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Why College Is So Expensive In America - YouTube
"College in the United States is expensive. The cost of higher education just keeps going up. Tuition costs at both public and private universities have doubled since the late 80s, while accounting for inflation.

"I think that it's so ingrained in your head that you have to go to college, that college is the next step after graduation," said Jarret Freeman, a college graduate with roughly $50,000 in student debt. "I think in hindsight, I see that college is not for everyone."

But a college education is becoming more and more necessary to succeed in today's economy. Georgetown University estimates that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require more than a high school degree.

Students graduate with an average of $37,172 in student loan debt. It all adds up to $1.5 trillion across the country.

Watch the video above to learn how higher education became big business, hear from former students facing mounting debt and explore why it's so important to solve the student debt crisis."
colleges  universities  tuition  studentloans  studentdebt  money  2019  education  highered  highereducation  rankings  usnewsandworldreport  wealth  inequality  tests  testing  meritocracy  data  sat  standardizedtesting  funding 
14 days ago by robertogreco
How Harvard and Other Colleges Manage Their Endowments - YouTube
"College is expensive, but there is one place in higher education where there's no shortage of money – endowments. There's more than $616 billion worth of endowments assets in the U.S. Lawmakers are starting to questions why tuition is still rising if some schools have billions of dollars."
colleges  universities  ivyleague  endowments  2019  money  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  inequality  finance  highereducation  highered  power  wealth  universityoftexas  hedgefunds  yale  charity  hoarding  taxes  investment  stanford  divestment  economics  policy  politics  princeton 
17 days ago by robertogreco
America’s Professional Elite: Wealthy, Successful and Miserable - The New York Times
"The upper echelon is hoarding money and privilege to a degree not seen in decades. But that doesn’t make them happy at work."



"There’s a possibility, when it comes to understanding good jobs, that we have it all wrong. When I was speaking to my H.B.S. classmates, one of them reminded me about some people at our reunion who seemed wholly unmiserable — who seemed, somewhat to their own surprise, to have wound up with jobs that were both financially and emotionally rewarding. I knew of one person who had become a prominent venture capitalist; another friend had started a retail empire that expanded to five states; yet another was selling goods all over the world. There were some who had become investors running their own funds.

And many of them had something in common: They tended to be the also-rans of the class, the ones who failed to get the jobs they wanted when they graduated. They had been passed over by McKinsey & Company and Google, Goldman Sachs and Apple, the big venture-capital firms and prestigious investment houses. Instead, they were forced to scramble for work — and thus to grapple, earlier in their careers, with the trade-offs that life inevitably demands. These late bloomers seemed to have learned the lessons about workplace meaning preached by people like Barry Schwartz. It wasn’t that their workplaces were enlightened or (as far as I could tell) that H.B.S. had taught them anything special. Rather, they had learned from their own setbacks. And often they wound up richer, more powerful and more content than everyone else.

That’s not to wish genuine hardship on any American worker, given that a setback for a poor or working-class person can lead to bankruptcy, hunger or worse. But for those who do find themselves miserable at work, it’s an important reminder that the smoothest life paths sometimes fail to teach us about what really brings us satisfaction day to day. A core goal of capitalism is evaluating and putting a price on risk. In our professional lives, we hedge against misfortune by taking out insurance policies in the form of fancy degrees, saving against rainy days by pursuing careers that promise stability. Nowadays, however, stability is increasingly scarce, and risk is harder to measure. Many of our insurance policies have turned out to be worth as much as Enron.

“I’m jealous of everyone who had the balls to do something that made them happy,” my $1.2 million friend told me. “It seemed like too big a risk for me to take when we were at school.” But as one of the also-rans myself — I applied to McKinsey, to private-equity firms and to a real estate conglomerate and was rejected by them all — I didn’t need any courage in making the decision to go into the modest-paying (by H.B.S. standards) field of journalism. Some of my classmates thought I was making a huge mistake by ignoring all the doors H.B.S. had opened for me in high finance and Silicon Valley. What they didn’t know was that those doors, in fact, had stayed shut — and that as a result, I was saved from the temptation of easy riches. I’ve been thankful ever since, grateful that my bad luck made it easier to choose a profession that I’ve loved. Finding meaning, whether as a banker or a janitor, is difficult work. Usually life, rather than a business-school classroom, is the place to learn how to do it."
happiness  money  2019  charlesduhigg  wealth  success  fulfillment  life  living  economics  poverty  meaning  inequality 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
On making work in new surroundings Visual artist Cory Arcangel discusses leaving NYC and moving to Norway, the change in process and perspective that results from having a child, and how he will always be just a media artist from Buffalo.
"Yes. It’s like everything else. It`s always worse before you jump. It’s been liberating to let things go, especially all the things that I’m not really good at. And the Scandinavians are such chill people. They’re very talented, and really understated.

It’s the opposite of New York in a way. In New York, there’s a focus on money or success. It’s what a lot of culture is built on, and all arrows are pointing in those directions. In Norway, and in Scandinavia as a whole, everything is built for family life."
norway  nyc  money  priorities  coryarcangel  2019  family  slow  small  scandinavia  success  culture  society 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Model Metropolis
"Behind one of the most iconic computer games of all time is a theory of how cities die—one that has proven dangerously influential."



"Forrester’s central claim about complexity wasn’t a new one; it has a long history on the political right. In a 1991 book, Rhetoric of Reaction, the development economist and economic historian Albert O. Hirschman identified this style of argument as an example of what he called the “perversity thesis.” This kind of attack, which Hirschman traced back to Edmund Burke’s writings on the French Revolution, amounts to a kind of concern trolling. Using this rhetorical tactic, the conservative speaker can claim that they share your social goal, but simultaneously argue that the means you are using to achieve it will only make matters worse. When commentators claim “no-platforming will only make more Nazis,” that welfare programs lock recipients into a “cycle of dependency,” or that economic planning will lead a society down a “road to serfdom,” they’re making this kind of perversity argument.

What Forrester did was give the perversity thesis a patina of scientific and computational respectability. Hirschman himself makes specific reference to Urban Dynamics and argues that the “special, sophisticated attire” of Forrester’s models helped reintroduce this kind of argument “into polite company.” In the nearly fifty years since it has come out, Forrester’s “counterintuitive” style of thinking has become the default way of analyzing policy for mainstream wonks. For many, “counterintuitivity” is the new intuition.

Expert knowledge, of course, has an important place in democratic deliberation, but it can also cut people out of the policy process, dampen the urgency of moral claims, and program a sense of powerlessness into our public discourse. Appeals to a social system’s “complexity” and the potential for “perverse outcomes” can be enough to sink transformative social programs that are still on the drawing board. This might not matter in the context of a virtual environment like that of Urban Dynamics or SimCity, but we have decades of real-world evidence that demonstrates the disastrous costs of the “counterintuitive” anti-welfare agenda. Straightforward solutions to poverty and economic misery—redistribution and the provision of public services—have both empirical backing and moral force. Maybe it’s time we start listening to our intuition again."
simcity  libertarianism  history  games  gaming  videogames  cities  simulations  simulation  2019  kevinbaker  urban  urbanism  policy  politics  economics  bias  willwright  urbanpolicy  urbanplanning  complexity  democracy  alberthirschman  edmundburke  danielpatrickmoynihan  jayforrester  paulstarr  urbandynamics  johncollins  dynamo  class  classism  motivation  money  government  governance  poverty  systemsthinking  society 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong | Jason Hickel | Opinion | The Guardian
"An infographic endorsed by the Davos set presents the story of coerced global proletarianisation as a neoliberal triumph"

"Last week, as world leaders and business elites arrived in Davos for the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates tweeted an infographic to his 46 million followers showing that the world has been getting better and better. “This is one of my favourite infographics,” he wrote. “A lot of people underestimate just how much life has improved over the past two centuries.”

Of the six graphs – developed by Max Roser of Our World in Data – the first has attracted the most attention by far. It shows that the proportion of people living in poverty has declined from 94% in 1820 to only 10% today. The claim is simple and compelling. And it’s not just Gates who’s grabbed on to it. These figures have been trotted out in the past year by everyone from Steven Pinker to Nick Kristof and much of the rest of the Davos set to argue that the global extension of free-market capitalism has been great for everyone. Pinker and Gates have gone even further, saying we shouldn’t complain about rising inequality when the very forces that deliver such immense wealth to the richest are also eradicating poverty before our very eyes.

It’s a powerful narrative. And it’s completely wrong.

[tweet by Bill Gates with graphs]

There are a number of problems with this graph, though. First of all, real data on poverty has only been collected since 1981. Anything before that is extremely sketchy, and to go back as far as 1820 is meaningless. Roser draws on a dataset that was never intended to describe poverty, but rather inequality in the distribution of world GDP – and that for only a limited range of countries. There is no actual research to bolster the claims about long-term poverty. It’s not science; it’s social media.

What Roser’s numbers actually reveal is that the world went from a situation where most of humanity had no need of money at all to one where today most of humanity struggles to survive on extremely small amounts of money. The graph casts this as a decline in poverty, but in reality what was going on was a process of dispossession that bulldozed people into the capitalist labour system, during the enclosure movements in Europe and the colonisation of the global south.

Prior to colonisation, most people lived in subsistence economies where they enjoyed access to abundant commons – land, water, forests, livestock and robust systems of sharing and reciprocity. They had little if any money, but then they didn’t need it in order to live well – so it makes little sense to claim that they were poor. This way of life was violently destroyed by colonisers who forced people off the land and into European-owned mines, factories and plantations, where they were paid paltry wages for work they never wanted to do in the first place.

In other words, Roser’s graph illustrates a story of coerced proletarianisation. It is not at all clear that this represents an improvement in people’s lives, as in most cases we know that the new income people earned from wages didn’t come anywhere close to compensating for their loss of land and resources, which were of course gobbled up by colonisers. Gates’s favourite infographic takes the violence of colonisation and repackages it as a happy story of progress.

But that’s not all that’s wrong here. The trend that the graph depicts is based on a poverty line of $1.90 (£1.44) per day, which is the equivalent of what $1.90 could buy in the US in 2011. It’s obscenely low by any standard, and we now have piles of evidence that people living just above this line have terrible levels of malnutrition and mortality. Earning $2 per day doesn’t mean that you’re somehow suddenly free of extreme poverty. Not by a long shot.

Scholars have been calling for a more reasonable poverty line for many years. Most agree that people need a minimum of about $7.40 per day to achieve basic nutrition and normal human life expectancy, plus a half-decent chance of seeing their kids survive their fifth birthday. And many scholars, including Harvard economist Lant Pritchett, insist that the poverty line should be set even higher, at $10 to $15 per day.

So what happens if we measure global poverty at the low end of this more realistic spectrum – $7.40 per day, to be extra conservative? Well, we see that the number of people living under this line has increased dramatically since measurements began in 1981, reaching some 4.2 billion people today. Suddenly the happy Davos narrative melts away.

Moreover, the few gains that have been made have virtually all happened in one place: China. It is disingenuous, then, for the likes of Gates and Pinker to claim these gains as victories for Washington-consensus neoliberalism. Take China out of the equation, and the numbers look even worse. Over the four decades since 1981, not only has the number of people in poverty gone up, the proportion of people in poverty has remained stagnant at about 60%. It would be difficult to overstate the suffering that these numbers represent.

This is a ringing indictment of our global economic system, which is failing the vast majority of humanity. Our world is richer than ever before, but virtually all of it is being captured by a small elite. Only 5% of all new income from global growth trickles down to the poorest 60% – and yet they are the people who produce most of the food and goods that the world consumes, toiling away in those factories, plantations and mines to which they were condemned 200 years ago. It is madness – and no amount of mansplaining from billionaires will be adequate to justify it."

[See also:

"A Letter to Steven Pinker (and Bill Gates, For That Matter) About Global Poverty"
https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/3/pinker-and-global-poverty

"A Response to Max Roser: How Not to Measure Global Poverty"
https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/6/response-to-max-roser

"Citations Needed Podcast: Episode 58: The Neoliberal Optimism Industry"
https://soundcloud.com/citationsneeded/episode-58-the-neoliberal-optimism-industry ]
billgates  statistics  capitalism  inequality  poverty  2019  jasonhickel  davos  wealth  land  property  colonialism  colonization  maxroser  data  stevenpinker  nicholaskristof  gdp  dispossession  labor  work  money  neoliberalism  exploitation 
10 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
The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology (2018)
"It’s been quite a year for education news, not that you’d know that by listening to much of the ed-tech industry (press). Subsidized by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, some publications have repeatedly run overtly and covertly sponsored articles that hawk the future of learning as “personalized,” as focused on “the whole child.” Some of these attempt to stretch a contemporary high-tech vision of social emotional surveillance so it can map onto a strange vision of progressive education, overlooking no doubt how the history of progressive education has so often been intertwined with race science and eugenics.

Meanwhile this year, immigrant, refugee children at the United States border were separated from their parents and kept in cages, deprived of legal counsel, deprived of access to education, deprived in some cases of water.

“Whole child” and cages – it’s hardly the only jarring juxtaposition I could point to.

2018 was another year of #MeToo, when revelations about sexual assault and sexual harassment shook almost every section of society – the media and the tech industries, unsurprisingly, but the education sector as well – higher ed, K–12, and non-profits alike, as well school sports all saw major and devastating reports about cultures and patterns of sexual violence. These behaviors were, once again, part of the hearings and debates about a Supreme Court Justice nominee – a sickening deja vu not only for those of us that remember Anita Hill ’s testimony decades ago but for those of us who have experienced something similar at the hands of powerful people. And on and on and on.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) kept up with its rosy repetition that social equality is surely its priority, a product feature even – that VR, for example, a technology it has for so long promised is “on the horizon,” is poised to help everyone, particularly teachers and students, become more empathetic. Meanwhile, the founder of Oculus Rift is now selling surveillance technology for a virtual border wall between the US and Mexico.

2018 was a year in which public school teachers all over the US rose up in protest over pay, working conditions, and funding, striking in red states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma despite an anti-union ruling by the Supreme Court.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) was wowed by teacher influencers and teacher PD on Instagram, touting the promise for more income via a side-hustle like tutoring rather by structural or institutional agitation. Don’t worry, teachers. Robots won’t replace you, the press repeatedly said. Unsaid: robots will just de-professionalize, outsource, or privatize the work. Or, as the AI makers like to say, robots will make us all work harder (and no doubt, with no unions, cheaper).

2018 was a year of ongoing and increased hate speech and bullying – racism and anti-Semitism – on campuses and online.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) still maintained that blockchain would surely revolutionize the transcript and help insure that no one lies about who they are or what they know. Blockchain would enhance “smart spending” and teach financial literacy, the ed-tech industry (press) insisted, never once mentioning the deep entanglements between anti-Semitism and the alt-right and blockchain (specifically Bitcoin) backers.

2018 was a year in which hate and misinformation, magnified and spread by technology giants, continued to plague the world. Their algorithmic recommendation engines peddled conspiracy theories (to kids, to teens, to adults). “YouTube, the Great Radicalizer” as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci put it in a NYT op-ed.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) still talked about YouTube as the future of education, cheerfully highlighting (that is, spreading) its viral bullshit. Folks still retyped the press releases Google issued and retyped the press releases Facebook issued, lauding these companies’ (and their founders’) efforts to reshape the curriculum and reshape the classroom.

This is the ninth year that I’ve reviewed the stories we’re being told about education technology. Typically, this has been a ten (or more) part series. But I just can’t do it any more. Some people think it’s hilarious that I’m ed-tech’s Cassandra, but it’s not funny at all. It’s depressing, and it’s painful. And no one fucking listens.

If I look back at what I’ve written in previous years, I feel like I’ve already covered everything I could say about 2018. Hell, I’ve already written about the whole notion of the “zombie idea” in ed-tech – that bad ideas never seem to go away, that just get rebranded and repackaged. I’ve written about misinformation and ed-tech (and ed-tech as misinformation). I’ve written about the innovation gospel that makes people pitch dangerously bad ideas like “Uber for education” or “Alexa for babysitting.” I’ve written about the tech industry’s attempts to reshape the school system as its personal job training provider. I’ve written about the promise to “rethink the transcript” and to “revolutionize credentialing.” I’ve written about outsourcing and online education. I’ve written about coding bootcamps as the “new” for-profit higher ed, with all the exploitation that entails. I’ve written about the dangers of data collection and data analysis, about the loss of privacy and the lack of security.

And yet here we are, with Mark Zuckerberg – education philanthropist and investor – blinking before Congress, promising that AI will fix everything, while the biased algorithms keep churning out bias, while the education/technology industry (press) continues to be so blinded by “disruption” it doesn’t notice (or care) what’s happened to desegregation, and with so many data breaches and privacy gaffes that they barely make headlines anymore.

Folks. I’m done.

I’m also writing a book, and frankly that’s where my time and energy is going.

There is some delicious irony, I suppose, in the fact that there isn’t much that’s interesting or “innovative” to talk about in ed-tech, particularly since industry folks want to sell us on the story that tech is moving faster than it’s ever moved before, so fast in fact that the ol’ factory model school system simply cannot keep up.

I’ve always considered these year-in-review articles to be mini-histories of sorts – history of the very, very recent past. Now, instead, I plan to spend my time taking a longer, deeper look at the history of education technology, with particular attention for the next few months, as the title of my book suggests, to teaching machines – to the promises that machines will augment, automate, standardize, and individualize instruction. My focus is on the teaching machines of the mid-twentieth century, but clearly there are echoes – echoes of behaviorism and personalization, namely – still today.

In his 1954 book La Technique (published in English a decade later as The Technological Society), the sociologist Jacques Ellul observes how education had become oriented towards creating technicians, less interested in intellectual development than in personality development – a new “psychopedagogy” that he links to Maria Montessori. “The human brain must be made to conform to the much more advanced brain of the machine,” Ellul writes. “And education will no longer be an unpredictable and exciting adventure in human enlightenment , but an exercise in conformity and apprenticeship to whatever gadgetry is useful in a technical world.” I believe today we call this "social emotional learning" and once again (and so insistently by the ed-tech press and its billionaire backers), Montessori’s name is invoked as the key to preparing students for their place in the technological society.

Despite scant evidence in support of the psychopedagogies of mindsets, mindfulness, wellness, and grit, the ed-tech industry (press) markets these as solutions to racial and gender inequality (among other things), as the psychotechnologies of personalization are now increasingly intertwined not just with surveillance and with behavioral data analytics, but with genomics as well. “Why Progressives Should Embrace the Genetics of Education,” a NYT op-ed piece argued in July, perhaps forgetting that education’s progressives (including Montessori) have been down this path before.

This is the only good grit:

[image of Gritty]

If I were writing a lengthier series on the year in ed-tech, I’d spend much more time talking about the promises made about personalization and social emotional learning. I’ll just note here that the most important “innovator” in this area this year (other than Gritty) was surely the e-cigarette maker Juul, which offered a mindfulness curriculum to schools – offered them the curriculum and $20,000, that is – to talk about vaping. “‘The message: Our thoughts are powerful and can set action in motion,’ the lesson plan states.”

The most important event in ed-tech this year might have occurred on February 14, when a gunman opened fire on his former classmates at Marjory Stone Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and staff and injuring 17 others. (I chose this particular school shooting because of the student activism it unleashed.)

Oh, I know, I know – school shootings and school security aren’t ed-tech, ed-tech evangelists have long tried to insist, an argument I’ve heard far too often. But this year – the worst year on record for school shootings (according to some calculations) – I think that argument started to shift a bit. Perhaps because there’s clearly a lot of money to be made in selling schools “security” products and services: shooting simulation software, facial recognition technology, metal detectors, cameras, social media surveillance software, panic buttons, clear backpacks, bulletproof backpacks, … [more]
audreywatters  education  technology  edtech  2018  surveillance  privacy  personalization  progressive  schools  quantification  gamification  wholechild  montessori  mariamontessori  eugenics  psychology  siliconvalley  history  venturecapital  highereducation  highered  guns  gunviolence  children  youth  teens  shootings  money  influence  policy  politics  society  economics  capitalism  mindfulness  juul  marketing  gritty  innovation  genetics  psychotechnologies  gender  race  racism  sexism  research  socialemotional  psychopedagogy  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  learning  howwelearn  teachingmachines  nonprofits  nonprofit  media  journalism  access  donaldtrump  bias  algorithms  facebook  amazon  disruption  data  bigdata  security  jacquesellul  sociology  activism  sel  socialemotionallearning 
december 2018 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
Opinion | Everything Is for Sale Now. Even Us. - The New York Times
"Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.

Being sold to can be socially awkward, for sure, but when it comes to corrosive self-doubt, being the seller is a thousand times worse. The constant curation of a salable self demanded by the new economy can be a special hellspring of anxiety.

Like many modern workers, I find that only a small percentage of my job is now actually doing my job. The rest is performing a million acts of unpaid micro-labor that can easily add up to a full-time job in itself. Tweeting and sharing and schmoozing and blogging. Liking and commenting on others’ tweets and shares and schmoozes and blogs. Ambivalently “maintaining a presence on social media,” attempting to sell a semi-fictional, much more appealing version of myself in the vain hope that this might somehow help me sell some actual stuff at some unspecified future time.

The trick of doing this well, of course, is to act as if you aren’t doing it at all — as if this is simply how you like to unwind in the evening, by sharing your views on pasta sauce with your 567,000 followers. Seeing the slick charm of successful online “influencers” spurs me to download e-courses on how to “crack Instagram” or “develop my personal brand story.” But as soon as I hand over my credit card details, I am flooded with vague self-disgust. I instantly abandon the courses and revert to my usual business model — badgering and guilting my friends across a range of online platforms, employing the personal brand story of “pleeeeeeeeeeaassssee.”

As my friend Helena (Buy her young adult novel! Available on Amazon!) puts it, buying, promoting or sharing your friend’s “thing” is now a tax payable for modern friendship. But this expectation becomes its own monster. I find myself auditing my friends’ loyalty based on their efforts. Who bought it? Who shared it on Facebook? Was it a share from the heart, or a “duty share” — with that telltale, torturous phrasing that squeaks past the minimum social requirement but deftly dissociates the sharer from the product: “My friend wrote a book — I haven’t read it, but maybe you should.”

In this cutthroat human marketplace, we are worth only as much as the sum of our metrics, so checking those metrics can become obsessive. What’s my Amazon ranking? How many likes? How many retweets? How many followers? (The word “followers” is in itself a clear indicator of something psychologically unhealthy going on — the standard term for the people we now spend the bulk of our time with sounds less like a functioning human relationship than the P.R. materials of the Branch Davidians.)

Of course a fair chunk of this mass selling frenzy is motivated by money. With a collapsing middle class, as well as close to zero job security and none of the benefits associated with it, self-marketing has become, for many, a necessity in order to eat.

But what’s more peculiar is just how imperfectly all this correlates with financial need or even greed. The sad truth is that many of us would probably make more money stacking shelves or working at the drive-through than selling our “thing.” The real prize is deeper, more existential. What this is really about, for many of us, is a roaring black hole of psychological need.

After a couple of decades of constant advice to “follow our passions” and “live our dreams,” for a certain type of relatively privileged modern freelancer, nothing less than total self-actualization at work now seems enough. But this leaves us with an angsty mismatch between personal expectation and economic reality. So we shackle our self-worth to the success of these projects — the book or blog post or range of crocheted stuffed penguins becomes a proxy for our very soul. In the new economy you can be your own boss and your own ugly bug brooch.

Kudos to whichever neoliberal masterminds came up with this system. They sell this infinitely seductive torture to us as “flexible working” or “being the C.E.O. of You!” and we jump at it, salivating, because on its best days, the freelance life really can be all of that.

But as long as we are happy to be paid for our labor in psychological rather than financial rewards, those at the top are delighted to comply. While we grub and scrabble and claw at one another chasing these tiny pellets of self-esteem, the bug-brooch barons still pocket the actual cash.

This is the future, and research suggests that it’s a rat race that is already taking a severe toll on our psyches. A 2017 study suggests that this trend toward increasingly market-driven human interaction is making us paranoid, jittery, self-critical and judgmental.

Analyzing data from the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale from 1989 to 2016, the study’s authors found a surprisingly large increase over this period in three distinct types of perfectionism: “Self-orientated,” whereby we hold ourselves to increasingly unrealistic standards and judge ourselves harshly when we fail to meet them; “socially prescribed,” in which we are convinced that other people judge us harshly; and “other-orientated,” in which we get our revenge by judging them just as harshly. These elements of perfectionism positively correlate with mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and even suicide, which are also on the rise.

The authors describe this new-normal mind-set as a “sense of self overwhelmed by pathological worry and a fear of negative social evaluation.” Hmm. Maybe I should make that my personal brand story."
hustle  anxiety  capitalism  precarity  money  passion  2018  socialmedia  gigeconomy  microlabor  labor  work  perfectionism  happiness  ruthwhippman  sales  depression  mentalhealth  alwayson  personalbranding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Housing Can’t Be Both Affordable and a Good Investment - CityLab
[also posted here: http://cityobservatory.org/housing-cant-be-affordable_and_be-a-good-investment/ ]

"The two pillars of American housing policy are fundamentally at odds."



"Promoting homeownership as an investment strategy is a risky proposition. No financial advisor would recommend going into debt in order to put such a massive part of your savings in any other single financial instrument—and one that, as we learned just a few years ago, carries a great deal of risk.

Even worse, that risk isn’t random: It falls most heavily on low-income, black, and Hispanic buyers, who are given worse mortgage terms, and whose neighborhoods are systematically more likely to see low or even falling home values, with devastating effects on the racial wealth gap.

But let’s put all that aside for a moment. What if housing were a low-risk, can’t-miss bet for growing your personal wealth? What would that world look like?

Well, in order for your home to offer you a real profit, its price would need to increase faster than the rate of inflation. Let’s pick something decent, but not too extreme—say, annual increases of 2.5 percent, taking inflation into account. So if you bought a home for $200,000 and sold it ten years later, you’d be looking at a healthy profit of just over $56,000.

Sound good? Well, what if I told you that such a city existed? What if I told you it was in a beautiful natural setting, with hills and views of the ocean? And a booming economy? And lots of organic produce?

Maybe you’ve guessed by now: The wonderland of ever-increasing housing prices is San Francisco. When researcher Eric Fischer went back to construct a database of rental prices there, he found that rents had been growing by about 2.5 percent, net of inflation, for about 60 years. And this Zillow data suggests that San Francisco owner-occupied home prices have been growing by just over 2.5 percent since 1980 as well.

Like I said, over ten years, that gives you a profit of just over 25 percent. But compound interest is an amazing thing, and the longer this consistent wealth-building goes on, the more out of hand housing prices get. In 1980, Zillow’s home price index for San Francisco home prices was about $310,000 (in 2015 dollars). By 2015, after 35 years of averaging 2.5 percent growth, home prices were over $750,000.

Now, if all you cared about were wealth building, this would be fantastic news. The system works! (Although actually even this rosy scenario is missing some wrinkles: San Francisco real estate prices did suffer enormously, if briefly, during the late-2000s crash, and if you bought in the mid-2000s and had to sell in, say, 2010, you would have taken a massive loss.)

But this sort of wealth building is predicated on a never-ending stream of new people who are willing and able to pay current home owners increasingly absurd amounts of money for their homes. It is, in other words, a massive up-front transfer of wealth from younger people to older people, on the implicit promise that when those young people become old, there will be new young people willing to give them even more money. And of course, as prices rise, the only young people able to buy into this Ponzi scheme are quite well-to-do themselves. And because we’re not talking about stocks, but homes, “buying into this Ponzi scheme” means “able to live in San Francisco.”

In other words, possibly the only thing worse than a world in which homeownership doesn’t work as a wealth-building tool is a world in which it does work as a wealth-building tool.

This also means that the two stated pillars of American housing policy—homeownership as wealth-building and housing affordability—are fundamentally at odds. Mostly, American housing policy resolves this contradiction by quietly deciding that it really doesn’t care that much about affordability after all. While funds for low-income subsidized housing languish, much larger pots of money are set aside for promoting homeownership through subsidies like the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains exemption, most of which goes to upper-middle- or upper-class households.

But even markets with large amounts of affordable housing demonstrate the contradiction. Since at least the second half of the 20th century, the vast majority of actually affordable housing has been created via “filtering”: that is, the falling relative prices of market-rate housing as it ages, or its neighborhood loses social status, often as a result of racial changes. Low-income affordability, where it does exist, is predicated on large portions of the housing market acting as terrible investments.

And to the extent that low-income people do find a subsidized, price-fixed housing unit to live in, that means that they won’t be building any wealth, even as their richer, market-housing-dwelling neighbors do, increasing wealth inequality.

Even the community land trust, which seems to be a way of squaring the wealth-building/affordability circle, ultimately fails. Community land trusts typically provide subsidized or reduced price ownership opportunities to initial buyers, and assure longer term affordability by limiting the resale price of the home. In other words, CLT-financed homes remain affordable only because they restrict how much wealth building the initial owners are allowed to capture. The result is that CLT-financed homes only attract those who couldn’t otherwise purchase a home—which means that the lower-income people in CLTs will be building wealth more slowly than higher-income people in market-rate housing, a fundamentally inequality-increasing situation.

We say we want housing to be cheap and we want home ownership to be a great financial investment. Until we realize that these two objectives are mutually exclusive, we’ll continue to be frustrated by failed and oftentimes counterproductive housing policies."
housing  us  finance  2018  danielhertz  money  economics  generations  sanfrancisco  affordability  markets  capitalism  ownership 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Equality Trust | Working to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality
[See also:
(book) "The Spirit Level"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level_(book)
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better[1] is a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,[2] published in 2009 by Allen Lane. The book is published in the US by Bloomsbury Press (December, 2009) with the new sub-title: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.[3] It was then published in a paperback second edition (United Kingdom) in November 2010 by Penguin Books with the subtitle, Why Equality is Better for Everyone.[4]

The book argues that there are "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption".[5] It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries, whether rich or poor.[1] The book contains graphs that are available online.[6]

In 2010, the authors published responses to questions about their analysis on the Equality Trust website.[7] As of September 2012, the book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English.[8] It is available in 23 foreign editions.

"The Spirit Level authors: why society is more unequal than ever"
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/society-unequal-the-spirit-level

[follow-up book] "The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing"
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/188607/the-inner-level/
Why is the incidence of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany? Why are Americans three times more likely than the Dutch to develop gambling problems? Why is child well-being so much worse in New Zealand than Japan? As this groundbreaking study demonstrates, the answer to all these hinges on inequality.

In The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the centre of public debate by showing conclusively that less-equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, how it alters how we think, feel and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequalities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status is associated with elevated levels of stress, and how rates of anxiety and depression are intimately related to the inequality which makes that status paramount.

Wilkinson and Pickett describe how these responses to hierarchies evolved, and why the impacts of inequality on us are so severe. In doing so, they challenge the conception that humans are innately competitive and self-interested. They undermine, too, the idea that inequality is the product of 'natural' differences in individual ability. This book sheds new light on many of the most urgent problems facing societies today, but it is not just an index of our ills. It demonstrates that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being, and lays out the path towards them.

"Does inequality cause suicide, drug abuse and mental illness?"
https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2018/06/14/does-inequality-cause-suicide-drug-abuse-and-mental-illness

"“The Inner Level” seeks to push that debate forward, by linking inequality to a crisis of mental health. This time the authors’ argument focuses on status anxiety: stress related to fears about individuals’ places in social hierarchies. Anxiety declines as incomes rise, they show, but is higher at all levels in more unequal countries—to the extent that the richest 10% of people in high-inequality countries are more socially anxious than all but the bottom 10% in low-inequality countries. Anxiety contributes to a variety of mental-health problems, including depression, narcissism and schizophrenia—rates of which are alarming in the West, the authors say, and rise with inequality.

Manifestations of mental illness, such as self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling, all seem to get worse with income dispersion, too. Such relationships seem to apply within countries as well as between them. Damaging drug use is higher in more unequal neighbourhoods of New York City, in more unequal American states and in more unequal countries. The authors emphasise that it is a person’s relative position rather than absolute income that matters most. A study of 30,000 Britons found that an individual’s place in the income hierarchy predicted the incidence of mental stress more accurately than absolute income did. And in America, relative income is more closely linked to depression than absolute income. It is not enough to lift all boats, their work suggests, if the poshest vessels are always buoyed up more than the humblest.

The fact that relative status matters so much is a result of human beings’ intrinsically social nature, Ms Pickett and Mr Wilkinson argue. Group interaction and co-operation have been an essential component of humanity’s evolutionary success; indeed, the authors say, its social nature helped drive the growth of human brains. Across primates, they write, the size of the neocortex—a part of the brain responsible for higher-level cognitive functions—varies with the typical group size of a species. Living in complex social groups is hard cognitive work. Survival requires an understanding of roles within the social hierarchy, and intuition of what others are thinking. Thus people are necessarily sensitive to their status within groups, and to social developments that threaten it.

Such hierarchies are found in all human societies. But as inequality rises, differences in status become harder to ignore. There is more to be gained or lost by moving from one rung on the ladder to another. And however much some maintain that disparities in pay-cheques do not correspond to differences in human worth, such well-meaning pieties feel hollow when high-rollers earn hundreds or thousands of times what ordinary folk take home. Money cannot buy everything, but it can buy most things. The steeper the income gradient, the less secure everyone becomes, in both their self-respect and their sense of the community’s esteem.

And so people compensate. They take pills, to steel their nerves or dull the pain. Some cut themselves. Some adopt a more submissive posture, avoiding contact with others. Yet such withdrawal can feed on itself, depriving recluses of the social interaction that is important to mental health, undermining relationships and careers and contributing to economic hardship.

Others respond in the opposite way, by behaving more aggressively and egotistically. Studies of narcissistic tendencies showed a steep increase between 1982 and 2006, the authors report; 30% more Americans displayed narcissistic characteristics at the end of the period than at the beginning. Scrutiny of successive American cohorts found a progressive rise in those listing wealth and fame as important goals (above fulfilment and community). Over time, more people cited money as the main motivation for attending college (rather than intellectual enrichment).

Domineering responses to anxiety are associated with loss of empathy and delusions of grandeur. Thus highly successful people often display narcissistic or even psychopathic behaviour. In surveys, the rich are generally less empathetic and more likely to think they deserve special treatment than others. Modern capitalism, the authors suggest, selects for assertiveness, for a lack of sentimentality in business and comfort in sacking underlings, and for showy displays of economic strength. From the top to the bottom of the income spectrum, people use conspicuous consumption and other means of enhancing their image to project status.

The least secure are often the most likely to exaggerate their qualities. For example, countries with lower average life-expectancy tend to do better on measures of self-reported health; 54% of Japanese say they are in good health compared with 80% of Americans, though the Japanese live five years longer on average. Whereas 70% of Swedes consider themselves to be above-average drivers, 90% of Americans do. Such figures cast declamations of America’s greatness, and the politicians who make them, in a new light."

"The Inner Level review – how more equal societies reduce stress and improve wellbeing"
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/20/the-inner-level-review ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmquJ7Ngvme/ ]
equality  inequality  society  trust  anxiety  well-being  stress  mentalhealth  uk  economics  community  socialmobility  class  education  drugs  drugabuse  health  violence  illness  consumption  hierarchy  horizontality  mentalillness  status  self-harm  gambling  depression  narcissism  schizophrenia  relativity  excess  cooperation  egotism  selfishness  empathy  dunning–krugereffect  greatness  politics  lifeexpectancy  japan  sweden  us  driving  capitalism  latecapitalism  fame  fulfillment  money  motivation  colleges  universities  exceptionalism  assertiveness  aggressiveness  richardwilkinson  katepickett  growth  erichfromm 
august 2018 by robertogreco
How the Startup Mentality Failed Kids in San Francisco | WIRED
"THE SHEER NUMBER of mishaps at Brown, right from the start, defies easy explanation. According to the district, Principal Hobson, who declined to comment for this story, tried to quit as early as June of 2015, two months before the school opened. The superintendent talked him into staying but, a district official told me, his heart seems not to have been in it.

The summer before the kids showed up for class should have been a time when Hobson and the staff trained and planned, and built a functioning community that knew how to care for 11- and 12-year-old kids and all their messy humanity. Instead, according to one former teacher, the primary teacher training was a two-week boot camp offered by Summit Public Schools meant to help teachers with the personalized learning platform. Teachers who attended that boot camp told me that as opening day inched closer, they worried that Hobson had yet to announce even basic policies on tardiness, attendance, and misbehavior. When they asked him how to handle such matters, according to one teacher who preferred not to be identified, “Hobson’s response was always like, ‘Positive, productive, and professional.’ We were like, ‘OK, those are three words. We need procedures.’ ” When families showed up for an orientation on campus, according to the teacher, Hobson structured the event around “far-off stuff like the 3-D printer.” That orientation got cut short when the fire marshal declared Brown unsafe because of active construction.

After the school opened, Lisa Green took time off work to volunteer there. “When I stepped into that door, it was utter chaos,” she told me. According to parents and staff who were there, textbooks were still in boxes, student laptops had not arrived, there was no fabrication equipment in the makerspace or robotics equipment ready to use. According to records provided by the district, parts of the campus were unfinished. Teachers say workers were still jackhammering and pouring hot asphalt as students went from class to class. The kids came from elementary schools where they had only one or two teachers, so Brown’s college-like course schedule, with different classes on different days, turned out to be overwhelming. When Hobson quit, district bureaucrats sent out letters explaining that he had left for personal reasons and was being replaced by an interim principal.

Shawn Whalen, the former San Francisco State chief of staff, says that pretty early on, “kids were throwing things at teachers. Teachers couldn’t leave their rooms and had nobody to call, or if they did nobody was coming. My daughter’s English teacher walked up in front of the students and said ‘I can’t do this’ and quit. There was no consistent instructional activity going on.”

Teachers also became disgusted by the gulf between what was happening on the inside and the pretty picture still being sold to outsiders. “I used to have to watch when the wife of a Twitter exec would come surrounded by a gaggle of district people,” said another former teacher at the school. “We had a lovely building, but it was like someone bought you a Ferrari and you popped the hood and there was no engine.”

Early in the school year, another disaster struck—this time, according to district documents, over Summit’s desire to gather students’ personally identifiable information. The district refused to compel parents to sign waivers giving up privacy rights. Contract negotiations stalled. When the two sides failed to reach a resolution, the district terminated the school’s use of the platform. (Summit says it has since changed this aspect of its model.) This left teachers with 80-minute class periods and without the curriculum tools they were using to teach. “Teachers started walking away from their positions because this is not what they signed up for,” said Bill Kappenhagen, who took over as Brown’s third principal. “It was just a total disaster.”

The adults had failed to lead, and things fell apart. “The children came in and were very excited,” says another former teacher. “They were very positive until they realized the school was a sham. Once they realized that, you could just see the damage it did, and their mind frame shifting, and that’s when the bad behavior started.”

Hoping to establish order, Kappenhagen, a warm and focused man with long experience in public school leadership, simplified the class schedule and made class periods shorter. “I got pushback from parents who truly signed their kid up for the STEM school,” he said. “I told them, ‘We’re going to do middle school well, then the rest will come.’ ”

Xander Shapiro’s son felt so overwhelmed by the chaos that he stopped going to class. “There was an exodus of people who could advocate for themselves,” Shapiro said. “Eventually I realized it was actually hurting my son to be at school, so I pulled him out and said, ‘I’m homeschooling.’ ”

Green made a similar choice after a boy began throwing things at her daughter in English class and she says no one did anything about it. “I don’t think any kid was learning in that school,” she says. “I felt like my daughter lost an entire semester.” Her daughter was back in private school before winter break.

THE FIRST YEAR of any school is full of glitches and missteps, but what happened at Willie Brown seemed extreme. To learn more, I submitted a public records request to the district, seeking any and all documentation from the school’s planning phase and its first year. Among other things, I got notes from meetings conducted years earlier, as the district gathered ideas for Brown 2.0. It all sounded terrific: solar panels, sustainable materials, flatscreen televisions in the counseling room, gardens to “support future careers like organic urban farming.” Absent, though, was any effort to overcome some of the primary weaknesses in San Francisco public education: teacher and principal retention issues, and salaries dead last among the state’s 10 largest districts.

Eric Hanushek, a Stanford professor of economics who studies education, points out that among all the countless reforms tried over the years—smaller schools, smaller class sizes, beautiful new buildings—the one that correlates most reliably with good student outcomes is the presence of good teachers and principals who stick around. When Willie Brown opened, some teachers were making around $43,000 a year, which works out to about the same per month as the city’s average rent of about $3,400 for a one-­bedroom apartment. After a decade of service, a teacher can now earn about $77,000 a year, and that’s under a union contract. (By comparison, a midcareer teacher who moves 40 miles south, to the Mountain View Los Altos District, can make around $120,000 a year.)

The tech-driven population boom over the past 15 years has meant clogged freeways with such intractable traffic that moving to a more affordable town can burden a teacher with an hours-long commute. According to a 2016 San Francisco Chronicle investigation of 10 California school districts, “San Francisco Unified had the highest resignation rate.” That year, the article found, “368 teachers announced they would leave the district come summertime, the largest sum in more than a decade and nearly double the amount from five years ago.” Heading into the 2016–17 school year, the school district had 664 vacancies.

Proposition 13 takes a measure of blame for low teacher salaries, but San Francisco also allocates a curiously small percentage of its education budget to teacher salaries and other instructional expenses—43 percent, compared with 61 percent statewide, according to the Education Data Partnership. Gentle Blythe, chief communications officer for the SFUSD, points out that San Francisco is both a city and a county, and it is therefore burdened with administrative functions typically performed by county education departments. Blythe also says that well-­intentioned reforms such as smaller class sizes and smaller schools spread the budget among more teachers and maintenance workers. It is also true, however, that the district’s central-office salaries are among the state’s highest, as they should be given the cost of living in San Francisco. The superintendent makes $310,000 a year; the chief communications officer, about $154,000, according to the database Transparent California.

District records show that at least 10 full-time staff members of Brown’s original faculty earned less than $55,000 a year. The Transparent California database also shows that Principal Hobson earned $129,000, a $4,000 increase from his Chicago salary. That sounds generous until you consider that Chicago’s median home price is one-fourth that of San Francisco’s."
sanfrancisco  schools  education  siliconvalley  money  publicschools  children  2018  stem  middleschools  teaching  howeteach  summitpublicschools 
june 2018 by robertogreco
ER bills: A baby was treated with a nap. His parents got an $18,000 bill. - Vox
"An ER patient can be charged thousands of dollars in “trauma fees” — even if they weren’t treated for trauma."



"Patients face steep bills — and questionable charges — when trauma teams “activate”"



"An ibuprofen, two medical staples — and a $26,998 bill"
us  healthcare  medicine  money  2018  policy  hospitals  california 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Matt Haughey on Twitter: "My favorite grad school geography/history tidbit came from a Soils professor that worked around mining. It goes like this: In the American West and Midwest you can tell who settled a city by how it looks on a map. Let me explain
"My favorite grad school geography/history tidbit came from a Soils professor that worked around mining. It goes like this: In the American West and Midwest you can tell who settled a city by how it looks on a map. Let me explain…

A town settled by miners or lumberjacks is interested in making money FAST. Roads go from mountains to town centers where the sawmill or assay office is. Adding switchbacks takes too much time & money. On maps, these cities typically follow a star pattern from above.

Farmers have time. Crops follow seasons, year after year, over decades. Making money is slow. Their cities follow grid patterns where the streets are 1st, 2nd, 3rd going one direction and A Street, B Street, C Street the other. On maps, farmer towns look like logical squares.

Here are two towns in South Dakota: one settled by farmers, one by miners. Spot the difference.

From now on, whenever you look at a map of the American West, you’ll know something about each town’s history in an instant.:"
matthaughey  geography  cities  towns  architecture  culture  design  environment  history  farming  time  mining  lumber  speed  money  americanwest  maps  mapping  patterns  midwest  settlement 
june 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
Why we should bulldoze the business school | News | The Guardian
"There are 13,000 business schools on Earth. That’s 13,000 too many. And I should know – I’ve taught in them for 20 years. By Martin Parker



Visit the average university campus and it is likely that the newest and most ostentatious building will be occupied by the business school. The business school has the best building because it makes the biggest profits (or, euphemistically, “contribution” or “surplus”) – as you might expect, from a form of knowledge that teaches people how to make profits.

Business schools have huge influence, yet they are also widely regarded to be intellectually fraudulent places, fostering a culture of short-termism and greed. (There is a whole genre of jokes about what MBA – Master of Business Administration – really stands for: “Mediocre But Arrogant”, “Management by Accident”, “More Bad Advice”, “Master Bullshit Artist” and so on.) Critics of business schools come in many shapes and sizes: employers complain that graduates lack practical skills, conservative voices scorn the arriviste MBA, Europeans moan about Americanisation, radicals wail about the concentration of power in the hands of the running dogs of capital. Since 2008, many commentators have also suggested that business schools were complicit in producing the crash.

Having taught in business schools for 20 years, I have come to believe that the best solution to these problems is to shut down business schools altogether. This is not a typical view among my colleagues. Even so, it is remarkable just how much criticism of business schools over the past decade has come from inside the schools themselves. Many business school professors, particularly in north America, have argued that their institutions have gone horribly astray. B-schools have been corrupted, they say, by deans following the money, teachers giving the punters what they want, researchers pumping out paint-by-numbers papers for journals that no one reads and students expecting a qualification in return for their cash (or, more likely, their parents’ cash). At the end of it all, most business-school graduates won’t become high-level managers anyway, just precarious cubicle drones in anonymous office blocks.

These are not complaints from professors of sociology, state policymakers or even outraged anti-capitalist activists. These are views in books written by insiders, by employees of business schools who themselves feel some sense of disquiet or even disgust at what they are getting up to. Of course, these dissenting views are still those of a minority. Most work within business schools is blithely unconcerned with any expression of doubt, participants being too busy oiling the wheels to worry about where the engine is going. Still, this internal criticism is loud and significant.

The problem is that these insiders’ dissent has become so thoroughly institutionalised within the well-carpeted corridors that it now passes unremarked, just an everyday counterpoint to business as usual. Careers are made by wailing loudly in books and papers about the problems with business schools. The business school has been described by two insiders as “a cancerous machine spewing out sick and irrelevant detritus”. Even titles such as Against Management, Fucking Management and The Greedy Bastard’s Guide to Business appear not to cause any particular difficulties for their authors. I know this, because I wrote the first two. Frankly, the idea that I was permitted to get away with this speaks volumes about the extent to which this sort of criticism means anything very much at all. In fact, it is rewarded, because the fact that I publish is more important than what I publish.

Most solutions to the problem of the B-school shy away from radical restructuring, and instead tend to suggest a return to supposedly more traditional business practices, or a form of moral rearmament decorated with terms such as “responsibility” and “ethics”. All of these suggestions leave the basic problem untouched, that the business school only teaches one form of organising – market managerialism.

That’s why I think that we should call in the bulldozers and demand an entirely new way of thinking about management, business and markets. If we want those in power to become more responsible, then we must stop teaching students that heroic transformational leaders are the answer to every problem, or that the purpose of learning about taxation laws is to evade taxation, or that creating new desires is the purpose of marketing. In every case, the business school acts as an apologist, selling ideology as if it were science."



"The easiest summary of all of the above, and one that would inform most people’s understandings of what goes on in the B-school, is that they are places that teach people how to get money out of the pockets of ordinary people and keep it for themselves. In some senses, that’s a description of capitalism, but there is also a sense here that business schools actually teach that “greed is good”. As Joel M Podolny, the former dean of Yale School of Management, once opined: “The way business schools today compete leads students to ask, ‘What can I do to make the most money?’ and the manner in which faculty members teach allows students to regard the moral consequences of their actions as mere afterthoughts.”

This picture is, to some extent, backed up by research, although some of this is of dubious quality. There are various surveys of business-school students that suggest that they have an instrumental approach to education; that is to say, they want what marketing and branding tells them that they want. In terms of the classroom, they expect the teaching of uncomplicated and practical concepts and tools that they deem will be helpful to them in their future careers. Philosophy is for the birds.

As someone who has taught in business schools for decades, this sort of finding doesn’t surprise me, though others suggest rather more incendiary findings. One US survey compared MBA students to people who were imprisoned in low-security prisons and found that the latter were more ethical. Another suggested that the likelihood of committing some form of corporate crime increased if the individual concerned had experience of graduate business education, or military service. (Both careers presumably involve absolving responsibility to an organisation.) Other surveys suggest that students come in believing in employee wellbeing and customer satisfaction and leave thinking that shareholder value is the most important issue, and that business-school students are more likely to cheat than students in other subjects."



"The sorts of doors to knowledge we find in universities are based on exclusions. A subject is made up by teaching this and not that, about space (geography) and not time (history), about collectives of people (sociology) and not about individuals (psychology), and so on. Of course, there are leakages and these are often where the most interesting thinking happens, but this partitioning of the world is constitutive of any university discipline. We cannot study everything, all the time, which is why there are names of departments over the doors to buildings and corridors.

However, the B-school is an even more extreme case. It is constituted through separating commercial life from the rest of life, but then undergoes a further specialisation. The business school assumes capitalism, corporations and managers as the default form of organisation, and everything else as history, anomaly, exception, alternative. In terms of curriculum and research, everything else is peripheral.

Most business schools exist as parts of universities, and universities are generally understood as institutions with responsibilities to the societies they serve. Why then do we assume that degree courses in business should only teach one form of organisation – capitalism – as if that were the only way in which human life could be arranged?

