Saturday, March 16, 2019

Facebook, an Enormous Company Run by a Child

Well, Move Fast and Break Things may be a great motto in a dorm room, but it hasn’t worked out all that well for Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook rose to a Forbes rating of the 4th most valuable brand in the world.

There’s a lot at stake.

Facebook has moved fast. Blindingly fast and lots of stuff has been broken, most notably when lying to its users about confidentiality and selling user-data for profit to bad actors, including those who most likely have criminally swung elections in America and misrepresented the Brexit referendum in Britain.

Monday, March 11, 2019

When American Moral Codes Die, Democracy Ain’t Far Behind

“We may have democracy in this country, or we may have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
- Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis

C’mon, Jim, there’s always been a gap in human morality. Back in those good old days of the 1950s through 70s you keep harping about, we had good guys and bad guys then as well.

Yeah, the other side of my brain replies, but we mostly fought off those intruders by laws or strikes or civil disobedience. And now all that seems in the past and, am I wrong, or do we celebrate getting ours first as some kind of mantra?

The unions have been all but killed off. The laws, all the way to the Supreme Court, favor the monied crowd that paid off Congress to advantage them. Civil disobedience, when it even shows its face is a march here or there that quickly fades in the news-cycle. We used to have push-back, but now no one gives a shit.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Why Can’t We Fix the American Tax Base?

What, you didn’t notice it’s broken? Yeah, it’s gone. We haven’t had a tax increase since 1993 and the reason for that is interesting, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that either.

We’ve got a guy in America, not a Senator or Representative but just a common ordinary guy, who’s never been elected to any office and singlehandedly threw a monkey-wrench into the powers given to Congress by the Constitution.[1]

Amazing, huh? Let me tell you more.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Avoiding the Necessity

Avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.” -George Washington, 1st US president, general (1732-1799)

I know its out-of-fashion to lean back, draw an uncluttered vision of the past in our minds and simply reflect. But Washington’s comment reflected a general’s view of combat and matches mirror-like another general and president’s statement by Dwight Eisenhower to “Beware the military-industrial complex.”

Monday, February 25, 2019

When Did We Decide that Shareholders Were Gods?

Easy answer. That was a Milton Friedman construct, who wrote that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”

Uncle Miltie won a Nobel Prize for this and other contributions to economic nonsense that went on to bring various South American economies to their knees and infect Ronald Reagan’s easily infected mind. If you think that’s a liberal’s cheap shot at Reagan, I voted for the man—twice.

Friedman was not a bad man. He was simply wrong and wrong as hell on a very large international stage.

Economists are allowed to be wrong and from time to time many of them are. What they are not allowed is to have their wrong-headedness extend across forty years of political and economic history, driven by greed and greed’s choke-hold on reality.

Facts still matter and the fact is that capitalism—a truly fine system, has turned on us and bared its teeth.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Time May Be At Hand for a Third Party in American Politics

Hold on to your britches now, I’m not talking about some dude to mess up choice by taking votes away from a major candidate. We’ve seen enough of that and it’s served us badly.

But the fact remains that 40% or more of American voters are deeply unhappy with what’s on offer in the current two-party system. Many see no options but ‘choice by holding their nose.’ Centrist-right Democrats and centrist-left Republicans, desperate to hold their seats, keep bi-partisan government frozen in the headlights.

We are where we are, with no apparent way forward. The recent narrow loss by Republicans in the House is far more than simply a slight gain for Democrats. Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s voice is far from timid and the young voters who got her where she is are fed up with business as usual.

There’s something in the air and it smacks of a third party.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Criticism Wins Too Often Over Thoughtful Response

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s radical Green New Deal aims, among other things, to eliminate air travel. She envisions that by replacing air travel with high-speed rail. A number of Democratic presidential candidates endorsed her position.

Critics and media instantly danced-the-dance of criticism by headlines such as “2020 Democrats jump to endorse Green New Deal despite spending hundreds of thousands on air travel - including private jets.”

And the race was on to discredit.