Category Archives: Class

Trrump’s brand problems: Hotel woes reported

And what problems might those be?

We’ll let the editorial cartoonist of the Arizona Republic offer one key example:

Steve Benson: What Trump really said in Gettysburg


Trump hotel rates slashed

While once the Trump brand brought up images of glamor and glitz, Trump’s bluster and bigotry as revealed in recent months have shifted the Trump brand’s identity.

Now, instead of folks from Beverly Hills and the Hamptons. Brand Trump now appeals more to folks from sagging suburbs and trailer parks, having a severe impact on Trump-branded hotels and resorts.

From the Associated Press:

Rates for rooms at Trump’s new D.C. hotel are being slashed as travelers weigh their options, and smartphone data suggest fewer people are visiting his properties compared to rival venues nearby.

The Republican nominee for president is in danger of losing not just the election, but something dear to a man who claims the marketing value of his name alone is worth $3 billion: the many customers, mostly wealthy, who have stayed at his hotels, played a round at his golf courses or held galas at his oceanside resorts.

Experts say the Trump brand is tarnished and at a tricky crossroads as his appeal shifts from the well-heeled, high-income people he has long courted to a more middle-class base, including the fervent fans he cultivated during the campaign.

There is speculation that he could start a Trump media network as a right-wing alternative to major news outlets, drawing money from advertisers to make up for any weakness in his empire elsewhere. But he may have to pivot fast.

“The current trajectory is very harmful to his businesses,” said Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University. “Right now his brands cater to the affluent, who are disproportionately turned off by his activities.”

And then there’s another problem.

Missing money and a failed Trump

Investors in a planned Mexican resort are furious at The Donald after a losing $32 million on a much-touted Trump resort never rose from the Baja shores. Also missing is their money.

From teleSUR English:

Donald Trump, the man who launched his campaign to reach the White House by accusing Mexicans of being criminals, is facing accusations of major fraud concerning a luxury resort development in Mexico that bilked investors out of US$32 million, a report from La Jornada revealed Sunday.

Between 2008 and 2009, Trump — together with Irongate and PB Impulsores firms — lured investors into paying 20 percent deposits for an exclusive oceanfront luxury resort in the Mexican state of Baja California.

However, according to records, the builders never even bothered initiating the necessary procedures to start the project.

When asked, the relevant authorities in Tijuana said, “After performing an exhaustive search of the physical and digital files, no procedure that corresponds to the name Trump Ocean Resort Baja could be located.”

Furthermore, according to the La Jornada’s investigation, as of this month, the issue remained unresolved and investors who initiated legal action in 2009 have not yet been compensated. Builders had previously claimed that there simply wasn’t any money left to pay back to those who placed a deposit, despite the fact that the builders collected US$32 million.

In response, Trump — now the Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency — said that he merely licensed his name to the project, as he has in many other real estate projects. When the project was first advertised, promotional materials prominently featured his name and image.

The newspaper reported that it was the Trump name that sold many investors on the resort.

Hey, with Trump losing luster so rapidly, maybe the Next Big Trump Thing will be a trailer park.

Another rich Trumpie walks it back

Trump isn’t the only plutocrat in trouble for saying things inappropriate.

Consider the Silicon Valley billionaire who’s been suing media right and left who now finds himself in a spot of a difficulty.

From the Guardian:

Facebook board member and Trump donor Peter Thiel has apologised for a book he co-wrote in 1995 that argued the definition of rape had been expanded to include “seductions that are later regretted”.

Thiel’s co-author, David Sacks, a Stanford and Paypal alumnus along with Thiel, also apologised after the Guardian reported on the book’s contents on Friday.

Thiel gave a statement to Forbes magazine, which said: “More than two decades ago, I co-wrote a book with several insensitive, crudely argued statements. As I’ve said before, I wish I’d never written those things. I’m sorry for it. Rape in all forms is a crime. I regret writing passages that have been taken to suggest otherwise.” Thiel had not responded to a request for comment to the Guardian.

Thiel made his fortune as a co-founder of PayPal, which increased markedly after an early investment in Facebook. He now sits on the board of the company, and has attracted notoriety after donating $1.25m (£1m) to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

It was Thiel who sued Gawker Media into bankruptcy after one of the company’s websites outed him.

The upper class pays less attention to others

Class status really does color our perceptions of others.

It even colors whether or not we even perceive others, according to some fascinating new research.

The findings offer a clue to the impacts of the sharply widening class divisions in a world where neoliberalism has become the dominant political paradigm, a model backed by the wealthy in which the needs of others are simply ignored in order to justify the concentration of wealth.

From the Association for Psychological Science:

The degree to which other people divert your attention may depend on your social class, according to new findings published in Psychological Science [$35 to access], a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The research shows that people who categorize themselves as being in a relatively high social class spend less time looking at passersby compared with those who aren’t as well off, a difference that seems to stem from spontaneous processes related to perception and attention.

“Across field, lab, and online studies, our research documents that other humans are more likely to capture the attention of lower-class individuals than the attention of higher-class individuals,” says psychological scientist Pia Dietze of New York University. “Like other cultural groups, social class affects information processing in a pervasive and spontaneous manner.”

Previous studies have shown a variety of behavioral differences among people of various social classes — including levels of compassion, interpersonal engagement, charity, ethicality, and empathy toward others. Dietze and co-author Eric Knowles wondered whether these discrepancies might stem, at least in part, from deep, culturally ingrained differences in the way people process information.

The researchers hypothesized that our social class affects how relevant others are to us in terms of our own goals and motivations. Compared with people who come from less-advantaged circumstances, people from relatively privileged backgrounds are likely to be less dependent on others socially; as such, they are less likely to view other people as potentially rewarding, threatening, or otherwise worth paying attention. Importantly, Dietze and Knowles posited that this difference in what they call “motivational relevance” is so fundamental that it manifests in basic cognitive processes — like visual attention — that operate quickly and involuntarily.

