Facebook, Google, and Amazon Aren’t Consumer Choices. They are Monopolies That Endanger American Democracy

Can users of what is essentially privatized social infrastructure really log off? (Tablet Magazine)

When it comes to platform monopolies, there’s a weird libertarian myth about our ability as consumers to choose our fate. If you don’t like Facebook, goes this argument, just turn it off. For Facebook, Google, or Amazon, this myth goes, it is your individual choice whether to use them. And if you choose to use these services, you are complicit in giving them your data. As the Onion put it in a recent headline, “Nothing Stopping You From Deleting Your Facebook Account Right Now.” The article concluded, “at press time, sources told reporters they were unsurprised you were too fucking weak to pull the trigger.”
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Equifax Isn’t A Data Problem. It’s A Political Problem.

The credit reporting debate we should be having. (Huffington Post)

Here’s a simple thought experiment to understand how the use of data has changed America. If The Great Gatsby were written today, it would be a one-page story about a rich guy who lied a lot and threw great parties until someone ran a credit check. That’s what the ability to instantly access and exchange personal data has done: It has reordered the very notion of identity. No one is a stranger anymore, at least not when it comes to credit relationships.
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Lords of Misrule

How the legal profession became Wall Street’s helpmeet. (The Baffler)

In 1937, future Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson gave a toast at the New York State Bar Association on the civic responsibilities of the legal profession. “No other people have submitted so generally to lawyer leadership,” he said. Yet, he argued, “There is no constitutional protection for our lawyer monopoly.” Jackson was referring, in a tone of populist outrage, to the new wave of big law firms that were then vehemently opposing Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and its crackdown on Wall Street in the wake of the 1929 crash. “We must rely solely on the record of a trust well fulfilled to perpetuate lawyer control.” Jackson was the last Supreme Court Justice not to graduate from law school, and he hated the corruption of the craft of lawyering via the growth of corporate law, centered then in the American Bar Association. Jackson believed that the professionalization of the law and the resulting priority of financial over ethical considerations among lawyers have been toxic for American democracy.

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Return of Monopoly

With Amazon on the rise and a business tycoon in the White House, can a new generation of Democrats return the party to its trust-busting roots? (The New Republic)

On July 15, 2015, Amazon marked the twentieth anniversary of its founding with a “global shopping event” called Prime Day. Over the next 24 hours, starting at midnight, the company offered special discounts every ten minutes to the 44 million users of Amazon Prime, its members-only benefit program. The event was astonishingly successful: Amazon made 34 million Prime sales that day, nearly 20 percent more than it had on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving buying bonanza. The company received almost 400 orders per second—all on a single, ordinary day in the middle of summer.
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How inequality makes our government corrupt and our democracy weak

If we want a functioning democracy, we need to pay for a functioning public sector. (The Washington Post)

On his way to an early retirement from Congress later this week, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has asked for a housing subsidy for members of Congress. “I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college and a second place here in Washington, D.C.,” he said. Chaffetz showed no indication that he cared about affordable housing when he chaired the committee that oversees the District of Columbia, and he recently mused that if families can’t afford health insurance, maybe they shouldn’t buy new iPhones; he deserves no sympathy.
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Pelosi’s Pity Problem

It’s time for the Democratic leader to step aside. (Huffington Post)

On Tuesday, the Democrats lost a seat in a Georgia special election they were desperate to win. Following Democrat Jon Ossoff’s defeat ― and Democratic losses in four other special elections since Donald Trump became president ― calls are ramping up for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to step aside.
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America’s Amazon Problem

Jeff Bezos has created an empire that’s quickly raising political questions. (Huffington Post)

To understand the depth and breadth of Jeff Bezos’ ambitions for the company he built, type www.relentless.com into your browser. The domain Bezos registered in 1994 will redirect to Amazon, the company aptly, and ambitiously, nicknamed The Everything Store. He tells his shareholders that the company will act like an aggressive startup — that at Amazon, it is always Day One.
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Obama the Hamiltonian

Taking money from an investment bank in the form of a speaking fee is not immoral, it is eminently reasonable. (Huffington Post)

When former President Barack Obama decided to take $400,000 from a Wall Street investment bank for the first paid speech of his post-presidential career, he accelerated an important debate within the political establishment.
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The Evidence is Piling Up: Silicon Valley is Being Destroyed

Silicon Valley is the story of overthrowing entrenched interests through innovation. (Business Insider)

Children dream of becoming inventors, and scientists come to Silicon Valley from all over the world.

But something is wrong when Juicero and Theranos are in the headlines, and bad behavior from Uber executives overshadows actual innovation.

$120 million in venture funding from Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, for a juicer? And the founder, Doug Evans, calling himself himself Steve Jobs “in his pursuit of juicing perfection?” And how is Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes walking around freely?
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Towards Democratic Regulation of the Airline Industry

It’s time for the public to recognize that there is no such thing as “Deregulation.” (Medium)

In the reaction to the the United Airlines fiasco, we see something very powerful. Americans are using words like corporate concentration and monopoly — and antitrust and regulation — to describe the reason David Dao was beaten. And how you ask a question, how you define a problem, leads to what kind of political system you will have.
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