In the Future You Will

I know they’re AT&T ads, but I remember watching these and being so excited for the future. Yesterday, I actually looked up how much a virtual reality headset costs. My car drives on half electricity generated when I brake. These videos make me flush with gratitude for how tech has changed our world. But I also see that really nothing big has changed. The advances demonstrated in this video are largely conveniences meant to help people consume more quickly and work during their vacations, and making face to face communications obsolete through video screens. Almost everyone in these videos is alone. The in-person interactions are incidental. (The exception is the athlete receiving medical care, which stands out as a humane and very necessary deployment of tech. Sagefully, the patient’s health is of utmost importance to a major American corporate entity – his NFL team – making his recovery not a self evident matter of good fortune for a person and his family, but because he gets back on the field, the season is saved, blah blah blah.) Commerce will self-innovate, businesses will always look for ways to improve themselves to out compete the next business or address new needs and pain points for consumers. But tech and money can’t solve problems that exist between people. They can only make the conversations more predictable and less frequent, less intimate, they insulate the richest people from the poorest people, and provide a dim […]

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Why I Left My Bank

oct29-email-bank

#remember X 2 #nov5 #BankTransferDay #treason #plot #aintnoreasonwhy #neverforget #BankTransferDay is Upon Us It probably wouldn’t surprise you if I told you I was participating in Bank Transfer Day, the Occupy-inspired day of protest where people are encouraged to move their deposits into credit unions and out of the major banks.  You might be surprised when I tell you it was primarily a personal budget decision between my partner and I, and not one made from idealism or outrage.  I even did it early, to avoid any trouble with my […]

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#OWS: Bank of America is At It Again

News broke today that the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had a little disagreement about a transfer of assets between subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation (BAC) which owns both Merrill Lynch and Bank of America (BofA, the retail bank you’re more familiar with.)  It seems that BAC is moving something on the order of $75 trillion dollars of derivatives risk from Merrill Lynch, which is not insured by American taxpayers, to Bank of America, which is.  This means that just as European banks are about to crumble in on themselves in an epic default, BAC has pushed their substantial share of the risk of those defaults from their shareholders to the FDIC, effectively putting taxpayers on the hook. Here is another great piece on the transfer from former regulator William K. Black. They did this without a peep from the Federal Reserve.  Through the FDIC, you and I now bear the risk of the screwed up European banking system without ever engaging in these risky and fraudulent debt obligations to begin with.  They ate the meal, now we clean the $75 trillion dishes. This is why people do not, and probably should not, trust the financial sector and its narrow interests. People now associate ‘Wall Street’ with a threat to regular people with regular jobs and regular investments. The financial sector is the largest contributor to federal elections, including President Obama.  Mitt Romney is one and is surrounded by them.  And […]

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#OWS: The Morning After

You know the argument about a rising tide, and how it lifts all boats?  This has always seemed a dubious metaphor to me because of all the assumptions it must make in order to apply, and all of the obvious features of the ‘tide’ that it conveniently leaves out of the idiom. Join me while I break it down. (much more below the fold)

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#OccupyLA: Who Speaks For Us?

We Don’t Need a Leader, But We Need Something When the General Assembly in Woodruff Park in Atlanta declined to allow John Lewis, famed civil rights activist and sitting U.S. Congressman to deliver a few words of encouragement, I believe this movement made a curious and possibly detrimental turn toward the irrelevant.  The reason for this is straightforward:  I do not believe you can assault our broken democracy and our broken economic system simultaneously.  By rejecting elected and aspiring representatives of the people from engaging in this movement and taking its message to city halls, state houses, and the impotent galleries of the U.S.  Congress, there is a chance we could doom this protest to the alternate fates of destructive riots or perpetual but inconsequential unrest. <much more below the fold>

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#OccupyLA: How 500 = 99%

It seems like fuzzy math, to see a tiny crowd of mostly white youngsters with a spattering of legitimate community organizers claiming to be 99% percent of the population.  Likewise is it hard to believe that a handful of redditors and youtube jockeys with their somewhat short-sighted stories about personal debt and unemployment could somehow embody the experience of almost the entire population of the richest country on Earth.  On a day when everyone was making suggestions to these protesters on what their demands should be (including of course, yours truly) there were just as many people speaking out against the ‘dangerous’ ‘class warfare’ of a handful of idiot hippies who want to make us like the Communists. It’s just as easy for opponents of this protest to dismiss its participants and their desires as it was for liberals to dismiss the Tea Party in its early days.  Back then, the Tea Party seemed like an over-hyped Fox News focus group, suddenly transformed from studio audience to vocal mob, chanting and waving signs about liberty and socialism and Sharia law.  But just as the Tea Party grew into a legitimate social movement with electoral power, this movement has the same potential, and it’s because its concerns do really do line up with the desires of 99% of people in this country.   (Much more below the fold)

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