Monday’s predicted blizzard for NYC caused me more than a little cognitive dissonance over the state/city executive decision to shut down the subway system from between 11pm and 8am. It interfered with my own transportation needs for getting to and from work so I opted to lose a night’s pay in a work situation that was thankfully reasonable enough to grant me that. (Not generous enough to compensate me for such a formidable transportation challenge, mind you.) Read more about Why Subway Shutdown on NYC Supposed Blizzard Nite?
When in the 12-Point Platform we say:
#10: End the Wars
we mean all the wars, including the so-called War on Terror, and the so-called War on Drugs; all the self-licking ice cream cones. (Ending the War on Drugs, besides sparing many thousands of citizens from having an arrest on their permanent record, would also strike major blows at the streams of rental extraction controlled by the prison-industrial complex and the surveillance state.) Read more about With The 12-Point Platform, this won't happen: Marijuana arrests. Take that, Loretta Lynch!
[UPDATE I realized I left the legend off Figure 2, so the colors in the Venn Diagram must have seemed random. They're pretty random anyhow, since in order to get the color to blend properly, I had to use beige to mean white, which is another instance of the fact that developing a sense of visualization and a visual vocabulary isn't all that easy. Anyway, if (a) anybody read this, and (b) reading it, found Figure 2 to be the source of bafflement, Figure 2 is improved. --lambert]
Some may think this series (part one) is dry.... To which I would respond so is the edge of a sword, until it's used....
If we think of the 80/20/1 as sets of people (classes), how do we figure out how to put one person in one set, and another in another?
Informally we might say with a litmus test: In the case before us, one litmus test is whether they purchase labor power (the 1%) or sell it (the 99%, with other litmus tests to classify the "pillars of the regime" into the 20% from the 80%). More formally, we might say, for "litmus test," "set membership function," as we see in Figure 1. And as you can see, I'm still learning to sketch (and might even have to give up, or learn both to draw, and especially to print and/or write, better): Read more about More noodling on intersectionality (more on the 1%, the 20%, and the 80%)
With The 12-Point Platform, this won't happen: College students sleeping in their cars to avoid debt
This story from 2014 made my blood boil. Here it is again:
Josiah Corbin spent a lot of weeknights over the past four years sleeping in his car in a Walmart parking lot.
Thanks in part to his routine, the 23-year-old will graduate from the University of Maine with a biology degree, and without debt, on Saturday.
Corbin, a fifth-year student who took his last exam Thursday, got a work-study job in his second year of school that kept him on campus late — sometimes past midnight. His family’s Dover-Foxcroft home is about an hour drive from the UMaine campus. Once he decided on a science major, he found many of his required classes were only available at 8 a.m., which meant very little sleep, especially when he had to factor in drive time and studying.
Corbin didn’t get as much financial aid as he hoped and didn’t want to incur student debt over his next four years of school. So he made an unusual decision — hunker down in the car.
He started out sleeping in a parking lot near Alfond Arena on campus, curling up in his car, a rusted-out 1987 Toyota Corolla. By pulling out his front passenger’s seat, he was able to lay down a small “mattress,” which isn’t much more than a body pillow. By wrapping up in a couple of sleeping bags, he was able to make himself “relatively cozy.”
After a few weeks in a UMaine parking lot, police found Corbin in his car late one night and told him he couldn’t sleep in his vehicle there. So Corbin relocated to Walmart in Bangor, which has a relatively steady population of overnight sleepers, according to Corbin. Some come in recreational vehicles, others in their cars. A surprising number of them, especially in warmer months, are from Canada, he said.
Walmart policy allows recreational vehicles to park in its lots as space allows, but the policy doesn’t say anything about people sleeping in cars. Walmart says on its website that sleepover policies and regulations largely are up to individual stores and local laws. Corbin said no one from Walmart ever bothered him about sleeping there overnight in his car.
Corbin estimates he probably saved about $8,000 per year avoiding room-and-board costs, avoiding a meal plan and cutting down his commute. That works out to $32,000 through the course of his college career, most of which he would have needed loans to cover.
Tell me its not a great country! Read more about With The 12-Point Platform, this won't happen: College students sleeping in their cars to avoid debt
Still trying to learn to sketch. However, my handwriting, bad with pen and paper, is horrific with an iPad and a stylus, so herewith a digital version of the initial assumption:
Class, in other words, is "vertical"; the others are "horizontal." This is a restatement of the 80/20/1 framework discussed here. I'll try a sketch that has fewer words: Read more about Noodling on intersectionality (more on the 1%, the 20%, and the 80%)
Chris Hedges in “Killing Ragheads for Jesus: On Watching 'American Sniper'” writes:
The culture of war banishes the capacity for pity. It glorifies self-sacrifice and death. It sees pain, ritual humiliation and violence as part of an initiation into manhood. Brutal hazing, as Kyle noted in his book, was an integral part of becoming a Navy SEAL. New SEALs would be held down and choked by senior members of the platoon until they passed out.
