Finding the Future in Radical Rural America

The problem is not capitalism; it is our markets. Markets that Obama screwed up. (Boston Review)

Elizabeth Catte’s essay on the left-wing tradition in Appalachia is not so much a political argument as a beautifully written reflection on an important cultural tradition of dissent. She is part of a trend of thinkers and organizers who have come to reject capitalism per se as an immoral system that must be overthrown.

Continue reading

America’s Monopoly Crisis Hits the Military

Wall Street’s short-term incentives have decimated our defense industrial base and undermined our national security. (The American Conservative)

Early this year, U.S. authorities filed criminal charges—including bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and theft of technology—against the largest maker of telecommunications equipment in the world, a Chinese giant named Huawei. Chinese dominance in telecom equipment has created a crisis among Western espionage agencies, who, fearful of Chinese spying, are attempting to prevent the spread of Huawei equipment worldwide, especially in the critical 5G next-generation mobile networking space.

Continue reading

Launching a Global Currency Is a Bold, Bad Move for Facebook

The way we structure money and payments is a question for democratic institutions, not technology companies. (New York Times)

On Tuesday, Facebook, in partnership with a surfeit of other large and powerful corporations, including Uber, Spotify, PayPal and VISA, announced that it would lead the effort to create a new global currency called Libra. “We believe,” says the organization that will govern the currency, “that the world needs a global, digitally native currency that brings together the attributes of the world’s best currencies: stability, low inflation, wide global acceptance and fungibility.”

Continue reading

Democrats Need to Tame the Facebook Monster They Helped Create

Breaking up the social networking behemoth is one option. But first, Democrats need to start pointing the finger at regulators who won’t admit there’s a problem. (Politico Magazine)

If you are thinking about Facebook or questions of political economy, an important and telling hearing took place recently in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Democratic leaders Frank Pallone and Jan Schakowsky did an oversight review of Facebook’s regulator, the Federal Trade Commission, with all five commissioners, including Chairman Joe Simons, advancing ideas on how to address privacy rules in America today.

Continue reading

When American Capitalism Meant Equality

Americans used to have a relatively egalitarian view of markets. How did they come to accept extreme inequality as an innate part of their economic system? At the heart of this change is a radical shift in the meaning of American capitalism itself. (ProMarket blog)

American capitalism used to mean economic equality and security. When I mention this in speeches or talks today, this observation prompts laughter, or outright disbelief. But it’s true. Americans used to believe economic equality was foundational to our political system. That America—at least for those considered citizens—carried with it an implicit promise of rough commercial equality. How did this notion change so radically?

Continue reading

Facebook is violating our privacy. Where are the cops?

A company whose motto has been ‘Move Fast and Break Things’ cannot be relied upon to admit wrongdoing (The Guardian)

2011, the Federal Trade Commission settled charges with Facebook that the social networking giant “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public”. Today, the company is again in hot water for, among other things, misusing private user data, failing to stop the spread of fake news and enabling the distribution of toxic and violent multimedia.

Continue reading

No More Payoffs For Layoffs

Corporate mergers are bad news for the thousands of workers who lose their jobs. It’s a different story for the CEOs who can earn hundreds of millions of dollars from the deals. (Buzzfeed)

We are in the midst of a massive merger wave. Since the late 1990s, the number of major airlines has dropped from seven to four, and the number of major car rental companies has fallen from eight to three. There have been so many mergers over the past twenty years that the Wilshire 5000, a common stock index, contains only 3,500 firms, because there aren’t enough eligible companies.

There are many reasons for this, but a key one often goes overlooked. Executives and bankers are paid a lot of money when they sell firms, regardless of whether it’s a good idea. If Congress wants to reduce unnecessary mergers, stopping these kickbacks is an important way to do it.

Continue reading

Amazon deserves more than rejection from New York. It should be investigated

Simply saying ‘no’ to its headquarters isn’t enough – Amazon should be investigated for abusing monopoly power (The Guardian)

This week, Amazon abandoned a plan to open a second “headquarters” in New York City, after citizens rebelled against the idea of paying almost $3bn in subsidies and tax incentives to one of the world’s biggest corporations. But simply saying “no” to Amazon’s coercive terms is not enough. New York citizens should now demand that the state’s Attorney General Tish James begin investigating the corporation for abusing its power as a monopoly.

Continue reading

Democratic attacks on AOC expose the party’s fear of taking on moneyed interests

The Democratic Party’s loyalty to plutocrats led to political disaster. But many of its leaders won’t change their ways. (The Washington Post)

It’s not just right-wingers that are driven crazy by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the firebrand newcomer to national politics: Some of the Democratic lawmaker’s colleagues in her own party view her with suspicion. Their criticisms, however, offer a window into how a failure to take on concentrated power — while pretending to do so — has warped Democratic culture.

Continue reading