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China's Black Market City

Chen Mingyuan has lived here all his life, but he still gets lost every time he drives into Wenzhou. “All the roads in this town were built by businessmen, so none of them make any sense,” Chen says as we back out of what we just discovered is a one-way street. For the last 30 years, private citizens in this southeastern China metropolis have largely taken over one of the least questioned prerogatives of governments the world over: infrastructure. Is Wenzhou, the richest city in China's richest province, a libertarian paradise?
posted by shivohum on Jul 20, 2013 - 13 comments

"The bloodiest battles took place in the marketing meetings"

Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem (alternate link): [CEO Eddie] Lampert. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jul 12, 2013 - 119 comments

Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child

In an essay for The New Inquiry, Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern consider The End of Men, global recession era capitalism, and ironic sexism.
"Mancession Lit portrays the Man-Child as pitiful, contrasting him with women who are well-adjusted and adult. But it rarely acknowledges the real question that this odd couple raises. Namely, are women better suited to the new economy because they are easier to exploit?"

posted by GameDesignerBen on Jul 9, 2013 - 108 comments

The right to work for less

"In 1961, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “right to work” a “fraud,” saying that it “provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ ...Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining." -- The Most Dishonest Words in American Politics: 'Right to Work'.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 11, 2013 - 73 comments

"Through a revolutionary change in the way US income is distributed."

A look at the post-war middle class, brought to you by the editors of Life, and Fortune Magazines.

Opportunties Unlimited (via)
posted by timsteil on Jun 2, 2013 - 1 comment

When Adam Smith and Karl Marx agree...

Ha-Joon Chang on why separating politics from economic policies is bad for democracy. What free-market economists are not telling us is that the politics they want to get rid of are none other than those of democracy itself. When they say we need to insulate economic policies from politics, they are in effect advocating the castration of democracy. (Related FPP.)
posted by asnider on May 9, 2013 - 13 comments

And Indrani believes works of art can change individuals

Wallace Shawn reads his monologue The Fever, at The Lannan Foundation, in Two Parts. (Wallace Shawn previously, previouslier.)
posted by Going To Maine on Apr 24, 2013 - 4 comments

"how much of this distress existed pre-Sandy?"

After Sandy, a great and complex city reveals traumas new and old. "Occupy Sandy" represented a disaster cooperativism in opposition to "disaster capitalism" (previously: 1, 2, 3) [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 17, 2013 - 4 comments

"like most of the working class, I’ve developed a locust morality."

The Locust Economy
I was picking the brain of a restauranteur for insight into things like Groupon. He confirmed what we all understand in the abstract: that these deals are terrible for the businesses that offer them; that they draw in nomadic deal hunters from a vast surrounding region who are unlikely to ever return; that most deal-hunters carefully ensure that they spend just the deal amount or slightly more; that a badly designed offer can bankrupt a small business. He added one little factoid I did not know: offering a Groupon deal is by now so strongly associated with a desperate, dying restaurant that professional food critics tend to write off any restaurant that offers one without even trying it.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 11, 2013 - 73 comments

What next after capitalism?

Recent posts here, here and here discuss a growing sense that climate change is going to be worse than we thought. A link to Charles Stross's musing on a future that included climate change was discussed on MeFi here. But Kim Stanley Robinson asks a slightly different question: If capitalism is the driver of climate change, what happens next? What does post-capitalism look like?
posted by BillW on Apr 9, 2013 - 90 comments

"A law should serve the people, but it didn't protect me."