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Living in poor neighborhoods raises stroke risk

As with so many of the health problems inflicting immense physical and fiscal harm on Americans, stoke has been linked with living in neglected communities.

Once again,, class makes all the difference when it comes to health, a symptom is the widening wealth gap created by the harsh conditions of neoliberal austerity.

From the University of Alabama at Birmingham:

A higher neighborhood advantage, or socioeconomic status, of where a person lives contributes to a lower risk of having a stroke no matter the person’s race, according to findings published [$39 to read] in the Oct. 14 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The report from the University of Alabama at BirminghamREasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke study shows this effect is the same for black and white adults, both men and women.

“More blacks than whites in the United States have strokes and die from strokes,” said Virginia Howard, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor in the UAB School of Public HealthDepartment of Epidemiology. “More people who live in the Southeastern area known as the stroke belt have stroke and die from stroke compared to those who live in the rest of the United States.”

This study showed that residents in more disadvantaged neighborhoods had greater stroke risk than those who lived in more advantaged neighborhoods. The neighborhood index is composed of six factors, including a higher value of housing units and higher proportion of residents employed in professional occupations. A higher score in all of these categories leads to a higher advantaged neighborhood.

The observation was true even after adjustment for age, race, sex and region of the country. But after adjustment for other stroke risk factors, there was no association between the level of the neighborhood advantage and stroke risk, suggesting that those living in more disadvantaged neighborhoods are more likely to develop risk factors including hypertension, diabetes and smoking. Because of being more likely to develop these risk factors, they are at higher risk of stroke.

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Quote of the day: Trump, would-be racist dictator

From Seattle native and deputy editor of Der Spiegel Charles Hawley:

All it took to reveal the lengths to which Trump is prepared to go was the half-hearted retreat of a few leading Republicans when it became no longer possible to ignore that their nominee was a sexual predator. But now that he has been “unshackled,” as he himself has said, it is becoming apparent that Nov. 8 will very likely not be the end of what he has taken to calling his “Patriotic Movement.”

The rhetoric that Trump has begun using with ever increasing frequency — that he would lock up Hillary Clinton if he won, that the election is rigged, that his followers should monitor the polls and “watch other communities,” that he would rein in the “corrupt” media — is the rhetoric of dictatorship. But it also appeals directly to a significant chunk of the population, one that feels abandoned by the country’s leadership, left behind by globalization and threatened by demographics.

Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” might suggest that he is adhering to the American exceptionalism narrative and, thus, to the American founding myth. But much of what he says — banning Muslims from entering the US, stepped up domestic surveillance, expanded use of torture — is in direct opposition to the Constitution. Indeed, the “greatness” that Trump wants to return to, it has become clear, is one free of immigrants and blacks. One where white American men need not encounter adversity, allowing their supposed natural superiority to shine through.

Trump is suggesting an altogether different narrative of American identity, one based on race and religion.

Trump’s Vegas hotel to be walled in by taco trucks

Or Dada comes to Sin City.

The story from teleSUR English:

The Culinary Workers Union is planning to construct a wall made of Taco Trucks outside of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas hours before Wednesday’s third and final debate with Hillary Clinton.

The union, also known as UNITE HERE local 226, plans to build the wall using at least five taco trucks outside the Trump International Hotel, which is close to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, or UNLV, the location for tonight’s third and final presidential debate.

The mostly Latino union says that Trump, who has a 50 percent share in the company, has been exploiting local hotel and casino workers and refuses to recognize their union and enter into collective bargaining. Workers have said that they get paid less than others with similar positions working on the Las Vegas strip.

“We’re reminding Mr. Trump that immigrant workers here and across the country will be watching the debate and voting in November,” Yvanna Cancela, the union’s political director, told Buzzfeed.

The union will be joined by a number of other immigrant and activists organizations, with some traveling to the event from Los Angeles.

Quote of the day: Neoliberalism in a nutshell

From Dr. Gus Bagakis, a retired philosophy instructor at San Francisco State University, writing for Truthout:

The Reagan administration mobilized and promoted a heartless formulation of capitalism: neoliberalism. This was a model based on replacing the state with the market as a way to coordinate the economy. It stood for a world in which human relationships are forced to conform to an ideal of economic competition. The individual is transformed from a citizen into an independent economic actor. Under the regimes of President Reagan in the US and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the UK, neoliberalism led to massive tax cuts for the rich, the destruction of trade unions, a growing inequality of wealth, deregulation, privatization, unemployment and the decline of public services — with the exception of prisons and the military-industrial complex.

The main principles of neoliberalism are:

  • The rule of the free market around the world from restrictions imposed by government (also known as globalization).
  • The cutback of money spent for social services (also known as austerity).
  • The reduction of government regulations for everything that could hamper profits.
  • The privatization of government ventures leaving wealth in a few private hands.
  • The focus on individual responsibility over that of the public good.
  • Tax reductions for corporations and the wealthy.

Trump is [partly] right: The game really is rigged

But contrary to what The Donald declares, the game is rigged in his favor, as a Pulitzer-winning journalist explains to fellow Pulitzer-winner Chris Hedges in the latest edition of the latter’s series for RT America:

On Contact: A Tax System Rigged for the Rich with David Cay Johnston

Program notes:

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges sits down with David Cay Johnson, author of “The Making of Donald Trump” to examine how the Republican presidential nominee and the rich are benefiting from a rigged tax system. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil further explores how the U.S. tax code has been rewritten to benefit the wealthy.