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How did I miss this?
What does the great man say? I'm dying to know!
Okay, so Gates gave four million dollars to American Enterprise Institute! So what? He's just buying the entire "legit" political spectrum, from "conservative" all the way to sort-of "liberal." So the money's raining down on everyone, long as they're part of the status quo. That's his god-given right as a rational maximizer of utilitarian benefit. And it will help create the consensus behind sensible policy we need so badly in this time of awful, awful polarization. (Cue shudders & eerie music.)
If you don't like that he has all this money, or how he's spending it, then it is because you are JEALOUS. And LAZY. And not smart like him, but STUPID. Or CRAZY.
But I know a lot of you here agree that our new Gilded Age's most successful robber baron and unconvicted antitrust violator is a great guy!
Billionaires are generally wonderful people, always saving the world, giving away their billions for philanthropy, making new billions to give away, feeding people... Except for the Kochs! Those are some very bad brothers. (Insert two minutes' hate here.)
But Gates? What a wonderful man! Bill Gates is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life!
His foundation is saving Our Children by waging war on the bad teachers in the Bad Teachers Union. They're saving the Africans by using just a small fraction of them in Big Pharm medical experiments. They're saving the Indian farmers by forcing them to use GMOs or get off their lands. That lets more productive entities produce the food we need to feed the whooooooole world.
Now yes, he's saving a lot in taxes by transferring a portion of his wealth to the foundation, which of course he still controls. And yeah, the main action of this foundation is to use its awesome endowment as a hedge fund, investing in corporations that generally benefit from the research that the charitable side funds.
But this is also good for everyone, because it means Gates will have even more money to save the world even more!
The charitable side, meanwhile, does not just fund R&D for applications that the endowment side can later invest in. As the 400-pound gorilla in any room, the Gates Foundation sets the agenda for policymaking and philanthropy. For example, Gates decides that deficient schools are the cause of inequality and the economy isn't, and its money is enough to determine how these issues are covered. By offering to finance shares in projects, Gates determines how other charitable as well as public money is spent in the United States, Africa and India. Its reach thus goes far beyond the already considerable funds that it commands. It can control how your own taxes are spent.
The Gates Foundation is so fabulously charitable that under its charter it is required to give away all of its money within a mere fifty years after Bill and Melinda have both died.
Really that makes me sad. I hope the successors can find a way to roll that endowment over into another foundation, so that they can keep giving away their always-growing fortune - forever!
Hopefully some of that medical research can bring us closer to the day when the rich can really start dreaming of immortality. With some luck, Bill and Melinda may still be blessing the young of the future with their kindly presence and beneficient influence in person, in 2100!
There is a really great comic in Truthout now about the Gates war on the schools. Excellent research tool as well:
And to think how you hated this guy for being a wealth creator - Gates could buy out his whole fortune about 400 times, I think?
(Sadly I couldn't find one of Romey speaking with an AEI backdrop!)
Posted by JackRiddler | Sat Aug 30, 2014, 09:52 PM (10 replies)
The question must always be what the total required material resources and energy for manufacture are. How does this thing work?
The TLSC consists of organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light, which they then luminesce (glow) as another wavelength of infrared light (also non-visible). This emitted infrared light is guided to the edge of plastic, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity.
It sounds promising, but these salts: are they rare? What kind of process are they put through? How much energy does making the final product require? Installing it as windows? At what point has it produced enough energy to replace the energy of resource extraction, manufacture, delivery, installation? How long does it last, how disposable is it, etc. etc. Once all that spells feasible, it's still a big question where on the efficiency range the actual mass product will land (they mention anything from 1 to 7 percent), which is a huge difference in how much it actually produces and thus whether the results are going to make a significant difference or amount to little more than 2-3 minutes extra on your cell phone power. (Things like the latter could encourage people to be more wasteful and have a net effect of zero in saving on non-renewable forms of energy.)
But yeah it's totally cool!
Posted by JackRiddler | Sat Aug 30, 2014, 01:53 AM (0 replies)
This isn't the place for a full chronology but I'll remind that yes, right after the coup, on the first day, the new government initiated a political attack on Russian-speaking populations, prompting the secession of Crimea a couple of weeks later. They also started a street terror in Kiev against political opponents and media who weren't on their line. And then, as the separatists organized in the east, the supporters and militias of the Kiev parties (and eventually the Ukrainian regular army) initiated the violence against eastern Ukraine. They have used awful rhetoric about "subhumans" and "terrorists" and refused opportunities for a negotiated solution at a time when the separatists had weak popular support and Putin was urging them not to hold their referendum (May 11).