In Korea, Changes in Society and Family Dynamics Drive Rise in Elderly Suicides - "The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation's runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 4, 2013 - 23 comments

...he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

Through the magic of capitalism, Audrey Hepburn; is restored to life. Again.
posted by R. Schlock on Feb 28, 2013 - 87 comments

"Perhaps as dangerous as the actual Communists"

The Homosexual Atom Bomb
Such absurd equations show how homosexuality became a floating signifier, associated with whatever political tendency one most disliked. Rather than representing a certain group of people, it represented everything that was wrong—whatever that meant. America’s Red Scare bled into its Lavender Scare; the Soviets associated homosexuality with capitalism and fascism. But empty as it was, the political use of the trope of homosexuality had a devastating effect on real people from both countries.
"Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America" is on display at the Winkleman Gallery in NYC. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 28, 2013 - 21 comments

How The Left Has Won

Or, why is there still socialism in the United States?
Why, then, would we look for evidence of socialism only where a state seized by radicals of the Left inaugurates a dictatorship of the proletariat? Or, to lower the rhetorical volume and evidentiary stakes, why would we expect to find socialism only where avowed socialists or labor parties contend for state power? We should instead assume that socialism, like capitalism, is a cross-class cultural construction, to which even the bourgeoisie has already made significant contributions – just as the proletariat has long made significant contributions to the cross-class construction we know as capitalism. What follows?

posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 13, 2013 - 46 comments

Northern Lights

The Nordic countries are reinventing their model of capitalism
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 8, 2013 - 33 comments

Slavery was 'an utter violation of capitalism'

The inefficiency of it all ... Here's a great infographic: slavery and cotton in the South in 1860. But if the map is interesting, the article is astonishing. It says only 2 percent of Deep South land produced cotton in 1860 -- and only 13 percent grew any crop at all. You better read that last sentence again.
posted by LonnieK on Feb 6, 2013 - 80 comments

Workers of the world... Relax!

"Because work is unnecessary except to those whose power it secures, workers are shifted from relatively useful to relatively useless occupations as a measure to assure public order." -- The Abolition Of Work by Bob Black [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jan 29, 2013 - 92 comments

The Red and the Black

"The lofty vision of a stateless, marketless world faces obstacles that are not moral but technical, and it’s important to grasp exactly what they are." Seth Ackerman for Jacobin Magazine on "thinking concretely and practically about how we can free ourselves from social institutions that place such confining limits on the kind of society we are able to have. Because of one thing we can be certain: the present system will either be replaced or it will go on forever."
posted by davidjmcgee on Jan 7, 2013 - 30 comments

I don't always deploy Django, but when I do I use Heroku

An explanation of how hard it is to boycott Amazon, even when you are an organisation calling for the boycott of corporations like Amazon While the organisation UK Uncut is calling for the boycotting of organisations that don't pay their fair share of tax, even they are using Amazon (though Amazon is not a company currently listed on their website, it is one of the most talked about in the UK for not paying corporation tax) The first linked article goes beyond the technical aspects of Amazon and cloud hosting and talks about a re-analysis of capitalism.
posted by Megami on Jan 3, 2013 - 28 comments

THE BOSOM BUDDIES OF WASTE

“During the 1920s, the British firm Parker-Holladay created a fictional character named Bill Jones. Mr. Jones’ dispensed his friendly advice to British clerical workers through colorful lithographic posters emblazoned with his get-right-to-the-point maxims." Why not enjoy this collection of can-do, yes-sir business motivational posters before you head back to work?
posted by The Whelk on Jan 1, 2013 - 40 comments

Nice pyramid you've got there, be a shame if something happened to it...

Pershing Square Capital's CEO Bill Ackman Takes On Herbalife. [more inside]
posted by spitbull on Dec 25, 2012 - 69 comments

Randomized Consumerism

"Every time I run [Amazon Random Shopper], I give it a set budget, say $50. It grabs a random word ... then runs an Amazon search based on that word. It then looks for every paperback book, CD, and DVD in the results list, and buys the first thing that’s under budget."
posted by griphus on Nov 23, 2012 - 52 comments

By securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets. (PDF) [more inside]
posted by dsfan on Nov 17, 2012 - 97 comments

Films for Action

The Top 100 Documentaries Inspiring the Shift to a Sustainable Paradigm
posted by ladybird on Nov 7, 2012 - 34 comments

Coronet Instructional Films

From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2012 - 41 comments

You mean they sat on the platform with you?

