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robertogreco : profits   14

Marilynne Robinson: on capitalism and "what we actually value" by Radio Open Source
"The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson talks about what we value and what we need and the basics of American society, pitted against a "weird ideologized form of capitalism"."
marilynnerobinson  via:taryn  capitalism  criticism  wealth  values  2015  history  ideology  neoliberalism  coldwar  society  profits  profit  art  science  business  empowerment  time  culture  hierarchy  prosperity  teaching  howweteach  monetization 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Yes We Can. But Should We? — re:form — Medium
"Quirky has been clever in melding the old-school notion of being an “inventor” with the new-school notion of being a “maker.” But somewhere in the course of entering the pop culture zeitgeist, the warm and fuzzy self-empowered “maker” idea got turned into an engine for output and profit. No idea is too superfluous. Many of the items the company sells are gadgets like “Pivot Power,” designed expressly for plugging in other gadgets. It felt to me that the very purpose of Kaufman’s endeavor was to get more stuff on shelves, or what he referred to as “social product development.

Not so long ago it felt like we were beginning to recognize that as a society, our patterns of production and consumption were not sustainable. Messages like The Story of Stuff went viral, refocusing our collective eyes on our culture’s stunning material wastefulness. But that period was short, and the resolve for change it seemed to herald has all but evaporated. While many innovative companies have been focusing on selling experiences rather than manufacturing goods, the drive to produce more has only accelerated.

Technology has become not only more sophisticated, but access to its bells and whistles has become relatively more affordable and accessible. With this, ideas around designing and making have shifted and sectors of the maker movement have veered from basement workshop projects to the production of i-accessories and other trinkets that make Kickstarter fanboys drool. Just as desktop publishing tools made everyone [think they were] a graphic designer, 3-D printers and the like have empowered legions to be the next Jony Ive. (Not incidentally, why must every last bit of product design be measured by whether it would make Ive proud?)

I won’t point the finger at one company or one discipline but I am struck by the absence of sustainable discourse in the maker movement. Daily, we read swooning odes to the 3-D printer, the CNC router and other cutting edge manufacturing technologies but read almost nothing that approaches these developments through a much-needed critical lens. Every tchotchke is celebrated as if it were as significant as the wheel or the printing press.”



"In Why Things Bite Back, Edward Tenner writes of what he calls the “ironic unintended consequences’’ of human ingenuity, ranging from antibiotics that promise the cure of disease but end up breeding resistant microorganisms, to a new football helmet, designed to reduce injuries, that actually encourages a more violent style of playing, thus creating the risk of more serious injury. We’re experiencing some of these ironies now as we use technology to solve the wrong problems. We’re in a period where almost anyone has the tools to make almost anything – but are we making the right things? Or too many of the wrong ones?

There seems to be a misconception about what 3D printing does and does not enable. Does it allow us to delight a four-year-old by pulling a mini Darth Vader toy seemingly out of thin air? It does. But the object doesn’t materialize from nothing. A 3D printer consumes about 50 to 100 times more electrical energy than injection molding to make an item of the same weight. On top of that, the emissions from desktop 3D printers are similar to burning a cigarette or cooking on a gas or electric stove. And the material of choice for all this new stuff we’re clamoring to make is overwhelmingly plastic. In a sense, it’s a reverse environmental offset, counteracting recent legislation to reduce plastic use through grocery bag bans and packaging redesigns. While more people tote reuasable cloth bags to the supermarket, plastic is piling up in other domains, from TechShop to Target."



"Good design is often defined as being an elegant solution to a clear problem. Perhaps we’re solving the wrong problems — or inventing problems that don’t exist — as justification for our excessive output. Do we need more products? Not really. But we need better ones. So why aren’t we designing them? Why are we reading about so many bad ones? Why, for example, did more than 62,000 people recently pitch in to fund a new drink cooler that doubles as a beverage blender (and triples as a stereo) to the tune of $13,285,226?"
makers  invention  3dprinting  design  makermovement  sustainability  waster  responsibility  allisonarieff  2014  capitalism  profits  production  productivity  output  materials  unuseless  chindogu 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The parable of the bees | A Working Library
"The prevailing storyline these days would have you believe that valuations and profit margins represent the complete and singular picture of a business’ worth. No other metric figures into the conversation. Schumacher, again:
Economics, moreover, deals with goods in accordance with their market value and not in accordance with what they really are. The same rules and criteria applied to primary goods, which man has to win from nature, and secondary goods, which presuppose the existence of primary goods and are manufactured from them. All goods are treated the same, because the point of view is fundamentally that of private profit-making, and this means that it is inherent in the methodology of economics to ignore man’s dependence on the natural world.

