Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #851 Technocratic Fascism and Post-Reaganoid Political Dementia: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by 12/19/2014. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more) contains FTR #850.  (The previous flash drive was current through the end of May of 2012 and contained FTR #748.)

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Peter Thiel

Alex Karp

Introduction: In this program we revisit the complex intelligence operation that might be termed “L’Affaire Snowden.” A “psy-op” that is an extension of another intel gambit–the WikiLeaks imbroglio–the Snowden op is multi-layered and touches many bases. We will present a “bare bones” outline at the end of this discussion. This broadcast sets forth one of the fundamental dynamics of the Snowden/WikiLeaks affair–technocratic fascism.

In addition, we will highlight an ideological trend looming large in the development of the Snowden op, and a dominant consideration in contemporary political and economic affairs. Ronald Reagan opined that “government is not the solution to your problems, government IS the problem.” This point of view, proven to be fundamentally mistaken in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse brought on by deregulation, has dominated the American and global political landscapes in recent years.

To make a long story short, the view has been that corporations are good and government is bad. Among the loudest complainers in the wake of the Snowden “disclosures” was “Big Tech”–the major technology firms. Fearing bad publicity and loss of revenue, they piled on NSA and the Obama administration, opining, as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg put it: “The government blew it.”

Inherent in the expressions of outrage by Big Tech is what we term “post-Reaganoid political dementia”–corporations are good, the government is bad. In this program, we will examine the brutal reality of the laissez-faire economic policy embraced by Big Tech and some of the links between these self-proclaimed “bearers of enlightenment” and The Underground Reich.

Inextricably linked with Big Tech’s laissez-faire economics is a form of “technocratic fascism.” A brilliant article by David Golumbia (researched for us by contributing editor “Pterrafractyl”) distills and pinpoints a fundamental characteristic of the political and philosophical landscape shared by Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, as well as Big Tech.

Golumbia encapsulates this dynamic:  “Such tech­no­cratic beliefs are wide­spread in our world today, espe­cially in the enclaves of dig­i­tal enthu­si­asts, whether or not they are part of the giant corporate-digital leviathanHack­ers (“civic,” “eth­i­cal,” “white” and “black” hat alike), hack­tivists, Wik­iLeaks fans [and Julian Assange et al–D. E.], Anony­mous “mem­bers,” even Edward Snow­den him­self walk hand-in-hand with Face­book and Google in telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it: the polit­i­cal world is bro­ken, they appear to think (rightly, at least in part), and the solu­tion to that, they think (wrongly, at least for the most part), is for pro­gram­mers to take polit­i­cal mat­ters into their own hands. . . First, [Tor co-creator] Din­gle­dine claimed that Tor must be sup­ported because it fol­lows directly from a fun­da­men­tal “right to pri­vacy.” Yet when pressed—and not that hard—he admits that what he means by “right to pri­vacy” is not what any human rights body or “par­tic­u­lar legal regime” has meant by it. Instead of talk­ing about how human rights are pro­tected, he asserts that human rights are nat­ural rights and that these nat­ural rights cre­ate nat­ural law that is prop­erly enforced by enti­ties above and out­side of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties. Where the UN’s Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion on Human Rights of 1948 is very clear that states and bod­ies like the UN to which states belong are the exclu­sive guar­an­tors of human rights, what­ever the ori­gin of those rights, Din­gle­dine asserts that a small group of soft­ware devel­op­ers can assign to them­selves that role, and that mem­bers of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties have no choice but to accept them hav­ing that role. . . Fur­ther, it is hard not to notice that the appeal to nat­ural rights is today most often asso­ci­ated with the polit­i­cal right, for a vari­ety of rea­sons (ur-neocon Leo Strauss was one of the most promi­nent 20th cen­tury pro­po­nents of these views). We aren’t sup­posed to endorse Tor because we endorse the right: it’s sup­posed to be above the left/right dis­tinc­tion. But it isn’t. . . .

Prince Bernhard

The program begins with an excellent story by Mark Ames about Silicon Valley participation in the Bilderberg conference. Founded by former Nazi spy and SS officer Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the group is “corporatist” and has strong links to the Underground Reich, as we saw in FTR #810.

Note that, in addition to three Google executives, the roster includes Peter Thiel (Ron Paul’s top campaign contributor when he was enjoying the support of Edward Snowden) and Alex Karp. Sean Parker, the developer of Napster, is also a Bilderberg participant and a big supporter of Rand Paul.

Note, also, that Snowden’s first attorney and the attorney for the Snowden family is Bruce Fein, the top legal counsel to Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential campaign, as discussed in FTR #756. As discussed in that same program, Julian Assange is a big fan of that same crowd.

Supplementing the background information on the Bilderberg group presented in FTR #810, something of the overall political nature of the organization can be gleaned from a passage in Peter Levenda’s “prequel” to The Hitler LegacyRatline.

Discussing Nazis who took advantage of a Middle Eastern branch of the “Ratline” escape networks, Peter highlights Paul Leverkuhn, a Nazi spy with vigorous postwar espionage participation in the postwar period. Leverkuhn was president of the European Union at the first of the Bilderberg conferences.

Far from the “Think Different” credo superficially espoused by Apple, Big Tech is funding Ted Cruz and other paleo conservatives who want to abolish the IRS, don’t believe in climate change and–as might be expected–same sex marriage.

Illustrating the backward-looking ethics of Big Tech, we look at their endorsement of low wages and even child labor, all under the rubric of laissez-faire, free-market ideology. Bear in mind that Mussolini termed his fascist system “corporatism.”

Program Highlights Include:

  • Big Tech consultant Kevin Murphy’s warning to minimum-wage workers not to advocate on behalf of a minimum wage lest they be replaced by an “app.Murphy is also advocating that wages for teenagers should be lowered, to make it easier for corporations to hire them.
  • Big Tech’s conspiracy to hold down engineers’ salaries, conceived of by the iconic Steve “No-Jobs” of Apple.
  • We have noted that the financial backer of Glenn Greenwald’s recent journalistic undertakings is EBay’s Pierre Omidyar, another “free-market,” laissez-faire ideologue who helped bankroll the Ukraine coup, as well as Hindu/Nationalist fascist Narendra Modi’s ascent in India. Omidyar protege Modi is now moving to weaken India’s child labor laws. Kevin Murphy would be proud.

