Social Articles from 2017

Proximity Is Destiny

[Social]
Proximity Is Destiny
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted July 19, 2017

being close to power is destinyMy friend G.F.B. recently coined an insightful maxim: Proximity Is Destiny. The power of this concept lies in its unification of physical proximity and abstract proximity. We all understand physical proximity can be consequential. As the Titanic settled lower in the ice-cold Atlantic, those close enough to the lifeboats to secure a seat (mostly the first and second class passengers) lived and those who were not died.

College graduates seek internships at the most successful companies because they know the connections they make by working within the headquarters might lead to a job offer: physical proximity to movers and shakers (and those with the power to hire) is destiny. But proximity to abstract manifestations of power is even more consequential in an economy/society in which wealth and power are predominantly abstract. More…

Deep History of America’s Deep State

[Social]
Deep History of America’s Deep State
By Jada Thacker
Posted July 15, 2017

the trap of debt slaveryBy the end of the Revolutionary War, as few as a third of American farmers owned their own land. When the urban elites began to foreclose on the debts and raise the taxes of subsistence farmers – many of whom had fought a long and excruciating war to secure their “liberty” – it amounted to a direct assault on the last bastion of Americans’ economic independence.

Loss of their land would doom a freeholder to a life of tenancy. And the servitude of tenants and slaves differed mainly as a function of iron and paper: slaves were shackled by iron, tenants were shackled by debt contracts. But iron and paper were both backed by law. More…

Drug War? American Troops Are Protecting Afghan Opium. U.S. Occupation Leads to All-Time High Heroin Production

[Social]
Drug War? American Troops Are Protecting Afghan Opium. U.S. Occupation Leads to All-Time High Heroin Production
By Washington’s Blog
Posted July 12, 2107

US troops guarding poppy fieldsIt is well-documented that the U.S. government has – at least at some times in some parts of the world – protected drug operations.

(Big American banks also launder money for drug cartels. See this, this, this and this. Indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. And the U.S. drug money laundering is continuing to this day.)

The U.S. military has openly said that it is protecting Afghani poppy fields. Indeed, a brand new report from the United Nations finds that opium production is at an all-time high. The cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan—a nation under the military control of US and NATO forces for more than twelve years—has risen to an all-time high, according to the 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey released Wednesday by the United Nations.

According to the report, cultivation of poppy across the war-torn nation rose 36 per cent in 2013 and total opium production amounted to 5,500 tons, up by almost a half since 2012. More…

The “war on drugs” is a sham, our own government is behind the opioid epidemic that is killing our youth.

Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States

[Social]
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
By John Stanton
Posted July 7, 2017

prison labor is our new slaveryThe Federal Prison Industries (FPI) under the brand UNICORE operates approximately 52 factories (prisons) across the United States. Prisoners manufacture or assemble a number of products for the US military, homeland security,and federal agencies according to the UNICORE/FPI website. They produce furniture, clothing and circuit boards in addition to providing computer aided design services and call center support for private companies.

There are any number of angles to take on why the USA is the world’s number one incarcerator: Capitalism, racism, social and political injustice, a pay-as-you-go legal system, bone-headed policy makers, prison lobbyists, the death penalty, employment/unemployment, drugs, gangs, costs/prices and a host of behavioral, psychological and environmental issues that I have missed.

Inevitably the black hole that is money eventually sucks in and corrupts everyone from those in local communities desperate for the work a prison facility provides to those investors who profit from the prison industry. They earn their livelihoods and take their profits from the misery and labor squeezed from theirhuman property–those prisoners who self-destructed and others who are serving terms way too long for the crime committed. More…

How to make people respect the flag

[Social]
How to make people respect the flag
by Justin King
Posted July 5, 2017

how to respect the flagIt’s the Fourth of July. The most American of days. If you left your home today or scrolled your social media accounts, you undoubtedly saw disrespect towards the American flag. It isn’t a new expression of speech, but it is certainly more widespread today than in years past. So the question arises: how can you make people respect the flag?

