Saturday, February 01, 2014

Does Inequality Matter?

During his State of the Union Address, President Obama brought into the open, a topic we've all been mulling, lately… the worrisome rise in wealth and income disparity.  Especially in the U.S., where two generations have grown up under the blithe illusion (unprecedented in human history) that matters of class are no-big-deal.
does-inequality-matterKnowing that we're about to discuss the calamitous effects of a rising plutocracy, some of you will click away.
Heck, I understand; we all have "elites" we are worried about, and others we deem to be goodguys.  You conservatives out there have been taught to admire "job creators."  But, before you leave, might I ask: is there some level of wealth disparity that YOU would at last find worrisome?
When one percent owns 80% of the wealth?  When 0.01% owns 90%?  When five people own it all?
== A hard-working oligarchy ==
Okay, we're not quite there yet.  But the combined wealth of the world's richest 85 people is now equivalent to that owned by half of the world's population -- or 3.5 billion of the poorest people -- according to a new report from Oxfam.  And that is roughly equivalent to the disparities seen just before the French Revolution.
It's important to note this does not mean 85 people own half the world's wealth!  Though we all know that is rapidly changing, with both the first and second derivatives of wealth flow pouring toward about 1000 uber-aristocratic families.
wealth-inequalityIndeed, the same Oxfam report does address the "who owns half" question. The answer? Just 1 percent of the world's population controls nearly half of the planet's wealth, according to a  report released ahead of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos.
This all boils down to being an IQ Test for zillionaires.
If they are as smart as the "trillies" I portray in Existence, they will start holding deeper meetings, to discuss the trait called "satiability" in order (if for no other reason) not to kill the golden goose and drive the world back toward class radicalism.  Because this era is different from others in crucial ways. The middle class holds every expertise, in technologies that could be used in a mind-spinning variety of science-fictional ways. At such a time, the surest aristocracy intelligence metric will be whether they can act in their own self- interest, in time, keeping that middle class 90% hopeful, mobile and -- if necessary -- sovereign. And ensure that the middle class absorbs ever-greater numbers of the easily radicalized poor.
It is called enlightened self-interest. We see it among the smartest of the rich… the tech billionaires. (Who almost universally say: "raise my taxes!") But will the true heavyweights - those who got rich through favored-deal resource extraction or collusive financial manipulation, or CEO pay circle-jerking through interlocking directorates… or… by inheriting it) follow suit?
Or will they (as they have so far) replicate every impulse of the French aristocracy in 1789?
It's not too late to hold those honest meetings that I described in fiction. Failure to pass this test will prove they are just not smart enough to deserve the lordship that they seek.
== An IQ test already-failed ==
An extensive study into the financial networks that support groups denying the science behind climate change and opposing political action has found a vast, secretive web of think tanks and industry associations, bankrolled by conservative billionaires.  It replicates - sometimes using the very same public relations firms - the successful 40 year delaying tactics used to stave off action on tobacco.  But… why are they doing this?  It cannot just be dullard obstinacy or short term self-interest to preserve the value of coal interests.
sealevelriseonlineCould they be taking short positions on coastal properties? And maintaining buy-calls by convincing fools that the sea levels won't rise?
Are they aware that a radicalized future will look for exactly that kind of correlation, when seeking goats to scape for all the pain?  Are they truly certain that the computers of 2030 will be unable to parse every twisted scheme… or that the homes of the schemers will not be given to climate refugees?  No, sorry.  There are no levels at which they are passing the IQ test.
Alas, that upsets me. Because even though I will fight for the Enlightenment to continue till we reach Star Trek, I admit the odds are always against us. And if the Enlightenment does fail, it would be better to be ruled by genius lords than dismally self-delusional ones.
== Speak of the devils ==
Read about the Koch Network of ultra-secret super Pac manipulation of US politics. Then, if you shrug, ask yourself -- is there ANY degree of this that might make you (or your Fox-watching uncle) suspicious or angry?
washington-post-koch-networkSee the Koch Network (image from the Washington Post).
And here's a more leftist perspective… Who Buys the Spies? After pages of tedious ranting, this article finally gets to the point, promising to correlate who donates to political campaigns (from the wealthiest moguls and corporations) and who benefits from actions by those recipient politicians. It is hard to read past the leftist bile -- (there truly is danger on that side too, boys & girls: though muted at the moment) -- but still, the topic truly is interesting and I hope they eventually succeed in making a strong case for what we all know must happen… getting (most of the ) money out of politics.
Getting more fundamental. Do you believe that social class correlates with inherent superiority of mind or spirit?  This was the absolute assumption across nearly all past ages and places, relentlessly preached from thrones and pulpits.  Today, we're not supposed to believe in that, but rather  in the self-made person, free of any burdens from the previous generation and able to prove yourself by innovation, work and goodwill alone.
Social Darwinism isn't Dead: Alas, the old way of thinking runs in our blood and is soooo tempting, especially when you are on top.  Now researchers have found that higher social class was associated with greater social class essentialism, or belief that your class derived from inherent birth quality far above any other factors… like luck. This pattern remained even after controlling for political orientation as well as objective measures of a participant’s income and education level, indicating that it’s one’s sense of being above or below others, not one’s actual resources, that drives the result.
Just glance at human history and the endless waves of rationalizations for rule-by-inherited-oligarchy.  This is in our blood, our bones. It is what we do.
== Irony heaped upon Irony ==
ECONOMIC-MOBILITYSee The Geography of the American Dream in The Atlantic. Class rigidity and lack of social mobility have been measured in a study that ranks all 100 largest U.S. cities for the chances of a person born poor to rise from the bottom 20% to the top 20%. All except just three of the bottom 21 cities are in Old Dixie"In other words: virtually all of this nation’s class-rigidity still remains in the U.S. South, even after the Civil War."
I would quibble with "virtually all"… but it shows how the cultural traits that got a million poor whites to fight (bravely) and die for a few thousand slave owners still lives on.
== And finally… more good news ==
All told, health care costs have been growing more slowly over the last three years than any other time period since 1965. More recently, yearly health cost growth slowed from an average rate of 3.9 percent between 2000 and 2007 to 1.3 percent between 2011 and 2013.
and… nearly 2 billion people have gained access to clean toilets, or at least a decent outhouse, since 1990, the nonprofit UNICEF Thursday.  But toilets aren't only the reason the world is becoming a better place for kids. Children around the globe today have more access to education, medicine and food than they did two decades ago.  Though we still have a long way to go!
Oh, but… 6500 highway bridges in the U.S. in "failing" condition.
And… How the US, during the 2000s, let itself be out maneuvered and cornered out of Rare Earth elements mining and marketing and manufacturing, to become utterly dependent upon China.
So it's mixed and complicated?  get used to it. Complexity is the source of our hope.  Relearn how to negotiate.

49 comments:

Electric Monk said...

I don't have a problem with locked up wealth per se. I do see dangers in the power this wealth provides those who control it, but the setting up of numbers of how 1% of the population controls half the wealth on the planet, on its own, is not an inherent evil. When more and more poverty stricken parts of the world are gaining access to clean water, toilets, education, and food, I'm reminded that a rising tide rifts all boats. An average where everyone is lower than the low end is much much worse than the any N sized disparity. I'm not trying to set up a straw man, merely to point out how disparity, on its own, is never the problem. I think THAT'S the reason you may lose readers at the beginning of articles like this. When you go on to explore the ancillary dangers, that's when I cheer (so thank you).

Anonymous said...

EDIT:

"rising tide LIFTS all boats" ... my bad.

James Haley said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I first just want to say that I loved the postman when I was a teenage and I am glad that we are fighting against super pacs and big money instead of super soldiers in a post apocalyptic world. I agree about the issue of class. I think the solution is for enough of us to force our government to make our laws and tax code be fair and equal to all. The goal is not to punish the rich but not stack the deck for them.

I also wanted to share my new song and anthem in this fight "Land of the Free". Thank you again for your insight.

http://youtu.be/xQqzhjstb7E

Robert Krawitz said...

There's an implicit assumption in Electric Monk's comment -- which I've seen elsewhere -- that a high degree of inequality is necessary in order to lift all of those boats. By that assumption, spreading the wealth more widely would result in everyone being worse off.

I don't see anything to justify that assumption. I particularly don't see that 1% of the world's population -- and 85 families, in particular -- are that much smarter, more dedicated, what have you than everyone else, such that even blunting their incentive to make more and more money would result in everything falling apart.

I would argue to the contrary that wealth disparity beyond a certain point *is* a problem on its own because it reduces the resources available to everyone else. If you want to argue that it grows the resource pool such that even after their taking such a huge share, the resources available to everyone else increase, go ahead -- but be prepared to demonstrate it.

David Brin said...

James Haley…

A classic protest song! Youd've been right at home in the 60s!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQqzhjstb7E&feature=youtu.be

===
ElectricMonk & MrKrawitz - some inequality is necessary in order to incentivized the competitive miracles of science, democracy, courts and - especially - markets. We absolutely need that. Moreover, while no person should be allowed to starve or freeze, a roof and basic calories are all that we "owed" to any lazy bum who won't lift a finger. I am that conservative.

But the bum's kids need and deserve (and we benefit) their chance to escape that pit. We must not waste talent.

And we must not allow wealth to become cancerous. Perhaps a billion should be a limit beyond which escalating tests apply. Like every year the People vote which ten billionaires did stuff so cool they should be able to compete (a spectator sport?) for their next billion?

Just jawing at this point.

Jumper said...

I think we should always, when referring to wealth disparity, remind ourselves to consider the proposition that wealth=power.

James Haley said...

Thanks David! Feel free to share all over.

On Robert and Electric's point I would like to put in my thoughts on how we find a middle ground. Blame the government. I don't believe that the 1% are bad people as I don't believe that the 99% are good. Everyone everywhere is going to fall on a scale. For example, is it the 1%'s fault that our government decided to keep the their taxes low and put two wars on a credit card. Our government created that burden. Let's not punish the 1%, but it's time we stopped rolling out the red carpet for those that already own their own. I think this battle to combat this inequality is with a slight shift in marketing.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

James, most of the billionaires in SI Valley and Hollywood seem to have the trait of satiability enough to perceive their long term self-interest lies in the great health of a flat social order that benefited them. Most have signed the Buffett pledge. Many have signed petitions to "raise my taxes."

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

[Tidied up - sorry]
My mother pointed out to me long ago that people's picture of the ultra--wealthy should include the majority: little old ladies, widows of the rich men who tend(ed) to die early.

I wonder if that still holds?

[later]
I see I need to reformulate my thinking: is there any percentage-level of wealth (the 1% - the .1% - etc.) in which we can say "yes, the top X% are more likely women." And if so at what higher percentage-level is it exactly 50-50?

[later]
It appears Mom was wrong, or if she was ever right, not now:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/09/19/the-richest-women-in-america/

Jabr said...

Is it the 1%'s fault that our government decided to keep the their taxes low and put two wars on a credit card?

How did the government make those decisions? When the 1% funded primary campaigns to drive out of office incumbents who favored higher taxes on the rich, to ensure that the majority of Congress would vote to lower taxes on the 1%, how is that not the 1%'s fault?

It should also be pointed out that "1%" is a simplistic label, and that the people perpetrating these schemes actually comprise a far smaller percentage of the US population.

James Haley said...

David

I am glad that they have. Thank you for sharing.

David Brin said...

One of the main characters of EXISTENCE was such a widow….

Robert Sandstedt said...

People forget that the only wealth that isn't hard limited by the content of our happy little planet is labor. The magic ever growing "pie" is only grown as labor becomes more productive.
The significant disgust about growing wealth and income inequality has largely to do with the fact that the productivity gains made by the labor force aren't being shared with the labor force.
When I imagine the advances that could be made with even a tiny bit less greed, it's infuriating.

Carl M. said...

When you implement trillions of dollars of subsidies for those who have money to lend, the moneyed class gets very rich. Duh.

The government slurps up capital via deficit spending, and discourages the middle class from saving a host of different ways.

And then the government makes capital inaccessible or expensive for businesses too big to launch with personal credit but smaller than Facebook via overregulation. (Notable exception: the recent JOBS Act, which the SEC is working to make irrelevant.)

Don't blame the Koch brothers for these things.

Alex Tolley said...

@DB most of the billionaires in SI Valley and Hollywood seem to have the trait of satiability enough to perceive their long term self-interest lies in the great health of a flat social order that benefited them. Most have signed the Buffett pledge. Many have signed petitions to "raise my taxes."

Now that it has come to light that the CEO's of a number of top SI companies colluded to keep wages down for tech employees, that seems just a little hypocritical.

And don't be me started on the demand for H1B's, because there just weren't enough qualified US citizens (at the low, low, indentured rates of pay they wanted).

Alex Tolley said...

@Call M. The government slurps up capital via deficit spending, and discourages the middle class from saving a host of different ways.

Nonsense. These two "statements" are contradictory.

Alex Tolley said...

@Jumper - the hugely reduced stigma against divorce, plus the desire for "trophy wives", ensures that the wealth stays with the men. That won't change until women can seriously break the glass ceiling. That will take at least another generation in the US.

Tim H. said...

The rich are amusing, more useful than they look, I'd ask two things of them: don't beggar us and don't kick down the ladder on the way up.

mleduc said...

An important topic. Too easy to fall into the 2 traps of "nothing can be done" and "revolution".

The "cancer" behind this concentration of wealth is spread by the ability to allocate the wealth to their next generation of children (and extended family).

It's one thing for Gates and even the Koch brothers to earn billions in their lifetime. It's another for their children to keep it. Bill Gates has said that he won't do that. But that`s his personal pledge. Perhaps we look at ways to distribute upon the death of the UBER rich (billionaires).

I like David B's idea of inciting competition amongst them - do they spend their wealth to improve the world (a la Musk and Gates)or to win boat races and defend their cash cows at the expense of everyone else (to tilt the market in their favor). Not sure how to do this since the (good & evil) billionaires would use their money to buy the votes they need to win the competition. At least it would distribute some of the money to more of their cronies and supporters. But it's an idea worth developing.

Perhaps US citizens would agree to add Gates and other billionaires to Mt. Rushmore (or other mountain) if they divest 85% of their wealth upon their death (including paying for carving the monument itself).

Doug S. said...

I just learned something today that might be relevant to the interests of readers of this site.

In Sweden, income tax returns are public. Anyone can look up anyone else's tax documents, and see how much income they (claim to) make.

How's that for transparency?

Jumper said...

Alex, if your point is valid, that means either "trophy wives" now inherit vs. "little old ladies," or prenuptials are more common (likely). Otherwise the kids likely inherit equally. In the last case I would again expect more very wealthy women.
If the .1% are almost all "new money" that's interesting in itself. (and with the glass ceiling, would explain the demographic.)

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2012/04/want-to-know-what-tax-transparency-looks-like-look-at-norway/
Sweden changed it.

David Brin said...

But our property tax records are public.

Enigma said...

"Moreover, while no person should be allowed to starve or freeze, a roof and basic calories are all that we "owed" to any lazy bum who won't lift a finger. I am that conservative."

I bet that if you did this much for people - a guaranteed home and guaranteed basic caloric intake - you'd find people aren't as lazy as you may think. There are only a handful of people who are lazy enough to just be happy with that. Once you've got the basics covered, the majority of people can start pursuit of different goals, since now they're not sinking. Nobody should work just to survive, and yet, time and time again that's exactly what this society forces people to do. Basic survival should be granted to anyone. Now, if you want to move beyond the basics, well, it's time for you to reach out and start doing it yourself...

I strongly suspect that poverty impacts voter turn out. If you're working 3 jobs just to make ends meet and know you'll get fired (because yours is a "right to work" state and the union isn't there, or the union sucks, or both) for missing work, then you can't go an vote. Only the people with time on their hands can learn and participate in a functional democracy - the greater the poverty, the greater the income disparity, the less the voter turn out. It took the arrival of a middle class to fully launch democracy. Prior to that it was the serfs and the nobles, and the serfs were too busy trying to survive. Poverty is harmful to democracy, since it saps people's energies, their will, and if they're just fighting to make it, not even survive, then they're not going to have the time or the will to keep up with who's running for what. Taking this into consideration, one of the most effective ways to undermine a democracy is to create rampant poverty and unemployment, which takes a huge psychological toll on the unemployed (the vast majority of whom want to work and do something with themselves).

I'd take it two steps further and add that all private debt should be stricken and that healthcare should be socialized, like every other civilized country on the planet.

Once you meet the basics, people can start turning their attention towards other pursuits not directly connected to their continued survival - including democracy and progress. And new ideas, starting new businesses, and encouraging economic growth.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Moreover, while no person should be allowed to starve or freeze, a roof and basic calories are all that we "owed" to any lazy bum who won't lift a finger. I am that conservative.


Well, even I am that conservative.

But there's a big difference between "won't lift a finger to contribute" and "Isn't given access to employment by those who control the means of survival."

In an ideal world, if there's no additional human labor required to make the system work, then those surplus people (who aren't refusing to work, but whose work just isn't apparently needed) deserve some sort of stipend as a right of citizenship. Mind you, I'd rather see them put to work fixing bridges a la FDR, but that requires (gasp!) government spending.

A pet peeve of mine these days is the conflation of "Too lazy to work" with "Won't submit to slave labor conditions" and "Can't find a job at all." Those are three very different things.

LarryHart said...

@Electric Monk

A fan of "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", are you?

:)

LarryHart said...

Jabr:

"Is it the 1%'s fault that our government decided to keep the their taxes low and put two wars on a credit card?"

How did the government make those decisions? When the 1% funded primary campaigns to drive out of office incumbents who favored higher taxes on the rich, to ensure that the majority of Congress would vote to lower taxes on the 1%, how is that not the 1%'s fault?


Actually, if the Republicans under Bush ran up the debt for six years, how do they get to claim that "We're broke", and therefore can't spend money on the policies of the Democrats (say in 2009-2010 when Dems ran the board)? I mean, that's a rhetorical question--I know how government works, but it does point out a kind of moral inconsistency when Republicans can demand austerity from Democrats based on the size of deficits which the Republicans themselves caused.

In the old days, the kings personally incurred the debts they rang up for their wars and such, their ability to tax their people being a kind of collateral. But when one house fell and another took the throne, the creditors to the original house had to take the haircut. Thinking out of the box, I'd like to see some way of applying that to the political parties. The GOP should be responsible for their debt, rather than being able to stick their political opponents with that burden when power changes hands.

As Dr Brin said, just jawing now.

LarryHart said...

Electric Monk:

When more and more poverty stricken parts of the world are gaining access to clean water, toilets, education, and food, I'm reminded that a rising tide rifts all boats. An average where everyone is lower than the low end is much much worse than the any N sized disparity.


You're talking about the positive-sum game. A society in which everyone is better off with the system than they would have been without it is a good thing, even if some are more better-off than others.

The problem in the last 30 years or so, the right-wing Ayn Randroids have implemented policies based on a disbelief in the positive-sum game. In their worldview (which actually influences government policy), the small boats being lifted by the rising tide owe rent to the "owners" of that tide.

Which is another way of interpreting the fact that wages don't keep up with increased worker productivity.

KWillow said...

It appears that the Koch ultimate goal is Anarchy, rather than libertarianism. They look forward to climate change and believe that they and their rich chums will be able to continue manipulating and controlling the 99.9%

Alex Tolley said...

@Tim H
The rich are amusing, more useful than they look, I'd ask two things of them: don't beggar us and don't kick down the ladder on the way up.

And yet it is the average American that wants the borders closed to immigrants wanting to climbing the US ladder of opportunity, and it is the rich who want to open the borders to allow in cheap labor.

Alex Tolley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Tolley said...

@KWillow - doing nothing about fossil fuel usage will result in desperate geo-engineering. That is where the killing is to be made - huge, multi-government contracts that will run for decades. A better business than armaments, I reckon. Nothing like profiting from damage, and being paid to clean it up too.

David Brin said...

The average american is too shallow to realize that the ethnic character of America has been changed far more by LEGAL immigration

Theophilus Gesornenplatz said...

Before people trip their Righteous Indignation circuit breakers, it may be worth noting that Oxfam's claim appears to have been misreported:

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-oxfam-world-economic-forum-income-inequality-20140120,0,7080817.story

[Updated 7:55 a.m. PST, Jan. 20: A previous version of this post said the 85 richest people owned nearly half of global wealth and the same amount as the bottom half of the population. The 85 richest people are a small part of the wealthiest 1%, which owns 46% of the world's wealth. The 85 richest people own about 0.7% of the world's wealth, which is the same as the bottom half of the population.]

locumranch said...

In the battle against Inequality, David’s very reasonableness is a self-preventing prophecy because most (if not all) of the great accomplishments of the 19th & 20th Century Labour Movement, including workplace safety standards, pensions, the ability to unionize, a 40 hour work week, an end to child labour & the rise of the middle class, was won by unreasonable and uncompromising individuals.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Reasonable Man always compromises and, like a hen-pecked spouse in an abusive relationship, forfeits hard-won rights in dribs & drabs in an effort to maintain peace & social harmony by appeasing the less reasonable until he (she) is left with almost nothing with which to compromise further.

Rather than springing from misplaced reasonableness, Equality can only come from respect and respect must be earned through the deliberate application of a forceful, inflexible & uncompromising nature. Like freedom, social equality cannot be granted by others. It must be arrogated, grabbed by the neck & beaten into existence by the interested parties through the use of real or threatened force.

Companies like Wally-Mart pay shit wages because their employees are willing to work for shit wages, deserving what they get because they sell themselves for cheap instead of better, meaning that change will only come when the downtrodden steel themselves for real or metaphorical battle, taking up arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them.

It’s easy to talk about TWODA in this regard, our moral obligation to the less fortunate, but hard to implement because morality & its application remains subject, selective & largely voluntary on a case by case cultural basis, at least until the discovery of the “Moral Bullet’ postulated by Bruce Sterling.


Best.

SteveO said...

As the resident metallurgical engineer, there is nothing "rare" about rare earths, it is just (so far) not profitable enough to bother rebuilding the industry outside of China.

Some great information from the DoD on strategic metals.

Anyone guess the metal with the largest shortfall, and therefore the largest threat to the economy? Tin, my friends. Tin.

And this report is why, the next time you see a metallurgist, you should thank them for the civilization that they enable. Just sayin' ;-)

Paul451 said...

Carl M,
"Don't blame the Koch brothers for these things."

Except the Koch bros and co are the people funding the policies that leads to the situation you describe.

People were promised if they gave the corporate right what it wanted, the US would prosper. Jobs would be created. Boats would lift. Down would trickle. Instead those ultra-rich who wrote the actual legislation blew everything up.

"You had one job, assholes, one job!"

At what point do we get to say, "hey you guys actually suck at this"? At what point do we get to take all our shit back?

Alex,
"Now that it has come to light that the CEO's of a number of top SI companies colluded to keep wages down"

What's weird is that it apparently originated with George Lucas. From ILM/Pixar to Dreamworks, hence to Steve Jobs. From Apple to every major tech company in Silicon Val. Like a weird virus, Jobs would personally threaten to "declare war" on anyone who poached their staff.

"And yet it is the average American that wants the borders closed to immigrants wanting to climbing the US ladder of opportunity"

It's common for those who are struggling to hold on to what they have to fight against those who seem to be able moving up. "If I can't, why should you!" (Or "I've been standing in the queue for 30 years, don't you dare cut in front!") Since they can't fight against those above them.

spacechampion said...

The new netflix series from J. Michael Straczynski and the Wachowski siblings is supposed to be about a topic our host has raised here before: the cultural expansion of empathy horizons, from family to tribe to clan to nation to globe; as well as how technology is used to both unite us and divide us. Interesting themes, a promise of a show in conception already more sophisticated that most of the SF we get in media usually.

David Brin said...

SPace champion some details please?

locus knows nothing about the US labor movement which… after FDR's election… emphasized moderate and negotiated processes. True… pre-FDR there was a whole range that included sometimes necessary radical militancy.

Alex Tolley said...

@DB - I think teh movie is called Sense8

locumranch said...

The US Labour Movement was & still is built on what David calls 'radical militancy', from the pre-FDR Ludlow massacres, to the more moderate and negotiated militancy of the post-FDR era which was built on the backs of our returning WW2 military veterans (veterans who understood military organisation & represented almost 20% of the post-WW2 male labour pool), not to mention the subsequent & well-documented involvement of Organised Crime which then took the post-FDR labour movement's radically militant 'negotiating' tactics to unheard of levels of brutality.

This so-called 'radical militancy' is & will always remain the basis for effective popular government: 'Do what we say or there will be hell to pay'.


Best.

spacechampion said...

details re: Sense8.

First post here is my summary of what is know so far: http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/103459-straczynskiwachowski-sense8-on-netflix/

Alex Tolley said...

The Economist asks why the tumbrels aren't being set up in America because of rising inequality.
Why poor Americans aren't up in arm

The article references this study:
Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?
that suggests that Americans still see social and income mobility as high, compared to Europeans.

It turns out this is probably wrong, and that Americans are fooling themselves about income mobility. I'm not surprised. Robert Reich makes a similar point in his documentary, Inequality for All that the US population is very ignorant about wealth and income distribution in this country.

Digby highlights an interesting observation by a person who just watched Fox News for 3 hours per day for a month. The lack of reporting on poverty resulted in the person losing any connection with the poor. You can just imagine what being really wealthy does if you live far away from such problems. I recall that the young Princess Diana said she had no idea that most British people lived very differently from the way that she did.

James Minyard said...

I don't feel like the list of 85 actually represent all of the most wealthy. Do you know of a list that includes people not listed in Forbes?

Keith D. Halperin said...

RE: Social, economic, and political change:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. -Frederick Douglass

Hank Roberts said...

Speaking of rich people, Dr. Brin, you know some of the smart ones.

A challenging communications problem coming soon could be interesting to fund, for the practice doing it:

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2014/02070836-isee-3.html

"... the International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE-3), a spacecraft ... launched in 1978 to return to an Earth no longer capable of speaking to it ... It's still functioning, broadcasting a carrier signal that the Deep Space Network successfully detected in 2008. Twelve of its 13 instruments were working when we last checked on its condition, sometime prior to 1999."

https://www.facebook.com/ISEE3returns