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A 4.30am start and three-minute toilet breaks: are you ready for microscheduling? | Life and style | The Guardian
Another example of the limitations of microscheduling comes from Hussein Kesvani, a London-based editor and writer. Last year, faced with a seemingly insurmountable workload, he tried to follow the YouTuber Casey Neistat’s brand of extreme hyperactivity. Neistat has “Work harder” written in big neon letters on the wall in his studio and tattooed on his left wrist, “just in case I forget”; his left arm also displays another tattoo, saying “Do more”. In 2015, he detailed his daily routine in a video that has since racked up 2.6m views. From a 5am start, Neistat’s schedule goes: one hour of email; three hours of exercise (which he says makes up for the little sleep he gets); 10 hours of work; three hours for family (to, say, “put the baby to bed”); another three hours for work; and, from 1am, four hours of sleep. Free time, he says, is the enemy of progress, which is why he has eliminated it entirely from his life.

Judging from this, Neistat seems to have also eliminated commuting, shopping, cooking, cleaning, school runs and all the other tasks that interrupt most people’s working lives. And that, in part, is where Kesvani’s attempt to live like Neistat ran aground. Although he could make the rigid schedule work in theory – “I could plan out everything out; I knew when everything was coming,” he says – the events he couldn’t control (such as a late train, or not getting a seat when he was supposed to be working) would derail his entire day. Having to reschedule, even as the work piled up, nearly destroyed him. He ended up in therapy, where he finally asked himself why he had taken on so much work in the first place.
work  labour  overwork  control  scheduling  time  productivity  planning  postFordism  lateCapitalism 
6 days ago by petej
The incredible rise of Pinduoduo, China’s newest force in e-commerce – TechCrunch
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on TechNode, an editorial partner of TechCrunch based in China. From Alibaba to JD, China is not short of e-commerce powerhouses. via Pocket
business  china  ifttt  innovation  latecapitalism  newsletter  post  capitalism  twitter 
4 weeks ago by thewavingcat
How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation
Those expectations encapsulate the millennial rearing project, in which students internalize the need to find employment that reflects well on their parents (steady, decently paying, recognizable as a “good job”) that’s also impressive to their peers (at a “cool” company) and fulfills what they’ve been told has been the end goal of all of this childhood optimization: doing work that you’re passionate about.
millennials  mentalHealth  stress  burnout  work  overwork  insecurity  instability  money  debt  precarity  education  parenting  DWYL  passion  jobs  employment  socialMedia  Instagram  identity  performance  branding  exploitation  acquiescence  women  culture  politics  lateCapitalism 
6 weeks ago by petej
Inequality - how wealth becomes power (1/2) | (Poverty Richness Documentary) DW Documentary - YouTube
"Germany is one of the world’s richest countries, but inequality is on the rise. The wealthy are pulling ahead, while the poor are falling behind.

For the middle classes, work is no longer a means of advancement. Instead, they are struggling to maintain their position and status. Young people today have less disposable income than previous generations. This documentary explores the question of inequality in Germany, providing both background analysis and statistics. The filmmakers interview leading researchers and experts on the topic. And they accompany Christoph Gröner, one of Germany’s biggest real estate developers, as he goes about his work. "If you have great wealth, you can’t fritter it away through consumption. If you throw money out the window, it comes back in through the front door,” Gröner says. The real estate developer builds multi-family residential units in cities across Germany, sells condominium apartments, and is involved in planning projects that span entire districts. "Entrepreneurs are more powerful than politicians, because we’re more independent,” Gröner concludes. Leading researchers and experts on the topic of inequality also weigh in, including Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, economist Thomas Piketty, and Brooke Harrington, who carried out extensive field research among investors from the ranks of the international financial elite. Branko Milanović, a former lead economist at the World Bank, says that globalization is playing a role in rising inequality. The losers of globalization are the lower-middle class of affluent countries like Germany. "These people are earning the same today as 20 years ago," Milanović notes. "Just like a century ago, humankind is standing at a crossroads. Will affluent countries allow rising equality to tear apart the fabric of society? Or will they resist this trend?”"

[Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYP_wMJsgyg

"Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany. The son of two teachers, he has worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance and wants to step in. But can this really ease inequality?

