Archive for the ‘Excess and Algorithms’ Category

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By @anarchyroll

What does it feel like to tell someone they must remain sick or die so that you can have more disposable income? In America, you indirectly tell people through backdoor lobbying of elected representatives with dark money.

What is the cost of living? Is there a societal flash point where that question is addressed out in the open collectively? In 2017, it feels like that point may be boiling closer to the surface than ever before. It was thought that the question was asked and answered in 2010 with the passing of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) into law.

What was learned was that there were a great volume of people who benefited from having access to health insurance who didn’t before and there was a large volume of money spent to resist the legislation at every possible turn. It seemed like a vocal majority of the country enjoyed what the ACA did for them. We also found out from the 2016 presidential election, that the silent majority of this country (whites) knows how and when to make a stink.

Repeal and Replace has been a battle cry for over half a decade for the Republican Party and the top one percent of economic earners whom they represent. Obamacare was nowhere near unflawed. Despite its limitations, holes, and warts it did accomplish something that those on the left have been championing for almost a century; access to free/low-cost healthcare to millions of people regardless of political affiliation or belief.

The masses have had a whiff, a taste, a sample of universal health care…there is no going back.

Republicans currently control the United States government. They have the executive and legislative branches and are gaining control of the judiciary. With such deep and vast control, they have been unable to eliminate Obamacare. How? The only thing that’s stopping them is the voting public. Who would’ve thought that an approval rating of 24% as a Congress compared to a 55% approval rating of Obamacare would create obstacles in a democracy?

There used to be this thing called give and take, compromise for short. In terms of economic policy in America for the past half century, it has become take, take, take. Income inequality is at eye-popping levels. Social media has put a magnifying glass on the haves in America. Their appetites of ego and greed has had them binge sharing their lives via smartphones for a decade. One thing all of these filtered and geo tagged pictures, videos, and stories have made clear; is that the 1% can never get enough.

I suppose it would be great to live our lives on permanent vacation. Is that not the end result of the American Dream? Going from the beach, to the boat, to the club, to the rooftop bar, to the personal jet, to the invitation only party, in the unlisted restaurant, at the private island, etc. This lifestyle requires opting out of the social contract, it is an evolution of the gated community.

To live these contribution-less lifestyles, there must be a transfer of wealth without physical labor or violence. The American Health Care Act of 2017 has been independently shown to be nothing more than a tax cut for and transfer of wealth to the top one percent of income earners in America. It is a money grab through the legislative process. It is a bank heist through legal channels.

Okay, that might be too cynical of a view. We should be glass half full kind of people. It’s better to just think of the repercussions of this bill, as a cost of living adjustment.

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If half of the world has less money than less than ten people, something is either wrong or rigged. There is no middle ground or shade of gray. Either we are living in a world of kings and peasants or we are living in a world where all people are created equal. The very idea that there will always be poverty at a time of mega yachts, vacation homes, million dollar cars, Botox and private islands is to spit in the face of reason.

A very real present day consequence of this growing, institutional, massive wealth disparity is seen in the rise of populism politics in the industrialized world. Brexit, Donald Trump in America, the growing  Made in France movement, and so on. It has finally caught on that globalism doesn’t work for the common man, because it wasn’t designed or put in place by the common man. It was put in place by the elite, to benefit the elite. The manual labor workers of the first world have been forgotten and left behind. Whether on purpose or on accident no longer matters, they have made their voice heard by organizing and getting behind far right political parties and candidates.

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The political consequences of the wave of populism that we are currently in the beginning of, are just now starting to take shape. But politics is just the tip of what is going on. Follow the money, because neither political populism nor big philanthropy will be enough to stem the tide of the rising groups of people with no jobs, no homes, nothing to lose but debt.

They are going to the voting booth for now, protesting in mass on the streets for now. But the history of the world shows that concentrated wealth and power are the planted seeds for rebellion.  And unless the elite share the love as well as their wealth, it is not a question of if but when their favorable debt to liquidity ratio can no longer save them from the ratio of have-nots to haves that are past the point of no return.

Eight men possess more wealth than half the world combined? That doesn’t happen on accident. This has been done on purpose. This is long-term, purposeful, monetary migration. The problem is known. The solution is known. But the money keeps going the same direction, up. These super charged capitalists have certainly skirted some laws to amass their obscene wealth concentration. But nothing skirts Newton’s Third Law of Motion. What goes up, must come down.

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By @anarchyroll

Current events and news topics don’t come much more complex and far-reaching than the TPP. The entire thing has been constructed in the shadows of backrooms under the table off the record. Everything that is publicly known about it doesn’t even count as a starting point for the ramifications of this deal.

