Tag Archives | Economics

The Asshole Factory

Corporate Cliche Shot No. 57 - 'The Handshake'
This article was originally written by Umair Haque, and appeared in Medium.com

My good friend Mara has not one but two graduate degrees. From fine, storied universities. Surprise, surprise: the only “job” she was able to find was at a retail store.

Hey—it’s only minimum wage, but at least she’s working, right? And at a major-league, blue-chip company, An American icon; an institution; a name every man, woman, and child in this country knows; an historic company that rings of the American Dream the world over, besides. Surely, if nothing else, it’s a start.

Perhaps you’re right. Maybe it isn’t the start she always dreamed of…but at least it is one. If so…then awaits her at the finish?

What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored…by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both.

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The 25 Most Important Zombie Movies Ever Made

dawn of the dead main 25

Jim Vorel via Paste Magazine:

From the living dead to the walking dead to the typing dead, zombies have completely and utterly suffused 21st century culture. And that’s a pretty weird phenomena, when you think about it.

It’s not like this was always the case. Go back to the ’80s, and to wax poetic about George Romero-esque zombie films would have been the hallmark of a nerdy, acne-ridden high school student in a John Hughes movie. The idea that a TV show like The Walking Dead could be one-upping Sunday Night football in TV ratings? That would seem patently impossible.

Yes, zombies have come a long way, as has our appreciation for them. We live in a society that has become profoundly geekier in the last 15 years, and adopted the once secretive and insular totems of geek culture as its own. But it’s not just us who has evolved, it’s the zombies themselves—the creatures, their films and the people who made them.

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Taking the High Road

high road

It’s 11:30am on Thursday and I’m cruising the Haight for flags, $24 into the green…

I’ve been good about not drinking or abusing nighttime cough syrup over the last week to get to sleep at night. This is due to a jaunt to go see my mom “back east” in D.C., to get help finishing up Book 2 – San Francisco TAXI: Life in the Merge Lane… (Stay tuned y’all!) Anyway, Ma and my older brother gave me crap about my belly while I was there; which is, um, “respectably pronounced”. Aside from my sedentary vocation, this is due in good measure to drinking at night. And the subsequent tipsy feast just prior to bed. Needless to say, my family’s brand of Jewish/Irish-Catholic guilt is VERY potent! Hence, the abstinence.

So, I was clearing out my Facebook notifications last night and smoking a bowl before going down. As I was perusing the San Francisco Taxi Drivers Group, I came across a report from Barry Korengold, one of the leaders of the SFTWA – the pseudo San Francisco taxi drivers union.… Read the rest

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New 2015 Wealth Data: U.S. Inequality at its Ugliest

(Photo: Riccardo Romano/cc/flickr)

(Photo: Riccardo Romano/cc/flickr)

This article originally appeared on Common Dreams.

Bernie Sanders showed his outrage about inequality at the Democratic Debate, and more and more Americans are understanding his message. Indignation is likely to grow with new data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, which reveals the wealthy elite’s continuing disdain for the poor, for the middle class, and for people all around the world.

Some of the most troubling disparities are hidden in the myriad tables of this remarkably comprehensive publication. The purpose here is to translate the numbers into wealth gap realities that victimize the great majority of Americans. Details can be viewed at You Deserve Facts.

1. At the Bottom: Of the Half-Billion Poorest Adults in the World, One out of Ten is an American

That seems impossible, with so many extremely poor countries, and it requires a second look at the data, and then a third look.… Read the rest

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That’ll Be $6.80, Please…


word transam bnw

So, I get an early morning voice mail from Christian. He was just getting off from his night shift. And he sounds exasperated…

“I just want to know; how many times have you been assaulted on the job? I was just for the seventh time in my career! And I’m fucking sick of it!”

Well, me? Zero.

Maybe a switch to day driving is in order? I do recall Rose (cab school teacher extraordinaire) giving us the stats in class… It turns out cab drivers are the second most assaulted vocation in the country, with the first being 7-11 clerks. (Police come in third.)

Anyway, it seems Christian was driving through the Mission last night, headed down Valencia with a fare in back. As he was stopped at a red at Duboce, some drunk Filipino crew walked up on his cab and “the big one” stumbled up to the driver’s (open) window and just randomly punched Christian in the face.… Read the rest

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Life and death under austerity

Austerity isn't working

In times of economic trouble, governments can choose to cut public services to save money. But at what cost? Mary O’Hara meets those on the sharp end of austerity in the UK to find out what it means for mental health.

