Little Tart loves it all…most of the time

Archive for the ‘Capitalism’ Category

I am not an economist, but I am an intelligent voter and a taxpayer. The last few weeks have shone how badly an under-regulated banking industry polices its self. I understand that Treasury officials and economic officials are stressing the urgency of a federal bailout of the banking sector. However, as a fairly educated constituent, I ask that you withhold your vote until the Executive branch, the Treasury department, and the Financial Industry offer a better explanation of what has happened. Also, how they will prevent it happening again, and how the banking melt down will actually effect the lives of regular middle class tax-payers and citizens, in clear, easily understood, non-economist language. I am not talking about Bernanke using scary language like “foreclosure” and “unemployment”, I am talking about solid macro and micro economic theory and facts about how giving $700 billion of American Taxpayer’s money to rich people will protect the regular people of this nation.

In addition I ask that you do not support Section 8 of the proposed bill that would extend unprecedented rights to the Treasury Secretary and excuse that office from legislative oversight. Our nation’s first Treasury Secretary was also it’s strongest federalist, and if he, Alexander Hamilton, had intended for the Treasury Department to weld this level of power he would have advocated it during the framing. I ask that you vote against any bill that would use back door methods to alter the structure of our political system or abridge the constitution’s checks and balances through subterfuge.

Please remember that the $700 billion the banking industry is clamoring for belongs to the people, many of us are struggling against the winds of economic hardships as well, and most of us do not have golden parachutes.

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John McCain and his republican compatriots want us to live in a world without socialized health care, but WITH socialized banking risk? How is that?

The Writer’s Guild of America will strike Monday due to the film and TV industry failing to bargain in good faith with writers regarding among many things: proper compensation for writing online content, DVD residuals and pensions.

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This strike has been a long time coming and sadly is a surprise to no one.  The last writer’s strike in 1988 was 22 weeks long and this strike is shaping up to be just as lengthy.  A writer’s strike effects everyone in the film industry from executives, SAG members, caters, truck drivers and the families of the strikers — Hollywood will be shut down by this action and everyone’s livelihood will be effected. The first shows to be impacted are daily shows such as John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but weekly serials will feel the impact in the coming weeks.
 
It is easy for non-union, non-Hollywood types to look at this strike and see it as white collar entitlement. “Movie’s/TV suck, and those writer’s get paid for this crap?” This strike however is not about the quality of the product, but about the workers (in this case the writer) right to be compensated in scale with the profits the industry (in this case the studios and networks) are reaping from their labor.  Hollywood makes billions of dollars in revenues from the work of  writers (along with all the other men and women listed in end credits) and are adding more revenues thanks to new media like web-shows for which writers are not properly credited and compensated.  It is the industry executive’s lack of regard for new media, and lack of respect for the writing process that allows them to deny residuals to the men and women who earn a living putting fingers to keyboard.  The studio subtext is also anti-technology: new media viewers are not worth paying union wages to gain access to. 

The WGA does not have a link with suggestions on how you and I, regular viewers, can support WGA as they strike. In a traditional industry they would form a picket line that I would not cross. In this case the WGA will be picketing studios, and while I don’t physically enter a studio on a daily basis, I do consume the products those studio’s release. For this reason I have decided that for the length of the WGA strike I will not cross their picket line but I personally am going to switch off my television and stop watching online content from any network. I strongly urge each and everyone of you to make the same decision.

Solidarity.

I will admit to knowing very little about President Hugo Chavez’s civil rights track record – but I want to get on the record right now, that I love the crazy ass anti-American strangeness he perpetuates. His plan to offer low cost eye surgery jointly with Cuban doctors for low-income Americans. His current madness to set the Venezuelan clocks back a ½ hour, putting Venezuela on the map as the only nation at 4.5 GMT.

How can you not love a President who goes on record with gems such as this:

“Now some people think, ‘My daughter’s turning 15, let’s give her breast enlargements.’ That’s horrible. It’s the ultimate degeneration,” Chavez said

I’m not trying to belittle the man. I actually admire the sentiment in many of his international actions, and it is nice to see a President discussing the poor. As I said before, I am unfamiliar with his actual domestic policy, but he sure makes for fun sound bites.

Picture from Miraflores Palace/Handout/Reuters

Am I the only person who finds the news that simply owning Barry Bonds’ ball (i’m not sure what it was for – but seemed to be important to sports people) will cost the 21 year old who caught it to much in taxes to keep?

Since when are we taxed for material possesions?  Did I miss something?  Should I have paid taxes on the Bare Minerals my mom sent me?  Why on earth would he have to pay taxes on a ball he caught?  Can someone explain, because it sounds like a urban legend to me.

I am writing because I am sincerely confused over why there has not been a censure leading to an impeachment process for President George W. Bush. It is hard for me to stand up and be a proud American when this Administration, which has shown time and time again to have no respect for our Constitution or The Rule of Law, is allowed to reign unchecked by the very branch intended to balance that ability.