Sound like hyperbole and conspiracy theory fringe? Then why is this not a topic covered on nightly news? This trade deal if passed will affect millions of people. Forget pro or con, there is no denying that millions of lives will be effected by legislative change that the Trans Pacific Partnership will bring. So why not cover it at depth like a news story or event? Does it not warrant similar coverage to the 2016 Presidential Election, Rio Olympics, or Harambe’s death?

International free trade deals are certainly no naked, lubed-up Kim Kardashian holding a champagne bottle. Butt, NAFTA wasn’t considered a sexy issue until it bubbled up in the 2008 Democratic party primary debates. Sometimes people just need to get warmed up and have a few drinks before something dry and dense becomes cute and sexy.

The TPP got moved from the shadows of being one of those third tier news stories on a newspaper website that is so far down the page the text isn’t bold, highlighted, or even a larger font size ; to stealing some of President Obama’s thunder during his speech at the DNC.

 So what does all of this mean? Who gives a shit about the TPP? Why would anyone who isn’t in the 1% care about some international trade deals off the record, earmark ramifications? Does this whole thing not scream of white people problems?
If I had answers, I wouldn’t just have a blog. But the questions anyone and everyone who reads this or any piece of writing involving the TPP needs to ask themselves are;

  1. Why was the TPP constructed and negotiated in secret?
  2. Why are environmentalists and labor unions passionately against it?
  3. Why would Democrats protest it during Obama’s last major speech as President?

The TPP has more questions than answers. That tends to happen when a massive bill with massive legislations is bred and conceived in secret. The TPP is to trade what the Patriot Act is to civil liberties. With the TPP though there is no act of economic terrorism to induce its passage into permanent fruition. Mainly because the economic terrorists of the world are the rich white folks in mansions as opposed to terrorism’s impoverished brown folks in caves.

The TPP is so shady to its core that it is probably the one issue that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton agree on during this 2016 campaign season. The bill has been declared all but dead in terms of passage this year. So again the question is, who gives a shit? Why does this matter?

The TPP is a symbol. Both literally and metaphorically.

Literally, on the record, it is a symbol towards China.

Metaphorically, the TPP has come to represent globalization itself. Much like communism and laissez faire capitalism it reads well on paper and sounds good in theory as a utopia of equality. In practice however, it’s just another means of exploitation for the 1% to get richer and the 99% to get poorer. Something this big requires the most transperancy. The fact it has been treated with the least, makes it’s intent see through. The TPP’s hush hush, secret negotiations speak so loudly, it’s legalese need not be orated.

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By @anarchyroll

News as significant as the Panama Papers doesn’t come around that often, unless it’s a news about how bad global warming is getting. That is becoming a weekly occurrence.

The Panama Papers’ place in history places the document leak right up with Edward Snowden, Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, and Wikileaks in its prime.

What the Panama Papers does is removes the illusion that the wealthy care about the poor. It destroys the myth that money trickles down from the top to the bottom. The wealthy don’t give a shit about anything other than getting richer, keeping what they have, to ensure they remain the haves, and that the have nots stay that way.

Just like it has always been. The 99% vs the 1% was once known as the castle owners versus the serfs. All the poors will ever be to those with wealth are serfs. A bunch of ignorant mouth breathers who don’t deserve to live a life of privilege.

The Panama Papers proves that those with wealth will take extraordinary measures to opt out of the social contract. That even though they could not possibly acquire a fortune without society, that they do not under any circumstance want to give back.
How do the rich give back? Not with charity but with taxes. We as a society need taxes. We need taxes to build our infrastructure to ensure our bridges don’t collapse and that our water pipes aren’t poisoning us with lead.

We need taxes to create housing and counseling for the mentally ill, physically handicapped, and generationally underprivileged. That is what the public sector and more importantly, public service is for.

If the rich, wealthy, private sector could be relied upon to help society better than the public sector, wouldn’t they have done it by now? The concentration of wealth is greater now than at any other point in modern history. So are the billionaires of the world repaving our roads, repairing our water pipes, building schools, shelters, asylums, and municipal Wi-Fi? No, they are putting the consumerism, capitalism ideology on steroids and crashing the economies’ of the world cyclically.

Private islands, mega yachts, vacation homes, third cars, personal jets, spa getaways, and tax havens. They go together like peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, caviar and foie gras, VIP bottle service and hookers.

After all they worked for that money, except for the trust fund crowd.

