Showing posts with label Capitalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Capitalism. Show all posts

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Normalization of Technology






This is an article that describes how far we have come since the mid-2000s in terms of legitimizing technology. And it has happened in spite of ourselves.

One of the things that thwarted the growth of Craigslist, and delayed the ultimate destruction of a major source of income for newspapers, was the backlash generated against forging romantic or closely social associations through ads placed on the website. Whether it was for real, deep romance or superficial encounters, Craigslist was once a huge source of traffic and opportunity for people to hook up with. This complimented busy people or those who wanted to use pictures (Facebook? Absolutely) to make their value judgments. This was all well and good until--what, exactly?

The "scary" or "terrifying" online story of how someone was robbed/killed/abused/abandoned/left for dead by a motorcycle gang member, of course. That myth-inspiring, Snopes-ready trope that was guaranteed to STOP online dating in its tracks and force people to find bars where they could go and meet people.

Your source for these stories? Newspapers, naturally, especially ones that accepted advertising from self-defense schools, bars, restaurants, and from people who could sell you mace or oversized dogs. They had a vested interest in making it appear that places like Craigslist were online hotbeds of illicit behavior, all of it naughty and slightly unethical, and that death was right around the corner for anyone who tried to buy an overstuffed couch from a guy with an E-mail address of Slaughter_Bunny189@yahoo.com and a shady cell phone. (Slaughter_Bunny189@yahoo.com is a cool dude, don't bug him, bro.)

Guess what?

It didn't work. People accepted technology, waited for it to upgrade itself and make itself reasonably safe to use, and then they added it to their daily routines. They adopted it after the initial dry run. They are now meeting people online and enjoying the results. I'm sorry if your business model didn't figure on losing customers to online dating, but there it is.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Staying on the Bank's Books Forever


The advantages of wealth keep piling up.

We would like things to be fair, I suppose, but things being fair would immediately come under the heading of socialism! or worse. But when things are fair, consumers tend to have a little more confidence, I would imagine, since the inherently rigged financial system doesn't seem to be inspiring anyone anymore.

This is evidence that the game is rigged and that it is becoming institutionalized favoritism and that it is being rigged at a higher and higher level. Once you have eliminated the possibility that the wealthy can't help but get more favors and better rates than everyone else, the stratification of society is complete and there's no reason for someone willing to work and improve a property will try to get a mortgage. What incentive is there? Unless you're at a certain level, you're going to pay a higher rate and that will cut into your already razor-thin property margin.

I used to be down on the idea of "flipping" houses until I started watching some of what happens on channels like HGTV. Instead of being entirely a cutthroat operation, you see houses that are rehabilitated, brought back up to code, and sold for an honest profit after some investment and hard work has been done--nothing wrong with that. And I know it is difficult to signal a trend based on reality television programming, but the end result of a flipped house that sells for more than what it was sold is supposed to be a family living in a decent house.

When a family lives in a renovated home, it can save a neighborhood. It can lift the values of properties all around it. That's positive economic activity that should not be thwarted or discouraged by the unfair rate tiers given to the super wealthy who are simply trading in misery and ruin. I don't believe they are taking the time to invest in and flip houses. I think they're trading in assets that they can use to build a new and fancier version of the "big shitpile" made famous by Atrios.

Friday, November 8, 2013

People Just Don't Get It


Despite all of the obstacles and all of the obstructionism, this President keeps creating jobs and the country keeps moving forward. We are living through a time where no one tells the truth about what is really happening and the rhetoric of the day does not match the facts of what keeps happening. We are better off than we realize, and we will never hear that spoken aloud.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Right Priorities


This is the sort of thing that I wish Bill Gates had said back when his wealth and influence were on the rise. He could have led a different sort of company and he could have made a difference in the world long before being rich and "responsible" were in vogue.

When you have retired or given up making more money, turning to philanthropy is admirable but it comes long after the efforts to make the PC indispensable have passed.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

You Are Paying For This


Every individual who receives a Federal benefit puts strain on the system. It's no where near as broken as people claim to be--it's actually very efficient and relatively free of fraud and misuse. But taxpayers should not have to subsidize anyone who works 40 hours a week and plays by the rules. The people who work at McDonald's and do the right thing are being encouraged to sign up for food stamps. Which is a common sense thing because we wouldn't want anyone working in the restaurant industry to starve to death so that their employer can reap obscene profits.

A 40 hour a week job should pay a living wage, period. End of story.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unemployment Falls to 7.2%


This could be so much better:
[...] the good news is the unemployment rate fell to 7.2% as 73,000 people joined the labor force and 133,000 people said they got jobs. That's considered encouraging, after months in which thousands of Americans were dropping out of the workforce. 
Still, 11.3 million jobless people continued to look for work.
We have become enamored with the idea that unemployment is going to drop on its own; I think we need to push for a jobs bill or make that the reason why people should throw Republicans out of office. And I think that would be a legitimate reason to encourage people in Republican-leaning districts to vote Democrat or stay home.

Without some stimulus or encouragement from the Federal sector, the job growth we need isn't happening. At least, not on its own.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A World Without Mistresses


In case you were planning on renting an apartment in Beijing, remember to look for a building that is not full of country girls who are living as mistresses. It's not that you won't enjoy your neighbors--it's that you are going to pay too much in rent.

How is this a uniquely Chinese phenomenon? Couldn't it be said that this problem once plagued New York City or is the scale of mistress keeping much too high in China for this to be a universal problem?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Time to Dangle


If Robert Benmosche is that stupid, then perhaps he really is a symptom of what really ails the world economy and our elites as a whole. They are ignorant of history, incompetent at what they do, and they don't know anything about how the world really works.

One person's persecution complex is another person's day to day existence. If this poor man had to live like a person who is truly in danger or being hung for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, imagine how he would feel about being culpable for the misery of millions. He'd probably hang himself if he understood how many lives he and his fellow elitists chose to ruin so they could grab more of the economic pie for themselves. He would not need to be hung by anyone for that to be driven home. What sustains this world is that the knowledge and compassion and creativity of the people far below him on the economic ladder creates a world worth living in where the act of lynching would not be considered justice for such a thief. He belongs in prison with all the rest of this criminal cohorts, but treated humanely, of course.

Our media and our government allow people like this to exist and thrive without conscience.

Monday, September 16, 2013

So Long, Larry Summers


A lot will be written about denying Larry Summers yet another perch from which he could look down on the economy and do whatever it is he does. I find it hard to believe that anyone on the left, anyone who considers themselves a liberal, and the left wing of the Democratic Party in general has the power to determine who gets what job anymore.

If you are a conservative Senator, you can pretty much deny this administration anything you want. We have numerous judicial appointments that are still languishing in limbo. We have an incomplete Federal cabinet and we have gridlock when it comes to nominees that require confirmation from the Senate. That power is not held by anyone who comes from the left side of the political spectrum. Summers was sunk because of some other issue or reason, probably having more to do with a general lack of approval from some obscure Republican Senator than anything else.

This article seems to suggest that there are Democratic Senators who can, you know, change things. Senators Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren are powerful and won't be hung out to dry by the Democratic Party establishment, I gather? They are not going to face the music for helping to drive Summers out of the Fed job?

When did the left get this magical power to deny appointments? Why doesn't the left use this power more often?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Food Obsession Reaches a New Level


McDonald's has a new "product" that is really not any different from the supersized meals offered by Taco Bell or Kentucky Fried Chicken. Those restaurants package large amounts of food in boxes that can be purchased by people and they are designed to disguise how much food they are gathering up and consuming.

Our society is no longer about ordering a late night pizza; it's about consuming an ever-increasing amount of food that can be boxed and hidden away from prying eyes.

We're not just getting fatter. We're eliminating the stigma associated with getting fatter.

In other words, why is this news? Because the news organization in question, Time Magazine, has a vested interest in writing stories about how we are getting fatter and less healthy and so it seeds the discussion with stories about products that help transform America into a land full of weight-obsessed food abusers who have to now buy boxes of the stuff they want.

Circle jerk? Yes. And on purpose as well.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More Profitable Than Cocaine


The Associated Press inadvertently gives you all the information you need in order to make phony money:
First, design: Software such as Corel Draw or Microsoft Office is used. Then comes photolithography, the etching of metal plates, offset printing and finishing.
Finishing is next: A sheet of bills is lightly coated with varnish. Individual bills, typically 12, are then cut from the sheet. 
Security strips are inserted with needles and affixed with glue applied with medical syringes. (Hold a $20 bill up to the light and you can see a strip with "USA TWENTY" printed repeatedly across it). 
The bills now pass through what counterfeiters call an "enmalladora," or netting machine: Two rollers covered with coarse fabric to give them a rough texture.
The last step: Sand down the bills with fine sandpaper.
 
"It takes four or five days to make $300,000" in counterfeit notes, the investigator said.
Clearly, this is more than just doodling on heavy paper or trimming off the corners of a bill and tricking a slackjawed retail clerk into taking a folded over note. It's good to see that all of the effort that has gone into preventing this from happening is working. My understanding was that the new designs currently in circulation were extremely hard to counterfeit. And yet, there are 13 year-olds who have mastered the art of making fake money.

At some point, money will have to go away and we'll all live with virtual money programmed onto plastic cards that are, of course, the easiest thing in the world to use to steal things. We spend money to create money that is worthless when it is this easy to copy.