robertogreco + greed   69

Opinion | The Real Legacy of the 1970s - The New York Times
"How different this was from previous economic crises! The Great Depression, the 20th century’s first economic emergency, made most Americans feel a degree of neighborly solidarity. The government wasn’t measuring median household income in the 1930s, but a 2006 Department of Labor study pegged the average household income of 1934-36 at $1,524. Adjust for inflation to 2018, that’s about $28,000, while the official poverty level for a family of four was $25,100. In other words, the average family of 1936 was near poor. Everyone was in it together, and if Bill couldn’t find work, his neighbor would give him a head of cabbage, a slab of pork belly.

But the Great Inflation, as the author Joe Nocera has noted, made most people feel they had to look out for themselves. Americans had spent decades just getting more and more ahead. Now, suddenly, they were falling behind.

Throw in wage stagnation, which began in the early ’70s, and deindustrialization of the great cities of the North. Pennsylvania’s Homestead Works, which had employed 20,000 men during the war, started shrinking, closing forever in 1986. Today that tract of land along the Monongahela River where the works once stood is home to the usual chain restaurants and big-box stores, those ubiquitous playpens of the low-wage economy.

Inflation also produced the manic search for “yield” — it was no longer enough to save money; your money had to make money, turning every wage earner into a player in market rapaciousness. The money market account was born in the 1970s. Personal investing took off (remember “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”?).

Even as Americans scrambled for return, they also sought to spend. Credit cards, which had barely existed in 1970, began to proliferate. The Supreme Court’s 1978 decision in Marquette National Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corporation opened the floodgates for banks to issue credit cards with high interest rates. Total credit card balances began to explode.

Then along came Ronald Reagan. The great secret to his success was not his uncomplicated optimism or his instinct for seizing a moment. It was that he freed people of the responsibility of introspection, released them from the guilt in which liberalism seemed to want to make them wallow. And so came the 1980s, when the culture started to celebrate wealth and acquisition as never before. A television series called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” debuted in 1984.

So that was the first change flowing from the Great Inflation: Americans became a more acquisitive — bluntly, a more selfish — people. The second change was far more profound.

For decades after World War II, the economic assumptions that undergirded policymaking were basically those of John Maynard Keynes. His “demand side” theories — increase demand via public investment, even if it meant running a short-term deficit — guided the New Deal, the financing of the war and pretty much all policy thinking thereafter. And not just among Democrats: Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were Keynesians.

There had been a group of economists, mostly at the University of Chicago and led by Milton Friedman, who dissented from Keynes. They argued against government intervention and for lower taxes and less regulation. As Keynesian principles promoted demand side, their theories promoted the opposite: supply side.

They’d never won much of an audience, as long as things were working. But now things weren’t, in a big way. Inflation was Keynesianism’s Achilles’ heel, and the supply-siders aimed their arrow right at it. Reagan cut taxes significantly. Inflation ended (which was really the work of Paul Volcker, the chairman of the Federal Reserve). The economy boomed. Economic debate changed; even the way economics was taught changed.

And this, more or less, is where we’ve been ever since. Yes, we’ve had two Democratic presidents in that time, both of whom defied supply-side principles at key junctures. But walk down a street and ask 20 people a few questions about economic policy — I bet most will say that taxes must be kept low, even on rich people, and that we should let the market, not the government, decide on investments. Point to the hospital up the street and tell them that it wouldn’t even be there without the millions in federal dollars of various kinds it takes in every year, and they’ll mumble and shrug."
1970s  economics  greed  inflation  selfishness  us  policy  ronaldreagan  joenocera  greatdepression  johnmaynarkeynes  newdeal  taxes  solidarity  miltonfriedman  liberalism  neoliberalism  regulation  supplysideeconomics  paulvolcker  michaeltomasky 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library on Vimeo
[parts of the video (from the introduction): "1. Libraries existed to copy data. Libraries as warehouses was a recent idea and not a very good one 2. The online world used to be considered rhizomatic but recent events have proven that it is actually quite arboretic and precarious. 3. A method of sharing files using hard drives is slow, but it is extremely resilient. This reversalism is a radical tactic agains draconian proprietarianism. 4. There are forces and trends that are working against portable libraries."]

[Book is here:
http://networkcultures.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NN07_complete.pdf
http://networkcultures.org/blog/publication/no-07-radical-tactics-of-the-offline-library-henry-warwick/ ]

"The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library is based on the book "Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries"
By Henry Warwick

The Personal Portable Library in its most simple form is a hard drive or USB stick containing a large collection of e-books, curated and archived by an individual user. The flourishing of the offline digital library is a response to the fact that truly private sharing of knowledge in the online realm is increasingly made impossible. While P2P sharing sites and online libraries with downloadable e-books are precarious, people are naturally led to an atavistic and reversalist workaround. The radical tactics of the offline: abandoning the online for more secure offline transfer. Taking inspiration from ancient libraries as copying centers and Sneakernet, Henry Warwick describes the future of the library as digital and offline. Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries traces the history of the library and the importance of the Personal Portable Library in sharing knowledge and resisting proprietarian forces.

The library in Alexandria contained about 500,000 scrolls; the Library of Congress, the largest library in the history of civilization, contains about 35 million books. A digital version of it would fit on a 24 TB drive, which can be purchased for about $2000. Obviously, most people don’t need 35 million books. A small local library of 10,000 books could fit on a 64 GB thumb drive the size of a pack of chewing gum and costing perhaps $40. An astounding fact with immense implications. It is trivially simple to start collecting e-books, marshalling them into libraries on hard drives, and then to share the results. And it is much less trivially important. Sharing is caring. Societies where people share, especially ideas, are societies that will naturally flourish."
libraries  henrywarwick  archives  collection  digital  digitalmedia  ebooks  drm  documentary  librarians  alexandriaproject  copying  rhizomes  internet  online  sharing  files  p2p  proprietarianism  sneakernet  history  harddrives  learning  unschooling  property  deschooling  resistance  mesopotamia  egypt  alexandria  copies  decay  resilience  cv  projectideas  libraryofalexandria  books  scrolls  tablets  radicalism  literacy  printing  moveabletype  china  europe  publishing  2014  copyright  capitalism  canon  librarydevelopment  walterbenjamin  portability  andrewtanenbaum  portable  portablelibraries  félixguattari  cloudcomputing  politics  deleuze  deleuze&guattari  web  offline  riaa  greed  openstudioproject  lcproject 
november 2018 by robertogreco
To survive our high-speed society, cultivate 'temporal bandwidth' | Alan Jacobs | Opinion | The Guardian
"It is hard to imagine a time more completely presentist than our own, more tethered to the immediate; and is hard to imagine a person more exemplary of our presentism than the current president of the United States.

Donald Trump is a creature of the instant, responsive only and wholly to immediate stimulus – which is why Twitter is his exclusive medium of written communication, and why when he speaks he cannot stick to a script. In this respect he differs little from anyone who spends a lot of time on social media; the social media ecosystem is designed to generate constant, instantaneous responses to the provocations of Now.

We cannot, from within that ecosystem, restore old behavioral norms or develop new and better ones. No, to find a healthier alternative, we must cultivate what the great American novelist Thomas Pynchon calls “temporal bandwidth” – an awareness of our experience as extending into the past and the future.

In Pynchon’s 1973 novel Gravity’s Rainbow, an engineer named Kurt Mondaugen explains that temporal bandwidth is “the width of your present, your now … The more you dwell in the past and future, the thicker your bandwidth, the more solid your persona. But the narrower your sense of Now, the more tenuous you are.”

If we want to extend our bandwidth, we begin with the past, because exploring the past requires only willingness. Recently, I was teaching the Epistles of the Roman poet Horace to a group of undergraduates. Though Horace comes from a world alien in so many ways to ours – and though he would surely fail any possible test of political correctness of the left or right – we found ourselves resonating powerfully with his quest for “a tranquil mind”. Indeed, Horace recommends just what I am arguing for now: “Interrogate the writings of the wise,” he counsels his friend Lollius Maximus:

“Asking them to tell you how you can

Get through your life in a peaceable tranquil way.

Will it be greed, that always feels poverty-stricken,

That harasses and torments you all your days?

Will it be hope and fear about trivial things,

In anxious alternation in your mind?

Where is it virtue comes from, is it from books?

Or is it a gift from Nature that can’t be learned?

What is the way to become a friend to yourself?

What brings tranquility? What makes you care less?”"



"Another benefit of reflecting on the past is awareness of the ways that actions in one moment reverberate into the future. You see that some decisions that seemed trivial when they were made proved immensely important, while others which seemed world-transforming quickly sank into insignificance. The “tenuous” self, sensitive only to the needs of This Instant, always believes – often incorrectly – that the present is infinitely consequential. That frame of mind is dangerously susceptible to alarmist notions, like the idea that “2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die” – a claim that many Trump supporters accepted as gospel, without even inquiring what “die” might mean in that context.

Only a severe constriction of temporal bandwidth could make such a claim seem even possible. I did not vote for Hillary Clinton and cannot envision circumstances in which I would have done so, but the idea that her election would mean death (even metaphorical death) for conservatives and Christians is absurd. It would, rather, have meant the continuation of the centrist policies of her predecessor. The idea that the United States in 2016 was faced with a choice between Trump and Death, an idea driven by ignorance of even the recent past, also had the effect of disabling care for the future.

What will Trump’s policies do to international trade? What will they do to immigrant families, including those in this country legally? What will they do to the increasingly toxic state of race relations? What will they do to the health of the planet? The Trump-or-Death binary dismissed all those questions as irrelevant, and we are living with the consequences.

But these questions are essential, if we are to extend our temporal bandwidth into the future as well as the past. (And the refusal of them shows how indifference to the past makes it impossible to consider the future.) I am a Christian, and I have been dismayed at how easily many of my fellow Christians have cast aside their long-held convictions, merely to exchange their rich birthright for a cold serving of Trumpian triumphalism. As David French recently wrote in National Review, in an open letter to his fellow evangelicals: “Soon enough, the ‘need’ to defend Trump will pass. He’ll be gone from the American scene. Then, you’ll stand in the wreckage of your own reputation and ask yourself, ‘Was it worth it?’ The answer will be as clear then as it should be clear now. It’s not, and it never was.”

The bitter irony here is that so many American Christians, who often claim to have “an eternal perspective”, turned out, in 2016, to have no perspective beyond that of the immediate moment. They have left their own future, and that of the country they claim to love, uncared for and unreflected on. Someday, along will come some politician they despise whose personal morality will be even more contemptible than Trump’s, and they will be reduced to silence – or, if they insist on speaking out anyway, will merely testify to their own rank hypocrisy. “Was it worth it?”

Forty years ago, the German philosopher Hans Jonas, in a book that would prove a vital inspiration for the Green movement in his country, asked a potent question: “What force shall represent the future in the present?” In other words, what laws and norms will embody our care for those who come after us, including those already here and those yet to be born? But this is a question that we cannot ask if our thoughts are imprisoned by the stimulation of what rolls across our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Pynchon’s Mondaugen comments on the personal tenuousness of those who live only in the moment: “It may get to where you’re having trouble remembering what you were doing five minutes ago.” And of course, no person so afflicted can recall, much less be accountable for, what he said yesterday, which is why those who work for Donald Trump have had to learn that yesterday’s truth is today’s lie, and today’s lie will be tomorrow’s truth.