1. There is good reason for the public not to trust “Big Tech.” Mark Ames gives us an excellent story about Silicon Valley participation in the Bilderberg conference. Founded by former Nazi spy and SS officer Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the group is “corporatist” and has strong links to the Underground Reich, as we saw in FTR #810.

Note that, in addition to three Google executives, the roster includes Peter Thiel (Ron Paul’s top campaign contributor when he was enjoying the support of Edward Snowden) and Alex Karp. Sean Parker, the developer of Napster, is also a Bilderberg participant and a big supporter of Rand Paul.

Note, also, that Snowden’s first attorney and the attorney for the Snowden family is Bruce Fein, the top legal counsel to Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential campaign, as discussed in FTR #756. As discussed in that same program, Julian Assange is a big fan of that same crowd.

Supplementing the background information on the Bilderberg group presented in FTR #810, something of the overall political nature of the organization can be gleaned from a passage in Peter Levenda’s “prequel” to The Hitler LegacyRatline.

Discussing Nazis who took advantage of a Middle Eastern branch of the “Ratline” escape networks, Peter highlights Paul Leverkuhn, a Nazi spy with vigorous postwar espionage participation in the postwar period. Leverkuhn was president of the European Union at the first of the Bilderberg conferences.

Illustrating the backward-looking ethics of Big Tech, we look at their endorsement of low wages and even child labor, all under the rubric of laissez-faire, free-market ideology. Bear in mind that Mussolini termed his fascist system “corporatism.”

“Sil­i­con Val­ley and the Ingestible Bilder­berg ID Chips” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 6/12/2015.

 Peter Thiel (Bilder­berg mem­ber) gave Ron Paul 2.5 mil­lion! Red Flag anyone?

DailyPaul.com, June 11, 2012

If some­one says “Bilder­berg Group” with a straight face, most respectable folks reach for their can­is­ter of Bear Mace spray—only to check them­selves because odds are, if some­one is talk­ing “Bilder­berg” they’re prob­a­bly pack­ing some­thing far more lethal than pep­per fog.

And yet—our para­noid reac­tions to para­noiacs’ obses­sions with Bilder­berg are so unnec­es­sary. There is, of course, a real Bilder­berg Group—it’s not like Bilder­berg is some delu­sional fan­tasy, like the chu­pacabra or amazon.com prof­its. Bilder­berg is basi­cally like a Davos or Jack­son Hole—only a bit whiter, crustier, and evil-er. But the idea is essen­tially the same: An annual pow-wow bring­ing together a cross-section of west­ern power-elites from bank­ing, pol­i­tics, defense, energy, and industry.

What made Bilder­berg an obses­sion with the Bircher/Ron Paul crowd was the key role David Rock­e­feller played over the years in hand­ing out Bilder­berg invi­ta­tions. Which is an irra­tional hatred even by irra­tional hate stan­dards, given the fact that David Rock­e­feller was trained in eco­nom­ics by the Yoda of the Bircher/libertarian crowd, Friedrich von Hayek—but then again, peo­ple have hated for far dumber rea­sons.

This week, the Bilder­berg Group is gath­er­ing in Aus­tria for their annual bull ses­sion, and in the benev­o­lent spirit of trans­parency (or to rub it in our unin­vited faces), they’ve released their “final list of par­tic­i­pants.” The expected vil­lains’ names are there: Henry Kissinger, David Petraeus, Robert Rubin, NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg, Richard “Prince of Dark­ness” Perle. . . . But for our pur­poses at Pando, it’s the select few Bilder­berg­ers from Sil­i­con Val­ley whose names cry out for our attention.

A scan through the list of Bilder­berg­ers over the years shows that Sil­i­con Val­ley has only recently estab­lished a clique within the clique. This year’s list fea­tures three Google par­tic­i­pants: Eric Schmidt; Demis Has­s­abis, the AI whiz behind Google Deep­Mind; and Regina Dugan, the for­mer head of DARPA turned Google exec­u­tive . . . .

. . . .More seri­ous and sig­nif­i­cant here is the fact that Google is so well-represented, with three par­tic­i­pants. Three names from one com­pany is a rar­ity, some­thing you might’ve seen in the past from a Gold­man Sachs or Lazard—but not Sil­i­con Val­ley. It shows not just Big Tech’s con­tin­ued takeover of older estab­lished insti­tu­tions of power, but specif­i­cally, Google’s—and it tracks with Google’s new role as the biggest lob­by­ist spender in Washington.

Next to Google’s three par­tic­i­pants, there’s Palan­tir with two big names on the Bilder­berg list: Peter Thiel [Dis­clo­sure: A Pando investor via Founders Fund], and Alex Karp. . . . Peter Thiel, as we’ve reported, was the main fun­der of Ron Paul’s 2012 pres­i­den­tial Super­PAC; Thiel has also been a rain­maker for Rand Paul’s cam­paign financ­ing efforts, and Thiel has donated lav­ishly to a num­ber of lib­er­tar­ian out­fits, includ­ing Stu­dents For Lib­erty, which hon­ored both Thiel and Edward Snow­den (and Snow­den hon­ored SFL in kind). Thiel and Palan­tir also set up the Seast­eading Insti­tute, which co-organized a lib­er­tar­ian cruise a few years ago with the lib­er­tar­ian Rea­son magazine.

And yet, even as Thiel serves on the Bilder­berg Group’s elite steer­ing com­mit­tee, Ron Paul, who took mil­lions from Thiel, believes that Thiel’s friends con­trol the world:

“They prob­a­bly get together and talk about how they’re going to con­trol the bank­ing sys­tems of the world and nat­ural resources.”

There’s more: Napster/Facebook bil­lion­aire Sean Parker — who co-sponsored Rand Paul’s recent “Dis­rupt Democ­racy” shindig in SOMA and “invested heav­ily in Rand Paul’s polit­i­cal oper­a­tion” accord­ing to Politico— is listed as a Bilder­berg “par­tic­i­pant” at the group’s 2010 meet­ing in Spain.

Another Face­book bil­lion­aire, New Repub­lic pub­lisher Chris Hughes, went Bilder­berg in 2011.

But of all the Face­book bilder­bergillion­aires, Peter Thiel has been at it the longest—a “par­tic­i­pant” every year since at least 2007. That’s one year longer than Eric Schmidt, who got his Bilder­berg on in 2008. While Palan­tir CEO and co-founder Alex Karp is a rel­a­tive new­bie, Bilder­berg­er­ing since 2012.