Most of the people dying in this conflict so far are civilian non-combatants in eastern Ukraine, killed by the Kiev forces. Why don't they matter?
Posted by JackRiddler | Fri Aug 29, 2014, 10:23 AM (1 replies)
Even if your history were uncontestable, 95% or more of the ethnic Russians in Crimea were born after any ethnic cleansing. Should they be deported for the historic sins of the long-dead? This kind of thinking keeps refreshing a lot of pointless ethnic bloodshed, in the Balkans, in the Middle East, hell in Thailand. (By the way, do you live on land that was ethnically cleansed of its Indian peoples?)
Fact is, people living today need to get over their imagined affiliations with imagined forerunners, and learn to live with each other. Today.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 08:56 PM (0 replies)
Source: New York Times
By NEIL MacFARQUHARAUG. 28, 2014
MOSCOW — Asserting that Russian soldiers and armaments had crossed into Ukraine to support the separatists, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine canceled a trip to Turkey on Thursday, and his national security council ordered mandatory conscription for the armed forces.
“Columns of heavy artillery, huge loads of arms and regular Russian servicemen came to the territory of Ukraine from Russia through the uncontrolled border area,” Mr. Poroshenko said at the beginning of an emergency meeting of the Ukrainian Nation Security and Defense Council in Kiev.
Nonetheless, the deputy head of the council, Mykhailo Koval, announced after the meeting had concluded that mandatory conscription, which was suspended last year, would be restarted this fall, news services reported.
Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the national security council, said that the Ukrainian military was planning a counteroffensive against the separatists and what he called “more and more Russians” in the country, but declined to provide details about military plans. He also accused Russia of sending new antiaircraft defense systems into eastern Ukraine.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/29/world/europe/ukraine-conflict.html
NOTE: The LBN in this case is that the president has ordered a military draft.
COMMENT: Possibly the beginning of the end for the current Kiev regime. Until now they have deputized existing fascist and ethno-nationalist militias and relied on volunteers (including some from international fascist networks abroad) as much as on Ukrainian army regulars on the ground. Kiev saw a genuine popular uprising at the Maidan, no matter that it was hijacked by a junta of bankers with fascists as their junior partner. It's a big risk to start drafting people in the west to go kill people in the east (not to mention their friends from Russia). The Donetsk hostilities were initiated by the Kiev government, and not many young men in Kiev are going to enthusiastically fight and die for this bullshit.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 08:26 PM (22 replies)
I think this character is pretty clear in what he says. What you say often applies, but in this case, his meaning is this:
It's his kind of "Christians" versus everyone else. Everyone else is equally enemy. No distinction is drawn between "Muslims," ISIS, homosexuals, liberals, Democrats, feminists, atheists, non-fundamentalist Christians, secularists, any kind of foreigners who aren't in his sect, communists, etc. etc. In fact, to make distinctions is to open the door for the enemy. They are all not "Christian," therefore all equally demon. (Even if ISIS and this guy think structurally in the same vein.) Everyone who is not him and obeying him is Other and Enemy, implacably, to the Death.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 08:12 PM (0 replies)
Not the people now suffering the consequences of NATO's actions in Libya, certainly. But I guess that's old news, even to you with your daily reports on the "Libyan revolution." How come you're not doing that for Hifter and the Brotherhood types? Did this history end in 2011?
Exactly no one "in the past 5 years" has credibly advanced the absurd thesis that NATO is obsolete. (Has there been talk of disbanding it? Like from whom? Go back to 199x or even 195x, you'll always find "talk of disbanding it.")
It's also incredible how reliably you'll decide that any NATO or US-UK violence is R2P, at least as long as the party labels on the chief execs ordering the strikes are acceptable. But Russian support for the Ukrainian Russians who are under attack from Kiev can only be a long-planned imperialist intervention.
Poroshenko had his chance not to escalate the civil war that Yatsenyuk initiated. He blew it, and now the propaganda about Kiev's victories has been exposed. They're losing, which isn't a very surprising performance in the majority Russian regions for a Ukrainian ethno-nationalist neoliberal regime that's in power because of a coup d'etat and that includes Bandera fascists in its cabinet. And you really think the Russians in Ukraine aren't going to turn to Russia for help, and Russians won't respond whether or not it's official Moscow policy?
Kiev's insane endgame has been to try to bring NATO in, and fuck the risk of World War III. He doesn't seem to think it's obsolete either. But maybe it will prove to be. By the way, has Obama deployed drones and special forces to kill all the MH17 shooters yet, like you predicted?
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 06:48 PM (1 replies)
Started bombing and shelling and killing civilian non-combatants in eastern Ukraine?
Kiev had options. A government with fascists in the cabinet chose to start a civil war against the Russian population. Now everyone's shocked, shocked that the Ukrainian Russians turned to Russia for support.
Whatever the Kiev line of the day is, it's reported as news.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 06:37 PM (1 replies)
Ever since the last guy who acted as if the president makes decisions was punished for it and replaced by a Hollywood B-movie actor who waved and smiled a lot, the money that determines who gets to run and win these "elections" has backed "Democratic" presidents to pump up the treasury and Republicans to deplete it.
The underlying cycles of capitalism, of bubble and burst, would have proceeded regardless. They are inherent in the system. (Please address this inescapable aspect, if you're going to reply. Go ahead and argue that it wouldn't happen if all presidents were Democrats, that should make for fun.)
Your statement is meaningless by the way: "Over 50% of middle class Americans own stocks."
Don't even bother to define that great rhetorical dodge, the "middle class." See instead if you can tell us:
How much does the median household by wealth or income have invested in stocks?
What proportion of stocks are owned by the top 10%, compared to everyone else?
More than half of the people do not own even a thousand dollars in stocks. It is true that a great many middle-income and middle-wealth Americans "own" stocks in that their only or main "retirement plan" is in the form of privately-managed funds that invest on their behalf, partly in equities.
In other words, in the absence of an adequate system to assure incomes for the old, worker-bees are given the offer of having some financial manager gamble with their retirement savings. This often works out, depending on the year of your retirement, so it's considered a successful system. As to those who lose in the gamble - tough shit, right?
It's probably more of a scam than the lottery - which is proven to produce dozens of millionaires a year.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 02:34 PM (0 replies)
Excuse me if I'm not impressed by the new high for the S&P stock index. This is good news only for the owners of stocks, and only in the narrowest sense of financial self-interest, and only in the usual temporary way. (Peaks mean you'd best be selling.)
The present economic order tells the lie that all wealth trickles down from its success, although it destroys human beings and is destroying the ecological basis for human and other life.
Anything that promotes the illusion that this system is in any way healthy is actually bad news. We should not succumb to the propaganda that presents the preferred financial indicators of capitalism as though they are more important than the GINI coefficient. How has that developed for the U.S.? For the world?
The indeces that should be relevant are the ones that tell us about student debt, the amount spent on education compared to warmaking, the real well-being of the vast majority. Tell us about the median wage! Tell us about the rate of imprisonment. Those say something about how the people are doing.
The majority of stocks are owned by the rich. (No matter how you spin the fact that about half the people have a couple of shares out of millions of shares in this or that.) So the S&P is mainly a measure of how much money is going to the rich motherfuckers who think they're entitled to own the world. Since they own the media, you hear about the S&P and the DJIA, and not the Human Development Index.
A billionaire is by definition a gangster, a warlord, a monopolist, a beneficiary of mass murder. A rise in the number of this class is a negative indicator.
What about pollution? Are CO2 emissions down?
Are there fewer bombs? How many wars are being waged? How many bases does this empire maintain? Are there fewer dead children in the rubble, killed by bombs made by U.S. corporations?
How many prisoners still at Guantanamo? How many missiles flew?
How much money is going into the MIC and "Top Secret America"? How many crimes are committed on behalf of this state?
The next financial crash and open manifestation of economic crisis are the inevitable products of this irrational system. For this reason, I will welcome them, conditionally: Because they're going to happen no matter what. People will suffer, but not because I think capitalism is a perpetual crisis machine. People will suffer because the history and the economic dynamics of the system that measures its health in the S&P index guarantee it. Crisis at least brings the opportunity to reform or finally end this system.
In short, and with all due respect: Fuck the S&P, the Dow Jones, Wall Street and the 0.1% who own the controlling interest in the banks, the holding companies, the multi-death corporations, the "philanthropic" foundations, the FIRE sector. Fuck capitalism.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 12:39 PM (37 replies)