But, again, Trump didn’t create this situation: he found in social media and soundbite TV news an environment ready-made for the instincts he already possessed, an environment in which tenuousness is less a condition to lament than the primary instrument of ultimate celebrity and ultimate power. Trump may be 71 years old, but he is the future of our collective temperament – unless we develop some temporal bandwidth. It’s best that we start now."
alanjacobs  time  attention  politics  religion  2018  donaldtrump  thomaspynchon  temporalbandwidth  horace  futue  past  vulnerability  precarity  immediacy  socialmedia  twitter  inequality  greed  longnow  hansjonas  entanglement  facebook 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Ringing the Fourfold: A Philosophical Framework for Thinking about Wellness Tourism: Tourism Recreation Research: Vol 31, No 1
"Perhaps no other area of tourism more needs a philosophy than wellness tourism with its transcendental aims and spiritual dimension. This paper explores Heidegger's rich philosophical concept of the ringing of the fourfold—an intimate relationship between earth, sky, mortals and divinities that Heidegger says reveals wholeness and authenticity and brings us into intimate contact with the world in the amazing event that is human existence. This paper argues that the ringing of the fourfold may be a philosophical basis for wellness and suggests tourism may actually facilitate the ringing of the fourfold. It uses the fourfold to explore how wellness tourism might balance and integrate lives unsettled and fractured by runaway time, frantic busyness, disconnection from the natural world and other people, loss of spirituality, and longing for a sense of place in an alien, impersonal and out-of-control world. First, it explores the possible origin of our lack of wellness by explicating Heidegger's ‘epoch of technicity’, a time when the world is seen as something to be managed and exploited for human gain by people who are reduced to little more than the engineer-servants of this management and exploitation. This part of the paper uses tourism literature to confirm the accuracy of Heidegger's predictions of rampant consumerism, ecological devastation, corporate greed, personal hubris, artificial community created by technology, and stress created by too little time, isolation, loss of identity and exhaustion. Next, the paper proffers a philosophical description of existential wellness by exploring Heidegger's concept of the fourfold as an alternative way to understand and experience the world. By returning to the tourism literature again, we show how touring may facilitate appreciation of the fourfold (and a sense of wellness) by bringing tourists into an authentic encounter with not only earth and sky (grounding and freeing nature) but also divinities and mortals who together create a world unlike the world of technicity. Finally, the paper looks at the implications of wellness tourism as a site for the ringing of the fourfold."
via:bopuc  wellness  consumerism  capitalism  2005  carolsteiner  tourism  heidegger  greed  corporatism  environment  sustainability  technology  stress  time  isolation  identity  exhaustion  work  labor  philosophy 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Mindset Marketing, Behaviorism, and Deficit Ideology | Ryan Boren
"The marketing of mindsets is everywhere. Grit, growth mindset, project-based mindset, entrepreneurial mindset, innovator’s mindset, and a raft of canned social-emotional skills programs are vying for public money. These notions jump straight from psychology departments to aphoristic word images shared on social media and marketing festooned on school walls.

Growth mindset and Positive Behavior Support marketing have joined Leader in Me marketing at our elementary school. Instead of being peppered with synergy and Franklin Covey’s trademarks and proprietary jargon, we’re now peppered with LiM and growth mindset and PBS. Like every marketed mindset going back to the self-esteem movement, these campaigns are veneers on the deficit model that ignore long-standing structural problems like poverty, racism, sexism, ableism, and childism. The practice and implementation of these mindsets are always suborned by deficit ideology, bootstrap ideology, meritocracy myths, and greed.

“Money Doesn’t Have to Be an Obstacle,” “Race Doesn’t Matter,” “Just Work Harder,” “Everyone Can Go to College,” and “If You Believe, Your Dreams Will Come True.” These notions have helped fueled inequity in the U.S. public education system. Mindset marketing without structural ideology, restorative practices, and inclusion is more harmful than helpful. This marketing shifts responsibility for change from our systems to children. We define kids’ identities through the deficit and medical models, gloss over the structural problems they face, and then tell them to get some grit and growth mindset. This is a gaslighting. It is abusive.

Canned social-emotional skills programs, behaviorism, and the marketing of mindsets have serious side effects. They reinforce the cult of compliance and encourage submission to authoritarian rule. They line the pockets of charlatans and profiteers. They encourage surveillance and avaricious data collection. Deficit model capitalism’s data-based obsession proliferates hucksterism and turn kids into someone’s business model. The behaviorism of PBS is of the mindset of abusers and manipulators. It is ideological and intellectual kin with ABA, which autistic people have roundly rejected as abusive, coercive, and manipulative torture. We call it autistic conversion therapy. The misbehavior of behaviorism is an ongoing harm.

Instead, acknowledge pipeline problems and the meritocracy myth, stop bikeshedding the structural problems of the deficit model, and stop blaming kids and families. Develop a school culture based not on deficit ideologies and cargo cult shrink wrap, but on diversity & inclusion, neurodiversity, the social model of disability, structural ideology, and indie ed-tech. Get rid of extrinsics, and adopt instead the intrinsic motivation of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Provide fresh air, sunlight, and plenty of time for major muscle movement instead of mindset bandages for the pathologies caused by the lack of these three critical things.

“Self-esteem that’s based on external sources has mental health consequences.” Stop propagating the latest deficit/bootstrap/behaviorism fads. Develop the critical capacity to see beyond the marketing. Look beyond deficit model compliance to social model inclusion. The social model and structural ideology are the way forward. Growth mindset and behaviorism, as usually implemented, are just more bootstrap metaphors that excuse systems from changing and learning.

Deficit ideology, surveillance capitalism, mindset marketing, and behaviorism are an unholy alliance. Fix injustice, not kids. “It essentially boils down to whether one chooses to do damage to the system or to the student.”"
ryanboren2017  mindset  marketing  behavior  behaviorism  deficitideology  disabilities  disability  race  education  learning  grit  growthmindset  projectbasedlearning  entrepreneurship  innovation  psychology  racism  poverty  sexism  bootstrapping  meritocracy  greed  childism  ableism  socialemotional  surveillance  surveillancecapitalism  capitalism  health  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  diversity  inclusion  neurodiversity  edtech  autonomy  mastery  purpose  self-esteem  compliance  socialemotionallearning 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Kolakowski on conservatism
"A Conservative Believes:

1. That in human life there never have been and never will be improvements that are not paid for with deteriorations and evils; thus, in considering each project of reform and amelioration, its price has to be assessed. Put another way, innumerable evils are compatible (i.e. we can suffer them comprehensively and simultaneously); but many goods limit or cancel each other, and therefore we will never enjoy them fully at the same time. A society in which there is no equality and no liberty of any kind is perfectly possible, yet a social order combining total equality and freedom is not. The same applies to the compatibility of planning and the principle of autonomy, to security and technical progress. Put yet another way, there is no happy ending in human history.

2. That we do not know the extent to which various traditional forms of social life--families, rituals, nations, religious communities--are indispensable if life in a society is to be tolerable or even possible. There are no grounds for believing that when we destroy these forms, or brand them as irrational, we increase the chance of happiness, peace, security, or freedom. We have no certain knowledge of what might occur if, for example, the monogamous family was abrogated, or if the time-honored custom of burying the dead were to give way to the rational recycling of corpses for industrial purposes. But we would do well to expect the worst.

3. That the idee fixe of the Enlightenment--that envy, vanity, greed, and aggression are all caused by the deficiencies of social institutions and that they will be swept away once these institutions are reformed-- is not only utterly incredible and contrary to all experience, but is highly dangerous. How on earth did all these institutions arise if they were so contrary to the true nature of man? To hope that we can institutionalize brotherhood, love, and altruism is already to have a reliable blueprint for despotism.

A Liberal Believes:

1. That the ancient idea that the purpose of the State is security still remains valid. It remains valid even if the notion of "security" is expanded to include not only the protection of persons and property by means of the law, but also various provisions of insurance: that people should not starve if they are jobless; that the poor should not be condemned to die through lack of medical help; that children should have free access to education--all these are also part of security. Yet security should never be confused with liberty. The State does not guarantee freedom by action and by regulating various areas of life, but by doing nothing. In fact security can be expanded only at the expense of liberty. In any event, to make people happy is not the function of the State.

2. That human communities are threatened not only by stagnation but also by degradation when they are so organized that there is no longer room for individual initiative and inventiveness. The collective suicide of mankind is conceivable, but a permanent human ant-heap is not, for the simple reason that we are not ants.

3. That it is highly improbable that a society in which all forms of competitiveness have been done away with would continue to have the necessary stimuli for creativity and progress. More equaliity is not an end in itself, but only a means. In other words, there is no point to the struggle for more equality if it results only in the leveling down off those who are better off, and not in the raising up of the underprivileged. Perfect equality is a self-defeating ideal.

A Socialist Believes:

1. That societies in which the pursuit of profit is the sole regulator of the productive system are threatened with as grievous--perhaps more grievous--catastrophes as are societies in which the profit motive has been entirely eliminated from the production-regulating forces. There are good reasons why freedom of economic activity should be limited for the sake of security, and why money should not automatically produce more money. But the limitation of freedom should be called precisely that, and should not be called a higher form of freedom.

2. That it is absurd and hypocritical to conclude that, simply because a perfect, conflictless society is impossible, every existing form of inequality is inevitable and all ways of profit-making justified. The kind of conservative anthropological pessimism which led to the astonishing belief that a progressive income tax was an inhuman abomination is just as suspect as the kind of historical optimism on which the Gulag Archipelago was based.

3. That the tendency to subject the economy to important social controls should be encouraged, even though the price to be paid is an increase in bureaucracy. Such controls, however, must be exercised within representative democracy. Thus it is essential to plan institutions that counteract the menace to freedom which is produced by the growth of these very controls.

So far as I can see, this set of regulative ideas is not self-contradictory. And therefore it is possible to be a conservative-liberal-socialist. This is equivalent to saying that those three particular designations are no longer mutually exclusive options."

[via: http://blog.ayjay.org/against-consequentialism/ ]
politics  via:ayjay  conservatism  liberalism  security  socialism  society  philosophy  enlightenment  envy  vanity  greed  aggression  brotherhood  love  altruism  despotism  happiness  peace  freedom  humans  economics  bureaucracy  democracy  pessimism  conflict  leszekkolakowski 
november 2017 by robertogreco
How Civilization Started | The New Yorker
"In “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States,” James C. Scott, a professor of political science at Yale, presents a plausible contender for the most important piece of technology in the history of man. It is a technology so old that it predates Homo sapiens and instead should be credited to our ancestor Homo erectus. That technology is fire. We have used it in two crucial, defining ways. The first and the most obvious of these is cooking. As Richard Wrangham has argued in his book “Catching Fire,” our ability to cook allows us to extract more energy from the food we eat, and also to eat a far wider range of foods. Our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, has a colon three times as large as ours, because its diet of raw food is so much harder to digest. The extra caloric value we get from cooked food allowed us to develop our big brains, which absorb roughly a fifth of the energy we consume, as opposed to less than a tenth for most mammals’ brains. That difference is what has made us the dominant species on the planet.

The other reason fire was central to our history is less obvious to contemporary eyes: we used it to adapt the landscape around us to our purposes. Hunter-gatherers would set fires as they moved, to clear terrain and make it ready for fast-growing, prey-attracting new plants. They would also drive animals with fire. They used this technology so much that, Scott thinks, we should date the human-dominated phase of earth, the so-called Anthropocene, from the time our forebears mastered this new tool.

We don’t give the technology of fire enough credit, Scott suggests, because we don’t give our ancestors much credit for their ingenuity over the long period—ninety-five per cent of human history—during which most of our species were hunter-gatherers. “Why human fire as landscape architecture doesn’t register as it ought to in our historical accounts is perhaps that its effects were spread over hundreds of millennia and were accomplished by ‘precivilized’ peoples also known as ‘savages,’ ” Scott writes. To demonstrate the significance of fire, he points to what we’ve found in certain caves in southern Africa. The earliest, oldest strata of the caves contain whole skeletons of carnivores and many chewed-up bone fragments of the things they were eating, including us. Then comes the layer from when we discovered fire, and ownership of the caves switches: the human skeletons are whole, and the carnivores are bone fragments. Fire is the difference between eating lunch and being lunch."



"It was the ability to tax and to extract a surplus from the produce of agriculture that, in Scott’s account, led to the birth of the state, and also to the creation of complex societies with hierarchies, division of labor, specialist jobs (soldier, priest, servant, administrator), and an élite presiding over them. Because the new states required huge amounts of manual work to irrigate the cereal crops, they also required forms of forced labor, including slavery; because the easiest way to find slaves was to capture them, the states had a new propensity for waging war. Some of the earliest images in human history, from the first Mesopotamian states, are of slaves being marched along in neck shackles. Add this to the frequent epidemics and the general ill health of early settled communities and it is not hard to see why the latest consensus is that the Neolithic Revolution was a disaster for most of the people who lived through it.

