Ahhh, the manner by which synchronicity manifests itself into your life when you intentionally tread the path of a sorcerer. You toss around the idea of writing a think piece called “Protest with Witchcraft” for over a year, then finally decide to tackle it and just after you do an article appears on the site you’re writing it for about how street protests don’t work anymore. Then the day before you toss it up another appears about a new wave of witch hunters rising around the world. Of course, I write about this sychromystic high strangeness all the time on Facebook (friend me), and I haven’t even gotten to the oddest part yet. A week or so earlier I out of nowhere decided I needed to re-read A Separate Reality by Carlos Casteneda. I do have the cover tattooed on my right bicep, so I figured I might re-familiarize with what exactly that implies in a magickal context.… Read the rest
Tag Archives | wealth inequality
Via the Economist, Adrian Wooldridge on seeing the giant tech corporations for what they really are:
… Read the rest
Geeks have turned out to be some of the most ruthless capitalists around. A few years ago the new economy was a wide-open frontier. Today it is dominated by a handful of tightly held oligopolies. Google and Apple provide over 90% of the operating systems for smartphones. Facebook counts more than half of North Americans and Europeans as its customers.
The lords of cyberspace have done everything possible to reduce their earthly costs. They employ remarkably few people: with a market cap of $290 billion Google is about six times bigger than GM but employs only around a fifth as many workers.
At the same time the tech tycoons have displayed a banker-like enthusiasm for hoovering up public subsidies and then avoiding taxes. The American government laid the foundations of the tech revolution by investing heavily in the creation of everything from the internet to digital personal assistants.
Are we on our way to a point at which being a millionaire will become virtually a prerequisite for pursuing any important political position? Via CNN:
For the first time ever, more than half of current members of Congress are millionaires, according to a new report from the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics.
Among the 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more for 2012, the CRP said, citing disclosure forms filed last year.
CRP executive director Sheila Krumholz said the data reflect the reality that “in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with.”
Via ThinkProgress, a survey of investors reveals the self-perception of the affluent in our deeply unequal society. More than two-thirds of millionaires do not feel that they are wealthy, and two-fifths of those with more than $5 million still feel non-wealthy:
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Rich investors say that it takes at least $5 million to feel wealthy, according to a new investor sentiment report from UBS.
They also define being wealthy not as having a certain amount of money, but having “no financial constraints on what they do.” That does indeed likely come with a large price tag.
The inflation of how much the rich thinks it takes to be rich comes at a time of skyrocketing income inequality. The good news for the uber rich is that less than 20 percent have a pessimistic view of the long-term economic outlook. That differs sharply from the general population, as half of Americans say the economy is getting worse.
Via Salon, virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier puts forth his argument that it is so:
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The photography company Kodak employed more than 14,000 people. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. The number of people who are contributing to the system to make it viable is probably the same. Instagram wouldn’t work if there weren’t many millions of people using it.
So there’s still a lot of human effort, but the difference is that whereas before when people made contributions to the system that they used, they received formal benefits, which means not only salary but pensions and certain kinds of social safety nets. Now, instead, they receive benefits on an informal basis. And what an informal economy is like is the economy in a developing country slum. It’s reputation, it’s barter, it’s that kind of stuff.
Paolo Cirio, contemporary artist and pirate, hacked the governmental servers of the Cayman Islands and stole a list of all the companies incorporated in the country. Now on Loophole4All.com, he is selling the identities of those companies at a low cost to democratize the privileges of offshore businesses. Paolo hijacks the identities by moving their addresses to his Caymans mailbox and issuing counterfeited certificates of incorporation from the Caymans company registry. This massive corporate identity theft benefits from the anonymous nature of those companies since the real owners’ secrecy allows anybody to impersonate them. Through Loophole4All.com, anyone can hijack a Caymans company, from 99¢ for a certificate of incorporation for a real company to $49 for a mailbox in the offshore country with mail rerouting.
One of the strangest things about watching lefty hippie types getting all fired up about wealth inequality is that I never see them even acknowledge how much worse everything is in the arts, which a lot of them are directly involved with. Don’t want to bite the hand that feeds (or pretends like it might feed you one day). Let’s face it, you’re not a real artist until rich people say you are and sadly, it’s probably better now than it used to be say, fifty years ago. Doesn’t matter what art form you’re involved with, it’s all fairly impossible to make ends meet unless you’re either born or fuck your way into the privilege factory. Having a trust fund helps. And that’s the sad thing no one’s saying about this stuff, the worse income disparity gets in society as a whole, the even more psychotically worse it gets in the arts.… Read the rest
Last month’s hurricane further widened the massive economic inequality of New York City — Manhattan has recovered, while poorer outer-borough areas affected remain seriously damaged. Via Grist, an anonymous civic group has taken it upon themselves to correct matters, as their press release explains:
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Over the past two weeks, a group of concerned New Yorkers has been expropriating thousands of dollars worth of tools and materials from luxury residential developments across Manhattan and delivering them to neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Confiscated materials, some of them never even used, include: shovels, wheelbarrows, hand trucks, hard bristle brooms, industrial rope, contractor trash bags, work lights, work gloves, flashlights, heat lamps, and gasoline.
Liberated from their role in building multimillion-dollar pieds-à-terre for wealthy CEOs and Hollywood celebrities, these tools are now in the collective hands of some of the hardest-hit communities in the city where they are now being allocated and shared among the people who need them most.
Disinfonauts have known about this idea for quite some time. And the idea was floated by the floundering Lib Dem Party leader in Britain earlier this year. But only just now does it seem to be gaining traction in the mainstream American press. By Daniel Altman in the New York Times:
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WHETHER you’re in the 99 percent, the 47 percent or the 1 percent, inequality in America may threaten your future. Often decried for moral or social reasons, inequality imperils the economy, too; the International Monetary Fund recently warned that high income inequality could damage a country’s long-term growth. But the real menace for our long-term prosperity is not income inequality — it’s wealth inequality, which distorts access to economic opportunities.Wealth inequality has worsened for two decades and is now at an extreme level. Replacing the income, estate and gift taxes with a progressive wealth tax would do much more to reduce it than any other tax plan being considered in Washington.