/Tag: politics

And the rich for free.

Uber’s business plan, like that of so many other digital unicorns, is based on extracting all the value from the markets it enters. This ultimately means squeezing employees, customers, and suppliers alike in the name of continued growth. When people eventually become too poor to continue working as drivers or paying for rides, UBI supplies the required cash infusion for the business to keep operating.

When it’s looked at the way a software developer would, it’s clear that UBI is really little more than a patch to a program that’s fundamentally flawed.

The real purpose of digital capitalism is to extract value from the economy and deliver it to those at the top. If consumers find a way to retain some of that value for themselves, the thinking goes, you’re doing something wrong or “leaving money on the table.”

Douglas Rushkoff on the UBI gig economy.

Like, to be clear: I still support UBI. But, uh. Not as the only policy. And the gig economy is still a cyberpunk dystopian garbage heap so… there’s that.

2018-11-29T08:31:43+10:0021st April, 2019|Tags: economics, politics, tech|

Mo’ money, mo’ carbon.

Also, while we’re on the subject: it’s not using plastic straws or taking half-hour showers that’s destroying the environment. It’s the fucking mega-rich.

Repeat after me, kids: Individual “choices” cannot fix structural issues. And as the article points out:

[T]here is no “free market” incentive to prevent disaster. An economic environment where a company is only considered viable if it’s constantly expanding and increasing its production can’t be expected to pump its own brakes over something as trivial as pending global catastrophe. Instead, market logic dictates that rather than take the financial hit that comes with cutting profits, it’s more reasonable to find a way to make money off the boiling ocean. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the burgeoning climate-change investment industry. According to Bloomberg, investors are looking to make money off of everything from revamped food production to hotels for people fleeing increasingly hurricane-ravaged areas. A top JP Morgan Asset investment strategist advised clients that sea-level rise was so inevitable that there was likely a lot of opportunity for investing in sea-wall construction.


2018-11-27T13:34:21+10:0012th April, 2019|Tags: climate, culture, nature, politics, science|

Unnatural opposites.

Our weird cultural commitment to the gender binary goes way beyond actual living men and women—if it didn’t, people wouldn’t freak out so badly when someone declines to choose. Masculinity and femininity are concepts we layer on top of everything from people to pens to political parties. Sometimes there’s a middle ground, but often we seem lost without our familiar patterns; it’s the confused hetero doofus asking a gay couple “which one’s the woman,” except for the entire world. Take any opposed things—Democrats and Republicans, cats and dogs, even the sun and the moon—and you’ll find one of them associated with physical strength, action, and domineering behavior, and the other associated with emotion, reticence, and calm. That’s not just descriptive; it’s prescriptive, and proscriptive too. If we could judge the moon for yelling, we would.

Jess Zimmerman on binaries.

This is from a longer, and more specific, analysis on the Democratic party in the US, specifically the fact that it’s seen as “feminized”—as (ahem) “opposed” to the masculinized Republican party—and how that results in a heavily gendered political dynamic (i.e. the GOP are allowed to whine and scream and be giant manbabies, because mantrums, while Democrats are forever play the role of the “reasonable” mother-wife).

Mostly, though, I think it’s a reminder that “smash the gender binary!” doesn’t mean “ban individual gender expression” but rather “critique and dismantle cultural constructs that assign specific traits to genders and then in turn those genders to non-human objects/concepts.”

2018-11-27T08:15:57+10:009th April, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

Modern right.

The problem is now that Americans don’t enjoy anything remotely close to the same rights as the rest of the rich world does. That is why their lives are so much more impoverished — not just financially poorer, but genuinely more deprived, whether of healthcare, happiness, savings, trust, or mobility. In that sense, American society is failing because its social operating system — its constitution — is badly obsolete. In the 21st century, people need healthcare and education to be rights a lot more than they need to be able to wield guns against bears and wolves .

umair haque on constitutional priorities.

2019-01-17T08:37:07+10:006th April, 2019|Tags: politics, usa|

Funding models.

There is simply nothing special or important about private education as an idea. It’s been around since kings hired tutors for their children. Any tin-pot dictatorship can, and does, create a highly educated elite. There is nothing difficult or clever about that. What is difficult, what requires a commitment by every member of the community – particularly, one would think, those who lead it – is a strong, well-supported, well-resourced public education system open to every child in their own right, regardless of who their parents are. That is what differentiates a civil society from one where inherited privilege trumps equality of opportunity.

Jane Caro on public citizens.

I intentionally always attended public schools, even when we could’ve afforded otherwise, as did my parents (who both came from working class families who couldn’t’ve). If I had children, I’d make the same choice myself.1

  1. Admittedly, we’re somewhat fortunate in that, because of where we live, our local public schools are literally the best in the city, of both the public and private variety. The college/senior high is also the one I attended—even though it wasn’t my local school—and it was great and I have A++ nostalgic feelings about it. []
2018-11-22T10:42:17+10:0028th March, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

It’s the economy, stupid.

Americans have been taught — indoctrinated, perhaps — to think of the economy as capitalism. Quite literally: if capital returns are high […] then Americans suppose the economy is booming. But capital returns — profits, dividends, stock markets, GDP (or their opposites, deficits) — are not the economy at all. They are just the success of capitalists, at increasing their capital. Hence, the average American — who isn’t a capitalist, since the true capitalists, Bezos, Brin, Buffett, are tiny in number — is cheering on capitalists increasing their capital, but not his own income, savings, living standards, health, longevity, or happiness. […]

Americans think the economy is a set of abstractions about capitalism — more exactly, capitalists increasing their capital. But they have been systematically warned against thinking of the economy as them: the simple and daily realities of their very own lives — whether or not they can afford food, shelter, medicine, education, save, retire, create, dream, build, grow. Comrades — the victory of capitalism is the victory of us all!

umair haque on economies.

2018-11-26T08:22:27+10:0020th March, 2019|Tags: economics, politics, usa|

“Both” “sides”.

Reagan sold arms to the “mujahideen” that became Al Qaeda, and George W. Bush invaded Iraq for oil after 9/11. George H.W. Bush manufactured a recession out of the Gulf War. Democrats were forced to pick up the pieces, and we did. But we also made one big mistake, over and over.

We assumed the essential goodwill, the goodness, of Republicans and conservatives. We assumed they believed in something, if not the same things we did than something similar, something decent, something American.

The great accomplishment of Donald Trump has been to rip all that away and reveal the Confederate-like racism, and Hitler-like Fascism, behind the masks. Republicans built this era. They did it by gaming the system when they couldn’t win honestly, having Supreme Court justices lie to Congress routinely from Clarence Thomas on, stealing the 2000 election by halting the recount, and engaging in the Jim Crow Project years before Trump was elected, with Russian help.

They did this. Both sides don’t do this. They did all of this. Your neighbors. Your fellow Americans.

Dana Blankenhorn on suckers.

2018-11-26T08:22:27+10:0018th March, 2019|Tags: politics, usa|