Friday, January 24, 2014

"Leadership" Is The Answer To Everything (or maybe not)

The Atlantic posted an interesting piece about the obsessive focus on "Leadership" at colleges and universities. As a talisman, a holy grail, the one true quality sought in all applicants and sold in brochures and seminars.

My feeling about this? (Thanks for asking.)

I think colleges' obsession with "leadership" has a lot to do with the class of people colleges cultivate for cash donations. At some point the accumulated advantages enjoyed by fewer and fewer people shift respect into reverence and then worship.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Corporations Became People (Or Did They?)

A brief clear video summary first.

What’s interesting is that the crucial decision in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific never stated that the corporation was a person entitled to rights of personhood.

How it became the invalid cornerstone for every corporate personhood claim since is a mystery. Either the judge erred and prejudged the case or the clerk assigned to summarize the decision invented corporate personhood. Was he in the employ of the railroad? This excellent article about the case sorts out the case and finds nothing written in the decision supporting corporate personhood, an issue that wasn’t even properly argued. Was this creation of corporate “persons” done out of bias or error or conflict of interest?

The point is all the subsequent law saying that corporations are persons is based upon a fiction. And corporations have become "super persons" as a result, with rights larger than other citizens. Despite the fact they cannot be jailed, cannot be poisoned by their malfeasance or that of other corporate “persons”, cannot be killed except by their own hand, and are granted extraordinary methods of evading the obligations and hazards that living, breathing persons cannot evade. Today they represent a special class of protected super persons, more powerful than the rest of us and held to fewer obligations. A class virtually above the law. A class, as we see in the case of their proxies in the lobbying group ALEC, that writes the laws the rest of us must live under.

And the point is it was never made law by the Constitution or by Congress or by the courts. Is it possible to undo something that was never done in the first place?

One thing we can do is amend the Constitution. Join the movement. Join and right this wrong.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 03, 2014

Rich Vs. Poor

Keep the poor busy trying to stay alive and they don’t have time to keep you from robbing them.

Here's an interesting NPR story about this syndrome. It's real and has become the dominant living model in the U.S. Poverty makes us easier to impoverish.

This is why people who need help to stay alive are asked to jump through hoops and pee into cups. Workers who see the many who are worse off are far too busy keeping their bosses happy to consider asking for more. It’s too risky and who has the time?

And what do the rich get out of it? Unhappiness they can’t buy a cure for. Scientists have been studying this. All these unhappy rich folks have is the satisfaction of knowing they’ve made thousands or millions of others more miserable than they are.

Silly, isn’t it? It’s worrisome that the most powerful individuals in our society are irrational. Perhaps insane. Maybe even dangerous.

There is a rhetorical device called reductio ad absurdum. Taking the idea to its absurd limits. Just for the sake of argument. Or for shutting argument off.

One person making more in five minutes than his average worker makes in a year? That is absurd, but it’s become commonplace. And it isn’t enough for the person who’s making more in a day than his secretary will earn in a lifetime. He wants more. He earns a decent annual income on one visit to the bathroom. His workers have to punch out to use the bathroom. His retirement package will probably include free dry cleaning for life and lifetime use of an office boy for whatever he likes office boys to be used for. Firewood perhaps.

When money or power or validity is reduced to absurd levels in the large masses of people and increased to absurd levels in a handful of lucky ones at the top, absurd things happen. Things are bad now, but they could get worse. Most of us are worthless, in the current valuation, and a few people who own sweatshop factories and are able to get the taxpayer to feed their workers for them are gods. Absurd.

Then anything becomes possible. When your lords and masters can do what they wish with you, you need to worry about what they are wishing for. Especially because power and wealth makes people insane. Consider what people tell us about the supreme ruler of North Korea. This story may not be true, but, as the Daily Telegraph says, impossible things are happening all the time.

Labels: , , , , , ,