Archive | October, 2011

Our Unpaid, Extra Shadow Work – NYTimes.com

30 Oct

When we ‘automate’ many tasks we take tasks from one group of people, who perform them as full-time jobs, and redistribute them across another, larger, group of people who perform them as ancillary accompaniments to other tasks.

Of course, these shadow chores never appear in one’s job description, let alone justify any salary increase. Shadow work is just covertly added to our daily duties. As robotic devices replace human workers, end-users like customers and employees are taking on the remnant of the transaction that still requires wetware — a brain. New waves of technology change how things are done, and we docilely adapt — unavoidably so, as there’s usually no alternative. Running a business without e-mail is hardly a viable option, but with e-mail comes spam to be evaluated and deleted — more shadow work.

via Our Unpaid, Extra Shadow Work – NYTimes.com.

The Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget – NYTimes.com

29 Oct

A war with Russia is now unthinkable, conventional weapons are increasingly capable, and the main nuclear threat comes from Iran and North Korea. To have the credibility to try to contain their ambitions, the United States needs to be weaning itself from its reliance on nuclear weapons. Reducing the number of weapons, scaling back unnecessary modernization programs, and delaying or scrapping plans to replace some delivery systems will save billions and help make the world safer.

via The Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget – NYTimes.com.

Wall Street Protesters Hit the Bull’s-Eye – NYTimes.com

29 Oct

From 1979 to 2006, the financial industry’s share in the nation’s corporate profits grew from a fifth to almost a third. By 2006, bankers and insurers were making 70 percent more, on average, than workers in the rest of the private sector. Then they set off one of the worst financial crises in living memory, and taxpayers bailed them out.

The protesters’ grievances may be aimed at Wall Street as a metaphor for broader economic forces. But there is nothing metaphorical about who is taking home the wealth. The protesters might even aim a bit higher: the real income growth is happening in the top 0.1 percent. There are lots of bankers there, too.

via Wall Street Protesters Hit the Bull’s-Eye – NYTimes.com.

Oakland Protests Test Mayor Quan’s Activist Background – NYTimes.com

29 Oct

Tough choices ahead, for all of us.

Ms. Quan’s transformation from one of the more progressive mayors in the country into an object of Occupy Oakland’s scorn has left her isolated and weakened politically. Even her closest friends and supporters questioned her judgment. Dan Siegel, Ms. Quan’s legal adviser who has known her since her days at Berkeley, said he briefly considered resigning over the raid.

But instead of giving in, Ms. Quan is trying to win back the support of the protest community she once called her own.

On Friday, hours after she fled the rally, Ms. Quan said she would not resign. She apologized for a second time and sought to align herself with the Occupy movement, which claims to represent the 99 percent who they say are shut out of a political process that caters to corporations.

via Oakland Protests Test Mayor Quan’s Activist Background – NYTimes.com.

America’s Exploding Pipe Dream – NYTimes.com

29 Oct

We sold ourselves a pipe dream that everyone could get rich and no one would get hurt — a pipe dream that exploded like a pipe bomb when the already-rich grabbed for all the gold; when they used their fortunes to influence government and gain favors and protection; when everyone else was left to scrounge around their ankles in hopes that a few coins would fall.

We have not taken care of the least among us. We have allowed a revolting level of income inequality to develop. … This was underscored in a report released on Thursday by the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation of Germany entitled “Social Justice in the OECD — How Do the Member States Compare?”

Be sure to click through to the NYTimes article so you can view the data (click on the link at the end of the article).

via America’s Exploding Pipe Dream – NYTimes.com.

David Graeber: On Playing By The Rules – The Strange Success Of #OccupyWallStreet « naked capitalism

28 Oct

2) The Occupiers ‘broke the frame’—the frame of the narrative and the conditioned response, but more than that too—by acting ON THEIR OWN AND WITHOUT REFERENCE TO AUTHORITY, and above all in flat, reasoned, and non-negotiable rejection of the official consensus reality on economics and politics presently operative in our society.

via David Graeber: On Playing By The Rules – The Strange Success Of #OccupyWallStreet « naked capitalism.

Religion in America, Going Forward

28 Oct

What role will churches play in moving America to a more equitable and sustainable society?

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The other day I made a post about a church service I’d recently attended, remarking both on the power of the pastor’s preaching, its effect on his congregation, and on his responsibility to them. It was clear to me that he was energizing them to go out a face the world in a constructive frame of mind.

A friend of mine, a man I’ve known for almost 40 years, replied by indicating that he’d been lurking on a list of Unitarian ministers that was currently discussing Black Preaching: The Recovery Of A Powerful Tool by Henry H. Mitchell. This paragraph seems to have been particularly provocative:

As has been noted, worship among Whites and Blacks was similar during the Great Awakenings. It might now be asked why audible response or dialogue disappeared from mainline Protestant patterns of worship. One guess is that the preaching material soared beyond the intellectual reach of the congregation. This occurred, perhaps, because Protestant seminaries had engaged in a contest of one-upmanship with the graduate divisions of the liberal arts colleges, creating scholars instead of professionals skilled in reaching people. With such standard conditioning in the theological schools, the preacher might well be expected to be intellectual in concerns rather than interested in the day-to-day issues of ordinary people. It follows that in such a school-conditioned, abstract atmosphere, answering back would soon be considered by the preaching scholar as impolite and disruptive. This attitude would increase the inhibitions of an audience eager to please. Modern-day experiments in the middle-class church, in which dialogue takes place during and after the sermon, seem clearly to support this hypothesis. In the planning of the talk-back after the service, great care is taken to pitch the dialogue within the intellectual reach of the laity involved. It is encouraging to speculate that the middle-class model may now be drifting away from the graduate classroom and back to the pattern once shared by Blacks and Whites in the preaching event.

My friend then went to say: Continue reading

How OWS confuses and ignores Fox News and the pundit class. – Slate Magazine

27 Oct

Occupy Wall Street is not a movement without a message. It’s a movement that has wisely shunned the one-note, pre-chewed, simple-minded messaging required for cable television as it now exists. It’s a movement that feels no need to explain anything to the powers that be, although it is deftly changing the way we explain ourselves to one another.

Think, for just a moment, about the irony. We are the most media-saturated 24-hour-cable-soaked culture in the world, and yet around the country, on Facebook and at protests, people are holding up cardboard signs, the way protesters in ancient Sumeria might have done when demonstrating against a rise in the price of figs. And why is that? Because they very wisely don’t trust television cameras and microphones to get it right anymore. Because a media constructed around the illusion of false equivalencies, screaming pundits, and manufactured crises fails to capture who we are and what we value.

via How OWS confuses and ignores Fox News and the pundit class. – Slate Magazine.

Crony Capitalism Comes Home – NYTimes.com

27 Oct

…this is a chance to save capitalism from crony capitalists….in recent years, some financiers have chosen to live in a government-backed featherbed. Their platform seems to be socialism for tycoons and capitalism for the rest of us. They’re not evil at all. But when the system allows you more than your fair share, it’s human to grab. That’s what explains featherbedding by both unions and tycoons, and both are impediments to a well-functioning market economy.

via Crony Capitalism Comes Home – NYTimes.com.

Wall Street Isn’t Winning It’s Cheating | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

27 Oct

Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that’s just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they’re cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

In this country, we cheer for people who hit their own home runs – not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.

That’s why it’s so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn’t disappointment at having lost. It’s anger because those other guys didn’t really win.

via Wall Street Isn’t Winning It’s Cheating | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone.