Category Archives: crapitalism

If You Can’t Do Your Job Well, Work For Forbes

crapitalism Leave a reply

Every so often, a sponsored Forbes post will pop up in my facebook feed, and it’s usually just some crappy clickbait title with some bullshit advice that only someone with a business degree would be tricked into thinking it’s useful.

But the latest one is just amazing. It’s the same old Buzzfeed-bullshit, where you have to click through 10 pages in order to see 10 short sentences (and generate 10-pages-worth of advertisement impressions….), but the author just lets the cat out of the bag on page 1:

“Readers have admonished me for failing to research each profession, but to do that properly, I’d need weeks if not months of reporting. I’d want to talk to at least two dozen people in each of the fields listed and to evaluate many other job titles, and my publishing schedule is such that I simply don’t have the time.” – Susan Adams

This kind of admission is amazing, and I’d like to dig into it a little more.

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A Discussion of GMOs

crapitalism, culture, health, politics, science Leave a reply

I recorded a podcast on srslywrong, and it was released last night. I’m fairly pro-GMO (generally speaking), so I was asked to take the pro-GMO side of a debate. It turned into more of a discussion of GMOs rather than a debate, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

I’m interested in feedback here, but bear in mind a couple things:

1) My background is not biology or science. I regrettably misspoke a few times in this (e.g. when I conflated genes for Roundup resistance with genes for the production of BT, and when I had a brain fart about bacteria being prokaryotes).

2) I’m not interested in yelling at people.

3) I’m interested in pushing broad strokes and general understanding, rather than devolving down nit-picky tangents. There’s a whole bunch of areas where I could have jumped down Eric/Cody’s throat for things that he said that I considered to be just plain ‘wrong’, but as they were tangential to the discussion, I left them alone. (and, to his credit, Eric/Cody cut me the same slack.

Click here to go to the podcast.

Follow Brian on Twitter!

Fashion Bloggers in Cambodia

civil rights, crapitalism, philosophy Leave a reply

I ran across this short online reality show ‘Sweatshop’ on Ecouterre “Fashion Bloggers in a Cambodian Sweat Shop“, and it’s worth taking a look at. It’s mostly a expression of ignorance and privilege, but it’s also helpful to put clothing production into the proper context.

There’s a line in particular that stands out, in the second episode, by Ludvig Hambro: “Those who make the garments should also be able to afford them”. This seems like a good jumping off point to discuss Marxism.

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Overtime, Wages and Theft

civil rights, crapitalism, economics, ethics, law Leave a reply

I know a number of people here in Vancouver working in restaurants and bars, and the prevalence of unlawful behaviour is just astounding. Of course, I don’t mean the staff stealing from employers, but employers just stealing wholesale from the staff.

While BC has some fairly mediocre labour laws, it has labour laws that employers are obligated to abide by. Unfortunately, as the laws are civil in nature (rather than criminal), the enforcement of these laws falls on the shoulders of the employees: if the staff don’t report the breach to the Employment Standards Branch, then the company happily trundles on, stealing from the employees.

This isn’t theft, you say? Since the staff have implicitly agreed to this state of affairs, it’s no-one else’s business to intervene? I’m sure that it’s possible that you could be more wrong about this, but it’s not obvious how. Allow me to explain.

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Tenure, and the Bizarre Case of the University of Saskatchewan

civil rights, crapitalism, culture, Education, ethics Leave a reply

On May 14th, it hit the news that the University of Saskatchewan had done the unthinkable: they had fired a tenured professor for the crime of ‘having an opinion’. It’s worth noting here that the opinion wasn’t racist, mysogynist, called for the armed overthrow of the Canadian government, declared that the Moon People were our new overlords, or anything that could reasonably be considered ‘extreme’. Not in the slightest. Dr. Robert Buckingham, then executive director of the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Public Health, was fired for issuing a letter in which “he explained his issues with TransformUS, a restructuring plan at the university, and detailed efforts by the administration to ensure that senior leaders toe the institution’s line.”

Fortunately, a mere 7 days later, this was reported as being resolved, with the president of the University being fired instead, and the Dr. Buckingham having his tenure reinstated. Note that, according to the CBC article of May 21st, he had not been reinstated as the executive director of their School of Public Health.

