Trolling and Discord!


 

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-were-sharing-3-million-russian-troll-tweets/

“FiveThirtyEight has obtained nearly 3 million tweets from accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency. To our knowledge, it’s the fullest empirical record to date of Russian trolls’ actions on social media, showing a relentless and systematic onslaught. In concert with the researchers who first pulled the tweets, FiveThirtyEight is uploading them to GitHub so that others can explore the data for themselves.”

This is fascinating. Here you can see how the Russian Troll Tweets were targeted and used. You get to look at the data yourself and see what you think. I have to tell you “three million tweets are a lot of tweets.”
This was an endeavor set up by the Russian government to cause discord.
So, why am I, Mr. Business Ethics, talking about it and asking you to think about it.
Because spreading outrage and lies is an Internet business model, and a very successful one. People are building little information empires based on making stuff up. Even worse are those designed to cause discord.
I’m a Methodist. Part of the Methodist doctrine is respect for thing called “the ties that bind.” These are the unifying elements in the church, the family and the larger society.
Societies, towns, states and nations are actually fragile collections of people attempting to share resources, maintain order and accomplish some larger goal like living long lives with some security.
There are people who like to mess that up. Shock jocks on radio and ranting conspiracy theorists are often simply trying to get you mad. Angry people don’t think but they do listen to a lot of radio and watch talking heads on television – both of which I strongly recommend against.
The brain is stimulated and developed by reading and thought. Television is more like a sustained diet of high fructose corn syrup and is better left alone.
Anyway, learn more about trolling, particularly how to spot it. Become aware that what you feed your brain is critical to its well being and that we live in societies that need constant maintenance and care to function.
James Pilant

Non-Profits can be Profitable


“Tiffany Carr runs the state’s top domestic violence organization, a nonprofit that uses public money — state and federal — to finance shelters and other essential services. And she makes a good living.

How good? In a June 30, 2017 report, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence disclosed she is paid $761,560 annually, a salary that is approved by its board. She hit that mark after receiving pay raises totaling $313,475 over a two-year period.” (This is a quote from the article with a link at the bottom of the page.) 

 

Ah, the wonders of privatization! Now, privatization is based on the idea that the private sector can do anything better than the public sector. That’s not true. But it is one of the tenets of semi-religious Neo-Liberalistic beliefs held by the elites of our government, the educational system and the business world. And so, of course, it must be true and we’re going to do privatization no matter what contrary evidence appears.
Now, we are talking here about a “non-profit.” That is one of the strangest words in the modern American dystopia we live in today. Tiffany Carr makes three quarters of a million dollars a year running a “non-profit.” That sounds pretty profitable to me. And usually when I see the word, non-profit, it is in a news article discussing hundred or millions or billions of dollars, so I can’t help but feel the word doesn’t mean what I think it does.
You see the state of Florida decided that they should run their state funds through a private organization and the world would be a much better place. And they are absolutely right. In the old world state employees were paid small salaries and worked to prevent domestic violence. Now private employees can be paid six figure salaries, and work to prevent domestic violence.
The state of Florida routes federal money through the organization as well as substantial state funds. Now call me petty, but I can’t help but wonder how successful the organization is at combating domestic violence. So, I went and looked for numbers and there are just bunches of stuff on shelter days and developed plans but my foolish question of “Is domestic violence going up or down?” is not readily apparent from my search results.
Of course, that’s not the point of privatization. A public school or a public domestic violence response by state employees doesn’t really yield up money or influence. But a privatized agency paying six figure salaries can reward your friends and result in annual campaign contributions. It’s wonderful and much better than that public service thing.
This is about money and how public money can be used to reward and enhance political power. Whether or not it works any better than the public institutions is irrelevant. It is much better deal for those in power.
So, we’re going to see a lot more “non-profits” and privatization – a lot more.

The Responsibility Edition


The Responsibility Edition

It’s a badly broken system when overseas hackers can make tons of money gaming the American political system. Facebook and Google want to claim that the lies and click bait that has been marketed across their services are not their responsibility. But when it has become obvious that that holocaust deniers have successfully gamed the system and democracy is literally under threat from manipulation from inventors of fake news, trolls and foreign intelligence services, you have to say enough. We’re a little passed the situation of a high school principal being upset by what his students were saying. We’re at a place where well organized organizations are poisoning the marketplace of ideas and the highways they drive to do this are Google and Facebook.

