We the Corporations

So now corporations now have the same rights as people. Insulated, of course, from the pesky liabilities to which we mere mortals are exposed.

Welcome to the United States of Exxon Mobile. The United States of Merck. The United States of Haliburton, Bechtel, and Blackwater. The United States of Goldman Sachs.  Where your government is brought to you be these fine sponsors.

Olbermann sums it up with customary eloquence:

Although he is assuming here that the Obama administration wasn’t already, to a large extent, purchased. We’ll see just how far the President’s strong words carry.

In Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore exposes the American plutonomy.  Leaked Citigroup documents outlined in the film reveal that investment institutions are trending away from the “mass” market and focusing, instead, on the American plutonomy: That top 1% who control an increasingly larger portion of the wealth. Under “Risks — What Could Go Wrong”, the authors argue:

Our whole plutonomy thesis is based on the idea that the rich will keep getting richer. This thesis is not without its risks… [T]he rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash. Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfrachisement remains as was – one person, one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich.

In other words, the greatest risk to the plutonomy, as pointed out by the authors, is democracy. What better way to eliminate this risk than by replacing the democracy with a plutacracy?

Which, over time, last week’s ruling will virtually guarantee.

In Hoodwinked, John Perkins explains this as reverse fascism. Rather than the government nationalizing industry, we are seeing instead the privatization of government. Far more subtle. Far more difficult to fight. Where, in the long term, elections are decided both from the voting booth as well as at the checkout counter.

In the short term, however, there is already a movement to ensure that the freedom of speech is reserved for people; not corporations.

In the very short term, I’d like to find out who owns the five Chief Justices who have sold us out.

Catalog Choice

My father is notoriously difficult to gift. I mean, really.. what do you get for a sixty-five year-old guy who’s owned everything he could possibly need — and then some — for years already? Even when I was a kid he was difficult to shop for, but lately holidays and birthday gift-giving has taken on an almost comical nature. (“Here’s that concealable beer bladder you always wanted, Dad!”) Ah yes, capitalism at it’s finest.

This year, in addition to some ridiculous gifts (the new and improved Clapper Plus came out this year, you see…) I decided to see if I could solve a house-hold problem or two.

In particular, the catalog situation was getting out of control. Some months back I questioned if there wasn’t something we could do about the giant pile of glossy pulp my father had forever mulching under the family’s kitchen counter. We rifled through the pile for ten minutes or so. There were dozens of catalogs; many had been coming for years. Our initial impression was that there was probably no way to stop the ongoing marketing deluge. We sighed and left the glossed pulp to mulch away. But not before my conscience had been sufficiently twinged.

In early December I decided to look around at stopping some of the nonsense. After all, a sixty-five year-old guy probably doesn’t need to be getting catalogs featuring knitting supplies and the world’s cutest kitchen gadgets. (Unless, you know, I’ve been completely misreading Dear-Old-Dad all these years.) If I could at least stop the completely useless catalogs, I reasoned, then maybe my conscience could ignore the larger problem for another year or so.

Trying to figure out how to stop catalogs on a publication-by-publication basis immediately proved to be a nightmare. Catalogs don’t seem to be subject to the same kind of clear “unsubscribe” legislation the way that email marketing services are.

At some point, however, I stumbled upon Catalog Choice, a free service put together in collaboration with The National Wildlife Federation and others. It’s awesome. I was able to use the Catalog Choice centralized unsubscribe service to suspend over over sixty catalogs that had been coming to the old homestead for years. While most of the catalogs warn that it can take over three months for cancellation to fully complete, my father is happy to report an already lighter daily mail load.

And this year, for the first time in quite awhile, I got a truly heartfelt Christmas “thank you”. Which didn’t cost a penny.

Now I wonder if Dad will let me borrow his Clapper.

ntop is not iftop

On a couple of occasions now I have accidentally installed ntop, a web-based “top” clone for network monitoring, when really I want iftop, with it’s libcurses-based command-line goodness. The web thing is cool and all, and I’ve got nothing against it’s suite of dependencies, such as graphvis, however when I’m frantically installing a network visualizer — which generally means that bad shit is going down on some box over which I’ve formally had little control — then I really do need to know what’s happening *right this second*. Hence iftop.

I think iftop used to be called ntop on some distros, which is why I keep mixing them up.