The sort of world that is being produced by the market managerialism that the business school sells is not a pleasant one. It’s a sort of utopia for the wealthy and powerful, a group that the students are encouraged to imagine themselves joining, but such privilege is bought at a very high cost, resulting in environmental catastrophe, resource wars and forced migration, inequality within and between countries, the encouragement of hyper-consumption as well as persistently anti-democratic practices at work.

Selling the business school works by ignoring these problems, or by mentioning them as challenges and then ignoring them in the practices of teaching and research. If we want to be able to respond to the challenges that face human life on this planet, then we need to research and teach about as many different forms of organising as we are able to collectively imagine. For us to assume that global capitalism can continue as it is means to assume a path to destruction. So if we are going to move away from business as usual, then we also need to radically reimagine the business school as usual. And this means more than pious murmurings about corporate social responsibility. It means doing away with what we have, and starting again."
mba  business  education  capitalism  businessschools  latecapitalism  2018  martinparker  highereducation  highered  corporatism  universities  colleges  society  priorities  managerialism  exclusions  privilege  environment  sustainability  markets  destruction  ethics  publicgood  neoliberalism  finance  money 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry: Budget cuts to University Press of Kentucky 'barbaric'
"Like a good many others these days, I would welcome an earnest public discussion about education. What is it now? What should it be? What is the right ratio of its cost to its worth? Perhaps the discussion could begin with the proposition that to be properly human our species should include a significant number of politicians and others who are competently literate, which means in part having a familiar and usable knowledge of literature and history.

Though I have doubts and questions about our state’s system of education, I am its product, its sometime employee, and in many ways its beneficiary. As such, and as a tax-paying citizen, I want to say that the part of this system that has most steadily served the great cause of literacy in my lifetime has been the University Press of Kentucky, which is now marked for destruction by one of Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts that is both petty and barbaric. If it should happen, this destruction would amount to an act of censorship, for the knowledge made available by the Press belongs to the people of Kentucky, to readers now and to come. It is a part of our commonwealth, which the governor and the government are entrusted to protect, not destroy.

In defending the Press, I have in mind the geographic, economic and historical uniqueness of Kentucky. Perhaps no other state is so regionally divided as ours. Perhaps there is no other where the interests of agriculture, industry and urban development have competed so hurtfully. No other state’s experience of the Civil War closely resembled ours, and no others suffered its influences in the way we have. And so our need for books about our land and our people, our history and natural history, our political and economic life, is not going to be adequately served by the great commercial publishing companies, or by the university presses of other states. That need can only be served, and it has been admirably served, by The University Press of Kentucky.

Because we have sustained that press for 75 years with a very modest investment of public money, we have The Kentucky Encyclopedia and Lowell Harrison’s and James Klotter’s New History of Kentucky, books that have the distinction of being indispensable to Kentucky students young and old; and we have in print books by James Still, Harlan Hubbard, Jim Wayne Miller, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Crystal Wilkinson that will be needed by coming generations of literate Kentuckians. Any concerned citizens who want to understand this state as it was and now is, and how it became what it now is, will find themselves immediately and continuously indebted to the University Press of Kentucky.

We have this priceless asset, not only at a small monetary cost, but also by the efforts freely given over many years by our state’s dedicated teachers and scholars. Foremost among these, as literate Kentuckians would expect, was Thomas D. Clark. As one of his hundreds of students and friends, I knew Dr. Clark fairly well. He was, by any measure, an eminent historian and teacher. He was also one of this state’s preeminent public servants. According to his entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, he “started [the University of Kentucky] library’s Special Collection;” he “was the primary mover behind the founding of a state archives;” and he “was in the vanguard of the movement that established the University of Kentucky Press in 1943 and the University Press of Kentucky in 1968.”

In the lists of the Press’ officers and the members of its board and committees, I find names of men and women I knew and respected, and names of others I knew only by reputation and respected. Among them, I am most touched by the name of Thomas B. Stroup. Of all the teachers I had at the University of Kentucky, he was the one who was most demanding, who therefore taught me most, and is therefore the one to whom I am most grateful. Though he was not specialized in his love of literature, he taught especially the work of John Milton and other poets of the seventeenth century. One time I heard him say to a quarrelsome student: “Of course I think this is important! Why else would I have devoted my life to it?” He said “devoted.”

To destroy the University Press of Kentucky, as our governor now proposes to do, may be required to uphold our state’s reputation for ignorance, but it is not required by poverty. The sum to be withheld is a small fraction of what we pay into the salaries of university administrators. But of all that is to be considered, what is most heart-sickening to me is to see the devoted work of such people as Dr. Clark and Dr. Stroup officially appraised as worthless."
wendellberry  universitypressofkentucky  education  kentucky  economics  money  priorities  publishing  2018  literacy  mattbevin  books 
march 2018 by robertogreco
ORBITAL OPERATIONS: Alive And A King - OO 18 Feb 18
"2

Damien Williams on a book about animal tool-use [https://social-epistemology.com/2018/02/13/deleting-the-human-clause-damien-williams/ ] and the "human clause" -

Shew says that we consciously and unconsciously appended a “human clause” to all of our definitions of technology, tool use, and intelligence, and this clause’s presumption—that it doesn’t really “count” if humans aren’t the ones doing it—is precisely what has to change.

Tracking Elon Musk's car through space.

Eight reasons why Facebook has peaked.

Does anyone else find it odd that selfies still get more likes and engagement on Instagram than anything else?


3

Via Nabil, this interview with Jason Kottke [http://orbitaloperations.createsend1.com/t/d-l-ojdgtl-iroiiuht-i/ ], a survivor of the first wave of "professional bloggers," is interesting.
The way I’ve been thinking about it lately is that I am like a vaudevillian. I’m the last guy dancing on the stage, by myself, and everyone else has moved on to movies and television. The Awl and The Hairpin have folded. Gawker’s gone, though it would probably still be around if it hadn’t gotten sued out of existence.

On the other hand, blogging is kind of everywhere. Everyone who’s updating their Facebook pages and tweeting and posting on Instagram and Pinterest is performing a bloggish act.

The Republic Of Newsletters.

The Invisible College of Blogs.

Kottke notes that he gave up on RSS when Google Reader shut down. So did some websites. But not all of them, not by a long chalk. And RSS readers like Feedbin work just fine, even in tandem with phone apps like Reeder. (I know other people who swear by Feedly.)

In part of a long thread about the Mueller indictments, my old acquaintance Baratunde Thurston said:
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.

These two lines apply to pretty much everything on and about the internet in the 2010s, too.
When I was young, living down the road in Essex, where radio was born (in a Marconi hut outside Chelmsford), radio came out of wooden boxes. Switches and dials. I liked the way my old radios imposed architecture on a world of invisible waves. A red needle, numbers, a speedometer for signals. Physical switching between Medium Wave, FM and Long Wave. Ramps and streets and windows. To me, it gave radio a structure like the false topology of the Tube map.

That was me, from a few years ago. I bet, at some point, there were Tube maps made for certain blogging continuums.

Why am I going on about this again? Because you like reading. You wouldn't be here if you didn't like reading. The "pivot to video" narrative of last year turned out to be basically Facebook's way to kill publishers, and it was a great doomsday weapon. Get publishers to fire all their writers and get video makers in. Then kill publishers' ability to reach people on Facebook with video! It was genius, and you need to understand how insidious that was.

(Also ref. Chris Hardwick's recent Twitter rant about the terrible timeshifting Instagram is doing.)

Tumblr's so fucked up that you could probably take it over between you. And set up systems with IFTTT as simple as mailing your posts to yourself so you have an archive for when the ship goes down.

The Republic and the College are pro-reading, pro-thinking, pro- the independence of voices.

In 2015, I also wrote:
I’m an edge case. I want an untangled web. I want everything I do to copy back to a single place, so I have one searchable log for each day’s thoughts, images, notes and activities. This is apparently Weird and Hermetic if not Hermitic.

I am building my monastery walls in preparation for the Collapse and the Dark Ages, damnit. Stop enabling networked lightbulbs and give me the tools to survive your zombie planet.
"



"4

Back in 2012, I had the great honour of introducing reporter Greg Palast to an audience in London, and this is part of what I said:

I'm a writer of fiction. It's fair to wonder why I'm here. I'm the last person who should be standing here talking about a book about real tragedies and economics. I come from a world where even the signposts are fictional. Follow the white rabbit. Second star to the right and straight on til morning. And a more recent one, from forty years ago, the fictional direction given by a mysterious man to an eager journalist: follow the money.

Economics is an artform. It's the art of the invisible. Money is fictional.

The folding cash in your pocket isn't real. Look at it. It's a promissory note. "I promise to pay the bearer." It's a little story, a fiction that claims your cash can be redeemed for the equivalent in goods or gold. But it won't be, because there isn't enough gold to go around. So you're told that your cash is "legal tender," which means that everyone agrees to pretend it's like money. If everyone in this room went to The Bank Of England tomorrow and said "I would like you to redeem all my cash for gold, right here, in my hand" I guarantee you that you all would see some perfect expressions of stark fucking terror.

It's not real. Cash has never been real. It's a stand-in, a fiction, a symbol that denotes money. Money that you never see. There was a time when money was sea shells, cowries. That's how we counted money once. Then written notes, then printed notes. Then telegraphy, when money was dots and dashes, and then telephone calls. Teletypes and tickers. Into the age of the computer, money as datastreams that got faster and wider, leading to latency realty where financial houses sought to place their computers in physical positions that would allow them to shave nanoseconds off their exchanges of invisible money in some weird digital feng shui, until algorithmic trading began and not only did we not see the money any more, but we can barely even see what's moving the money, and now we have people talking about strange floating computer islands to beat latency issues and even, just a few weeks ago, people planning to build a neutrino cannon on the other side of the world that actually beams financial events through the centre of the planet itself at lightspeed. A money gun.

Neutrinos are subatomic units that are currently believed to be their own antiparticle. Or, to put it another way, they are both there and not there at the same time. Just like your cash. Just like fiction: a real thing that never happened. Money is an idea.

But I don't want to make it sound small. Because it's really not. Money is one of those few ideas that pervades the matter of the planet. One of those few bits of fiction that, if it turns its back on you, can kill you stone dead."
warrenellis  2018  damienwilliams  multispecies  morethanhuman  blogging  economics  communities  community  newsletters  googlereader  rss  feedly  feedbin  radio  reading  chrishardwick  instagram  timelines  socialmedia  facebook  selfies  aggregator  monasteries  networks  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  gregpalast  fiction  money  capitialism  cash  tumblr  ifttt  internet  web  online  reeder 
february 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
An interactive map of debt in America
"The Urban Institute has built an interactive map for exploring debt in America.
Credit can be a lifeline during emergencies and a bridge to education and homeownership. But debt-which can stem from credit or unpaid bills-often burdens families and communities and exacerbates wealth inequality. This map shows the geography of debt in America at the national, state, and county levels.

I’d love to hear why the “share with any debt in collections” is so relatively low in the Upper Midwest, Minnesota in particular.

Update: Unsurprisingly, health insurance coverage is a significant factor in American debt…and Minnesota has a low rate of medical debt in collections along with a relatively low rate of uninsured. This 2016 press release from MN Department of Health provides some clues as to why the uninsured rate is so comparatively low. (via @yodaui)"
maps  mapping  us  data  debt  economics  2017  classideas  money  finance  inequality 
january 2018 by robertogreco
How Civilization Started | The New Yorker
"In “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States,” James C. Scott, a professor of political science at Yale, presents a plausible contender for the most important piece of technology in the history of man. It is a technology so old that it predates Homo sapiens and instead should be credited to our ancestor Homo erectus. That technology is fire. We have used it in two crucial, defining ways. The first and the most obvious of these is cooking. As Richard Wrangham has argued in his book “Catching Fire,” our ability to cook allows us to extract more energy from the food we eat, and also to eat a far wider range of foods. Our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, has a colon three times as large as ours, because its diet of raw food is so much harder to digest. The extra caloric value we get from cooked food allowed us to develop our big brains, which absorb roughly a fifth of the energy we consume, as opposed to less than a tenth for most mammals’ brains. That difference is what has made us the dominant species on the planet.

The other reason fire was central to our history is less obvious to contemporary eyes: we used it to adapt the landscape around us to our purposes. Hunter-gatherers would set fires as they moved, to clear terrain and make it ready for fast-growing, prey-attracting new plants. They would also drive animals with fire. They used this technology so much that, Scott thinks, we should date the human-dominated phase of earth, the so-called Anthropocene, from the time our forebears mastered this new tool.

We don’t give the technology of fire enough credit, Scott suggests, because we don’t give our ancestors much credit for their ingenuity over the long period—ninety-five per cent of human history—during which most of our species were hunter-gatherers. “Why human fire as landscape architecture doesn’t register as it ought to in our historical accounts is perhaps that its effects were spread over hundreds of millennia and were accomplished by ‘precivilized’ peoples also known as ‘savages,’ ” Scott writes. To demonstrate the significance of fire, he points to what we’ve found in certain caves in southern Africa. The earliest, oldest strata of the caves contain whole skeletons of carnivores and many chewed-up bone fragments of the things they were eating, including us. Then comes the layer from when we discovered fire, and ownership of the caves switches: the human skeletons are whole, and the carnivores are bone fragments. Fire is the difference between eating lunch and being lunch."



"It was the ability to tax and to extract a surplus from the produce of agriculture that, in Scott’s account, led to the birth of the state, and also to the creation of complex societies with hierarchies, division of labor, specialist jobs (soldier, priest, servant, administrator), and an élite presiding over them. Because the new states required huge amounts of manual work to irrigate the cereal crops, they also required forms of forced labor, including slavery; because the easiest way to find slaves was to capture them, the states had a new propensity for waging war. Some of the earliest images in human history, from the first Mesopotamian states, are of slaves being marched along in neck shackles. Add this to the frequent epidemics and the general ill health of early settled communities and it is not hard to see why the latest consensus is that the Neolithic Revolution was a disaster for most of the people who lived through it.

War, slavery, rule by élites—all were made easier by another new technology of control: writing. “It is virtually impossible to conceive of even the earliest states without a systematic technology of numerical record keeping,” Scott maintains. All the good things we associate with writing—its use for culture and entertainment and communication and collective memory—were some distance in the future. For half a thousand years after its invention, in Mesopotamia, writing was used exclusively for bookkeeping: “the massive effort through a system of notation to make a society, its manpower, and its production legible to its rulers and temple officials, and to extract grain and labor from it.” Early tablets consist of “lists, lists and lists,” Scott says, and the subjects of that record-keeping are, in order of frequency, “barley (as rations and taxes), war captives, male and female slaves.” Walter Benjamin, the great German Jewish cultural critic, who committed suicide while trying to escape Nazi-controlled Europe, said that “there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” He meant that every complicated and beautiful thing humanity ever made has, if you look at it long enough, a shadow, a history of oppression. As a matter of plain historical fact, that seems right. It was a long and traumatic journey from the invention of writing to your book club’s discussion of Jodi Picoult’s latest."



"The news here is that the lives of most of our progenitors were better than we think. We’re flattering ourselves by believing that their existence was so grim and that our modern, civilized one is, by comparison, so great. Still, we are where we are, and we live the way we live, and it’s possible to wonder whether any of this illuminating knowledge about our hunter-gatherer ancestors can be useful to us. Suzman wonders the same thing. He discusses John Maynard Keynes’s famous 1930 essay “The Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.” Keynes speculated that if the world continued to get richer we would naturally end up enjoying a high standard of living while doing much less work. He thought that “the economic problem” of having enough to live on would be solved, and “the struggle for subsistence” would be over:
When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession—as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life—will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

The world has indeed got richer, but any such shift in morals and values is hard to detect. Money and the value system around its acquisition are fully intact. Greed is still good.

The study of hunter-gatherers, who live for the day and do not accumulate surpluses, shows that humanity can live more or less as Keynes suggests. It’s just that we’re choosing not to. A key to that lost or forsworn ability, Suzman suggests, lies in the ferocious egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers. For example, the most valuable thing a hunter can do is come back with meat. Unlike gathered plants, whose proceeds are “not subject to any strict conventions on sharing,” hunted meat is very carefully distributed according to protocol, and the people who eat the meat that is given to them go to great trouble to be rude about it. This ritual is called “insulting the meat,” and it is designed to make sure the hunter doesn’t get above himself and start thinking that he’s better than anyone else. “When a young man kills much meat,” a Bushman told the anthropologist Richard B. Lee, “he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. . . . We can’t accept this.” The insults are designed to “cool his heart and make him gentle.” For these hunter-gatherers, Suzman writes, “the sum of individual self-interest and the jealousy that policed it was a fiercely egalitarian society where profitable exchange, hierarchy, and significant material inequality were not tolerated.”

This egalitarian impulse, Suzman suggests, is central to the hunter-gatherer’s ability to live a life that is, on its own terms, affluent, but without abundance, without excess, and without competitive acquisition. The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy. As he says, “If this kind of egalitarianism is a precondition for us to embrace a post-labor world, then I suspect it may prove a very hard nut to crack.” There’s a lot that we could learn from the oldest extant branch of humanity, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to put the knowledge into effect. A socially positive use of envy—now, that would be a technology almost as useful as fire."
jamescscott  fire  technology  hunter-gatherers  2017  anthropology  johnlanchester  anthropocene  sedentism  agriculture  nomads  nomadism  archaeology  writing  legibility  illegibility  state  civilization  affluence  abundance  jamessuzman  bushmen  kalahari  namibia  khoisan  mesopotamia  egalitarianism  humans  self-interest  jealousy  greed  inequality  accumulation  motivation  society  happiness  money 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools? - The New York Times
"The word derives from the Latin word publicus, meaning “of the people.” This concept — that the government belongs to the people and the government should provide for the good of the people — was foundational to the world’s nascent democracies. Where once citizens paid taxes to the monarchy in the hope that it would serve the public too, in democracies they paid taxes directly for infrastructure and institutions that benefited society as a whole. The tax dollars of ancient Athenians and Romans built roads and aqueducts, but they also provided free meals to widows whose husbands died in war. “Public” stood not just for how something was financed — with the tax dollars of citizens — but for a communal ownership of institutions and for a society that privileged the common good over individual advancement.

Early on, it was this investment in public institutions that set America apart from other countries. Public hospitals ensured that even the indigent received good medical care — health problems for some could turn into epidemics for us all. Public parks gave access to the great outdoors not just to the wealthy who could retreat to their country estates but to the masses in the nation’s cities. Every state invested in public universities. Public schools became widespread in the 1800s, not to provide an advantage for particular individuals but with the understanding that shuffling the wealthy and working class together (though not black Americans and other racial minorities) would create a common sense of citizenship and national identity, that it would tie together the fates of the haves and the have-nots and that doing so benefited the nation. A sense of the public good was a unifying force because it meant that the rich and the poor, the powerful and the meek, shared the spoils — as well as the burdens — of this messy democracy."



"As the civil rights movement gained ground in the 1950s and 1960s, however, a series of court rulings and new laws ensured that black Americans now had the same legal rights to public schools, libraries, parks and swimming pools as white Americans. But as black Americans became part of the public, white Americans began to pull away. Instead of sharing their public pools with black residents — whose tax dollars had also paid for them — white Americans founded private clubs (often with public funds) or withdrew behind their fences where they dug their own pools. Public housing was once seen as a community good that drew presidents for photo ops. But after federal housing policies helped white Americans buy their own homes in the suburbs, black Americans, who could not get government-subsidized mortgages, languished in public housing, which became stigmatized. Where once public transportation showed a city’s forward progress, white communities began to fight its expansion, fearing it would give unwanted people access to their enclaves.

As black Americans became part of the public, white Americans began to pull away.

And white Americans began to withdraw from public schools or move away from school districts with large numbers of black children once the courts started mandating desegregation. Some communities shuttered public schools altogether rather than allow black children to share publicly funded schools with white children. The very voucher movement that is at the heart of DeVos’s educational ideas was born of white opposition to school desegregation as state and local governments offered white children vouchers to pay for private schools — known as segregation academies — that sprouted across the South after the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in 1954.

“What had been enjoyed as a public thing by white citizens became a place of forced encounter with other people from whom they wanted to be separate,” Bonnie Honig, a professor of political science and modern culture and media at Brown University and author of the forthcoming book “Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair,” told me. “The attractiveness of private schools and other forms of privatization are not just driven by economization but by the desire to control the community with which you interact.”

Even when they fail, the guiding values of public institutions, of the public good, are equality and justice. The guiding value of the free market is profit. The for-profit charters DeVos helped expand have not provided an appreciably better education for Detroit’s children, yet they’ve continued to expand because they are profitable — or as Tom Watkins, Michigan’s former education superintendent, said, “In a number of cases, people are making a boatload of money, and the kids aren’t getting educated.”

Democracy works only if those who have the money or the power to opt out of public things choose instead to opt in for the common good. It’s called a social contract, and we’ve seen what happens in cities where the social contract is broken: White residents vote against tax hikes to fund schools where they don’t send their children, parks go untended and libraries shutter because affluent people feel no obligation to help pay for things they don’t need. “The existence of public things — to meet each other, to fight about, to pay for together, to enjoy, to complain about — this is absolutely indispensable to democratic life,” Honig says.

If there is hope for a renewal of our belief in public institutions and a common good, it may reside in the public schools. Nine of 10 children attend one, a rate of participation that few, if any, other public bodies can claim, and schools, as segregated as many are, remain one of the few institutions where Americans of different classes and races mix. The vast multiracial, socioeconomically diverse defense of public schools that DeVos set off may show that we have not yet given up on the ideals of the public — and on ourselves."
schools  publicschools  education  2017  democracy  race  integration  segregation  inequality  socialjustice  society  publicgood  power  money  economics  socialcontact  nikolehannah-jones  newdeal  racism 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Can economies thrive without growth? de RSA Radio
"When economies stop growing they go into crisis, but it seems impossible for them to grow forever without causing ecological catastrophe. Matthew Taylor talks to Tim Jackson about the big dilemma in sustainability and the updated and expanded second edition of ‘Prosperity without Growth’ (2017). Can we safely stabilize the size of the economy? What’s behind our insatiable demand for new things? What revolutions are required in the nature of enterprise, policy and values to create prosperity without growth? And have they gotten any closer in the years since the books first publication in 2009?"
economics  growth  policy  prosperity  2017  matthewtaylor  timjackson  capitalism  environment  emissions  globalwarming  climatechange  sustainability  happiness  wellbeing  scarcity  resources  technology  technosolutionism  efficiency  consumerism  consumption  fashion  socialgood  privatization  money  politics  service  monetarypolicy  government  governance  society  ethics  values  technocracy 
july 2017 by robertogreco
two sets of universities, two countries, two futures – the ANOVA
"I have no doubt that Yale’s class of 2017 is full of smart, talented, and passionate young people. I wish them the best. I also have no doubt that those among them who may not be talented or hardworking will be wholly inoculated from that condition thanks to the accidents of birth and privilege that helped them reach their rarefied station in the first place. As a socialist, I am not interested in making them more susceptible to material hardship and the vagaries of chance, but rather of giving everyone that same level of protection – and that means raiding the coffers of their school, their parents, and their future employers for the betterment of all. I also don’t doubt that, on balance, graduates of the Connecticut State system will succeed as well. College graduates writ large enjoy a substantial premium in income and unemployment rates over those without degrees, after all. But how hard will they have to struggle, as their instructors are stretched thinner and thinner by these brutal cuts? How many of them will sink deeper into debt as they are forced to take additional semesters of classes to complete their degrees? How many of them will drop out, thanks to these cuts, and suffer under the burden of student loan debt with no degree to help them secure a better life? How many people who could have been saved, as I was saved, now won’t be because of these cuts?

Today’s Yale commencement ceremony, of course, will be stocked with liberals, decent progressive folk who will tell you they believe in equality and social justice. The parents will mostly be liberal Democrats. The student ranks will be filled, no doubt, by genuine radicals, and the faculty with Marxists and socialists. They do good deeds at these places, such as how Yale’s community recently forced the school to change the name of Calhoun College, thanks to John C Calhoun’s history as a slave owner. I celebrate the activist zeal of all involved in such actions. Yet what Yale’s community can’t do – and perhaps wouldn’t, if it could – is to dismantle its place in the engine of American inequality. For all of the decent people involved in that institution, there is no chance that it will ever voluntarily abandon its role as an incubator of the ruling class. To do so would be unthinkable. That’s the reality of higher education: ostensible leftists preside over the ever-accelerating accumulation of power, money, and privilege. A better way is possible, but it cannot be achieved from within campus."
elitisim  ivyleague  inequality  freddiedeboer  2017  highered  highereducation  money  privilege  power  publicgood 
june 2017 by robertogreco
How Gentrifying Neighborhoods Fall Short on Diversity - CityLab
"We have been so segregated in the United States and that now that whites are attracted and willing to move into what was formerly a low-income African-American neighborhood does symbolize some progress, in terms of race relations in the United States. That we have mixed-income, mixed-race neighborhoods, I think, is a very positive thing.

But that diversity not necessarily benefiting the former residents. Most of the mechanisms by which low-income people would benefit from this change are related to social interaction—that low-, middle-, and upper-income people would start to talk to one another. They would problem solve with one another. They would all get involved civically together to bolster their political power. But what we're really seeing is a micro-level segregation. You see diversity along race, class, sexual orientation overall, but when you get into the civic institutions—the churches, the recreation centers, the restaurants, the clubs, the coffee shops—most of them are segregated. So you're not getting a meaningful interaction across race, class, and difference. If we think that mixed-income, mixed-race communities are the panacea for poverty, they're not.

During my research, for example, I had a lot of people tell me that they were pleased with the redevelopment because they felt it was associated with reductions in crime. They felt that it would be safer for their kids and their families. But then I would say, “What else is happening in this neighborhood?” “Oh well, the amenities are coming in that we can't utilize or don't want to utilize them.” “We're losing our political power, because most of the civic associations used to be African-American, and then flipped.” So there's a political loss that's also occurring.

And then also you've got some people in this community that I say in the book are “living The Wire”—looking for iconic ghetto stereotypes. Some newcomers thought it was hip and cool, that it actually brought them more credibility because they were living in a neighborhood that was edgy and rough. Crime and blackness is associated in the minds of some newcomers—and that’s really problematic. Low-income residents, on the other hand, think crime is detrimental to their kids’ opportunities and to their health.

Sociologist Robert Sampson writes a lot about collective efficacy: that controlling crime brings people together across difference, as a community. But in a place where crime is perceived differently by a long term and newcomer populations, that’s not going to happen.

So, for newcomers, the diversity is an aesthetic or a superficial feature. It attracts them to the neighborhood, at times, because they have stereotypical ideas about the culture of that neighborhood. And once they start living there, they often don’t engage with neighbors—especially across racial and class lines—in a meaningful way. At the same time, you note in your book, that older residents are also suspicious of newcomers. What’s the reason that different groups are reluctant to talk to each other?

We just have to look at race relations in America to understand that there tends to be a mistrust of people who are different, regardless of whether you're living miles and miles away, or whether you're living next door to them.

I would also say that the current climate in gentrified spaces is one where newcomers typically come in, and instead of politically integrating, they do a political takeover. They start to take over the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) in D.C. They take over the city council seats. And then, they start instituting policies that relate more to their tastes and preferences and their idea of what they want the community to look like. They advocate for things like the bike lanes, coffee shops, and dog parks.

There's a great example in the book where the first off-leash dog park was developed in the Shaw-U Street area. It was advocated for by a civic association that was dominated by white newcomers and they got less than half a million dollars for it. I spent time doing my ethnography at this park, and I noticed that African-Americans, who had dogs, that were living around this park, didn’t enter it. I asked them, “You've got a dog, why don’t you use this space?” “Oh, no, no, no. We're not going to use that because that space is not for us.” I said, “why isn't it for you?” “It was put in place by a white-led civic association. They got the money and that's their space.” This person felt like they weren't included in the political process. Other residents mentioned how, for years before newcomer whites came in, they had been advocating for improvements in that park—and nothing occurred. So there was a lot of resentment by longterm residents."
diversity  gentrification  2017  tanvimisra  politics  money  cities  neighborhoods  race  class  robertsampson  derekhyra  harlem  bronzeville  nyc  washingtondc  baltimore  urban  ubanism 
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
John Berger remembered – by Geoff Dyer, Olivia Laing, Ali Smith and Simon McBurney | Books | The Guardian
"Ali Smith

I heard John Berger speaking at the end of 2015 in London at the British Library. Someone in the audience talked about A Seventh Man, his 1975 book about mass migrancy in which he says: “To try to understand the experience of another it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.”

The questioner asked what Berger thought about the huge movement of people across the world. He put his head in his hands and sat and thought; he didn’t say anything at all for what felt like a long time, a thinking space that cancelled any notion of soundbite. When he answered, what he spoke about ostensibly seemed off on a tangent. He said: “I have been thinking about the storyteller’s responsibility to be hospitable.”

As he went on, it became clear how revolutionary, hopeful and astute his thinking was. The act of hospitality, he suggested, is ancient and contemporary and at the core of every story we’ve ever told or listened to about ourselves – deny it, and you deny all human worth. He talked about the art act’s deep relationship with this, and with inclusion. Then he gave us a definition of fascism: one set of human beings believing it has the right to cordon off and decide about another set of human beings.

A few minutes with Berger and a better world, a better outcome, wasn’t fantasy or imaginary, it was impetus – possible, feasible, urgent and clear. It wasn’t that another world was possible; it was that this world, if we looked differently, and responded differently, was differently possible.

His readers are the inheritors, across all the decades of his work, of a legacy that will always reapprehend the possibilities. We inherit his routing of the “power-shit” of everyday corporate hierarchy and consumerism, his determined communality, his ethos of unselfishness in a solipsistic world, his procreative questioning of the given shape of things, his articulate compassion, the relief of that articulacy. We inherit writing that won’t ever stop giving. A reader coming anywhere near his work encounters life-force, thought-force – and the force, too, of the love all through it.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible, to think about what he’s given us over the years in any past tense. Everything about this great thinker, one of the great art writers, the greatest responders, is vital – and response and responsibility in Berger’s work always make for a fusion of thought and art as a force for the understanding, the seeing more clearly and the making better of the world we’re all citizens of. But John Berger gone? In the dark times, what’ll we do without him? Try to live up to him, to pay what Simone Weil called (as he notes in his essay about her) “creative attention”. The full Weil quote goes: “Love for our neighbour, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.”

Berger’s genius is its own fertile continuum – radical, brilliant, gentle, uncompromising – in the paying of an attention that shines with the fierce intelligence, the loving clarity of the visionary he was, is, and always will be.

***

Geoff Dyer

There is a long and distinguished tradition of aspiring writers meeting the writer they most revere only to discover that he or she has feet of clay. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at the feet – it can be legs, chest and head too – so that the disillusionment taints one’s feelings about the work, even about the trade itself. I count it one of my life’s blessings that the first great writer I ever met – the writer I admired above all others – turned out to be an exemplary human being. Nothing that has happened in the 30-odd years since then has diminished my love of the books or of the man who wrote them.

It was 1984. John Berger, who had radically altered and enlarged my ideas of what a book could be, was in London for the publication of And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. I interviewed him for Marxism Today. He was 58, the age I am now. The interview went well but he seemed relieved when it was over – because, he said, now we could go to a pub and talk properly.

It was the highpoint of my life. My contemporaries had jobs, careers – some even owned houses – but I was in a pub with John Berger. He urged me to send him things I’d written – not the interview, he didn’t care about that, he wanted to read my own stuff. He wrote back enthusiastically. He was always encouraging. A relationship cannot be sustained on the basis of reverence and we soon settled into being friends.

The success and acclaim he enjoyed as a writer allowed him to be free of petty vanities, to concentrate on what he was always so impatient to achieve: relationships of equality. That’s why he was such a willing collaborator – and such a good friend to so many people, from all walks of life, from all over the world. There was no limit to his generosity, to his capacity to give. This did more than keep him young; it combined with a kind of negative pessimism to enable him to withstand the setbacks dished out by history. In an essay on Leopardi he proposed “that we are not living in a world in which it is possible to construct something approaching heaven-on-earth, but, on the contrary, are living in a world whose nature is far closer to that of hell; what difference would this make to any single one of our political or moral choices? We would be obliged to accept the same obligations and participate in the same struggle as we are already engaged in; perhaps even our sense of solidarity with the exploited and suffering would be more single-minded. All that would have changed would be the enormity of our hopes and finally the bitterness of our disappointments.”

While his work was influential and admired, its range – in both subject matter and form – makes it difficult to assess adequately. Ways of Seeing is his equivalent of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert: a bravura performance that sometimes ends up as a substitute for or distraction from the larger body of work to which it serves as an introduction. In 1969 he put forward Art and Revolution “as the best example I have achieved of what I consider to be the critical method”, but it is in the numerous shorter pieces that he was at his best as a writer on art. (These diverse pieces have been assembled by Tom Overton in Portraits to form a chronological history of art.)

No one has ever matched Berger’s ability to help us look at paintings or photographs “more seeingly”, as Rilke put it in a letter about Cézanne. Think of the essay “Turner and the Barber’s Shop” in which he invites us to consider some of the late paintings in light of things the young boy saw in his dad’s barber shop: “water, froth, steam, gleaming metal, clouded mirrors, white bowls or basins in which soapy liquid is agitated by the barber’s brush and detritus deposited”.

Berger brought immense erudition to his writing but, as with DH Lawrence, everything had to be verified by appeal to his senses. He did not need a university education – he once spoke scathingly of a thinker who, when he wanted to find something out, took down a book from a shelf – but he was reliant, to the end, on his art school discipline of drawing. If he looked long and hard enough at anything it would either yield its secrets or, failing that, enable him to articulate why the withheld mystery constituted its essence. This holds true not just for the writings on art but also the documentary studies (of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man and of migrant labour in A Seventh Man), the novels, the peasant trilogy Into Their Labours, and the numerous books that refuse categorisation. Whatever their form or subject the books are jam-packed with observations so precise and delicate that they double as ideas – and vice versa. “The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art,” he writes in “The Moment of Cubism”. In Here Is Where We Meet he imagines “travelling alone between Kalisz and Kielce a hundred and fifty years ago. Between the two names there would always have been a third – the name of your horse.”

The last time we met was a few days before Christmas 2015, in London. There were five of us: my wife and I, John (then 89), the writer Nella Bielski (in her late 70s) and the painter Yvonne Barlow (91), who had been his girlfriend when they were still teenagers. Jokingly, I asked, “So, what was John like when he was 17?” “He was exactly like he is now,” she replied, as though it were yesterday. “He was always so kind.” All that interested him about his own life, he once wrote, were the things he had in common with other people. He was a brilliant writer and thinker; but it was his lifelong kindness that she emphasised.

The film Walk Me Home which he co- wrote and acted in was, in his opinion, “a balls-up” but in it Berger utters a line that I think of constantly – and quote from memory – now: “When I die I want to be buried in land that no one owns.” In land, that is, that belongs to us all.

***

Olivia Laing

The only time I saw John Berger speak was at the 2015 British Library event. He clambered on to the stage, short, stocky, shy, his extraordinary hewn face topped with snowy curls. After each question he paused for a long time, tugging on his hair and writhing in his seat, physically wrestling with the demands of speech. It struck me then how rare it is to see a writer on stage actually thinking, and how glib and polished most speakers are. For Berger, thought was work, as taxing and rewarding as physical labour, a bringing of something real into the world. You have to strive and sweat; the act is urgent but might also fail.

He talked that evening about the need for hospitality. It was such a Bergerish notion. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, a word that … [more]
johnberger  2017  geoffdyer  olivialaing  alismith  simonmcburney  marxism  capitalism  migration  soundbites  hospitality  storytelling  hope  hopefulness  utopia  hierarchy  consumerism  compassion  unselfishness  questioning  skepticism  simoneweil  creativeattention  attention  goldenrule  humanism  encouragement  relationships  friendship  equality  giving  generosity  solidarity  suffering  seeing  noticing  looking  observation  senses  kindness  commonality  belonging  ownership  thinking  howwethink  care  caring  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  clarity  money  communalism  narrowness  alls  difference  openness  crosspollination  hosting  hosts  guests  strangers  enemies  listening  canon  payingattention  audience  audiencesofone  laughter  resistance  existence  howtolive  living  life  howwelive  refuge  writing  certainty  tenderness 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Hard for California to Calexit federal government | The Sacramento Bee
"California and some other parts of the U.S. are in different political orbits when it comes to presidential picks. But the nation’s largest state and the federal government are more deeply entwined than ever on tax, spending and other fiscal matters.

In the wake of the presidential victory by Republican Donald Trump – who lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton in California by nearly 4.3 million votes – some Golden State denizens have suggested more autonomy if not outright independence from the rest of the United States.

Little mention is made of the federal government’s major role in the lives of Californians, from the $47.5 billion in federal contracts awarded to state businesses and other recipients in federal fiscal year 2015, or the nearly $96 billion in federal funds in the current state budget, representing more than one-third of the budget total.

About 344,000 Californians work directly for the federal government, according to the most recent census data, paying state taxes and generating economic activity.

Some Trump supporters, meanwhile, have opined that the rest of the country would be better off without California and its Democratic-leaning electorate.

Yet those people rarely note that California, which represents about 12 percent of the country’s population, generated 13.5 percent of the total federal income tax payments in 2014, the most recent data available – the most of any state.

Compared to most other states, California generally has paid more to the federal government than it receives in federal spending.

A report last year by the New York Office of the Comptroller concluded that California received 99 cents in federal spending for every dollar it paid in federal taxes during the 2013 federal fiscal year, one of 11 states that received less federal money than they paid in taxes.

California, though, has outsized involvement in some federal programs. For example, the state has embraced the federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, opting to expand Medi-Cal to cover more than 3.5 million new participants.

If Trump and congressional Republicans follow through on their threat to repeal the law, annual federal funding for Medi-Cal would drop by more than $15 billion, according to the California Budget and Policy Center."
california  calexit  us  money  government  data  2016  taxes  healthcare  employment  obamacare  affordablecareact  medical  economics 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Courtney Martin: The new American Dream | TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript | TED.com
[via: https://twitter.com/campcreek/status/792521887343607810 ]

"Now, artist Ann Hamilton has said, "Labor is a way of knowing." Labor is a way of knowing. In other words, what we work on is what we understand about the world. If this is true, and I think it is, then women who have disproportionately cared for the little ones and the sick ones and the aging ones, have disproportionately benefited from the most profound kind of knowing there is: knowing the human condition. By prioritizing care, men are, in a sense, staking their claim to the full range of human existence.

Now, this means the nine-to-five no longer works for anyone. Punch clocks are becoming obsolete, as are career ladders. Whole industries are being born and dying every day. It's all nonlinear from here. So we need to stop asking kids, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and start asking them, "How do you want to be when you grow up?" Their work will constantly change. The common denominator is them. So the more they understand their gifts and create crews of ideal collaborators, the better off they will be.

The challenge ahead is to reinvent the social safety net to fit this increasingly fragmented economy. We need portable health benefits. We need policies that reflect that everyone deserves to be vulnerable or care for vulnerable others, without becoming destitute. We need to seriously consider a universal basic income. We need to reinvent labor organizing. The promise of a work world that is structured to actually fit our 21st century values, not some archaic idea about bringing home the bacon, is long overdue -- just ask your mother.

Now, how about the second question: How should we live? We should live like our immigrant ancestors. When they came to America, they often shared apartments, survival tactics, child care -- always knew how to fill one more belly, no matter how small the food available. But they were told that success meant leaving the village behind and pursuing that iconic symbol of the American Dream, the white picket fence. And even today, we see a white picket fence and we think success, self-possession. But when you strip away the sentimentality, what it really does is divides us. Many Americans are rejecting the white picket fence and the kind of highly privatized life that happened within it, and reclaiming village life, reclaiming interdependence instead.

Fifty million of us, for example, live in intergenerational households. This number exploded with the Great Recession, but it turns out people actually like living this way. Two-thirds of those who are living with multiple generations under one roof say it's improved their relationships. Some people are choosing to share homes not with family, but with other people who understand the health and economic benefits of daily community. CoAbode, an online platform for single moms looking to share homes with other single moms, has 50,000 users. And people over 65 are especially prone to be looking for these alternative living arrangements. They understand that their quality of life depends on a mix of solitude and solidarity. Which is true of all of us when you think about it, young and old alike. For too long, we've pretended that happiness is a king in his castle. But all the research proves otherwise. It shows that the healthiest, happiest and even safest -- in terms of both climate change disaster, in terms of crime, all of that -- are Americans who live lives intertwined with their neighbors.

Now, I've experienced this firsthand. For the last few years, I've been living in a cohousing community. It's 1.5 acres of persimmon trees, this prolific blackberry bush that snakes around a community garden, all smack-dab, by the way, in the middle of urban Oakland. The nine units are all built to be different, different sizes, different shapes, but they're meant to be as green as possible. So big, shiny black solar cells on our roof mean our electricity bill rarely exceeds more than five bucks in a month. The 25 of us who live there are all different ages and political persuasions and professions, and we live in homes that have everything a typical home would have. But additionally, we share an industrial-sized kitchen and eating area, where we have common meals twice a week.

Now, people, when I tell them I live like this, often have one of two extreme reactions. Either they say, "Why doesn't everyone live like this?" Or they say, "That sounds totally horrifying. I would never want to do that." So let me reassure you: there is a sacred respect for privacy among us, but also a commitment to what we call "radical hospitality" -- not the kind advertised by the Four Seasons, but the kind that says that every single person is worthy of kindness, full stop, end of sentence.

The biggest surprise for me of living in a community like this? You share all the domestic labor -- the repairing, the cooking, the weeding -- but you also share the emotional labor. Rather than depending only on the idealized family unit to get all of your emotional needs met, you have two dozen other people that you can go to to talk about a hard day at work or troubleshoot how to handle an abusive teacher. Teenagers in our community will often go to an adult that is not their parent to ask for advice. It's what bell hooks called "revolutionary parenting," this humble acknowledgment that kids are healthier when they have a wider range of adults to emulate and count on. Turns out, adults are healthier, too. It's a lot of pressure, trying to be that perfect family behind that white picket fence.

The "new better off," as I've come to call it, is less about investing in the perfect family and more about investing in the imperfect village, whether that's relatives living under one roof, a cohousing community like mine, or just a bunch of neighbors who pledge to really know and look out for one another. It's good common sense, right? And yet, money has often made us dumb about reaching out. The most reliable wealth is found in relationship.

The new better off is not an individual prospect at all. In fact, if you're a failure or you think you're a failure, I've got some good news for you: you might be a success by standards you have not yet honored. Maybe you're a mediocre earner but a masterful father. Maybe you can't afford your dream home, but you throw legendary neighborhood parties. If you're a textbook success, the implications of what I'm saying could be more grim for you. You might be a failure by standards you hold dear but that the world doesn't reward. Only you can know.

I know that I am not a tribute to my great-grandmother, who lived such a short and brutish life, if I earn enough money to afford every creature comfort. You can't buy your way out of suffering or into meaning. There is no home big enough to erase the pain that she must have endured. I am a tribute to her if I live a life as connected and courageous as possible. In the midst of such widespread uncertainty, we may, in fact, be insecure. But we can let that insecurity make us brittle or supple. We can turn inward, lose faith in the power of institutions to change -- even lose faith in ourselves. Or we can turn outward, cultivate faith in our ability to reach out, to connect, to create.

Turns out, the biggest danger is not failing to achieve the American Dream. The biggest danger is achieving a dream that you don't actually believe in."
happiness  interdependence  courtneymartin  life  living  relationships  economics  success  solidarity  community  agesegregation  cohousing  us  2016  vulnerability  policy  health  housing  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  privacy  hospitality  radicalhospitality  kindness  bellhooks  intergenerational  emotionallabor  labor  work  domesticlabor  families  money  wealth  individualism  failure  insecurity  meaningmaking  consumerism  materialism  connectedness  courage  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Corporations are taking advantage of our underfunded public schools
"There are a lot of problems with McTeacher Nights, teachers and advocates for reduced commercialism in school argue. The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood conducted research last year on how much money is actually raised on these nights and found that they typically only provide $1 to $2 per student. In return, McDonald’s gets free labor from teachers, free advertising, and introduces a product to children in the hope of creating brand loyalty.

“What are we saying to educators? Are we not telling our educators to put in eight hours a day and then asking them to work a shift at McDonalds? For paltry field trip money?” said Cecily Myart-Cruz, NEA vice president of United Teachers, Los Angeles, who added that teachers shouldn’t be promoting unhealthy food. “It’s another way to privatize education. Education is already privatizing and this is just another way to do it.”

These events also help its public image. McDonald’s looks like a great corporate citizen, despite the fact that it could simply donate money to schools in amounts that would dwarf what schools receive from participating in McTeacher’s Nights."
schools  publischools  labor  economics  funding  money  politics  policy  privatization  corporatization  uber  mcdonalds  verizon  advertising  nestle  pepsico  generalmills  bumblebeefoods  cocacola  togethercounts 
october 2016 by robertogreco
WeChat’s world | The Economist
"China’s WeChat shows the way to social media’s future"



"As one American venture capitalist puts it, WeChat is there “at every point of your daily contact with the world, from morning until night”. It is this status as a hub for all internet activity, and as a platform through which users find their way to other services, that inspires Silicon Valley firms, including Facebook, to monitor WeChat closely. They are right to cast an envious eye. People who divide their time between China and the West complain that leaving WeChat behind is akin to stepping back in time.

Among all its services, it is perhaps its promise of a cashless economy, a recurring dream of the internet age, that impresses onlookers the most. Thanks to WeChat, Chinese consumers can navigate their day without once spending banknotes or pulling out plastic. It is the best example yet of how China is shaping the future of the mobile internet for consumers everywhere.

That is only fitting, for China makes and puts to good use more smartphones than any other country. More Chinese reach the internet via their mobiles than do so in America, Brazil and Indonesia combined. Many leapt from the pre-web era straight to the mobile internet, skipping the personal computer altogether. About half of all sales over the internet in China take place via mobile phones, against roughly a third of total sales in America. In other words, the conditions were all there for WeChat to take wing: new technologies, business models built around mobile phones, and above all, customers eager to experiment.

The service, which is known on the mainland as Weixin, began five years ago as an innovation from Tencent, a Chinese online-gaming and social-media firm. By now over 700m people use it, and it is one of the world’s most popular messaging apps (see chart). More than a third of all the time spent by mainlanders on the mobile internet is spent on WeChat. A typical user returns to it ten times a day or more."
wechat  2016  chat  china  money  mobile  messaging 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Dinner, Disrupted - The New York Times
"The tech-boom economy also infects everyone inside and outside of it with both dreams of striking it rich and fears of getting priced out of town. That’s why chefs don’t just open that one restaurant they’ve always dreamed about. They invent catchy new restaurant “concepts” and borrow mountains of money to create dining rooms that end up with no human touch and food that looks remarkably similar to Instagram photographs of dishes created by trendsetters like Mr. Kinch and Mr. Patterson.

“The concern,” Ms. Borden told me, “is that when the economy slows, who is going to survive? We’re already seeing quicker openings and closings because restaurants open with so much debt” — hundreds of thousands to a million dollars or more, from construction and months of astronomical rent before anyone sells a single $17 grilled-octopus appetizer — “that if you’re not full from Day 1, it’s really hard to stay open.”

The net effect is an ever-more frantic pursuit of eye-catching innovation and, as everyone trades in whispers about a cooling venture-capital market, a mounting fear that a restaurant apocalypse is nigh. As Mr. Patterson explained, “The food has never been better and the business climate has never been worse and so we are speeding toward a cliff.”

One delicious irony, for Californians of a certain age, is the inversion of an old joke about Northern Californians hating the superficial glitz of Los Angeles and Los Angelenos never thinking much about Northern California. This made sense for the mid-to-late 20th century, when the entertainment and defense industries secured Southern California’s place at the center of West Coast economic power. Now Los Angeles is where San Franciscans move when they can’t afford Oakland. Every young artist and musician I meet in San Francisco tells me that he or she wants to move south for cheap rent and a better creative scene.

And while San Francisco restaurant culture is driven by Michelin stars, Los Angeles isn’t even included in the Michelin guide. Sure, Los Angeles has expensive restaurants, but its biggest food celebrities are Jonathan Gold, a critic famous for supporting affordable eateries, and Roy Choi, king of the food trucks.

Sang Yoon, the chef and owner of Lukshon in Culver City, sees it as a difference between hyper-glorification of the chef and the farm in Northern California and, in Los Angeles, celebration of middle-class immigrant culture. “Half the restaurants I go to, I don’t know who the chef is! It’s not so personality-driven,” he said. “In L.A., we can celebrate a cuisine and not rouge it up.”

Mr. Choi explained it to me like this: “All these mom-and-pop restaurants that really are California cuisine and that have been here for 30 years cooking for their own community are now filled with patrons they’ve never seen before because of social media and instead of becoming angry or skeptical, they’ve embraced it — that’s the soul of a cook, you never discriminate against the people eating your food nor do you judge them, you are so happy they have arrived. And their food is getting even better.”

In yet another sweet twist, the pop-cultural reach of Mr. Choi and Mr. Gold has Los Angelenos teaching San Franciscans left out of the gold rush how to find fellow travelers. Last week, my friend Wen Shen recommended an affordable Vietnamese place called Yummy Yummy in the unpretentious Inner Sunset neighborhood. A wall-mounted video monitor played scenes of daily life in Vietnam, where I have never been. I felt as if I had come home, mostly because, race and ethnicity aside, Yummy Yummy’s clientele appeared to be blessedly middle class. I also liked it when our waiter saw me fumbling with a rice-paper wrap for the lemongrass shrimp and said, in the most common of California languages, that I should roll it up “just like a burrito.”"
food  california  losangeles  sanfrancisco  2016  money  economics  losgatos  sangyoon  chefs  jonathangold  oakland  socal  norcal  power  labor  inequality  roychoi 
august 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
Most women won’t be able to follow in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps—unless they’re already rich — Quartz
"The hard work and ambition of women like the young Hillary Clinton have much less currency in today’s system, because only one type of currency—hard currency—counts.

