Capitalism

FairCoop: An Alternative System Outside Of Capitalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/12/2017 - 2:00am in

Athens, Greece – Tools born from the internet, applied across autonomous networks and movements seeking alternatives to capitalism, are providing the infrastructure of alternative societies. In the last of our specials on community currencies and alternative economies, we showcase FairCoop, a self-organized and self-managed global cooperative created through the internet outside the domain of the nation-state. During a conference on alternatives to capitalism inside of the self-organized and squatted Embros Theater in Athens, Greece in the summer of 2017, a Catalan speaker (who remained anonymous for safety purposes) gave a presentation on FairCoop, which informed much of this reporting.

Vale James O’Connor

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/12/2017 - 7:00am in

James Richard O’Connor (Apr 20, 1930 – Nov 12, 2017)

The passing of James O’Connor marks a significant moment in the history of Marxist scholarship and politics. Born in 1930 and growing up in Boston, a short stint in the merchant marine introduced him to a world beyond the oppressive cultural and political environment of Cold War America. This aroused his interest in a more critical engagement in understanding the world beyond capitalist America. He completed studies in economics and sociology before working on a doctoral thesis exploring the forces that had resulted in the Cuban revolution, a study, which was subsequently published under the title of The Origin of Socialism in Cuba in 1970

This set him on the path as a warrior, along with others such as Joel Kovel, as a radical in the face of the cultural wars that were unfolding with the civil rights movement, feminism and student movements. He joined an emerging group of young intellectuals interested in drawing on the writings of Marx and other radicals intent on critiquing capitalist hegemony. He was intent on reinvigorating debate within Marxism and investigating established interpretations of this tradition to forge an invigorated Marxist analysis of capitalism, first publishing a series of reflections that contributed to exposing the nature of American imperialism and the unfolding contradictions with global capitalism.

After some teaching positions on the east coast, Jim took up academic positions in San Francisco where he joined a cohort of other radical thinkers in the early 1970s, and where he began to really make his mark on radical thinking and politics and particularly Marxist discourse. His particular focus concentrated on interrogating the role of the state in contemporary capitalism, and he drew together similar thinking colleagues to debate and develop critique. He led the way in setting up the journal Kapitalistate in 1973. The journal brought together comrades from the San Francisco Bay Area and from across North America and the world, including Italy, Germany and the U.K. His own thinking was developed in The Fiscal Crisis of the State, a pathbreaking analysis of the fundamental contradictions inherent in the role of the state’s inability to reconcile all of the claims for resources being made on the state. The Fiscal Crisis firmly established his standing as one of the foremost Marxist critics of the era.

The originality of The Fiscal Crisis lay in the innovative approach to drawing on Marxian categories to rethink how we should analyse the state. This capacity to revisit Marx’s concerns was also demonstrated in subsequent publications that concentrated on the multiple crises of capitalism, with the publication of Accumulation Crisis in 1986, followed by The Meaning of Crisis in 1987.

Settled in Santa Cruz at UCSC, and drawing on Barbara Laurence’s enthusiasm for protecting the red wood forests on the Californian coast, Jim turned his attention to the environmental destruction being wrought by the capitalist system. Indicative of his longstanding efforts to encourage others to join in and develop critiques of contemporary capitalism, he, Barbara and others, fostered a coterie of graduate students to contribute to this developing critique. He reconnected many of his old comrades to focus on the environmental question and established the journal Capitalism Nature Socialism as a global enterprise and the Center for Political Ecology.

Once again, Jim returned to exploring ways of creatively building on Marxian categories to reformulate how we might go about interrogating capitalism’s destructive force. Incorporating insights from Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation, Jim posited the notion of ‘the Second Contradiction’ of capitalism, the inherent tendency for the process of capital accumulation to undermine the natural (environmental) conditions of its existence.  This concept contributed, if not spearheaded, a dramatic engagement of Marxists and other radicals in recasting their critical focus on the environment.

The formulation of ‘the Second Contradiction’ was posed in opposition to the shift in radical discourse that had been influenced by post-structuralist thought and which had jettisoned Marxist theory to privilege the place of social forces, other than class. Jim was determined to re-establish the import of the working class in the forging of a progressive politics, and this prompted some intense and often acrimonious debate, not always confined to the battle for intellectual primacy in understanding the force of social struggle. But the significance of the notion of ‘the Second Contradiction’ lies in the extent to which it has become a foundation, or reference point, for the extraordinary growth in radical analysis of the array of environmental problems across the globe.

