Category Archives: Corpocracy

Headline of the day II: Corps. bankroll war on pot


Big Cirrhosis bucks on the march, via the Intercept:

Alcohol Industry Bankrolls Fight Against Legal Pot in Battle of the Buzz

  • The fight against legalized pot is being heavily bankrolled by alcohol and pharmaceutical companies, terrified that they might lose market share.
  • On the heels of a filing last week that revealed that a synthetic cannabis company is financing the opposition to legal marijuana in Arizona comes a new disclosure this week that a beer industry group made one of the largest donations to an organization set up to defeat legalization in Massachusetts.

Campaign 2016 brings chaos to U.S. workplaces


And a quarter of workers surveyed say the result has been an increase in negativity to the offices, stores, and factories.

On the flip side, still more workers say the result has been a growing sense of solidarity with their colleagues, with men reporting stronger effects than women do:

blog-elex

From the American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence [the full study is posted online here]:

This year’s extraordinary presidential campaign is taking a toll on American workers, some of whom report feeling stressed, argumentative and less productive because of political discussions on the job, according to a survey released today by the American Psychological Association.

More than 1 in 4 younger employees reported feeling stressed out because of political discussions at work, and more than twice as many men as women said political talk is making them less productive, according to the survey from APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. The “Politics in the Workplace: 2016 Election Season” survey was conducted online on APA’s behalf by Harris Poll from Aug. 10-12, 2016, among 927 U.S. adults who are employed full or part time.

Men were more likely than women, and younger workers (ages 18-34) were more likely than older generations, to have experienced negative consequences of political discussions at work this election season, the survey found. This includes having difficulty getting work done, producing lower-quality work and being less productive overall. Similarly, these groups were more likely to have said that because of political discussions at work, they feel more isolated from their colleagues, have a more negative view of them and have experienced an increase in workplace hostility. Compared to women, men were more than four times as likely to report having argued about politics with a coworker (18 percent vs. 4 percent).

Among all workers surveyed, nearly half (47 percent) said people are more likely to discuss politics in the workplace this election season than in the past. Although a majority of working Americans (60 percent) indicated that people at work are generally respectful toward others with differing political views, more than a quarter (26 percent) have witnessed or overheard their coworkers arguing about politics, and about 1 in 10 (11 percent) have gotten into an argument themselves. Overall, more than a quarter of working Americans (27 percent) reported at least one negative outcome as a result of political discussions at work during this election season.

“The workplace brings people together from different backgrounds who might not ordinarily interact with each other. When you add politics to the mix – a deeply personal and emotional topic for many –there is potential for tension, conflict and problems for both employees and the organization,” said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • More than half of American workers (54 percent) said they avoid discussing politics with colleagues, and 1 in 5 (20 percent) reported avoiding some coworkers because of their political views.
  • Although some workers have bonded with their colleagues over political discussions this election season, with almost a quarter reporting they feel more connected to coworkers (24 percent) and have a more positive view of them (23 percent), a small but significant number of employees reported a more negative view of coworkers, and said they feel more isolated from them, perceive more workplace hostility and that team cohesiveness has suffered (13 percent each).
  • As a result of political discussions at work this election season, at least 1 in 10 working Americans said they have felt tense or stressed out (17 percent), have been more cynical and negative at work (15 percent), have had more difficulty getting work done (10 percent), have been less productive at work (13 percent) and that their work quality has suffered (10 percent).
  • Men were more than twice as likely as women to have said they regularly discuss politics with coworkers (28 percent vs. 13 percent). Similarly, almost twice as many men reported feeling isolated from their coworkers because of political discussions (16 percent vs. 9 percent) and 18 percent said workplace hostility has increased (vs. 8 percent of women).
  • Compared to women, more than twice as many men reported that they have had more difficulty getting work done (13 percent vs. 6 percent), that their work quality had suffered (14 percent vs. 5 percent) and that they had been less productive at work (18 percent vs. 7 percent) as a result of political discussions at work this election season.
  • For younger workers (ages 18-34), 28 percent said political discussions at work have made them feel stressed out; 23 percent reported feeling more isolated from their coworkers; and 25 percent said workplace hostility has increased. Almost 1 in 5 younger workers (18 percent) reported having an argument with a coworker about politics.
  • More than 1 in 4 younger employees (ages 18-34) said they have a more negative view of coworkers as a result of political discussions at work (26 percent), and that they avoid some coworkers because of their political views (28 percent).
  •  Compared to older generations, younger workers (ages 18-34) were more likely to have reported that political talk has negatively affected their work performance, with almost a quarter saying they have been less productive (24 percent), 21 percent citing a decline in work quality and 19 percent reporting having difficulty getting their work done.

