Monday, September 24, 2018

School of Life Monday:
HISTORY: CONSUMERISM

It’s only very recently in history that we’ve been able to buy more than the bare necessities. Can the history of consumption guide us to a wiser future?

Friday, September 21, 2018

MC5 for the FUCK YEAH FRIDAY
Incredible rare great live film footage

from Dangerous Minds:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the recording of MC5’s seminal live/debut album, Kick out the Jams. To celebrate, guitarist Wayne Kramer has hit the road with an all-star band, playing the entire record plus other MC5 classics. There’s also the imminent release of a very cool vinyl boxed set of the MC5’s three LPs—but more on that in a moment.

1972 would prove to be the final year for the MC5, but early in the year they were still actively promoting their recently released third album, High Time. An overseas tour, with concerts in England and France, was booked for February-March. Bassist Michael Davis, traveling separately from the group, missed his flight to England, causing him to a be a no-show for a major gig in London. The MC5 played a few subsequent dates, before Davis left the band. One of the last concerts performed by the original lineup took place on February 11th at Friars, a club in Aylesbury.

Footage shot at this gig has been uploaded to Wayne Kramer’s YouTube channel. The two clips—which have been restored and look/sound fantastic—reveal that, even as the group was reaching the end of the line, some of that ol’ ‘5 magic was still there.



The new MC5 vinyl box, Total Assault: 50th Anniversary Collection, comes out on September 21st. The Rhino Records set includes the three albums the MC5 released: Kick out the Jams (1969), Back in the USA (1970), and High Time (1971). All three are pressed on colored vinyl, and feature faithful reproductions of the original artwork. The box also will include previously unreleased photos. Pre-order yours here.




In their kitchen Photo: Leni Sinclair. ...

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A public bank for LA: instead of sending hundreds of millions to predatory finance, Angelenos' taxes can fund community development

from Boing Boing:



The City of Los Angeles sends the nation-wrecking finance industry more than $100MM/year in the form of fees and penalties for its banking business, supporting the institutions whose racist lending practices, financial engineering and mortgage fraud have wreaked untold harm on the city's residents.

This November, Angelenos will get to vote on a proposition to create a public bank that will back LA's smaller community banks and do the city's business without lining finance's pockets. This bank will be able to fund community projects from housing to transit to health-care, and will be able to take deposits from the city's burgeoning cannabis industry, which is presently shut out of the federally guaranteed bank system and relies on safes in entrepreneurs' homes or businesses to stash millions in cash.

The finance industry hates and fears this proposal and is spreading FUD about how a bank that is under democratically elected political control will inevitably become corrupt -- while the discipline of the market will supposedly keep banks on the straight and narrow. Tell that to the millions of Americans whose suffered from Wells Fargo's corruption.
And those are not the only benefits of a public bank, backers claim. A public bank would enable the city to loan money for badly needed affordable housing development. They believe a city-owned bank could extend the credit lines of community banks and credit unions to offer loans to low-income residents and help bankroll affordable housing.

Another benefit touted by bank promoters: badly needed investment in infrastructure. They hold out the example of Costa Rica’s public bank, Banco Popular. Advocates claim that this bank has been the financial linchpin behind the financing of water supply systems, residential solar panels, and hydroelectric generators.

“A public bank could make some investments that in the long-term would be profitable for LA… [investments that] no bank focused on short-term profit would dare to invest in,” Baradaran asserted.

A public bank is also seen by many as a means to local self-determination and bypassing high Wall Street interest rates. For example, LA public bank advocates estimate Los Angeles pays $3.14 billion in debt service, the cost to borrow money, from Wall Street. They argue a municipal bank would allow the city to recapture that money and give Los Angelenos a say in redirecting this funding toward local projects.
Public Bank LA

Banking on the Public Option: Will LA Lead the Way for People-Owned Banks? [Glenn Daigon/Whowhatwhy]

(via Naked Capitalism)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Tim "Net Neutrality" Wu
on the case for breaking up Facebook

from Boing Boing:

Competition scholar and cyberlawyer Tim Wu (previously) is best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality," but his work ranges over all sorts of issues related to technology, competition, monopoly and innovation; in his forthcoming book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, he makes the case for breaking up the tech giants, starting with Facebook -- because the problem with Big Tech isn't "tech," it's "big."

