From Pine View Farm

Mammon category archive

The Entitlement Society 0

Thom’s guest, Vicky Ward, argues that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are no Ken and Barbie.

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All that Was Old Is New Again 0

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Robert Reich argues that the new Gilded Age needs a new trust-buster. A snippet:

America’s first Gilded Age began in the late 19th century with a raft of innovations — railroads, steel production, oil extraction — but culminated in mammoth trusts run by “robber barons” such as J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and William H. (“The public be damned!”) Vanderbilt.

The answer then was to bust up the railroad, oil and steel monopolies.

We’re now in a second Gilded Age — ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet — that has spawned a handful of high-tech behemoths and a new set of barons such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

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Facebook Frolics 0

No news is no news.

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It’s the American Way 0

Tony Norman looks at the college admission cheating scandal and argues that, once you look past the patriotic propaganda, cheating is woven into the fabric of America. Here’s a nugget:

The colonists cheated the Native peoples out of their land and then killed them when they rebelled against the lopsided arrangements. Africans were brought here in chains and their descendants were cheated of the fruits of their backbreaking labor even though the country become rich from their blood, sweat and suffering.

We’re even cheating the future by saddling coming generations of Americans with trillions of dollars of debt to finance obscene tax cuts for the wealthy. Our descendants will also inherit a much-degraded environment because the political party most devoted to protecting the interests of the rich doesn’t believe in climate science.

More at the link.

Read more »

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Meritocracy 0

Rich folks standing around chatting at cocktail party.  One asks,

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Ed over at Gin and Tacos, who is an academician, expects any efforts to prevent another such scandal will yield more bureaucracy without positive results. Here’s a bit from his piece:

The college admissions process will never be meritocratic. There’s just too many variables, too many incentives for universities to do things for the wrong reason, and too much disagreement about what even constitutes “merit” or “fairness” for anything approaching either term to exist.

(snip)

I’m not saying it isn’t worth it to strive toward fairness and equality, but given the systems in place in this country we are so ludicrously far from either that we’re flat-out lying to kids by telling them anything is either fair or equal.

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The Privatization Scam, Chartering a Course for Disaster Dept. 0

The Arizona Republic’s Laurie Roberts comments on a recent charter school “reform” bill in the Arizona state legislature. A snippet:

. . . SB 1394 won’t do much of anything to stop operators from treating taxpayer-funded charter schools like cash cows.

Follow the link for more.

Aside:

Charter schools were a con from the git-go.

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“The Rich Are Different from You and Me” 0

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The Payola of the Privileged 0

I am not surprised at the college admissions cheating indictments, particularly as they involve ersatz athletes and corrupt coaches. The corruption of college athletics has been obvious to anyone who would look for a long long time. It is why I can no longer enjoy watching college football games on New Year’s Day.

At the core of the scandal is the fear of powerful, wealthy, privileged persons that their privilege was not enough to get them what they felt they or their children were due simply because of who they were, so they decided that their privilege included the right to cheat.

At The Sacramento Bee, Marcos Breton writes a powerful essay that highlights the other side of this coin: persons who are accused of being undeserving because of the spelling of their last name or the color of their skin, those whom the jealous privileged accuse of being “tokens.”

Here’s a bit:

If your parents were from Mexico like mine, then this was the drill: Your place in college was secured by tokenism. Or so you were told by “friends.” And when you were hired for your chosen field, as I was hired by the San Jose Mercury News and then The Bee, then you were a “minority hire.” Or so you were told by “friends.”

I struggle to express the hole these indignities burned in me when I was naive and young and unaware of the social, political and cultural upheaval caused by the integration of white collar jobs and universities, a process that began before I came of age in the 1980s, but was in full backlash mode when I cluelessly took my place in the line of American opportunity.

Read it.

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Facebook Frolics 0

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced efforts to clean up Facebook’s act.

The AP’s Frank Bajak urges us to take that announcement with several pounds of salt. He suggests that it’s Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes for a shifting strategy from the Zuckerborg for assimilating its victims users. Here’s a bit from his report:

. . . critics say the announcement obscures Facebook’s deeper motivations: To expand lucrative new commercial services, continue monopolizing the attention of users, develop new data sources to track people and frustrate regulators who might be eyeing a breakup of the social-media behemoth.

Facebook “wants to be the operating system of our lives,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, director of media studies at the University of Virginia.

Aside:

When have any of Facebook’s promises to stop misbehaving come to pass?

Mark Zuckerberg is the Eddie Haskell of Silicon Valley.

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The Art of the Con 0

Frank Bruni.

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Playing Tagged 0

Mark Zuckerberg steering a ship named Facebook with a fishing net full of faces tagged by

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Yeah.

Right.

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The Secret Ingredient 0

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A Tilted Playing Field 0

Title:  Donald J. Quixote.  Image:  Donald Trump as knight on horse looking at wind energy windmills labeled

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Profligate Proliferation 0

Nicholas Kristof looks at the effort on the part of Donald Trump and, in particular, Jared Kushner, to supply Saudi Arabia with nuclear reactors capable of use in creating nuclear weapons. He cuts to the quick (emphasis in the original):

Trump may be vigilant (destructively so) about Iran’s nuclear plants, but in the Saudi case his response seems to be: There’s money to be made! When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised objections to the transfer last year, Axios reported, “Trump and his advisers told Netanyahu that, if the U.S. does not sell the Saudis nuclear reactors, other countries like Russia or France will.”

Trump seems to believe that the Saudis have us over a barrel: If we don’t help them with nuclear technology, someone else will. That misunderstands the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The Saudis depend on us for their security, and the blunt truth is that we hold all the cards in this relationship, not them.

Follow the link for the entire article.

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Beyond Beneath Right and Wrong 0

Bruce Lowry considers Donald Trump’s recent remarks about the death of Otto Warmbier and earlier remarks about the murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi Arab expatriot Jamal Khashoggi.

He reaches a chilling and quite unsurprising conclusion.

I do not wish to summarize or excerpt his article. Just follow the link to read it.

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Twits on Twitter 0

Musky twits.

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Cashing Out 0

Signe comments on Amazon’s attempt to foist cashless stores on Philadelphia.

Title:  Cashless Store Currency.  Image:  Dollar bill bearing Jeff Bezos's face and headed

Click for the original image and commentary.

Aside:

I see persons using cards and, these days, phones, for all sorts of tiny purchases, as tiny as a cup of coffee or a pack of gum.

I always wonder how the heck they keep track of them.

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There’s in-App for That 0

Farron and Scott Hardy discuss the “in app” phish.

Aside:

When we went out for breakfast Sunday morning, we saw a kid, maybe about six or eight, wearing a “Fortnite” tee-shirt. Wonder if he’s been suckered?

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Protected Fee-Fees 0

Sam marvels at the concern certain members of the media have for protecting the delicate fee-fees of the very rich.

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The Pusher Men and the Immunity System 0

Transcript here.

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