Google, Twitter and Facebook bear some of the responsibility for the misuse of their platforms and a re-classification of their status to that of publishers is probably necessary for them to assume the mantle of responsibility.

Here is short selection from an article in the Guardian called – Stephen Fry: Facebook and other platforms should be classed as publishers

Stephen Fry has called for Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites.

Outlining his “reformation” for the internet, as part of the Hay literary festival’s programme to mark the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses in 1517, Fry accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”.

“One thesis I could immediately nail up to the tent flag is to call for aggregating news agencies like Facebook to be immediately classified as publishers. At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly,” he said.

“If they, and Twitter and like platforms recognised their responsibilities as publishers, it would certainly help them better police their content for unacceptable libels, defamations, threats and other horrors, that a free belief in the value of the press would, as a matter of course, be expected to control.”

Stephen Fry is right and we should support the re-classification of these Internet services as publishers.

James Pilant

AS ALWAYS PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE – YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH EFFECT THOSE THINGS HAVE ON A WRITER PARTICULARLY OVER LONG PERIODS OF TIME!

The American Airlines Culture Failure


The American Airlines Culture Failure

Just a few days after we saw United Airlines drag a passenger off a flight, another airline, in this case American Airlines, generated social media controversy, and this is notable for several reasons. Apparently, there was a dispute over a stroller and a mother of two got hit perhaps with the stroller by an “American Airlines Staff Member.” And in this case, a passenger intervened and offered violence to the offender. I’m very proud that he did. It might be more economically efficient to allow airline employees to humiliate and injure passengers at will but I am still a man and an American and I don’t like being pushed around and I don’t like seeing other people pushed around. You can see the video by clicking on the link below.

http://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2017/04/22/american-airlines-video-incident-raw.cnn

The American Airlines Culture Failure

There is something wrong with the ethics culture at these two airlines, but probably all the airlines in this nation have a problem.

I was doing a little background research and came up with an article from 1999 called – Airline industry still behaves like oligarchy, despite deregulation from the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Here’s a relevant quote from the article:

A case in point is the issue of who is to blame for the increased delays in air travel. The airlines blame the FAA and the weather. The FAA in turn blames the airlines for impractical scheduling. The real problem is that most of the airlines are not customer focused. They focus on operational efficiency and treat most of us as human freight. In fact, they keep raising the price for us as human freight because we are a lot more inconvenient than the freight they carry in the belly of the plane.

How hard is it to solve this on-time issue with a true “customer focus?” It seems to me there’s a very straightforward solution to this problem. It does, of course, require a focus on the customer–something sorely lacking in the airline industry.

Notwithstanding United Airlines’ ads to the contrary, I can find no evidence of a change in how they, or any other airline, appear to view customers. Passengers just seem to be an impediment to on-time travel.

This little piece of the an article written by Michael Gooz almost a decade ago is still dead on in explaining what the problem is.

And the problem is simple – for the airlines people don’t matter. There are too few airlines so even if you don’t like one if you want to get somewhere you’re going to have to use it and in that market, you can treat people anyway you want. You can overbook, you can throw paying passengers off the plane and if a little violence is necessary to keep the passenger in line, we’re going to have a little violence.

There is a solution. You may not have any leverage with the airline but it is a federally regulated industry and they have to answer to the government. Your one voice may have no effect on the industry but the federal government can outlaw overbooking, regulate when you can be deplaned (or re-accomodated), and they can penalize the airlines with millions in fines for delays and injured passengers.

When corporations get too big for humans to affect individually, the only response that remains is joint action.

James Pilant

The Possum Magic Edition


The Possum Magic Edition

Possum Magic is picture book for children written by Australian author, Mem Fox. As a business ethics writer, you might think I was about to take up the topic of her book, its sales, and whether or not it is a good read.

i_00i_243_tnBut no, it’s because of this – (from the Guardian)

The Australian children’s book author Mem Fox has suggested she might never return to the US after she was detained and insulted by border control agents at Los Angeles airport.

Fox, who is famous worldwide for her best-selling books including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and Possum Magic, was en route to a conference in Milwaukee earlier this month when she was stopped.

She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was questioned by border agents for two hours in front of a room full of people – an experience that left her feeling like she had been physically assaulted.

