Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Marxist Business Consulting

What would you say you do?  Apparently the women in red is Ayn Rand.

In case you don't know the movie scene this references, it's here.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Election Thoughts

It's been kind of fun over the last few months fantasizing about Bernie actually winning the Democratic nomination.  Really it's like thinking about winning the lottery.  Not gonna happen, but indulging the fantasy is enjoyable sometimes.  But Jill Stein I think captured it well back in December.  There's just no way the Democratic establishment and the DNC are going to let that happen.

The DNC has certainly been in Hillary's corner, but I'm not sure it would have changed anything if they had been neutral.  Hillary gets plenty of corporate media support and that probably would have been enough.  Paul Krugman, Rachel Maddow, and other supposed liberal commentators I think would have gotten it done.  For Ellen Degeneres Hillary is the ONLY candidate running that has stood for equal rights for everyone (even though Hillary was against gay marriage and said so on Ellen's show in 2007 which could be contrasted with Bernie's record).  Here's Joy Behar on The View.  Bernie, why are you still harping on this Iraq war thing?  What's the big deal?  That reminded me of a question put to Lincoln Chafee about Hillary's Iraq war vote.  She said she was sorry.  Why isn't that good enough?  This is the way the corporate media frames these debates.

So it's Hillary for the D's even though every poll I've seen shows Bernie has a better chance of beating Trump.  And of course it could get even worse for Hillary as a recommendation to indict from the FBI could come at any moment.  That's how strong the oligarchy is.  The D's will put up a very weak candidate against Trump, and he is an extremely dangerous character.  We really could end up with a Trump presidency, which I think most establishment people understand is extremely risky.  But Bernie has this hostility to bankers and a desire to bring medical care to ordinary people at the expense of corporate profit.  This is unacceptable.  Profit is more important than keeping Trump away from the nuclear codes.

Hillary's email shenanigans would certainly be a serious problem for an ordinary person, but she's powerful so rules tend to not apply.  I don't see that her recklessness in securing secret and top secret information will be a problem for her.  What could be a problem though is other information that is revealed in the emails FBI investigators are reviewing.  It seems Hillary thought in establishing a private server she was going to prevent the world from seeing what she was up to.  Who knows what crimes she might discuss when she assumes nobody will see.  My feeling is there is something major there and the FBI is going to recommend an indictment.

It's not unlike the Whitewater investigation.  The accusations are the kind of thing that would be a big deal for an ordinary person, but not necessarily a powerful person.  While Whitewater itself didn't damage the Clintons the information revealed as a result of the Whitewater investigation did.  The same could happen here.

Whether the justice department actually follows through of course depends on the severity of the crime, the strength of the evidence, and the power of the Clinton's within the Democratic establishment.  But what I see from the D's is regardless of what happens they are going to go forward with a very unlikeable Hillary Clinton who is further wounded by this whole email problem.

The outcome seems bad no matter which way you slice it.  Trump could win.  Or alternatively Hillary could win despite everything.  People either decide her crimes don't matter or Trump is too dangerous.  Imagine what the midterms will look like for the Democrats with Hillary as president.  Liberals have a hard enough time getting out the vote under the relatively likeable Obama.  2018 could be a crazy Republican sweep.  We get another decade of gerrymandered districts as before among other problems.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why Power Hates Unions

I'm really just posting this image because I saw it a long time ago and later couldn't find it when I wanted to show someone.


But what the hell, let me just say a couple of words about the arguments you hear against unions all the time.

"Unions are corrupt!!"

All powerful organizations have corruption problems.  Corporations, government.  Why are unions so often singled out in this way?  The image above I think explains it.  But on the plus side unions are democratic.  So there is at least a check on corruption.  Corporations are tyrannies and governments often get captured and controlled by tyrannical corporations.  So corruption in these cases can be more difficult to deal with.

"I know a lazy guy that should have been fired but the union protected him."

When you aren't a slave and you have some power sometimes you do things that aren't great because you can.  This is not perfect, but the alternative is worse.

It's like a parent and child.  In most healthy families sometimes children act up.  Sometimes they don't do what they should.  They get away with it because their parents love them and aren't going to crush them.

Unhealthy families can be different.  For some families the children fear their parents and almost never disobey.  When they go to church and all are at strict attention, never acting out, one might look at that and think it is admirable.  But maybe it isn't.  Maybe it's better when there is a little more balance, a little more equality in the power relation.  The price of that equality is the children don't always do as they are told.  They don't always do the right thing.  But it's better this way.  It's worth the price.

Salary negotiations should be left to the free market.  That's why I oppose the fight for $15.  You should only make $15 if you can command that salary based on market demands for your skill set.

Organizing and fighting for $15 is a free market activity.  When Walmart wants to get a good price on paper towels they consolidate their purchasing power.  Workers are doing the same.  They are consolidating their labor in order to negotiate the best labor rate they can get.  If it's good enough for Walmart it should be good enough for workers.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ralph Nader on Tort Reform

A lot of people get pretty fired up about tort reform.  Our health care premiums and products cost so much more because of "frivolous lawsuits."  You know, people that pick up their lawn mowers to trim their bushes and get injured just run to the nearest ambulance chasing lawyer and get awarded millions of dollars.  This is why everything is so terrible.

We should ask ourselves who might benefit from these arguments by anecdote.  Who do you think wants to prevent an ordinary poorer person from having the tools necessary to push back against a powerful corporation that is guilty of negligence that has caused harm?  Who do you think doesn't like power shifted from the board room to a jury?  Who doesn't want to have to disclose what they knew about the dangers of their products?  Who doesn't want to have to spend a lot of engineering dollars improving products to make them safer?  Who do you think has a vested interest in getting you fired up about the need for tort reform?

Did you know that while insurance companies and their lobbyists claim that things like medical malpractice lawsuits give them no choice but to raise premiums dramatically these same companies refuse to allow the public to know how much they pay out in relation to the premiums they collect?  Did you know that in the cases where they have passed legislation that has limited your ability to sue or limited the amount you can collect in damages there is not a commensurate reduction in premiums or even slow down in the rate of premium increase?

Ralph Nader writes a pretty long but informative article you can read here if you are interested in these matters.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sanders vs the White Moderate

You have to respect conservatives.  They want more money in the pockets of the rich, they oppose democracy, they don't care about the environment.  And they are honest about it.  Someone like Sanders wants single payer health care, bold action on climate change, tax increases on the rich.  Sure, they oppose those things and always have.  You recognize them as your opponents, but it's not like they're stabbing you in the back.

But get ready when you start getting close to the point where you could actually implement policies that white moderates have pretended they like all along.  The white moderates flip and join the conservatives, showing that their true allegiance is to the establishment and monied interest all along.  If you were paying attention you already knew that, but if you weren't you might be surprised.

The naive might take Paul Krugman to be the kind of person that would like what Bernie offers.  And he does.  When it has no chance of being implemented.  When you get close he's switching sides.  Here's Glenn Greenwald's take down.  The so called liberal Washington Post editorial board.  Watch Cenk's take down.  Rachel Maddow?  She's covered Bernie positively somewhat, but she won't criticize Hillary in the way she criticizes Republicans when Hillary does what they do.  Watch a commentary here.  Ezra Klein, the NY Times editorial board.  You should see the CNN debate moderators and other debate moderators.  "Bernie, why have you flip flopped on guns?"  Then it's "Hillary admits her Iraq war vote was a mistake, why isn't that good enough?"

Should Bernie win tomorrow you'll see more of this from these white moderates.  They'll really start freaking out.  Don't be surprised, it's been this way forever.  Here's what ML King said in 1963 about these people:
"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;" who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season."
Update:  A couple of more commentaries from Cenk.  This one contrasts the questions asked of Bernie at the town hall with those to Hillary.  This one reviews an interview done by CNN of Bernie supporter Susan Sarandon.  Both really interesting and revealing, especially for those that think there is some sort of liberal media.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Brace for Impact

More and more it's looking like curtains for civilization as we know it.  Some experts on global warming are now saying we are past the tipping point.  Of course we don't know for certain.  It's possible an unforeseen technological advancement could save us.  One difficulty though is we probably need civilization in order to implement a technological advancement that would save us.  But it is our civilization, which is capitalist with ever expanding consumption, that is killing us.  Civilization is both our demise and our possible savior.

I wonder what future generations will think of us.  They might be tempted to view global warming deniers as super nefarious people.  Maybe they'll see them as mass murderers.  But it's not the case.  They're true believers.  It's just incredible what humans are capable of believing.  Evidence is just not as important as other factors.  One factor I believe is just overwhelming.  Preference.

I think George W Bush genuinely believed Saddam had WMD's.  It was a convenient conclusion because it justified an invasion that had long been desired.  I think Cheney and Wolfowitz really did think Laurie Mylroie was on to something when she claimed Saddam was really the center of global Islamic terror.

I saw an interesting movie recently called Witch Hunt.  You can watch it here.  It's about how an aggressive prosecutor wrongly convicted dozens of people on charges of child molestation/abuse/rape.  It was very interesting and I recommend it.  You watch it and you'll be ticked about the prosecutor and the police interrogators who lead the children to make the incriminating claims.

But one policemen is somewhat unapologetic.  He points out that there was no conspiracy to screw people over.  You're dealing with charges involving kids, so you do what you have to do.  There's not a lot of remorse.

Kind of infuriating but it reinforces what I'm saying about preference.  When you have an incentive to reach a certain conclusion you just do.  For them there was a culture coming from the top down that tough on crime was going to lead to professional success.  People didn't have to be told to bend the rules.  They internalized it.  They believed it.  And they probably go home and sleep like babies.

For profit media of course has owners and advertisers that have preferences.  Billionaire donors to politicians have preferences.  Indulging those preferences is what's going to lead you to more professional success if you are a media personality or a politician.  These people believe what they are saying.  Global warming isn't happening, or if it is it isn't caused by man, or if it is we shouldn't do anything about it.  Yeah, they believe it, despite overwhelming evidence.

The result is we're screwed.  Something like 250 species go extinct per day.  The polar cap will be ice free in a few years, something that has not been true in human history.  At that point the warming is going to accelerate.  Will the deniers admit it at that point?  Probably not.  It's not their preference.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bush, Gog, and Magog

In the video below a NY Times columnist reports on a conversation between Bush and French President Jacques Chirac.  In his efforts to persuade him to bring the French in to support the war effort apparently Bush appealed to these biblical apocalyptic concepts of Gog and Magog.  Humorous for me because this terminology is very natural for me.  It's what I grew up with.  But I can imagine that someone not steeped in it would have been pretty weirded out.  Chirac conluded that Bush was a madman.