War, slavery, rule by élites—all were made easier by another new technology of control: writing. “It is virtually impossible to conceive of even the earliest states without a systematic technology of numerical record keeping,” Scott maintains. All the good things we associate with writing—its use for culture and entertainment and communication and collective memory—were some distance in the future. For half a thousand years after its invention, in Mesopotamia, writing was used exclusively for bookkeeping: “the massive effort through a system of notation to make a society, its manpower, and its production legible to its rulers and temple officials, and to extract grain and labor from it.” Early tablets consist of “lists, lists and lists,” Scott says, and the subjects of that record-keeping are, in order of frequency, “barley (as rations and taxes), war captives, male and female slaves.” Walter Benjamin, the great German Jewish cultural critic, who committed suicide while trying to escape Nazi-controlled Europe, said that “there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” He meant that every complicated and beautiful thing humanity ever made has, if you look at it long enough, a shadow, a history of oppression. As a matter of plain historical fact, that seems right. It was a long and traumatic journey from the invention of writing to your book club’s discussion of Jodi Picoult’s latest."



"The news here is that the lives of most of our progenitors were better than we think. We’re flattering ourselves by believing that their existence was so grim and that our modern, civilized one is, by comparison, so great. Still, we are where we are, and we live the way we live, and it’s possible to wonder whether any of this illuminating knowledge about our hunter-gatherer ancestors can be useful to us. Suzman wonders the same thing. He discusses John Maynard Keynes’s famous 1930 essay “The Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.” Keynes speculated that if the world continued to get richer we would naturally end up enjoying a high standard of living while doing much less work. He thought that “the economic problem” of having enough to live on would be solved, and “the struggle for subsistence” would be over:
When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession—as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life—will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

The world has indeed got richer, but any such shift in morals and values is hard to detect. Money and the value system around its acquisition are fully intact. Greed is still good.

The study of hunter-gatherers, who live for the day and do not accumulate surpluses, shows that humanity can live more or less as Keynes suggests. It’s just that we’re choosing not to. A key to that lost or forsworn ability, Suzman suggests, lies in the ferocious egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers. For example, the most valuable thing a hunter can do is come back with meat. Unlike gathered plants, whose proceeds are “not subject to any strict conventions on sharing,” hunted meat is very carefully distributed according to protocol, and the people who eat the meat that is given to them go to great trouble to be rude about it. This ritual is called “insulting the meat,” and it is designed to make sure the hunter doesn’t get above himself and start thinking that he’s better than anyone else. “When a young man kills much meat,” a Bushman told the anthropologist Richard B. Lee, “he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. . . . We can’t accept this.” The insults are designed to “cool his heart and make him gentle.” For these hunter-gatherers, Suzman writes, “the sum of individual self-interest and the jealousy that policed it was a fiercely egalitarian society where profitable exchange, hierarchy, and significant material inequality were not tolerated.”

This egalitarian impulse, Suzman suggests, is central to the hunter-gatherer’s ability to live a life that is, on its own terms, affluent, but without abundance, without excess, and without competitive acquisition. The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy. As he says, “If this kind of egalitarianism is a precondition for us to embrace a post-labor world, then I suspect it may prove a very hard nut to crack.” There’s a lot that we could learn from the oldest extant branch of humanity, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to put the knowledge into effect. A socially positive use of envy—now, that would be a technology almost as useful as fire."
jamescscott  fire  technology  hunter-gatherers  2017  anthropology  johnlanchester  anthropocene  sedentism  agriculture  nomads  nomadism  archaeology  writing  legibility  illegibility  state  civilization  affluence  abundance  jamessuzman  bushmen  kalahari  namibia  khoisan  mesopotamia  egalitarianism  humans  self-interest  jealousy  greed  inequality  accumulation  motivation  society  happiness  money 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump | Literary Hub
"This year Hannah Arendt is alarmingly relevant, and her books are selling well, particularly On the Origins of Totalitarianism. She’s been the subject an extraordinary essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books and a conversation between scholar Lyndsey Stonebridge and Krista Tippet on the radio show “On Being.” Stonebridge notes that Arendt advocated for the importance of an inner dialogue with oneself, for a critical splitting in which you interrogate yourself—for a real conversation between the fisherman and his wife you could say: “People who can do that can actually then move on to having conversations with other people and then judging with other people. And what she called ‘the banality of evil’ was the inability to hear another voice, the inability to have a dialogue either with oneself or the imagination to have a dialogue with the world, the moral world.”

Some use their power to silence that and live in the void of their own increasingly deteriorating, off-course sense of self and meaning. It’s like going mad on a desert island, only with sycophants and room service. It’s like having a compliant compass that agrees north is whatever you want it to be. The tyrant of a family, the tyrant of a little business or a huge enterprise, the tyrant of a nation. Power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts the awareness of those who possess it. Or reduces it: narcissists, sociopaths, and egomaniacs are people for whom others don’t exist.

We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation."
politics  donaldtrump  rebeccasolnit  2017  equality  inequality  delusion  power  corruption  kistatippet  lyndseystonebridge  hannaharendt  occupywallstreet  ows  fscottfitzgerald  tyrants  loneliness  resistance  russia  parables  privilege  vldimirputin  pushkin  greed  overreach  democracy  society  collectivism  evil  morality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Book Pins Corporate Greed on a Lust Bred at Harvard - The New York Times
"It is hard to overstate the school’s influence on corporate America.

That’s why a new, exhaustive history of the school is causing a stir before it is even out. The book, “The Golden Passport,” by the veteran business journalist Duff McDonald, is a richly reported indictment of the school as a leading reason that corporate America is disdained by much of the country.

“The Harvard Business School became (and remains) so intoxicated with its own importance that it blithely assumed away one of the most important questions it could ask, which was whether the capitalist system it was uniquely positioned to help improve was designed properly for the long term,” Mr. McDonald writes in the book, to be released in two weeks.

His answer? “With economic inequality at a hundred-year high and meaningful progress on climate change and other social and environmental issues embarrassingly paltry, the answer to that question is obvious. It is not.”

Citing a report from the Aspen Institute, Mr. McDonald explains that “when students enter business school, they believe that the purpose of a corporation is to produce goods and services for the benefit of society.”

“When they graduate,” he continues, “they believe that it is to maximize shareholder value.”

Mr. McDonald brilliantly tells the story of the school’s creation in 1908, when its mission was to educate the next generation of business managers. Edwin Gay, its first dean, defined business as the “activity of making things to sell at a profit — decently.”

But, the author says, somewhere during the mid-1980s, something went very wrong: “The money got too good.”

The money he refers to is the tsunami of job offers that Harvard students received from Wall Street, and the funding the school raked in from its well-heeled alumni.

In fairness, Harvard Business School makes an easy punching bag, given its stature as the top feeder for big business. This is hardly the first time the institution has been criticized.

And it is too much to paint all 76,000-plus alumni as being ethically challenged, as Mr. McDonald appears to imply. Indeed, many of the school’s vaunted alumni are among the most talented executives in the country, and many are trying to think about stakeholders holistically.

Yet in example after example, Mr. McDonald sets out his thesis that money and influence have distorted both the school’s curriculum and the worldview espoused by its professors, who themselves are on the payroll of corporate America as part-time advisers and consultants."
harvard  capitalism  2017  power  duffmcdonald  andrewrosssorkin  michaeljensen  greed 
april 2017 by robertogreco
welcome to the future – Fredrik deBoer
"For several decades, neoliberal politicians worked tirelessly to remove any checks to our systems of financial speculation, causing the inflation of massive bubbles, driven by elite greed. They simultaneously shredded the social safety nets that would allow the lower classes to better endure the consequences of the inevitable collapse of those bubbles. The bubbles did collapse. The lower classes were devastated with unemployment, instability, and economic hopelessness. Those same elites responded by insisting that the only path forward was deeper austerity, even more vicious cuts to our already-tattered redistributive systems. Anger, naturally, grew. Nativist, nationalist demagogues responded by seizing on this anger, telling ignored and marginalized people that their problems were the fault of even-more-marginalized minorities, migrants, and refugees. Their political adversaries, rather than appealing to those angry people by offering them an economic platform that works for them and by arguing that their best interests are also the best interests of those minorities, migrants, and refugees, have doubled down on austerity politics and have dismissed those voters as deluded racists who are not fit to be appealed to. In general, liberals have entrenched deeper and deeper into geographical and social bubbles that permit them to ignore vast swaths of increasingly-embittered voters. They thus ensure that those many among the angry people who are not in fact incorrigible racists but who could be convinced to join forces for a political movement of shared prosperity never do so. The worst people appeal to the desperate, while their political opponents dismiss that desperation, and the outcome is predictable.

This is the future of the West: a contest between elitist greed and populist proto-fascism. On one side, the limitless self-interest of a financial and social elite that has created not only an economic system that siphons more and more money into their own pockets but also a bizarre, jury-rigged ideology of cultural liberalism divorced from any foundations in economic egalitarianism which argues that anyone who opposes the neoliberal order is not worthy even of trying to convince. On the other side, an increasingly-unhinged movement of racist grievance-mongering and fear-stoking populist demagoguery, which utilizes the age-old tactic of pitting different groups of poor people against each other to powerful effect, helped immensely by the corruption and callousness of the pro-austerity class. These sides share nothing except for an absolute commitment to preventing the kind of robustly redistributive platform of economic and social justice that could unite the needs of all suffering people into a formidable political bloc that is devoted to opposing austerity, inequality, racism, sexism, nativism, nationalism, and the rest of humanity’s political ills.

The choice humanity had was between socialism and barbarism. Decades of neoliberalism have ensured that we’ve chosen the latter. The choice ahead is less substantive and more aesthetic: which would you prefer crushing down on your neck, the combat boot of a fascist or the business shoe of a plutocrat?"
freddiedeboer  politics  neoliberalism  history  2016  policy  us  humanity  socialism  barbarism  bubbles  economics  greed  elitism  socialsafetynet  inequality  class  classism  marginalization  austertity  brexit  fascism  corruption  finance  capitalism  self-interest  eglitarianism  socialjustice  racism  sexism  nativism  nationalism  plutocracy  desperation 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Cornel West on state of race in the U.S.: "We're in bad shape" - CBS News
[via: "Showed kids 60 Minutes with Cornel West last night. ("I'm unimpressed by smartness.") http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-cornel-west-on-race-in-the-u-s/ "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908596540379136

"+ See also West on Mandela: "a militant tenderness, subversive sweetness and radical gentleness." http://www.cornelwest.com/nelson_mandela.html "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908847695368192 ]

"Cornel West is a different kind of civil rights leader. His below-the-radar presence at racial flash points across America recently, stands in stark contrast to many of the more traditional civil rights leaders and their bright light press conferences.

Some of the new generation of African-American activists seem to be gravitating towards West, a charismatic academic scholar who doesn't lead an organization or have an entourage.

Cornel West has a message about how poor and disadvantaged Americans are being treated today and he can be searingly provocative on matters of race, never more so than when he criticizes President Obama.

Cornel West: When I call the president a black puppet of Wall Street, I was really talking about the degree to which Wall Street had a disproportionate amount of influence on his policies as opposed to poor people and working people.

James Brown: Why use such harsh language with-- showing no respect for the office of the president?

Cornel West: I tend to be one who just speaks from my soul, and so what comes out sometimes is rather harsh. In that sense I'm very much a part of the tradition of a Frederick Douglass or a Malcolm X who used hyperbolic language at times to bring attention to the state of emergency. So all of that rage and righteous indignation can lead one not to speak politely sometimes.

Eight years ago, Cornel West was a fervent supporter of candidate Barack Obama. Today, he blames the president for not doing more on issues like income inequality and racial justice. A product of the turbulent sixties, West has joined protests led by civil rights groups like Black Lives Matter. Here in Ferguson, Missouri, he was one of many arrested for civil disobedience.

James Brown: The young people who are leading the Black Lives Matter charge, you're all behind them?

Cornel West: Oh, very much so. I think that's a marvelous new militancy that has to do with courage, vision. The fundamental challenge always is will their rage be channeled through hatred and revenge or will it be channeled through love and justice. You got to push 'em toward love and justice.

James Brown: Why do you think you have that kind of currency with young people?

