Social Justice

Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013: David Simon

There are two Americas. In one, bankers get golden parachutes, insider traders return to society as well-paid consultants, and influence is for sale. In the other, opportunity is scarce and forgiveness scarcer, jail awaits those caught possessing recreational drugs, and cries for help are ignored. Society preaches forgiveness for the rich and retribution for the poor. Entrenched inequality and its companion, poverty, are the dark side of the American dream for a citizenry united by name, but not by rules.

American State of the Union: A Festival of Lies

Barack Obama, who has presided over the sharpest increases in economic inequality in U.S. history, adopts the persona of public advocate, reciting wrongs inflicted by unseen and unknown forces that have “deepened” the gap between the rich and the rest of us and “stalled” upward mobility. Having spent half a decade stuffing tens of trillions of dollars into the accounts of an ever shrinking gaggle of financial capitalists, Obama declares this to be “a year of action” in the opposite direction. “Believe it.” And if you do believe it, then crown him the Most Effective Liar of the young century.

Bringing Edward Snowden to Trial Could Be the Embarrassment of the Century

There’s little doubt that if the Obama administration ever managed to bring NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden before a jury on American soil, the unfolding drama would quickly become the trial of the new century.

But despite all of its bluster, is the administration really eager and ready for such an undertaking? The answer, surprisingly, may be “no,” and for one simple reason—the trial of the century could also quickly devolve into the embarrassment of the century.

Hate the Super Rich?

Hate the super rich because their greed is ungodly. If true democracy is to be restored, then Americans need to be much more than dissatisfied. They need to get more emotional. They need to hate. Then they must convert that hatred into political demands and actions.

American Crisis

In Paine’s time, the enemy was a distant and easily identifiable king, but in ours, the enemy is within and mostly invisible. Our public officials are only the cabana boys and girls, or waiters, of this sick system, and they’re certainly not serving us. In fact, we can’t even press our noses against the glass to see who are dining within. Standing out back, we fight among ourselves for the discarded scraps and that, for now, is our only battle. We’re sad.

Before the NSA, this is how they spied on us

There was a time before the NSA was able secretly to collect personal data about us all, all the time. There was a time when it was much harder for our governments to know what we were up to. There was a time when they struggled to control the flow of information.

The Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages

In early 2005, as demand for Silicon Valley engineers began booming, Apple’s Steve Jobs sealed a secret and illegal pact with Google’s Eric Schmidt to artificially push their workers wages lower by agreeing not to recruit each other’s employees, sharing wage scale information, and punishing violators. On February 27, 2005, Bill Campbell, a member of Apple’s board of directors and senior advisor to Google, emailed Jobs to confirm that Eric Schmidt “got directly involved and firmly stopped all efforts to recruit anyone from Apple.”

N is for Neo-Serfdom, O for Offshore Banking

Instead of an ownership society, we are evolving into a society of mortgage debtors, corporate debtors and government debtors. And as far as the supposed savings (“financial ownership”) are concerned, John C. Bogle has observed that instead of the economy being dominated by individual investors , it is being financialized into “an intermediation society dominated by professional money managers and corporations.” This trend “has not been accompanied by the development of an ethical, regulatory and legal environment … The ownership society is over. The agency (or intermediation) society is not working as it should.”

Systemic Foundations of American Capitalism

Inequality permeates the social system, taking multiple forms, themselves integrated, because the essential capital-accumulation process requires invidious distinctions, actualized in terms of power arrangements, across the board. Savaging the social safety net, cushioning the profits of JPMorgan Chase, targeted assassination in Yemen, a resurgence of racism, anti-immigrant feeling, gender discrimination in all its phases, a half-trillion dollar military budget in the next go-around, all of these form constituents—along with much else—in the systemic organization of inequality.

Direct Action Must Be Remembered As Part of Dr. King’s Legacy

[D]irect action, as Dr. King understood it and practiced it, meant bringing a social institution or the society itself locally to a halt, to make the system scream, just like its victims screamed, to bring contradictions to a head, so that everyone could see what the real problem was, that is, to confront authority. And that’s not understood in terms of what King’s legacy is.

Eugenics, American-Style

California’s eugenics program proved so efficient that in the 1930s, Nazi scientists asked California eugenicists for advice on how to run their own sterilization regime. “Germany used California’s program as its chief example that this was a working, successful policy,” says Christina Cogdell, author of Eugenic Design. ”They modeled their law on California’s law.”

Water Cannons

The Metropolitan Police Service want their water cannon; they want it by this summer. Previously only employed on the streets of Northern Ireland, the introduction of water cannons is keenly supported by London Mayor, Boris Johnson, to apparently combat a repeat of the 2011 riots