Christoph Gröner does everything he can to drum up donations and convince the wealthy auction guests to raise their bids. The more the luxury watch for sale fetches, the more money there will be to pay for a new football field, or some extra tutoring, at a children's home. Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany - his company is now worth one billion euros, he tells us. For seven months, he let our cameras follow him - into board meetings, onto construction sites, through his daily life, and in his charity work. He knows that someone like him is an absolute exception in Germany. His parents were both teachers, and he still worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance. "What we see here is total failure across the board,” he says. "It starts with parents who just don’t get it and can’t do anything right. And then there’s an education policy that has opened the gates wide to the chaos we are experiencing today." Chistoph Gröner wants to step in where state institutions have failed. But can that really ease inequality?

In Germany, getting ahead depends more on where you come from than in most other industrialized countries, and social mobility is normally quite restricted. Those on top stay on top. The same goes for those at the bottom. A new study shows that Germany’s rich and poor both increasingly stay amongst themselves, without ever intermingling with other social strata. Even the middle class is buckling under the mounting pressure of an unsecure future. "Land of Inequality" searches for answers as to why. We talk to families, an underpaid nurse, as well as leading researchers and analysts such as economic Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz, sociologist Jutta Allmendinger or the economist Raj Chetty, who conducted a Stanford investigation into how the middle class is now arming itself to improve their children’s outlooks."]
documentary  germany  capitalism  economics  society  poverty  inequality  christophgröner  thomaspiketty  brookehrrington  josephstiglitz  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  brankomilanović  worldbank  power  influence  policy  politics  education  class  globalization  affluence  schools  schooling  juttaallmendinger  rajchetty  middleclass  parenting  children  access  funding  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  status  work  labor  welfare  2018  geography  cities  urban  urbanism  berlin  immigration  migration  race  racism  essen  socialsegregation  segregation  success  democracy  housing  speculation  paulpiff  achievement  oligarchy  dynasticwealth  ownership  capitalhoarding  injustice  inheritance  charlottebartels  history  myth  prosperity  wageslavery  polarization  insecurity  precarity  socialcontract  revolution  sociology  finance  financialcapitalism  wealthmanagement  assets  financialization  local  markets  privateschools  publicschools  privatization 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Atlas Weeps: Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge’s strange elegy for capitalism.
"While some readers may be frustrated by this coyness, it is in keeping with the overall approach of the book, which downplays public policy in favor of broad statements about America’s great economic culture. Greenspan and Wooldridge insist that our principal problem is that the United States has become “encrusted with entitlements” that crowd out other forms of saving and diminish America’s spirit of entrepreneurialism. Meanwhile, “overregulation forces business founders to endure a Kafkaesque nightmare of visiting different government departments and filling in endless convoluted forms.”

...

"Back in the 19th century, according to the authors, the government saw its primary role as upholding property rights and enforcing contracts, rather than trying to redistribute wealth or protect people from the vagaries of economic change. "

...

"Despite Capitalism in America’s libertarian hue, its explicit intellectual reference point isn’t Ayn Rand, whose name is barely mentioned, but the Austrian economic thinker Joseph Schumpeter, especially the oft-cited notion of “creative destruction” developed in his 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. Greenspan and Wooldridge return repeatedly to Schumpeter and the “perennial gale” of economic change in their analysis of American history. Under capitalism, Schumpeter argued, new production processes are constantly displacing old ones, leading to great tumult (the decline of cities, the wiping out of whole occupations)—but also rapid growth. In the past, Greenspan and Wooldridge argue, “America has been much better than almost every other country at resisting the temptation to interfere with the logic of creative destruction.” But today, this is no longer the case."

"The authors trace the hospitality of the United States toward capitalist growth, including its destructive possibilities, to the restrictions that its founders placed on popular or majority rule. “The Founding Fathers had been careful to put limits on both the scope of the state and the power of the people,” they write. Even though they hail American capitalism as “the world’s most democratic” example of the system—in that people born in obscurity have risen to riches, and also in the spread of mass consumption—they approve of the ways in which American politics constrains democratic power.

The result, in their view, is what led to the era of entrepreneurial dominance that lasted for most of the 19th century—the “age of giants.” Greenspan and Wooldridge praise the high “respect” with which Americans then treated businesspeople; apparently, they have long understood that “the real motors of historical change were not workers, as Marx had argued, nor abstract economic forces, as his fellow economists tended to imply, but people who built something out of nothing.”Americans rightly worship at the shrine of business, what Greenspan and Wooldridge call the “cult of the entrepreneur.”

