Posts Tagged: corporate state

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The Maker of Vuse E-Cigs Is Lobbying to Ban Vaping (Updated)

The biggest of the big tobacco companies, RJ Reynolds, which also owns the fast-growing e-cig brand Vuse, is trying real hard to convince lawmakers to ban vaping. That might sound ass-backwards, but it isn’t. The firm is almost certainly hoping to stymie the competition by making sure its disposable “cigalikes” pass regulations but the refillable mods you find at your local vape shop don’t.

Reynolds submitted a 119-document to the Food and Drug Administration arguing to ban “open system” vaporizers and flavored products, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. Those are the DIY mods that come with tanks you fill yourself with the e-liquid of your choice. Reynolds is in the process of acquiring Lorillard, the tobacco company that owns the top-selling e-cig brand, Blu eCigs, though as of now doesn’t plan to keep Blu as part of the deal.

The firm argues that there’s no way to safely regulate the liquid people are vaping or ban flavors that arguably appeal to kids. Disposable e-cigs, on the other hand, come pre-loaded so it’s easy for a company to control ingredients and limit flavors.

That’s certainly true, but it’s not the whole story. Outright banning refillable vaporizers would effectively wipe out (or drive underground) an entire booming industry of flavored juices and personalized mods in favor of big tobacco’s inferior products. (Seriously, those nic sticks are gross.) …

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"The way to fight Burger King is to outdo it in terms of agility. If BK’s headquarters can jump national borders, so can labor solidarity movements. Wobbly locals can take direct action in Burger King restaurants in Canada as well as the US. And at the local level, we can build counter-institutions, like low-overhead, home-based micro-restaurants and guerrilla delivery of home-produced food, to combat entry barriers like zoning and licensing that give established restaurants an artificial advantage to conventional incumbents. In so doing, we give ordinary people an opportunity to turn their labor directly into subsistence income outside the wage system, and reduce dependence on fast food’s lousy pay and working conditions."

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Rise of the 'Unholy Alliance' of Libertarians and Leftists

In 2010, Lindsey Graham could see it coming.

"You know what I worry most about?" the Republican Senator from South Carolina told CNN about the growing opposition to the war in Afghanistan. “An unholy alliance between the right and the left.” If the war continued to yield no clear victories for the U.S., libertarian-leaning Republicans who believed it was “impossible for us to win” could join with “people on the left who are mad with the president because he is doing exactly what Bush did and we’re in a war we can’t win.” Such a coalition would pose the gravest threat to the joint war-making project of the Republican and Democratic establishments. “My concern is that, for different reasons, they join forces and we lose the ability to hold this thing together.”

Six months later, progressive icon Ralph Nader saw the potential power of a libertarian-left alliance, too, but welcomed it. Appearing with Ron Paul on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch” show on Fox Business Network in January 2011, Nader issued a manifesto for “a dynamic political force” that would not only stop the war in Afghanistan but radically re-shape American politics. What he called “genuine libertarian conservatives” were “great allies” and together with “many liberals and progressives” could challenge “the bloated, wasteful military budget,” “undeclared wars overseas,” “hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate welfare,” “invasions of our civil liberties and civil rights,” “the sovereignty-shredding, job-destroying NAFTA and World Trade Organization agreements,” and the “completely out-of-control” and unaccountable Federal Reserve System. Nader could also have mentioned the criminalization of drugs, police abuses, and immigration restrictions, which the left and libertarians have fought together against for years. …

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Behind The Veil Part 4: Customer Trying To Cancel Service Is Put On Hold Until Comcast Office Closes

Between trying to negotiate disputed charges with increased levels of internet service, releases of customer retention employee handbooks that are hella damning, and the release of a recordingwith a customer retention rep that alarmed even the most cynical of us, Comcast hasn’t had an easy go of it lately. Two things have become pretty clear as these stories have rolled out to the public. First, thou shalt always record your conversations with Comcast reps (local/stupid two-party consent laws apply) or thou shalt be forever filled with regret. Second, Comcast really needs to change the way its customer service reps handle calls. 

And perhaps now we’re seeing evidence that a change has indeed been implemented. Though, the process of simply putting cancelling customers on hold until the office closes probably won’t win Comcast any brownie points.

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Who rules America?

"The public be damned!"
— William H. Vanderbilt, railroad magnate, 1882 

A shattering new study by two political science professors has found that ordinary Americans have virtually no impact whatsoever on the making of national policy in our country. The analysts found that rich individuals and business-controlled interest groups largely shape policy outcomes in the United States.

This study should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans who are bypassed by their government. To reclaim the promise of American democracy, ordinary citizens must act positively to change the relationship between the people and our government.

The new study, with the jaw-clenching title of “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” is forthcoming in the fall 2014 edition of Perspectives on Politics. Its authors, Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, examined survey data on 1,779 national policy issues for which they could gauge the preferences of average citizens, economic elites, mass-based interest groups and business-dominated interest groups. They used statistical methods to determine the influence of each of these four groups on policy outcomes, including both policies that are adopted and rejected.

The analysts found that when controlling for the power of economic elites and organized interest groups, the influence of ordinary Americans registers at a “non-significant, near-zero level.” The analysts further discovered that rich individuals and business-dominated interest groups dominate the policymaking process. The mass-based interest groups had minimal influence compared to the business-based interest groups. …

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"From all sides, São Paulo dwellers are faced with attempts to restrict their movement and artificially inflate costs of transportation. The government and the bus racket work together to extract the maximum rent from the individual and cripple their ability to move around."

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"Since their beginnings, the USDA and state departments of agriculture have both heavily subsidized and acted as the enforcement arm of the corporate agribusiness crime syndicate, terrorizing people who presume to feed themselves without paying tribute to their corporate crime lords. If, as the later Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler said, the US Marines were the overseas strongarm operation for the big US banks, then the USDA and Pennsylvania DA are a strongarm operation for Monsanto, Cargill and ADM."

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Man ejected from Southwest flight for tweeting that a gate agent was rude

A Minnesota man was ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight for a tweet calling a gate agent rude,reported CBS Minnesota Wednesday. After tweeting, the man was removed from the plane and stated he was “forced” to delete the tweet before he could re-board.

Duff Watson is an “A-list” passenger with Southwest, which gives him priority boarding. Watson was miffed when the agent in question told him his two children couldn’t board the plane as priority passengers with him, and Watson let her know that Twitter would, in fact, be hearing about this.

"Something to the effect of ‘Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA,’" is how Watson summarized the tweet to CBS. The family eventually boarded the plane, but according to Watson’s daughter, Lucy, the agent threatened to call the cops over the tweet. Watson relayed that the agent said her safety felt threatened.

Southwest apologized in an e-mail to Watson, gifting him and his two children $50 vouchers. Watson tells CBS he won’t be flying on Southwest again.

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Contract Feudalism

What is “ Contract Feudalism” ?

Elizabeth Anderson recently coined the term “contract feudalism” to describe the increasing power of employers over employees’ lives outside the workplace.

According to Anderson, one of the benefits that the worker traditionally received in return for his submission to the bosses’ authority on the job was sovereignty over the rest of his life in the “ real world” outside of work.  Under the terms of this Taylorist bargain, the worker surrendered his sense of craftsmanship and control over his own work in return for the right to express his “ real” personality through consumption in the part of his life  that still belonged to him. This bargain assumed,

the separation of work from the home. However arbitrary and abusive the boss may have been on the factory floor, when work was over the workers could at least escape his tyranny… [T]he separation of work from home made a big difference to workers’ liberty from their employers’ wills.[1]

Wage labor, traditionally, has involved a devil’s bargain in which you “ sell your life in order to live” : you cut off the eight or twelve hours you spend at work and flush them down the toilet, in order to get the money you need  to support your real life in the real world, where you’re treated like an adult human being. And out in the real world, where your judgment and values actually matter, you try to pretend that that other hellhole doesn’t exist.

At the same time, Anderson points out, this separation of work from home depends entirely on the relative bargaining power of labor for its enforcement. (I’ll return to this, the central issue, later on.) …