Remember, its not the local café owner, franchise retail manager, regional bank president, or serial entrepreneur whose economic terrorism has been exposed by the Panama Papers. Its not the rich, it’s the wealthy. Were talking Bill Gates money, not Oprah money.

Whether it is distrust of specific governments, municipalities or just the public sector in general is irrelevant. Infrastructures are crumbling, people are starving, coastal communities are eroding, species going extinct, and these greedy fuckers only care about having enough money to one up each other in the game of thee who dies with the most toys wins.

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What does a white-collar, wall street economic terrorist have to do to go to jail?

Write billion dollar checks with strings attached and an ability to make money back off the deal I suppose.

That is what Goldman Sachs recently did in New York as a means of settling their Legacy Matters related to the 2008 economic collapse that they have now admitted to being at least partially responsible for.

Usually when a person confesses to a crime, they still go to jail, they still face a righteous punishment. Maybe instead of the death penalty they serve life in prison. The deal that Goldman Sachs cut with the working group headed by the New York Attorney General, is very Manhattan, a lot of bluster for the sake of appearances that stinks like garbage when brought into the sun.

What good is restitution without a righteous penalty? What is the value of a fine to people with unlimited money and unlimited capacity to get free money from the US government?

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A penalty isn’t a penalty if it doesn’t hurt the person or party being penalized.

Fining Goldman Sachs five billion dollars is like fining the ocean enough water to run a water park for a summer. Not only is it less than a minimal but its a pretty salty reward  that cant quench anybody’s thirst.

In the developed world money equals power. The purpose of news is to inform the common person about what those in power are doing. The event of the 2008 economic collapse and the ripple effects in the aftermath of it effect more people directly than any presidential election in modern times

Yet how much coverage did the announcement of this multi billion dollar settlement get compared to any aspect of the presidential primary or anything Donald Trump has said in the last year?

Legacy matters.

Most people would agree that it does. On Wall Street that means a whole different thing. Then again what doesn’t? The announced five billion dollar settlement by Goldman Sachs sums up their legacy and the legacy of the 2008 economic collapse quite well.

Smoke screens, legalese, under the table deals, double talk, fine print, more mystery than truth, more PR than pure.That is the legacy of the 2008 economic collapse and the Great Recession that followed it.

That is the legacy that matters to Goldman Sachs, and the royal we of Wall Street. The legacy matters of the too big to fail institutions on Wall Street are nothing more than numbers on a spreadsheet…just like everything and everyone else in the world.

On Wall Street, legacy matters are things you put behind with shame. In the rest of the world, it’s something you leave behind with pride.

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ajclogo2By @anarchyroll

Few people, whether real or fictional, are as synonymous with America’s version of capatilsm as Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street.

“Greed is good” are words to live by for the people who try to fill the hole in the soul with copious amounts of money by any means necessary. That quote is the foundation of type of free market capitalism that brought about the 2008 Great Recession.

That economic collapse should was a very very big, very very loud, very very painful sign that we as a society have allowed greed to get out of control. It is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason. Wall Street and unregulated capitalism have transformed greed into the deadliest sin. Able to negatively impact the entire developed world with greedy actions of a relatively small percentage of the global population.

One of the ripple effects of the Great Recession has been the mainstream populous rise of what a generation ago would have been considered a fringe presidential candidate. Bernie Sanders through passionate speeches and a lifetime of walking the talk has risen like a phoenix.

Another ripple effect has been that greed is no longer good enough for the top 20% – .01%. The rich get richer no longer is a substantial enough metaphor. How do I know this? How can I be sure of this?

The fact that the real life person who inspired the fictional icon Gordon Gekko is publically endorsing Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders for President.

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How can the inspiration for the phrase Greed is Good be endorsing a socialist for president? Because the unregulated greed thanks to the Clinton and Bush administrations has become something beyond excess and gluttony.

 

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By @anarchyroll

America’s identity is its middle class. What makes America different than every other country that has come before it? The economic middle class…..guns, and obesity.

For real tho, it’s the middle class. We invented it. Before the United States of America there was no middle class. There was rich and there was poor.

What the middle class literally is, as well as what it metaphorically represents are both why people immigrate from all over the world, not just from the third world, to be in America. A country with an economic ladder for all people who work hard as opposed to caste systems? That concept is worth risking life and limb to millions of people each year. Legally and illegally people want into America.

Freedom/democracy is great too, but what good is freedom if you’re poor? What good is living if you live under literal oppression or economic oppression where there is only the super rich and the super poor? America, the land of opportunity; where ordinary people can simply work hard and be rewarded monetarily in a manner that enables not just animalistic survival, but also comfort, upward social mobility, and land ownership.