Jim will be remembered by friends and foes alike, as well as those who he encouraged to join the cause, as an iconic figure in our efforts over the last fifty or so years to rebuild the force of radical discourse and to take control of our political future. Over the last decade or more, he was working on extending this project by developing a critique of the many contradictions embedded in the processes of globalisation and neoliberalism, a project that remained frustrated by ill-health. However, he leaves behind a remarkable legacy that will continue to frame and inform radical analyses of capitalism’s many contradictions well into the future.

Other tributes to James O’Connor are being collected by the Center for Political Ecology.

Cover photo: James O’Connor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1978, by Carol Foote.

The post Vale James O’Connor appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Jimmy Dore Show: Obama and Killary Back Trump’s Embassy Move to Jerusalem

More geopolitical arrogance and stupidity, but this time it’s from the Democrats.

A few days ago Trump caused astonishment and outrage around the world by announcing that he was planning to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As The Young Turks have explained, this is immensely controversial as Jerusalem is also a holy city to the world’s Muslims and Christians, who will resent all of the holy sites being under Israeli control. However, it’s done to support the Likudniks and other Israeli right-winger, who want Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. And it’s also strongly supported by the Christian Zionist right in America, who are looking forward to the restoration of Israel, and an apocalyptic war between Good and Evil, seen as America, Israel and Christianity versus Islam, which will lead to Christ’s Second Coming. Jerusalem is also claimed by the Palestinians. It was taken from them by the Israelis, but the city still has a large Arab population.

In this piece from The Jimmy Dore Show, the American comedian and his co-hosts, Steffi Zamorano and Ron Placone, discuss Trump’s decision, and how its being supported by key leaders of the Democrats: specifically Chuck Shumer, the leader of the Democrats in Congress, Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The clip begins with a series of quotes from Arab and other Middle Eastern leaders condemning the move. These include Manuel Hassassian, the leader of the Palestinian delegation, who describes it as an attack on the Palestinians, and also the Middle East’s Muslims and Christians. El-Sisi, the current military strongman ruling Egypt, also condemns it, as does Erdogan, the Islamist president of Turkey. Erodogan states that he was almost going to cut off diplomatic relations with Israel in retaliation. As Dore points out, Turkey’s America’s ally.

Dore also points out that the move is against America’s best interests and only serves Israel. And Israel is beholden to America. Last year, Congress voted to give it $38 billion of military aid. This is a country that has single-payer healthcare. But Americans can’t have it, because it’s too expensive. The money has to go to Israel to keep their military awash with cash. On the other hand, if America didn’t support Israel, what other country would stand up for them? No-one.

But you expect the Democrats would be different. But they’re not. Chuck Schumer has said that he was pressing Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and took the president to task for his indecision. There’s also a clip from Barak Obama, in which he declares Jerusalem to be the indivisible capital of Israel, and supports moving the American embassy there. If you look at the signs around the podium, it’s clear that he’s speaking at an AIPAC gathering. AIPAC is the main, pro-Israel lobby group in the US. And then there’s a quote from Hillary Clinton, from all the way back in 1999, in which she states she wants the American embassy moved to Jerusalem.

This shows very clearly that the corporatist, Clintonite Democrats as corrupt, arrogant and dangerous on this issue as Trump and the Republicans. But followers of Dore’s show probably won’t be particularly surprised by this. Dore has made a number of videos pointing out the corruption and imperialist agenda of the corporate Democrats, including Killary and Obama. Obama carried on the privatisation and welfare cuts of Bush and the Republicans. He also expanded the wars in the Middle East from two to seven. But he got away with it because he cloaked it all in vague, progressive rhetoric. All that stuff about ‘hope and change’. Dore doesn’t mention it, but race was also a factor. Obama was America’s first Black president, and his election was hailed as a breakthrough for Black people. When he was elected there were celebrations in Africa, and the Nobel Committee gave him a peace prize. Just like they did to Kissinger. But despite the stupid, vicious rhetoric from lunatic Republicans about how Obama hated Whites, and was planning to kill them all in concentration camps, Obama was solidly Conservative in his policies, and did precious little for Blacks. Poor Whites have seen their incomes and life expectancy drop, and Black life expectancy has risen. This has resulted in the racist fringe shouting about ‘White genocide’, and mobilised them in support of Trump. But Black income has dropped even further than poor White, and it’s been projected that in a few decades the average Black family will have absolutely zero wealth.