There’s more. . . Continue reading

Headline of the day: A coup’s purpose clarified


From teleSUR English:

Privatizing the Commons: Brazil to Auction off Infrastructure

  • The privatization scheme will sell or concession airports and hydroelectric, mining, oil, and other infrastructure projects across the country.
  • Brazil’s unelected President Michel Temer announced Tuesday a new phase of the government’s controversial privatization agenda with plans to auction off 32 major resource and infrastructure projects in the name of boosting private sector investment.

New studies reveal extent of corporate power grab


Corporations have replaced nation-state’s as the globes real sources of power. But unlike governments, which are nominally responsible to their citizens, corporations answer to nothing other than the bottom line.

While governments, at least in theory, evaluate their success by the extent to which they meet the needs of the public for security and survival, corporations see those same citizens as simply resources to be mind for profit.

The measures corporations take to extract that wealth aren’t limited by the need to ensure the well being of the public. Indeed, the only limits on their avarice are imposed by the governments they increasingly control both by their capture of the electoral process and their ability to demand those governments implement international agreements ceding state sorverignty to corporate boards.

Two new studies point to the success of the corporate agenda, first in capturing global wealth, and, second, in seizing the instruments of state used to monitor and control the citizenry.

The corporate capture of global wealth

First, from Global Justice Now, a report on the dramatic rise of corporate financial power, a power that exceeds that of the world’s nation states:

10 biggest corporations make more money than most countries in the world combined

  • 69 of top 100 economic entities are corporations not countries
  • Walmart, Apple, Shell richer than Russia, Belgium, Sweden
  • British government told: stop supporting your corporations, support your people

Corporations have increased their wealth vis-à-vis countries according to new figures released by Global Justice Now. The campaign group found that 69 of the world’s top economic entities are corporations rather than countries in 2015*. They also discovered that the world’s top 10 corporations – a list that includes Walmart, Shell and Apple – have a combined revenue of more than the 180 ‘poorest’ countries combined in the list which include Ireland, Indonesia, Israel, Colombia, Greece, South Africa, Iraq and Vietnam.

The figures are worse than last year, when 63 of the top economic entities were corporations. When looking at the top 200 economic entities, the figures are even more extreme, with 153 being corporations.

Global Justice Now released the figures in order to increase pressure on the British government ahead of a UN working group, led by Ecuador, established to draw up a binding treaty to ensure transnational corporations abide by the full range of human rights responsibilities. Campaigners are calling for the treaty to be legally enforceable at a national and global level. Britain doesn’t support the process, and has repeatedly vetoed and opposed such proposal in the past.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:

“The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world’s problems – like inequality and climate change. The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. These figures show the problem is getting worse.

Corporations captures government’s secret functions

And the second instance of the corporate seizure of government power, this time focusing on the power to set the most secret agendas of the exercise of power in the secret exercise of power and the ability to invade the most intimate areas of privacy.

From an enlightening essay by veteran journalist Tim Shorrock for The Nation:

The recent integration of two military contractors into a $10 billion behemoth is the latest in a wave of mergers and acquisitions that have transformed America’s privatized, high-tech intelligence system into what looks like an old-fashioned monopoly.

In August, Leidos Holdings, a major contractor for the Pentagon and the National Security Agency, completed a long-planned merger with the Information Systems & Global Solutions division of Lockheed Martin, the global military giant. The 8,000 operatives employed by the new company do everything from analyzing signals for the NSA to tracking down suspected enemy fighters for US Special Forces in the Middle East and Africa.

>snip<

Leidos is now the largest of five corporations that together employ nearly 80 percent of the private-sector employees contracted to work for US spy and surveillance agencies.

This is incredibly risky for a country so dependent on intelligence to fight global wars and prevent domestic attacks.

