1. Monopolies bad, libraries good

    This post about libraries reminded me of this story about how Netflix is ending Saturday shipments.

    Kevin Drum predicts,

    And so it begins. A few years from now, I assume Netflix will be out of the physical disc business entirely, which means it will be impossible to watch anything more than a few years old.

    Well no, not as long as public libraries are still around. Though big business interests are doing their best to keep urging tax cuts that end up closing libraries.

    So here we are. Netflix has helped drive video rental places like Blockbuster out of business. Then Netflix begins to phase out DVD delivery to focus on their streaming business. Yet there’s strong evidence that internet providers like Verizon are deliberately throttling Netflix streams. And they’re also shifting customers to plans that resemble the ones for our mobile phones, with built-in caps and all kinds of extra fees and penalties for going over your allotted amount. Meanwhile, the U.S. has some of the worst internet service in the world.

    Yeah, the unrestrained “free market” has done a wonderful job of providing us with all the books and movies we need in the most efficient manner.

  2. guavasita:



    Across the globe, Nestlé is pushing to privatize and control public water resources.

    Nestlé’s Chairman of the Board, Peter Brabeck, has explained his philosophy with “The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.”

    Since that quote has gotten widespread attention, Brabeck has backtracked, but his company has not. Around the world, Nestlé is bullying communities into giving up control of their water. It’s time we took a stand for public water sources.

    Tell Nestlé that we have a right to water. Stop locking up our resources!

    At the World Water Forum in 2000, Nestlé successfully lobbied to stop water from being declared a universal right — declaring open hunting season on our local water resources by the multinational corporations looking to control them. For Nestlé, this means billions of dollars in profits. For us, it means paying up to 2,000 percent more for drinking water because it comes from a plastic bottle.

    Now, in countries around the world, Nestlé is promoting bottled water as a status symbol. As it pumps out fresh water at high volume, water tables lower and local wells become degraded. Safe water becomes a privilege only affordable for the wealthy.

    In our story, clean water is a resource that should be available to all. It should be something we look after for the public good, to keep safe for generations, not something we pump out by billions of gallons to fuel short-term private profits. Nestlé thinks our opinion is “extreme”, but we have to make a stand for public resources. Please join us today in telling Nestlé that it’s not “extreme” to treat water like a public right.

    Tell Nestlé to start treating water like a public right, not a source for private profits! 

    Sources and further reading:
    Nestlé: The Global Search for Liquid Gold, Urban Times, June 11th, 2013
    Bottled Water Costs 2000 Times As Much As Tap Water, Business Insider, July 12th, 2013
    Peter Brabeck discussion his philosophy about water rights

    holy fuck

    this is a huge deal in latin america especially and i need some more people to be aware of this and care

    Mr. Burns was supposed to be a joke, not inspiration!

  3. Contrary to what she suggests, there is a political economy to prison labor, and its primary beneficiary is neither the inmates performing the labor nor the consumers purchasing the product, but rather the vendors that make the product and the companies to which they sell it. Even if prisoner-workers earn the recently touted figure of $400 a month, that’s certainly not enough to support any family they have been separated from while incarcerated. These workers should be earning—at the very least—the $10 per hour that Whole Foods uses as its base wage, and when workers on the outside win our $15 per hour through the Fight for 15 campaign, prisoner-workers should get $15 too. CCI and Whole Foods’ claims that this is about helping inmates, not about making money, seem a bit flimsy when they are paying prisoner-workers $6.65 less than the federal minimum wage and $9.40 below the Whole Foods base wage.

    Prison to Table: The Other Side of the Whole Foods Experience | Dissent Magazine

    I haven’t shopped at Whole Foods for 11 years based on other issues I feel are scamming people who try to purchase from well-meaning companies. That and their stuff is overpriced for what it is. (via faboomama)

    The owner of Whole Foods is a rightwing asshole.

  4. theyoungturks:

    Lawyers for two Guantanamo Bay detainees cited the Hobby Lobby decision to argue for their clients’ rights to perform prayers during Ramadan. However, the court argued that the detainees didn’t qualify as persons under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Wow.

  5. image: Download

    a reminder
  6. If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

    The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats (via azspot)

    I agree with him, but there’s a good reason why police departments in the U.S. are becoming increasingly militarized. And no, it’s not to stop “the terrorists”, not really.