Wu sensibly lays the current antitrust crisis at the feet of Ronald Reagan, who followed the University of Chicago economists' doctrine and dismantled antitrust enforcement except in the narrow case of price-fixing to set a minimum price; this has allowed companies to get away with a host of anticompetitive evils, from predatory pricing to market-cornering to buying up all competition before it becomes a threat.

Wu sets out the case for breaking up the tech giants without any legal reforms -- just through a change in enforcement strategies, the kind of thing that President Elizabeth Warren could order on her first day of work in January 2020 regardless of the makeup of Congress or the Senate.
“The easiest way to do it is to start by breaking off WhatsApp and Instagram so those are separate companies,” says Wu. “Hopefully, those companies try to introduce more privacy-sensitive or otherwise better social networking options. Right now, because they’re all owned by the same place, they’re never really allowed to get at the mothership and be a true replacement for Facebook. I think WhatsApp is in an even better position [than Instagram], frankly, to try to go at it. They’ve got this great messaging service. Everyone loves it.”

But wouldn’t reaching in to break up Facebook be difficult for the government to justify? Wu thinks differently. “Unless you believe that we want one ruling master of all social networking and it should be Mark Zuckerberg… then there’s no good reason not to break it up,” he adds. “What’s the argument against it?”

“These are corporations,” says Wu. “They have subunits. Sometimes corporations divide by themselves. It’s not that dramatic, and there’s been this campaign to say, ‘Oh my god, this would be like the most insane thing ever.’”
The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age [Tim Wu/Columbia Global Reports]

It’s time to break up Facebook [Nilay Patel/The Verge]

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2018's Blue Wave needs to take down Trump, and the right-wing establishment of the Democratic Party

from Boing Boing:
California's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown repeatedly vetoed universal healthcare after the state legislature voted it through; Democratic state majorities in NY, CT and NJ refused to enact legislation to close the "carried interest" tax loophole that makes billions for hedge-fund managers; Rhode Island Democrats went on a slashing spree, taking down pensions for teachers, firefighters and other public servants while the finance-affiliated state treasurer funneled the pension funds into her pals' underperforming hedge funds; Democrats in NJ gutted the tax bill to give millionaires an easy ride; New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down the state anti-corruption commission, only to have his top aide busted for being horrifically corrupt.

These establishment Democrats all hold the safest of seats, and when that happens, they cozy up to industry at the expense of workers. After all, osculating captains of industry gets you invited to fancy parties where you can collect tons of campaign checks, plus those guys will give you awesome "consulting" work once you're out of office (think of this as the "Dan Lipinski effect".

All things being equal, robber-barons would rather give money to Republicans, but if a Republican can't get elected, they'll just buy themselves some Democrats.

But the 2018 Tsunami is changing that. By primarying these DINO's, progressive Democrats are offering a real challenge -- not just to Trump, but to the Trump-lites who aren't openly racist but who are just as happy as Trump is to hand the country over to looters.

The Democratic Establishment is running scared. After the New York Democratic Party libeled a progressive candidate for governor who is standing up to Andrew Cuomo, Cuomo claimed he had no idea what was going on.

Perhaps one of the dozens of Republican operatives he's hired to work for his government could explain it to him.

There, the administration of Democratic stalwart Rahm Emanuel has used that power to initiate one of American history’s largest mass closures of public schools and layoff hundreds of teachers. During Emanuel’s tenure, public workers’ retirement savings were invested with financial firms whose executives have bankrolled Emanuel’s political apparatus. Emanuel’s administration also reportedly oversaw a police dark site where suspects were allegedly imprisoned without charge – and the Democratic mayor’s appointees infamously blocked the release of a videotape of Chicago police gunning down an unarmed African American teenager.

With the city subsequently suffering an explosion of gun violence, racial strife and economic inequality, Democratic donors responded by lavishing Emanuel with massive campaign contributions and Democratic voters reelected him. When Hizzoner later announced his retirement amid the trial over the police shooting, Emanuel was immediately lauded as a great hero by the most famous face of the Democratic party, Barack Obama.

The former president’s move was a powerful reminder that Democrats’ let-them-eat-cake attitude and nothing-to-see-here complacency is a toxic gangrene afflicting not just the distant tips of the party’s local tendrils. The fish rots from the head down, and Democrats’ festering noggin is at the top of the national party, where Democratic states’ federal lawmakers have been helping Republicans ransack everything not nailed down to the floor.

Yes, let's wipe out Trump. But take neoliberal Democrats with him, too [David Sirota/The Guardian]