When Hillary Clinton entered Wellesley in 1965, annual tuition was $3,600. This was not cheap–median income was $6900–but it is a far cry from today, when it is $45,078, not counting room and board and other fees, which bring the annual cost to $63, 916. US median income is currently $51,939–less than one year at Wellesley. Women of Hillary’s generation had cheaper educational alternatives: Wellesley’s fee was about as high as tuition went, and many public universities were still free. Today, after decades of exorbitant increases and slashed public funding, even a public university leaves most students saddled with debt.

When Hillary entered Yale in 1969, the average tuition at an Ivy League law school was about $2,000 per year. Today, a year at Yale will set you back $80,229, with tuition costing $57,615. Already burdened with undergraduate debt, many do not want to continue on to law school—long a starting point for those seeking careers in government or politics—particularly since there is little work available upon graduation. In 2014, only 60% of law school graduates found full-time jobs that required them to pass the bar exam. The average debt for a law student is now $127,000, a rate that increased by 25% for private schools and 34% for private schools between 2006 and 2014. Due to the decrease in jobs and surplus of lawyers, law clerkships pay as little as $10 per hour.

Aspiring female politicians who do not pursue law often choose policy institutions as an alternative, but those positions similarly require expensive advanced degrees and unpaid labor. Hillary Clinton, like most policy officials, does not pay her interns. Cost of living in cities with a high concentration of policy jobs, such as New York or Washington DC, have skyrocketed over the past decade, while wages stagnated and student debt rose, putting the younger generation in an impossible bind.

In her Jun. 7 speech, Hillary praised her mother, who had grown up in poverty, and remarked in awe that a woman of such humble means had raised a daughter who became a presidential nominee. It was a touching moment—but we may not see many more like it. As economist Joseph Stiglitz notes, nowadays “the life prospects of an American are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in almost any other advanced country.”

Opportunity hoarding by wealthy families is not new: for much of American history, it dominated our economic and political landscape. Political, intellectual and business leaders were often beneficiaries of inherited wealth, and non-white groups–particularly African-Americans–were purposefully locked out due to institutions like slavery and Jim Crow that prevented generation after generation of families from attaining the money and status of their white peers.

What is new is the realization that this mid-20th century period of upward mobility–the conditions many deem synonymous with the “American Dream”–was an aberration. The baby boomers benefited from a meritocracy that valued education over background, and came of age when wages were relatively high. These structural advantages began to disappear in the mid-to-late 1970s, when the cost of education began to climb and wages began to stagnate.

And while social media has offered a more democratic pathway in terms of political self-expression–particularly for female and/or non-white Americans–it rarely provides the stable income one needs to build a future in politics. Twitter fame does not pay the bills, and often comes, for women, with constant harassment that make many reluctant to participate. Even Hillary Clinton’s female supporters have felt compelled to converse in secret Facebook groups.

Aspiring female politicians face, as they always have, barriers due to gender and race. But they also face far more financial constraints than when Clinton was a young adult. An entrenched meritocracy, relying on expensive credentials, has replaced the old aristocracy.

In November, Clinton may finally shatter the glass ceiling, but the road to success for young women remains paved in gold. If Clinton truly wants to transform politics, she should focus on policy reforms that allow lower-class and middle-class girls to follow her own path."
gender  privilege  class  hillaryclinton  chelseaclinton  sarahkendzior  2016  elections  sexism  upwardmobility  socialmobility  society  access  education  highereducation  women  income  wealth  inequality  josephstiglitz  money 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Female Artists Give Advice to Women in Art World
"6. Nyeema Morgan

My first thought is what would I tell myself if I had to start from the beginning of my career. There is so much to be said, so many caveats. I think in this cultural moment one of the greatest detriments to a young artist’s creative practice is conformity. The desire to be desired, to be ‘liked’, for every utterance to be acknowledged and lauded.

It would be too easy and expected to accept the rewards of self-exploitation. Resist. Contrary to popular belief it is not an enriching practice of feminist empowerment. Instead, cultivate a critical mind. Always ask questions of yourself, your work and the world around you. Learn to embrace challenge and avoid settling into a way of working that is too comfortable. This doesn’t mean your should live in a place of agony.

Do not torture yourself, but find the joy in what you are making, dismantling, and discovering."



"10. Adrian Piper

First, you should be clear about what you are aiming for: (1) public approval, (2) commercial success, or (3) art-historical significance. These three are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and there is nothing wrong with any of them. But my remarks address only (3).

The best means to art-historical significance is financial independence. Don’t even think about trying to earn a living from your artwork, or else you’ll start producing the artwork that will earn you a living. A trust fund will divert your energies in a different way. The best means to financial independence is a day job in a different field. Waiting tables, driving a cab, office work, and teaching are traditional alternatives for artists, but the digital revolution opens up many others. All of them will free you to make the work you are most deeply driven to make, regardless of whether or not anyone else likes it or buys it. That’s the work that’s most interesting and important to you. You won’t have time to waste on producing work that doesn’t obsess you.

Your day job will also free you to be selective about what you do in order to promote your artwork, and with whom. It will protect your pursuit of quality. That’s one reliable path to art-historical significance (although of course not the only one)."
art  artists  money  adrianpiper  purpose  glvo  cv  freedom  fundding  compromise  ideals  values  nyeemamorgan 
july 2016 by robertogreco
We need to stop treating nonprofits the way society treats poor people | Nonprofit With Balls
[via: https://twitter.com/tiffani/status/755092034243928064

"This is a good list of reasons (except in one instance) I've basically stayed away from foundations in fundraising for The @HumanUtility. Not to mention too many foundations are slow, conservative, + not interested in funding things that stray too far from stquo. And when you're a new organization w/ a very small staff, still trying to streamline operations, small, yet restricted grants are dangerous. I read an essay a few weeks ago about a large foundation that basically ran a startup into the ground w/program requirements. The foundation's program officers didn't seem the least bit contrite. It was weird. One literally said they didn't regret what they did smh. Of course, it was also on the startup's leadership to have planned to not have the foundation's funds become a distraction, but still. They who have the gold make the rules, but you have to be wary of processes that excessively distract you from the work to get the gold. I sat with someone for 30mins once + landed a gift of $25K. Then I got back in the car and went back to work. Now, that was from a (very) warm intro, but they didn't want letters of inquiry or 30-pg proposals. OTOH, a foundation I talked to in Maryland was interested in our work, but wanted a letter of inquiry just for permission to ask for $25K."]

"Many leaders, from both nonprofit as well as foundations, have been speaking up against restricted funding for years now—here’s a compelling piece by Paul Shoemaker [https://philanthropynw.org/news/reconstructing-philanthropy-outside ]—and I’m glad to see that it is starting to make some progress. But it is still slow, and it makes me wonder why this is. Why is general operating so difficult for many to accept? Why is it OK for us to be OK with the fact that millions of hours each year are wasted by nonprofits trying to comply with some funders’ unrealistic, and frankly, destructive [http://nonprofitwithballs.com/2016/02/the-myth-of-double-dipping-and-the-destructiveness-of-restricted-funding/ ] requirements?

I think the answer may be that there is a strong parallel between how we treat nonprofits, and how society treats low-income people. I don’t think it is intentional. Like implicit racial or gender biases, most people are not even aware that it’s affecting their behaviors. But it’s important for us to examine these parallels, so we can better understand and change them:

The teach-a-man-to-fish paternalism. This philosophy, so ingrained in our culture, is patronizing and often ineffective, sometimes harmful. It assumes one person is a fount of knowledge while the other is an ignorant, empty vessel to be filled with wisdom. It ignores systems and environmental variables. We can teach someone to fish, but if they have no transportation to get to the pond, or if the pond is polluted, or if better-equipped corporations have been destroying aquaculture through over-fishing, then they’re still screwed while we feel good about ourselves. We see the same dynamics in funding via this belief that nonprofits can be self-sustaining if we just teach them to earn their revenues instead of constantly asking for free fish in the form of grants and donations.

The Bootstrap Mentality: This belief that people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps has been plaguing our low-income families for decades. It manifests in individuals who have found success to think they actually did it all on their own, blaming poor people for their situations, never mind again the privilege and system issues. In the nonprofit sector, it is seen in people from for-profits having an inflated sense of superiority, thinking “If my for-profit was successful in generating revenues, why can’t these lazy nonprofits also pull themselves up by their bootstraps?” Never mind the fact that over half of for-profits fail and that nonprofits and for-profits are completely different from each other.

The assumption of inability for future planning. There is an assumption that poor people don’t know how to plan for their future. If they do, why are they so poor then? Obviously they suck at planning ahead. The same assumption plays out in our sector. There is a belief among many people that if we give nonprofits too much money, they won’t know what to do with it. A program officer once told me, “I don’t want to give multi-year funding, because I think that will stop nonprofits from being innovative.” Because nothing encourages innovation better than regular bouts of night-terror-inducing, morale-sinking cash-flow emergencies.

The lack of trust in people’s ability to manage money: Society thinks poor people don’t know how to spend the money we give them. That’s why we have to monitor how they do it. Let’s restrict their ability to spend their food stamps on junk food; left to their own devices, they’ll probably just guzzle beer while feeding their kids tons of Hot Cheetos. Same with nonprofits. We need to monitor every penny they spend; otherwise, they’d probably waste money on fancy chairs and blinged-out business cards. And if we can’t protect these irresponsible organizations from themselves, then at least let’s make sure our own money is not being used to fund these things.

The No-Free-Lunch: There have been idiotic proposals by clueless politicians designed to punish the poor for violating whatever ridiculous expectations are set out for them. Like taking away food stamps if their kids don’t get good enough grades or if they’re not volunteering or seeking out employment, despite the fact that there are only so many volunteer and paid positions to go around. In our sector, our funding gets threatened if we don’t comply with various requirements, such as working toward “sustainability.” A colleague mentioned a grant that won’t pay for staff wages and other indirect expenses, and applicants have to demonstrate that they will be completely self-sustaining within a year. That gave us all a good chuckle.

The punishment of success. Ironically, while we expect poor people to work and save up money so they can stop being dependent, we punish them when they succeed at that, removing their benefits if they earn close to an amount where they may actually be able to no longer need the benefits. It’s weirdly paradoxical, demotivating, and insulting. In nonprofits, many funders expect sustainability and yet punish nonprofits for having a strong reserve, which is probably the most important factor for sustainability. You need to be sustainable, but if you are too successful at that, we’re not funding you, or we take away the money we gave you. I remember frantically trying to spend some left-over money because it otherwise would have had to be returned, per the requirement of this funder, even though the reason we had leftover was because we were spending it wisely; that money we saved would have greatly helped our programs if we had been allowed to put it into reserve.

The avoidance of eye contact. Poor people make the general public sad. That’s why most people avoid eye contact with individuals experiencing homelessness. And in our sector, it leads to some donors and foundations to avoid nonprofits, creating barriers in the form of “safe space” that prevent those doing the work from communicating and collaborating with those funding the work.

The expectation of gratitude: Every single time I bring up some sort of feedback regarding ineffective, time-wasting funding practices in our sector—such as requiring board chair signatures on grant applications (Why? Whyyyyy?!)—inevitably some people will counter with things like, “So people are giving you their hard-earned money, and you’re whining? You should just be grateful and comply.” It’s the same as poor people being expected to just be happy and appreciative of whatever scraps they manage to get."



"So many funding and accounting practices are anchored in a severe and pervasive distrust of nonprofits, the same distrust we heap on individuals with low-income. It goes without saying that these myths and philosophies are destructive, toward both our low-income community members and toward nonprofits. We must begin with trust as the default, or our community loses. If we are going to effectively address society’s numerous, complex problems—and recent tragedies and violence nationally and internationally highlight just how complex and serious things are—the way we currently view nonprofits must change. The relationships between funders, donors, nonprofits, for-profits, media, and government must change. We must see each other as equal partners with different but complementary roles to play. We must understand where philosophically our requirements come from and how they are affecting our partners, how it helps or hampers their work. We must be able to provide each other honest feedback and push one another to do better for our community. "
nonprofit  nonprofits  2016  funding  foundations  paulshoemaker  fundraising  restrictedfunding  sustainability  grantwriting  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  money  power  control  gratitude  trust  management  administration  leadership  planning  capitalism 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The New Currency at the End of the World | Motherboard
[Note that this is sponsored by UBS.]

"Given Iceland’s small size, geothermal energy, and technologically literate population, the chances of Auroracoin’s success seem high. Yet, it is not clear what exactly succeeding will achieve. How will it meaningfully undermine governments? Will it redistribute wealth? Or redefine it? Or will it merely be old capital’s new clothes? "
iceland  currency  money  cryptocurrency  2016 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Trump as a scam — Medium
"There are three consistent features to all of conservative talk radio: Anger, Trump, and ads targeting the financially desperate.

The ads are a constant. Ads protecting against coming financial crisis (Surprise! It is Gold.) or ads that start, “Having trouble with the IRS?”

The obvious lessons being 1) Lots of conservative talk radio listeners are in financial distress. 2) They are willing to turn to scams.

Turning to scams kind of generally follows being in financial distress. But why? Well, desperation, duh. Right, but again, why?

What desperation really is about is limited options. Think about the ultimate scam: Lotto tickets.

Lotto tickets are often called stupidity taxes by economists, implying that the buyers must be dumb.

But Lotto tickets are the only form of leverage poor folks can get. The only way, no matter how long the odds, to turn $1 into a million.

As I wrote before, Lotto buyers aren’t any dumber than anyone else.

[screenshot of text]

You just have to look at people’s financial decisions within the framework of their options.

To stretch a little bit. You can reframe Trump that way (as I often have): He is a scam, selling himself as the only option to the angry.

Which is exactly Trump’s history. Selling false and expensive illusions of wealth to those who are desperate. (Trump University!)

With recent revelations it is pretty clear that Trump, no matter what the result of the election, will financially benefit.

He initially ran with the goal of increasing his brand name. For money. (He saw Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee do exactly that)

When he started to win he realized,

A) It was profitable to run (skimming from campaign)

B) It would be very profitable to be president

He sees in the presidency amazing opportunities for graft and business connections. For him, for his friends and family.

Trump is in it for the money. (He looks at the Clintons. Not with disgust, but admiration for the wealth obtained.)

Trump fits perfectly on conservative talk radio because he is no different from the ads hawking financial scams.

Trump is nothing more than another person charging usurious rates to angry people with few options. Selling long odds at a huge cost.

And many Trump voters are angry (often rightfully), often desperate, people. And like Lotto buyers, they ain’t stupid, they just don’t have many options.

PS: As pointed out, almost all politicians are in it for the money. The difference with Trump is who he is selling himself to: Mostly the poor. Like most folks who try to make money off the poor, he is doing it by charging a lot of interest."
donaldtrump  politics  poverty  money  2016  election  chrisarnade  scams  scamartists  lottery  anger  talkradio  precarity  fear  economics  intelligence 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Why Viggo Mortensen Is Off the Grid
"And so we drive. Or, rather, he drives. For the next eight hours, for about 250 miles, up to and around Watertown, through the Adirondacks and not quite to Canada—though he does ask if I brought my passport—with periodic stops at diners and waterfalls, lakes and trout ponds, his mother's grave and finally his father's farmhouse. Viggo loves to drive. Sometimes he drives cross-country, just for the hell of it. And yet he has rented a Ford Fusion. "They always do this thing where they try to upgrade me to some fancy fucking car." But he doesn't want a fancy fucking car. At times, he spontaneously pulls over to the side of the road for a good five or ten minutes to finish a train of thought—about life or death or demons or fears or his favorite soccer team in Argentina, San Lorenzo. About the time in the wilds of New Zealand when he skinned, cooked, and ate his own roadkill. ("It was there.") About how much he loves the militant Chomskyite he plays in Captain Fantastic, a father of six who decides to raise his kids in the isolated wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. We could've gone straight to Watertown and stayed there, and we could've gotten there a hell of a lot faster, but Mortensen, his two hands resting gently on the bottom of the steering wheel, doesn't like to drive too fast. He doesn't want to miss a thing."



"Then he did something truly bizarre by Hollywood standards. He had the world by the balls, with his pick of roles—big studio stuff, Clooney kind of stuff, paycheck stuff. He turned all of it down, choosing instead to do what he wanted to do, little of which was lucrative. "I mean, how much fucking money do you need?" he asks. He used some of his Lord of the Rings loot to start a publishing company—yes, a publishing company; it's called Perceval Press, after one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table—that would publish poets and other writers who might not otherwise get a book deal, and do so without having them "compromise." He could also afford to spend time on his other interests—writing poetry, taking photographs, painting."

[via: https://submittedforyourperusal.com/2016/05/26/highlights-from-esquires-viggo-mortensen-profile/ ]
viggomortensen  2016  humility  slow  small  driving  life  living  money 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Ken Schwencke Maps the Swimming Pools of Los Angeles County - CityLab
"Peering out over Los Angeles from an airplane window, it’s hard to miss the swimming pools. Hundreds of thousands of sparkling blue blobs patch the county’s landscape—though not evenly.

In Southern California, where both space and water are getting rarer by the day, pool ownership rates are a “decent proxy for neighborhood wealth,” writes the journalist and mapmaker Ken Schwencke, who has mapped this familiar story of chlorinated class politics at the data-visualization site The Thrust. Visitors can click and roam endlessly through aerial views of L.A. pools (thinking, maybe, of John Cheever’s famous short story, “The Swimmer,” which forever linked suburban pools with delusions of class hierarchy.)

Sifting through statistics from the L.A. County Assessor’s Office, Schwencke found that L.A. county contains roughly 250,000 swimming pools, 96 percent of which are attached to single-family homes. All told, 18 percent of homes countywide have a pool, and most of them are in more affluent suburban areas, such as the Hollywood Hills and the large swathes of the San Fernando Valley. Schwencke tells CityLab via email that fully 87 percent of homes in Hidden Hills (home to the Kardashians) have pools, while Bel Air and Beverly Hills are at 66 and 60 percent, respectively. But in neighborhoods south and east of downtown L.A., such as MacArthur park and Vermont Vista, ”you can go for blocks without seeing a private pool,” Schwencke writes. “Some of the ones that [do exist], are filled with refuse.”

Pool ownership isn’t just about money; it’s also about race. Across the country, desegregation played an important role in the rise of private swimming pools after 1950, as the historian Jeff Wiltse argues in his 2007 book, Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America:

Although many whites abandoned desegregated public pools, most did not stop swimming. Instead, they built private pools, both club and residential, and swam in them … . Suburbanites organized private club pools rather than fund public pools because club pools enabled them to control the class and racial composition of swimmers, whereas public pools did not.

It would be even better if Schwencke’s map tool included more data on income and racial make-up in pool-dense and pool-sparse neighborhoods across L.A. But virtually diving in and out of the county’s swimming spots still makes for a powerful exercise. Also check out the map of L.A. pool density that Schwencke shared with CityLab, at top."
maps  mapping  losangeles  swimmingpools  swimming  race  class  money  inequality  socal  kenschwencke  data 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Keep Harriet Tubman – and all women – off the $20 bill - The Washington Post
"The Women on 20s campaign has declared that America needs the face of a woman on its currency and that woman should be abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The campaign petitioned the federal government this week after Tubman won an online poll that featured 15 historic women — including Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony — as candidates to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. As a feminist, I think this campaign is well-intentioned. Women are rarely acknowledged as important contributors to the creation and development of the United States, and Tubman especially is regularly overlooked. I even named her on my own list of candidates, initially. But I was hesitant to support Women on 20s’s goals from the beginning, and now that Tubman has been selected, I’m certain: There’s no place for women – especially women of color – on America’s currency today.

Harriet Tubman dedicated much of her life to subverting the system of forced labor and oppression that built America’s economy. Born Araminta “Minty” Ross, she spent her youth enslaved in Maryland. In one of her first of many acts of defiance, she changed her name to honor her mother, Harriet, after marrying a free black man. In doing so, she created her own identity outside of being a “slave.” Then, after escaping from a plantation to Philadelphia, she made numerous journeys back to the South to help liberate black people from the bondage of American chattel slavery. In a lesser known act of defiance, Tubman served as a spy during the Civil War, alerting the Union Army to slaves who would join its fight if rescued. Her information launched the Combahee Ferry raid that freed hundreds of people. Tubman was one of America’s first female war heroes and is known as the only woman to lead a raid for the Union Army.

On one hand, replacing the face of Andrew Jackson – a man whose wealth was made on the backs of enslaved black people – with Tubman’s image sounds like an idyllic reversal of fortune. But in examining Tubman’s life, it’s clear that putting her face on America’s currency would undermine her legacy. By escaping slavery and helping many others do the same, Tubman became historic for essentially stealing “property.” Her legacy is rooted in resisting the foundation of American capitalism. Tubman didn’t respect America’s economic system, so making her a symbol of it would be insulting.

American capitalism historically has been used to oppress and disenfranchise women and people of color. At various points in our nation’s history, women were forbidden from owning property, married women were forbidden from working, and black women were restricted to jobs as cooks and maids. Even today, economic injustice continues in the form of unequal pay, limiting women’s ability to reach their full economic potential. For every dollar a white man earns from his labor in the United States, white women earn 78 cents, black women earn 64 cents, and Hispanic women earn just 54 cents. This isn’t a result of a lack of effort to rise up. Even with a college degree, black women earn less than white men without one. Single black women have a median net worth of just $100.

America’s currency is viewed as a place to honor people of historic political influence. To suggest that black women are part of that club by putting Tubman’s face on the $20 simply would cover up our nation’s reality of historic and lingering disenfranchisement. Of the 104 women in the House of Representatives, only 18 are black, and only one black woman has sat in the U.S. Senate since the nation was founded. Of the 78 women in executive statewide offices, just one is a black woman. There’s no doubt that black women have a political representation problem in America. But putting the face of an admired black American heroine on currency won’t fix it – it will only mask it.

If having Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill was going to improve women’s access to said bill, I’d be all for it. But instead, it only promises to distort Tubman’s legacy and distract from the economic issues that American women continue to face. While adding representation of women to an area historically dominated by men can be encouraging and boost women’s morale, the symbolism risks masking inequalities that are far more important.

Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets. She repeatedly put herself in the line of fire to free people who were treated as currency themselves. She risked her life to ensure that enslaved black people would know they were worth more than the blood money that exchanged hands to buy and sell them. I do not believe Tubman, who died impoverished in 1913, would accept the “honor,” were it actually bestowed upon her, of having her face on America’s money. And until the economic injustice against women in America ends, no woman should."
feministajones  harriettubman  2016  history  money  currency  capitalism  freetrade  economics 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares - The New York Times
"Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts."
money  race  education  2016  inequality  schools  us 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn’t Just Her Corporate Cash. It’s Her Corporate Worldview. | The Nation
"While Clinton is great at warring with Republicans, taking on powerful corporations goes against her entire worldview, against everything she’s built, and everything she stands for. The real issue, in other words, isn’t Clinton’s corporate cash, it’s her deeply pro-corporate ideology: one that makes taking money from lobbyists and accepting exorbitant speech fees from banks seem so natural that the candidate is openly struggling to see why any of this has blown up at all.

To understand this worldview, one need look no further than the foundation at which Hillary Clinton works and which bears her family name. The mission of the Clinton Foundation can be distilled as follows: There is so much private wealth sloshing around our planet (thanks in very large part to the deregulation and privatization frenzy that Bill Clinton unleashed on the world while president), that every single problem on earth, no matter how large, can be solved by convincing the ultra-rich to do the right things with their loose change. Naturally, the people to convince them to do these fine things are the Clintons, the ultimate relationship brokers and dealmakers, with the help of an entourage of A-list celebrities.

So let’s forget the smoking guns for the moment. The problem with Clinton World is structural. It’s the way in which these profoundly enmeshed relationships—lubricated by the exchange of money, favors, status, and media attention—shape what gets proposed as policy in the first place.

For instance, under the Clintons’ guidance, drug companies work with the foundation to knock down their prices in Africa (conveniently avoiding the real solution: changing the system of patenting that allows them to charge such grotesque prices to the poor in the first place). The Dow Chemical Company finances water projects in India (just don’t mention their connection to the ongoing human health disaster in Bhopal, for which the company still refuses to take responsibility). And it was at the Clinton Global Initiative that airline mogul Richard Branson made his flashy pledge to spend billions solving climate change (almost a decade later, we’re still waiting, while Virgin Airlines keeps expanding).

In Clinton World it’s always win-win-win: The governments look effective, the corporations look righteous, and the celebrities look serious. Oh, and another win too: The Clintons grow ever more powerful.

