I often wonder how Bernie Sanders’ fellow senators are reacting when he’s on the floor, warning us for the umpteenth time that super-wealthy reactionaries, with much help from the Supreme Court, are snuffing out what was left of our democracy. Maybe they’re too busy conferring with lobbyists to hear the guy. Or they take long bathroom breaks when he gets up to speak. Or simply turn down their hearing aids.
Archive | Worshipping Mammon
Author and “zipless fuck” pioneer Erica Jong is seventy years old now, and her brand of feminism looks a bit naive in perspective, but it’s a pleasure to read that her priorities are still in order. Here she is calling out the greedy, ideological shapeshifter Arianna Huffington for refusing to pay all those writers who helped make her online publication such a lucrative venture:
“The idea that everybody’s writing for free is hurting writing as a profession. I wrote many articles for Arianna when she was establishing her aggregator blog and attracting all those eyeballs.
When she got $300m from the AOL acquisition, I said, ‘OK, Arianna, we all helped you get there so now you’re going to pay writers.’ She said, ‘No, I pay my editors.’ I’ve known Arianna for years…
I think “rotten to the core” is the expression that works best here:
BILL MOYERS: This week Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorganChase testified before the Senate Banking Committee on how his bank got it wrong on risk management– in London. What would you think if I told you that seven members of the Senate Banking Committee have been big recipients of money from JPMorgan Chase?
THOMAS FRANK: I would not be surprised, (LAUGH) not in the least. That’s obviously where JPMorgan would be spending its lobbying dollar would be on the– the– you know, giving to the campaigns of the people on that committee. That’s the wisest strategic choice for them…
Here’s an update on a news story you’ve probably seen before in some form. The repetition of it doesn’t make it any less galling or disgraceful. From ThinkProgress:
Compensation for chief executives at American companies grew 15 percent in 2011 after a 28 percent rise in 2010, part of a larger trend that has seen CEO pay skyrocket over the last three decades. Workers, on the other hand, have been left behind.
Since 1978, CEO pay at American firms has risen 725 percent, more than 127 times faster than worker pay over the same time period, according to new data from the Economic Policy Institute:
From 1978 to 2011, CEO compensation increased more than 725 percent, a rise substantially greater than stock market growth and the painfully slow 5.7 percent growth in worker compensation over the same period.
In 1978, CEOs took home 26.5 times more than the average worker. They now make roughly 206 times more than workers, EPI found. The pay isn’t always tied to the performance of their businesses — as ThinkProgress has noted, CEOs at companies like Bank of America often pocket huge pay increases even as the company’s stock price plummets and jobs are cut.
Workers’ wages aren’t tied to productivity either. Despite substantial gains in productivity since the 1970s, worker pay has remained flat. According to Labor Department data cited by the Huffington Post, inflation-adjusted wages fell 2 percent in 2011…
The only business more obscene than the privatized-prisons racket is the outright sale of slaves, which America’s southern states were forced to quit more than a century-and-a-half ago. From The Raw Story:
The United Methodist Task Force on Immigration held a rally in Tampa over the weekend to protest against the growing private prison system in the United States.
“Is this an immigration rally or is this a prison rally? It is a justice rally,” Bishop Minerva Carcano said.
More than 500 people gathered to protest the private prison industry, which has lead to the mass incarceration of immigrants and minorities, according to the United Methodist News Service.
Private prisons are associated with heightened levels of violence toward prisoners and have limited incentives to reduce future crime, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The perverse incentives to maximize profits and cut corners — even at the expense of safety and decent conditions — may contribute to an unacceptable level of danger in private prisons,” the report stated.
In February, the private prison company Corrections Corporation of America offered buy state-operated prisons in 48 states. States that accept the deal would have pay CCA to operate the prisons for at least 20 years and keep the prisons at least 90 percent full.
A handful of outside groups, fueled by oil and coal dollars, are committing tens of millions to propel Big Oil to the forefront of the 2012 elections — outspending the Obama campaign on political energy ads by an overwhelming amount.
In the first three-and-a-half months of 2012, groups including Americans for Prosperity, American Petroleum Institute, Crossroads GPS, and American Energy Alliance have spent $16,750,000 on energy attack ads…
By comparison, the Obama campaign and his super PAC have spent at least $1.67 million defending the president’s energy record.
Anyone else for campaign finance reform?
Privatization of prisons is what happens when right-wing politicians collude with corporations to shrink government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub,” to borrow Grover Norquist’s vivid phrase. A major church has belatedly taken a stand against such ventures:
The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, “after six months of study, discussion and prayerful consideration,” announced on January 3 that it had withdrawn nearly $1 million in stocks from two private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group.
A spokesperson for the board said the decision was not based on finance, but morality. “Our board simply felt that it did not want to profit from the business of incarcerating others,” Colette Nies, managing director of communications for the board, told The Crime Report.
She added: “We believe that profiting from incarceration is contrary to Church values.”
The decision comes after a year of lobbying by the National Prison Divestment Campaign, a coalition of immigrant rights, criminal justice and other organizations targeting CCA and GEO. The effort seeks to convince private and public institutions that for-profit prisons are a bad idea.
One of the major objections to private prisons is that, unlike normal prisons, they have no incentive to rehabilitate prisoners because private prisons profit from keeping people incarcerated. Last week CCA was the subject of controversy when it was revealed that it was offering to buy state-owned prisons and operate them for 20 years on the condition that the states keep the prisons at least 90% full.
It’s a pleasure, and a bit of a surprise, to learn that some Christian groups ultimately can’t stomach investing in businesses that are clearly un-Christian.
I get so sick of liars like Charles Murray, a man who’s made a 30 year career of shoveling shit. I don’t mean to suggest he works on a farm: that’s actual work. No, Murray writes “scholarly books” he refuses to submit for peer review, because his data and conclusions are made of excrement.
This time, he’s slandering Philadelphia’s working class. So he’s our piggie of the week.