Category Archives: Corporate personhood

Listen…A Giant Sucking Sound

Ross was right. Ross Perot was right.

1992 was my first presidential election as an eligible voter. I was engaged and trying to figure out where my value system fell and what I believed in. I was already tired of the two party system and could not understand why we continued to have one. I was excited that Ross Perot was running as a somewhat viable third party candidate even though I didn’t know a lot about him. I voted for him.

Today, I am not sure that I would do anything differently knowing what I do. He certainly had one part right, the “giant sucking sound”. He explains:

Economics is not my forté, but Perot put’s things in a frame I can understand. When we take away the levies that keep our wages high, we are going to find a lowest common denominator of a wage along with the rest of the globe. American business is motivated by money to forget about everything but the bottom line – no worker considerations, no health and safety practices, no carbon counting. If Americans want those bothersome things to be considered – fine – but then industry will simply no longer be American.

The 1% and the global corporations that prop them up are taking American workers down a few notches. We (the masses) got a little full of ourselves, kind of empowered, and had a bit too much extra spending money for their comfort. We’ve had our heydey (hope you were alive/enjoyed the 1950s), and now it’s time to return to serfdom (that’s mid-evil speak for a life of servitude to another).

The 1% would prefer it if you were born into poverty, were desperate for the most basic survival essentials (we are so much less mouthy about government when we are focused on being cold and hungry), and weren’t aware of opportunities for expression or liberty (they take up too much time in which you could have been making a profit for them).

I don’t remember a whole lot about that campaign season but I do remember this quip about the giant sucking sound and the point about NAFTA. Ross was right. He may or may not have been a decent President, but he predicted what is happening now. The value of human life and livelihood is nil to the 1%ers. American values of freedom, democracy, expression, and the idea of the commons are being squeezed out in favor of the value of capitalism. What’s the big deal about values? They’re everything. Without American values, we are just a bunch of people at the mercy of those that can bully us.

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Star Wars Ghetto

George Lucas is tired of his homeowners association. Some of the members have a problem with the film making studio he wanted to build (in addition to other studio space but part of the original plan). Fearing a legal hot mess, Lucas has ditched the idea for a film studio and decided to donate the land to a local non-profit that would use the land to develop affordable housing.

Some neighbors feel that Lucas is encouraging poor people to move into the neighborhood for spite. Lucas denies it.

Whether this is the high dollar version of a neighborly spat or simply a generous gift to society is difficult to judge, but the end result is that lower income people get housing and those same people get the advantages of living in a beautiful natural setting. Some of the neighbors aren’t very happy. This from the New York Times:

“It’s inciting class warfare,” said Carolyn Lenert, head of the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents. …

Whatever Mr. Lucas’s intentions, his announcement has unsettled a county whose famously liberal politics often sits uncomfortably with the issue of low-cost housing and where battles have been fought over such construction before…

In a telling fact, a family of four with an annual income of $88,800 can qualify for housing assistance in Marin,

This quarrel raises the old question: which comes first poverty or crime? Are those even the causes or effects that should be measured? What psychological studies show is the greater the inequality, the greater the loss of trust and sense of unfairness, the more unhappiness. A psychological science study finds this conclusion  “Americans are happier when national wealth is distributed more evenly than when it is distributed unevenly.

“If the ultimate goal of society is to make its citizens happy,” they add, “then it is desirable to consider policies that produce more income equality, fairness, and general trust.”

So, back to Marin county, we find a beautiful and wealthy portion of the country that are sympathetic to progressive causes, but have a NIMBY attitude (Not in my backyard). From the NYPost piece, one neighbor wrote to another, ” You’re going to bring drug dealers, all this crime and lowlife in here.” Are their fears founded?

When everyone is poor, it’s harder to notice how exactly poor you are, when most are poor but a few are very rich, it’s easy to see how poor you are. When 40 hours of labor is not enough to afford the basic necessities, but another person can work fewer hours and live a life of opulence beyond most citizens wildest dreams, a question of fairness is bound to be asked.

That seems to be the staying meme of this election, “What is fair?

A grown, working man in poverty looks at another grown, working, man with wealth and does not trust the system that rewards only one of them so richly for hard work. The game feels fixed and most Americans do not have the time or background to pursue the injustice (because they have to work so hard to stay right where they’re at). The lower income man distrusts the rich man for being suspect of gaming the system while breaking his back. The rich man doesn’t trust the poor man and suspects laziness, jealousy, and low morals. At some point, figuratively “stickin’ it to the man” might sound like fun to the working class. The security industry lets us know that there is no shortage of mistrust on the end of the wealthy either.

High disparity in income makes for an unhappy society. This is exacerbated when family and life sustaining jobs are very few and far between. When someone can find a job, the job may not suit them, may injure them, they may perform poorly, they may hate – in fact that describes lots of the part time, temporary, and off the books work that is constituting much of the work that goes on in America today.  To actually find a job you are well suited for, prepared for, are paid a livable wage for, that has benefits, and can afford a middle class lifestyle is like finding a needle in a haystack. It used to be that most of the people I knew had those type of jobs, now, most of the people I know do not have those type of jobs.

For all of the cries of “social engineering” from “free marketers”, they must have missed the memo: Our society has been engineered, the corporations and their legion won. Bain Capital is a prime example. Companies like Bain have changed our society to one where most Americans can no longer afford the dream.

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Chicago G8/NATO Protests – Freedom of Speech in America Today

“Mama, I’m sort of scared”, my ten year old asked me this morning.

“Why?”, I responded.

“Because what if the police find out that you’re doing this (posting pictures of police violence on this blog) and they come to our house.”

This happened over the weekend.

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