...

"For Greenspan and Wooldridge, the age of gold was not always a golden age. They are careful to point out the underside of growth. American men lost an average of two inches in height over the course of the late 19th century; there was horrific pollution as well as terrible industrial accidents; and deflation hurt debtors and wage earners. Early in the book, they point out that slavery and the displacement of indigenous peoples also constituted stains on America’s history. But none of this matters as much, in their view, as the fact of the country’s remarkable economic growth."

...

"The “active inactivism” of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge is cited for praise, but it was a brief “paradise before the fall.” Then came the Great Depression and the era of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the nation has never recovered since."

...

"reenspan and Wooldridge’s historical scholarship leaves much to be desired. Their depiction of the 19th-century American economy as a paragon of laissez-faire seems at a distant remove from actual history. True, it did have the gold standard, and taxes were few, and the federal government did not employ many people. But the enslavement of millions of people—whose labor was actually the engine of economic growth in the early years of the 19th century—in fact required an activist state. The decentralized violence of slavery should not disguise the intrusive regime that was needed to uphold in practice the idea that human beings could be treated as commodities."

...

"After the end of slavery, too, the state played a key role in economic life. Breaking strikes with the National Guard, giving Western lands to railroad companies, overturning state and local regulations for the labor market via the Supreme Court—all of these involved the active use of state power."
--> Yes, but this should not be surprising. One fundamental belief of Libertarianism—and this writer states it earlier in this article—is that gov't role in business *should* include intervening on behalf of business (but not on behalf of people). Enforcing contracts, property rights and preventing monopolies that reduce competitive opportunity.

...

"There was no near-unanimous sentiment, even among the educated, about the virtues of the idea that society should be governed by the “survival of the fittest”—from the American Revolution on, many were critical of the outsize power that economic might could give some people over the lives of others."

...

"Rather than the tale of a free people coming to be dominated by government control, the story of the United States in the late-19th and early-20th centuries is really one of political conflict over who would control the state. And our contemporary politics remains centered on this conflict: Should business leaders be able to dominate government? Or is there something in democratic politics that authorizes the majority of people to shape their society together? Greenspan and Wooldridge seem to view the market and the state as two distinct and antagonistic realms, but in truth they were never as easy to separate as Capitalism in America suggests."

...

"... bemoaning the loss of the growth rates that characterized the 19th century makes little sense. For one thing, rising productivity was even more dramatic between 1920 and 1970—years that Greenspan and Wooldridge insist already contained the seeds of decline."
--> Yes. As Thomas Piketty notes in his book Captial, it's that era—post WW2 1940's through the 70's, that saw the rise of the middle class, which coincided with the corellated drop in wealth inequality. This was the result in a strong labor movement, taxes on the wealthy and great gov't regulation that held corporate power in check. Reagan—whom this writer notes that Greenspan of course praises in his book—began the process of removing the power of labor, shifting it back to corporations, reducing regulation and taxes on the rich. Piketty notes that as a result, wealth shifted away from the bottom 90% and to the top 10% (mostly 1%), wages among the bottom 90% went stagnant as they dramaitically increased for the rich.

...

"One can almost imagine how Rand and her highly moralized vision of economic life might have appealed to the young Greenspan, coming of age amid the anodyne corporate hierarchies of postwar America: In a way, her vision was a rebellion against the gray-flannel monotony of that order. But today, in a world remade by the cult of business, Greenspan’s vision of an entrepreneurial America is not rebellious so much as an affirmation of the powers that already exist—a class of people relentlessly committed to grasping more of society’s wealth for themselves. Trump’s dislike of free trade aside, his presidency seems the sad reductio ad absurdum of the fantasy of entrepreneurial omniscience. In the final pages of Capitalism in America, the authors reiterate the idea that the United States is trapped in an “iron cage of its own making,” one of “out-of-control entitlements and ill-considered regulations.” Scrap these, and the “madness of great men” like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel will once again be able to transform society. But who—outside of the inner circle, the most devout of the faithful—really believes that this would be a good thing?