As for Hillary Clinton, she has shown herself to be every bit as militaristic, imperialist and hawkish as the male politicians and generals that surround her. She fully supported the Iraq invasion, and when Obama was in office was ramping up tensions with China and Russia. Susan Sarandon has commented on interviews that if she’d won the election, America could well have been at war by now. I think Sarandon’s right. As for the reason’s for the new Cold War against Putin and Russia, some of this is an attempt by Clinton to deflect attention from the way she and her coterie stole the presidential nomination away from Bernie, and her massive ties to Wall Street. But it’s also been suggested that it’s also rage by American capitalism against Putin, for making Russia economically independent after they had poured so much money into the privatisation of the economy under Yeltsin.

It’s glaringly obvious to just about everyone how massively stupidly dangerous the current Cold War with Russia, because of the potential for it to develop into a real war. And there were NATO generals predicting that it would. One of them even published a book claiming that by May this year (2017) we would be at war with Russia. Such a conflict could easily become a nuclear war, resulting in the destruction of all life on our beautiful, fragile world.

Mercifully, we aren’t at war with Russia. But the fact that Obama and Hillary were keen to stoke tensions with Putin shows how dangerous they are. Just as their support for Trump moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.

Obama, Hillary and Schumer are unfit for office. Their support for America’s imperialist wars, the new Cold War and the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem are a positive threat to world peace. And the Arab and Muslim leaders who denounced the move are right: it shows absolute contempt and disregard for the feelings of Arabs and Muslims.

It’s been shown that much of the support for terrorist campaign against the West in the Middle East comes from anger at the repeated western military interference in the affairs of the Middle East – the invasions and the overthrow of Middle Eastern leaders, when they are perceived as an obstacle to western political or commercial interests. The Iraq invasion is one example, but so too is the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadeq, the last democratically elected prime minister of Iran. He was overthrown because he dared to nationalise the Iranian oil industry.

Trump’s decision has sparked riots and protests throughout the Middle East. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it also doesn’t serve to provoke another wave of terrorism directed against us. But I very much doubt that Trump, Killary, Obama and the other major political figures will comment on the way western imperialism is stirring up anti-western sentiment in the Middle East. Instead we’ll just have more discussion about the nature of Islamism – which is indeed part of the problem. And the islamophobic right will start ranting about how it’s all due to something intrinsic in Islam itself, and that Muslims hate us because of our freedoms.

Schumer, Obama and Hillary’s support for Trump’s decision serve yet again to show how corrupt the corporate Democrats are. They have to go. A growing number of Americans want a third party, which will really represent American working people. And the Democrat elite’s support for the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem is further evidence that a third party is needed, if the Democrat party can’t be reformed and the Clintonites and corporatists cleaned out.

William Blum on the Economic Reasons behind the New Cold War

William Blum, the veteran and very highly informed critic of American imperialism, has put up a new edition of his Anti-Empire Report. This is, as usual, well worth reading. In it he attacks the new Cold War being fought with Russia, and reminds us of the stupidity and hysteria of the first.

Blum does a great job of critiquing the claim that the Russians interfered in the American election. He points out that the American intelligence services actually know how to disguise the true origins of Tweets, and questions the motives imputed to the Russians. He states that the Russians presumably don’t think that America is a banana republic, which can be easily influenced and its government overthrown by an outside power. He also questions the veracity of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Clapper is one of those claiming that the Russians did influence the election. But as Blum reminds us, Clapper himself is a liar. He lied to Congress when he was asked if the American intelligence apparatus was spying on its citizens. He said ‘No’. The answer, as revealed by Edward Snowden, was very definitely ‘Yes’.

He then gives a long list of instances from the First Cold War where people were unfairly accused of Communism and persecuted. For example, in 1948 the Pittsburgh Press published the names, addresses and places of work of 1,000 people, who had signed the form backing the former vice-president, Henry Wallace’s campaign for the presidency, as Wallace was running for the Progressive Party.

Then there’s the case of the member of a local school board, who decided that the tale of Robin Hood should be banned, because he was a ‘Communist’. Which is good going, considering that the tales of Robin Hood date from the 14th/15th centuries and are about a hero who lived in the 13th – six centuries before Karl Marx. However, this woman wasn’t the only one to dislike the tales for political reasons. The compiler of a children’s book of stories about heroes deliberately left him out in favour of Clym of Clough, a similar archer outlaw, but from ‘Bonnie Carlisle’, partly because Hood was too well-known, but also because he thought there was something ‘political’ about the stories.

