Tag Archives | Economics

The New Feudalism In Silicon Valley

valleyVia the Weekly Standard, Charlotte Allen writes that the tech bastion offers a preview of where society as a whole is headed:

Master and servant. Cornucopian wealth for a few tech oligarchs plus relatively steady but relatively low-paying work for their lucky retainers. No middle class, unless the top 5 percent U.S. income bracket counts as middle class. Silicon Valley is a tableau vivant of what many economists and professional futurologists say is the coming fate of America itself, a fate to which Americans, if they can’t embrace it as some futurologists hope, should at least resign themselves.

The increasing ability of computers to perform ordinary tasks will inexorably transform America into an income oligarchy in which the top 15 percent of people—with skills “that are a complement to the computer”—will enjoy “cheery” labor-market prospects and soaring incomes, while the bottom 85 percent, that is to say, 267 million out of America’s 315 million people, will be lucky to find Walmart-level jobs or scrape together marginal “freelance” livings running $25-a-pop errands for their betters via TaskRabbit (say, picking up and delivering a pair of designer shoes).

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Is The Black Book The World’s Quantifiably Best Literary Purchase?

black_book

For sale via Lulu, if you are concerned about getting your money’s worth this holiday season, author/artist Jean Keller’s the Black Book is the only gift you should consider for the book lover in your family:

Ink used for digital printing is one of the most precious substances in the world. A single gallon of ink costs over four thousand dollars.

However, the price of a book is not calculated according to the amount of ink used in production. A Lulu book of blank pages costs an artist as much to produce as a book filled with text or photographs. Furthermore, as the number of pages increases, the price of each page decreases.

A book containing the maximum number of pages printed entirely in black ink therefore results in the lowest cost and maximum value for the artist. Combining these features, buyers of The Black Book are guaranteed that they are getting the best possible value for their money.

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The Rise of Big Chocolate

“The Rise of Big Chocolate” certainly sounds like a lascivious porno movie, but if there is any movie that comes to mind in this article, it’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a wonderful and memorable family movie with catchy songs coating a rather bitter and dark enterprise involving vulture legal contracts, unsafe working conditions (why, oh why, is there never a barrier around the chocolate river?), worker exploitation, and even corporate espionage (remember Slugsworth), a movie that unfortunately mirrors the present due to monopolization of confectionery companies by Cargill and Barry Callebaut.

VIA Foreign Policy

Small and mid-size confectioners have traditionally been able to request specific blends and recipe mixtures from cocoa processors. But as the number of sellers has thinned, chocolatiers struggle to procure these specialties. “When it comes to Belgian chocolate, there is not that much variety anymore,” says Van Riet. He explains that his customers “are very nervous” as the consolidation in the industry continues.

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Occupy Wall Street Eliminates $15 million of Debt

Since the protest started in Zucotti Park in New York City near the financial district, the Occupy Wall Street movement has done a lot to raise awareness of the iniquities and corruption in the American political and economic system, whilst receiving biased mass-media editorializing and suffering undue violence from the local police. Since November 15, 2012, the Occupy movement started a program of debt-relief called “Rolling Jubilee,” which seeks to bailout individuals who have accrued debt through credit cards as well as medical bills. To date they have relieved millions of dollars in debt for just pennies on the dollar.

VIA Guardian

A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans’ personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project to help people pay off their outstanding credit.

Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy’s Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012.

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Why We Should Socialize Social Media

internetVia n+1, Benjamin Kunkle argues that social media mega-sites need to be turned into public utilities so as to save us all:

On November 6, Twitter went public, in the private sense. Twitter shares appear ludicrously overpriced. As John Cassidy of the New Yorker calculated, “Investors were paying forty-nine dollars per dollar of revenues, and five hundred and forty-one dollars per dollar of cash flow.” But large for-profit social-media services are contradictory entities at any price, because they attempt to profit from activity that, precisely because it is social, is basically non-economic and non-productive.

The IPOs of Facebook and Twitter should therefore be reversed, through the socialization of both companies and other social-media services that attain a similar scale. The time has come, in other words, to socialize social media.

Social media should be socialized because services tend to be or become monopolies.
Large social media companies—Facebook, Twitter—tend to lack competitors, for the simple reason that their platforms are not compatible.

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Switzerland To Vote On Radically Limiting CEOs’ Pay Nationwide

ZurichMontageMost likely with fists clenched and all the blood drained from its face, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Switzerland is expected to vote later this year on a proposal to place further limits on executive pay, the latest effort to govern corporate compensation in a country that recently approved some of the world’s strictest say-on-pay rules.