Another sur­prise is the unusu­ally low Bill Gates Fac­tor. Microsoft long ago proudly staked its claim to Big Tech Cor­po­rate Evil—and yet Gates’ name only shows up on the Bilder­berg list once, in 2010. Instead, his spurned Microsoft suc­ces­sor, Craig Mundie, makes reg­u­lar Bilder­berg appear­ances going back to at least 2006.

Who else? Jeff Bezos made an appear­ance in 2013, along with that golden retriever of Big Tech opti­mism, Larry Lessig. Going back fur­ther, before Thiel and Schmidt tech­nofied the Bilder­berg Group, one of the few stand­out Sil­i­con Val­ley names who par­tic­i­pated was Esther Dyson, for­mer chair of the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, whose name appears on the Bilder­berg list in 2007 and 2000.

 2. Supplementing the background information on the Bilderberg group presented in FTR #810, something of the overall political nature of the organization can be gleaned from a passage in Peter Levenda’s “prequel” to The Hitler Legacy, Ratline.

Discussing Nazis who took advantage of a Middle Eastern branch of the “Ratline” escape networks, Peter highlights Paul Leverkuhn:

Ratline: Soviet Spies, Nazi Priests and the Disappearance of Adolf Hitler by Peter Levenda; Ibis Press [HC]; Copyright 2012 by Peter Levenda; ISBN 978-0-89254-170-6; pp. 160-161.

. . . . Paul Leverkuhn (1893-1960)–a lifelong diplomat, spy, and banker, Leverkuhn was also a devoted Nazi who joined the Party before the war began and who held various important posts in Germany during both World Wars. He had an extensive background running Abwehr operations in Turkey, and according to the CIA report referenced above he also ran a spy network after the war “based on Lebanon and extending into the Middle East.” Leverkuhn for the benefit of those with a conspiratorial frame of mind, was also in attendance at the very first Bilderberger meeting in 1954, as president of the European Union [!–D.E.]. It should be pointed out that this meeting took place four years before the CIA report was written claiming that Leverkuhn was running agents in the Middle East. . . .

3. David Holmes reminds us that any cor­po­ra­tion or entity that’s chastis­ing or boy­cotting the state of Indi­ana over its new pro-bigotry laws should prob­a­bly avoid things like donat­ing to Ted Cruz too:

“Beyond Thiel: Google, Microsoft, and the Other Big Tech Firms Fund­ing Ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Ted Cruz” by David Holmes; Pando Daily; 3/31/2015.

Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz (R-TX) is a grown man who wants to abol­ish the IRS. He also thinks birth con­trol “induces abor­tions”and plays to his party’s ugli­est impulses when it comes to same-sex mar­riagecli­mate change, and coun­tries where lots of Mus­lims live.

Last Mon­day, the Tea Party’s prize pig became the first can­di­date to for­mally announce a bid for the 2016 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. And among the think-pieces and works of sheer dem­a­goguery that flowed through the Internet’s back­bone all week, one head­line in par­tic­u­lar caught our tech-damaged eye: Breitbart’s “The Sil­i­con Val­ley Lib­er­tar­i­ans Putting Seri­ous Money Behind Ted Cruz.”

The syn­ergy between Sil­i­con Val­ley and the Tea Party is fre­quently trum­peted by blog­gers and talk­ing heads on the Far Right. But this sup­posed align­ment is far from per­fect. The nar­ra­tive that the GOP will find in techie lib­er­tar­i­ans its sav­ing grace obscures a cou­ple key real­i­ties about Sil­i­con Valley’s polit­i­cal DNA. The first is that, despite the pre­pon­der­ance of high-profile techno-libertarians like Peter Thiel, Uber CEO Travis Kalan­ick, and eBay chair­man Pierre Omid­yar, the money fun­neled into pol­i­tics from Sil­i­con Val­ley firms’ polit­i­cal action com­mit­tees is fairly bal­anced between Demo­c­ra­tic and Repub­li­can can­di­dates. Dur­ing the 2012 Pres­i­den­tial race in par­tic­u­lar the tech set came out over­whelm­ingly in favor of Barack Obama.

But the sec­ond real­ity this nar­ra­tive ignores is that it’s not just the out­spo­ken fringe lib­er­tar­i­ans like Thiel that give to Tea Party can­di­dates. Some of the biggest and most main­stream firms in Sil­i­con Val­ley like Microsoft and Google, despite also sup­port­ing tra­di­tional lib­eral causes, have aligned them­selves with lib­er­tar­ian anti-tax inter­ests — and these same inter­ests often rep­re­sent some of the ugli­est sides of Amer­i­can politics.

While Bre­it­bart is known to engage in the same fact-challenged Repub­li­can agit­prop made famous by Fox News and Nixon, the cen­tral argu­ment of its arti­cle is true: Pay­pal cofounder, early Face­book investor, and the Valley’s most vocal and vis­i­ble lib­er­tar­ian gad­fly Peter Thiel has indeed given given $2 mil­lionto a Super PAC run by the con­ser­v­a­tive anti-tax group Club For Growth, which in turn was Ted Cruz’s biggest sin­gle donor dur­ing the 2012 cam­paign, giv­ing $705,657. Club for Growth was also the sin­gle biggest con­trib­u­torto the suc­cess­ful Sen­a­to­r­ial cam­paign of Tom Cot­ton, the dar­lingest of Tea Party dar­lings who made his name writ­ing a bor­der­line uncon­sti­tu­tionallet­ter under­min­ing Obama’s nego­ti­a­tions with Iran.

(There’s no unjar­ring time to dis­close that Thiel is also a minor investor in Pando, through Founders Fund, so let’s do it here.)

Beyond Thiel, how­ever, Bre­it­bart only iden­ti­fied one other Sil­i­con Val­ley lib­er­tar­ian, ex-Facebook employee Chamath Pal­i­hapi­tiya — who left no ques­tion about his lib­er­tar­ian bonafides dur­ing an episode of This Week in Star­tups— as a major Cruz donor, writ­ing the Texas Sen­a­tor a check for $5,000.

What the piece failed to men­tion was that it’s not just lib­er­tar­i­ans like Thiel who con­tributed to Cruz’s cam­paign, but also the polit­i­cal action com­mit­tees or PACs belong­ing to some of Sil­i­con Valley’s most promi­nent firms.

For instance, Microsoft’s PAC gave $10,000to Cruz dur­ing the 2012 elec­toral cycle, Google’s PAC gave $10,000, and Facebook’s PAC gave $3,500. Other top lob­by­ing spenders in tech, like Com­cast and Intel, gave Cruz $7,500and $2,000, respec­tively.

And that’s only the begin­ning when it comes to big tech com­pa­nies con­tribut­ing to can­di­dates that oppose same-sex mar­riage or engage in cli­mate change denial — in fact, it’s dif­fi­cult to con­tribute to any Repub­li­can can­di­date with­out that politi­cian also tak­ing up these stances, which run counter to the ideals of inclu­siv­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity that clas­sic Sil­i­con Val­ley firms promote.

Granted, those check amounts are minus­cule rel­a­tive to the annual rev­enues and mar­ket caps of these com­pa­nies. And they con­sti­tute mere frac­tions of the mil­lionscom­pa­nies like Google spend each year on lob­by­ing, which is spread out across causes and can­di­dates from all over the polit­i­cal spec­trum. Nor is it true that Repub­li­can can­di­dates are the only recip­i­ents of tech money with prob­lem­atic plat­forms or records. Big tech also put its mus­cle behind the failed Con­gres­sional cam­paign of Demo­c­rat Ro Khanna, about whom Pando’s Yasha Levine found lit­tle to love.

But it’s hugely hyp­o­crit­i­cal to see Sil­i­con Val­ley unite in out­rage over Indiana’s anti-gay rights lawthen turn around and donate to can­di­dates who voted in favor of a Con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment ban­ning same-sex mar­riage. It’s equally hyp­o­crit­i­cal to watch one tech giant after another aban­don the con­tro­ver­sial ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive think tank ALECover cli­mate change denial, while also con­tribut­ing to some of Con­gress’ most noto­ri­ous deniers. And yes, the dol­lar amounts of the dona­tions are small. But if tech firms ceased fund­ing these can­di­dates with the same fer­vor they’ve adopted in con­demn­ing Indiana’s new law, it could com­pel some GOP politi­cians to break with their party on increas­ingly unten­able and extrem­ist stances. For bet­ter or worse, money talks.

As was the case with Big Tech’s long-time ties with ALEC — ties which, for most firms, were only recently sev­ered— align­ing one­self with a can­di­date like Cruz means align­ing with notions that on occa­sion tran­scend mere polit­i­cal dis­agree­ment into the realm of irra­tional­ity and hate-speech. Cruz is no friend to gay rights, and his anti-science bent infects a num­ber of his posi­tions, from repro­duc­tive rightsto cli­mate change.

4. Again, “Big Tech” is NOT benevolent. Exemplifying this dynamic is a billboard that was posted in San Francisco, warning minimum-wage workers not to work for a higher wage.

“New San Francisco Billboard Warns Workers They’ll Be Replaced by iPads if They Demand a Fair Wage” by Paul Carr; Pando Daily; 7/17/2014.

Walking home from Pando’s office a few nights ago, I noticed this giant new billboard…

. . . . Its message — that minimum wage increases will lead to service workers being replaced by apps — is continued on an accompanying website — BadIdeaCA — which claims to be “holding activists accountable for minimum wage consequences.”

So who the hell pays for billboards threatening waitstaff with redundancy if they demand a living wage? A bit of digging and clicking reveals that the campaign is backed by Employment Policies Institute, the conservative lobbying group which regularly campaigns on behalf of the restaurant industry.

Followers of Pando’s Techtopus coverage might remember the Institute for one of its key advisers, Kevin Murphy, aka “the man Silicon Valley’s CEOs turn to when they want to justify screwing workers“. As Mark Ames explained back in February…

[W]hen the heads of companies like Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft and others, are called upon to explain why it’s okay to screw over employees—or their consumers—they know exactly who to call…

…Murphy has a long history of trying to convince courts that workers are not being screwed and that dominant monopoly corporations are good citizens, despite evidence to the contrary.

It’s somehow grossly fitting that a group which argues for screwing service staff — and which is advised by a guy who tells companies like Apple that it’s ok to screw their workers — is now posting ads in San Francisco saying that service staff deserve to be replaced by iPads if they demand a fair wage.

 5. The fellow who crafted the billboard discussed above favors lowering the minimum wage to make it easier for companies to employ teens.

“Meet the Asshole Behind San Francisco’s Most Assholeish Billboard” by Paul Carr; Pando Daily; 7/21/2014.

Well, a few hours ago, the guy behind the assholeish billboard, created by the assholeish lobby group, that employs an asshole to encourage others to be even greater assholes, finally responded to the mounting criticism of his assholeish campaign. And guess what?

He was an asshole about it!

Quite how us having written about the assholeishness of his billboard is testament to its accuracy is unclear, as is at what point “giant and obnoxious” became a synonym for “creative.” But Mr Saltsman’s assholeish response raises a more important question…

Who exactly is this asshole?

Well, as well as being a thoroughly creative asshole, Michael Saltsman is the research director at Employment Studies Institute, the group that paid for the billboard in San Francisco, and also this one in LA…

. . . . (Also unclear: why Miley Cyrus would be “twerked off” at a proposed minimum wage hike, given she earned a reported $76.5m last year. Even at the proposed new rate, a San Francisco restaurant worker would have to wait tables non-stop for more than 580 years to match her annual income.)

For some reason, though, Saltsman doesn’t mention his employer on his Twitter bio. Instead he describes himself simply as a “Researcher, Communicator, Defender of the Minimum Wage.” Where by “defender” he presumably means “asshole who spends millions of dollars trying to destroy it on behalf of massive corporations.”

But Saltsman doesn’t just limit his assholeishness to billboards and Twitter bios.

Here, for example, him being an asshole in the Wall Street Journal, blaming democrats for wanting to pay service staff so much that soon everyone will be replaced by robots. Restaurant chains have no choice!

Customers may find the new technology convenient, but the thousands of young adults who used to earn money filling these roles won’t. The data suggest employers are acting from economic necessity rather than spite.

And here’s him in another WSJ guest column, being an asshole in response to President Obama pointing out that Costco is hugely profitable while still paying minimum wage..

Not all businesses can afford the cost of Mr. Obama’s good intentions… Costco charges its customers as much as $110 a year for the privilege of shopping at the store. That’s a $2 billion-per-year luxury no grocer or restaurant enjoys.

And here he is again, billed as a “contributing writer” in the Orange County Register, assholesplaining about how a “higher minimum wage doesn’t cut poverty.”

The New York Post appears to have given him carte asshole to attack the minimum wage, while the Huffington Post has an assholy trinity of Saltsman columns including…

◦  The Minimum Wage: A 75th Anniversary That’s Not Worth Celebrating

◦  To Help the Poor, Move Beyond ‘Minimum’ Gestures

◦  A Training Wage Might Get Teens Off the Couch

With that last one, Saltsman might just have reached peak asshole. “Here’s an outside-the-box proposal to get our young people back in the workplace,” says Saltsman, who likely earns more in a year than most minimum wage workers do in a decade.  “Let’s make teens less expensive for employers to hire. Let’s lower their minimum wage.”

Yes, let’s! You fucking asshole.

6. It isn’t just minimum wage workers who feel the impact of Silicon Valley corporatism. Silicon Valley engineers have also been bent beneath the lash.

“The Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s Most Celebrated CEOs Conspired to Drive Down 100,000 Tech Engineers’ Wages” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 1/23/2014.

In early 2005, as demand for Silicon Valley engineers began booming, Apple’s Steve Jobs sealed a secret and illegal pact with Google’s Eric Schmidt to artificially push their workers wages lower by agreeing not to recruit each other’s employees, sharing wage scale information, and punishing violators. On February 27, 2005, Bill Campbell, a member of Apple’s board of directors and senior advisor to Google, emailed Jobs to confirm that Eric Schmidt “got directly involved and firmly stopped all efforts to recruit anyone from Apple.”

Later that year, Schmidt instructed his Sr VP for Business Operation Shona Brown to keep the pact a secret and only share information “verbally, since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later?”

These secret conversations and agreements between some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley were first exposed in a Department of Justice antitrust investigation launched by the Obama Administration in 2010. That DOJ suit became the basis of a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of over 100,000 tech employees whose wages were artificially lowered — an estimated $9 billion effectively stolen by the high-flying companies from their workers to pad company earnings — in the second half of the 2000s. Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied attempts by Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe to have the lawsuit tossed, and gave final approval for the class action suit to go forward. A jury trial date has been set for May 27 in San Jose, before US District Court judge Lucy Koh, who presided over the Samsung-Apple patent suit.

In a related but separate investigation and ongoing suit, eBay and its former CEO Meg Whitman, now CEO of HP, are being sued by both the federal government and the state of California for arranging a similar, secret wage-theft agreement with Intuit (and possibly Google as well) during the same period.

The secret wage-theft agreements between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar (now owned by Disney) are described in court papers obtained by PandoDaily as “an overarching conspiracy” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act, and at times it reads like something lifted straight out of the robber baron era that produced those laws. Today’s inequality crisis is America’s worst on record since statistics were first recorded a hundred years ago — the only comparison would be to the era of the railroad tycoons in the late 19th century.

Shortly after sealing the pact with Google, Jobs strong-armed Adobe into joining after he complained to CEO Bruce Chizen that Adobe was recruiting Apple’s employees. Chizen sheepishly responded that he thought only a small class of employees were off-limits:

I thought we agreed not to recruit any senior level employees…. I would propose we keep it that way. Open to discuss. It would be good to agree.

Jobs responded by threatening war:

OK, I’ll tell our recruiters they are free to approach any Adobe employee who is not a Sr. Director or VP. Am I understanding your position correctly?

Adobe’s Chizen immediately backed down:

I’d rather agree NOT to actively solicit any employee from either company…..If you are in agreement, I will let my folks know.

The next day, Chizen let his folks — Adobe’s VP of Human Resources — know that “we are not to solicit ANY Apple employees, and visa versa.” Chizen was worried that if he didn’t agree, Jobs would make Adobe pay:

if I tell Steve [Jobs] it’s open season (other than senior managers), he will deliberately poach Adobe just to prove a point. Knowing Steve, he will go after some of our top Mac talent…and he will do it in a way in which they will be enticed to come (extraordinary packages and Steve wooing).

Indeed Jobs even threatened war against Google early 2005 before their “gentlemen’s agreement,” telling Sergey Brin to back off recruiting Apple’s Safari team:

if you [Brin] hire a single one of these people that means war.

Brin immediately advised Google’s Executive Management Team to halt all recruiting of Apple employees until an agreement was discussed.

In the geopolitics of Silicon Valley tech power, Adobe was no match for a corporate superpower like Apple. Inequality of the sort we’re experiencing today affects everyone in ways we haven’t even thought of — whether it’s Jobs bullying slightly lesser executives into joining an illegal wage-theft pact, or the tens of thousands of workers whose wages were artificially lowered, transferred into higher corporate earnings, and higher compensations for those already richest and most powerful to begin with. . . .

7. In FTR #795, we noted that Narendra Modi was politically evolved from the Hindu nationalist/fascist milieu of the RSS. (An “alumnus” of that political environment murdered Gandhi.)

In addition, we have seen that Modi’s election was heavily buttressed by Ebay’s Pierre Omidyar, who has underwritten Glenn Greenwald’s recent journalistic ventures and partially bankrolled the 2014 Ukraine coup that brought the heirs of the OUN/B to power.

Modi is implementing the laissez-faire agenda favored by Omidyar, a cynical “corporatist” agenda that is poised to restore child labor in India.

The laissez-faire/corporatist agenda championed by Omidyar and Morsi is at one with the “austerity” doctrine promulgated by the GOP, Germany, the IMF and the Underground Reich.

“Get to work, kids! And be sure to bring your wages home to your [unemployed] mom and dad.”

“The Modi Gov­ern­ment Is Send­ing Mil­lions of Kids Back into Exploita­tive Labour” by Rashme Seh­gal; Quartz; 5/4/2015.

An amend­ment to the Child Labour Pro­hi­bi­tion Act pro­posed by the Naren­dra Modi-led gov­ern­ment is about to undo years of hard-won progress in the area of child labour—and con­demn mil­lions of kids to exploita­tive employment.

The amend­ment will allow chil­dren below the age of 14 to work in “fam­ily enter­prises”—a euphemism for indus­tries such as carpet-weaving, beedi–rolling, gem-polishing, lock-making and matchbox-making. The new norms will also apply to the enter­tain­ment indus­try and sports.