“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” Fox said.

“I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby, and I’m 70 years old.”

The author attributed the aggressive questioning to border police who had been “turbocharged” by Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban.

Fox said she was questioned over her visa, despite having travelled to America 116 times before without incident. She was eventually granted access to the country.

 

It appears that the ongoing militarization of American policing is proceeding with great speed. Do you really need me to explain that getting tough with a white haired seventy year old children’s book author is bad and incompetent policing? Do I need to say that the two hours spent grilling this elderly woman might have been better spent on an actual criminal justice matter?

Empowered to Act Foolish?

I have read elsewhere that some law enforcement feel empowered by the election of Donald Trump and indeed, they have been doing some interesting things lately. Let’s make a little list:

Let’s begin with the son of Muhammad Ali.

On 7 February, border agents at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood international airport held the son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali for two hours. According to his lawyer, they repeatedly asked him about his religion.

Just last June, the world mourned the passing of his father, perhaps the most famous Muslim on the planet, as an American hero. Eight months and a presidential election later, Muslim Americans, including those with notable fathers, can’t even return to their own country without problems.

But, they keep telling us, it’s not a Muslim ban.

Then there is the case of Henry Rousso who was almost deported in spite of the pesky little fact that he was here legally.

A French historian on his way to a conference in Texas was detained for 10 hours by US border officials and threatened with deportation.

Officials at Texas A&M University said Henry Rousso was going to be returned to Paris as an illegal alien “due to a visa misunderstanding”.

The university stopped the deportation with help from a law professor, local news website The Eagle reported.

President Donald Trump has pledged to tighten US border controls.

“I have been detained 10 hours at Houston International Airport about to be deported,” Mr Rousso, 62, confirmed in a tweet on Saturday.

A British teacher who appears to have been blocked for the “crime” of being Muslim.

British Muslim teacher Juhel Miah was on a school field trip when he was escorted off an Icelandair flight to New York and told he was denied entry into the U.S.

And here’s the case of cinematographer Khaled Khateeb

The Department of Homeland Security has blocked a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on an Oscar-nominated documentary about the country’s civil war, The White Helmets, from entering the country. The Associated Press saw some “internal Trump administration correspondence” in which officials decided to block Khaled Khateeb’s entry into the United States. Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles via Istanbul, but U.S. official reportedly found “derogatory information” on Khateeb. “Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities,” reports the AP.

Dare to be stupid!

I remember a lovely title that just as soon as I heard it I wished I’d thought of it. It was “Dare to be stupid.” What’s our law enforcement doing? And should we even be using that phrase “our” in front of them? Once they just start doing their own thing, they are not really our law enforcement.

What are these guys doing? Have they seen too many episodes of 24? Is there an idea that if we are rude and mean enough to professionals from allied nations and on occasion, the child of an American icon, terrorists will get scared? Because I think this nonsense is just foolish. It’s unprofessional, anti-law enforcement and petty.

It is strange to think that the United States should welcome friends and allies? What do we stand for here? Because petty harassment, anti Muslim sentiment and simple nastiness to foreign visitors are not American values.

James Alan Pilant

The Real Continuity Edition


The Real Continuity Edition

The brief selection below is from an article by Zach Carter from the Huffington Post called: Wall Street Is Even More Craven Than We Thought and sub titled: The new alliance between financial executives and Donald Trump.

Democrats used to see Jamie Dimon as one of the good guys on Wall Street. Once hailed as a “progressive” by The New Republic, the JPMorgan Chase CEO counted himself friends with two different chiefs of staff to President Barack Obama and traveled to the first black White House no less than 16 times. In 2009, The New York Times described him as “Obama’s favorite banker.” He has publicly supported same-sex marriage and the legalization of undocumented immigrants.

Dimon gave hundreds of thousands to Democratic Party candidates, the party itself, and even the Center for American Progress, a think tank advancing the ideas of Bill Clinton and Obama.

But there was Dimon on Friday, sitting at a table surrounded by other wealthy corporate executives, being praised by President Donald Trump ― a man who publicly supports war crimes and is already flirting with a constitutional crisis as he implements a campaign promise to impose “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

In my case, the title is wrong, I was under no illusion that the giant investment banks had any limit on their willingness to cut deals with anyone, anywhere, anytime. The only difference is that they were already part of the new government if it had been Hilary and now have to scramble. I find it hard to sympathize with their plight.