Blum also covers the way Conservatives claimed that the USSR was responsible for the rise in drug abuse in America, and was deliberately creating it in order to undermine American society. He also states that the Russians were also trying to destroy America through fluoridation of the water. As General Jack D. Ripper says in Dr. Strangelove: ‘We must keep our bodily fluids pure.’

Then there are the pronouncements that American universities were all under Communist influence, and the reason why American sports teams were also failing was because of Communist influence.

The anti-Communist hysteria was also used to denounce and vilify the United Nations. Blum writes

1952: A campaign against the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because it was tainted with “atheism and communism”, and was “subversive” because it preached internationalism. Any attempt to introduce an international point of view in the schools was seen as undermining patriotism and loyalty to the United States. A bill in the US Senate, clearly aimed at UNESCO, called for a ban on the funding of “any international agency that directly or indirectly promoted one-world government or world citizenship.” There was also opposition to UNESCO’s association with the UN Declaration of Human Rights on the grounds that it was trying to replace the American Bill of Rights with a less liberty-giving covenant of human rights.

Oh yes, and rock and roll, pop music and the Beatles were also seen as part of a Communist plot to destroy American moral fibre. A few decades later, in the 1980s, the same right-wing pastors were saying the same thing, though this time the tendency was to blame Satanists rather than Commies.

And the list goes on, including instances from the 1980s when visiting Russians were subjected hostility and abuse because they were perceived as a danger to the US, thanks to films like Rambo and Red Dawn.

The report ends with Blum discussing Al Franken, a Democrat politician and broadcaster, who is now accused of sexual assault. Blum argues that the real issue that should get people angry at Franken is the fact that he backed the Iraq War, and went out there to entertain the troops, showing that he was perfectly happy with the illegal and bloody invasion of another country.

He also reveals that the list of people, who have been on RT, was compiled by a Czech organisation with the name European Values, which produced the report
The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West: An Overview of RT’s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact. Blum states that it’s not exhaustive, as he’s been on it five times, and they haven’t mentioned him.

He also notes the RT’s Facebook page has four million followers and that it claims to be ‘the most watched news network’. It’s YouTube channel has two million likes. And so is this the reason why the American authorities have thrown away freedom of the press and forced it to register as a foreign agent.

He also comments on the way Theresa May has also got in on the act of blaming the Russians for everything, and is accusing them of interfering in Brexit.

But what I found interesting was this piece, where quotes another writer on the real reason the Americans are stoking another Cold War:

Writer John Wight has described the new Cold War as being “in response to Russia’s recovery from the demise of the Soviet Union and the failed attempt to turn the country into a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington via the imposition of free market economic shock treatment thereafter.”

https://williamblum.org/aer/read/153

This makes sense of a lot of murky episodes from the Cold War. I think Lobster has also commented several times on the way Conservative have accused the USSR of causing the drug crisis. I distinctly remember one of the columnist for Reader’s Digest, Clare Somebody, running this story in the 1980s. If memory serves me right, she also claimed that the Russians were doing so in cahoots with Iran. The Iranian theocracy are a bunch of thugs, but somehow I don’t think they can be accused of causing mass drug addiction in the West. They’re too busy fighting their own. I can’t remember the woman’s surname, but I do remember that she turned up later as one of the neocons frantically backing George W. Bush.

As for the campaign against the United Nations on the grounds that internationalism is unpatriotic, that’s still very much the stance of the Republicans in America. It’s part and parcel of the culture of American exceptionalism, which angrily denounces and rejects any attempt to hold America accountable to international justice, while upholding America’s right to interfere in everybody else’s affairs and overthrow their governments. ‘Cause America is a ‘shining city on a hill’ etc.

As for wishing to bring down Putin, because he’s shaken off the chains of American economic imperialism, that’s more than plausible. American big business and the state poured tens of millions into Yeltsin’s election campaign back in the 1990s, including his crash privatisation of the Russian economy. Which just about destroyed it. In which case, it shows that Lenin was right all those decades ago, when he described how pre-Revolutionary Russia was enchained by western economic imperialism. And perhaps the world, or at least, anybody who does not want their country to be bought up by American capitalism, should be grateful to the Archiplut for showing that a nation can defy American capitalism.