Cornel West: They know that I take their precious lives seriously. When I go to jail in Ferguson and say quite explicitly, "I'm old school, and I want the new school to know that some of us old folk love y'all to death" and they hear that and say, "Well, dang, you know, we might not always-- agree with this brother, but this Negro looks like a fighter for justice."

[March: This is what democracy looks like. Justice!]

Nyle Fort: I think a lot of young people really gravitate towards him not only because he's a giant of an intellectual, he is somebody that you want to be around.

Nyle Fort is a 26-year-old activist and religion PhD student at Princeton. He first saw West speak at a rally four years ago.

James Brown: The manner in which Dr. West has been criticizing the president. Your reaction?

Nyle Fort: I think it's important for us to listen to the substance of his argument. And I think that his critiques not just of President Obama, but of our current state of democracy in this country, the current state of the world, is something that we need to pay attention to.

A favorite on the lecture circuit, we were with him at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, when the crowd of 1,500 broke into applause before he said a word.

Then, for more than an hour, an extemporaneous journey filled with biblical passages and quotes from philosophers and poets about decency and virtue. All in support of West's warning about the dangers of inequality.

Cornel West: I have nothing against rich brothers and sisters. Pray for 'em every day. But callousness and indifference, greed and avarice is something that's shot through all of us.

Cornel West has diverse influences to say the least; crediting jazz giants John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan with helping him understand human suffering. West sees civil rights pioneer, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as one of the great treasures of the 20th century.

Cornel West: It's never a question of skin pigmentation. It's never a question of just culture or sexual orientation or civilization. It's what kind of human being you're going to choose to be from your mama's womb to the tomb and what kind of legacy will you leave.

Cornel West was born 62 years ago in Oklahoma, but grew up in Glen Elder -- a predominantly black neighborhood near Sacramento, California. He is the second of four children. His father, Clifton was a federal administrator and his mother, Irene was a teacher. They were a close-knit, church-going family.

Cornel West: I feel as if I have been blessed to undergo a transformation from gangster to redeemed sinner with gangster proclivities.

James Brown: You actually were a thug when you were a youngster?

Cornel West: Oh absolutely, I got kicked out of school when I was seven-- seven years old.

James Brown: Doing what, Dr. West?

Cornel West: I refused to salute the flag because my great uncle had been lynched with the flag wrapped around his body. So I went back to Sacramento and said, "I'm not saluting the flag." And teacher went at me and hit me, and I hit back. And then we had a Joe Frazier/Muhammad Ali moment right there in the third grade.

Clifton West: He was the only student I ever knew that came home with all As and had to get a whipping.

Clifton West is Cornel's brother, best friend and was his role model growing up. He says behind his little brother's bad behavior, was a relentlessly curious mind.

Clifton West: We had this bookmobile. And we would come out, and check out a book, and go on back in the house and start reading it. So Corn, at one point, I don't know how long it took, he had read every book in the bookmobile.

James Brown: Excuse me?

Clifton West: I don't know it had to be 200 books, easy. And the bookmobile man, who was a white guy, went to all the neighborhoods, little chocolate neighborhoods, saying, "There's this guy in Glen Elder that read every book in here."

Anecdotes like that convinced teachers to give their troubled student an aptitude test. West's recorded IQ: 168.

Cornel West: I got a pretty high score. So they sent me over all the way on the other side of town. Mom used to drive me all the way to school and then drive back to her school where she was teaching first grade.

The new school had a gifted program that challenged his mind and changed his behavior.

James Brown: Was that when you first grabbed hold of the notion that you were smart?

Cornel West: You know, I never really thought I was that smart. Because there was so many other folk in school that I was deeply impressed by. But I'll say this, though, that I've never really been impressed by smartness."
cornelwest  barackobama  race  2016  via:ablerism  love  activism  socialjustice  blacklivesmatter  generations  inequality  values  nylefort  jamesbrown  cliftonwest  eddieglaude  decency  virtue  callousness  indifference  greed  avarice  jazz  suffering  humanism  abrahamjoshuaheschel  life  living  legacy  religion  belief  ferguson  racialjustice  racism  civildisobedience  wallstreet  intellectualism  intellect  curiosity  poverty  policy  language  malcolmx  frederickdouglass  rage  indignation  civilrights  johncoltrane  wisdom  smartness  sacrifice  conformism  sarahvaughan 
march 2016 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"



"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."



"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Savage capitalism is back – and it will not tame itself | David Graeber | Comment is free | The Guardian
"In other words, what happened in western Europe and North America between roughly 1917 and 1975 – when capitalism did indeed create high growth and lower inequality – was something of a historical anomaly. There is a growing realisation among economic historians that this was indeed the case. There are many theories as to why. Adair Turner, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, suggests it was the particular nature of mid-century industrial technology that allowed both high growth rates and a mass trade union movement. Piketty himself points to the destruction of capital during the world wars, and the high rates of taxation and regulation that war mobilisation allowed. Others have different explanations.

No doubt many factors were involved, but almost everyone seems to be ignoring the most obvious. The period when capitalism seemed capable of providing broad and spreading prosperity was also, precisely, the period when capitalists felt they were not the only game in town: when they faced a global rival in the Soviet bloc, revolutionary anti-capitalist movements from Uruguay to China, and at least the possibility of workers' uprisings at home. In other words, rather than high rates of growth allowing greater wealth for capitalists to spread around, the fact that capitalists felt the need to buy off at least some portion of the working classes placed more money in ordinary people's hands, creating increasing consumer demand that was itself largely responsible for the remarkable rates of economic growth that marked capitalism's "golden age".

Since the 1970s, as any significant political threat has receded, things have gone back to their normal state: that is, to savage inequalities, with a miserly 1% presiding over a social order marked by increasing social, economic and even technological stagnation. It was precisely the fact that people such as my Russian friend believed capitalism would inevitably civilise itself that guaranteed it no longer had to do so.

Piketty, in contrast, begins his book by denouncing "the lazy rhetoric of anti-capitalism". He has nothing against capitalism itself – or even, for that matter, inequality. He just wishes to provide a check on capitalism's tendency to create a useless class of parasitical rentiers. As a result, he argues that the left should focus on electing governments dedicated to creating international mechanisms to tax and regulate concentrated wealth. Some of his suggestions – an 80% income tax! – may seem radical, but we are still talking about a man who, having demonstrated capitalism is a gigantic vacuum cleaner sucking wealth into the hands of a tiny elite, insists that we do not simply unplug the machine, but try to build a slightly smaller vacuum cleaner sucking in the opposite direction.

What's more, he doesn't seem to understand that it doesn't matter how many books he sells, or summits he holds with financial luminaries or members of the policy elite, the sheer fact that in 2014 a left-leaning French intellectual can safely declare that he does not want to overthrow the capitalist system but only to save it from itself is the reason such reforms will never happen. The 1% are not about to expropriate themselves, even if asked nicely. And they have spent the past 30 years creating a lock on media and politics to ensure no one will do so through electoral means.

Since no one in their right mind would wish to revive anything like the Soviet Union, we are not going to see anything like the mid-century social democracy created to combat it either. If we want an alternative to stagnation, impoverishment and ecological devastation, we're just going to have to figure out a way to unplug the machine and start again."
capitalism  civilization  communism  crisis  davidgraeber  2015  economics  thomaspiketty  greed  imbalance  inequality  competition  growth  poverty  policy 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Money in the Bank | Jacobin
"The cultural consensus which continues to dominate this nation is that greed only exists for Cadillac-driving welfare queens and fatcat union bosses. It is never accounted as greedy, for instance, that the entire aim of three decades of dislocating economic policies has been to squeeze blood from a stone, depriving laborers of basic securities so as to legalize labor exploitation. So it is that wrestlers are never “employees” — but rather, independent contractors, who, like the wandering samurai of feudal Japan, or the noble free lances of 12th century England, face the strong likelihood of penury, injury, and an early death. As independent contractors, wrestlers must file state income tax returns in each state that they wrestle — an onerous task — as well as pay a punishing self-employment tax.

As attorney and academic Oliver Bateman writes, “most low-level performers and members of the female Diva division operate on short-term guaranteed contracts in the mid–five figures, out of which they must pay for their travel, food and lodging.”

Despite their putative “contracts,” the wrestlers can often be fired by the promotion at any time. The WWE does not pay into Social Security or unemployment insurance for the wrestlers and, in an industry in which late-life financial jeopardy is all too common, provides no pensions.

But the most immediately punishing consequence of this employment status is the lack of any form of company-paid health insurance. McMahon scoffs at this criticism, claiming “anyone who makes the kind of money that they make can easily afford their own healthcare,” and that “most independent contractors have their own healthcare.”"
wrestling  capitalism  history  2014  labor  exploitation  economics  policy  greed  inequality  wwf  vincemcmahon  monopolies 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Paul Piff: Does money make you mean? | Video on TED.com
"It's amazing what a rigged game of Monopoly can reveal. In this entertaining but sobering talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly.) But while the problem of inequality is a complex and daunting challenge, there's good news too. (Filmed at TEDxMarin.)

Paul Piff studies how social hierarchy, inequality and emotion shape relations between individuals and groups."

[A summary, in GIFs: http://stoweboyd.com/post/74281156067/invisibleeverywhere-tedx-does-money-make-you ]

[Related: "Rich People Just Care Less" http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/05/rich-people-just-care-less/ ]
paulpiff  wealth  privilege  2013  danielgoleman  success  ego  behavior  self-interest  entitlement  compassion  empathy  monopoly  money  research  inequality  emotion  hierarchy  hierarchies  advantage  society  status  greed  morality  cheating  sharing  helpfulness  moralizing  self-importance  ethics  legal  law  effort  pedestrians  achievement  accomplishment  capitalism  socialmobility  growth  trust  lifeexpectancy  health  economics  cooperation  community  egalitarianism  poverty  inequity 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Strategist Kilcullen: Warfare Is Changing In 3 Ways : NPR
"KILCULLEN: ...still tragic, but this is where I think the lessons are important because we did it by killing the city. We shut the city down. We brought in more than 100 kilometers of concrete T-wall. We put troops on every street corner. We got alongside people and try to make them feel safe. It was very, you know, sort of human intense and equipment intense. That option will not be open for us in the mega city. You won't be able to do that in Karachi or just obviously, hypothetical examples, Lagos or Dakar or any of the big cities. There are 20 million people...

INSKEEP: We're talking about 10 or 20 or 30 million people.

KILCULLEN: Yeah. You could lose the entire U.S. military that went to Iraq in one of the cities, and most people that lived there wouldn't even know. Counterinsurgency as practiced in Afghanistan and Iraq just won't be feasible in a large city on a coast line in the next 20 or 30 years.

As I look at all these future threats, I don't see a military solution to the vast majority of these challenges. There's very few environments where you would look at the problems and say, oh, yeah, obviously the solution is to send a lot of American troops in there. So I think we need to be looking fundamentally for nonmilitary solutions.

As I've looked at all the cities that are growing, one of the inescapable conclusions is you get conflict not where you have just basic income inequality. You get conflict where people are locked out of progress and they look at all these people having a good time and realize I'm never going to be part of that party and they decide to burn the house down. So a lot of it is about getting communities into collaborative approach to solving their own problems. And that's fundamentally the realm of, you know, social work and international assistance and diplomacy. It's not really a military function.

INSKEEP: Listening to you makes me think that you might believe the United States collectively, that we think about wars and conflicts the wrong way. We're a global power; we think about global threats. Used to think about communism, now we think about global Islam. We think about whole region, the Arab world.

KILCULLEN: Mm-hmm.

INSKEEP: Is war actually more about local power, money, control?

KILCULLEN: Very much so. I had the opportunity to go to Mogadishu in the middle of 2012, looking at what had been going on after 20 years of civil war in Somalia. There is one and one only industrial facility that has survived for 20 years through all of that time, and that's the Coca-Cola factory just outside Mogadishu. And the reason for this is everyone chews this stimulant called khat...

INSKEEP: Mm-hmm.

KILCULLEN: ...or this kind of sort of leafy green thing that you chew, and it's very bitter.

INSKEEP: Kind of a drug.

KILCULLEN: It's a mild stimulant. It hops you up pretty dramatically when you chew it. But it's very bitter and so people want something sweet and fizzy to go with that. So all of the groups that are fighting each other about everything else, they can all agree on, hey, want to keep the Coke factory open.