At the center of it all is the canonical belief that change comes not by confronting the wealthy and powerful but by partnering with them. Viewed from within the logic of what Thomas Frank recently termed “the land of money,” all of Hillary Clinton’s most controversial actions make sense. Why not take money from fossil-fuel lobbyists? Why not get paid hundreds of thousands for speeches to Goldman Sachs? It’s not a conflict of interest; it’s a mutually beneficial partnership—part of a never-ending merry-go-round of corporate-political give and take.

Books have been filled with the failures of Clinton-style philanthrocapitalism. When it comes to climate change, we have all the evidence we need to know that this model is a disaster on a planetary scale. This is the logic that gave the world fraud-infested carbon markets and dodgy carbon offsets instead of tough regulation of polluters—because, we were told, emission reductions needed to be “win-win” and “market-friendly.”

If the next president wastes any more time with these schemes, the climate clock will run out, plain and simple. If we’re to have any hope of avoiding catastrophe, action needs to be unprecedented in its speed and scope. If designed properly, the transition to a post-carbon economy can deliver a great many “wins”: not just a safer future, but huge numbers of well-paying jobs; improved and affordable public transit; more liveable cities; as well as racial and environmental justice for the communities on the frontlines of dirty extraction.

Bernie Sanders’s campaign is built around precisely this logic: not the rich being stroked for a little more noblesse oblige, but ordinary citizens banding together to challenge them, winning tough regulations, and creating a much fairer system as a result.

Sanders and his supporters understand something critical: It won’t all be win-win. For any of this to happen, fossil-fuel companies, which have made obscene profits for many decades, will have to start losing. And losing more than just the tax breaks and subsidies that Clinton is promising to cut. They will also have to lose the new drilling and mining leases they want; they’ll have to be denied permits for the pipelines and export terminals they very much want to build. They will have to leave trillions of dollars’ worth of proven fossil-fuel reserves in the ground.

Meanwhile, if solar panels proliferate on rooftops, big power utilities will lose a significant portion of their profits, since their former customers will be in the energy-generation business. This would create opportunities for a more level economy and, ultimately, for lower utility bills—but once again, some powerful interests will have to lose (which is why Warren Buffett’s coal-fired utility in Nevada has gone to war against solar).

A president willing to inflict these losses on fossil-fuel companies and their allies needs to be more than just not actively corrupt. That president needs to be up for the fight of the century—and absolutely clear about which side must win. Looking at the Democratic primary, there can be no doubt about who is best suited to rise to this historic moment.

The good news? He just won Wisconsin. And he isn’t following anyone’s guidelines for good behavior."
hillaryclinton  naomiklein  2016  politics  philanthrocapitalism  climatechange  corporations  money  finance  influence  establishment  policy  lobbying  status  media  wealth  inequality  environment  elections  berniesanders 
april 2016 by robertogreco
James Meek · Robin Hood in a Time of Austerity · LRB 18 February 2016
"How like the Middle Ages, if it were so. Behind the twisted rhetoric of a hardworking majority oppressed by a welfare-mad government, a modern version of the medieval world has been constructed, one where the real poor are taxed more heavily than the rich; where most of those who are not rich are burdened by an onerous roster of fees and monopolies levied by remote, unaccountable private landlords; and where many of us live out our lives shackled to an endless chain of private debt.

Since the Thatcher revolution in 1979, British governments have boasted of how they’ve lowered taxes. And they have, except for one section of society: the poorest 20 per cent. In 1977, the least well-off fifth of households paid 37 per cent of their gross income in direct taxes (like income tax) and indirect taxes (like VAT), against 38 per cent for the richest fifth. In 2014, the tax take from the poorest group had gone up to 37.8 per cent, while the taxes paid by the richest had gone down to less than 35 per cent.

Not only does this understate the extent of tax cuts for the top 1 per cent; it shows only part of the burden borne by the least well off. Piketty writes that ‘modern redistribution does not consist in transferring income from the rich to the poor, at least not in so explicit a way. It consists rather in financing public services and replacement incomes that are more or less equal for everyone, especially in the areas of health, education and pensions.’ This is a very cautious definition of the modern social state. Health, education and social security make up the lion’s share of public spending, but they’re intimately linked to a wider set of networks that includes energy, water and transport and, some would argue, should include housing. What these networks have in common is that society has decided they’re essential, and therefore should be universal – that is, we think everyone should have access to them, all the time. The significance of this is that, on the one hand, society takes on itself the obligation to give its poorest members access to these networks, which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford; and, on the other, payment to use these networks, if it isn’t funded out of general taxation, becomes in itself a tax, particularly when that network is a monopoly. In Britain, many of these universal networks, such as electricity and water, have been privatised, often twice – once to put them on the stock market, once to put them into the hands of overseas owners. Bills for these services have increased faster than inflation, and take little account of people’s ability to pay. It is the poorest, then, who as well as paying the heaviest combination of indirect and direct taxation bear the brunt of such hybrid public-private taxes as the water tax and the electricity tax.

Other universal networks, such as health and education, haven’t been privatised, but have been through another process that makes them ripe for the introduction of flat fees for usage in future. This process really got going under Labour, and it is a sign of the liberal left’s failure to recognise what it has done that there isn’t a name for it. One word to describe it might be ‘autonomisation’ – the process by which state-run bodies continue to be funded by the state but are run autonomously on a non-profit basis. So state secondary schools become academies, NHS hospitals become NHS foundation trusts, and council estates are transferred to housing associations. The British state is in a condition of rolling abdication, leaving behind a partly privatised, partly autonomised set of universal networks, increasingly run by absentee landlords in the form of global companies and overseas corporate investors, that is disproportionately funded by the poorest payers of taxes, fees and duties, many of whom are also deep in debt.

There is a cynical view which says that as long as the majority of the population feel they’re doing all right, a democratically elected government is safe to squeeze the poor and pamper the rich. But cynicism is a risky thing to rely on when a government is simultaneously cutting spending and shedding control of the universal networks on which its entire population relies. As Hobsbawm writes in Bandits, ‘concentration of power in the modern territorial state is what eventually eliminated rural banditry, endemic or epidemic. At the end of the 20th century it looks as though this situation might be coming to an end, and the consequences of this regression of state power cannot yet be foreseen.’ We’re a long way from the return of the literal outlaw to Nottinghamshire. But we need to remember the insight given our ancestors when they saw through the illusion of the Robin Hood myth, when they saw that the strongbox of silver coins wasn’t just money stolen from each of them individually, but power robbed from them collectively, and that they needed to wield that power collectively as much as they needed their money back. For sure, freedom to choose is a grand thing, and the market will try to help you exercise it. With a bit of money in the bank, a middle-class family might choose to send their child to private school, provided by the market; but that same family can’t choose to build and maintain a universal education network by itself, and the market won’t provide it. With money, you can choose to buy a car, and the market will provide it; but you can’t choose, all by yourself, to build and maintain a universal road network, and the market won’t provide it. To make and keep universal networks requires the authority of the state, an authority that has been absent; and it’s hard to see where that authority might come from if the people don’t find a way to assert their kingship."
2016  jamesmeek  capitalism  politics  policy  welfare  poor  class  rich  wealthdistribution  inequality  taxes  taxation  health  education  thomaspiketty  neoliberalism  autonomization  housing  uk  finance  davidcameron  margaretthatcher  ronaldreagan  stephenharper  us  canada  australia  marcorubio  georgeosborne  power  money  economics  labor  erichobsbawm  government  markets  universalnetworks  infrastructure  via:anabjain 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Education Has a Glock to Its Head
"The plight of the small liberal-arts college is well known. Hundreds of these colleges dot the map of America (at least its eastern half). Most of them are far more expensive than public universities, because they are (a) private and (b) often have expensive, historic campuses to maintain. In an era of diminishing economic returns on a Bachelor's degree, the costly private option becomes less attractive.

Liberal-arts colleges now find themselves in a brutal competition to attract a certain kind of paying student. By and large, students are not moneymakers for the college if they are poor enough to qualify for need-based aid, pedigreed enough to command major scholarship offers, or a minority who must be lured, with a nice tuition discount, to a place like Crawfordsville, Indiana. In short, white mediocrity is the bread and butter of the contemporary liberal-arts college.

But in order for the formula to work, these colleges must have a critical mass of students. There have to be enough profit-generating students to allow the college to take a loss on the students who will boost selectivity™ and diversity™. This is why Simon Newman wants to increase enrollment at MSMU and why college presidents everywhere lose sleep over enrollment numbers. These pressures are not unique to liberal-arts colleges, just more acute because of their relatively small size and their already inflated tuition.

Historically, at public universities, tuition dollars have been less important for the bottom line, but this is changing. Legislators in most states have become less friendly to funding public universities, even as students and faculty become less white. Coincidence? University administrators themselves, many of them cast in the mold of Gordon Gecko (or Simon Newman), now increasingly prefer tuition dollars over state funds, which have more strings attached.

Public universities, like their private counterparts, game the rankings in order to compete for paying students, many of whom are international or from other states and pay higher tuition. One way to climb the ladder is to boost "selectivity" by making admissions standards more stringent. Consequentially, public universities become more stratified, with top flagships accepting fewer local students.

Since international and out-of-state students pay more, this limits the income diversity, and therefore the ethnic diversity, of the student body. Top publics are now hard to distinguish from private universities, where students are mostly white and wealthy. The carefully calibrated diversity quota, along with the ubiquitous "multicultural center," allow universities to plausibly claim that they support minorities. However, a closer look at demographics belies this claim."
highereducation  finance  money  tuition  2016  jonathandettman  diversity  highered 
march 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
Universities Are Becoming Billion-Dollar Hedge Funds With Schools Attached | The Nation
" Students are beginning to urge divestment."



"All told, hedge funds have over $3 trillion worth of assets under management globally. In theory, they exist to provide a “hedge” to protect investor portfolios in tough times. Hedging, seen in this light, is simply one investment strategy among many. In practice, however, they are alternative investment vehicles that tend to be housed offshore to avoid oversight and taxes, which means they are largely unregulated, face minimal disclosure requirements, and can engage in all sorts of risky bets and market manipulations.

Not long ago universities were, in the words of one report, “careful stewards of endowment income” and avoided such shenanigans. In the early seventies Harvard and Yale spearheaded committees on investor responsibility and devised ethical investment policies for endowments that considered things like social impact. In the nineties things began to change. Many schools, private and public, have become high-risk gamblers, with finance overtaking fundraising as the main engine of endowment growth. A more aggressive approach to investing paid off—until the economy melted down and caused some endowments to lose up to 30 percent of their value.

But experts and activists have other concerns. Some commentators, for example, are troubled by public tax-exempt educational institutions doing business with companies notorious for dodging taxes in offshore havens. More generally, tax exemption is a giant government subsidy that disproportionately benefits elite schools (the ones that attract the biggest donations and earn the largest investment returns), thus further polarizing an educational system already separated into haves and have-nots.

And it gets worse. In a report called “Educational Endowments and the Financial Crisis,” Joshua Humphreys, president and senior fellow at Croatan Institute points to an even more disturbing consequence of risky investment practices. By embracing speculative trading tactics, exotic derivatives, hedge funds and private equity, “endowments played a role in magnifying certain systemic risks in the capital markets,” Humphreys writes. What’s more, their initial success encouraged other institutional investors (think pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and foundations) to follow in their footsteps, amplifying the system’s overall volatility and instability. In other words, endowments were not just innocent victims of the 2008 financial crisis, but actually helped enable it.

“Hedge funds, as they were initially conceived, have a potential role to play in a long-term endowment seeking to ‘hedge’ certain risks,” Humphreys told me, making clear he’s hesitant to write them off entirely. “But their arbitrarily high fee structures, the excessive compensation of their managers, and their deliberate evasion of taxes and transparency make hedge funds easy targets for stakeholders rightly concerned about the simmering crisis of higher education today.”"



" The time has come for students to connect the dots between ballooning student debt, the poor treatment of campus workers, and the obscene wealth of hedge fund oligarchs. Once they do, they can fight back by following in the footsteps of recent mobilizations against the financial sector. In 2013, a group called Kick Wall Street Off Campus forced Minnesota’s Macalester College to move some, though not all, of its money out of Wells Fargo to protest the bank’s role in community foreclosures. In June of last year, Santa Cruz County pulled together to get its money out of five giant banks—including Citicorp and JPMorgan Chase and Barclays—that pleaded guilty in the spring to felony charges that they rigged the world’s foreign-currency market. Similar campaigns could easily be waged against university endowment partnerships with hedge funds.

Of course, kicking hedge funds of campus won’t solve the college crisis or instantly reform the financial sector. Nevertheless, targeting hedge funds remains a promising tactic for uniting students and workers against hedge funds’ efforts to increase inequality, and using our tuition dollars and public subsidies to do so. This tactic would be especially effective at public institutions where divestment campaigns should be coupled with calls for increased state funding for higher education and better pay for low-wage workers.

“It’s easy to feel powerless, but hedge funds need university endowments, just like they also need public pensions. If that money was taken away, it would really affect them,” Strain says, and he’s right. Campus divestment movements have a proven track record, going back to campaigns against Apartheid in the 1980s. Over the last few years, climate activists have pressured school trustees to divert trillions of dollars from fossil fuels, and last year Columbia became the first university to divest from private prisons. Hedge funds deserve to be next on the chopping block."
astrataylor  education  neoliberalism  2016  universities  colleges  endowments  divestment  finance  politics  money  hedgefunds  highered  highereducation  nonprofit  taxes  taxation  funding  inequality  ivyleague  harvard  princeton  stanford  yalconflisctsofinterest  nonprofits 
march 2016 by robertogreco
More phones, few banks and years of instability are transforming Somalia to a cashless society - Quartz
"In recent years, the lack of retail banking in Somalia and fears of continued unrest—Al-Shabaab continues to occasionally stage attacks throughout the country—have made the service vital to Somalia’s reconstruction. Hormuud holds the cash, acting in essence like a bank.

“The main reason why the service was adopted is because the banking systems in the country are very limited,” said Yusuf. “It’s also because it is much risk carrying cash here since the country is still politically unstable and recovering from more than two decades of chaos and civil war.”

Hormuud says it designed the software for EVC Plus with the help of Kenya’s Safaricom, a partner of British multinational telecoms company Vodafone. EVC Plus works like Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service M-PESA, which has brought banking services to millions since its introduction in 2007.

Unlike M-Pesa, which works in local currency, Hormuud’s money transfer system uses US dollars, the country’s preferred currency of trade, even though the Somali shilling is still in circulation. Users can transfer up to $3,000 a day throughout southern and central Somalia. The mobile platform Zaad, launched in 2009 by communications company Telesom in the self-declared independent northern region of Somaliland, has seen similar success.

EVC Plus allows users to purchase cellphone airtime for themselves or family members, pay water and electricity bills, and transfer money. It’s also designed so that users can set up automated payments, SMS reminders and financial reports without an internet connection.

Almost every merchant in Mogadishu, even hawkers on the street, accepts payment by cellphone using EVC Plus.

“It’s not safe to carry cash money here,” said Dhublawe Ibrahim Aden, 25, a hawker who sells shoes and clothes. “If someone has to buy my shoes and bungles [necklaces] then he has to pay me through my cellphone. I don’t accept cash money from clients.”

The service still has risks: al-Shabaab threatened companies supporting the technology in 2014, and Oxfam says that the platforms could benefit from greater regulation and training in order to allay concerns that they are being used to funnel money to terrorist groups.

But there’s no doubt that the service has been vital for the otherwise struggling economy, said Halima Aden, a member of the Somali Economic Forum, an independent organization that supports the country’s economic and financial development.

“People are doing business without any fear of losing cash to militants or conmen,” Aden said. “The country’s telecommunications sector has undergone a rapid rise, fueled by intense competition amongst the numerous telecommunication firms that dominate the country.”"
somalia  mobile  phones  cash  money  2016  economics  africa 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Clay Shirky on the why's behind current US Presidential Election cycle - Loose Leaves
[Now available here too: http://civichall.org/civicist/clay-shirky-on-the-whys-behind-current-us-presidential-election-cycle/ ]

"I started writing about both parties becoming host bodies for 3rd party candidates. Instead of an essay, it turned into 50 tweets. Here goes

Social media is breaking the political 'Overton Window' -- the ability of elites to determine the outside edges of acceptable conversation.

The Overton Window was imagined as a limit on public opinion, but in politics, it's the limit on what politicians will express in public.

Politically acceptable discourse is limited by supply, not demand. The public is hungry for more than politicians are willing to discuss.

This is especially important in the U.S., because our two-party system creates ideologically unstable parties by design.

In order to preserve inherently unstable coalitions, party elites & press had to put some issues into the 'Don't Mention X' category.

These limits were enforced by party discipline, and mass media whose economics meant political centrism was the best way to make money.

This was BC: Before Cable. One or two newspapers per town, three TV stations; all centrist, white, pro-business, respectful of authority.

Cable changed things, allowing outsiders to campaign more easily. In '92, Ross Perot, 3rd party candidate, campaigned through infomercials.

That year, the GOP's 'Don't Mention X' issue was the weakness of Reaganomics. Party orthodoxy said reducing tax rates would raise revenues.

Perot's ads attacked GOP management of the economy head on. He was the first candidate to purchase national attention at market rates.

Post-Perot, cable became outside candidates' tool for jailbreaking Don't Mention X: Buchanan on culture war, Nader on consumer protection.

After Cable but Before Web lasted only a dozen years. Cable added a new stream of media access. The web added a torrent.

What's special about After Web -- now -- is that politicians talking about "Don't mention X" issues are doing so from inside the parties.

This started with Howard Dean (the OG) in '03. Poverty was the mother of invention; Dean didn't have enough $ to buy ads, even on cable.

But his team had Meetup & blogs and their candidate believed something many voters did too, something actively Not Being Mentioned.

In '03, All Serious People (aka DC insiders) agreed the U.S. had to invade Iraq. Opposition to the war was not to be a campaign issue.

Dean didn't care. In February of 2003, he said "If the war lasts more than a few weeks, the danger of humanitarian disaster is high."

Dean said "Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and large quantities of arms."

Dean said "There is a very real danger that war in Iraq will fuel the fires of international terror."

For All Serious People, this was crazy talk. (Dean was, of course, completely correct.) This was also tonic to a passionate set of voters.

Mentioning X became Dean's hallmark. Far from marginalizing him, it got him tons of free news coverage. Trump is just biting those rhymes.

After webifying Perot's media tactics, Dean pioneered online fundraising. Unfortunately for him, his Get Out The Vote operation didn't.

That took Obama. Obama was less of an outsider than Dean (though still regarded as unelectable in '07) but used most of Dean's playbook.

Besides charisma, he had two advantages Dean didn't have. First, the anti-war position had gone from principled oppositon to common sense.

Obama could campaign not just on being prescient (as Dean also was) but on having been proved right years earlier.

The second advantage was that Obama's voter mobilization strategy--the crown jewels--was superior to that of the Democratic Party itself.

This was the last piece. Perot adopted non-centrist media, Dean distributed fundraising, Obama non-party voter mobilization.

Social media is at the heart of all of this. Meetup and Myspace meant Dean and Obama didn't have to be billionaires to get a message out.

Online fundraising let outsiders raise funds, and it became a symbol of purity. Anyone not raising money at $25 a pop is now a plutocrat.

And then there was vote-getting. Facebook and MyBarackObama let the Obama campaign run their own vote-getting machine out of Chicago.

McLuhan famously said "The medium is the message." This is often regarded as inscrutably gnomic, but he explained it perfectly clearly.

The personal and social consequences of any medium result from the new scale introduced into our affairs by any new technology.

The new scale Facebook introduces into politics is this: all registered American voters, ~150M people, are now a medium-sized group.

All voters' used to be a big number. Now it's <10% of FB's audience. "A million users isn't cool. You know what's cool? A billion users."

Reaching & persuading even a fraction of the electorate used to be so daunting that only two national orgs could do it. Now dozens can.

This set up the current catastrophe for the parties. They no longer control any essential resource, and can no longer censor wedge issues.

Each party has an unmentionable Issue X that divide its voters. Each overestimated their ability to keep X out of the campaign.

Jeb(!) Bush, who advocates religious litmus tests for immigrants, has to attack Trump's anti-immigrant stance, because it went too far.

Clinton can't say "Break out the pitchforks", because Democratic consensus says "We've done as much to banks as our donors will allow."

In '15, a 3rd party candidate challenging her on those issues from inside the party was inconceivable.("I don't think that word means...")

So here we are, with quasi-parlimentarianism. We now have four medium-sized and considerably more coherent voter blocs.

2 rump establishment parties, Trump representing 'racist welfare state' voters, and Sanders representing people who want a Nordic system.

Trump is RINO, Sanders not even a Dem. That either one could become their party's nominee is amazing. Both would mark the end of an era.

We will know by March 15th whether a major party's apparatus can be hijacked by mere voters. (Last time it was: McGovern.)

But the social media piece, and growing expertise around it, means that this is now a long-term challenge to our two-party system.

Over-large party coalitions require discipline to prevent people from taking an impassioned 30% of the base in order to win the primaries.

The old defense against this by the parties was "You and what army?" No third party has been anything other than a spoiler in a century.

The answer to that question this year, from both Trump and Sanders, is "Me and this army I can mobilize without your help."

Who needs a third party when the existing two parties have become powerless to stop insurgencies from within?"
clayshirky  politics  us  rossperot  berniesanders  2016  politicalparties  cable  marshallmcluhan  themediumisthemessage  media  television  control  messaging  facebook  fundraising  platforms  discipline  issues  division  donaldtrump  jebbush  barackobama  hillaryclinton  democrats  republicans  coaitions  thirdpartycandidates  howarddean  2003  meetup  internet  web  socialmedia  1992  getoutthevote  myspace  money  campaigns  campaigning  mybarackobama  rino  georgemcgovern  elections 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens | New Republic
"In the dark ages—the 1980s, ’90s, or even the early 2000s—kids had to wait for nerd camp to be among their own kind. Wong told me if he’s up at 4 a.m. after a bad day, he can go online and talk to his Australian friends; Tumblr users know their audience is active in multiple time zones. Powerful users send a joke ricocheting around the globe.

“Tumblr culture has developed over the past five years as the smart weird kid in school connected with all the other smart weird kids from all the other schools all over the world,” said Strle. This brand of Tumblr humor often focuses on what I think of as micro-humiliations, tiny moments of social awkwardness that can feel absolutely crushing for a teenager figuring out how to be a person in the world. Anonymous kids with witty user names like Larsvontired or Baracknobama post incisive one-liners confessing their most vulnerable moments of social mortification. Sometimes those one-liners spread across continents, tweaked by thousands of other teens who add their own jokes as they reblog the original. The very best tweaks spread further, reblogged again and again, reappearing periodically in the feed, disconnected from time. Some posts get more than a million notes—imagine a joke whispered in biology class getting a laugh from a city the size of San Francisco.

“Increasingly, the lingua franca is absurdist dada,” explained Strle, usually rendered in the uncapitalized and unpunctuated casualness of instant messages.

A decade of trend pieces has deemed millennials to be narcissists, but Tumblr humor for this generation is self-deprecating and anti-aspirational: “how do fourteen year olds get pregnant, I can’t even get a high five from a guy,” “how many eye contact until date,” “i just said hi to someone and they didn’t hear me i’m never trying that again.” There is more self-loathing than self-love (“*looks in a mirror* you again”) as well as pleas for clemency from social prison (“you like attention? how dare you. how dare anyone like being loved”). Being a social outcast can make you a better social observer of the gap between our real selves and our public image:
two types of chats

group chat: lol look at this meme you pieces of shit

private chat: i don’t know anymore. im hoping that someday i’ll just know what to do. sorry for complaining and thanks for always listening to me

When this post appeared in my feed, I sent it to several friends who use a group chat at work: “How do they know?” A friend in media with a Twitter following in the tens of thousands responded: “That teen observation is PENETRATING.” We spent several minutes analyzing the joke. “People think other people are impressed by voicey cynicism in the public square,” he added. “But in private we’re all really nice and anxious”—the essential divide between Twitter users and Tumblr users."




"Two months after the termination of the Tumblr teens, Fast Company ran a puff piece on Dennis Hegstad and his empire. “He’s not just tweeting for fun; he’s tweeting for big money—and he’s winning,” the magazine wrote. “In Hegstad’s model, clients are charged a fee for services that include affiliate marketing, lead generation, and content distribution. In other words, getting the goods in front of the right kind of eyeballs. Campaigns run as high as six figures.” By then, many of Exposely’s sources of revenue had disappeared. A remaining campaign peddled sunglasses whose lenses supposedly worked like an Instagram filter.

Lilley and Greenfield said Hegstad had promised them equity in Exposely, and Hegstad confirmed they’d discussed both equity and becoming partners, but the company’s future was uncertain. Exposely still exists, and Hegstad is listed as the founder on its web site, but the day I talked to him the site was down—its security certificate had expired. Hegstad agreed Exposely was the apparent reason several blogs were terminated and that users associated with the site were still at risk. “A lot of the Tumblr bloggers who were using Exposely a year ago that haven’t used it in almost a year have lost their blogs.” "
tumblr  culture  teens  youth  online  web  socialmedia  2016  elspethreeve  spam  internet  exposely  exposure  attention  advertising  adsense  so-relatable  money  yahoo  relatability 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Why Harvard should be taxed ["Harvard is a 'hedge fund with a university attached to it'"] - Business Insider
"“The joke about Harvard is that it’s a hedge fund with a university attached to it,” Mark Schneider tells me. It’s a quip that, for obvious reasons, has become pretty popular in recent years.

In 2014, the university’s legendary endowment, overseen by a team of in-house experts and spread across a mind-bending array of investments that range from stocks and bonds to California wine vineyards, hit $36.4 billion.

“They’re just collecting tons, and tons, and tons of money,” says Schneider, a former Department of Education official who is currently a fellow at the American Institutes for Research.

Of course, normal hedge funds have to pay taxes on their earnings. Because it’s a nonprofit, Harvard doesn’t. And since bestowing tax exemptions is the same as spending cash from the government’s perspective (budgeteers call them “tax expenditures” for a reason), that means the American public effectively subsidizes Harvard’s moneymaking engine.

The same goes for Stanford (endowment: $21.4 billion), Princeton (endowment: $21 billion), Yale (endowment$23.9 billion), and the country’s other elite institutions of higher education.

Aiding wealthy research universities that cater to largely affluent undergraduates might have been acceptable in a more flush era. But at a time when state colleges are still suffering from deep budget cuts that have driven up tuition and politicians are stretching for ways to make school more affordable for middle-class students, clawing back some of that cash to spend on needier schools is starting to sound awfully appealing. Which is why it might just be time to start taxing Harvard and its cohort.

This isn’t a new idea by any stretch—in 2008, lawmakers in Massachusetts considered slapping a 2.5 percent tax on large university endowments—but Schneider has made an especially intriguing case for it."



"Another quandary: Today, the government generally doesn’t tax savings. It taxes income. So why take a cut of wealth from colleges when we don’t do it to individuals? As Kim Rueben, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, put it to me, “We’re going to tax Harvard, but we’re not going to tax Warren Buffet?”

And, of course, there might be unintended consequences. Even with write-offs for financial aid, taxing endowments could encourage schools to spend less on things society generally likes, such as new research labs. The government could tax schools and require them to spend a minimum amount, which is how it treats private foundations. But then you have to consider to what creative lengths Harvard might go to avoid the IRS.

Cutting down the tax advantages of rich schools, obviously, would not be simple. But it still worth seriously considering the idea. Maybe we should consider taxing the Met as well. Maybe the government could stick to what it knows and tax Harvard’s capital gains instead of its whole endowment. Maybe we could learn to live with a little tax avoidance. However we choose to do it, I think we’d all like to spend a little less money sending other people’s kids to Harvard."
colleges  highered  highereducation  nonprofit  universities  money  finance  taxes  taxation  funding  inequality  ivyleague  harvard  endowments  princeton  stanford  yale  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  government  hedgefunds  jordanweissmann  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  capitalism  power  control 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Against School | New Republic
"In this previously unpublished essay, Aaron Swartz sought an explanation for the persistent—and possible deliberate—failures in our school system."



"Linda Perlstein spent a year at one school struggling to survive No Child Left Behind. Everything that wasn’t tested had to get cut—not just art and gym, but recess, science, and social studies (yep, no science on the tests). What remains is converted entirely over to test prep—the only writing students ever do is short answer sections (“What text feature could have been added to help a reader better understand the information?”) and the stories in class are analyzed only in terms of what questions might be asked about them.

Large sections of the class have nothing to do with learning at all. Students are instead drilled on test-taking procedure: take deep breaths, work until time is called, eliminate obviously wrong answers. Every day students are taught special vocab words that will earn them extra points and reminded about how to properly phrase their answers to get the maximum score. Instead of covering the walls with students’ art, they’re covered with test-taking advice (“BATS: Borrow from the question, Answer the question, use Text supports, Stretch the formula”).

The single-minded goal of maximizing test scores has been a blessing for the textbook market, which forces schools to buy expensive “evidence-based curricula” which has been “proven” to maximize test scores. The packages include not only textbooks and workbooks but also scripts for the teachers to read verbatim—deviating from them hasn’t been proven to raise test scores, and is thus prohibited. The package also comes with trained supervisors who drop in on teachers to make sure they’re actually sticking to the script.

The effect on the students is almost heartbreaking. Taught that reading is simply about searching contrived stories for particular “text features,” they learn to hate reading. Taught that answering questions is simply about cycling through the multiple choice answers to find the most plausible ones, they begin to stop thinking altogether and just spout random combinations of test buzzwords whenever they’re asked a question. “The joy of finding things out” is banished from the classroom. Testing is in session.

Such drills don’t teach children anything about the world, but it does teach them “skills”—skills like how to follow senseless orders and sit at your desk for hours at a time. Critics of high-stakes testing say that it isn’t working as planned: teachers are teaching to the test instead of making sure kids actually learn. But maybe that is actually the plan. After all, employers seem to like it just fine."
schools  schooling  education  capitalism  2015  aaronswartz  business  influence  money  testing  learning  nclb 
january 2016 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"



"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."



"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
EdCamp Monsanto
"Earlier today, I found out Monsanto - yes, that Monsanto - is sponsoring EdCamp St. Louis. This makes perfect sense for Monsanto, and is part of Monsanto's corporate strategy, but it raises some questions about whether it makes sense for EdCamp.

What does it mean for an organization like EdCamp - that explicitly references a distributed model with respect for local control - when local camps agree to take money from an organization that has made billions destroying local agricuture?

What does it mean for an organization like EdCamp - which is the most visible face of the locally run events - to have local chapters preparing co-branded materials with companies that are, at best, ethically challenged? While this specific instance is about Monsanto, I imagine an EdCamp sponsored by Altria, with the EdCamp logo smoking a cigarette. Or maybe EdCamp Boulder can get sponsorship from a dispensary?

Can an organization like EdCamp claim to be about global connections when local EdCamps can create co-branded sponsor relationships that completely ignore the global connections and misdeeds of sponsors?

Given that EdCamps grew to prominence via small, non-corporate, locally run events, can they retain their authenticity if they are increasingly sponsored and co-branded by large multinational companies? What does it mean for the future of EdCamps if the rhetoric of their events drifts from the sponsorship of their events?

The EdCamp foundation can help by providing publicly accessible sponsorship guidelines. The following two changes would help dispel some of the confusion.

• Clarify that sponsorships should favor local small businesses (potentially defined by numbers of employees, for example, 50 or under) first. If EdCamps are about elevating local voices, that should extend to sponsorships as well. The camps can have a process for handling exceptions that documents if and why an exception to these sponsorships get made.

• Define what sponsors get. Do they get access to attendee contact info? Do they get to display a logo at the event? If they are buying lunch, do they get the chance to pitch and hand out swag during lunch? Right now, these guidelines appear to be nonexistent, which leaves local sponsors exposed to, at the least, cranks on twitter sounding off.

Now that EdCamp has a foundation and some funding, they should fill in this infrastructure. They will be facing some obvious tensions as they attempt to grow EdCamp in a way that doesn't sell out or destroy the locally developed feel that made EdCamps work in the first place."

[via: http://hackeducation.com/2015/12/23/trends-business/ ]
billfitzgerald  edcamp  sponsorship  ethics  2014  money  influence  partnerships  funding  bedfellows  branding 
december 2015 by robertogreco
David Geffen's $100 million gift to UCLA is philanthropy at its absolute worst - Vox
"Music mogul David Geffen is very, very bad at being a philanthropist. His past donations have mostly taken the form of massive gifts to prominent universities and cultural institutions, rather than to poor people or important research or even less famous, more financially desperate universities and arts centers. And his charitable giving usually comes with a major branding component. This past March, he committed $100 million to renovate a concert hall at Lincoln Center — but only after the center paid $15 million to the family of Avery Fisher, the hall's former namesake, so that Geffen could have his name plastered on it. It's like renaming a sports stadium, except that Geffen gets a massive tax write-off for it.

But his latest gift really takes the cake. Geffen is giving $100 million to UCLA to set up a private middle and high school on its campus. You see, the UCLA Lab School only serves students — many of them faculty brats — up to the sixth grade, and poor old UCLA has "not been able to attract certain talent because of the costs of educating their children." In particular, Geffen worries that UCLA's medical school — excuse me, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA — isn't able to compete with Harvard and Johns Hopkins because of the lack of a nearby private high school.

The LA Times's Larry Gordon adds that Geffen "declined to discuss his views on public education in Los Angeles." You don't say.

Geffen might as well have just set $100 million on fire

It's hard to know where to start in explaining why this gift is such a grotesque waste. For one thing, it genuinely doesn't matter to anyone without a sentimental attachment to UCLA whether its medical school is competitive with Harvard and Johns Hopkins. The faculty members that Geffen is trying to recruit away are certainly doing important research that will save lives — but they're doing it wherever they teach. Why should anyone care whether that happens at UCLA or at Johns Hopkins? Unless one genuinely believes that the climate of southern California can effect a meaningful boost in the productivity of biomedical researchers, relative to Baltimore or Cambridge, improved recruitment for UCLA accomplishes precisely nothing for the world at large.

But at least the faculty brats will get a free education, right? Other than the existing free education they could get by enrolling their children in the LA public school system? Nope! The education won't be free. "Many details about the school remain to be decided, including tuition and admissions criteria," Gordon reports, but half of the school's 600 students will be children of UCLA employees, and about 40 percent of students will get financial aid. So even if nobody gets tuition assistance except UCLA faculty, a fifth of the faculty kids who get educated at the school will pay full freight. Their parents will benefit not in financial terms but through improved convenience. The problem being solved isn't that other private schools are too expensive; it's that they make it too hard to pick up and drop off kids.

It's worse than that, though. Gordon writes that UCLA employees already have a convenient, free option: "A special agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District allows children of UCLA professors and other employees to attend several well-regarded public schools in and near Westwood, no matter where they live." The city government has gone out of its way to give UCLA faculty access to good, conveniently located public schools. But that's not enough for David Geffen, for some reason.

The only rationale for the school that has even the patina of plausibility is the claim by UCLA chancellor Gene Block to Gordon that it will provide a place for UCLA's education school to test different learning and teaching methods. That indeed sounds admirable. But you know where else UCLA education researchers can do that? The UCLA Community School, a public school that, unlike the Lab School or the new Geffen Academy, is able to test learning methods on children of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. And while the Lab School can only test on students up to sixth grade, the Community School is K-12.

If David Geffen had a sincere interest in improving the quality of research on K-12 pedagogy, he would've given to the Community School, or perhaps paid for the establishment of a new school like that for UCLA or another school with top-tier education researchers. But Geffen does not, obviously, have any kind of sincere interest in improving research. He just wants to help a school with his name on it win a pissing match with Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

This is worse than not giving at all

That said, it doesn't seem particularly likely that investing in pedagogical research is the most cost-effective donation Geffen could make. Instead, he could give $100 million to distribute bednets in sub-Saharan Africa, a highly cost-effective way to save lives. He could give $100 million directly to poor people in Kenya and Uganda through GiveDirectly. He could give $100 million to deworming efforts that spare children ailments that can cause immense pain and poverty. He could give $100 million to the Open Philanthropy Project or the Gates Foundation or another group doing careful, rigorous work to determine the best ways to use charitable resources to make the world a better place. He could, in fact, do all of the above, because he's crazy stupid rich.

Instead he decided that what LA really needed was a new private school. "Yes, charity is better than no charity," Gawker's Hamilton Nolan writes in an excellent post on the Geffen gift. "But no, all charitable giving is not created equal." I'd go further than Nolan. This gift is actually worse than no charity. No charity at least doesn't actively undermine the LA public school system by encouraging affluent parents to defect from it — in particular affluent parents who are already being specially induced to put their kids in public school. Geffen is actively making education in Los Angeles worse because he wants the medical school named after him to rise in the US News rankings. It's indefensible.

VIDEO: Helping poverty is a better use of $100 million"
philanthropy  nonprofits  charitableindustrialcomplex  2015  davidgeffen  dylanmatthews  losangeles  schools  education  gatesfoundation  charity  us  money  ucla  uclalabschool  larrygordon  provateschools  independentschools  inequality  uclacommunityschool  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit  capitalism  power  control 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The remarkable thing that happens to poor kids when you give their parents a little money - The Washington Post
"Twenty years ago, a group of researchers began tracking the personalities of 1,420 low income children in North Carolina. At the time, the goal was simple: to observe the mental conditions of kids living in rural America. But then a serendipitous thing happened.

Four years into The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth, the families of roughly a quarter of the children saw a dramatic and unexpected increase in annual income. They were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a casino had just been built on the reservation. From that point on every tribal citizen earned a share of the profits, meaning about an extra $4,000 a year per capita.

For these families, the extra padding was a blessing, enough to boost household incomes by almost 20 percent on average. But for the fields of psychology, sociology and economics, it has been a gold mine, too. The sudden change in fortunes has offered a rare glimpse into the subtle but important ways in which money can alter a child’s life. The dataset is so rich that researchers continue to study it to this day.

"It would be almost impossible to replicate this kind of longitudinal study,” said Randall Akee, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies the impact of changes in household income. “Especially for a sample this large. This is the sort of circumstance you dream of as a researcher."

Seizing the opportunity, Akee, along with a team of other researchers, recently revisited the data to analyze each child’s personality both in the years before the casino was built and in those after.

As part of the original study, the children and parents were asked a series of questions, designed to measure, among other things, a number of personality traits. The same questions were posed every other year, for a decade. Akee's goal was to observe any changes—positive or negative—resulting from the extra household income. Their findings, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research last month, are nothing short of remarkable.

"This was hugely important to the development of the children, to their wellbeing” said Akee. "And the effect wasn’t small either—it was actually fairly large."

Not only did the extra income appear to lower the instance of behavioral and emotional disorders among the children, but, perhaps even more important, it also boosted two key personality traits that tend to go hand in hand with long-term positive life outcomes.

The first is conscientiousness. People who lack it tend to lie, break rules and have trouble paying attention. The second is agreeableness, which leads to a comfort around people and aptness for teamwork. And both are strongly correlated with various forms of later life success and happiness.

The researchers also observed a slight uptick in neuroticism, which, they explained, is a good sign. Neuroticism is generally considered to be a positive trait so long as one does not have too much of it.

"We're talking about all sorts of good, positive, long-term things," said Emilia Simeonova, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who studies the economics of health, and one of the paper's co-authors. "There are very powerful correlations between conscientiousness and agreeableness and the ability to hold a job, to maintain a steady relationship. The two allow for people to succeed socially and professionally."

Remarkably, the change was the most pronounced in the children who were the most deficient. "This actually reduces inequality with respect to personality traits," said Akee. "On average, everyone is benefiting, but in particular it's helping the people who need it the most."

Why exactly this happened with the children neither Akee nor any of his co-researchers can say with absolute certainty. Not even Jane Costello, a professor at Duke University who was part of the team that initiated the original study and co-authored the recent paper can say. But they have a few ideas, based on observable changes in the families after the casino was built and the extra money started to flow in.

They know, based on the interviews with parents, that the relationship between spouses tended to improve as a result. They also know that the relationship between the parents and their children tended to improve. And they know that parents tended to drink less alcohol.

"There is a lot of literature that shows in order to change outcomes among children you are best off treating the parents first," said Simeonova. "And these are really clear changes in the parents."

There's also the question of stress, which the extra money helps relieve—even if only a little. While the added income wasn't enough to allow parents to quit their jobs, it's a base level that helped with rent and food and other basic expenses. That, Akee said, is powerful enough itself.

"We know that the thing poor couples fight about the most is money," he said. "Off the bat, this means a more harmonious family environment."

And some of the families, given the boost, even moved to areas with slightly better census tracts in terms of both income and education. They were, in other words, able to expose their children to a different group of peers.

For the most part, scientists agree that the window for improvement in a child's cognitive abilities is short-lived. By the age of about 8, children have set themselves on a path, Akee said. What comes next happens, more or less, within the confines of the limits that were created in their early years.

One's personality, on the other hand, is malleable well into adolescence. What's more, the changes tend to be fairly permanent.

"All of the evidence points to the idea if they change in the teenage years, they will stay changed forever," said Akee. "In this case, the kids will likely maintain a different level of conscientiousness and agreeableness for life."

Experts have known about the power of intervention for some time. A lot of previous research has shown that educational interventions can have sizable impacts on personality traits and, in turn, life outcomes. But rarely, if ever before, have researchers been able to observe the impact of a change in income across such a large group.

The takeaway isn't that casinos are inherently benevolent institutions. But rather that money—even modest sums—can be a pretty powerful thing. And for reasons most would likely overlook.

"We know that low income kids are worse off in a number of ways, in terms of cognitive abilities and behavioral disorders, than their counterparts in much more affluent areas," said Simeonova. "Now we have a sense of what even just a little money can do to change these things, to change their lives.""
universalbasicincome  poverty  economics  children  money  parenting  2015  robertoferdman  education  ubi 
october 2015 by robertogreco
CURMUDGUCATION: Gates Says Some Stuff
"Like many teachers, I could not tune in to Bill and Melinda Gates' trip down Ed Reform Memory Lane because I was busy doing my actual job. This seems metaphorically perfect-- Gates talks about schools while, meanwhile, teachers are in schools doing actual work. However, I've scanned some accounts of the speech from this afternoon, and I think I've piece together the general drift of his gist. So let me channel my faux Gates voice to summarize what you, I and all of us missed today.

So, hey there.

It's been fifteen years since we started trying to beat public education into submission with giant stacks of money, and it turns out that it's a hell of a lot harder than curing major diseases. Turns out teachers are not nearly as compliant as bacteria. Who knew?

Actually, there's a whole long list of things that came as a surprise to us. Teachers and politicians and parents all had ideas about what ought or ought not to be happening in schools, and damned if they would just not shut up about it. At first stuff was going great and we were getting everyone to do just what we wanted them to, but then it was like they finally noticed that a bunch of clueless amateurs were trying to run the whole system, and they freaked out.

I have to tell you. Right now as I'm sitting here, it still doesn't occur to me that all the pushback might be related to the fact that I have no educational expertise at all, and yet I want to rewrite the whole US school system to my own specs. Why should that be a problem? I still don't understand why I shouldn't be able to just redo the whole mess without having to deal with unions or professional employees or elected officials. Of course nobody elected me to do this! I don't mind, really-- happy to take over this entire sector of the government anyway, you're welcome.

I have noticed that when you give teachers really shitty feedback based on crappy tests, they prefer that you just shut up and leave them alone. This is bad. How will they know whether they're crappy teachers or not, or whether they're doing well or not. Surely they don't think by just using their professional judgment and paying attention to their students they'll be able to figure out how they're doing all by themselves? Where are the numbers and the charts and the data? I tell you-- it's almost as if they think they understand things about teaching and education that I do not, and that surely can't be right.

I'll admit-- we were a bit naive about rolling all our ideas out, and by "we" I mean various state governments that we spent our money on. Those guys just screwed up the implementation. I know the ideas themselves were sound because, you know, I do. I mean, not everybody messed it up. In Kentucky they stayed the course on using standards to prep for those tests, and damned if that test prep didn't pay off in higher test scores. What else could anyone possibly want.

And resistance to Common Core. Well, some of that was just crazy people telling internet lies. And the rest was people who just wanted to assert their autonomy, like all the people who work in public education wanted to make a point that they don't actually work for me. My bad. Sometimes I forget that there are people like that. Although Melinda will tell you that teachers actually all love the Common Core. Love it.

Look, I'm a simple man. I had some ideas about how the entire US education system should work, and like any other citizen, I used my giant pile of money to impose my will on everyone else. It's okay, because I just want to help. We're not done yet-- I'm going to keep trying to fix the entire teaching profession, even if nobody in the country actually asked me to do it. And no, I don't intend to talk to anybody actually in the profession. What do they know about teaching? Besides, when you know you're right, you don't have to listen to anybody else."
2015  billgates  gatesfoundation  policy  influence  money  politics  education  schools  commoncore  petergreene  us  schooling 
october 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Intervention – “Vernacular Values: Remembering Ivan Illich” by Andy Merrifield | AntipodeFoundation.org
"Illich had it in for professional institutions of every kind, for what he called “disabling professions”; this is what interests me most in his work, this is what I’ve been trying to revisit, trying to recalibrate and reload, in our own professionalised times. I’ve been trying to affirm the nemesis of professionalism: amateurs. Illich said professionals incapacitate ordinary peoples’ ability to fend for themselves, to invent things, to lead innovative lives beyond the thrall of corporations and institutions. Yet Illich’s war against professionalism isn’t so much a celebration of self-survival (letting free market ideology rip) as genuine self-empowerment, a weaning people off their market-dependence. We’ve lost our ability to develop “convivial tools”, he says, been deprived of our use-value capacities, of values systems outside the production and consumption of commodities. We’ve gotten accustomed to living in a supermarket.

Illich’s thinking about professionalisation was partly inspired by Karl Polanyi’s magisterial analysis on the “political and economic origins of our time”, The Great Transformation (Beacon Press, 1944). Since the Stone Age, Polanyi says, markets followed society, developed organically as social relations developed organically, from barter and truck systems, to simple economies in which money was a means of exchange, a mere token of equivalent worth. Markets were always “embedded” (a key Polanyi word) in social relations, always located somewhere within the very fabric of society, whose institutional and political structure “regulated” what markets could and couldn’t do. Regulation and markets thus grew up together, came of age together. So “the emergence of the idea of self-regulation”, says Polanyi, “was a complete reversal of this trend of development … the change from regulated to self-regulated markets at the end of the 18th century represented a complete transformation in the structure of society.”

We’re still coming to terms with this complete transformation, a transformation that, towards the end of the 20th century, has made the “disembedded” economy seem perfectly natural, perfectly normal, something transhistorical, something that always was, right? It’s also a perfectly functioning economy, as economic pundits now like to insist. Entering the 1990s, this disembedded market system bore a new tagline, one that persists: “neoliberalism”. Polanyi’s logic is impeccable: a “market economy can exist only in a market society.”

Inherent vices nonetheless embed themselves in this disembedded economy. Land, labour and money become vital parts of our economic system, of our speculative hunger games. But, says Polanyi, land, labour and money “are obviously not commodities” (his emphasis). “Land is only another name for nature, which is not produced by man”, he says; “labour is only another name for human activity which goes with life itself”; “actual money … is merely a token of purchasing power which, as a rule, is not produced at all, but comes into being through the mechanism of banking or state finance”. Thus “the commodity description of labour, land and money is entirely fictitious”, a commodity fiction, the fiction of commodities.

Still, we live in fictitious times (as filmmaker Michael Moore was wont to say): land, labour and money as commodities provide us with the vital organising principle of our whole society. So fiction remains the truth, and fictitious truth needs defending, needs perpetuating; the postulate must be forcibly yet legitimately kept in place. But kept in place how, and by whom? By, we might say, a whole professional administration, by a whole professional cadre, by a whole professional apparatus that both props up and prospers from these fictitious times. Professionalism is the new regulation of deregulation, the new management of mismanagement, an induced and imputed incapacitation."



"Vernacular values are intuitive knowledges and practical know-how that structure everyday culture; they pivot not so much—as Gramsci says—on common sense as on “good sense”. They’re reasonable intuitions and intuitive reason: words, habits and understandings that inform real social life—the real social life of a non-expert population. Illich reminds us that “vernacular” stems from the Latin vernaculam, meaning “homebred” or “homegrown”, something “homemade”. (We’re not far from the notion of amateur here.) Vernacular is a mode of life and language below the radar of exchange-value; vernacular language is language acquired without a paid teacher; loose, unruly language, heard as opposed to written down. (“Eartalk”, Joyce called it in Finnegans Wake, a language for the “earsighted”.) To assert vernacular values is, accordingly, to assert democratic values, to assert its means through popular participation."



"Illich chips in to add how professionals peddle the privileges and status of the job: they adjudicate its worthiness and rank, while forever tut-tutting those without work. Unemployment “means sad idleness, rather than the freedom to do things that are useful for oneself or for one’s neighbour”. “What counts”, Illich says, “isn’t the effort to please or the pleasure that flows from that effort but the coupling of the labour force with capital. What counts isn’t the achievement of satisfaction that flows from action but the status of the social relationship that commands production—that is, the job, situation, post, or appointment”.

Effort isn’t productive unless it’s done at the behest of some boss; economists can’t deal with a usefulness of people outside of the corporation, outside of stock value, of shareholder dividend, of cost-benefit. Work is only ever productive when its process is controlled, when it is planned and monitored by professional agents, by managers and the managers of managers. Can we ever imagine unemployment as useful, as the basis for autonomous activity, as meaningful social or even political activity?"