The amend­ment flies in the face of the Right to Edu­ca­tion Act (RTE), 2009, which guar­an­tees edu­ca­tion to every child. After the RTE came in, child labour dropped from 12.6 mil­lion in 2001 to 4.3 mil­lion in 2014. The amend­ment will undo much of that progress. It will also be a seri­ous set­back to all the work done by activists, such as Swami Agnivesh and Nobel lau­re­ate Kailash Sat­yarthi, to res­cue chil­dren from bonded labour and exploitation.

Mirzapur-based Shamshad Khan, pres­i­dent of the Cen­tre for Rural Edu­ca­tion and Devel­op­ment Action, calls the move “retrogressive.”

“All our cam­paigns to end bonded child labour, start­ing from the eight­ies, will go up in smoke,” Khan said. “Schools will be emp­tied out, and poor chil­dren in states like Bihar, Jhark­hand and Uttar Pradesh will be back to work­ing in sheds and makeshift fac­to­ries that will all go by the nomen­cla­ture of ‘fam­ily enter­prises.’ The worst-hit will be the chil­dren of Dal­its, Mus­lims, tribal fam­i­lies and those belong­ing to mar­gin­alised communities.”

The amend­ment can also be used to deny edu­ca­tion to the girl child, who will be sucked into all forms of house­work. Accord­ing to gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics, male lit­er­acy lev­els in 2014 stood at about 82%, while female lit­er­acy lev­els were as low as 64%. The school drop-out rate for girls is almost dou­ble the rate for boys.

An uncon­sti­tu­tional change

Ban­daru Dat­ta­treya, India’s min­is­ter of labour and employ­ment, announced in early April that the gov­ern­ment planned to intro­duce amend­ments to the Child Labour Pro­hi­bi­tion Act in the cur­rent ses­sion of Parliament.

His min­istry, while seek­ing the amend­ments, said the Act will not apply to chil­dren help­ing fam­i­lies in home-based work, and espe­cially fam­i­lies work­ing in agri­cul­ture and animal-rearing. The objec­tive of these amend­ments, accord­ing to min­istry offi­cials, is to help chil­dren nur­ture a spirit of entre­pre­neur­ship. They will par­tic­u­larly help chil­dren of fam­i­lies cur­rently liv­ing at sub­sis­tence lev­els, the min­istry claims.

Child rights activists say the move will ben­e­fit fac­tory own­ers in India’s cow belt. Their prof­its will esca­late four­fold as chil­dren could be made to work longer hours and paid less than adults.

Enakshi Gan­guly Thukral of HAQ Cen­tre for Child Rights believes this is an attempt by the Modi gov­ern­ment to ensure a size­able chunk of the pop­u­la­tion remains in the infor­mal sec­tor, deprived of min­i­mum wages and social security.

“The gov­ern­ment is not in a posi­tion to pro­vide jobs for mil­lions of young peo­ple,” said Thukral. “Such a ret­ro­grade step will help ensure mil­lions of kids remain illit­er­ate and, there­fore, unemployable.”

Bad old days again

Major cut­backs in the 2015 bud­get in the areas of health, women and chil­dren, and edu­ca­tion will fur­ther com­pound this prob­lem. Thukral said labour offi­cials are already guilty of under-reporting child labour. “But once child labour is per­mit­ted under one guise or the other, then even a min­i­mum [level] of account­abil­ity will cease to exist,” she said.

Labour offi­cials at the dis­trict level are empow­ered to file cases against employ­ers hir­ing chil­dren but few employ­ers are ever con­victed. Sta­tis­tics from the labour min­istry for 2004–2014 show that there have been 1,168 con­vic­tions for chil­dren employed in haz­ardous indus­tries with about Rs83 lakh col­lected in fines. This money has been des­ig­nated for the reha­bil­i­ta­tion and wel­fare of child labour. How­ever, in this period, only Rs5 lakh was dis­bursed from this fund.

Khan recalls the period before the RTE Act, when dalals (touts) openly knocked on the doors of rich seths (mer­chants or busi­ness­men) to sell traf­ficked children.

“In the eight­ies, kids were being paid a daily wage of as lit­tle as Rs4 per day,” he said. “We kept up pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment, insist­ing that all out-of-school kids be cat­e­gorised as child labour. This open traf­fick­ing of kids declined sharply with the RTE Act. If the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) suc­ceeds in intro­duc­ing such a dan­ger­ous amend­ment, we will be back to those old days.” . . . .

8. “Pterrafractyl” has presented us with a very important piece about technocracy and the development of the Tor network. Of far greater importance than the develoment of the network itself is the viewpoint expressed by what, for lack of a better term, might be called technocratic fascists. We present “Pterra’s” comments before excerpting and presenting the bulk of the article. David Golum­bia recently wrote a fab­u­lous piece about the tech­no­cratic nature of the ideals behind the Tor Project and the vari­ety of fun­da­men­tally unde­mo­c­ra­tic, polit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal assump­tions that are used to jus­tify its devel­op­ment, includ­ing the invo­ca­tion of nat­ural law argu­ments by Tor’s lead devel­oper, Roger Din­gle­dine. Given Edward Snowden’s pro­mo­tion of Libertarian/Cypherpunk ideals as a global pro-human rights/pro-democracy ral­ly­ing cry, and the inevitable growth of tech­no­cratic temp­ta­tions as tech­no­log­i­cal advances con­tinue, it’s crit­i­cal read­ing.

What might be described as the thesis statement of this very important piece reads: “Such tech­no­cratic beliefs are wide­spread in our world today, espe­cially in the enclaves of dig­i­tal enthu­si­asts, whether or not they are part of the giant corporate-digital leviathanHack­ers (“civic,” “eth­i­cal,” “white” and “black” hat alike), hack­tivists, Wik­iLeaks fans [and Julian Assange et al–D. E.], Anony­mous “mem­bers,” even Edward Snow­den him­self walk hand-in-hand with Face­book and Google in telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it: the polit­i­cal world is bro­ken, they appear to think (rightly, at least in part), and the solu­tion to that, they think (wrongly, at least for the most part), is for pro­gram­mers to take polit­i­cal mat­ters into their own hands. . . First, [Tor co-creator] Din­gle­dine claimed that Tor must be sup­ported because it fol­lows directly from a fun­da­men­tal “right to pri­vacy.” Yet when pressed—and not that hard—he admits that what he means by “right to pri­vacy” is not what any human rights body or “par­tic­u­lar legal regime” has meant by it. Instead of talk­ing about how human rights are pro­tected, he asserts that human rights are nat­ural rights and that these nat­ural rights cre­ate nat­ural law that is prop­erly enforced by enti­ties above and out­side of demo­c­ra­tic poli­tiesWhere the UN’s Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion on Human Rights of 1948 is very clear that states and bod­ies like the UN to which states belong are the exclu­sive guar­an­tors of human rights, what­ever the ori­gin of those rights, Din­gle­dine asserts that a small group of soft­ware devel­op­ers can assign to them­selves that role, and that mem­bers of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties have no choice but to accept them hav­ing that role. . . Fur­ther, it is hard not to notice that the appeal to nat­ural rights is today most often asso­ci­ated with the polit­i­cal right, for a vari­ety of rea­sons (ur-neocon Leo Strauss was one of the most promi­nent 20th cen­tury pro­po­nents of these views). We aren’t sup­posed to endorse Tor because we endorse the right: it’s sup­posed to be above the left/right dis­tinc­tion. But it isn’t. . . .

Obviously, they are not concerned with democratic political ideals in any size, shape, form or manner. The underlying despair inherent in such views reminds us of Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West–a text that was fundamental to the development of fascist ideology. (We discuss the Spengler text is our interviews with Kevin Coogan.) The Spengler text was a major influence on Francis Parker Yockey, among others.

“Tor, Tech­noc­racy, Democracy” by David Golum­bia; Uncomputing.org; 4/23/2015.

As impor­tant as the tech­ni­cal issues regard­ing Tor are, at least as important—probably more important—is the polit­i­cal world­view that Tor pro­motes (as do other projects like it). While it is use­ful and rel­e­vant to talk about for­ma­tions that cap­ture large parts of the Tor com­mu­nity, like “geek cul­ture” and “cypher­punks” and lib­er­tar­i­an­ism and anar­chism, one of the most salient polit­i­cal frames in which to see Tor is also one that is almost uni­ver­sally applic­a­ble across these com­mu­ni­ties: Tor is tech­no­cratic. Tech­noc­racy is a term used by polit­i­cal sci­en­tists and tech­nol­ogy schol­ars to describe the view that polit­i­cal prob­lems have tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions, and that those tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions con­sti­tute a kind of pol­i­tics that tran­scends what are wrongly char­ac­ter­ized as “tra­di­tional” left-right politics.

In a ter­rific recent arti­cle describ­ing tech­noc­racy and its preva­lence in con­tem­po­rary dig­i­tal cul­ture, the philoso­phers of tech­nol­ogy Evan Selinger and Jathan Sad­owski write:

Unlike force wield­ing, iron-fisted dic­ta­tors, tech­nocrats derive their author­ity from a seem­ingly softer form of power: sci­en­tific and engi­neer­ing pres­tige. No mat­ter where tech­nocrats are found, they attempt to legit­imize their hold over oth­ers by offer­ing inno­v­a­tive pro­pos­als untainted by trou­bling sub­jec­tive biases and inter­ests. Through rhetor­i­cal appeals to opti­miza­tion and objec­tiv­ity, tech­nocrats depict their favored approaches to social con­trol as prag­matic alter­na­tives to grossly inef­fi­cient polit­i­cal mech­a­nisms. Indeed, tech­nocrats reg­u­larly con­ceive of their inter­ven­tions in duty-bound terms, as a respon­si­bil­ity to help cit­i­zens and soci­ety over­come vast polit­i­cal frictions.

Such tech­no­cratic beliefs are wide­spread in our world today, espe­cially in the enclaves of dig­i­tal enthu­si­asts, whether or not they are part of the giant corporate-digital leviathanHack­ers (“civic,” “eth­i­cal,” “white” and “black” hat alike), hack­tivists, Wik­iLeaks fans, Anony­mous “mem­bers,” even Edward Snow­den him­self walk hand-in-hand with Face­book and Google in telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it: the polit­i­cal world is bro­ken, they appear to think (rightly, at least in part), and the solu­tion to that, they think (wrongly, at least for the most part), is for pro­gram­mers to take polit­i­cal mat­ters into their own hands.

While these sug­ges­tions typ­i­cally frame them­selves in terms of the words we use to describe core polit­i­cal values—most often, val­ues asso­ci­ated with democracy—they actu­ally offer very lit­tle dis­cus­sion ade­quate to the rich tra­di­tions of polit­i­cal thought that artic­u­lated those val­ues to begin with. That is, tech­no­cratic power under­stands tech­nol­ogy as an area of pre­cise exper­tise, in which one must demon­strate a sig­nif­i­cant level of knowl­edge and skill as a pre­req­ui­site even to con­tribut­ing to the project at all. Yet tech­nocrats typ­i­cally tol­er­ate no such char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of law or pol­i­tics: these are triv­ial mat­ters not even up for debate, and in so far as they are up for debate, they are mat­ters for which the same tech­ni­cal skills qual­ify par­tic­i­pants. This is why it is no sur­prise that amount the 30 or 40 indi­vid­u­als listed by the project as “Core Tor Peo­ple,”the vast major­ity are devel­op­ers or tech­nol­ogy researchers, and those few for whom pol­i­tics is even part of their ambit, approach it almost exclu­sively as tech­nol­o­gists. The actual legal spe­cial­ists, no more than a hand­ful, tend to be ded­i­cated advo­cates for the par­tic­u­lar view of soci­ety Tor prop­a­gates. In other words, there is very lit­tle room in Tor for dis­cus­sion of its pol­i­tics, for whether the project actu­ally does embody widely-shared polit­i­cal val­ues: this is taken as given.

This would be fine if Tor really were “purely” technological—although just what a “purely” tech­no­log­i­cal project might be is by no means clear in our world—but Tor is, by anyone’s account, deeply polit­i­cal, so much so that the devel­op­ers them­selves must turn to polit­i­cal prin­ci­ples to explain why the project exists at all. Con­sider, for exam­ple, the Tor Project blog postwrit­ten by lead devel­oper Roger Din­gle­dine that describes the “pos­si­ble upcom­ing attempts to dis­able the Tor net­work” dis­cussed by Yasha Levine and Paul Carron Pando. Din­gle­dine writes:

The Tor net­work pro­vides a safe haven from sur­veil­lance, cen­sor­ship, and com­puter net­work exploita­tion for mil­lions of peo­ple who live in repres­sive regimes, includ­ing human rights activists in coun­tries such as Iran, Syria, and Rus­sia.

