Archive for the ‘Dignity’ Category

Turkey’s Crackdown on a Free Press, Free Speech and Asli Erdogan

March 28, 2017

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, a Trump supporter (background here) was photographed wearing a t-shirt that read: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.”

Perhaps the t-shirt’s message was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the message landed with a dull thud. Free speech and a free press are pillars of the U.S. Bill of Rights, even if those freedoms are abused by certain quarters. There is little room to joke about such matters.

And such matters as a free press become more poignant in light of international attacks on a free press, particularly in Turkey.

There, in the wake of a coup attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, mass arrests of journalists have been undertaken, media outlets closed, and many other civil and military purges undertaken.

To humanize the situation in Turkey, simply follow the stories (here and here) of Turkish novelist Asli Erdogan (no relation to the Turkish president).

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You Didn’t See That Trump Voter Coming.

November 15, 2016

This place has changed for good
Your economic theory said it would
It’s hard for us to understand
We can’t give up our jobs the way we should

“We Work the Black Seam” – Sting

__________

You didn’t see him. He blindsided you. You didn’t catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of your eye. You couldn’t feel his presence every time you traveled past the shadowlands of the Rust Belt, or through those rural counties you had to tolerate while you drove to some place where the sun still shines. You couldn’t hear his heavy breathing, seething at the realities that were descending upon his disintegrating existence.

You didn’t notice that Trump voter, that 50-year-old former tool-and-die maker with 25 years of experience.

That 50-something tool-and-die maker knows how to cut metal to a thousandth of an inch, knows how to set up a job blindfolded. His job was taken over by some kid who is the victim of a dysfunctional education system, willing to take half the salary; little matter his inexperience cut productivity of the position in half.

Or more likely, that tool-and-die maker saw his job shipped overseas, all in the name of free trade and globalization. The tool-and-die makers in Southeast Asia work for a fifth of what that American tool-and-die maker earned. Why should that American keep his job, unless he’s willing to accept a fifth of what he made last year?

You were hoping that tool-and-die maker would simply drop into a deep crevice somewhere, and he was supposed to accept life in that crevice, because that was the way of “free trade,” of “globalization.”

In fact, “free trade” has little to do with the trade of goods, and more to do with American corporations finding overseas sources of the lowest-cost labor. But the tool-and-die maker hears the phrase “free trade,” and his hatred of this misnomer grows, exponentially.

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Decentralizing economies.

December 3, 2014

Over Thanksgiving break, a vandal scrawled the following graffiti across an exterior wall at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business:

“Fuck Capitalism.”

It may be a convenience for a graffiti artist to use “capitalism” as a monolithic term – just as “socialism,” “communism” or “anarchism” are treated in the same fashion – but it is indeed small minded to maintain this monolithic treatment within serious discussions. There is – surprise – more than one type of capitalism, and the time to discuss the alternatives has arrived, now.

The attempt to erase the "Fuck Capitalism" sentiment, added to the Kelley School of Business in November 2014, was in vain.

The attempt to erase the “Fuck Capitalism” sentiment, added to the Kelley School of Business in November 2014, was in vain.

The arguments against (centralized) capitalism are numerous, and the examples of the dysfunctional nature of centralized capitalism – as it has emerged over the past couple of centuries – are readily found. But I remain supportive of (decentralized) capitalism because I believe there is something intrinsic in the nature of humanity that desires recognition for one’s efforts.

Sadly, this “recognition” has been translated by centralized capitalism to mean one’s salary, but that is a very empty translation. We can live in trendy neighborhoods, drive expensive vehicles and join the exclusive clubs but at the end of our lives, on our deathbeds, we realize we were just another anonymous gnat on the ass of the universe. The world, at large, does not know us, appreciate us, or can even comprehend what in the hell we actually accomplished while manipulating spreadsheets on our computer monitors. Centralized capitalism – with the exception of the very few – renders us anonymous, insignificant, and isolated.

Decentralized capitalism holds the potential to render us valuable, as being significant, as holding meaning… within a local community, within a local economy. I may be nothing more than the village butcher, baker or candlestick maker, but I provide an invaluable service to the local residents of my neighborhood or village. I am recognized for my work, and the value I bring to a community. Such recognition, value and sense of dignity cannot be bought with a paycheck. (more…)

The Economic Metaphors of ‘All is Lost’

March 6, 2014

Now that the hub-bub of the Oscars is over, it’s an appropriate time to examine the metaphor-laden film, All is Lost. It was nominated for an Academy Award in sound editing (but ultimately taken by Gravity), but received little attention during Oscar season. I believe the economic metaphors were recognized by the elites, and they weren’t very interested in promoting All is Lost any more than necessary.

I must provide a spoiler alert, although the film is one of those “have-to-see-it” experiences. Having read summaries before seeing All is Lost, I held some trepidation about the film, wondering if a single cast member with a dialogue-less script (there is a short voice-over at the beginning) could really pull it off.

It works. As I said, you have to see it for yourself to believe such a sparse premise can keep your attention.

However, I do not plan to undertake a scene-by-scene analysis here. The broader strokes are discussed. I’ll leave it to the viewer to fill in the gaps. And forgive me if some of the descriptions show my lack of understanding the nomenclature. Having hailed from the Midwest doesn’t lend itself to a very full education of maritime knowledge.

The economic overtures are already at a start when we learn All is Lost was written and directed by J.C. Chandor, who garnered an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay for Margin Call, an excellent film on Wall Street’s role in the Global Financial Crisis.

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The Focus is on Cheap Labor, Not Immigration

May 1, 2013

Today is May Day, a universal recognition of labor everywhere save the U.S.: We have  “Labor Day” in September, which serves as a proxy for the end of summer. Thus, Labor Day is a bit of a downer, even if the weather doesn’t start to change towards fall for another month.

May Day, however, has always been tinged with workers’ movements, socialism, communism, etc., etc., so its always been viewed as a little unseemly, hence the U.S. had to create its own day for labor recognition.

Nevertheless, labor is a hot-button issue these days in the U.S., so May Day seems to be a good day to post on labor issues.

Wait. What labor issues? Who’s talking about labor issues?

Well, if truth be told, the entire immigration reform battle, er, discussion, revolves around the labor issue, not the immigration issue. More specifically, cheap labor, and more specifically than that, cheap skilled labor. (more…)


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