The Young Socialists have collected more than 100,000 signatures—the threshold needed to call a vote—in support of a referendum to limit executive salaries to 12 times those of a company’s lowest-paid employee.

The campaign, dubbed the 1:12 Initiative for Fair Pay, is named for the organizers’ belief that no one in a company should earn more in one month than the lowest-paid employee makes in a year.

The Swiss Federal Council, the country’s cabinet, has advised the parliament to recommend that voters reject the proposal. However a poll earlier this month showed 49.5% of respondents were in favor of the 1:12 Initiative, 40.5% against and 10% undecided.

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Rx for Revolution

MatrixBluePillRedPill“We were probably the most conservative-minded revolutionaries who put through a successful revolution.”  Kevin O’Higgins

“If they have real grievances redress them, if possible; or acknowledge the justice of them . . . . If they have not, employ the force of government against them at once. “  George Washington, letter to Henry Lee, 31 October 1786

“I am a monarch of God’s creation, and you reptiles of the earth dare not oppose me.  I render an account of my government to none . . . .”
Napoleon Bonaparte, speech at Breda, 1 May 1810

While the exact precipitants of overt rebellion are perhaps impossible to predict, history does grant us absolute certainty that the next regime will be a fundamentally conservative one.

The revolution of 1789 may have been reasonably foreseen given that country’s horrific long-term economic trends and decades of fiscal mismanagement by the French Crown.  However, before Easter 1916, few would have dared prophecy an end to nearly 800 years of English dominance in a disgruntled and disenfranchised but thoroughly exhausted and demoralised Ireland.  And even today it is more than a little perplexing as to why 1773 in particular should be the occasion for violent resistance to British Crown policies which had been pursued at least since 1696, when William III established the Lords of Trade.  But inevitably each of these momentous events was succeeded by a conservative regime.… Read the rest

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Americans Increasingly Turn To Selling Body Parts

bloodYour family might be worth more chopped up and sold for parts. Via Bloomberg:

Hair, breast milk and eggs are doubling as automated teller machines for some cash-strapped Americans. While Americans can legally sell hair, breast milk and eggs, the sale and purchase of a kidney in the U.S. is against the law.

In all but two quarters since the beginning of 2011, “hair,” “eggs,” or “kidney” have been among the top four autofill results for the Google search query, “I want to sell my…,” according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at New York-based ConvergEx Group.

At Shady Grove Fertility Center, which has offices in Washington, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, about 13,000 women will apply this year to be an egg donor. That’s roughly a 13 percent increase from 2012.

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In Recognition of Endless Wars and Those Who Profit From Them: The Savage Sword of Conan

via chycho

conan_2_1d_thumbIn recognition of endless wars (2) and imperial presidencies, executive salary bonuses, maximizing shareholder value, and banking profits, in recognition of profits made from selling weapons of mass destruction, waging war, and propagating fear, and in recognition of big oil (2, 3) and profiting from scarcity, let’s remind ourselves who actually benefits from war by taking a look at a couple of pages from one of the greatest comic book series ever created, “The Savage Sword Of Conan”.

Below you will find panels from page 29 and 30 of the August 1983 issue of The Savage Sword Of Conan #91 (click images to show full pages and enlarge):

source

The story so far …

    Conan and his mercenary army have won another victory and have dispatched their fastest rider to carry the news to King Ronal of Lapis L’harr, a Corinthian city-state engaged in protracted warfare with the adjacent city-state of Razalah B’qen:










In comic books, more often than not, the good guys win.… Read the rest

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The Ugly Truth: What the Drop in Unemployment Doesn’t Tell You.

ratrace

It’s the same game, only harder!

The truth is out.  We are living in a time when a shocking four out of 5 U.S. adults will struggle with joblessness or poverty.  This revelation not only flies directly in the face of another drop in unemployment, but reconfirms what many of us had already known, we’re in trouble.

If you find yourself looking for a job, you’re in an over-crowded market where the young and educated are relegated to jobs well below their intellectual station. This is due in part to the heavy competition at the of the top of the job market among the highly-skilled.  Basically, those left out of the jobs they really want are knocked down a peg, creating what Economist Paul Beaudry calls “cascading.”  The top pushes down on the middle and the middle pushes down on the bottom, burying those who are most vulnerable and under-qualified.

This phenomenon stems from what’s been deemed  The Great Reversal.”  That is, there used to be an over-abundance of high-paying jobs that required skill, intellectual capital and education, but now there just aren’t.  In fact, demand for those types of jobs peaked all the way back in the year 2000.  That’s right, even with all this talk of a “skills gap,” the need for high-skill jobs actually stopped growing 13 years ago.… Read the rest

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