The socioeconomic middle class is Americana. Baseball, apple pie, barbecues, two week vacations, two car garage homes with a white picket fence. The images created by those words are the America middle class; the great reward for all born or adopted citizens who buy into the concept of American exceptionalism by giving their blood, sweat, and tears to a job for the middle two quarters of their life.

Without a middle class, America has no true identity. Freedom? Democracy? Those both existed before America. Flags? Bald eagles? Sports? White people oppressing minorities? Those all existed before America too believe it or not.
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There is a saying; Don’t tell me about the labor pains just show me the baby.

One can look at that chart and say there are still plenty of people in the middle class. One can point to the people who have improved their income status over the past ten to forty years. Both are valid points. There is still a middle class in America and people have moved economically upward out of the middle.

Want another valid point? Both democratic and republican presidential candidates are dedicating equal time to talk about the erosion of the middle class. In this polarized political era, for both sides, to completely agree on a non national security/terrorism issue?

How can the erosion of the middle class be immune from political party polarization? Sure they’ll disagree on how to fix it, but to be in complete agreement of the present moment problem? Sounds like what happens when a person reaches a midlife crisis. And a midlife crisis is nothing more than an identity crisis.

The erosion of the middle class is America’s identity crisis.

Are we a caste system? Are we an oligarchy? Are we a republic? Can our economic and political systems ACTUALLY co exist? Should we just buy a sports car?

The real questions always start with Who/What/When/Where/Why and How?

Who; has benefited from the erosion of the middle class?
What; exactly has been happening over the past thirty years to lead to this erosion?
When; was the middle class the most robust?
Where; specifically did the wealth lost by the middle class go?
Why; was the middle class so vibrant at its peak?
How; can the economic principles of then be adapted to modern time?

If one asks these questions, and does a few basic Google searches, the answers become pretty obvious pretty fast. But the answers to these questions don’t actually require searching the internet do they? Deep down inside, we all already know what’s been happening. We know where the middle classes’ money has gone. We know whose benefiting from the loss of the middle class. We would like to tell ourselves we don’t know why because we want to see and believe the best in people.

Have you heard the phrase, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?

How about; All is fair in love and war.

Class War has been the new Cold War for about thirty years, which wouldn’t ya know, is about how long the Cold War has been over, and is how long the middle class has been eroding.

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by @anarchyroll
10/15/2014

It turns out Apple is worth more than a lot of things. A lot of things and a lot of other companies.

The company is valued at over half a trillion dollars and at any one time, has around $160 billion of liquid assets on hand.

The US government for instance, has less than 1/3 of that on hand. Although, as the Forbes article linked above makes sure to note, the US Treasury can at any time print more money and invest it into treasury notes.

What does it mean when a company has more than three times the amount of money as the government  of the country it operates in? Does that tremendous gift on incredible wealth come with added responsibility? A responsibility not just to employees and shareholders, but to cities, cultures, and societies?

Apple hoards so much cash, that Carl Ichan, the man who the lead character in the movie Wall Street is based on, thinks Apple is being too greedy with their profits. That takes a whole lotta greed. Ichan is as ruthless of a capitalist as it gets. If someone who makes his living using money to make money thinks Apple owes something to other people, that puts Apple in a different light than the idolatry bestowed upon their founder and products.

Apple already deserves some scorn for their notorious tax dodging/avoidance practices. They dodge taxes and hoard cash from even their own stockholders. What about the societies that have enabled the company to become richer than governments? What about the roads, schools, bridges, farms, poverty, intelligence, and morale of the places and people Apple has made their billions in? Do they owe something? Should they bear more responsibility to the public than slightly newer, slightly modified consumer electronic gadgets a few times per year?

With great power comes great responsibility. Money equals power in the world we live in. No one person, government, or corporation in the world has more money than Apple. Where does responsibility come in?

 

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by @anarchyroll
10/6/2014

The biggest Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the history of the New York Stock Exchange occurred recently.

Have you heard of Alibaba? Had you heard about Alibaba before last month? Have you already forgotten about Alibaba after it didn’t carry over to a fresh news cycle? When someone mentioned it to me last month, all I thought of was the Beastie Boys song.

What is Alibaba?

  • Google, Amazon, PayPal and eBay all rolled into one
  • A wholesale marketplace; Alibaba is the middleman the connects retailers/sellers directly to customers/buyers
  • Alibaba is the top dog in the largest e-commerce market in the world

How did Alibaba become the biggest IPO ever?