This is not an issue of partisanship, of my being a Democrat and thus out for political blood. This is about right and wrong. About preserving our democratic system. I understand that President Bush has only a year remaining in his term. With Democrats holding both houses he is very nearly a lame duck, but if this is the damage a lame duck can continue to create, think of the precedent it sets for future executive administrations with full terms before them. How much closer to an Autocracy can our nation get before it becomes one? What doomed Rome’s republic were the backroom dealings and secret pacts, as well as the belief of powerful individuals that they, rather than the democratic guidelines already in place, created the rule of law. Caesar thought himself above democracy; it took brave Senators to protect their Republic against that narcissism. Do we live in an era when Caesar, not Brutus, would be lauded?

Our nation’s Founders were brilliant political scientists. The blueprint they created is a grand design — a design even more applicable and relevant in the modern world than it was in the post-colonial world. But it is relevant only if the men and women who have been selected by the people to govern take seriously their duty to protect the sytem of checks and balances. Why is this not happening? Please explain to me why the Congressional Branch, with the exception of Senator Russ Feingold, is failing to fulfill its constitutional duty?

I know there is fear about creating division in this country, about creating a schism that drives red and blue farther from each other, but how is it American to except corruption because we are afraid of unpopularity? This is not a moment for partisan theory; for looking at the situation and determining how it can play out in your favor or their favor. This is about the very fabric of our nation. This is about telling our new Caesar as well as the world that our Republic is worth protecting and the representatives from the people are the men and women who are willing to do that protecting.

I do not throw these terms and fears around willy-nilly, but I am afraid. Afraid of the power being ceded the executive branch by the House’s lack of response. Silence is approval in this world. I ask that you no longer allow the Congress to remain silent.

Please begin by initiating a censure investigation in the Judiciary Committee or by backing Russ Feingold’s, or even by speaking out in the free press so those of us who are afraid can hear your bravery and take hope from it. Hope that America and Democracy and our Republic still stand for something right in the world.

    espresso-roasted_coffee_beans.jpg  In our contemporary café culture who doesn’t enjoy a cup of Joe? Coffee is the life’s blood of artists, students, thinkers and truck drivers. This paper itself is fueled by copious amounts of coffee, each sip enjoyed to the last drop. But that enjoyment is not without a dark side. Coffee is the US’s second largest import after oil. Worldwide, 25 million small producers rely on coffee for a living. Few locations globally have the conditions necessary to cultivate coffee beans, and fewer still have the optimal high altitude and volcanic soil that a high quality Arabica bean needs to thrive. Many of these locales are in less developed nations and have long been exploited by developed nations and corporate entities. “Namely Proctor & Gamble (Folgers) and Philip Morris (Maxwell House)—[who] acquired the status of virtual colonial master in many coffee producing nations…Company representatives at times had more influence in domestic politics … than many local government officials did…”(Dicum). This system resulted in exploitation, suffering and devastating environmental impact throughout the developing world. In 1988, in response to an economic downshift, and an ever-shrinking livelihood, coffee producers designed the “Fair Trade” movement to ensure a living wage while encouraging agricultural sustainability. This essay seeks to define the movement while it compares two essays with very different interpretations of the Fair Trade movement and its economic future.

    Jeremy Weber’s article “Fair Trade Coffee Enthusiasts Should Confront Reality” discusses the failings of Fair Trade. Weber’s chief complaints are the “misleading representation of Fair Trade [that have] led many socially conscious coffee drinkers to hold unexamined assumptions about the benefits of Fair Trade…” including: living wage assumptions, the tendency for fair trade agencies to blame corporations for their economic difficulties, an attempt to “strong arm the market”(112) by setting minimum prices, the prohibitory costs of certification and an excess of production which out weighs demand. He concludes the article suggesting that “Social Justice goals and efficiency can complement each other” (116) and that Fair Trade proponents should revisit the goals of their endeavor when compared to the realities of the market.

“Justice, sustainability, and the fair trade movement: a case study of coffee production in Chiapas” By Mark and Ian Hudson, used Chiapas, a historically underserved, underemployed and politically volatile region of Mexico, as their case study into the successes of Fair Trade. They begin by describing the region, its history, and economic situation. Following this Hudson (et al) use the actual list of criteria produced by the FairTrade Labeling Organizations International (a leading international association of Fair Trade producers) as measuring posts for Fair Trade achievements in the region. Next, the article touches on the environmental impact of Fair Trade and the various benefits/shortcomings of sun farming, shade farming and organic farming. The authors conclude by explaining their interpretation of the data. They believe it establishes, not only that Chiapas is improving, with the use of Fair Trade theory, but that Fair Trade results in “an unalienated relationship between the direct producer and the land [which] provides [the] basis for a more rational interaction between humans and the environment, and the possibility of sustainability.” (143) Read the rest of this entry »