In the spirit of the Nobel season, Yasha Levine discusses the history of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel as a PR gimmick for laissez-faire economics, and how its existence is an affront to the Nobel legacy.
posted by clarknova on Oct 26, 2012 - 26 comments

Travis Shrugged

Travis Shrugged: The creepy, dangerous ideology behind Silicon Valley’s "Cult of Disruption"
posted by AceRock on Oct 25, 2012 - 55 comments

Sinking.

How Venice's 1% put an end to social mobility, and what the US can learn from it - SLNYTOP
posted by The Whelk on Oct 14, 2012 - 50 comments

HE'S A SOCIALIST!

A society where the lucky few reap prodigious financial rewards is one where many will fall short of their dreams through no fault of their own. We must insure all people against disability, against sickness, against hunger, and against homelessness. I realize that these things cost money. I believe that the costs of building and maintaining a great country should be shared by all of us, beginning with the people who benefit the most from our society. I believe that people like me (and people who are far wealthier) should pay more in taxes.

So-called "job creator" acknowledges that he lives in a society and owes a debt to it, as a response to (seemingly in agreement with) a satirical Job Creator Manifesto published in the Washington Post. [more inside]
posted by univac on Oct 6, 2012 - 40 comments

like the most beautiful slum ever

This NYT slideshow of Cuba photographs does an excellent job of portraying Cuba's mood: "like the most beautiful slum ever." [more inside]
posted by univac on Sep 20, 2012 - 22 comments

Annotated Filmography of Charlie Chaplin

Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 17, 2012 - 35 comments

And Shopping. Always Shopping.

Propaganda - A film alledged to be from North Korea about the excess of Western decadance and public relations propaganda - hits Youtube (1:35:52)
posted by The Whelk on Aug 10, 2012 - 44 comments

"Whereas the left is always in danger of talking itself into the ground."

What's also obvious is that this phase of Occupy, with talk of credit unions and occupying the SEC, while eminently worthy, is also kind of boring, especially when compared to the thrill of Occupy's park phase. Some, though, are ready to move on. "It's easy to go back to the park occupation and fetishize it, in a way," says Occupy Chicago's Brian Bean. "I prefer not to run a mini-society – I want to run society." - The Battle For The Soul Of Occupy Wall Street - Rolling Stone - Mark Binelli.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 30, 2012 - 193 comments

See Paradise for a mere $625,000 a week.

Jon Ronson (whose book The Psychopath Test was the basis of a This American Life episode ) interviews folks living in America at several varied levels of income in: GQ - Amber Waves of Green.
posted by 1f2frfbf on Jun 29, 2012 - 39 comments

the dawn of a Star Trek generation

In Praise of Leisure - "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 22, 2012 - 117 comments

sovereignty and taxation

David Graeber: Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 8, 2012 - 85 comments

Sleeping rough for shoes and food

Vice magazine was curious as to why people in London are sleeping rough to get a pair of Kanye West's trainers for Nike. Ironically, this comes in a week where jobseekers were expected to work for free and without accommodation on the Jubilee celebrations being told they should sleep under London Bridge (previously).
posted by mippy on Jun 8, 2012 - 64 comments

Hint: the answer is democracy.

The Costs of Capitalism's Crisis: Who Will Pay? Economics professor Richard Wolff gives some context to the latest economic crisis and suggests a solution to prevent this from happening again.
posted by mhjb on May 20, 2012 - 58 comments

Capitalist Supporters Warn About Weaknesses in the System

"Capitalism itself could crumble if companies don't start putting their long-term interests first, according to the Henry Jackson Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism. The group argues that companies' short-term profit-taking and disregard for income inequality are eroding popular support for the free-market system. "Capitalism is very much under siege," the group warns." [Complete Paper (PDF)] [Wording from SmartBrief on Leadership]
posted by stoneweaver on May 15, 2012 - 39 comments

What a difference a decade makes

In 1990, right after the Berlin Wall fell, Stephen Koppelkamm ventured into East Berlin and photographed what he found. Ten years on, he revisited the same locations.
posted by pjern on May 5, 2012 - 43 comments

Think Of Capitalism As A Very Bad Way Of Organizing Communism

David Graeber in conversation with Rebecca Solnit. From Guernica. Previously.
posted by chavenet on May 2, 2012 - 5 comments

hat tricks

Robert Reich explains Private Equity Partnerships (or, "How Mitt Romney Got Obscenely Rich") in 8 easy steps.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 12, 2012 - 51 comments

A Serious Business

Sure, the follies of art-speak are easy to laugh at, but often criticism of it begins and ends with a dismissive chuckle – which ignores profounder problems. Why should academic terminology be the default vehicle for discussing art? Why is there such an emphasis on newness, schism and radicality? Even when the art itself may be enjoyably throwaway, language pins it to deathlessly auratic registers of exchange. This suggests a subliminal fear that, if the subject in question is not talked up as Big and Culturally Significant, then the point of fussing over it in the first place might be called into question, bringing the whole house of cards tumbling down - Dan Fox, the associate editor of frieze magazine, discusses the contemporary art scene in detail.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 12, 2012 - 43 comments

"In years of scarcity the poor labour more, and really live better.”

One thing the historical record makes abundantly clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery.
Yasha Levine's detailed review of historian Michael Perelman's The Invention of Capitalism.
posted by clarknova on Apr 7, 2012 - 35 comments

Executive Compensation

The Incentive Bubble (ungated pdf) - "The fraying of the compact of American capitalism by rising income inequality and repeated governance crises is disturbing. But misallocations of financial, real, and human capital arising from the financial-incentive bubble are much more worrisome to those concerned with the competitiveness of the American economy." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 3, 2012 - 54 comments

The Only Winning Move is to Watch This

Most of us reading on the blue lived through at least a portion of it. Forty-plus years of tension between the world's two superpowers and their allies. That's right: The Cold War. Then, they made a documentary. Aired on CNN in 1998, and never released on DVD, the 24 episode, 20 hour series features tons of archival footage, along with many interviews with individuals directly involved at some of the highest levels. You might not be able to see it on DVD, but you can watch the full series on Youtube, starting with Part 1: Comrades (1917-1945).
posted by symbioid on Mar 27, 2012 - 78 comments

Coming Up Like A Flower

" Thus in today’s China one confronts the paradox of a communist regime that is at ideological loggerheads with left-leaning intellectuals, but which finds pro-Western, liberal intellectuals on the whole quite congenial." Richard Wolin is Dreaming In Chinese...
posted by artof.mulata on Mar 26, 2012 - 12 comments

The Ghost of the Colonels

Adam Curtis on The legacy of the Colonels Coup - "What is forgotten is that from 1967 to 1974 the Greek people lived under a harsh and violent dictatorship that tortured and murdered thousands of ordinary people. The Colonels also corrupted the society by handing out vast loans to individuals in towns and villages across the country - to buy their loyalty. At the same time the repression and torture bred a powerful resistance that finally burst out in incredible bravery in 1973." [more inside]
posted by marienbad on Feb 29, 2012 - 12 comments

The Failure of Judges and the Rise of Regulators

The Control Revolution And Its Discontents - "the long process of algorithmisation over the last 150 years has also, wherever possible, replaced implicit rules/contracts and principal-agent relationships with explicit processes and rules."
posted by kliuless on Feb 23, 2012 - 25 comments

Dermot O'Connor's "There's No Tomorrow"

"There's No Tomorrow" is a half-hour animated documentary that deals with resource depletion, energy, and growth. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 22, 2012 - 14 comments

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