!!!i_00i_009_tnBut this is the American way of banking. Homeowners may be cheated out of their possessions, economies crashed, strange overseas deals and money laundering take place and yet, the American Investment banks dwell at the heart of our government shaping laws and policies. It’s like Mom and Apple Pie, if Mom and Apple Pie were immoral cancers eating out the heart of our democracy.

Let me point out that many of these Investment banks have pleaded the equivalent of no contest to charges that would put a normal human being like you or I in prison for millions and millions of years. Yet, there they are at the heart of our government cutting a new set of deals making the world safe for financial speculation of the American kind.

If Obama had pursued criminal prosecutions against the banks in the aftermath of the financial disaster of 2007, their political power might very well have been broken as they were in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Instead for many years to come they will play politicians against each other like chess pieces on a board while preying on the poor and the middle class. Obama’s failure to pursue justice against the malefactors who came within an ace of destroying our economy is his greatest failure.

The “What Now?” Edition


The “What Now?” Edition

And so we arrive at the end of the Barack Obama administration by my account and that of objective reality – a business ethics disaster. The villains who almost destroyed the world economy found not justice but money and friendship in the Obama Administration. The financial criminals who did so much to destroy the fabric and any sense of honor in this society walk the streets as free men and, in fact, take their places at the highest levels of government in our new administration. Barack Obama failed at one of the most critical duties of the President of the United States. He failed to bring evil men to justice.

And now some of those same evil men will be making policy in the new administration. That was easily predictable.

I refused to support Hilary Clinton because many of those same bankers were part of her campaign and would have been part of her administration. When given the opportunity to speak to the criminal scum that endangered our society and have destroyed the economic lives of millions – this was her approach:

Far from chiding Goldman Sachs for obstructing Democratic proposals for financial reform, Clinton appeared to sympathize with the giant investment bank. At a Goldman Sachs Alternative Investments Symposium in October 2013, Clinton almost apologized for the Dodd-Frank reform bill, explaining that it had to pass “for political reasons,” because “if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it’s all the fault of Wall Street, you can’t sit idly by and do nothing.”

Of course, she tried to keep this boot licking approach secret by refusing to release the transcripts of the speeches. In the foolishly moral like me, it would seem speaking in secret with a message of government servitude to the banking industry while saying something different to us would be wrong but her lack of ethics and morality were apparent to only people like me. There were many that were willing to overlook this kind of behavior on the grounds that the other guy was worse. I decline to do so. And I made the right decision. This administration will be terrible but the kind of sustained think tank, contributor controlled, Democratic Leadership Council inspired oligarchy, could have continued for decades. She could very well have made this Neo-liberal monstrosity a permanent part of our institutions.

I do not think it is irrational behavior on my part to wait for a candidate who is willing to enforce the law against the banking industry. I do not think that expecting a President to defend the nation from those whose financial excesses endanger the common good and the economic lives of millions should be surprising or outside the bounds of our politics.

So what now, am I willing to hold Donald Trump to the same standards I expected of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton? Yes I will. I do admit there is a level of strangeness in the new President that I find daunting. Let me explain.

I have taught for many years and I have my students write essays. A good portion choose to do no research before writing, not even the most casual internet browse. And it’s like talking to your neighbor over the offense or in the bar with a fellow drinker. They just write their gut feelings which are very often just ill conceived nonsense. And that is the sense I get from President Trump. Further, I sense no intellectual depth at all. His behavior is almost primal.

People often want to put me in some kind of ideological box. I am supposed to be a liberal or a progressive or something. People are astonished at my criticisms of Obama because “Well, isn’t he your president?” He was President of the United States and I voted for him the first time and refused to vote for him the second time. In my mind, following the party line is wrong whether it is that of the Republican Party, the Democratic Party or any other party. I am a passionate advocate for women’s equality and I have come to a point where I consider racism such despicable nonsense that those espousing it are no longer in my judgment ladies or gentlemen.

I have no illusions that the stranglehold of contributors on the Democratic Party establishment will be broken or that the Republicans will find a sense of purpose beyond winning and servitude to the wealthy.

I speak for business ethics and that is enough.

James Alan Pilant

The Steven Mintz Edition!


The Steven Mintz Edition!