Yes, that’s 80 percent. For the first time since spy agencies began outsourcing their core analytic and operational work in the late 1990s, the bulk of the contracted work goes to a handful of companies: Leidos, Booz Allen Hamilton, CSRA, SAIC, and CACI International. This concentration of “pure plays”—a Wall Street term for companies that makes one product for a single market—marks a fundamental shift in an industry that was once a highly diverse mix of large military contractors, small and medium technology companies, and tiny “Beltway Bandits” surrounding Washington, D.C.

[T]hese developments are incredibly risky for a country more dependent than ever on intelligence to fight global wars and prevent domestic attacks. “The problem with just five companies providing the lion’s share of contractors is that the client, the U.S. government, won’t have much alternative when a company screws up,” says David Isenberg, the author of Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq.

Moreover, the fact that much of this privatized work is top secret—and is generally underreported in the press—undermines the accountability and transparency of our spy agencies. That should deeply concern the American public.

What’s the source of that power?

We close with a quote from a 20 April 2015 essay or Harper’s by New America Foundation scholar Lee Drutman:

Something is out of balance in Washington. Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures—more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.18 billion) and Senate ($860 million). It’s a gap that has been widening since corporate lobbying began to regularly exceed the combined House-Senate budget in the early 2000s.

Today, the biggest companies have upwards of 100 lobbyists representing them, allowing them to be everywhere, all the time. For every dollar spent on lobbying by labor unions and public-interest groups together, large corporations and their associations now spend $34. Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying, 95 consistently represent business.

Add in the disastrous corporate agenda set by the U.S. Supreme Court and we are looking at nothing less than a de facto and de jure coup in the most powerful nation the planet has ever seen.

The only question is whether or not it will take a second American revolution to restore the balance we have lost.

Headline of the day: Corporate idiocy on the march


From BBC News:

Warner Brothers reports own site as illegal

  • Film studio Warner Brothers has asked Google to remove its own website from search results, saying it violates copyright laws.
  • It also asked the search giant to remove links to legitimate movie streaming websites run by Amazon and Sky, as well as the film database IMDB. 
  • The request was submitted on behalf of Warner Brothers by Vobile, a company that files hundreds of thousands of takedown requests every month.

John Oliver tackles, destroys charter schools


Charter schools, those private institutions so beloved by Republicans, have been judged and the results are mixed.

One recent study [open source] concluded:

We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings.. . .Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings.  In contrast, high school graduation effects are predictive of earnings effects throughout the distribution of school quality.

More on the study from Education Week:

Texas charter schools on average have a negative effect on students’ future earnings, according to a new working paper by two economists.

Although attending a “no excuse” charter school, which the study describes as having stricter rules, uniforms, and longer school days and years, leads to higher test scores and four-year college enrollment, it has no meaningful effect on earnings.

Other types of charter schools, however, stumble on all three measures: hurting test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings.

These findings are almost the opposite of another study of Florida charter school students released in April from Mathematica Policy Research. It found that attending a charter school had little impact on test scores, but students went on to earn higher salaries than their peers in district schools.

Enough with the prefacing, and one with the show.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Charter Schools: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Program notes:

Charter schools are privately run, publicly funded, and irregularly regulated. John Oliver explores why they aren’t at all like pizzerias.

Chart of the day: Gender, ethnic pay divides


From the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, average hourly pay figures for American workers:

BLOG Pay

More from the Center:

At the bottom of the distribution, low-wage workers from different demographic backgrounds have relatively similar wages. Low-wage Latinas and African American women earn the least ($8.14 and $8.15 per hour, respectively), while low-wage white men earn the most ($10.00). This clustering of wages at the bottom is likely a result of current federal and state minimum wage policies, which legally mandate employees to be paid at least $7.25 per hour (or more, in many states).

For workers in the middle range of each demographic group, the gender gap is bigger. Median-wage Latinas and African American women are the lowest-wage recipients, earning $12.65 and $14.25 per hour, respectively. In contrast, white men earn the highest median wages, making $21.79. At the top, where the gap is largest, the lowest wages are $28.83 (Latinas) and $32.50 (African American women), while the highest wage is $50.54 (white men), a difference of more than $20.00. The spreading out at the top reflects discrimination across both gender and race.

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