While Capitalism in America falls short as a work of history, its larger problems are political. On the one hand, the whole framework of “creative destruction” implies a tremendous condescension toward those who dared to impede the march of progress. Contrary to what Greenspan and Wooldridge suggest, their grievances were not mere sour grapes, the whining and complaints of those left behind; what was at stake was always the question of who would benefit from economic change and the kind of social order it would make possible. By framing the issue as a simple resistance to technology and growth, Greenspan and Wooldridge sidestep the underlying questions about democracy, equality, and freedom that are at the heart of this long-standing struggle."

...

"The former chairman of the Fed, it seems, never left behind his childhood obsession with railroad barons and glorious entrepreneurs after all. Perhaps at the start of the Reagan years, this invocation of the market’s wonders still seemed inspiring, the opening bell in a beautiful race. Now it reads like no more than a call to protect the wealthy people who benefited from decades of state-backed economic redistribution upward."
capitalism  latecapitalism 
9 weeks ago by jonhall
‘Nothing on this page is real’: How lies become truth in online America - The Washington Post
“How could any thinking person believe this nonsense?” he said. He hit the publish button and watched as his lie began to spread.
misinformation  facebook  lies  advertising  latecapitalism 
november 2018 by beep
Despite Cleanup Vows, Smartphones and Electric Cars Still Keep Miners Digging by Hand in Congo - WSJ
The Apple spokeswoman, Sam Fulton, said the company started mapping its supply chain for rechargeable batteries in 2014 and that 100% of its smelters participated in independent third-party audits into cobalt-supply sources. Apple declined to say if its audits included Chemaf. The company’s supplier responsibility standards don’t exclude the use of creuseur-mined commodities.
capitalism  supplychains  infrastructure  samsung  iphone  latecapitalism  mining  apple 
september 2018 by beep
Opinion | The New Socialists - The New York Times
"Socialism means different things to different people. For some, it conjures the Soviet Union and the gulag; for others, Scandinavia and guaranteed income. But neither is the true vision of socialism. What the socialist seeks is freedom.

Under capitalism, we’re forced to enter the market just to live. The libertarian sees the market as synonymous with freedom. But socialists hear “the market” and think of the anxious parent, desperate not to offend the insurance representative on the phone, lest he decree that the policy she paid for doesn’t cover her child’s appendectomy. Under capitalism, we’re forced to submit to the boss. Terrified of getting on his bad side, we bow and scrape, flatter and flirt, or worse — just to get that raise or make sure we don’t get fired.

The socialist argument against capitalism isn’t that it makes us poor. It’s that it makes us unfree. When my well-being depends upon your whim, when the basic needs of life compel submission to the market and subjugation at work, we live not in freedom but in domination. Socialists want to end that domination: to establish freedom from rule by the boss, from the need to smile for the sake of a sale, from the obligation to sell for the sake of survival.

Listen to today’s socialists, and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power. Mr. Sanders invokes the 1 percent. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez speaks to and for the “working class” — not “working people” or “working families,” homey phrases meant to soften and soothe. The 1 percent and the working class are not economic descriptors. They’re political accusations. They split society in two, declaring one side the illegitimate ruler of the other; one side the taker of the other’s freedom, power and promise.

Walk the streets of Bushwick with a canvasser for Julia Salazar, the socialist candidate running to represent North Brooklyn in the New York State Senate. What you’ll hear is that unlike her opponent, Ms. Salazar doesn’t take money from real estate developers. It’s not just that she wants to declare her independence from rich donors. It’s that in her district of cash-strapped renters, landlords are the enemy.

Compare that position to the pitch that Shomik Dutta, a Democratic Party fund-raiser, gave to the Obama campaign in 2008: “The Clinton network is going to take all the establishment” donors. What the campaign needed was someone who understands “the less established donors, the real-estate-developer folks.” If that was “yes, we can,” the socialist answer is “no, we won’t.”

One of the reasons candidates like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Salazar speak the language of class so fluently is that it’s central to their identities. Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton struggled to cobble together a credible self out of the many selves they’d presented over the years, trying to find a personal story to fit the political moment. Today’s young candidates of the left tell a story of personal struggle that meshes with their political vision. Mr. Obama did that — but where his story reinforced a myth of national identity and inclusion, the socialists’ story is one of capitalism and exclusion: how, as millennials struggling with low wages and high rents and looming debt, they and their generation are denied the promise of freedom.

The stories of these candidates are socialist for another reason: They break with the nation-state. The geographic references of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez — or Ms. Tlaib, who is running to represent Michigan’s 13th District in Congress — are local rather than national, invoking the memory and outposts of American and European colonialism rather than the promise of the American dream.

Ms. Tlaib speaks of her Palestinian heritage and the cause of Palestine by way of the African-American struggle for civil rights in Detroit, while Ms. Ocasio-Cortez draws circuits of debt linking Puerto Rico, where her mother was born, and the Bronx, where she lives. Mr. Obama’s story also had its Hawaiian (as well as Indonesian and Kenyan) chapters. But where his ended on a note of incorporation, the cosmopolitan wanderer coming home to America, Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez aren’t interested in that resolution. That refusal is also part of the socialist heritage.

Arguably the biggest boundary today’s socialists are willing to cross is the two-party system. In their campaigns, the message is clear: It’s not enough to criticize Donald Trump or the Republicans; the Democrats are also complicit in the rot of American life. And here the socialism of our moment meets up with the deepest currents of the American past.

Like the great transformative presidents, today’s socialist candidates reach beyond the parties to target a malignant social form: for Abraham Lincoln, it was the slavocracy; for Franklin Roosevelt, it was the economic royalists. The great realigners understood that any transformation of society requires a confrontation not just with the opposition but also with the political economy that underpins both parties. That’s why realigners so often opt for a language that neither party speaks. For Lincoln in the 1850s, confronting the Whigs and the Democrats, that language was free labor. For leftists in the 2010s, confronting the Republicans and the Democrats, it’s socialism.

To critics in the mainstream and further to the left, that language can seem slippery. With their talk of Medicare for All or increasing the minimum wage, these socialist candidates sound like New Deal or Great Society liberals. There’s not much discussion, yet, of classic socialist tenets like worker control or collective ownership of the means of production.

And of course, there’s overlap between what liberals and socialists call for. But even if liberals come to support single-payer health care, free college, more unions and higher wages, the divide between the two will remain. For liberals, these are policies to alleviate economic misery. For socialists, these are measures of emancipation, liberating men and women from the tyranny of the market and autocracy at work. Back in the 1930s, it was said that liberalism was freedom plus groceries. The socialist, by contrast, believes that making things free makes people free."
coreyrobin  socialism  liberation  capitalism  latecapitalism  freedom  2018  canon  dsa  wageslavery  billgates  markzuckerberg  liberalism  neoliberalism  taxes  society  anxiety  socialjustice  democrats  us  politics  economics  markets  berniesanders  sovietunion  nordiccountries  scandinavia  domination  alexandriaocasio-cortez  rashidatlaib  kevinphillips 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | Beware Rich People Who Say They Want to Change the World - The New York Times
"“Change the world” has long been the cry of the oppressed. But in recent years world-changing has been co-opted by the rich and the powerful.

“Change the world. Improve lives. Invent something new,” McKinsey & Company’s recruiting materials say. “Sit back, relax, and change the world,” tweets the World Economic Forum, host of the Davos conference. “Let’s raise the capital that builds the things that change the world,” a Morgan Stanley ad says. Walmart, recruiting a software engineer, seeks an “eagerness to change the world.” Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook says, “The best thing to do now, if you want to change the world, is to start a company.”

At first, you think: Rich people making a difference — so generous! Until you consider that America might not be in the fix it’s in had we not fallen for the kind of change these winners have been selling: fake change.

Fake change isn’t evil; it’s milquetoast. It is change the powerful can tolerate. It’s the shoes or socks or tote bag you bought which promised to change the world. It’s that one awesome charter school — not equally funded public schools for all. It is Lean In Circles to empower women — not universal preschool. It is impact investing — not the closing of the carried-interest loophole.

Of course, world-changing initiatives funded by the winners of market capitalism do heal the sick, enrich the poor and save lives. But even as they give back, American elites generally seek to maintain the system that causes many of the problems they try to fix — and their helpfulness is part of how they pull it off. Thus their do-gooding is an accomplice to greater, if more invisible, harm.

What their “change” leaves undisturbed is our winners-take-all economy, which siphons the gains from progress upward. The average pretax income of America’s top 1 percent has more than tripled since 1980, and that of the top 0.001 percent has risen more than sevenfold, even as the average income of the bottom half of Americans stagnated around $16,000, adjusted for inflation, according to a paper by the economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

American elites are monopolizing progress, and monopolies can be broken. Aggressive policies to protect workers, redistribute income, and make education and health affordable would bring real change. But such measures could also prove expensive for the winners. Which gives them a strong interest in convincing the public that they can help out within the system that so benefits the winners.

After all, if the Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter and his co-author Mark R. Kramer are right that “businesses acting as business, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues we face,” we shouldn’t rein in business, should we?

This is how the winners benefit from their own kindness: It lets them redefine change, and defang it.

Consider David Rubenstein, a co-founder of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. He’s a billionaire who practices what he calls “patriotic philanthropy.” For example, when a 2011 earthquake damaged the Washington Monument and Congress funded only half of the $15 million repair, Mr. Rubenstein paid the rest. “The government doesn’t have the resources it used to have,” he explained, adding that “private citizens now need to pitch in.”

That pitching-in seems generous — until you learn that he is one of the reasons the government is strapped. He and his colleagues have long used their influence to protect the carried-interest loophole, which is enormously beneficial to people in the private equity field. Closing the loophole could give the government $180 billion over 10 years, enough to fix that monument thousands of times over.

Mr. Rubenstein’s image could be of a man fleecing America. Do-gooding gives him a useful makeover as a patriot who interviews former presidents onstage and lectures on the 13th Amendment.

Walmart has long been accused of underpaying workers. Americans for Tax Fairness, an advocacy group, famously accused the company of costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year because it “pays its employees so little that many of them rely on food stamps, health care and other taxpayer-funded programs.” Walmart denies this criticism, citing the jobs it creates and the taxes it pays.

When a column critical of Walmart ran in this newspaper some years ago, David Tovar, a Walmart spokesman, published a red-penned edit of the piece on a company blog. Beside a paragraph about how cutthroat business practices had earned the heirs of the Walton family at least $150 billion in wealth, Mr. Tovar wrote: “Possible addition: Largest corporate foundation in America. Gives more than $1 billion in cash and in kind donations each year.”

Mr. Tovar wasn’t denying the $150 billion in wealth, or that more of it could have been paid as wages. Rather, he seemed to suggest that charity made up for these facts.

A few years ago, some entrepreneurs in Oakland, Calif., founded a company called Even. Its initial plan was to help stabilize the highly volatile incomes of working-class Americans — with an app. For a few dollars a week, it would squirrel away your money when you were flush and give you a boost when you were short. “If you want to feel like you have a safety net for the first time in your life, Even is the answer,” the company proclaimed.

The rub against such an idea isn’t just that it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s also that it dilutes our idea of change. It casts an app and a safety net as the same.

Fake change, and what it allows to fester, paved the road for President Trump. He tapped into a feeling that the American system was rigged and that establishment elites were in it for themselves. Then, darkly, he deflected that anger onto the most vulnerable Americans. And having benefited from the hollowness of fake change, he became it — a rich man who styles himself as the ablest protector of the underdogs, who pretends that his interests have nothing to do with the changes he seeks.

President Trump is what we get when we trust the rich to fix what they are complicit in breaking.

In 2016, Mr. Trump and many of the world-changing elite leaders I am writing about were, for the most part, on opposite sides. Yet those elites and the president have one thing in common: a belief that the world should be changed by them, for the rest of us, not by us. They doubt the American creed of self-government.

A successful society is a progress machine, turning innovations and fortuitous developments into shared advancement. America’s machine is broken. Innovations fly at us, but progress eludes us. A thousand world-changing initiatives won’t change that. Instead, we must reform the basic systems that allow people to live decently — the systems that decide what kind of school children attend, whether politicians listen to donors or citizens, whether or not people can tend to their ailments, whether they are paid enough, and with sufficient reliability, to make plans and raise kids.

There are a significant number of winners who recognize their role in propping up a bad system. They might be convinced that solving problems for all, at the root, will mean higher taxes, smaller profits and fewer homes. Changing the world asks more than giving back. It also takes giving something up."
2018  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  anandgiridharadas  philanthropy  charity  hierarchy  inequality  change  democracy  donaldtrump  oligarchy  elitism  us  michaelporter  markkramer  thomasbikkety  emmanuelsaenz  gabrielzucman  markzuckerberg  morganstanley  economics  capitalism  latecapitalism  davidrubenstein  walmart  facebook  power  control 
august 2018 by robertogreco

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