And fur­ther:

Attempts to dis­able the Tor net­work would inter­fere with all of these users, not just ones dis­liked by the attacker.

Why would that be bad? Because “every per­son has the right to pri­vacy. This right is a foun­da­tion of a demo­c­ra­tic society.”

This appears to be an extremely clear state­ment. It is not a tech­no­log­i­cal argu­ment: it is a polit­i­cal argu­ment. It was gen­er­ated by Din­gle­dine of his own voli­tion; it is meant to be a—possibly the—basic argu­ment that that jus­ti­fies Tor. Tor is con­nected to a fun­da­men­tal human right, the “right to pri­vacy” which is a “foun­da­tion” of a “demo­c­ra­tic soci­ety.” Din­gle­dine is cer­tainly right that we should not do things that threaten such demo­c­ra­tic foun­da­tions. At the same time, Din­gle­dine seems not to rec­og­nize that terms like “repres­sive regime” are inher­ently and deeply polit­i­cal, and that “sur­veil­lance” and “cen­sor­ship” and “exploita­tion” name polit­i­cal activ­i­ties whose def­i­n­i­tions vary accord­ing to legal regime and even polit­i­cal point of view. Clearly, many users of Tor con­sider any obser­va­tion by any gov­ern­ment, for any rea­son, to be “exploita­tion” by a “repres­sive regime,” which is con­sis­tent for the many mem­bers of the com­mu­nity who pro­fess a vari­ety of anar­chism or anarcho-capitalism, but not for those with other polit­i­cal views, such as those who think that there are cir­cum­stances under which laws need to be enforced.

Espe­cially con­cern­ing about this argu­ment is that it mis­char­ac­ter­izes the nature of the legal guar­an­tees of human rights. In a democ­racy, it is not actu­ally up to indi­vid­u­als on their own to decide how and where human rights should be enforced or pro­tected, and then to cre­ate autonomous zones wherein those rights are pro­tected in the terms they see fit. Instead, in a democ­racy, cit­i­zens work together to have laws and reg­u­la­tions enacted that real­ize their inter­pre­ta­tion of rights. Agi­tat­ing for a “right to pri­vacy” amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion would be appro­pri­ate polit­i­cal action for pri­vacy in a democ­racy. Even cer­tain forms of (lim­ited) civil dis­obe­di­ence are an impor­tant part of democ­racy. But cre­at­ing a tool that you claim pro­tects pri­vacy accord­ing to your own def­i­n­i­tion of the term, overtly resist­ing any attempt to dis­cuss what it means to say that it “pro­tects pri­vacy,” and then insist­ing every­one use it and nobody, espe­cially those lack­ing the cod­ing skills to be insid­ers, com­plain about it because of its con­nec­tion to fun­da­men­tal rights, is pro­foundly anti­de­mo­c­ra­tic. Like all tech­no­cratic claims, it chal­lenges what actu­ally is a fun­da­men­tal pre­cept of democ­racy that few across the polit­i­cal spec­trum would chal­lenge: that open dis­cus­sion of every issue affect­ing us is required in order for polit­i­cal power to be prop­erly administered.

It doesn’t take much to show that Dingledine’s state­ment about the polit­i­cal foun­da­tions of Tor can’t bear the weight he places on it. I com­mented on the Tor Project blog, point­ing out that he is using “right to pri­vacy” in a dif­fer­ent way from what that term means out­side of the con­text of Tor: “the ‘right to pri­vacy’ does not mean what you assert it means here, at all, even in those juris­dic­tions that (unlike the US) have that right enshrined in law or con­sti­tu­tion.” Din­gle­dine responded:

Live in the world you want to live in. (Think of it as a corol­lary to ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.)

We’re not talk­ing about any par­tic­u­lar legal regime here. We’re talk­ing about basic human rights that humans world­wide have, regard­less of par­tic­u­lar laws or inter­pre­ta­tions of laws.

I guess other peo­ple can say that it isn’t true — that pri­vacy isn’t a uni­ver­sal human right — but we’re going to keep say­ing that it is.

This is tech­no­cratic two-stepping of a very typ­i­cal sort and deeply wor­ry­ing sort. First, Din­gle­dine claimed that Tor must be sup­ported because it fol­lows directly from a fun­da­men­tal “right to pri­vacy.” Yet when pressed—and not that hard—he admits that what he means by “right to pri­vacy” is not what any human rights body or “par­tic­u­lar legal regime” has meant by it. Instead of talk­ing about how human rights are pro­tected, he asserts that human rights are nat­ural rights and that these nat­ural rights cre­ate nat­ural law that is prop­erly enforced by enti­ties above and out­side of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties. Where the UN’s Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion on Human Rightsof 1948 is very clear that states and bod­ies like the UN to which states belong are the exclu­sive guar­an­tors of human rights, what­ever the ori­gin of those rights, Din­gle­dine asserts that a small group of soft­ware devel­op­ers can assign to them­selves that role, and that mem­bers of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties have no choice but to accept them hav­ing that role.

We don’t have to look very hard to see the prob­lems with that. Many in the US would assert that the right to bear arms means that indi­vid­u­als can own guns (or even more pow­er­ful weapons). More than a few con­strue this as a human or even a nat­ural right. Many would say “the citizen’s right to bear arms is a foun­da­tion of a demo­c­ra­tic soci­ety.” Yet many would not. Another democ­racy, the UK, does not allow cit­i­zens to bear arms. Tor, notably, is the home of many hid­den ser­vices that sell weapons. Is it for the Tor devel­op­ers to decide what is and what is not a fun­da­men­tal human right, and how states should rec­og­nize them, and to dis­trib­ute weapons in the UK despite its explicit, democratically-enacted, legal pro­hi­bi­tion of them? (At this point, it is only the exis­tence of legal ser­vices beyond Tor’s con­trol that make this dif­fi­cult, but that has lit­tle to do with Tor’s oper­a­tion: if it were up to Tor, the UK legal pro­hi­bi­tion on weapons would be over­writ­ten by tech­no­cratic fiat.)

We should note as well that once we ven­ture into the ter­rain of nat­ural rights and nat­ural law, we are deep in the thick of pol­i­tics. It sim­ply is not the case that all polit­i­cal thinkers, let alone all cit­i­zens, are going to agree about the ori­gin of rights, and even fewer would agree that nat­ural rights lead to a nat­ural law that tran­scends the power of pop­u­lar sov­er­eignty to pro­tect. