Election Madness

By Howard Zinn

There’s a man in Florida who has been writing to me for years (ten pages, handwritten) though I’ve never met him. He tells me the kinds of jobs he has held—security guard, repairman, etc. He has worked all kinds of shifts, night and day, to barely keep his family going. His letters to me have always been angry, railing against our capitalist system for its failure to assure “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness” for working people.

Just today, a letter came. To my relief it was not handwritten because he is now using e-mail: “Well, I’m writing to you today because there is a wretched situation in this country that I cannot abide and must say something about. I am so enraged about this mortgage crisis. That the majority of Americans must live their lives in perpetual debt, and so many are sinking beneath the load, has me so steamed. Damn, that makes me so mad, I can’t tell you. . . . I did a security guard job today that involved watching over a house that had been foreclosed on and was up for auction. They held an open house, and I was there to watch over the place during this event. There were three of the guards doing the same thing in three other homes in this same community. I was sitting there during the quiet moments and wondering about who those people were who had been evicted and where they were now.”

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 12:33 am  Comments (1)  

The Society of the Owned

Pt. 6: Just Drop Off the Key

It’s the same anger that follows a broken promise, or a betrayal, when people have followed the rules, or simply done the same what everyone around them: bought into the idea of the ownership society, only to find that the rules have changed, and the door was never opened anyway.

  1. The Society of the Owned, Pt. 1
  2. The Society of the Owned, Pt. 2: Under the Bus
  3. The Society of the Owned, Pt. 3: Deeper in Debt
  4. The Society of the Owned, Pt. 4: Caught in the Middle
  5. The Society of the Owned, Pt.5: The Rage of a Middle Class
Published in: on March 14, 2008 at 6:48 pm  Comments (1)  

Exporting I.P.

Free trade is supposed to be a win-win situation. You sell me your televisions, I sell you my software, and we both prosper. In practice, free-trade agreements are messier than that. Since all industries crave foreign markets to expand into but fear foreign competitors encroaching on their home turf, they lobby their governments to tilt the rules in their favor. Usually, this involves manipulating tariffs and quotas. But, of late, a troubling twist in the game has become more common, as countries use free-trade agreements to rewrite the laws of their trading partners. And the country that is doing this most aggressively is the United States.

by James Surowiecki

[Thx S.A.]

Published in: on May 7, 2007 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Hidden Costs of Cheap Goods

The recent FDA debacle over the discovery of the toxic chemical melamine in pet food from China should remind us all that cheap goods, whether animal feed, denim jeans or the latest electronic gadgets, have a price attached. There’s a problem, though – the price tag isn’t always visible.

Published in: on May 5, 2007 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

“There is no such thing as a “free market” because every corporation in America profits thanks to subsidized public goods like education, roads, the electric power grid, and (albeit, too permissive) regulatory management of the stock market, which imposes stability and deters dishonest behavior. So-called “free trade” is a mirage.”

~Jonathan Tasini

Published in: on February 1, 2007 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment