomi-wolfs-shocking-truth-about-occupy.html AND elsewhere]
politics  occupywallstreet  ows  activism  corruption  violence  civilwar  classwarfare  congress  barackobama  homelandsecurity  2011  money  us  insidertrading  lobbying  doublestandards  policestate  privilege  via:gpe 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Charles P. Pierce on the brutal truth about the crimes at Penn State - Grantland
"It happens because institutions lie. And today, our major institutions lie because of a culture in which loyalty to "the company," and protection of "the brand"…trumps conventional morality, traditional ethics, civil liberties, & even adherence to the rule of law. It is better to protect "the brand" than it is to protect free speech, the right to privacy, or even to protect children."

"Independent action is usually crushed. Nobody wants to damage the brand. Your supervisor might find out, & his primary loyalty is to the company…why he got promoted to be supervisor…

…institutions of college athletics exist primarily as unreality fueled by deceit…that universities should be in the business of providing large spectacles of mass entertainment…

It is not a failure of our institutions so much as it is a window into what they have become — soulless, profit-driven monsters, Darwinian predators w/ precious little humanity left in them…Too much of this country is too big to fail."
pennstate  religion  grantland  collegesports  colleges  universities  2011  toobigtofail  ethics  morality  corporatism  loyalty  humanity  humanism  fear  failure  jerrysandusky  romancatholicchurch  rape  childabuse  law  corruption  civilliberties  collegefootball  us  crime  truth 
november 2011 by robertogreco
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