"Perhaps, during crises, we can hatch alternative programmes for survival, other methods through which we can not so much “earn a living” as live a living. Perhaps we can self-downsize, as Illich suggests, and address the paradox of work that goes back at least to Max Weber: work is revered in our culture, yet at the same time workers are becoming superfluous; you hate your job, your boss, hate the servility of what you do, and how you do it, the pettiness of the tasks involved, yet want to keep your job at all costs. You see no other way of defining yourself other than through work, other than what you do for a living. Perhaps there’s a point at which we can all be pushed over the edge, voluntarily take the jump ourselves, only to discover other aspects of ourselves, other ways to fill in the hole, to make a little money, to maintain our dignity and pride, and to survive off what Gorz calls a “frugal abundance”.

Perhaps it’s time to get politicised around non-work and undercut the professionalisation of work and life. In opting out, or at least contesting from within, perhaps we can create a bit of havoc, refuse to work as we’re told, and turn confrontation into a more positive device, a will to struggle for another kind of work, where use-value outbids exchange-value, where amateurs prevail over professionals. If, in times of austerity, capitalists can do without workers, then it’s high time workers (and ex-workers) realise that we can do without capitalists, without their professional hacks, and their professional institutions, that we can devise work without them, a work for ourselves. Illich throws down the gauntlet here, challenges us to conceive another de-professionalised, vernacular non-working future. He certainly gets you thinking, has had me thinking, and rethinking, more than a decade after I’ve had any kind of job."
via:javierarbona  ivanillich  professionals  experts  amateurs  economics  conviviality  karlpolanyi  politics  capitalism  neoliberalism  empowerment  self-empowerment  unschooling  deschooling  production  consumption  corporatism  corporations  institutions  self-survival  invention  innovation  markets  society  labor  land  commodities  nature  money  michaelmoore  andymerrifield  bureaucracy  control  systems  systemsthinking  deregulation  regulation  management  incapacitation  work  vernacula  vernacularvalues  values  knowledge  everyday  culture  informal  bullshitjobs  andrégorz  antoniogramsci  marxism  ideleness  freedom  capital  effort  productivity  socialactivism  maxweber  time  toolsforconviviality 
july 2015 by robertogreco
—Ethel Baraona Pohl— dpr-barcelona — Have several mixed feelings by the inherent...
"Have several mixed feelings by the inherent contradictions from this crowdfunding project. At first sight it seems like a great, creative idea, but with a simple double thought, you realise how easy is to ‘find a creative solution’ for our problems, without thinking in deep if the problem doesn’t rely on our need of keep doing the same again and again… I mean collecting the same old money that will go to the same old banks, and not to the citizens in Greece; because, where does the final goal of this campaign will go if it succeed? To Tsirpas pocket? Don’t think so.

As a symbolic project is super strong indeed, but perhaps we need to use 'the power of the crowd’ to ask responsibilities to the EU, to remind them about the real fact that we are already 'crowdfunding’ our social health by paying our taxes —taxes that are being used to rescue banks and enrich the rich—. The problem at the end is not the money, is the failed system of considering 'democratic’ those decisions taken by just a few, and even worse, when those few are economic institution (FMI, CEB, etc.)

Perhaps we need the 'power of the crowd not to collect the same old money that has taken us to this stupid discourse of austerity, but to think how to use the collective power to provoke structural changes in the political field. Difficult though, but which change hasn’t been difficult along history?"
ethelbaraonapohl  2015  greece  bailouts  crowdfunding  imf  debt  money  power  change  systemsthinking  creativity  zoominginandzoomingout  finance  banks  banking  capitalism  policy  politics  geopolitics 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd. | The American Conservative
"Here’s a puzzling report from the New York Times [http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/06/your-money/skimping-on-the-splurges-even-as-a-millionaire.html?smid=tw-nytimes ]:
A recent report from UBS Wealth Management found that people with more money are generally happy, which probably doesn’t come as much of a shock. “I would say that millionaires in general are very happy,” said Paula Polito, chief client strategy officer at UBS Wealth Management Americas. “I wouldn’t confuse happiness with contentment or satisfaction or achievement.”

Got it. Happy but not necessarily satisfied or content.
The UBS report found that satisfaction rose in line with wealth: 73 percent of those with $1 million to $2 million, 78 percent of those with $2 million to $5 million and 85 percent of those with over $5 million reported that they were “highly satisfied” with life.

Oh. So they are satisfied. Satisfied and happy? Satisfied and happy but not content?
What piqued my curiosity was how conflicted the report’s respondents seemed to be about the source of their wealth. They often have jobs that entail long hours, high pressure and working vacations.

Are those things satisfying? Happiness-conducive?
‘Part of this pressure to keep going is less about greed and more about insecurity that might be self-imposed,’ Ms. Polito said. ‘If you ask people, ‘If you knew you had five more years to live, would you act differently?’ they say they would. That’s a showstopper.’

Happy and satisfied but insecure?
Money buys happiness, the report said. But what good is that happiness if the millionaires who have it cannot enjoy the freedom the money gives them, the freedom that most people would love to have?

But if the inability to enjoy freedom doesn’t make you less happy or satisfied, is it a problem? If so, why?

My takeaway from reading this article: no one involved, from the investigators to the respondents to the reporter, has any idea what they mean by “happy” or “satisfied” or “content” or “free.”

Let’s try to think about these things, starting perhaps with W. H. Auden’s poem “The Unknown Citizen.” [http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/unknown-citizen ] Everyone’s assignment: read this poem, think about it for a month, and then try again."
happiness  satisfaction  2015  alanjacobs  contentment  insecurity  money  freedom 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Hack Education Weekly Newsletter, No. 115
"Virgil Runnels, Jr. – better known by his wrestling persona “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes – passed away on Thursday. Dave Zirin writes,
Dusty Rhodes was the most public expression about surviving in the Reagan 1980s: a Jonathan Kozol book in tights armed only with a sharp tongue and a bionic elbow. Remembering this Dusty Rhodes matters because the historical amnesia about the Reagan years has been so total. An extremely well-funded right-wing campaign has whitewashed the truth of the era: that Ronald Reagan left a body count of victims due to an indifference as callous as it was calculated. The Reagan backlash spared no one, least of all industrial workers: the people who worked with their hands and sent children to college on a single union wage, without student loans. It sounds like another world, and it was: a world that Reagan’s agenda—with no small help from congressional Democrats—destroyed. Dusty Rhodes was the voice of the person getting crushed under the weight of Reagan and keeping his head held high, dignity not only intact but non-negotiable.

I saw The Mountain Goats play last week, and the band opened the show with Rhodes’ famous “Hard Times” promo. (The Mountain Goats’ latest album focuses on professional wrestling.)

Professional wrestling, like ed-tech I suppose, has become something else since the 1980s. Perhaps it is, as Zirin suggests, partly due to this erasure of stories of survival and resistance in exchange for stories of magic and money. The latter still try to convince everyone it’s “the revolution,” of course. Ed-tech and/as the Reagan Revolution. There's a story idea..."
ronaldreagan  2015  audreywatters  resistance  survival  money  magic  revolution  capitalism  latecapitalism  davedzirin  virgilrunnelsjr  distyrhodes  neoliberalism  1980s  edtech  education  technology 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Mow the Lawn - NYTimes.com
"She’s off to college in California, whence I suspect she will never return. As places to stay go, California is up there. Whenever I’m there I wonder why I leave. Unencumbered by too much past, it offers the sunlit tug of the future.

So, dear reader, you find me at a juncture. You put four children through high school, and you find yourself reflecting less on the collapsing Sykes-Picot order and the post-carbon economy than on the happiness whose pursuit America at its founding declared an inalienable right.

The founders were not wrong. It is a self-evident truth that people, whether in creating a new nation or simply beginning a new relationship, seek happiness. That they often go about it in the wrong way does not detract from the sincerity of their quest. Sure as there are acorns beneath the oak tree, people keep rekindling their hopes.

In this commencement season, there is inevitably much reflection on the nature of those hopes and how to fulfill them. These tend toward the mawkish. Life is a succession of tasks rather than a cascade of inspiration, an experience that is more repetitive than revelatory, at least on a day-to-day basis. The thing is to perform the task well and find reward even in the mundane.

I have no idea if Malcolm Gladwell is onto something with the “10,000-hour rule” — the notion that this is the time required for the acquisition of perfected expertise in a particular field — but I am sure grind is underappreciated in our feel-good culture. Don’t sweat the details, but do sweat.

I’ve grown suspicious of the inspirational. It’s overrated. I suspect duty — that half-forgotten word — may be more related to happiness than we think. Want to be happy? Mow the lawn. Collect the dead leaves. Paint the room. Do the dishes. Get a job. Labor until fatigue is in your very bones. Persist day after day. Be stoical. Never whine. Think less about the why of what you do than getting it done. Get the column written. Start pondering the next.

A few years ago, when my son Blaise graduated, I was asked to give the commencement speech at the American School in London. Among other things, I said:

“Everyone has something that makes them tick. The thing is it’s often well hidden. Your psyche builds layers of protection around your most vulnerable traits, which may be very closely linked to your precious essence. Distractions are also external: money, fame, peer pressure, parental expectation. So it may be more difficult than you think to recognize the spark that is your personal sliver of the divine. But do so. Nothing in the end will give you greater satisfaction — not wealth, not passion, not faith, not even love — for if, as Rilke wrote, all companionship is but “the strengthening of two neighboring solitudes,” you have to solve the conundrum of your solitude.

“No success, however glittering, that denies yourself will make you happy in the long run. So listen to the voice from your soul, quiet but insistent, and honor it. Find what you thrill to: if not the perfect sentence, the beautiful cure, the brilliant formula, the lovely chord, the exquisite sauce, the artful reconciliation. Strive not for everything money can buy but for everything money can’t buy.”

It’s not precisely that I would retract any of that today — well, maybe a little — it’s just that I’d put the emphasis elsewhere. I am less interested in the inspirational hero than I am in the myriad doers of everyday good who would shun the description heroic; less interested in the exhortation to “live your dream” than in the obligation to make a living wage.

When you think of Sisyphus — the Greek mythological figure whose devious attempt to defy the gods was punished with his condemnation to pushing a boulder up a hill and repeating the task through all eternity when it rolled down again — think above all that he has a task and it is his own. Rather than a source of despair, that may be the beginning of happiness.

In Camus’ book, “The Plague,” the doctor at the center of the novel, Bernard Rieux, battles pestilence day after day. It is a Sisyphean task. At one point he says, “I have to tell you this: This whole thing is not about heroism. It’s about decency. It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.”

Asked what decency is, he responds: “In general, I can’t say, but in my case I know that it consists of doing my job.” Later, he adds, “I don’t think I have any taste for heroism and sainthood. What interests me is to be a man.”

In the everyday task at hand, for woman or man, happiness lurks."
albertcamus  theplague  everyday  work  labor  heroism  sainthood  rogercohen  2015  california  happiness  slow  small  sisyphus  money  fame  peerpressure  companionship  solitude  repetition  decency  camus  ordinariness  ordinary 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: Some Post-Reform Education Theses
"The last 15 years have destroyed the intellectual foundation of American education
My favorite example is the argument in favor of teaching science and history for the purpose of improving "literacy." We don't have any working definitions of the core academic disciplines. Or a working definition of a "discipline" or its role in education. The basic definition of education has been hijacked as "college and career readiness," etc., etc. After Vietnam, the US military went back to Clausewitz to try to figure its role out again from first principles. We need to start over with Dewey.

Half-assed technocrats don't cut it.
Educational administrators are always going to tend toward technocracy, but right now we have a generation of terrible, uninterested, uneducated, ideological technocrats. It is the worst case scenario.

The international educational status quo is a decent starting point.
Every system has its strengths and weaknesses, but we don't have to act like we're solving a novel problem, as we have been, even as people go on and on about "international benchmarking."

Be realistic about where we are actually putting in real effort today.
For example, the current conversation about the difficulty of building social capital in low-income neighborhoods. This isn't something we're trying to do and failing. We are barely trying at all. We're not even adequately funding the existing public institutions (libraries, community centers, parks and rec., etc.) in low-income neighborhoods. Why don't we try that first before starting the handwringing?

Fund schools from general funds, not grants, especially private ones.
Some districts will waste their money. Get over it.

The ed-tech market does not work.
Actually the whole educational publishing market doesn't work either.

Enough with the standardized tests.
Professional teachers can evaluate their students. It is their job. They do it all over the world.

AP is a product, not a proxy for quality.
Increased AP enrollment just means the school is moving more product.

It is easy to mislead people about what "we" believed and did just a few years ago.
The memory hole is voracious.

Education can't be the most important problem in the world -- that we can only attempt to fix without spending more money.
Well, it is ok to give money to consultants, charter administration, and real estate scams."
education  policy  us  edreform  schools  teaching  learning  ap  testing  standardizedtesting  johndewey  assessment  funding  money  memory  socialcapital  poverty  ideology  2015  tomhoffman 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Poverty is a tax on cognition - Boing Boing
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6_scuce5TA ]

"In an outstanding lecture at the London School of Economics, Macarthur "genius award" recipient Sendhil Mullainathan explains his research on the psychology of scarcity, a subject that he's also written an excellent book about.

Mullainathan begins by establishing the idea that your cognition is limited -- you can only think about a limited number of things at one time, and when the number of things you have to pay attention to goes beyond a certain threshold, you start making errors. Then he explains how poor people have a lot more things they have to pay attention to. In the UK, we make fun of politicians for being so out of touch that they don't know the price of a pint of milk -- but poor people have to keep track of the price of everything they require. There's no room for error. Spend too much on the milk and you can't afford the bread.

That's just one of the many taxes on the cognitive load of poor people. David Graeber's Utopia of Rules details another: figuring out what rich people are thinking. Poor people who piss off rich people face reprisals far beyond those that rich people can expect from each other or from poor people.

This isn't unique to cash-poverty. Mullainathan asks his audience to recall what life is like when they're "time poor" -- on a deadline or otherwise overburdened. This scarcity can focus your attention, yes: we've all had miraculous work-sprints to meet a deadline. But it does so at the expense of thoughtful attention to longer-term (but equally important) priorities: that's why we stress-eat, skip the gym when our workload is spiking, and miss our kids' sports' games when the pressure is on at work.

The experimental literature shows startling parallels between the two conditions: time scarcity and cash scarcity. This leads to a series of policy proscriptions that are brilliant (for example, when we create means-tested benefits that require poor people to go through difficult bureaucratic processes, we're taxing their scarcest and most precious resource). He also recounts how this parallel is useful in creating an empathic link between rich and powerful people like hedge fund managers and the poorest people alive.

Why does poverty persist? Why do successful people get things done at the last minute? A single psychology--the psychology of scarcity--connects these seemingly unconnected questions. The research in our book shows how scarcity creates its own mindset. Understanding this mindset sheds light on our personal problems as well as the broader social problem of poverty and what we can do about it."
corydoctorow  equality  poverty  sendhilmullainathan  cognition  attention  davidgraeber  economics  decisionmaking  time  money  debttraps  scarcity  allnighters  timescarcity  moneyscarcity  tunneling 
june 2015 by robertogreco
A conversation with President David Skorton and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz MFA '95 - CornellCast
"Each year, the Olin Lecture brings to campus an internationally prominent speaker to address a topic relevant to higher education and the current world situation. Junot Díaz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)."

[Great chat with Junot Díaz (is there any other kind?) and I especially love the part towards the end in response to a prompt from the audience about social action.

“There is no more important mandate to anyone living in a society than civic engagement. Civic engagement is just what's owed. There is no person, poor or rich, who does not take more out of this country than what they put back in. No one. There is no one so afflicted that doesn't owe this nation a debt. Civic engagement is how we begin to pay the interest on that debt. And, part of civic engagement is looking for places that we think that we can improve and trying to improve it. It is just something that has been lost for a long time, something that I think isn't valued enough. I think that what you are doing is incredibly important under the most fundamental level of what it means to be alive in a civic society. To give back, to attempt to engage yourself in that way is absolutely essential.

The thing is that we live in a society that has spent the last thirty or forty years promulgating, convincing people that the only thing that matters is you and how much money you have made. A perverse neoliberal individualism that has collapsed a lot of what we would call our civic communities. People aren't just bowling alone, gang. People are also not engaged in civic society the way they used to. They've got us all mad at each other, whether we're Republican or Democrats because that is a way to convince people that this is civic engagement. Partisan politics is not civic engagement. We think it's civic engagement, but it's not. And I think the nature of civic engagement is that in a country like ours, in a moment like ours, it is going to be very hard to convince people to go against the pied piper music of individualism and neoliberal profit-making and to think more seriously about what our community requires and what is owed of all of us. And I think that the nature of this work, is that you are going to find that it is going to be difficult to engage large movements of people. And that despite this, what you do is utterly invaluable.

My sense of this is that you've got to constantly model, you've got to constantly reach out, and you've got to everything you cant that when you're home, or wherever you settle, to go to every damn school and get every teacher who is an ally and let you make a presentation. And try to get allied teachers to come and visit your project so that at least the young people are exposed and given some modeling. And it is the same thing. How many people are at home looking for things to do? And, again, I don't know what community you are in or what kind of space, but if you can sort of figure out a place where there is a lot of traffic that you could present and model your work, you can begin to slowly pull people in. Will it be a lot? No. Will it be as much as you need? Perhaps. Will it be transformational and save individual lives through that engagement and through that reaffirmation of the most important values of our civic society? Absolutely. Being an artist in some ways is no different than being someone who wants to make this country better. there is very little money in it, especially if done correctly.

You know, there is little acclaim and respect. And in fact, there is very few signs that what you're doing is working. And yet, without your presence, what remains is not worth calling a society. Nothing is more a faith-based initiative than the kind of work you're doing. But I would argue, trying to get into the schools, trying to get into the places where a lot of adults flow through who don't have that kind of training or don't have that kind of literacy, and tying to kind of increase the exposure, that is what tends to work best in this battle. And I leave you with this: whether you're someone who is trying to do the work this young sister is doing or you're a teacher trying to convince their students that reading is good, in this battle, it is hand to hand. If you can transform one life, you've given more than most of us can dream. And, that life may do the work the future needs to make the future that we all dreamed possible. And therefore you must stick with it.”

See 1:02:29 for that.]
junotdíaz  art  activism  writing  race  2015  via:javierarbona  howwewrite  whywewrite  experience  socialjustice  us  education  highered  highereducation  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  immigrants  immigration  elitism  politics  struggle  mfas  hardship  gratitude  civics  citizenship  engagement  migration  bilingualism  language  accents  rutgers  cornell  stigma  latinos  patriarchy  capitalism  publicadministration  socialaction  society  movements  storytelling  neoliberalism  individualism  money  wealth  inequality  transformation  modeling  lcproject  openstudioproject  inlcusivity 
june 2015 by robertogreco
How to turn a liberal hipster into a capitalist tyrant in one evening | Comment is free | The Guardian
"And because the theatre captures data on every choice by every team, for every performance, I know we were not alone. The aggregated flowchart reveals that every audience, on every night, veers towards money and away from ethics.

Svendsen says: “Most people who were given the choice to raise wages – having cut them – did not. There is a route in the decision-tree that will only get played if people pursue a particularly ethical response, but very few people end up there. What we’ve realised is that it is not just the profit motive but also prudence, the need to survive at all costs, that pushes people in the game to go down more capitalist routes.”

In short, many people have no idea what running a business actually means in the 21st century. Yes, suppliers – from East Anglia to Shanghai – will try to break your ethical codes; but most of those giant firms’ commitment to good practice, and environmental sustainability, is real. And yes, the money is all important. But real businesses will take losses, go into debt and pay workers to stay idle in order to maintain the long-term relationships vital in a globalised economy.

Why do so many decent people, when asked to pretend they’re CEOs, become tyrants from central casting? Part of the answer is: capitalism subjects us to economic rationality. It forces us to see ourselves as cashflow generators, profit centres or interest-bearing assets. But that idea is always in conflict with something else: the non-economic priorities of human beings, and the need to sustain the environment. Though World Factory, as a play, is designed to show us the parallels between 19th-century Manchester and 21st-century China, it subtly illustrates what has changed."



"The whole purpose of this system of regulation – from above and below – is to prevent individual capitalists making short-term decisions that destroy the human and natural resources it needs to function. Capitalism is not just the selfish decisions of millions of people. It is those decisions sifted first through the all-important filter of regulation. It is, as late 20th-century social theorists understood, a mode of regulation, not just of production.

Yet it plays on us a cruel ideological trick. It looks like a spontaneous organism, to which government and regulation (and the desire of Chinese migrants to visit their families once a year) are mere irritants. In reality it needs the state to create and re-create it every day.

Banks create money because the state awards them the right to. Why does the state ram-raid the homes of small-time drug dealers, yet call in the CEOs of the banks whose employees commit multimillion-pound frauds for a stern ticking off over a tray of Waitrose sandwiches? Answer: because a company has limited liability status, created by parliament in 1855 after a political struggle.

Our fascination with market forces blinds us to the fact that capitalism – as a state of being – is a set of conditions created and maintained by states. Today it is beset by strategic problems: debt- ridden, with sub-par growth and low productivity, it cannot unleash the true potential of the info-tech revolution because it cannot imagine what to do with the millions who would lose their jobs.

The computer that runs the data system in Svendsen’s play could easily run a robotic clothes factory. That’s the paradox. But to make a third industrial revolution happen needs something no individual factory boss can execute: the re-regulation of capitalism into something better. Maybe the next theatre game about work and exploitation should model the decisions of governments, lobbyists and judges, not the hapless managers."
capitalism  economics  ethics  money  values  2015  rationality  behavior  priorities  policy  sustainability  survival  worldfactory  paulmason  latecapitalism  psychology  zoesvendsen  growth  productivity  banks  banking  government  governance  regulation  longterm  shortterm 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Two Encinitas YMCA Board Members Forced Out Over Youth Membership Dispute | KPBS
"Ecke and Ayers challenged a 2013 decision to eliminate youth membership discounts. For about $80 to $100 a year, children 12 and under could get access to various YMCA programs, including swimming, gymnastics and martial arts.

But under the new rules, children in that age group can't join the YMCA without being part of a family membership, which costs about $1,000 annually. These youth membership discounts went away for the entire county last July except at the Ecke YMCA, which ends its program this month.

Ayers believes the change will drive away many of the 2,400 kids who have youth membership discounts at the Ecke YMCA.

“It will be a tremendous financial barrier for them,” he said. “Youth are a very fundamental part of the mission of the YMCA. It didn’t make sense that we would do anything that would affect youth at our YMCA.”"
ymca  sandiego  money  2015  inequality 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Expensive wine is for suckers. This video shows why. - Vox
"Therein lies the problem with wine: you have the science of turning a great fruit into a great drink. Then you have what are seemingly objective quality variables like balance and complexity. But layered onto that is a mountain of subjective opinions, people trying to prove their sophistication, and a whole lot of marketing. The nature of wine makes it really hard to tell the difference between expertise, nonsense, and personal preference.

Take wine comments, for example. There's no doubt that people can learn through training how to identify different grapes and regions, and develop the vocabulary to distinguish and describe subtle flavors and aromas. But at the same time, people are always vulnerable to the influence of their expectations. And time and again, researchers have been able to trick even expert wine tasters.

By dyeing a white wine red, researchers at the University of Bordeaux showed how easily visual cues can dominate wine students' sense of smell. When they thought the white wine was a red one, they described it using words commonly applied to red wines (incidentally, those words are typically dark objects like red berries or wood).

Another powerful cue is price. We can't help but associate price with quality, and most of the time it's probably a good assumption that you're paying more for a reason. But does that association hold up for wine? I bought three red wines at different prices to see if my coworkers could tell the difference.

Would they be able to tell which wine was the most expensive? Would they enjoy that wine more than the others? Check out the video above to see our results."

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVKuCbjFfIY ]
wine  taste  food  drink  2015  ratings  price  pleasure  money 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2014 - Leah Buechley on Vimeo
"Thinking About Making – An examination of what we mean by making (MAKEing) these days. What gets made? Who makes? Why does making matter?"



[uninscusive covers of Make Magazine and composition of Google employment]

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

"I'm really tired of setting up structures where we tell young women and young brown and black kids that they should aspire to be like rich white guys."

[RTd these back than, but never watched the video. Thanks, Sara for bringing it back up.

https://twitter.com/arikan/status/477546169329938432
https://twitter.com/arikan/status/477549826498764801 ]

[Talk with some of the same content from Leah Buechley (and a lot of defensive comments from the crowd that Buechleya addresses well):
http://edstream.stanford.edu/Video/Play/883b61dd951d4d3f90abeec65eead2911d
https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-10-29-make-ing-more-diverse-makers ]
leahbuechley  making  makermovement  critique  equality  gender  race  2014  via:ablerism  privilege  wealth  glvo  openstudioproject  lcproject  democratization  inequality  makemagazine  money  age  education  electronics  robots  robotics  rockets  technology  compsci  computerscience  computing  computers  canon  language  work  inclusivity  funding  google  intel  macarthurfoundation  opportunity  power  influence  movements  engineering  lowriders  pottery  craft  culture  universality  marketing  inclusion 
may 2015 by robertogreco
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