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

My friend, Steven Mintz, better known as The Ethics Sage, has a beautiful new web site which can be found here. For a good number of years now, Professor Mintz has published a blog on ethics, particularly focusing originally on accounting ethics but broadening his focus as time went by.

He also has a Facebook page which like his new web site is quite beautifully laid out.

https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics

I highly recommend his work and he is a prolific author. So there is a lot to see and read.

So visit, share and add to your favorites!

James Pilant

This is Steven’s self introduction from his new web site –

Known as “The Ethics Sage” to many, Dr. Steven Mintz is a well-known Professor Emeritus from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. His blog, The Ethics Sage, was voted number 49 out of the Top 100 Philosophy blogs and one of the top 30 blogs on CSR. Steve provides insights on workplace issues with his blog “Workplace Ethics Advice.” He has written articles for various media outlets including the Pacific Coast Business Times, Chronicle of Higher Education and The Magazine of Corporate Responsibility’s Business Ethics Online. Dr. Mintz is an ethics expert and available to speak on a variety of ethics issues including workplace ethics. . He offers courses on accounting and workplace ethics through “Geniecast.” 

The Exploding Washer Edition


The Exploding Washer Edition

Let’s say you make a product, a relatively small item that explodes with such force that airlines are forced to ban them. Of course, this is hypothetical, because, I mean, only a Bond Villain would manufacture millions of exploding for an unsuspecting population, right?

Anyway, our utterly hypothetical company also makes washing machines! Isn’t that cool and they share a common characteristic with the aforementioned hypothetical cell phones – they sometimes explode.

!!!!!i_00!i_00i_114_tnFrom BBC news

The firm also faces a suit from a US law firm which alleges that some of its “top-loading washing machines explode in owners’ homes,” leading to potential injury or damage, according to attorney Jason Lichtman.

“Users have reported Samsung top-load washers exploding as early as the day of installation, while other owners have seen their machines explode months or even more than a year after purchase,” the firm said in a statement.

It’s nice to know that if you are going to make mistakes, you might as well make a lot of them and endanger as many consumers as possible.

What’s the business ethics here? Well, most product problems revolve around issues of not working and not being a good value for the money. This is a taking a product defect to the next level, active danger – that is, they explode. I wondered why they didn’t pick this up in testing but discovered that according to Samsung, the real culprit is outside heat. And I understand totally, the idea that people would use cell phones where is was hot was totally unexpected. Obviously people who live near the equator, in tropical countries or in temperate locales experiencing heat waves should know better than to use electronics. For goodness sakes, if you live where it’s hot, get a land line or talk to people face to face.

And obviously, no cell phone is ever kept in a pocket or hot car. So, it’s all the consumer’s fault, just like the washing machines. You see as long as you don’t wash anything heavy in the washing machines, they’re fine but run a comforter or some other heavy object, and they can overheat and malfunction, sometimes exploding. So, Samsung has nothing to worry about and those tiny fragments of shrapnel are probably figments of your imagination.

Good Luck!!

James Pilant

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Business Ethics Blog Posts 9-10-2016 The “Secret Eyes Everywhere” Edition


Business Ethics Blog Posts 9-10-2016

We start with a post from “Secret Eyes Everywhere” about what you should do if you think Wells Fargo embroiled you in its system of forced enrollment for bank  accounts, credit cards, etc. It’s very good advice. Lynn Stout takes on the banking idea of virtue and demolishes it – very nice work. David Yamada in his blog, Minding the Workplace gets reflective on us. “Hello Kitty, Some Blog” has some more on induced earthquakes and we have two good posts from the blog, “The Net Economy.” Last we have a post from “A Philosopher’s Blog,” a site I talked about at length about a week ago. 

Best Wishes!!

Please Share, Subscribe and Like — Not just me, but these people are my colleagues and in my mind I see them as soldiers in the good fight and we need as many good hearted souls as we can get in these difficult times. Show some support!

James Pilant

i_00i_216_tnFrom Secret Eyes Everywhere, Your Customer Service Advocate

Get all of your accounts listed

According to The Los Angeles Times,  the bank has 90 days to provide federal regulators with a plan to compensate all its customers. Go into a branch or call the customer service line and get a full list of all your accounts in your name. Should you close any or all accounts, be sure to get a receipt showing the account was closed. If there is something on them you don’t understand, be sure to raise hell about it to get it resolved. If a refund of fees is not given, do the next step.

