Resources

I saw a real change in this country when they changed the name from “Personnel Department” to “Human Resources.”

That’s when we changed from being “persons” to be respected to “resources” to be exploited and discarded.

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People

“Corporations are not people.  People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance.  They live, they love, and they die.  And that matters.  That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.”  ~Sen. Elizabeth Warren (via)

I would argue that we’ve morphed into an oligarchy run by and for the corporations, that we don’t run it at all.

But it’s nice to be reminded of how things could have been.

Class and Warfare

When the Second World War broke out, the British government commissioned W. Somerset Maugham  (who was then living in France) to interview military officials, politicians, and the general public to asses their moral and abilities.

France fell much quicker than anyone expected, and Maugham was on one of the last boats out.  When he got back to England he published a short autobiography covering the short time before and during the fall, and included his own thoughts on why the end came so suddenly.

He put a lot of the blame on a demoralized working class and an intransigent leisure class.

Below are excerpts transcribed from Strictly Personal by W. Somerset Maugham, ©1940:

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“Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.”  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Bees

“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.”  ~Pavan Sukhdev, author of UN report The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – October 2010

I found this quote on one of my favorite blogs,  Jules of Nature, and if you’re unfamiliar with it then you’re in for a treat.

This also seems like a good time to plug one of my favorite organizations, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which (among other things) works on behalf of bees.

Joe

One of Dick Clark’s dirty little secrets was that if you wanted to be on American Bandstand, you’d had to sign away half of your music rights to him.  Half.

You couldn’t go to a competitor.  There wasn’t one.  He was the only game in town, and if you were a young musician who wanted a chance at the brass ring, you had to play by his rules.

For some people it worked- the exposure did launch them to the upper tiers.  For most artists, though, they had signed away the rights to the only hit they’d ever have, the only money they’d ever make.

He new exactly what he was doing.

Now Google, the owner of YouTube, is doing the same thing.  They’re starting a new “subscription service”- that means you’ll pay money for what you used to get for free- and are kicking off any independent artists who won’t sign their draconian contracts.

There’s no competitor to go to, and the end of net neutrality means there never will be.  Do you want a chance at the Big Leagues, young buck?  Sign on the dotted line.

You get to be famous, I get to be rich.