While this may seem shocking to some, to those paying attention to what’s happening in the education systems world-wide this is merely an inevitability, and it’s not the end of the road by any means. This is merely the next step in the corporatisation of the University, that is that (world-wide) Universities are being turned into corporate entities with duties primarily to shareholders, not the general public.

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Equality of Outcome

civil rights, crapitalism, culture, economics, ethics Leave a reply

One of the tensions in the economic arguments about the world is whether we should focus on equality of outcome, or equality of opportunity.  The short version of each reads as follows:

Equality of Outcome:

It describes a state in which people have approximately the same material wealth or in which the general economic conditions of their lives are similar. Achieving equal results generally entails reducing or eliminating material inequalities between individuals or households in a society, and usually involves a transfer of income or wealth from wealthier to poorer individuals, or adopting other measures to promote equality of condition. [From the wiki]

Equality of Opportunity:

The aim according to this often complex and contested concept[2] is that important jobs should go to those “most qualified” – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for arbitrary or irrelevant reasons, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, friendship ties to whoever is in power,[3] religion, sex,[4] ethnicity,[4] race, caste,[5] or involuntary personal attributes such as disability, age, or sexual orientation.[5][6] Chances for advancement should be open to everybody interested[7] such that they have “an equal chance to compete within the framework of goals and the structure of rules established.  [From the wiki]

The claim that they are in tension is almost uniformly submitted by people who self-identify as Conservatives (in the American political sense), and that we should favour Equality of Opportunity over Equality of Outcome because the latter is Communism and therefore bad.

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Giving Back

crapitalism, economics, Libertarianism, philosophy Leave a reply

Sometimes you read something so poorly written that it leaves you wondering ‘how the hell did this get published?’ But then you notice that it was in a business magazine, and all is explained.

A recent example of this kind of drivel is “Give Back? Yes, It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%“, by the self-proclaimed philosopher Harry Binswanger, at forbes.com, where he writes under the sub-heading of “I defend laissez-faire capitalism, using Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.” This appears to be the standard the Forbes holds itself down to: defending the indefensible, using a wholly inadequate tool.

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Translink: ‘screwing the poor is our business model going forward’

civil rights, crapitalism, culture, economics 4 Replies

Here in Vancouver, we’re serviced by a combination of light rail and buses. Both of which are fairly regular, and cheap. I’ve lived in a couple of different countries, visited many cities, and I have to say that the transit system here is easily one of the best in the world. (Do I need the standard caveat of “of course, there’s room for improvement”? I’m assuming I don’t)

The company that runs the show, Translink, is bringing in a new RFID card called the Compass Card. I have to admit, I’ve been looking forward to this as it’s a standard of convenience that I got somewhat used to in Japan. To some extent, this should speed up boarding on buses (fewer people using paper tickets means less waiting for cards to feed, and less mis-feeds or dodgy tickets). It’ll have about zero effect on the skytrain, however. So really, the benefit is minimal.

On the other hand, this card is really about screwing the economically disadvantaged.

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Taxes ARE Theft (but so what?)

crapitalism, economics, philosophy 69 Replies

One of the oft-made claims by self-styled Libertarians is that ‘taxes are theft’ (and are therefore ‘bad’). This kind of assertion underpins most of the Libertarian position, and also the bulk of any anti-tax/pro-small-government arguments by folks of any political stripe. Unfortunately, it’s rare to hear this position defended as the self-styled Libertarians don’t seem all that well-read with regards to their own literature.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Ayn Rand was gaining prominence, but there were no Philosophers backing her corner, partially because she spouted utter drivel and partially because to side with Rand was engage in self-loathing (Rand was notoriously anti-Philosophy/ers).

Enter Robert Nozick, with his tome “Anarchy, State and Utopia”. Nozick is well-regarded in Philosophy for articulating what was inarticulate, and defending the generally indefensible. Nozick sketched out the Libertarian claims, largely as a response to John Rawls’s defense of Social Justice, and, well… His arguments are not obviously terrible (as much as we may disagree with them). His arguments are certainly compelling, if you have a tendency to ignore all counter-arguments to your position. But hey, that’s the human condition, right?

So let’s dive in. And hold your nose (and your breath), because Nozick doesn’t make the argument that ‘taxes are theft’. Nope: “Taxation of earnings from labor is on par with forced labor.” Yeah, he went there.

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