TED Censored

Here’s a TED talk that was censored.  It seems the idea that everyone does not owe their jobs to a few rich people struck quite a nerve and couldn’t be published:

http://www.ryanlouiscooper.com/2012/05/ted-and-economic-inequality.html

The above TED talk, by Richard Wilkinson, is from October 2011, and it’s all about economic inequality. There’s quite a lot of buzz today about another talk on economic inequality which was recorded, then quashed by TED officials. You can check out the full transcript here, from National Journal.

At first glance, this is quite a strange discrepancy. Both talks are on economic inequality, and they do differ a bit, but if anything the Wilkinson talk is more radical. The gist of his is that once a country has reached “developed” status, wealth doesn’t much matter for the health of that society, broadly speaking (including things like longevity, mental illness, crime, prison population, poverty, etc). Instead equality is what matters. More equal societies are better.

The censored talk, given by venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, makes a fairly banal point that starting a successful business depends entirely on having a population of people with the ability to buy your product:

I have started or helped start, dozens of businesses and initially hired lots of people. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would all have failed and all those jobs would have evaporated.

That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.

See the rest of the story at the above link.  Note after the web storm of protest they did eventually decide to release the talk.  But why should it take a protest?

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TED Censored

Demand Zero

Occupy Wall Street could actually use a demand that is straight-forward and would have broad support. Accomplishing this would give the OWS movement credibility and moral connectivity. The demand should be one that is concrete and would advance the OWS agenda while morally isolating its opponents. The best demand for this purpose would be:

A constitutional amendment that would eliminate any of the benefits of the Bill of Rights from accruing to corporations, and simply state that the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights only accrue to natural born persons is exactly the kind of demand that OWS needs to make.  It is a simple demand, and one that, if acted upon would dramatically change the political landscape by allowing all kinds of limits on corporations.  Such an action is a precondition for dismantling incipient corporate fascism before it takes root.

Any one who opposed that would so clearly isolated themselves that they would be committing political suicide. Also, such an amendment would have concrete results, for example, overturning Citizens United.

I like the catchy name Demand Zero, too.

Demand Zero

Obama judges, owned by the RIAA

So much for power to the people.  Seems like it is power to the biggest corporations:

BitTorrent Case Judge Is a Former RIAA Lobbyist and Pirate Chaser

Less than a week after her investiture ceremony, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell laid down a landmark verdict that will make it easy for copyright holders to send cash demands to people they suspect of copyright infringement. Many people called the decision into doubt, and the revelation that Judge Howell previously worked as an RIAA lobbyist and as the Managing Director of a pirate-chasing outfit hints at a conflict of interest.

Last week, the freshly appointed U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell gave copyright holders carte blanche to continue their profitable settlement schemes. This verdict weakens the position of thousands of alleged BitTorrent users, some of whom may be completely innocent.

Despite opposition from ISPs and consumer rights groups who described the tactics as “extortion,” Howell decided in favor of the copyright holders. An extremely unfortunate precedent to say the least, and this is confirmed by lawyer Robert Cashman who represents several defendants in similar cases.

Obama judges, owned by the RIAA

What connects the protests/revolutions in Egypt and Wisconsin: a common enemy

Asking the right question over at Al-Jazeera English; the answer is: Yes!

A revolution against neoliberalism?

Two observations about Egypt’s history as a neoliberal state are in order. First, Mubarak’s Egypt was considered to be at the forefront of instituting neoliberal policies in the Middle East (not un-coincidentally, so was Ben Ali’s Tunisia). Secondly, the reality of Egypt’s political economy during the Mubarak era was very different than the rhetoric, as was the case in every other neoliberal state from Chile to Indonesia. Political scientist Timothy Mitchell published a revealing essay about Egypt’s brand of neoliberalism in his book Rule of Experts (the chapter titled “Dreamland” — named after a housing development built by Ahmad Bahgat, one of the Mubarak cronies now discredited by the fall of the regime). The gist of Mitchell’s portrait of Egyptian neoliberalism was that while Egypt was lauded by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund as a beacon of free-market success, the standard tools for measuring economies gave a grossly inadequate picture of the Egyptian economy. In reality the unfettering of markets and agenda of privatization were applied unevenly at best.