This is the second part of a two-part post that explores the rationale for a Post Office Bank, #8 of the 12 Point Platform:
8. Post Office Bank
which I started working on because I thought it would be easy, instead of doing more work on #1: A Living Wage, which entails a definition of wage labor as a social relation. Anyhow, Part I of this post was a potted history of the Post Office, and it's good I just set the bar low there with "explores," because when I wrote Part I, I didn't yet know about Save the Post Office, and so along with a lot of other excellent material I missed these two excellent long-form backgrounders:
- Understanding Postal Privatization: Corporations, Unions and "The Public Interest" [PDF], a thesis on privatization by Sarah Ryan
- Preserving the People's Post Office, by Christopher Shaw
I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone here that the Post Office privatizers are full of shit; what came as a surprise to me is just how full of shit they really are. Read those two pieces; you'll see too.
Part I took us all the way to 2012, where there was an interesting but all-too-temporary Post Office Bank boomlet (link, link, and link for example) touched off by this report (PDF) from the Post Office Inspector General (and not, mind you, the neo-liberal infested USPS management). For our purposes, we can reduce the report to four points. From the 2014 version: Read more about A Post Office Bank and the Democrats (Part II)
[I've sworn off reacting to the news on a daily basis, because it keeps me reactive, and that's a distraction from the 12 Point Platform, which is what I really want to work on, am working on, and is a book-length effort. However, the "theory of everything" posts to back up each point take a lot of work, as chapters in books do, and the consequent absence of posting doesn't keep the hot air balloon at the altitude I prefer, i.e., not crashing into the ground. So, I'll try to react to the news at least once daily, but framing the post so that it advances the 12 Points. New editorial formula! --lambert]
Payday loans are grossly usorious. MLive:
Using names like Check 'n Go, Cash Advance and Payday Loans, there are companies throughout Detroit and beyond that specialize in immediate, high-cost, shot-term loans with interest rates often reaching 30 percent or more.*
"Michigan is one of 35 states across the country that authorizes payday lending in some form," Michigan United said in a statement Monday. "While some states and cities have worked to put a stop to predatory lending, federal laws still largely allow payday lenders to prey on vulnerable communities and benefit from borrowers' financial hardship - with annual interest rates that routinely reach 400 percent or more."
Michigan United says the industry thrives on the poor, entraps them in a "cycle of debt."....
A Google search for of payday loan centers yields nearly 70 such businesses located in Detroit, some operating 24 hours a day. Their loans are accessible online with automatic bank deposits. In-person cash loans are available at on-site locations.
Most require proof of a steady income and establishment of a bank account before loan approval
So you can imagine the problems the precariat has, let alone the System D people, or the millions without a bank account in the first place. And lest it be though the "new economy" and "big data" haven't notices, check this out from the New York Times: Read more about With the 12-Point Platform, this won't happen: Payday loan ripoffs
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz is dead. He was 90 years old. According to Bill Van Auken in "Saudi king’s death threatens to deepen US crisis in Middle East" Abdullah was “the head of one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies.” Van Auken also labels it a “theocratic dictatorship.”
This is a significant event in the mainstream corporate media as well as among the heads of state of the western imperialist nations. Read more about Bow or Bobble Respectful Heads for King Who Lopped Them Off
I'm being triply non-linear now, because "Tax the Rich" is #3 in the Twelve Point Platform:
3. Tax the Rich
and so not only am I not beginning at the beginning with #1: A Living Wage, I'm not writing part two of my first attempt on #8: Post Office Bank, either (here is part one). Soon! Moreover, I'm reacting, albeit way too slowly, to the news, seeking to use it as a hook to raise larger issues. (These posts might be better thought of as first drafts for a book, rather than as blog posting.)
Obama in State of the Union: Tax wealthy, help middle class
And that's a fair summary. But there are some problems with this formulation, among them:
- Obama's proposals are fundamentally unserious
- The concept of "middle class" is hazy
- The unstated premise is that Federal taxes raise revenue (they don't)
- There are good reasons to tax the rich, even if raising revenue is not one of them
- We don't know how much Obama will really tax the rich
- Obama's proposals are unlikely to help "the middle class," however defined
- Concrete material benefits should be our focus, not a "tax fight"
Let's take each of these points in turn. Read more about Obama's SOTU: What do Democrats mean by "middle class," anyhow?
Tuesday night Obama set up a 2015 agenda that Glen Ford in “State of the Union 2015: Lethal, Predatory, Delusional” asserts would have been a modest and easy win in 2009 and 2010 when the Dems dominated both houses, but hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell with a Republican Congress.
In 2009 and 2010 Obama fed us, the citizens who put him into office, to the proverbial wolves, or as Ford lists them, “bankers, Wall Street, private insurers and Big Pharma.”
Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats and identifies himself a Democratic Socialist, will hold six events over three days in and around Iowa City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Ames.
UPDATE The upgrade is done! This should make your experience much more reliable.
In the continuing effort to figure out why the blankety-blank crashes all the time, my ISP is going to do some server upgrades. (One thing that happens is that we get hit with crawlers, and newer versions of the database will let us handle that better.) Read more about Possible early morning site outage