(LAUGHTER)

KILCULLEN: And to me that's a great example. Right now we have what I would call a lot of conflict entrepreneurs. They're prolonging conflicts not because they want to win some political goal or because they want to change the form of government of a particular area, but just because they make a lot of money, they get a lot of power from conflict and they want to preserve that conflict to keep going. So I think part of it is about shifting people away from being conflict entrepreneurs to being stakeholders in a peaceful environment.

Right? How do we take that Coca-Cola factory example and broaden that out so that we create a set of common interests in a society...

INSKEEP: Oh, so that people who may have disparate views in the city realize that more and more of the city - not just the Coca-Cola factory - are worth saving, worth preserving.

KILCULLEN: Right. I mean if you like Coke you're going to love having water and you're going to love having education for your kid. You know, to say, you know, there's actually a broader way of thinking about a common set of interests. But again, like we're way outside the realms of what would be classically defined as military here. And then military, I think, has a role in providing enough stability and peace that people feel safe enough to engage in these kinds of discussions. But beyond that it's really civilians have to take the next step."
davidkillcullen  war  economics  cities  citystates  steveinskeep  2013  military  warfare  coca-cola  khat  us  policy  afghanistan  iraq  progress  inequality  disparity  urban  urbanism  mogadishu  somalia  goverment  money  capitalism  greed  business  socialwork  diplomacy 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in critique of inequality - The Washington Post
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Francis wrote in the papal statement. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

[Full text here: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/pope-francis-denounces-economic-inequality-consumerism/619/ ]
economics  trickledowneconomics  neoliberalism  popefrancis  2013  inequality  capitalism  materialism  consumerism  greed 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Svetlana Boym | Off-Modern Manifesto
"1. A Margin of Error

“It's not my fault. Communication error has occurred,” my computer pleads with me in a voice of lady Victoria. First it excuses itself, then urges me to pay attention, to check my connections, to follow the instructions carefully. I don't. I pull the paper out of the printer prematurely, shattering the image, leaving its out takes, stripes of transience, inkblots and traces of my hands on the professional glossy surface. Once the disoriented computer spat out a warning across the image “Do Not Copy,” an involuntary water mark that emerged from the depth of its disturbed memory. The communication error makes each print unrepeatable and unpredictable. I collect the computer errors. An error has an aura.

To err is human, says a Roman proverb. In the advanced technological lingo the space of humanity itself is relegated to the margin of error. Technology, we are told, is wholly trustworthy, were it not for the human factor. We seem to have gone full circle: to be human means to err. Yet, this margin of error is our margin of freedom. It's a choice beyond the multiple choices programmed for us, an interaction excluded from computerized interactivity. The error is a chance encounter between us and the machines in which we surprise each other. The art of computer erring is neither high tech nor low tech. Rather it’s broken-tech. It cheats both on technological progress and on technological obsolescence. And any amateur artist can afford it. Art's new technology is a broken technology.

Or shall we call it dysfunctional, erratic, nostalgic? Nostalgia is a longing for home that no longer exists or most likely, has never existed. That non-existent home is akin to an ideal communal apartment where art and technology co-habited like friendly neighbours or cousins. Techne, after all, once referred to arts, crafts and techniques. Both art and technology were imagined as the forms of human prosthesis, the missing limbs, imaginary or physical extensions of the human space."



2. Short Shadows, Endless Surfaces



Broken-tech art is an art of short shadows. It turns our attention to the surfaces, rims and thresholds. From my ten years of travels I have accumulated hundreds of photographs of windows, doors, facades, back yards, fences, arches and sunsets in different cities all stored in plastic bags under my desk. I re-photograph the old snapshots with my digital camera and the sun of the other time and the other place cast new shadows upon their once glossy surfaces with stains of the lemon tea and fingerprints of indifferent friends. I try not to use the preprogrammed special effects of Photoshop; not because I believe in authenticity of craftsmanship, but because I equally distrust the conspiratorial belief in the universal simulation. I wish to learn from my own mistakes, let myself err. I carry the pictures into new physical environments, inhabit them again, occasionally deviating from the rules of light exposure and focus.

At the same time I look for the ready-mades in the outside world, “natural” collages and ambiguous double exposures. My most misleading images are often “straight photographs.” Nobody takes them for what they are, for we are burdened with an afterimage of suspicion.

Until recently we preserved a naive faith in photographic witnessing. We trusted the pictures to capture what Roland Barthes called “the being there” of things. For better or for worse, we no longer do. Now images appear to us as always already altered, a few pixels missing here and there, erased by some conspiratorial invisible hand. Moreover, we no longer analyse these mystifying images but resign to their pampering hypnosis. Broken- tech art reveals the degrees of our self-pixelization, lays bare hypnotic effects of our cynical reason.




3. Errands, Transits.



4. A Critic, an Amateur

If in the 1980s artists dreamed of becoming their own curators and borrowed from the theorists, now the theorists dream of becoming artists. Disappointed with their own disciplinary specialization, they immigrate into each other's territory. The lateral move again. Neither backwards nor forwards, but sideways. Amateur's out takes are no longer excluded but placed side-by-side with the non-out takes. I don't know what to call them anymore, for there is little agreement these days on what these non-out takes are.

But the amateur's errands continue. An amateur, as Barthes understood it, is the one who constantly unlearns and loves, not possessively, but tenderly, inconstantly, desperately. Grateful for every transient epiphany, an amateur is not greedy."
philosophy  technology  svetlanaboym  via:ablerism  off-modern  canon  nostalgia  human  humanism  amateurs  unlearning  love  loving  greed  selflessness  homesickness  broken  broken-tech  art  beausage  belatedness  newness  leisurearts  walterbenjamin  errors  fallibility  erring  henribergson  billgates  prosthetics  artists  imagination  domestication  play  jaques-henrilartigue  photography  film  fiction  shadows  shortshadows  nearness  distance  balance  thresholds  rims  seams  readymade  rolandbarthes  cynicism  modernity  internationalstyle  evreyday  transience  ephemeral  ephemerality  artleisure 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Wendell E. Berry Lecture | National Endowment for the Humanities
[via: https://twitter.com/dirtystylus/status/384660397238026240 ]

"“Because a thing is going strong now, it need not go strong for ever,” [Margaret] said. “This craze for motion has only set in during the last hundred years. It may be followed by a civilization that won’t be a movement, because it will rest upon the earth.
E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910)1"



"The economic hardship of my family and of many others, a century ago, was caused by a monopoly, the American Tobacco Company, which had eliminated all competitors and thus was able to reduce as it pleased the prices it paid to farmers. The American Tobacco Company was the work of James B. Duke of Durham, North Carolina, and New York City, who, disregarding any other consideration, followed a capitalist logic to absolute control of his industry and, incidentally, of the economic fate of thousands of families such as my own.

My effort to make sense of this memory and its encompassing history has depended on a pair of terms used by my teacher, Wallace Stegner. He thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.”2 “Boomer” names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. “Sticker” names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope.

The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power. James B. Duke was a boomer, if we can extend the definition to include pillage in absentia. He went, or sent, wherever the getting was good, and he got as much as he could take.

Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it. Of my grandfather I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther. He was the third in his paternal line to live in the neighborhood of our little town of Port Royal, and he was the second to own the farm where he was born in 1864 and where he died in 1946."



"Because I have never separated myself from my home neighborhood, I cannot identify myself to myself apart from it. I am fairly literally flesh of its flesh. It is present in me, and to me, wherever I go. This undoubtedly accounts for my sense of shock when, on my first visit to Duke University, and by surprise, I came face-to-face with James B. Duke in his dignity, his glory perhaps, as the founder of that university. He stands imperially in bronze in front of a Methodist chapel aspiring to be a cathedral. He holds between two fingers of his left hand a bronze cigar. On one side of his pedestal is the legend: INDUSTRIALIST. On the other side is another single word: PHILANTHROPIST. The man thus commemorated seemed to me terrifyingly ignorant, even terrifyingly innocent, of the connection between his industry and his philanthropy. But I did know the connection. I felt it instantly and physically. The connection was my grandparents and thousands of others more or less like them. If you can appropriate for little or nothing the work and hope of enough such farmers, then you may dispense the grand charity of “philanthropy.”

After my encounter with the statue, the story of my grandfather’s 1906 tobacco crop slowly took on a new dimension and clarity in my mind. I still remembered my grandfather as himself, of course, but I began to think of him also as a kind of man standing in thematic opposition to a man of an entirely different kind. And I could see finally that between these two kinds there was a failure of imagination that was ruinous, that belongs indelibly to our history, and that has continued, growing worse, into our own time."



"It may seem plausible to suppose that the head of the American Tobacco Company would have imagined at least that a dependable supply of raw material to his industry would depend upon a stable, reasonably thriving population of farmers and upon the continuing fertility of their farms. But he imagined no such thing. In this he was like apparently all agribusiness executives. They don’t imagine farms or farmers. They imagine perhaps nothing at all, their minds being filled to capacity by numbers leading to the bottom line. Though the corporations, by law, are counted as persons, they do not have personal minds, if they can be said to have minds. It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. This is an impersonal, abstract selfishness, limitlessly acquisitive, but unable to look so far ahead as to preserve its own sources and supplies. The selfishness of the fossil fuel industries by nature is self-annihilating; but so, always, has been the selfishness of the agribusiness corporations. Land, as Wes Jackson has said, has thus been made as exhaustible as oil or coal."



"In such modest joy in a modest holding is the promise of a stable, democratic society, a promise not to be found in “mobility”: our forlorn modern progress toward something indefinitely, and often unrealizably, better. A principled dissatisfaction with whatever one has promises nothing or worse.

James B. Duke would not necessarily have thought so far of the small growers as even to hold them in contempt. The Duke trust exerted an oppression that was purely economic, involving a mechanical indifference, the indifference of a grinder to what it grinds. It was not, that is to say, a political oppression. It did not intend to victimize its victims. It simply followed its single purpose of the highest possible profit, and ignored the “side effects.” Confronting that purpose, any small farmer is only one, and one lost, among a great multitude of others, whose work can be quickly transformed into a great multitude of dollars."



"Statistical knowledge once was rare. It was a property of the minds of great rulers, conquerors, and generals, people who succeeded or failed by the manipulation of large quantities that remained, to them, unimagined because unimaginable: merely accountable quantities of land, treasure, people, soldiers, and workers. This is the sort of knowledge we now call “data” or “facts” or “information.” Or we call it “objective knowledge,” supposedly untainted by personal attachment, but nonetheless available for industrial and commercial exploitation. By means of such knowledge a category assumes dominion over its parts or members. With the coming of industrialism, the great industrialists, like kings and conquerors, become exploiters of statistical knowledge. And finally virtually all of us, in order to participate and survive in their system, have had to agree to their substitution of statistical knowledge for personal knowledge. Virtually all of us now share with the most powerful industrialists their remoteness from actual experience of the actual world. Like them, we participate in an absentee economy, which makes us effectively absent even from our own dwelling places. Though most of us have little wealth and perhaps no power, we consumer–citizens are more like James B. Duke than we are like my grandfather. By economic proxies thoughtlessly given, by thoughtless consumption of goods ignorantly purchased, now we all are boomers."



"In this age so abstracted and bewildered by technological magnifications of power, people who stray beyond the limits of their mental competence typically find no guide except for the supposed authority of market price. “The market” thus assumes the standing of ultimate reality. But market value is an illusion, as is proven by its frequent changes; it is determined solely by the buyer’s ability and willingness to pay."



"By now all thoughtful people have begun to feel our eligibility to be instructed by ecological disaster and mortal need. But we endangered ourselves first of all by dismissing affection as an honorable and necessary motive. Our decision in the middle of the last century to reduce the farm population, eliminating the allegedly “inefficient” small farmers, was enabled by the discounting of affection. As a result, we now have barely enough farmers to keep the land in production, with the help of increasingly expensive industrial technology and at an increasing ecological and social cost. Far from the plain citizens and members of the land-community, as Aldo Leopold wished them to be, farmers are now too likely to be merely the land’s exploiters."