The only people for whom Egyptian neoliberalism worked “by the book” were the most vulnerable members of society, and their experience with neoliberalism was not a pretty picture. Organised labor was fiercely suppressed. The public education and the health care systems were gutted by a combination of neglect and privatization. Much of the population suffered stagnant or falling wages relative to inflation. Official unemployment was estimated at approximately 9.4% last year (and much higher for the youth who spearheaded the January 25th Revolution), and about 20% of the population is said to live below a poverty line defined as $2 per day per person.

Earlier in the article they define neoliberalism, too:

What is neoliberalism? In his Brief History of Neoliberalism, the eminent social geographer David Harvey outlined “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterised by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.” Neoliberal states guarantee, by force if necessary, the “proper functioning” of markets; where markets do not exist (for example, in the use of land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then the state should create them.

Guaranteeing the sanctity of markets is supposed to be the limit of legitimate state functions, and state interventions should always be subordinate to markets. All human behavior, and not just the production of goods and services, can be reduced to market transactions.

What connects the protests/revolutions in Egypt and Wisconsin: a common enemy

Not stuck in traffic, yet

Great stuff, Anthony Downs An Economic Theory of Democracy, summary from wikipedia:

Here is a list of the key propositions Downs attempts to prove in chapter eight:

  1. A two-party democracy cannot provide stable and effective government unless there is a large measure of ideological consensus among its citizens.
  2. Parties in a two-party system deliberately change their platforms so that they resemble one another; whereas parties in a multi-party system try to remain as ideologically distinct from each other as possible.
  3. If the distribution of ideologies in a society’s citizenry remains constant, its political system will move toward a position of equilibrium in which the number of parties and their ideological positions are stable over time.
  4. New parties can be most successfully launched immediately after some significant change in the distribution of ideological views among eligible voters.
  5. In a two-party system, it is rational for each party to encourage voters to be irrational by making its platform vague and ambiguous.

The conditions under which his theory prevails are outlined in chapter two. Many of these conditions have been challenged by later scholarship. In anticipation of such criticism, Downs quotes Milton Friedman in chapter two that: “Theoretical models should be tested primarily by the accuracy of their predictions rather than by the reality of their assumptions”

Here’s a rare occasion when I agree with Milton Friedman, and would add that Downs model from 1958 has weathered fairly well as a predictive framework.

Not stuck in traffic, yet

HOW TO DONATE TO WIKILEAKS updated 7X (last update 2010-12-27 04:39-GMT)

Here is a new way to donate to wikileaks, please do so today:

https://xipwire.com/give/wl

I have not seen yet an official release from wikileaks that the xipwire site is going to them; there is always the possibility of this payment not getting to wikileaks.  I feel presently that risk is smaller than the risk of not donating to wikileaks, though.

As of this morning (December 12th 2010  18:01 GMT) I could still get wikileaks here: http://wikileaks.nl/

The datacell link will no longer allow you to make a credit card donation to wikileaks; it would appear that the credit card companies are to blame.  IF you are upset, CALL YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY AND COMPLAIN.

Note in comments there is a description of how to donate using flattr.

I have not verified the flattr method with wikileaks; but it does seem to work, and is now almost the only opportunity to donate to wikileaks.

Everything below is a direct quote from the wikileaks site.

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Wallpapers

Synonymous with Free Speech. We Open Governments. Every organization rests... Time to Open the Archives. Information wants to be free. Justice is in Your Hands Now. Big Brother is watching... Nesting Lies -- Hatching Truth.

HOW TO DONATE TO WIKILEAKS updated 7X (last update 2010-12-27 04:39-GMT)

Not a bad piece, but is anybody listening?

Not a bad piece, but is anybody listening?

Winning the Class War
By BOB HERBERT
Published: November 26, 2010

The class war that no one wants to talk about continues unabated.

Even as millions of out-of-work and otherwise struggling Americans are tightening their belts for the holidays, the nation’s elite are lacing up their dancing shoes and partying like royalty as the millions and billions keep rolling in.

Recessions are for the little people, not for the corporate chiefs and the titans of Wall Street who are at the heart of the American aristocracy. They have waged economic warfare against everybody else and are winning big time.

Continue reading “Not a bad piece, but is anybody listening?”

Not a bad piece, but is anybody listening?