Economic Populist

Hobby Lobby Corporation Speaks Out Against Human Owners

While attempting to reach the owners of the Hobby Lobby corporation for comment, an attempt that proved ultimately fruitless, your reporter was fortunate to be brought into contact with the person whose religious beliefs were the subject of the suit, the Hobby Lobby Corporation itself.

And Hobby Lobby Corporation is quite furious about the decision, and I quote, "I and I know dat I and I owners be some mad fundies, but I and I Rastafarian, wit de blessing of Haile Selassie the Lion of Judah. De bodies of all of dem my sistas, fyi paid from I and I accounts or no, are holy temples given to their care under the divine guidance directly down from De Almighty. It is a Desecration to dem holy charge for dose mad fundies to interfere so boldly wit dem holy charge. Fyi dose mad fundies what own I and I want to use dem own religion, dem should use dem own bank account and expose dem fully to Babylon fi liyability and widdout limit. Dem outrageous holding I and I in bonded servitude, but fyi dose made fundies use I and I fyi dat distortion of De Almighty holy word truly Sacrilegious."

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What It Takes for Crunchyroll to Satisfy Bootleg Consumers

Adventures in a New Media Economy

I've written before about streaming video and legal distribution in niche media market ... though not quite so repeatedly about trains & sustainable energy, to be sure ... most recently in New Media Economy, Supporting Lesbian Works & Crowdfunding Classic Yuri Anime, 29 October of last year.

And I should note with respect to that topic, the Dear Brother series was fully crowdfunded in three box sets, so while Anime Sols is focusing on finishing up the releases before starting new Crowdfunding projects, it did in fact prove to be a successful approach to getting a legit release of what would otherwise have been an economically unviable title.

But that's not the topic this time around. To find out what the topic this time around happens to be, join the adventurous souls who keep on reading below the fold.

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Economic Populist: Orwell's Catastrophic Gradualism and 0.1% Apologetic

My attention was just brought to this essay by George Orwell (h/t geomoo, "Catastrophic Gradualism".

The essay is reflecting upon a reaction to the work of Arthur Koestler by Mr. Kingsley Martin, but before launching into that exchange, Orwell lays the foundation for what he means by "Catastrophic Gradualism":

At present this theory is most often used to justify the Stalin regime in the USSR, but it obviously could be—and, given appropriate circumstances, would be—used to justify other forms of totalitarianism. It has gained ground as a result of the failure of the Russian Revolution—failure, that is, in the sense that the Revolution has not fulfilled the hopes that it aroused twenty-five years ago. In the name of Socialism the Russian regime has committed almost every crime that can be imagined, but at the same time its evolution is away from Socialism, unless one re-defines that word in terms that no Socialist of 1917 would have accepted. To those who admit these facts, only two courses are open. One is simply to repudiate the whole theory of totalitarianism, which few English intellectuals have the courage to do: the other is to fall back on Catastrophic Gradualism. The formula usually employed is “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” And if one replies, “Yes, but where is the omelette?”, the answer is likely to be: “Oh well, you can’t expect everything to happen all in a moment.”

For someone of my generation, on the trailing edge of the Baby Boomers or the leading edge of Generation X (and those kinds of boundaries are intrinsically ambiguous because generational cohorts are defined by their core rather than by their boundaries), the first reaction is that visiting the past is visiting a different country. Imagining a time and place when such arguments would be used to defend Stalin's Soviet Union is a bit mind boggling. But then, using the essay as a prism to look back with fresh eyes to the current time and place ... maybe not so mind boggling after all.

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Another type of proposal for educational reform

Preface

This diary is not one of those calls for reform that argues that "the schools have failed" and advocates more and harder work for all parties -- that sort of reform was rebutted admirably in a (1996) book titled "The Manufactured Crisis" by David C. Berliner and Bruce J. Biddle. Berliner and Biddle show that the schools do well at what they do and that their main problem is that some of their students are materially disadvantaged, a theme which I will discuss in detail below.

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Economic Populist: The Health Care Exchanges & Plan A Health Care Reform

Private health insurance is an entirely unnecessary economic institution, whether a health care system is organized around public, co-operative, sole proprietary, private partnership, corporate not-for-profit or corporate for-profit provision of the health care services themselves. Therefore, the profits associated with private health insurance are a legacy rent extracted by private health insurers, protected by the backward-looking nature of our economic institutions, and the least justifiable of the institutional overheads that we pile on top of the necessary costs of providing health insurance.

The purpose of an economic subsystem is to provide material support to the social system that contains it. We are social animals sharing a common humanity, and making the quality of access to medical care for different members of our society depend upon the size of income flows and wealth balances they can tap into betrays a fundamentally perverse set of priorities. Before our society allocates resources to production of luxuries for a wealthy few, or even the production of luxuries for an adequately well-off many, it should allocate resources to meet the Basic Needs of all.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) quite deliberately attempted to solve as few of the institutional problems as feasible among the many that we in the US face in ensuring access to, provision of, and quality of our basic need of medical care, while still hoping to possibly delay or stave off the collapse of our system for financing health care services that was already in progress by 2009.

Therefore, even if the ACA succeeds in staving off that collapse, we are left with a health care system that needs further reform. And if the ACA merely succeeds in delaying that collapse, then that simply increases the urgency and necessity of solving additional institutional problems.

Thus the fundamental issue that the ACA faces. The fundamental issue is not the functioning of the web site for signing up for coverage. It is not the deliberate monkey-wrenching of our already thoroughly corrupted political system as a side-show to try to game the new system for maximum short-term profits (even at the risk of returning system of finance of health to its path of ongoing collapse). It is that even if the ACA "succeeds", it succeeds in such in a reform with such limited ambitions that it inevitably requires much more to be done.

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Morning Reads: Living Wage Movement Spreading Like Wildfire

This in from Bill Moyers & Company's Morning Reads for 2 December, 2013:

Growing movement –> Following Black Friday protests last week, fast food workers seeking $15 per hour will stage one-day strikes in 100 cities this Thursday. Stephen Greenhouse reports for the NYT. ALSO: RJ Eskow writes at Campaign for America’s Future that the fight for a living wage may be creating a broader social movement. AND: Goldy reports for The Stranger that Seattle will be ground zero in the fight for $15 per hour this year, either through the legislature or at the ballot box. AND: U of M economist Arindrajit Dube on why it makes good economic sense to raise the wage floor.

That's all ~ nothing below the fold but room to comment

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Will climate change saints save the Earth?

In writing my last diary on climate change, I was advised that "if you're not working on solutions you're just spinning wheels." I am not going to name the author of this comment -- this is not a call-out diary. But I will say that it is indeed important that we continue our work on climate change. Protests should continue, publicity needs to continue, and we should continue to sway the public and the political class.

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Economic Populist: A Gerrymander-Free Ohio State Senate

It is something of a cottage industry at the moment to explain "why" gerrymandering is not responsible for the extremism of the Republican party. Take, for example, Nate Cohn at the New Republic, explaining

In fact, partisan gerrymandering usually reduces the number of extremely red districts. Why? Because the point of partisan gerrymandering isn’t to try and maximize the number of safe districts. The goal is to maximize the number of districts that are merely safe enough by packing as many of your opponents' voters as you can into a small number of extremely partisan districts while safely distributing the rest throughout your own districts. In this way, gerrymandering may actually increase the number of moderate Republicans.

Of course, the argument is overblown. The primary electorate is, on balance, more extreme than the typical general election Republican voter, the check on that extremism dominating the Republican caucus elected to Congress is the ability of their opposition to take advantage of that extremism to win election against the partisan bias of the district. And in districts with an 8%+ partisan lean, it is it is difficul to recruit effective Democratic candidates. Without effective Democratic candidates, there is much less filtering of the extremism of the Republican primary base electorate.

As noted in The Gerrymander & Wave Election Floodplains, the gerrymander in Ohio created eight 8% Romney districts, so 2/3 of Ohio's contribution to the House Republican Caucus comes from these safe districts.

However, more to the point, Nate Cohn is arguing over secondary impacts of the gerrymander, when the principle impact is given a nod and then forgotten:

Gerrymandering is undemocratic, and it did help consolidate the GOP’s House majority in 2012

We a political party in charge of the House with a majority of the Representatives depsite a minority of the vote due to the gerrymander. This is anti-democratic.

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