"I’ve long thought (though I’m aware just how unlikely this is) that economics, as a discipline, ought to be kicked down a notch or two. We treat it, in our ordinary political conversations, as if it were all that mattered, or at least as if it mattered more than many other things. The subtitle to Small Is Beautiful—“Economics as if People Mattered”—remains an aspiration."

[More from the MacKinnon: http://aworkinglibrary.com/reading/once-and-future-world/ ]

[More from the Schumacher: http://aworkinglibrary.com/reading/small-is-beautiful/ ]
mandybrown  jbmackinnon  efschumacher  economics  sustainability  bees  nature  capitalism  profits  measurement  value  values 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt
"Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage. But then again, Werner wasn’t exactly calling for those things. He was merely observing that mass uprisings of people – along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street – represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control. We know that past social movements have “had tremendous influence on . . . how the dominant culture evolved”, he pointed out. So it stands to reason that, “if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics”. And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but “really a geophysics problem”.



So what Anderson and Bows are really saying is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which may be the best argument we have ever had for changing those rules.

In a 2012 essay that appeared in the influential scientific journal Nature Climate Change, Anderson and Bows laid down something of a gauntlet, accusing many of their fellow scientists of failing to come clean about the kind of changes that climate change demands of humanity. On this it is worth quoting the pair at length:
. . . in developing emission scenarios scientists repeatedly and severely underplay the implications of their analyses. When it comes to avoiding a 2°C rise, “impossible” is translated into “difficult but doable”, whereas “urgent and radical” emerge as “challenging” – all to appease the god of economics (or, more precisely, finance). For example, to avoid exceeding the maximum rate of emission reduction dictated by economists, “impossibly” early peaks in emissions are assumed, together with naive notions about “big” engineering and the deployment rates of low-carbon infrastructure. More disturbingly, as emissions budgets dwindle, so geoengineering is increasingly proposed to ensure that the diktat of economists remains unquestioned.


In other words, in order to appear reasonable within neoliberal economic circles, scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research. "



"We probably shouldn’t be surprised that some climate scientists are a little spooked by the radical implications of even their own research. Most of them were just quietly doing their work measuring ice cores, running global climate models and studying ocean acidification, only to discover, as the Australian climate expert and author Clive Hamilton puts it, that they “were unwittingly destabilising the political and social order”.

But there are many people who are well aware of the revolutionary nature of climate science. It’s why some of the governments that decided to chuck their climate commitments in favour of digging up more carbon have had to find ever more thuggish ways to silence and intimidate their nations’ scientists. In Britain, this strategy is becoming more overt, with Ian Boyd, the chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, writing recently that scientists should avoid “suggesting that policies are either right or wrong” and should express their views “by working with embedded advisers (such as myself), and by being the voice of reason, rather than dissent, in the public arena”.

If you want to know where this leads, check out what’s happening in Canada, where I live. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper has done such an effective job of gagging scientists and shutting down critical research projects that, in July 2012, a couple thousand scientists and supporters held a mock-funeral on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, mourning “the death of evidence”. Their placards said, “No Science, No Evidence, No Truth”.

But the truth is getting out anyway. The fact that the business-as-usual pursuit of profits and growth is destabilising life on earth is no longer something we need to read about in scientific journals. The early signs are unfolding before our eyes. And increasing numbers of us are responding accordingly: blockading fracking activity in Balcombe; interfering with Arctic drilling preparations in Russian waters (at tremendous personal cost); taking tar sands operators to court for violating indigenous sovereignty; and countless other acts of resistance large and small. In Brad Werner’s computer model, this is the “friction” needed to slow down the forces of destabilisation; the great climate campaigner Bill McKibben calls it the “antibodies” rising up to fight the planet’s “spiking fever”.