"In thinking about the importance of affection, and of its increasing importance in our present world, I have been guided most directly by E. M. Forster’s novel, Howards End, published in 1910. By then, Forster was aware of the implications of “rural decay,”10 and in this novel he spoke, with some reason, of his fear that “the literature of the near future will probably ignore the country and seek inspiration from the town. . . . and those who care for the earth with sincerity may wait long ere the pendulum swings back to her again.”"



"“The light within,” I think, means affection, affection as motive and guide. Knowledge without affection leads us astray every time. Affection leads, by way of good work, to authentic hope. The factual knowledge, in which we seem more and more to be placing our trust, leads only to hope of the discovery, endlessly deferrable, of an ultimate fact or smallest particle that at last will explain everything."



"No doubt there always will be some people … [more]
wendellberry  capitalism  corporations  economy  imagination  stickers  boomers  2012  economics  land  place  memory  industrialists  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  culture  art  liberalarts  humanism  humanity  rural  farming  history  debt  affection  knowledge  materialism  howardsend  emforster  ruraldecay  agriculture  aldoleopold  environmentalism  environment  sustainability  destruction  destructiveness  local  scale  mobility  change  adaptability  adaptation  evolution  ecology  technology  machines  alberthoward  wesjackson  johnlukacs  growth  data  quantification  wealth  remoteness  jamesbduke  industialism  power  greed  consumerism  plannedobsolescence  nature  corporatism  allentate  property  ownership  effectiveownership  human  humans  limits  limitations  modesty  democracy  wallacestegner  via:markllobrera  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  babyboomers  control 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Rent-seeking - Wikipedia
"In economics, rent-seeking is an attempt to obtain economic rent by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth, for example, spending money on political lobbying in order to be given a share of wealth that has already been created. A famous example of rent-seeking is the limiting of access to lucrative occupations, as by medieval guilds or modern state certifications and licensures. People accused of rent seeking typically argue that they are indeed creating new wealth (or preventing the reduction of old wealth) by improving quality controls, guaranteeing that charlatans do not prey on a gullible public, and preventing bubbles."

"A simple definition of rent seeking is spending resources in order to gain by increasing one's share of existing wealth, instead of trying to create wealth. The net effect of rent-seeking is to reduce total social wealth, because resources are spent and no new wealth is created. It is important to distinguish rent-seeking from profit-seeking. Profit-seeking is the creation of wealth, while rent-seeking is the use of social institutions such as the power of government to redistribute wealth among different groups without creating new wealth.

Rent-seeking implies extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity. The origin of the term refers to gaining control of land or other natural resources. An example of rent-seeking in a modern economy is political lobbying for government benefits or subsidies, or to impose regulations on competitors, in order to increase market share.
Studies of rent-seeking focus on efforts to capture special monopoly privileges such as manipulating government regulation of free enterprise competition.[2] The term monopoly privilege rent-seeking is an often-used label for this particular type of rent-seeking. Often-cited examples include a lobby that seeks tariff protection, quotas, subsidies[3], or extension of copyright law.[4]"
motive  finance  community  greedheads  rent-seeking  wealth  access  economics  manipulation  politics  leeches  selfishness  greed  guilds  certification  licenses  via:straup  resources  capitalgoods  economicgrowth  growth  allocationofresources  efficiency  monopolies  monopolyprivileges  competition  regulation  ownership  productivity  subsidies 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Self-Interest Spurs Society’s ‘Elite’ to Lie, Cheat on Tasks, Study Finds - Bloomberg
"The pursuit of self-interest is a “fundamental motive among society’s elite, & the increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing,” Piff and his colleagues wrote yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to raise their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, the research found. The solution, Piff said, is to find a way to increase empathy among wealthier people.

“It’s not that the rich are innately bad, but as you rise in the ranks -- whether as a person or a nonhuman primate -- you become more self-focused,” Piff said. “You can change that by reminding upper-class people of the needs of others. That may not be their default, but have them do it is sufficient to increase their patterns of altruistic behavior.”"

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/27303050411/ ]
altruism  empathy  ethics  lying  dishonesty  upperclass  self-interest  inequality  rich  1%  wealth  psychology  greed 
july 2012 by robertogreco
DEAR AMERICA: It's Time To Say A Big 'Thank You' To Amazon
"Amazon is investing (and hiring) while many other American corporations are milking incumbent businesses, under-investing in research and development, and hoarding cash. To the chagrin of some traders, Amazon is distinctly NOT "maximizing near-term profits" — it is sacrificing near-term profits. It is making less money now in the hopes of making more money and creating more value later. And it is ignoring the howls and screams of short-term traders who couldn't care less about Amazon's long-term prognosis, add nothing to the economy, and just want to make money now.

If more American companies started to do what Amazon does — ignore short-term pressures, sacrifice near-term profits, and invest for the long-term — the American economy would start to heal itself quickly."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/12030550839/amazon-is-investing-and-hiring-while-many-other ]
amazon  shortterm  longterm  investment  2011  self-interest  capitalism  business  economics  wallstreet  occupywallstreet  ows  greed  finance  self-interestproperlyunderstood  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
prosthetic knowledge: A Thousand Cuts
"A time-based sculpture / time-lapse video in a gallery garden - the words ‘MIDDLE CLASS’ made in ice, melting throughout the day. Uses an audio extract from Bernie Sanders’ filibuster speech on corporate greed"
berniesanders  middleclass  2011  greed  us  policy  capitalism  wealth  politics  money 
october 2011 by robertogreco
This economic collapse is a 'crisis of bigness' | Paul Kingsnorth | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Kohr's claim was that society's problems were not caused by particular forms of social or economic organisation, but by their size. Socialism, anarchism, capitalism, democracy, monarchy – all could work well on what he called "the human scale": a scale at which people could play a part in the systems that governed their lives. But once scaled up to the level of modern states, all systems became oppressors. Changing the system, or the ideology that it claimed inspiration from, would not prevent that oppression – as any number of revolutions have shown – because "the problem is not the thing that is big, but bigness itself"."
economics  scale  2011  paulkingsnorth  leopoldkohr  size  collapse  capitalism  human  humanscale  slow  growth  society  power  greed  small 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Memex 1.1 » Cameron and the feral rich
"There was a time — round the time when his young son died and he was running for office — when Cameron seemed to have the makings of a rounded human being. But it turns out to have been an illusion. What’s happened is that the shallow, oily, polished PR-flack that he used to be has reappeared. And he’s running a corrupt, morally-compromised, untruthful administration that is more divisive than anything we’ve seen since Thatcher at her peak."
uk  2011  london  riots  morality  noblesseoblige  wealth  immorality  davidcameron  humanity  corruption  greed  hypocrisy  criminality  government  class  rulingclass 
august 2011 by robertogreco
30 Years Ago: The Day the Middle Class Died | Common Dreams
"It all began on this day, 30yrs ago. [Reagan fired every member of air traffic controllers union] One of darkest days in US history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had money, media & cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset & wanted their country, life, job, weekend, time w/ kids back?

Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget the 20% who support Tea Party—we are the other 80%! This decline will only end when we demand it. & not through online petition or tweet. We are going to have to turn TV, computer & video games off & get out in streets (like in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine & stop taking corporate money—or step aside.

When is enough, enough?…middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street's plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves & Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?"
michaelmoore  1981  2011  wisconsin  protest  wallstreet  greed  havesandhavenots  politics  policy  economics  apathy  ronaldreagan  activism  passivity  unions  collectivism 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Generation F*cked | Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters
"According to the Unicef report, which measured 40 indicators of quality of life – including the strength of relationships with friends and family, educational achievements and personal aspirations, & exposure to drinking, drug taking and other risky behavior – British children have the most miserable upbringing in the developed world. American children come next, second from the bottom."

"The first stirrings of major intergenerational conflict are already being noted. The basic rights of the recent past – a safe job, free education & healthcare, secure homes to raise a family, a modest but comfortable old age – have slipped quietly away, all to be replaced by a myriad of vapid lifestyle choices and glittery consumer trinkets."

"By blowing their children’s inheritance…Britain’s baby-boomers seem hell bent on ensuring that, even w/out coming resource shortages such as Peak Oil, their offspring will be the first generation in living memory to have a lowered standard of living."
via:lukeneff  uk  us  children  youth  society  well-being  generations  economics  poverty  health  behavior  greed  decline  policy  politics  neoliberalism  adbusters  mariahampton  tracking  surveillance  davidcameron  crime  consumerism  materials  consumption  values  education  healthcare  generationalstrife  standardofliving  2011 
august 2011 by robertogreco
These riots reflect a society run on greed and looting | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian
"David Cameron has to maintain that the unrest has no cause except criminality – or he and his friends might be held responsible"; "While bankers have publicly looted the country's wealth & got away with it, it's not hard to see why those who are locked out of the gravy train might think they were entitled to help themselves to a mobile phone. Some of the rioters make the connection explicitly…Most have no stake in a society which has shut them out or an economic model which has now run into the sand. It's already become clear that divided Britain is in no state to absorb the austerity now being administered because three decades of neoliberal capitalism have already shattered so many social bonds of work and community. What we're now seeing across the cities of England is the reflection of a society run on greed – and a poisonous failure of politics and social solidarity. … We're starting to see the devastating costs of refusing to change course."
politics  uk  poverty  crime  inequality  2011  london  riots  wealth  greed  davidcameron  economics  neoliberalism  society  banking  finance  wealthdistribution  wealthdistrubution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Profits must no longer go to the few at the top | Simon Hughes | Comment is free | The Observer
"Activity, training and employment has to be on offer in every region of the country"

"A responsible economy is necessary for a responsible society. Building local, regional and national economies which provide the opportunity for all to participate in for fair reward will build much stronger communities. This will counter the appeal of the gangs and the get-rich-quick merchants. Other people and activity must now capture the energies and abilities of a generation that has greater potential than any we have had before."
simonhughes  employment  unemployment  disparity  wealth  uk  london  2011  riots  politics  policy  economics  greed  via:preoccupations  training  education  inequality  equality  society  wealthdistribution  wealthdistrubution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Why the Wealthiest Americans Are the Real 'Job-Killers' | Economy | AlterNet
"None of this is particularly complex. In 1978, the top 1 percent of the ladder took in just under 9 percent of the nation's income, leaving a bit more than 91 percent for the rest of us. In 2007, the year before the crash, they took in 23.5 percent, leaving just 76.5 percent for the rest of the population to split up.<br />
They banked most of that income, whereas we would have spent it. The fact that we're broke means that businesses are facing less demand for their goods and services than they otherwise would, and have less need to hire a bunch of employees. And that dynamic explains why it's the wealthiest Americans who are the real “job killers.”"
greed  wealth  economics  jobs  savings  us  taxes  2011  jobcreation  unemployment  consumption  wealthdistribution  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Why the Wealthiest Americans Are the Real 'Job-Killers' | Economy | AlterNet
"None of this is particularly complex. In 1978, the top 1 percent of the ladder took in just under 9 percent of the nation's income, leaving a bit more than 91 percent for the rest of us. In 2007, the year before the crash, they took in 23.5 percent, leaving just 76.5 percent for the rest of the population to split up.
They banked most of that income, whereas we would have spent it. The fact that we're broke means that businesses are facing less demand for their goods and services than they otherwise would, and have less need to hire a bunch of employees. And that dynamic explains why it's the wealthiest Americans who are the real “job killers.”"
greed  wealth  economics  jobs  wealthdistribution  savings  us  taxes  2011  jobcreation  unemployment  consumption 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Society | Vanity Fair — Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
"The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late."
society  politics  economics  psychology  money  history  inequality  disparity  wealth  via:preoccupations  josephstiglitz  2011  opression  classwarfare  income  inequity  greed  alexisdetocqueville  self-interest  concentrationofwealth  policy  power  control  revolt  taxes  wealthdistribution  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Bridgepoint Booms Over Troubled Waters - voiceofsandiego.org: Pounding The Pavement
"Bridgepoint's business model depends on one thing: Getting people into college who wouldn't otherwise go.

That involves paying hundreds of recruiters in San Diego office buildings to call around the country and find tens of thousands of people willing to enroll in a tiny college in rural Iowa. Ninety-nine percent of those students won't ever have to set foot in Iowa, since they'll be studying online.

And the bulk of the revenue Bridgepoint receives for educating students — at least 85 percent last year — comes straight from the federal government in the form of student loans.

Bridgepoint CEO Andrew Clark and other company officials declined interview requests through corporate spokespeople. But, as a publicly traded company, Bridgepoint's financial success story has been well-documented.

More than anything else, two factors have played into Bridgepoint's extraordinary success. One was the company's genius business idea; the other was a stroke of good fortune…"
education  andrewclark  bridgepointeducation  sandiego  iowa  scams  forprofit  highereducation  money  greed  2011  colleges  universities  freemoney  government  military  veterans  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Think Tank: The 'Veritas' About Harvard - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Harvard spent the money [dramatically increased endowment] on many things. But not a dollar went to increasing the number of undergraduates it chose to bless with a Harvard education…<br />
<br />
…the true currency of elite higher education is admissions, not financial aid…<br />
<br />
That's because the real priority of elite higher education, as the receding tide of money has exposed, is the greater glory of elite higher education and the administrators and faculty members who work there. That's where all the money went, and that's where, now that some of the money turns out to have never existed in the first place, it needs to come from…<br />
<br />
An institution truly dedicated to teaching students has natural limits on how much money it needs. At some point, the land and space and professors suffice.<br />
<br />
An institution dedicated to accumulating more money and prestige? There are no limits to those needs. They can never be satisfied."
education  teaching  economics  academia  harvard  ivyleague  management  endowment  2011  highereducation  highered  elitism  class  society  havesandhavenots  money  finance  greed  wealth  access  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Things May Not Get Better! : Stager-to-Go
"I clung romantically to fantasies that Americans embraced democratic principles, the common good & loved children. Learning otherwise is a somber realization, especially on Easter Sunday…

"If you wanted to destroy or privatize (a semantic difference w/out distinction) public education, you needed to find a way to erode public confidence in the each & every public school. But how to do that? [Explains how GW Bush et al. did]"

"Please! watch this video clip from Rachel Maddow show, share it w/ friends & then try to restrain your violent impulses or find strength to carry-on for another day…The message is really important & stunning.

This is the tale of how two generations of severely at-risk young people are having their chances for a productive life and slice of the American dream sacrificed on the alter of capitalist greed, authoritarian impulses & callous disregard for the vulnerable."
education  deschooling  criticaleducation  garystager  unschooling  democracy  georgewbush  policy  privatization  pubicschools  society  2011  michigan  detroit  catherineferguson  schools  activism  neoliberalism  corporations  greed  corporatism  lcproject  government  us  arneduncan  newtgingrich  schoolreform  reform  alsharpton  michellerhee  barackobama  oprah  nclb  rttt  money  rachelmaddow  politics  charterschools  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Throw Out the Money Changers | Truthout
"Cor­pora­tions let 50,000 peo­ple die last year be­cause they could not pay them for pro­p­er med­ical care. They have kil­led hundreds of thousands of Ir­aqis, Afghanis, Pales­tinians, Pakis­tanis, & gleeful­ly watched as stock price of weapons contra­ctors quad­rupled. They have tur­ned canc­er into an epi­demic in the coal fields of West Vir­ginia where famil­ies breat­he pol­luted air, drink poisoned water & watch the Ap­palac­hian Moun­tains blas­ted into a de­solate was­teland while coal com­pan­ies can make bi­ll­ions. & after loot­ing the US Treasu­ry these cor­pora­tions de­mand, in name of auster­ity, that we ab­olish food pro­grams for childr­en, heat­ing as­sis­tance & med­ical care for our el­der­ly, & good pub­lic educa­tion. They de­mand that we tolerate a per­manent underclass that will leave 1 in 6 work­ers w/out jobs, condemns 10s of mill­ions of Americans to pover­ty & tos­ses our men­tal­ly ill onto heat­ing grates…"
chrishedges  2011  corporations  corporatism  money  politics  policy  greed  wokers  labor  poverty  inequality  disparity  us  austerity  banking  finance  environment  markets  marketfundamentalism  civildisobedience  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
The half-life of disaster: The world's media-driven nerves quickly move from shock to vague foreboding and 'disaster capitalism' surges on | Brian Massumi | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
"These quasi-monopolistic movements are tolerated, or even encouraged, in the name of securing the economy's future stability…significantly the case in energy sector, with policies friendly to centralised production & quasi-monopolistic ownership designed, for example, to revive nuclear power industry or to kick-start capital-intensive pseudo-green "alternatives" like biofuels & mythical "clean" coal – precisely kinds of choices that will render the global situation even more precarious in long run…As long as disaster capitalism reigns – which no doubt will be as long as capitalism itself reigns – world will be caught in vicious circle: that of responding by increasingly draconian & ill-advised means to threat environment whose dangers response only contributes to intensifying.

The only way out is to militate for an alternate interlinkage: between global anticapitalist political contestation & a renascent environmental movement with opposition to nuclear power at its heart."
brianmassumi  disasters  nuclear  energy  capitalism  disastercapitalism  power  money  influence  greed  2011  japan  tsunamis  fukushima  naturaldisasters  threatenvironment  environment  sustainability  change  terrorism  collectiveresponse  scale  heroes  systems  systemsthinking  via:javierarbona  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Chris Hedges: Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System - Chris Hedges' Columns - Truthdig
"A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs…"

[Printable: http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/why_the_united_states_is_destroying_her_education_system_20110410/ ]
education  politics  reform  us  corruption  class  money  policy  rttt  nclb  testing  standardizedtesting  billgates  michaelbloomberg  schools  schooling  chrishedges  socrates  hannaharendt  civilization  civics  morality  authority  obedience  consciousness  self-awareness  skepticism  thinking  criticalthinking  lcproject  tcsnmy  greed  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Tax the Super Rich now or face a revolution Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch
"1. Warning: Super Rich want tax cuts, creating youth unemployment… 2. Warning: rich get richer on commodity prices, poor get angrier… 3. Warning: Global poor ticking time bomb targeting Super Rich… 4. Warning: Next revolution coming across ‘Third World America’… 5. Warning: Super Rich must be detoxed of their greed addiction… 6. Warning: Politicians infected by Super-Rich Delusion, revolution"
politics  economics  taxes  us  superrich  wealth  2011  thirdworldamerica  poor  poverty  unemployment  disparity  incomegap  global  rich  youth  revolution  paulfarrell  greed  instabiity  greatdepression  greatrecession  greatrepression  commodities  food  wealthdistribution  instability  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Losing Our Way - NYTimes.com
"So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers & police officers, & generally letting the bottom fall out of quality of life here at home.<br />
Welcome to America in the 2nd decade of 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, human fallout from the Great Recession & long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply…<br />
<br />
Overwhelming imbalances in wealth & income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So corporations & very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed.…wars never end…& nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.<br />
<br />
New ideas & new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed."<br />
<br />
"This is my last column for NYTimes…I’m off to write a book & expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor & others struggling in our society."
politics  economics  us  2011  bobherbert  ge  barackobama  disparity  wealth  power  greed  society  classwarfare  richeatpoor  poverty  middleclass  class  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Chilean Economist Manfred Max-Neef: US Is Becoming an "Underdeveloping Nation"
"principles of an economics which should be are based in 5 postulates & 1 fundamental value principle…economy is to serve the people & not the people to serve the economy…development is about people & not objects…growth is not the same as development, & development does not necessarily require growth…no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services.…the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible. & the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence of life.

…If you go through that list, one after the other, what we have today is exactly the opposite.

Growth is a quantitative accumulation. Development is the liberation of creative possibilities. Every living system in nature grows up to a certain point & stops growing. You are not growing anymore, nor he nor me. But we continue developing ourselves."
economics  environment  democracy  activism  development  growth  2011  manfredmax-neef  chile  us  underdeveloping  greed  finance  ecosystems  systemsthinking  disparity  poverty  politics  policy  life  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
The 10 Greediest People of the Year | Economy | AlterNet
"in economy still reeling from fraud, a new high-growth industry—for-profit higher ed sector—is hoodwinking vulnerable young people into taking on taxpayer-financed student loans they can’t possibly repay.

& now this industry, facing federal regulations that aim to rein in deceit, is waging massive media campaign based on phony premise that Washington wants to make it “harder to get the education” students “need to succeed.”

No one is personally profiting more…than CEO of San Diego-based Bridgepoint Education, an enterprise that specializes, of late, in going after returning military vets…Andrew Clark, last year took home $20.5 million.

For-profit colleges didn’t pay any particular attention to military vets until 2008. But Congress that year gave veteran tuition benefits a significant hike…Bridgepoint's military enrollment soared to 9,200 in 2009, up from just 329 three years earlier…

Bridgepoint last year spent more on marketing & promotion than on educating students."

[via: http://diegueno.tumblr.com/post/2404339520/san-diego-home-of-the-greediest-person-of-2010 ]
sandiego  andrewclark  forprofit  education  bridgepointeducation  bridgepoint  profiteering  greed  military  2010  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Deinstitutionalizing education
"In 'Is What's Good for Corporate America Still Good For America?' Bruce Nussbaum ran though # of reasons why people are losing faith in corporations in US.…his list…has a wider applicability to institutions in general, including…governmental agencies, schools & universities.

People today are beginning to realize that solution of problem of institutional excess does not lie in creation of more institutions…solution to problem of corruption of mass movements does not lie in creation of yet another mass movement…solution to problems of greed & entitlement in our leaders & elites does not lie in creation of more leaders & elites…way to end war is to cease waging war; way to free us of our chains is to cease forging chains. We secure our own right in society by securing right of each & every member of society, by working not as in a bond, but by virtue of free association, of cooperative exchange of mutual value, with natural limits to the right to own, & possess, & control."

[Referring to: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/10/is_whats_good_for_corporate_am.html ]
stephendownes  brucenussbaum  organizations  institutions  learning  education  deschooling  unschooling  outsourcing  business  trust  greed  corruption  anarchism  democracy  ingratitude  freeassociation  cooperation  society  government  deinstitutionalization  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
War Is Business | who benefits?
"Earlier this week I posted a small excerpt from “War Is A Racket,” a 1935 pamphlet by Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated men ever to serve in the US Marine Corps. Today—Armistice Day—is a fine occasion to share more about why this warrior eventually disclaimed the enterprise.<br />
<br />
Keep this in mind as you read Butler’s accounting of World War I profiteering:<br />
<br />
In 2001, the revenues of the largest US defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, totaled just under $24 billion a year, and its operating profit came to $888 million. By the end of 2009, Lockheed’s annual revenues were $45 billion, not quite double where they were before the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But now, the company is making nearly six times its pre-war profits—$5.2 billion a year.<br />
<br />
Not bad, as Butler said."
war  profiteering  greed  money  us  history  military  militaryindustrialcomplex  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Johann Hari: America is now officially for sale - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent ["It's the Tea Party spirit distilled: pose as the champion of Joe America, while actually ripping him off"]
"story of the modern Republican Party…use cultural signifiers of good people of Middle America to get their emotional identification, meanwhile they pillage Middle America & redistribute its wealth to the rich. Sarah Palin is the queen of this cause. She presents herself as a warrior for hockey moms & Momma Grizzlies, while spreading fictions to stop those very people supporting social programs that could save their lives: remember her claim that Obama’s healthcare plan involved setting up “death panels” to execute the old & disabled? Her true slogan is Shill, Baby, Shill.<br />
<br />
This is all made easy for Republicans by the fact that most of the Democratic Party slithers in same trough of corruption, begging from the same billionaires & corporations, and so can deliver only a tiny notch more for ordinary Americans. This makes left-liberal ideas look discredited, when in truth they are largely discarded…"
corruption  government  greed  johannhari  teaparty  politics  us  2010  johnboehner  wealth  policy  money  systems  aristocracy  republicans  democrats  economics  unemployment  socialsafetynet  society  eliakazan  sarahpalin  glennbeck  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index | Video on TED.com
"Statistician Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation's success by its productivity -- instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use (because a happy life doesn't have to cost the earth). Which countries rank highest in the HPI? You might be surprised."
economics  environment  happiness  statistics  sustainability  ted  nicmarks  fear  well-being  productivity  latinamerica  future  progress  finance  growth  metrics  gdp  measurement  greed  robertfkennedy  shrequest1  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
A letter to my students « The Reality-Based Community
[via: http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2010/08/you-have-been-the-victims-of-a-terrible-swindle.html ]

