Category Archives: Social values

Can Voter Choice Technology Succeed Where Arab Spring Failed?

Yves here. As much as technology offers great promise as a way to create new routes for organizing, consensus-building, and decision-making, I’m not optimistic about the prospects for democracy in societies with no democratic traditions. Nevertheless, voter choice technology does seem more promising and lower cost than US adventurism as a way to try to build democratic muscles in the Middle East.

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Big Data Is Watching You (at Work)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente. There’s been some admiring coverage in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere of UPS’s Orion system of algorithmic route selection (driver reactions), but not much discussion of how electronic monitoring structures the UPS driver’s entire working day (or what we “professional” types are wont to call our “workflow”). A recent […]

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Ilargi: Warren Buffett is Everything That’s Wrong With America

I’m sure readers can add to this antidote to the pervasive Warren Buffett hagiography in American media. For instance, Buffett lavishes praise on the executives of Wells Fargo, when Wells engages in abusive servicing (see here and here for examples). So Buffett is part of the cohort that has held bank leaders as competent and deserving of their leadership roles, which serves to hide the fact that a big chunk of industry profits rests on predatory behavior, like gotcha terms in checking accounts and credit cards.

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Bill Black: The Homophobic Law and the Indiana Governor Who Dares Not Speak Its Purpose

Since we ran a post yesterday on Indiana’s anti-gay law that is pretending not to be one, I thought that was plenty on this topic. However, when Bill Black sent me his brief legal analysis of the bill, I changed my mind. This legislation is a remarkably nasty piece of work. The trick is that the “religious” ground do not have to hew to any organized religion, giving the business owner or manager the right to claim any pet bias as part of his religion. If nothing else, it’s instructive to see how innocuous-seeming language can be anything but.

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Rajiv Sethi: Store Stickers and Indiana’s Law – A Separating Equilibrium

The intent of the “open for everyone” stickers is presumably to signal protest against the law. It’s telling that they appear to be springing up quickly in the face of a barrage of negative national press coverage as well as social media criticism.  Most retailers have thin margins, which means all things being equal, their margins are best served by not annoying possible shoppers. So one would assume rectitude on this issue would be the wisest commercial decision. Thus, aside from those owners who favor gay rights, the reaction also appears to signal where many store owners think their community’s opinion lies, as in fence sitting is more costly than saying they aren’t on the side of the new law (or what it might mean in a worst-case scenario). In other words, are we seeing that the heartlands are more liberal than the religious bloc (which punches above its weight politically due to its effectiveness in getting out the vote) would have the public believe?

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The Retirement Crisis

This interview, with Teresa Ghilarducci, who the Wall Street Journal called “the most dangerous woman in America,” discusses how and why pensions are under stress, and what can be done to fix them. While she agrees that the retirement crisis is real, she also argues that it is eminently fixable, particularly since there really is no free lunch. The alternative, of widespread poverty among the aged, also imposes costs on government and society.

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Tom Engelhardt: The New American Order: 1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of “We the People”

Based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

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Who Owns the Post Office?

This article describes how the creation of a misguided corporatized governance structure and undermining of public-interest-related objectives undermined the Post Office. The very fact that offices are being shuttered in rural areas that depend on the Post Office as a local anchor, leading to the death of communities, shows how far the modern Post Office deviates from its founders’ objectives.

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