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TBF's Journal
TBF's Journal
May 17, 2016

Against Crowdfunding

TBF note: like many of you I have donated to these "kickstarter" and "go fund me" requests, in hopes of pitching in with others to make someone's life just a little easier. But overall as a society is this the best way to handle inequality? And do we all suffer as a result of art being reduced to simply content?

Perhaps it’s fitting then that Patreon describes its affiliates as “creators” making “content,” rather than “artists” making “art.”

Art and content are not the same. Content is produced with a specific, marketable goal in mind. Patreon turns artists into content-makers whose creativity is moderated by their patrons. Patrons with more money have more clout, and the ability to withhold funding shapes what creators make.

In this sense, Patreon reproduces key elements of the old patronage model, in which the power to commission and influence artists rests in the hands of those who can pay.

Against the Crowdfunding Economy
by Keith A. Spencer 5/17/16

In the art world, as elsewhere, success is often tightly correlated with pedigree and acceptance into elite institutions. Simpsons writers are likely to be Harvard grads; musician and writer Leonard Cohen purchased his Greek artist’s retreat with his trust fund; Lena Dunham’s debt-free college education gave her the financial freedom to make her first film.

Of course most artists aren’t so lucky. And amid the increasing consumption of digital media, the conditions for success have become ever more fraught. Instant access to media — and the massive amount of free content online — makes many feel they should be able to watch, listen, or read whatever they want, whenever they want, at no cost to them.

Tech companies, in turn, rely on free content to get eyeballs on their advertisements, and make a tidy profit in the process. Hence, while Silicon Valley profits from our collective free labor, many once-remunerated artists are now paid in exposure.


The concept of crowdfunding began with platforms like Kickstarter (the inaugural crowdsourced fundraising platform) and IndieGogo, both of which allow entrepreneurs, start-ups, and nonprofits to solicit fundraising through small online donations ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/crowdfunding-kickstarter-gofundme-charity-taxes/

May 16, 2016

Puerto Rico's Debt

Meanwhile, the island's 3.4 million residents face a crushing combination of economic meltdown and government dysfunction.

Puerto Rico's debt crisis: Made in the USA
Puerto Rico needs debt relief as it struggles to contain an unfolding economic and social crisis. But its creditors want to tighten the screws, explains Eric Ruder.
May 16, 2016

THIS WEEK will be a crucial one in the battle over the debt crisis strangling Puerto Rico. The U.S. Supreme Court and Congress are both wading into the political and legal clash over a multibillion-dollar debt that is, in the words of the New York Times, "not payable."

On one side stand the institutions that loaned the island nation billions of dollars because Puerto Rico's bonds paid better returns than other municipal issues and were tax-exempt for U.S. investors. These creditors, a collection of Wall Street hedge-fund managers and vulture capitalists, want to use U.S. laws and courts to force Puerto Rico to repay every last penny of its debt burden, no matter the economic and social consequences.

They are counting on the U.S. government not to grant any form of debt relief for Puerto Rico, since the commonwealth, as it is officially designated, is legally barred from filing for bankruptcy like U.S. cities. That's why some hedge funds took on even more of Puerto Rico's debt recently, figuring that they could buy it for pennies on the dollar and use their political connections and various legal levers to make a windfall.

On the other side are the people of Puerto Rico, who for the last decade have endured a steady deterioration of their economy and living conditions ...

Much more here: https://socialistworker.org/2016/05/16/puerto-ricos-debt-crisis-was-made-in-usa

May 13, 2016

The bombing of MOVE

TBF note: Anniversary article from last year -

Today marks the ... anniversary of a massive police operation in Philadelphia that culminated in the helicopter bombing of the headquarters of a radical group known as MOVE. The fire from the attack killed six adults and five children and destroyed sixty-five homes.

MOVE is a Philadelphia-based black liberation group. Founded in 1972 by a Korean War veteran named John Africa, its members hold anarchist views and also take strong stances on animal rights, the exploitative nature of American class society, and the oppression of minorities within the country and across the world. Members lived communally, sharing resources and living space.

MOVE Bombing at 30: "Barbaric" 1985 Philadelphia Police Attack Killed 11 & Burned a Neighborhood
May 13, 2015

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Today marks the 30th anniversary of a massive police operation in Philadelphia that culminated in the helicopter bombing of the headquarters of a radical group known as MOVE. The fire from the attack incinerated six adults and five children, and destroyed 65 homes. Despite two grand jury investigations and a commission finding that top officials were grossly negligent, no one from city government was criminally charged. Here is how the bombing was initially reported in Philadelphia on WCAU [TV].

WCAU ANCHOR: I’ve just been advised that we have new videotape of the episode that apparently ended—we think ended—the MOVE situation tonight: the dropping of an incendiary device. And let’s take a careful look at this. 5:27 p.m., state police helicopter drops it. There is the explosion. As you can see, a very dramatic explosion that occurs 30 seconds and really rips into the MOVE compound. There you see the bunker, which soon will go up in flames. And that was the explosion close-up. Now, if there’s anybody there standing there, it’s obvious they couldn’t survive that explosion.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was WCAU TV, actually. We saw some video there. MOVE was a Philadelphia-based radical movement dedicated to black liberation and a back-to-nature lifestyle. It was founded by John Africa, and all its members took on the surname Africa. In 2010, Ramona Africa, the sole adult survivor of the attack, told Democracy Now! what happened as the bomb was dropped on her house ...

More here: http://www.democracynow.org/2015/5/13/move_bombing_at_30_barbaric_1985

Another article here: http://blackthen.com/the-move-bombing-a-philadelphia-based-black-liberation-group/

May 11, 2016

Free Trade

TBF note: This is a pretty good comic going into "free trade" - and be sure to go to the source to read all the frames (this is just the first one). For me it's not just fighting these agreements, though, it's thinking about how we can reallocate resources worldwide to serve people instead of profit. I pulled this off of the "Films of Action" website which is also on Facebook. If you haven't looked at this source before they have a plethora of material. Happy reading! http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/free-trade-explained-in-an-excellent-comic/

May 11, 2016

Repression in Egypt

Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, traveled to Cairo to meet with al-Sisi in April. According to press reports, Votel confirmed that the U.S. considers Egypt a "main partner" in the Middle East and praised the regime for confronting "terrorism"--even though "counterterrorism" is transparently the Egyptian government's justification for suppressing all forms of dissent.

Protesting U.S.-backed repression in Egypt
May 5, 2016

EGYPTIAN SECURITY forces are carrying out widespread raids and repression in response to growing social and political discontent, which led to the first widespread stirrings of popular protest since the military regime led by Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi came to power nearly two years ago.

As educators and members of the academic community in the United States, we feel a particular responsibility to speak out against a regime that has targeted academics and students, in addition to many others, with the financial support and political cover of our own government. This January's abduction, torture and murder of Giulio Regeni, an Italian graduate student at Cambridge University, provides a terrifying glimpse into the atmosphere of repression against all dissent that prevails under the U.S.-backed al-Sisi regime.

In the lead up to demonstrations planned for April 25, there was a wave of arrests and raids targeting well-known progressive activists, including prominent labor lawyer Haitham Mohamedain. More than 150 people were seized in the latest crackdown, joining tens of thousands of others who languish in jails, along with hundreds who have been "disappeared" by the Egyptian authorities in recent years ...

More here: https://socialistworker.org/2016/05/05/protesting-us-backed-repression-in-egypt

May 8, 2016

Against Fortress Liberalism

TBF note: We ostensibly have a rule in here about not getting into US Electoral politics, but since that rule was allowed to be broken with a piece on the virtues of incrementalism, I am providing the other side of the argument. Solidarity.

Bill Clinton’s eight-year term in the White House gave us an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and a small children’s health insurance program — but also NAFTA, the 1994 crime bill, welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage Act, financial deregulation, and a grand bargain to gut Social Security that was only thwarted by a timely sex scandal. The pragmatic, piecemeal, and irreproachably moderate achievements of Jimmy Carter are still more dispiriting. Even judged by the charitable standards of American liberalism, the forty-year balance sheet of “incremental progress” is decidedly negative.

For forty years, liberals have accepted defeat and called it “incremental progress.” Bernie Sanders offers a different way forward.
by Matt Karp 4/18/16

The primary campaign between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has produced the most direct ideological battle the Democratic Party has seen in a generation. It’s not just the policy differences that separate Sanders’s blunt social-democratic platform from Clinton’s neoliberal grab bag. The two candidates embody clashing theories of politics — alternative visions of how to achieve progressive goals within the American political system.

The Bernie Sanders model of change has all the subtlety of an index finger raised high above a debate podium. Lay out a bold, unapologetic vision of reform that speaks directly to people’s basic needs. Connect that vision to existing popular struggles, while mobilizing a broad and passionate coalition to support it (#NotMeUs). Ride this wave of democratic energy to overwhelm right-wing opposition and enact major structural reforms.

The Hillary Clinton model of change, on the other hand, begins not with policy or people but with a politician. Choose an experienced, practical leader who explicitly rejects unrealistic goals. Rally around that leader’s personal qualifications, while defending past achievements and stressing the value of party loyalty (#ImWithHer). Draw on the leader’s expertise to grind away at Congress and accumulate incremental victories that add up to significant reform.

For most of the Left, Clinton-style “incrementalism” is just a code word to disguise what is effectively a right-wing retrenchment. Nevertheless many self-identified progressives have backed Clinton’s “theory of politics” as the most realistic path to achieve Sanders’s objectives ...

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/04/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-dnc-primary-moderates/

May 5, 2016

Happy Birthday Brother Marx

May 5, 1818

May 5, 2016

Virtual Picket Line

“It is unconscionable for a company that made more than $4 billion dollars in profits in the first quarter of 2016 alone to cut off health care benefits for the workers who created those profits. This heartless move by Verizon shows why the strike is so important.”

May 4, 2016

Kent State

TBF note: Students re Kent State era described as "worse than brown shirts and the communist element ...". Sound familiar, Bernie Bros.? The establishment has always been the same - looking out for themselves and their profits. In the case of Kent State it was the profits made off their war-mongering.

Kent State: After 45 Years We Need a Serious Look at What Happened and Why?
By Murray Polner 5/4/16

It’s been 45 years since draft-deferred Ohio National Guardsmen aimed their M-1 rifles and .45 pistols at unarmed Kent State College students, killing four and wounding nine on May 4, 1970. You have to be well into middle age now to remember that day. My memory is stirred whenever I look at three photos: John Filo’s striking shot of teenager Mary Ann Vecchio on her knees weeping as she bends over student Jeffrey Miller’s body, a photo I took of Jeffrey’s grieving mother for a magazine my son Alex once edited, and a picture of two of the forever crippled in wheelchairs, KSU student Dean Kahler and wounded Marine Vietnam vet Ron Kovic of ‘Born on the Fourth of July” fame.

On the 41st anniversary of the shootings in 2011, the state’s largest newspaper, concluded, “There has never been a completely satisfactory explanation for why the Guard fired.” In fact, it went on, “The central unresolved question in the Kent State affair has been why several dozen Ohio Guardsmen pivoted in unison and fired” and for 13 agonizing seconds killed and wounded so many of their peers. The previous year the paper had reported the finding of an audio recording where a Guard office was said to shout, “All right, prepare to fire.” This led to an editorial urging the state to take another look “and give full account of that tragic day.”

“That tragic day” followed Nixon’s announcement that the U.S. had invaded Cambodia and expanded the war, causing antiwar college students throughout the nation to go on strike. It was a time when the President called antiwar students “bums” and Ohio’s Republican Governor James Rhodes, in a tight and ultimately losing race, described students against the war as “worse than brown shirts and the communist element and also night riders and vigilantes. They are the worst type of people that we harbor in America.” ...

More here: http://www.dsausa.org/kent_state_after_45_years_dl

This photo taken by John Filo of runaway Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling by Jeffrey Miller's body. This photo won the Pulitzer Prize in 1971:

May 4, 2016

Taxing Capitalists

Zucman conservatively estimates that $7.6 trillion is invested in hidden offshore bank accounts, the equivalent of 8 percent of the world’s total wealth. That translates into at least $200 billion in lost tax revenue every year, according to his estimates.
Reintroducing capital controls would help left movements rein in big business.

by Niko Block 5-4-16

<snip intro>

The disclosure of the so-called Panama Papers is again highlighting the United States’s continued influence. The documents implicate tax-dodging individuals and corporations from around the world who have profited handsomely from an offshore system that was established with Washington’s support. The question is not how Panama gets away with it, but why America permits it.

The answer is that the US financial sector benefits immensely from the offshore world. When we hear about the super-rich “hiding” their money in offshore accounts, it is often assumed that these accounts are like glorified piggy banks where money sits and accumulates. In reality, the funds never stay offshore; they are simply scrubbed of any affiliation with their actual owners, repackaged with the names of shell companies, and sent back to major banking centers and financial markets.

As the economist Gabriel Zucman explains,

From their offshore accounts, [owners of capital] essentially make the same investments they do from banks located in London, New York, or Sydney: they buy financial securities — that is, stocks, bonds, and, above all, shares in mutual funds. The money in tax havens doesn’t sleep. It is invested in international financial markets.

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/panama-papers-capital-mobility-controls/

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 01:44 PM
Number of posts: 32,717

About TBF

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman
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