Capitalism and punishment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/12/2017 - 2:50am in

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For years now, I’ve been writing about the various ways capitalism inflicts its punishments—including killing people (see, e.g., here, here, and here).

It’s as if capitalism is Dostoyevsky’s Rodion Raskolnikov, who formulates and executes a plan to kill a pawnbroker for her cash—and, in an attempt to defend his actions, argues that with the pawnbroker’s money he can perform good deeds to counterbalance the crime.

The question is, what are the good deeds capitalism performs to counterbalance its crimes? Because we now have more evidence that, like Raskolnikov, capitalism kills.

According to Maia Szalavitz, capitalist “inequality raises the stakes of fights for status among men.”

Obviously, potential murderers don’t check the local Gini Index – the most commonly used measure of inequality that looks at how wealth is distributed – before deciding whether to get a gun. But they are keenly attuned to their own level of status in society and whether it allows them to get what they need to live a decent life. If they can’t, while others visibly bask in luxury that seems both impossible to attain and unfairly won, those far from the top often become desperate.

And so, as capitalist inequality rises, men at the bottom are more inclined to kill other men—all in the name of honor and respect.

gini-homicides

That conclusion is supported by a 2002 comparative cross-country study, published in the Journal of Law and Economics (pdf), whose main conclusion is that an increase in income inequality has a “significant and robust effect” of raising violent crime rates.

Perhaps those who defend capitalism think it possesses enough fortitude to deal with the ramifications of its crimes against humanity—that it even might have the right to perform those crimes. And the ability to get away with them.

Dostoyevsky, of course, suggested it’s better to confess and accept the appropriate punishment—which is exactly what Raskolnikov, at Sonya’s urging, finally does. But, alas, we don’t live in a nineteenth-century Russian novel.

In fact, in the United States, we are witnessing rising inequality and, for the first time in decades, rising homicide rates.

no one knows what time lag to expect between a rise in inequality and a rise in murder – but if it does take a few decades, this could be the start of a troubling trend, not a blip.

Tagged: capitalism, crime, Dostoyevsky, homicides, inequality, novel

Booked: The Ideology of Cheap Stuff

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/12/2017 - 2:31am in

What do Black Friday, chicken nuggets, and Christopher Columbus tell us about the history of capitalism? We ask Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore, authors of the new book A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.

Reading like a Bureaucrat

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/12/2017 - 1:57am in

“Perhaps it is just as well that writers do not have political power,” wrote Steinbeck after receiving ideas from Faulkner.

There is no alternative?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/12/2017 - 2:01am in

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Capitalism

Is Capitalism Obsolete by Giacomo Corneo is framed as an exploration of alternatives to capitalism by an economics professor father to his idealistic daughter. The Prologue is an email exchange between them, in which she writes: “Your economic system is wasteful, unjust and alienating. And wastefulness, injustive and alienation are not the result of some natural law. They are the result of particular social rules, the rules of capitalism. And keep in mind that the capitalist economic system is the product of a relatively short period in history. Just as it once emerged, it will one day decline and be replaced with a better set of rules.”

Set up in this way, the book explores some of the alternative models posited at various times, from Plato’s Republic and Thomas More’s Utopia through anarchism and socialist planning to modern variants including ‘shareholder socialism’ (state ownership of key industries) and the currently fashionable cure-all, Universal Basic Income. At the end of this journey, the economist concludes: “There is, at present, not really much else on offer.” However unfair, wasteful etc capitalism is, there is no convincingly superior alternative. Instead, the author proposes a range of reforms – cracking down on cross-border tax avoidance/evasion, investing in infrastructure & public services etc – concluding, “A pluralist market economy with an effective and generous welfare state represents the best economic system that is currently available to us.” An appendix contains a more detailed specific reform proposal, the idea that the state should invest in quoted companies to build up a socially responsible sovereign wealth fund paying a social dividend to citizens.

I have never found the abstraction ‘capitalism’ a helpful term when it encompasses societies as contrasting as Norway and the United States, and have always quite liked the slightly out-of-fashion ‘varieties of capitalism‘ approach. Even if you think the term useful, though, looking at the news this past week, Corneo is surely rather optimistic here in seeing any possibility for reform. Capitalism might be declining, as the daughter asserts, but it looks more likely to be replaced by something worse, call it plutocracy, than by something better.