When Mark Wood was found dead in his home in August 2013 it could have been just another tragic, but private, event for one family. But it wasn’t. His death came a few months after his disability benefits had been cut because he had been declared “fit for work” by the assessors appointed by the government to implement its “back-to-work” strategy. When his body was discovered he weighed just 5 st 8 lbs.

His sister Cathie said that 44-year-old Mark had struggled to live on just £40 a week after his disability and housing benefits were cut. She says that his ongoing mental health problems, including anxiety, obsessive traits and an eating disorder, were seriously aggravated by the extra stress.… Read the rest

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World’s Largest PR Firm Is Dropping Coal, Climate Change Deniers

ZKfsR4JCVia Planet Experts:

Last year, Planet Experts ran a brief story on Edelman, the largest public relations firm in the world, and its role in selling the public misinformation on climate change. At the time, Edelman was almost alone among its top 25 peers in its willingness to represent climate change deniers.

And that was all right for the firm’s CEO, Richard Edelman, who held the view that turning away any business would cost his company the chance to reach $1 billion in revenues.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the cash register.

Edelman Lost Clients, Leaders and Goodwill Over Climate Change

Last year, The Nation confirmed that Edelman was on a nearly $52 million retainer for the American Petroleum Institute (API). As part of the strong arm of the fossil fuel industry, Edelman ran several pro-oil campaigns, including the management of “multiple websites and online advertising efforts asking officials to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, support tax deductions for the oil industry and expand access for drilling on public lands.” Corporate Watch even alleged that Edelman was responsible for astroturfing several fake grassroots organizations in support of fossil fuel spending and jobs.

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Half of world’s wealth now in hands of 1% of population – report


Is anyone really surprised?

Jill Treanor via The Guardian:

Global inequality is growing, with half the world’s wealth now in the hands of just 1% of the population, according to a new report.

The middle classes have been squeezed at the expense of the very rich, according to research by Credit Suisse, which also finds for the first time that there are more individuals in the middle classes in China – 109m – than the 92m in the US.

“Middle class wealth has grown at a slower pace than wealth at the top end,” said Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of Credit Suisse. “This has reversed the pre-crisis trend which saw the share of middle-class wealth remaining fairly stable over time.”

The report shows that a person needs only $3,210 (£2,100) to be in the wealthiest 50% of world citizens. Some $68,800 secures a place in the top 10%, while the top 1% have more than $759,900.

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The Real Reason Playboy is Getting Out of the Nudie Business

If you haven’t already heard the news that Playboy is getting out of the nudie business or thought it was a internet hoax, I’m here to lay the bad news (or good news if you hate boring airbrushed soft porn) on ya.

No more boobies from the bunny.

Playboy Party Bucharest 2008

If you suspect that political correctness has finally run amok and absconded with your naked girlies, I also have bad news for you. It is far more cynical than that.

The real reason former Freedom of Speech advocate Playboy is dumping the airbrushed tits and ass is China’s mores and China’s Yuan. Especially the latter. Yep, as it turns out Playboy makes almost half of what they bring in from China, and they won’t hesitate to bow down to the almighty dollar, even if the Chinese do spell it funny over there.

Quartz has the explanation for us:

Playboy’s recent decision to stop publishing nude photos marks a watershed moment in media, as the porn pioneer buttons up and turns its back on what made it famous.

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‘It’s Like I Forget I’m in Prison’: Simple idea that could change solitary confinement

Prisoners Growing Sagebrush
Terrence McCoy via Washington Post:

It began with a painting, a biologist and an idea to disprove the widely-held axiom that trees are static. The biologist first affixed a paintbrush to a tree branch, set it to a canvas and watched it sketch. She then multiplied the length of that tree’s stroke by every branch in its crown. In the course of a year, the biologist learned, the tree would move 187,000 miles — or seven times across the globe. This seemingly immobile thing was actually in constant motion.

The drawing and its implications would ultimately spark a program that has infiltrated some of the most impenetrable prisons in the nation, attracted international attention, and earned a spot on TIME Magazine’s list of best inventions. Called the Nature Imagery Project, it transports the soothing elements of nature into supermax prisons to help ease the psychological stress of solitary confinement.

The project is rooted in an idea that even the most static entities — like trees, like inmates in solitary confinement — have the capacity for change.

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