  7. I don’t know how much of the devaluation of labor either technology or monopoly explains, in part because there has been so little discussion of what’s going on. I think it’s fair to say that the shift of income from labor to capital has not yet made it into our national discourse. Yet that shift is happening — and it has major implications. For example, there is a big, lavishly financed push to reduce corporate tax rates; is this really what we want to be doing at a time when profits are surging at workers’ expense? Or what about the push to reduce or eliminate inheritance taxes; if we’re moving back to a world in which financial capital, not skill or education, determines income, do we really want to make it even easier to inherit wealth? As I said, this is a discussion that has barely begun — but it’s time to get started, before the robots and the robber barons turn our society into something unrecognizable.
    — Paul Krugman (via azspot)
  8. image: Download


How much have the Koch Brothers spent in your state to sway tomorrow’s vote?


    How much have the Koch Brothers spent in your state to sway tomorrow’s vote?

  9. I really wanted them to know how I felt four more years under President Obama was going to affect them. It would be no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’

    Billionaire CEO David Seigel who threatened to fire employees if Obama won.

    (that guy who sat on a golden throne, literally)

  10. robot-heart-politics:


    The most outrageous part is that this kind of intimidation is legal.

    The billionaires sure are coming out of the woodwork to threaten the serfs in this election, aren’t they? 

  11. Wall Street drinks champagne while gazing down at Occupy Wall Street protestors.

    Class warfare in one image:

  12. I think it’s important to emphasize one of the dangers of wealth concentration: irresponsibility about the wider economic consequences of their actions by those at the top. Wall Street created the investment products that produced gross economic imbalances and the 2008 credit crisis….Average people could only destroy themselves financially, not the economic system….[T]he collapse was primarily due to the failure of complex mortgage derivatives, CDS credit swaps, cheap Fed money, lax regulation, compromised ratings agencies, government involvement in the mortgage market, the end of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, and insufficient bank capital. Only Wall Street could put the economy at risk and it had an excellent reason to do so: profit. It made huge profits in the build-up to the credit crisis and huge profits when it sold itself as “too big to fail” and received massive government and Federal Reserve bailouts. Most of the serious economic damage the U.S. is struggling with today was done by the top 0.1% and they benefited greatly from it.

    Not surprisingly, Wall Street and the top of corporate America are doing extremely well as of June 2011. For example, in Q1 of 2011, America’s top corporations reported 31% profit growth and a 31% reduction in taxes, the latter due to profit outsourcing to low tax rate countries. Somewhere around 40% of the profits in the S&P 500 come from overseas and stay overseas, with about half of these 500 top corporations having their headquarters in tax havens. If the corporations don’t repatriate their profits, they pay no U.S. taxes. The year 2010 was a record year for compensation on Wall Street, while corporate CEO compensation rose by over 30%, most Americans struggled. In 2010 a dozen major companies, including GE, Verizon, Boeing, Wells Fargo, and Fed Ex paid US tax rates between -0.7% and -9.2%. Production, employment, profits, and taxes have all been outsourced. Major U.S. corporations are currently lobbying to have another “tax-repatriation” window like that in 2004 where they can bring back corporate profits at a 5.25% tax rate versus the usual 35% US corporate tax rate. Ordinary working citizens with the lowest incomes are taxed at 10%.

    I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: A highly complex and largely discrete set of laws and exemptions from laws has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the U.S. financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the U.S. political and legislative processes.….Moreover, those at the very top have no incentive whatsoever for revealing or changing the rules. ….

    My emphasis.

    If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.

  13. Bachmann: raise taxes on poor people to ease the burden on the rich



    In case you needed any more evidence that a principle tenet of the modern GOP is to transfer ever-increasing amounts of wealth upward from the poor and the middle class to the economic elites, along comes Michele Bachmann to provide all the evidence you could ever need. And you know it’s especially bad when Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal feels the need to weigh in:
    Republican presidential candidates have been resolutely opposed to tax increases in the debate over the nation’s budget straits, but Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann this week suggested there’s one group that needs to be paying more: poor people who pay nothing now.

    At a town-hall meeting Tuesday given by the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce in Columbia, a questioner noted that major U.S. corporations are paying “very few dollars of federal income taxes, if any.” He prefaced his point by saying the Bible advises us to render unto Caesar what Caesar is due.

    Ms. Bachmann turned the conversation elsewhere: “Part of the problem is today, only 53% pay any federal income tax at all; 47% pay nothing,” the former federal tax attorney said. “We need to broaden the base so that everybody pays something, even if it’s a dollar.”

    This is Bachmann logic: wealthy corporations paying no income taxes isn’t a problem, but poor people who don’t even make enough to pay income taxes or who have their tax burden wholly offset by deductions like, for example, taking care of children—well, those worthless losers had better start funneling more money up the supply chain, in Bachmann’s worldview.

    The best part? Raising taxes on the poor will be good for them, because it’ll mean the rich won’t have to pay as much—which is good for poor people, because:

    Doug Sachtleben, a campaign spokesman, said Ms. Bachmann believes “everyone benefits from taxes paid into the system, and everybody should participate.” But, he said, that would ultimately redound to the benefit of the poor. A fairer, simpler, flatter tax system would ease the hit on “job creators” and boost the economy, which would raise all boats, he said.

    Got that? If you’re struggling to get by, your problem is that not enough of your money is going to pad the coffers of rich people. Just a little bit more, says Bachmann, and they’ll create a better job for you. Because it’s exactly like the Heritage Foundation says: if you have a ceiling fan and a microwave, what the hell are you complaining about?

    Heh… maybe the fact that the middle class carries more tax burden than the “upper” class?

    But hey, I’m not allowed to complain about anything because I have a car, an apartment and a television.

    Republicans really won’t be happy until we’re living in a feudal society again. Poor people are inherently lazy and depraved and need the boot of the landed gentry on their necks to motivate them to work and say their prayers. Women should be shut up in nunneries or married housewives pumping out babies and obeying our husbands. Clerics should once again take their place as part of the political ruling class. And we’ll invade the Holy Land in order to wrest control of it from the infidels.

    It’s all making sense now.

  14. kateoplis:

    10 shocking, illuminating moments that prove just how out of touch the powerful really are.

    Number 2: The Palaces That Taxpayers Built

    In Louisville, Ky., as the city struggles with high unemployment, Goldman Sachs engineered a scheme to construct a huge new sports arena that is now siphoning millions of dollars of public money into the investment bank’s coffers. In Jefferson County, Ala., Goldman orchestrated the construction of what’s been called “the Taj Mahal of sewer-treatment plants” — a massive boondoggle that has bankrupted the county and, once again, made Goldman huge money. And in New York, where public budgets are being gutted, Goldman just opened a monstrous $2 billion headquarters, financed by what Bloomberg News calls “unprecedented” aid from taxpayers. []

    Definitely click through to the link. This will get your blood boiling. This isn’t a democracy; it’s a fucking plutocracy.

    Number 4: For Me, but Not for Thee

     One of the hallmarks of Let Them Eat Cake-ism is an absolute lack of self-awareness mixed with a complete disregard for hypocrisy or personal responsibility. The end result is an especially nauseating “for me, but not for thee” attitude.

    In this recession, that has manifested itself as bankers walking away from their obligations to cover their own losses and happily vacuuming up public bailout dollars — all while lecturing strapped homeowners about their moral responsibility to pay their bills.

    Recall that in February 2009, Jamie Dimon — the $17-million-a-year CEO of the bailed-out JP Morgan — went on CNBC to deliver a sermon about the moral obligation of covering one’s own losses and not running to someone else for help.

    "I don’t think just because someone’s underwater [in their home], they say, I don’t have to stay there," he said. "They’re supposed to pay the mortgage, and we should teach the American people, you’re supposed to meet your obligations, not run from them."

  15. I’m by trade an educator, so listen up: you’ve got it wrong. It’s not trillions for misbegotten wars. It’s not tax cuts for business. It’s not subsidies for real estate speculators. It’s not gambling on Wall St. It’s not the privatizing of public services.

    No. I’m the 75-year-old son-of-a-bitch responsible for all your problems. I put in 43 years at the City University trying to improve educational opportunity for working people in this city. I put in 43 years at the City University and earned enough to raise a family. I put in 43 years at the City University and got my medical bills covered. I put in 43 years at the City University and I’ve got what I hope is a secure retirement. An over-compensated and over-privileged public sector worker, that’s what I am. Get the likes of me under control, and we’ll have heaven on earth.

    Thank the Lord, Walker and Cuomo and Bloomberg have opened our eyes. Pity the downtrodden landlord and the poor, barefoot Wall St. banker. There’s no sacrifice too great to ask of working people if we’re to preserve the inequality, the lack of jobs, the lack of prospects faced by the majority of us.


    Speech by Jim Pearlstein, co-chair of the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing 22,000 faculty and staff at the City University of New York.

    Jim, my Dad’s best friend, spoke at a rally at New York’s City Hall in solidarity of the Wisconsin workers. I love this.

    (via loscheiner)