Social Articles from 2017
How Western Civilization Could Collapse
By Rachel Nuwer
Posted April 23, 2017
The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.
Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilization, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. More…
Is Your “Democracy” Actually a Totalitarian State? Take this Quick Quiz
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted April 18, 2017
Is your “democracy” (or republic) actually a Totalitarian State? That is, is it a “democracy” or “republic” in name only? To find out, take this quick quiz.
Does your government (federal, state and local) seize citizens’ assets without due process?
Is your government essentially “for sale” to wealthy elites?
Does your government spy on its entire citizenry?
Let’s be very clear about what happens here in America on a daily basis: More…
American Healthcare – A Racket Of Rackets
by James Howard Kunstler
Posted April 14, 2017
Medicine is utterly opaque cost-wise, and that is the heart of the issue. Nobody in the system will say what anything costs and nobody wants to because it would break the spell that they work in an honest, legit business. There is no rational scheme for the cost of any service from one “provider” to the next or even one patient to the next.
Anyway, the costs are obscenely inflated and concealed in so many deliberately deceptive coding schemes that even actuaries and professors of economics are confounded by their bills. The services are provided when the customer is under the utmost duress, often life-threatening, and the outcome even in a successful recovery from illness is financial ruin that leaves a lot of people better off dead.
It is a hostage racket, in plain English, a disgrace to the profession that has adopted it, and an insult to the nation. All the idiotic negotiations in congress around the role of insurance companies are a grand dodge to avoid acknowledging the essential racketeering of the “providers” — doctors and hospitals. More…
The Transformation Of Our Nation Into A Surveillance State Is Almost Complete
by Jeremiah Johnson
Posted April 12, 2017
The headlines are awash with the recent tensions with North Korea, and most are focused intently upon this act of the play that has been running hot for several years, now. Akin to the proverbial frog in cold water, however, we are not paying as much attention to the surveillance state that is continuing to wrap its tentacles around us. Eurasia is our ally, Eastasia is our enemy…and nobody notices that the chocolate ration has been diminished. While everyone focuses on what is reported in the headline news, everybody misses what is happening right before their eyes.
Point of Sale is the new jail, the ubiquitous surveillance system that records your every purchase and stores it in a personal database…an algorithm…in the government storage facility in Utah. Look above that register. It doesn’t matter whether you have a debit or credit purchase or not. Paying cash? Your anonymity only lasts until your image is captured in the little black dome camera right above your head…right next to the register. The sale is recorded, as well as your image. More…
Did the Government Spy on Trump? Of Course. It Spies on All of Us!
by Ron Paul
Posted April 9, 2017
There was high drama last week when Rep. Devin Nunes announced at the White House that he had seen evidence that the communications of the Donald Trump campaign people, and perhaps even Trump himself, had been “incidentally collected” by the US government.
If true, this means that someone authorized the monitoring of Trump campaign communications using Section 702 of the FISA Act. Could it have been then-President Obama? We don’t know. Could it have been other political enemies looking for something to harm the Trump campaign or presidency? It is possible.
There is much we do not yet know about what happened and there is probably quite a bit we will never know. But we do know several very important things about the government spying on Americans. More…
Neoliberalism Was Supposed to Make Us Richer: Three Reasons Why It Didn’t
by Chris Dillow
Posted March 28, 2017
Chris Edwards says the privatizations started by Thatcher “transformed the British economy” and boosted productivity. This raises an under-appreciated paradox.
The thing is that privatization isn’t the only thing to have happened since the 1980s which should have raised productivity, according to (what I’ll loosely call) neoliberal ideology. Trades unions have weakened, which should have reduced “restrictive practices”. Managers have become better paid, which should have attracted more skilful ones, and better incentivized them to increase productivity. And the workforce has more human capital: since the mid-80s, the proportion of workers with a degree has quadrupled from 8% to one-third.
Neoliberal ideology, then, predicts that productivity growth should have accelerated. But it hasn’t. In fact, Bank of England data show that productivity growth, averaged over 20 years, has trended down since the 1970s. Why? More…
WikiLeaks Dump Shows CIA Could Turn Smart TVs into Listening Devices
by Sam Biddle
Posted March 24, 2017
It’s difficult to buy a new TV that doesn’t come with a suite of (generally mediocre) “smart” software, giving your home theater some of the functions typically found in phones and tablets. But bringing these extra features into your living room means bringing a microphone, too — a fact the CIA is exploiting, according to a new trove of documents released today by WikiLeaks.
According to documents inside the cache, a CIA program named “Weeping Angel” provided the agency’s hackers with access to Samsung Smart TVs, allowing a television’s built-in voice control microphone to be remotely enabled while keeping the appearance that the TV itself was switched off, called “Fake-Off mode.” Although the display would be switched off, and LED indicator lights would be suppressed, the hardware inside the television would continue to operate, unbeknownst to the owner.
The method, co-developed with British intelligence, required implanting a given TV with malware—it’s unclear if this attack could be executed remotely, but the documentation includes reference to in-person infection via a tainted USB drive. Once the malware was inside the TV, it could relay recorded audio data to a third party (presumably a server controlled by the CIA) through the included network connection. More…
David Rockefeller: A Dark Legacy in Brazil, A Critical Obituary
By Brasil Wire
Posted March 24, 2017
On March 20, David Rockefeller died at the age of 101. As the obituaries for one of the world’s richest men gush over his philanthropy, it needs to be pointed out that he was a major player in several Latin American coups, supported extremely corrupt military dictatorships, post-dictatorship neoliberal policies that greatly exacerbated income stratification and poverty and that his dark legacy will continue to influence the region long after his death.
Countless academics have written about economic sabotage, often in cooperation with US business elites such as the Rockefeller family, as a component of US-backed coups in Latin America. From the ITT orchestrated Chilean copper boycott of 1972 to the Reagan administration’s economic destabilization of Nicaragua, to US efforts to sabotage the Venezuelan economy, progressive populism is to this day frequently met with US aggression, including media propaganda. More…
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