This is a slighly odd book. I guess it’s meant to be pedagogical, taking students on a tour of historical thinking about economic systems, but this makes the framing material about the current day rather perfunctory, and then the actual reform proposal is stuck in an appendix. Although a mildly diverting read, I’m not sure it works well either as a history of thought book or as a current affairs one.


Is Capitalism Obsolete?


Is Capitalism Obsolete?

Price: £23.95

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This City Hall, Brought To You By Amazon

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 30/11/2017 - 3:00am in

Above Photo: A chalk depiction of the 238 proposals Amazon received for its proposed 50,000-employee HQ2. Cities and states are going to great lengths to get a piece of that high-tech glory. (Jordan Stead/Amazon) Google is blocking our site. Please use the social media sharing buttons (upper left) to share this on your social media and help us break through. There’s rising worry that corporations are taking over America. But after reviewing a slew of the bids by cities and states wooing Amazon’s massive second headquarters, I don’t think “takeover” quite captures what’s going on. More like “surrender.” Last month Amazon announced it got 238 offers for its new, proposed 50,000-employee HQ2. I set out to see what’s in them, but only about 30 have been released so far under public-record acts. Those 30, though, amply demonstrate our capitulation to corporate influence in politics. There’s a new wave, in which some City Halls seem willing to go beyond just throwing money at Amazon. They’re turning over the keys to the democracy. Coming from the home of the largest corporate tax-break package in U.S. history, which our state gave to Boeing, I figured I was well acquainted with the dark arts of economic-incentive deals. But still I was surprised to see the lengths to which some cities and states will go to get a piece of that high-tech glory. Example: Chicago has offered to let Amazon pocket $1.32 billion in income taxes paid by its own workers. This is truly perverse. Called a personal income-tax diversion, the workers must still pay the full taxes, but instead of the state getting the money to use for schools, roads or whatever, Amazon would get to keep it all instead. “The result is that workers are, in effect, paying taxes to their boss,” says a report on the practice from Good Jobs First, a think tank critical of many corporate subsidies. Most of the HQ2 bids had more traditional sweeteners. Such as Chula Vista, California, which offered to give Amazon 85 acres of land for free (value: $100 million) and to excuse any property taxes on HQ2 for 30 years ($300 million). New Jersey remains the dollar king of the subsidy sweepstakes, having offered Amazon $7 billion to build in Newark. But more of a bellwether to me are proposals that effectively would put Amazon inside the government. Some are small. Boston has offered to set up an “Amazon Task Force” of city employees working on the company’s behalf. These would include a workforce coordinator, to help with Amazon’s employment needs, as well as a community- relations official to smooth over Amazon conflicts throughout Boston. (Surely Amazon can handle these things itself?) But the most far-reaching offer is from Fresno, California. That city of half a million isn’t offering any tax breaks. Instead it has a novel plan to give Amazon special authority over how the company’s taxes are spent. Fresno promises to funnel 85 percent of all taxes and fees generated by Amazon into a special fund. That money would be overseen by a board, half made up of Amazon officers, half from the city. They’re supposed to spend the money on housing, roads and parks in and around Amazon. The proposal shows a park with a sign: “This park brought to you by Amazon,” with the company’s smiling arrow corporate logo. “The community fund projects would give Amazon credit for the funding of each project,” the proposal says. “The potential negative impacts from a project would be turned into positives, giving Amazon credit for mitigating it.” Is it even legal to give a company direct sway over civic spending like that? When asked about it, Fresno’s economic-development director threw the public interest under the bus. “Rather than the money disappearing into a civic black hole, Amazon would have a say on where it will go,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “Not for the fire department on the fringe of town, but to enhance their own investment in Fresno.” You poor fools out on the fringe of town. All this time you’ve been paying your taxes, thinking it was for the broader public good. Suckers. Seriously, we’ve got Congress slashing corporate taxes, business cash overwhelming elections and the Federal Communications Commission poised to turn control of the internet over to a few private companies. Now a single company is viewed as such a shiny prize that some seem ready to wave the white flag on the whole “for the people, by the people” experiment. It feels like a dicey moment for the “civic black hole.“ Also known as democracy.

The Longest Miles

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/11/2017 - 6:01am in

I convinced myself of an extreme position, that the miles racket could be manipulated to turn the tables on the free market.

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