  • Capitalizing on the Chinese consumers’ desires to shop online, for cheap, with trustworthy retailers/merchants
  • 80% of China’s e-commerce is done through Alibaba
  • Domination of the world’s largest growing market paired with international expansion has Wall Street drooling

So China’s biggest internet cash cow has gone public on stock market. Yahoo is the biggest American company to directly benefit from Alibaba’s IPO success as the two are very  much in bed together, on the level, and in public NOT under the table. In fact, Yahoo has benefited so much from Alibaba’s success there is talk of them investing in and/or acquiring Snapchat.

What are potential problems with Alibaba?

  • It’s Chinese, the communist government/central bank could throw a monkey wrench into the mix at any time, and already has
  • The stock being bought isn’t actual stock in the company, but in their Cayman Islands shell corporation
  • Is Alibaba-Mania a product of a new Dot Com Bubble? The question is worth asking.

Should you go out and buy as much Alibaba stock as you can afford? Well, if you’re a good investor, you should always asked yourself; what would Warren Buffett do?

As with most IPOs, if you weren’t ahead of the curve or a fan of the band before they were cool, the ship has mostly sailed on this one. What I find personally noteworthy about Alibaba, is everyone I know who invests and is well off because of it, wants nothing to do with Alibaba. Why? They all say the same thing; the Chinese government. How much is the government involved with Alibaba? How much influence do they have? How much transparency is there and how much of that can actually be trusted?

When the Head of the FBI goes on 60 Minutes and openly talks about the Chinese military attempting to cyber attack the US economy, one should be very cautious about investing in the Cayman Islands shell company of a Chinese internet marketplace with direct ties to the Chinese government.

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by @anarchyroll
8/27/2014

When one’s problems are in the realm of having to wait in line to get a  $5 (or more) cup of coffee, blissful ignorance to the plight of those serving the coffee apparently is to be expected. Having worked at a Starbucks for a cup of coffee (pun intended) I know that the vast majority of Starbucks customers care about the baristas serving them just as much as fast food customers care about the people serving them their burgers and burritos.

The only difference between the people who work at Starbucks and the people who work at fast food is the ratio of Latino-American’s behind the counters, wearing the aprons/uniforms. The majesticness of espresso cafés has been thoroughly destroyed by the corporate culture of Starbucks, and the fact that they added drive thrus. Starbucks is just another fast food joint, the only difference is they specialize in beverages. The way they treat their employees has been akin to how fast food workers have been treated and paid, poorly.

A recent article in the New York Times showed just how inhumanely Starbucks employees are treated. The focus on the article was related to scheduling. The article raised such public ire that Starbucks has immediately gone into damage control, introducing sweeping changes to their scheduling system. Most baristas I have talked to are on a, we’ll believe it when we see it attitude. Why? Because management has zero credibility when it comes to treating employees like whole people. Baristas, much like the majority of service industry and retail industry workers are treated like marks on expense reports. Treated as just another inventory item, like the cups and straws.

The managers in the store aren’t too often the enemy because in a corporation, the store managers themselves are just another cog in the machine. Unless you are in a suite, most corporations will only care if you die because of the profit loss they may endure having to move resources around to cover your duties. I’ve only worked for so many corporations so I’m not going to be Mr. Anti Capitalism here, but Starbucks I have worked for. They care about you only if they can’t immediately replace you. I’m willing to bet many other people working at lower levels of corporations would say the same thing.

The inhumane treatment of employees spotlighted in the NYT article once again shows the high cost of the low prices and fast service America’s shrinking middle class has come to expect and the 1% can’t live without. Eyes shut, ears covered, just give me what I want at the lowest possible price in the shortest amount of time involving the least amount of effort. That is the American attitude towards buying things. That is why e-commerce has destroyed brick and mortar stores. We can lie to ourselves about technology all we want. I worked retail and counted hundreds of customers per week who would shop in stores then buy online to avoid paying tax. No concern for the human beings who suffered so they could save a few bucks.

Corporate management seems to be a reflection of the customers, me first. It has always amazed me that working class people have so little regard for other working class people. I thought as I got older I would understand it, but I am yet to grasp it beyond greed, ego, and the victim mindset. Working hard, having a bad day, and/or being upset gives no person any right to impart suffering on another. It is great that Starbucks is changing policies and procedures that will benefit their employees. However, until Americans can start accepting higher costs for non-essential purchases so that the people who make, transport, and sell them can have a higher quality of life, then clopening is just another symptom being addressed while the cause of the illness goes avoided.