"Welcome to Berkeley, probably still the best public university in the world. Meet your classmates, the best group of partners you can find anywhere. The percentages for grades on exams, papers, etc. in my courses always add up to 110% because that’s what I’ve learned to expect from you, over twenty years in the best job in the world.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that you have been the victims of a terrible swindle, denied an inheritance you deserve by contract and by your merits. And you aren’t the only ones; victims of this ripoff include the students who were on your left and on your right in high school but didn’t get into Cal, a whole generation stiffed by mine. This letter is an apology, and more usefully, perhaps a signal to start demanding what’s been taken from you so you can pass it on with interest. …"
via:lukeneff  california  government  taxes  society  politics  2010  babyboomers  boomers  generations  infrastructure  greed  selfishness  policy  history  fyigm  schools  proposition13  civilization  socialcontract  toshare  jacobdavies  michaelohare  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
YouTube - RSA Animate - Crises of Capitalism
"In this RSA Animate, radical sociologist David Harvey asks if it is time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that really could be responsible, just, and humane?"
davidharvey  capitalism  economics  politics  rsaanimate  homeownership  us  culture  germany  greece  policy  banks  finance  banking  canon  housing  worldbank  imf  neoliberalism  liberalism  alangreenspan  marxism  instability  systemicrisk  capitalaccumulation  crisis  labor  capital  1970s  1980s  unions  offshoring  power  wagerepression  wages  credit  creditcards  debt  personaldebt  2010  limits  greed  profits  industry  london  uk  latinamerica  wealth  india  china  inequality  incomeinequality  wealthinequality  hedgefunds 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Pension funds chasing highest returns on investment force behind recession | Business | The Guardian
"These savers have racked up trillions of dollars over the last 30 years and own much of the wealth created during that period. Their power is vast. They own the homes, the stock markets and they lent their cash to the banks, governments and companies and as we know to our cost, there were plenty of them.
rcession  greed  2010  greatrecession  investments  pensions  risk  europe  us  uk  california  retirement  savings  alangreenspan 
april 2010 by robertogreco
BBC - BBC World Service Programmes - Business Daily, Adam Smith - Secret Socialist?
"He's often called the founder of modern economics. Some see him as the godfather of the free market. Others have viewed his work from a more socially concerned, even socialist standpoint. Business Daily takes a look at Adam Smith, the man and his legacy. Born in 1723 in Kirkcaldy in Scotland, he's been influencing economic thinking ever since the publishing of his seminal work, The Wealth of Nations. The eminent historian and economist, Tristam Hunt, guides us through Smith's life and how his ideas still have a fundamental bearing on economic and political strategies today. From Edinburgh to Vienna to Chicago to London, Hunt talks to some of the world's leading academics about Adam Smith's life and work, including Professor Iain McClean, professor of politics at Oxford university, Dr Craig Smith of St Andrew's University, Anthony Giddens from the London School of Economics and the activist and author Naomi Klein."
naomiklein  adamsmith  economics  history  capitalism  socialism  greed  policy  uk  philosophy  freemarkets  pinochet  chile  margaretthatcher  gordonbrown  friedrichvonhayek  johnmaynardkeynes 
january 2010 by robertogreco
After this 60-year feeding frenzy, Earth itself has become disposable | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian
"in its practical effects, consumerism is a totalitarian system: it permeates every aspect of our lives. Even our dissent from the system is packaged up & sold to us in the form of anti-consumption consumption, like the "I'm not a plastic bag"...supposed to replace disposable carriers but was mostly used once or twice before it fell out of fashion, or...lucrative new books on how to live without money. George Orwell & Aldous Huxley proposed different totalitarianisms: 1 sustained by fear, the other in part by greed. Huxley's nightmare has come closer to realisation...So how do we break this system? How do we pursue happiness & wellbeing rather than growth?...we have 1000s of people each clamouring to have their own visions adopted. We might come together for occasional rallies & marches, but as soon as we start discussing alternatives, solidarity is shattered by possessive individualism. Consumerism has changed all of us. Our challenge is now to fight a system we have internalised."
future  environment  green  consumerism  ecology  georgemonbiot  greed  aldoushuxley  georgeorwell  individualism  competitiveness  possessiveness  well-being  growth  gdp  economics  sustainability  society  culture  gamechanging 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Futurist Richard Watson's predictions for 2010 - Speakers Corner
"Constant partial stupidity ... Digital isolation ... Hunger for shared experiences ... Flight to the physical ... Expecting less ... Conspicuous non-consumption ... Unsupervised adults ... Localism ... Re-sourcing ... Fear fatigue" + "Ten things on the way out: Dining rooms, Letter writing on paper, Paper statements and bills, Optimism about the future, Individual responsibility, Intimacy, Humility, Concentration, Retirement, Privacy"
future  libraries  predictions  2010  richardwatson  fear  human  multitasking  conspicuousconsumption  consumption  frugality  outsourcing  localism  isolation  social  twitter  sharedexperience  physical  books  distraction  attention  non-consumption  postconsumerism  re-sourcing  paper  optimism  responsibility  safety  health  comfort  greed  loneliness  via:TheLibrarianEdge 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Harsh lessons we may need to learn again
"1. Markets are not self-correcting, & without adequate regulation, they are prone to excess. 2. There are many reasons for market failures. Too-big-to-fail financial institutions had perverse incentives: Privatized gains, socialized losses. 3. When information is imperfect, markets often do not work well – & information imperfections are central in finance. 4. Keynesian policies do work. Countries, like Australia, that implemented large, well-designed stimulus programs early emerged from the crisis faster 5. There is more to monetary policy than just fighting inflation. Excessive focus on inflation meant that some central banks ignored what was happening to their financial markets. The costs of mild inflation are miniscule compared to the costs imposed on economies when central banks allow asset bubbles to grow unchecked. 6. Not all innovation leads to a more efficient and productive economy – let alone a better society...."
josephstiglitz  finance  hypocrisy  economics  democracy  capitalism  bailout  history  greed  2009 
january 2010 by robertogreco
E.D. Kain - American Tory – Christianity and healthcare reform - True/Slant
"This is not to say that everything about the northern European model is desirable. Indeed, many of those nations are scaling back to some degree on public services and trying to push down tax rates, increase competition and choice, and so forth. But their citizens do not have to go without healthcare, nor do they have to worry about raising a family without help, and they seem – in the end – less plagued by out-and-out greed than we Americans. There’s something to be said for a capitalist model that doesn’t place so much emphasis on greed, and places a bit more emphasis on community."
capitalism  socialism  2009  scandinavia  nordiccountries  us  policy  debate  christianity  healthcare  health  economics  greed 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Arianna Huffington: Barack Obama Must See Michael Moore's New Movie (and So Must You)!
"while...shooting climax of movie...mark[ing] Wall Street as crime scene, putting up yellow police tape around some of financial district's towers of power...unfurling tape in front of a "too big to fail" bank, he became aware of a group of NY's finest approaching...in this case he knew he was, however temporarily, defacing private property...shooting schedule didn't leave room for a detour to the local jail. So, as the lead officer came closer, Moore tried to deflect him, saying: "Just doing a little comedy here, officer. I'll be gone in a minute & will clean up before I go." The officer looked at him for a moment, then leaned in: "Take all the time you need." He nodded to the bank..."These guys wiped out a lot of our Police Pension Funds." The officer turned & slowly headed back to his squad car. Moore wanted to put the moment in his film, but realized it could cost the cop his job & decided to leave it out. "When they've lost the police," he told me, "you know they're in trouble."
michaelmoore  huffingtonpost  politics  economics  greed  wallstreet  capitalism  crisis  finance  film  police  us 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The Capitalist Manifesto: Greed Is Good (To a point) | Newsweek.com [Matt Taibbi responds: http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/2009/06/24/fareed-zakarias-manifesto/]
"There's a need for greater self-regulation not simply on Wall Street but also on Pennsylvania Avenue. We get exercised about the immorality of politicians when they're caught in sex scandals. Meanwhile they triple the national debt, enrich their lobbyist friends & write tax loopholes for specific corporations—all perfectly legal—and we regard this as normal. The revolving door between Washington government offices and lobbying firms is so lucrative and so established that anyone pointing out that it is—at base—institutionalized corruption is seen as baying at the moon...We are in the midst of a vast crisis & there is enough blame to go around & many fixes to make, from the international system to national governments to private firms. But at heart, there needs to be a deeper fix within all of us, a simple gut check. If it doesn't feel right, we shouldn't be doing it. That's not going to restore growth or mend globalization or save capitalism, but it might be a small start to sanity."
fareedzakaria  crisis  economics  capitalism  greed  regulation  finance  government  policy  politics  control  markets  ethics  morality 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Bridging Differences: A Disrespect for Knowledge
"They represent a mindset that has been a disaster for American economic prosperity, for the auto industry, the banking business, the publishing industry, not just schooling. The days when these fields were led by people who knew autos, banks, and books is long gone. (Silicon Valley still rests on the tinkerer craftsmen, perhaps)...The American genius lay precisely, I still think, in this “hands-and-minds-on” approach. It’s what people educated in schools and workshops shared—a merging of “street” smarts and “book” smarts. The schools we deserve need to build on that genius. At best they are a genuine place of work—a laboratory, library, artist’s studio, and marketplace of ideas for teachers, kids, and their fellow citizens."
tcsnmy  lcproject  cv  crisis  greed  schools  education  productivity  creativity  handson  teaching  gamechanging  finance  value  valueadded  corruption  us  2008  economics  prosperity  business  deschooling  unschooling  schooling  slow  knowledge  reform 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Contributor - Buy American. I Am. - NYTimes.com
"A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now."
economics  warrenbuffett  stocks  finance  advice  greed  history  crisis  2008  investing 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Times Higher Education - All the privileged must have prizes
"the sedulous banality of the rich degrades teaching into a service-class preoccupation whose chief duty is preparing clients for monied careers...If youth is wasted on the young, is teaching wasted on students?"
education  harvard  finance  academia  teaching  culture  gradeinflation  privilege  money  via:preoccupations  wisdom  youth  greed  elite  society  colleges  universities 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Excerpts from Ricardo Semler's book "Maverick: The Success Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace" - (37signals)
"A modern company must accept change as its basic premise; [quote]

Growth is often just about greed; [quote]

How rules snowball; [quote]

What’s wrong with bosses; [quote]

Why bureaucracies get built:
Bureaucracies are built by and for people who busy themselves proving they are necessary, especially when they suspect they aren’t. All these bosses have to keep themselves occupied, and so they constantly complicate everything…I wanted our people to have more contact with one another. I wanted less clutter. I wanted fewer levels. I wanted more flexibility. I wanted a new shape for our organization.

"
ricardosemler  37signals  business  entrepreneurship  management  culture  administration  leadership  democracy  hierarchy  power  growth  greed  money 
april 2008 by robertogreco
The You Generation | MetaFilter
"Is foreclosure right for you? Walking, a click away."
society  homes  housing  housingbubble  foreclosure  greed  us  markets  business 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Joe Bageant: To the Princes of Gringolia
"mindset of "I want all I can grab for myself...now, even...on credit," constitutes...bigger crisis than class...drives unfolding national catastrophe...most work too much, have too little time to experience true leisure, develop genuine intellectual and
us  economics  society  class  culture  happiness  politics  greed  global  international  world  poverty  relationships  intellect  leisure  work  consumerism  consumption  consumer 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Harvard bookstore: Our prices are "property" - Boing Boing
"The Coop, Harvard's Barnes-and-Noble-run bookstore, has begun to throw out students who "take a lot of notes" about book pricing, stating that their prices are "intellectual property." Apparently, no one with a Harvard Law degree is involved in formulati
markets  publishing  books  colleges  universities  ip  property  rights  law  economics  greed  education  schools 
september 2007 by robertogreco
David Byrne Journal: 11.7-8.06: Election day
"I sense that the balance of power in the house and senate and the rollback of the neocon agenda is only part of the job ahead, as the country has been inundated with bully culture, the culture of greed, for at least a dozen years."
politics  culture  us  society  future  capitalism  greed  elections 
november 2006 by robertogreco

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