Tag Archives | Economics

Is Sowing Artificial Scarcity The Future Of Business?

Via the The New Inquiry, Peter Frase on where we’re headed:

Where we see scarcity, much of it appears to be imposed by choice. In particular, the increasing weight of intellectual property law heralds a world where the prime objective of business is to make things scarce enough that people will still need to buy them.

Unexpected scarcity long characterized agricultural societies—drought, pestilence, fire, and other natural calamities could bring about famine at any moment. But today’s farmers, who have learned to overcome many of these challenges, now face the prospect of a legal, rather than natural disaster. In a case that will soon appear before the Supreme Court, a 74-year-old farmer named Vernon Bowman was ordered to pay $84,000 in damages for infringing on the patents of agribusiness giant Monsanto. His crime was to plant a seed—a patented “Roundup Ready” seed, whose license agreement prohibits using it to produce new ones.

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Desperate Letter Describing Chinese Forced Labor Camp Found Inside Halloween Decorations Kit

Imagine if we understood where everything we have came from. Via Oregonian:

The letter came in a box of Halloween decorations purchased at Kmart, a $29.99 graveyard kit. On a Sunday afternoon in October, Julia Keith intended to decorate her home for her daughter’s fifth birthday, days before Halloween. She ripped open the box and threw aside the cellophane. That’s when Keith found it. Scribbled onto paper and folded into eighths, the letter was tucked between two Styrofoam headstones.

“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”

“People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).”

“People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment).

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Ignoring Warnings Can Be Fatal

Stöwer Titanic2012 has been the l00th anniversary of the famous Titanic disaster. The Captain of that “unsinkable” ship was warned that there were icebergs ahead but he was too busy, out to set a speed record on the way to New York.

The warnings were ignored and we know what happened. What we don’t know is why other urgent warnings go unheeded.

Take the repeated warnings that the easy availability of hand guns and assault rifles would lead to more massacres of innocents. The National Rifle Association operates with impunity (even as it bans weapons in its offices.)

When action is not taken, you increase the likelihood of more deadly incidents like the ones in malls and even elementary schools.

Take the predictions of a storm surge tied to climate change threatening the New York/New Jersey coastline. They were acknowledged but downplayed because right-wingers and their think tanks spent a decade in bogus quibbling about “junk” science.… Read the rest

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The Psyche Of The Wall Street Quant

Via Ghost Exchange, excerpts from a fascinating PBS interview with former hedge fund analyst Cathy O’Neil on the culture within Wall Street:

The basic cultural assumptions were not pleasant to me. The sort of most basic cultural assumption was that as a smart person, we have the right to take advantage of the system and of “dumb people.” And that is sort of — I mean, I guess I should have known, going into a hedge fund, that’s what people think.

I was thinking of it naively, more like, “Oh, there’s a system, and we should see what inefficiencies there are in the system and add information.” I mean, I just sort of drank that Kool-Aid. But once I was inside, I realized that’s not really how people think about it. They think, “Well, of course we’re going to take advantage, because we’re smart, and we can. We have better tools, and our tools are our brains.” Take advantage of absolutely everything and everyone that we can, in any way we can.

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Shadow Banking Industry Now Worth $76 Trillion

Will unregulated, debt-based financial products destroy the world? Bloomberg reports that the funneling of capital into instruments of so-called “shadow banking” continues to balloon to unimaginably large proportions:

The shadow banking industry has grown to about $67 trillion, leading global regulators to seek more oversight of financial transactions that fall outside traditional oversight. The Financial Stability Board, a global financial policy group comprised of regulators and central bankers, found that shadow banking grew by $41 trillion between 2002 and 2011.

The size of the shadow banking system, which includes the activities of money market funds, monoline insurers and off-balance sheet investment vehicles, “can create systemic risks” and “amplify market reactions when market liquidity is scarce,” the FSB said.

Supervisors consider shadow banking activities to be those that allow banks to carry out business off balance sheets, as well as those which allow investors to bypass lenders and the functions they traditionally fulfill on the markets.

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A Mother’s Story: Her Child’s Health Threatened By Tax Breaks For The Greedy

Natalie Solidarity writes at Diatribe Media:

“If she doesn’t have her immunization, she can’t attend school,” my daughter’s school administrator explained.

I thanked her and hung up the phone. I touched my beautiful daughter’s hair as she looked up from her Junie B. Jones book and smiled at me. I wondered what I was going to do. I was looking for work, living on my savings from my former position as a university graduate teaching aide. When I graduated, my job was no longer available. My department was gasping for air because enrollment was suffering, students couldn’t afford to attend school, classes were shrinking and being condensed. Where once there were five courses offered at different times throughout the week, there was now two, and one of those classes was taught by tenured or tenure-track professors. My little girl, Ella and I existed by spending most of our money on food, playing in public spaces, and walking almost everywhere.

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Commodification of Water, the Quintessential Issue of Our Time

via chycho

Commoditization of the commons is the most important issue of our time, the most vital aspect of which is the commodification of water, usable water (pdf) to be more precise. As Global Water Corporation, a Canadian water privatization company has stated (pdf):

“Water has moved from being an endless commodity that may be taken for granted to a rationed necessity that may be taken by force.”

Strong words indeed for an important issue. Gavin Power, the deputy director of the United Nations Global Compact, reiterated this message when he made the following statement after receiving support from some of the largest corporations in the world in an effort “to help [sic] solve the global water crisis”:

“The scale of the water problem is so big that governments can’t solve it alone. They need the help of the private sector.”

Privatization of water, however, has some serious adversaries.… Read the rest

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Ron Paul Says Someone Needs to Ask the Fed Question

Ron Paul is going to be asking the “Fed Question” until the day he dies. Probably the day after too. But will anyone else pick up the mantle? From the Wall Street Journal:

It has been a tough summer and fall for Ron Paul.

In June, he conceded the Republican presidential nomination. In August, he turned down a chance to speak at the Republican convention when he reportedly was told he would have to fully endorse Mitt Romney. A video tribute to Mr. Paul ran instead.

His delegates were barred from and accused of disrupting the party proceedings.

And now through three presidential debates, the Texas congressman’s pet issue, monetary policy, has been ignored. “They don’t want to talk about it,” Mr. Paul said in an interview Tuesday.

He added sarcastically: “It’s not important enough. It’s only half of every single transaction in the world.”

You would think that even if Ron Paul the presidential candidate has failed, Ron Paul the Fed critic would be alive and well, front and center in the national debate.

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