Do the actions committed under the flag today match this symbolism? Does a pure country run torture camps or turn a blind eye when its allies do? Does an innocent nation intentionally foster a civil war in which millions of civilians are killed or displaced for political and economic gain? Does a hardy country turn away those seeking help because it is too difficult? Does a valorous nation conduct a drone strike program in which 90% of those killed are “collateral damage”? Do vigilant citizens let the government run amok, or should they monitor government overreach the way the Founding Fathers intended? Does the country display the perseverance to forge ahead through danger and terror, or does it let the fear generated by a tiny minority of extremists control its foreign policy? Is there true justice when the nation has the largest inmate population on the planet and law enforcement kills an unarmed person 10% of the time they kill someone? More…

The Original Monopoly Was Deeply Anti-Landlord

[Social]
The Original Monopoly Was Deeply Anti-Landlord
By Tristan Donovan
Posted June 27, 2017

original monopoly game was anti-landlordThe game of cutthroat capitalism was actually intended as a lesson on wealth inequality. The game was called the Landlord’s Game.

In the game players traveled around and around the board using paper money to buy lots, railroads, and utilities. After buying a property players could then charge rent to anyone who landed on it and build houses that increased the amount they could demand. Each time players completed the circuit of the board they would pass a corner square marked “Labor upon Mother Earth produces wages” and collect a salary of 100 dollars. Other squares on the board required players to pay tax, buy necessities, or take a Chance card. In one corner of the board was a square bearing the warning: “No trespassing. Go to jail.” This space, she explained in an article for the Single Tax Review, was owned by a British lord and represented “foreign ownership of American soil.” Anyone who landed there would be sent to the jail in the diagonally opposite corner of the board where they would stay until they rolled a double or paid a $50 fine. The final corner square contained a public park and the poor house where bankrupted players would be sent. Players could only leave the poor house if another player lent them enough money to clear their debts. After players had gone around the board a fixed number of times the game would end and the player with the most money would be declared the winner. More…

Forget far-right populism – crypto-anarchists are the new masters

[Social] 
Forget far-right populism – crypto-anarchists are the new masters
by Jamie Bartlett
Posted June 25, 2017

crypto-anarchists are the new mastersThose who mistakenly thought 2016 was an anomaly, a series of unprecedented events, should have few remaining doubts. Marine Le Pen may have stuttered but still picked up almost 11 million votes. Her opponent, the “normal” candidate, was leader of a party only one year old. The ongoing terror attacks, fake news panic, Trump’s tweets and James Comey: last year never really ended, it just carried straight on into this one.

After decades of exaggerated prediction, the internet is finally transforming politics, but not in the way the digital prophets expected. The 90s, you may recall, were awash with optimism about our online future: limitless information and total connection would make us more informed, less bigoted and kinder citizens.

But the internet is an overwhelming mess of competing facts, claims, blogs, data, propaganda, misinformation, investigative journalism, charts, different charts, commentary and reportage. It’s not the slow and careful politicians who have thrived in this busy environment, it’s the people with the shareable cut-through messages. Donald Trump might very well be the first truly social-media politician: his emotion-filled, simplistic blasts are perfect for the medium. More…

How Prison Labor is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support it

[Social]
How Prison Labor is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support it
By Sara Burrows
Posted June 24, 2017

prison labor, the new for-profit slaveryIf you buy products or services from any of the 50 companies listed below (and you likely do), you are supporting modern American slavery. American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century. Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830.

With 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population, the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world. No other society in history has imprisoned more of its own citizens. There are half a million more prisoners in the U.S. than in China, which has five times our population. Approximately 1 in 100 adults in America were incarcerated in 2014. Out of an adult population of 245 million that year, there were 2.4 million people in prison, jail or some form of detention center. The vast majority – 86 percent – of prisoners have been locked up for non-violent, victimless crimes, many of them drug-related. More…

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