Seek legal assistance (please go to the web site and read the rest! If I include all the good parts I’ll be posting the whole thing instead of an excerpt. jp) 

Lynn Stout writing for The Net Economy

i_00i_010_tn(If you read anything today, go to the link and read this. jp) 

In the wake of the 2008 crisis, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously told a reporter that bankers are “doing God’s work.”

This is, of course, an important part of the Wall Street mantra: it’s standard operating procedure for bank executives to frequently and loudly proclaim that Wall Street is vital to the nation’s economy and performs socially valuable services by raising capital, providing liquidity to investors, and ensuring that securities are priced accurately so that money flows to where it will be most productive.

There’s just one problem: the Wall Street mantra isn’t true.

From Minding the Workplace and the invaluable David Yamada! 

i_00i_070_tnOn this Saturday morning, I’m enjoying some reflective moments that midlife sometimes invites — or requires. And although I don’t have the means to do a demographic survey of this blog’s readership, my best intelligent guess is that a good chunk of you have crossed the 40 year mark. I thought I’d collect a group of previous posts that enable some of that healthy reflection, especially for those who identify as being in midlife, but also hopefully useful to anyone who wants to live meaningfully. In these posts you’ll find some of my own commentary, as well as recommendations of books and articles for further inquiry. (He has a wonderful list – please follow the link to see. jp)

From Hello Kitty, Some Blog

From one of my very favorite blogs, Warrior Publications! 

Mounted Lakota warriors, their horses resplendent in traditional regalia, charge a line of law enforcement. They gallop headlong, push back the police, pull up only at the last moment, and then circle back for more.

The scene could be the Battle of the Little Bighorn, circa 1876. But it’s not. Here, along the banks of the Missouri River, just beyond the boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, indigenous land and water defenders are standing together to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens their land, water, ancestral burial grounds, and future generations. They are part of a decades-long struggle to assert and reclaim indigenous lands, jurisdictions, and sovereignties. And they are doing so on ground that has given rise to indigenous resistance for centuries.

For the average American, it’s easy to mistake the resistance at Standing Rock for a one-time re-run: indigenous warriors emerge from the wild, put up a brief, fierce, but ultimately tragic fight before succumbing to progress and providence. Cowboys and Indians II: Pipeline edition.

From the web site, The Net Economy.

!!!i_00i_142_tnIn a post-scarcity society, everyone would be guaranteed an income that yielded a standard of living significantly better than poverty, and this guarantee would be unconditional. The move from a near-poverty benefit subject to eligibility conditions to a livable, guaranteed minimum income would require both an increase in productivity, such that a smaller number of workers could produce an adequate income for all, and some fairly radical changes in social attitudes.

It seems clear enough that technological progress can generate the necessary productivity gains, so what is needed most is a change in attitudes to work that would make a guaranteed minimum income socially sustainable.

And another post from The Net Economy

!!!i_00i_055_tnYet, ordinary people have not accepted this self-evident, ‘common sense’ knowledge shared by trade experts. They have not only challenged trade expertise by mobilizing counter-expertise (for instance, economic analyses that refute the Commission’s numbers), but they have also mobilized many people in order to make their epistemic claim more vociferously: what the trade experts hold true is wrong, false knowledge. The quarter of a million protesting in Berlin had posited: No, we do not believe that the world is going to be better off due to the TTIP; each and every family will not be 540 euros per year richer; and, no, we do not think that the regulations coming out of the TTIP bodies are going to respect the environment.

Trade experts are not seen here as neutral arbitrators of public policy but rather as representing a particular stance as to public policy or public interest.

From A Philosopher’s Blog

!!!i_00i_097_tnMy adopted state of Florida was just hit by a category one hurricane; my adopted city of Tallahassee sustained considerable damage. A week after the storm hit, there are still people in the city without power. There are also people who suffered considerable property damage. Fortunately, there seems to be only one death attributed to the storm here.

I was rather lucky; though my power was out from Friday to Monday, my house sustained no damage and I was well-prepared. I also had the good fortune of leaving the city on Sunday morning on an already scheduled program review at St. Francis University. While I normally dislike airports, it was great having access to AC and electricity again. While I waited for my first flight out, I enjoyed the cool air and recharged my laptop.