It’s not a revolution, but it’s a start. And it might just buy us enough time to figure out a way to live on this planet that is distinctly less f**ked."
resistence  2013  naomiklein  bradwerner  climatechange  ecosystems  environment  neoliberalism  capitalism  postcapitalism  revolution  jeremygrantham  jasonbox  kevinanderson  growth  profits  sustainability  economics  fracking  rsistance  friction  billmckibben  destabilization  spikingfever 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Curse of Bigness | Christopher Ketcham | Orion Magazine
"Small groups of people prove to be more cohesive, effective, creative in getting things done. In the 1970s, the English management expert and business scholar Charles Handy put the ideal group size in work environments at “between five and seven” for “best participation, for highest all-round involvement.” Alexander Paul Hare, author of the classic Creativity in Small Groups, showed that groups sized between four and seven were most successful at problem solving, largely because small groups, as Hare observed, are more democratic: egalitarian, mutualist, co-operative, inclusive. Hundreds of studies in factories and workplaces confirm that workers divided into small groups enjoy lower absenteeism, less sickness, higher productivity, greater social interaction, higher morale—most likely because the conditions allow them to engage what is best in being human, to share the meaning and fruits of their labor…"
gandhi  buddhisteconomics  buddhism  energy  efschumacher  competition  paulgoodman  alienation  charlesperrow  representativedemocracy  profits  goldmansachs  standardoil  gm  innovation  committees  efficiency  standardization  corporatocracy  corporatism  economics  louisbrandeis  gigantism  growth  decentralization  human  humans  community  communities  biology  nature  size  2010  christopherketcham  toobigtosucceed  toobigtofail  power  howwework  howwelearn  hierarchy  groupdynamics  inclusiveness  inclusion  cooperation  egalitarian  egalitarianism  democratic  collaboration  management  alexanderpaulhare  tcsnmy8  tcsnmy  morale  productivity  neuroscience  social  scale  bigness  creativity  charleshandy  openstudioproject  lcproject  groupsize  cv  small  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Fortune: 10.30.2000 Dot-Coms: What Have We Learned? Profile: David Winer
[T]o see everything turn to money is like kind of not that far from seeing everything turn to shit.
business  culture  davewiner  money  corruptinginfluences  via:litherland  profits  purity  integrity 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Frontline Examines Bridgepoint Education - voiceofsandiego.org: Pounding The Pavement
"Since we wrote our story about Bridgepoint, we've also blogged about the company's continued explosive growth, an investigation of the company by New York's attorney general, and Bridgepoint's boost from weaker-than-expected new U.S. Department of Education federal aid guidelines."
bridgepointeducation  sandiego  money  government  forprofit  highereducation  highered  veterans  2011  profits 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Germany holds onto high-wage manufacturing
"This growing appreciation of the German model is a welcome change from the laissez-faire approach to globalization that has dominated US policy & discourse for decades, dooming many Rust Belt denizens to lives of crystal meth & quiet desperation. But some of these analyses still understate the crucial distinctions btwn Germany's stakeholder capitalism, which benefits the many, & our shareholder capitalism, which increasingly benefits only the few.<br />
<br />
First, German manufacturers, particularly midsize & small-scale ones that often dominate global markets in specialized products, don't seek funding from capital markets (there's a local banking sector that handles their needs) & don't answer to shareholders. They make things, while we make deals, or trades, or swaps.<br />
<br />
Second, the key to both retention & continual upscaling of manufacturing in Germany is the composition of corporate boards, which are required by law to have an equal number of management and employee representatives."
us  germany  business  policy  making  manufacturing  capitalism  shareholders  finance  unions  labor  wages  profits  2011 
june 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - RSA Animate - Crises of Capitalism
"In this RSA Animate, radical sociologist David Harvey asks if it is time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that really could be responsible, just, and humane?"
davidharvey  capitalism  economics  politics  rsaanimate  homeownership  us  culture  germany  greece  policy  banks  finance  banking  canon  housing  worldbank  imf  neoliberalism  liberalism  alangreenspan  marxism  instability  systemicrisk  capitalaccumulation  crisis  labor  capital  1970s  1980s  unions  offshoring  power  wagerepression  wages  credit  creditcards  debt  personaldebt  2010  limits  greed  profits  industry  london  uk  latinamerica  wealth  india  china  inequality  incomeinequality  wealthinequality  hedgefunds 
june 2010 by robertogreco
College, Inc. « The Quick and the Ed
"problem with for-profit higher education...people like Clifford are applying private sector principles to an industry w/ a number of distinct characteristics. Four stand out. [1] it’s heavily subsidized. Corporate giants like the U of Phoenix are now pulling in 100s of millions of dollars per year from taxpayers, through federal grants & student loans. [2] it’s awkwardly regulated. Regional accreditors may protest that their imprimatur isn’t like a taxicab medallion to be bought & sold on open market. But as the documentary makes clear, that’s precisely the way it works now. (Clifford puts the value at $10 million.)
money  education  forprofit  profits  markets  highereducation  highered  collegeinc  corruption  taxes  subsidies  experience  value  reputation  consumption  consumers  consumerprotection  regulation 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Washington's Blog - The Real Reason Newspapers Are Losing Money, And Why Bailing Out Failing Newspapers Would Create Moral Hazard in the Media
"newspapers, bought up by corporations in last generation, have pursued profits at expense of news gathering. By basing their businesses on advertising over circulation, newspaper owners have neglected their true economic base & core constituency...firing reporters that cover subjects that affect the community"... "primary culprit is same as it is all over country, in every industry & in government: equity extraction...when executives expect unrealistic profits of 20%+ per annum on businesses something has got to give. It's an unnatural & unsustainable growth rate. For the first ten or so years of a small to medium size company's life? Sure. But when you are 3M, or GE? Unrealistic and ultimately impossible." A comment: "Everything in our economy, from manufacturing to finance, insurance, real estate and health care, seems to have parasites attached. We need a new model of virtue - quality, not profits - and a new measure of prosperity - salaries for many, not profits for a few."
newspapers  journalism  profits  crisis  moralhazard  bailouts  banking  bonuses  corporations  communitees  business  2009 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Video Games And Participatory Culture : NPR
"Many video games let you create (your own levels in a first-person shooter, your own creatures in an adventure, for example) and upload these creations so you can share them with other players. It's called participatory culture, where consumers are not couch potatoes but rather active participants and creators themselves. But some argue we're merely being tricked into thinking we're being creative."

[more here: http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/playback_video_games_and_participatory_culture_on_npr/ ]
internet  creativity  cocreation  henryjenkins  sharing  markets  whatsoldisnew  whatsoldisnewagain  music  videogames  gaming  littlebigplanet  participatory  culture  participatoryculture  trends  history  media  massmedia  creation  design  profits  profitsharing  corporations  spore  ea  usergeneratedcontent  content  usergenerated  beaterator  marketing  compensation  revenue  art  newmedia  games  participation  ncm  participatoryart  ncmideas 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Bill Moyers Journal . Transcripts | PBS [via: http://www.metafilter.com/83188/ video: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/watch2.html AND http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07312009/watch.html]
"industry has always tried to make Americans think government-run systems are worst thing that could happen...slippery slope towards socialism...used scare tactics for years & years...to keep that from happening...a broader program like our Medicare...could potentially reduce profits of these big companies...their biggest concern...[when] Clinton plan was being debated, 95%...was used by insurance companies to pay claims. Last year...just...above 80%...irony...companies & their trade groups talking about how we don't want... [a] bureaucrat between patient & doctor. But...CEO is actually between doctor & patient...if the industry is able to kill reform, or Democrats & Republicans can't agree on a proposal, that's what the industry really wants...satisfaction ratings are higher in Medicare...than in private insurance. But they don't want you...to know that & they want to scare you [via anecdotes] into thinking that...[people in] any government-run system...people are very unhappy."
healthcare  cigna  wendellpotter  health  medicine  policy  healthinsurance  profits  markets  politics  2009  billmoyers 
july 2009 by robertogreco
metacool: metacool Thought of the Day
"long-term profits are the result of having a deeper business purpose, great products, customer satisfaction, employee happiness, excellent suppliers, community and environmental responsibility—these are the keys to maximizing long-term profits. The par
business  happiness  profits  leadership  management  administration  people  employees  wholefoods  johnmackey 
june 2008 by robertogreco

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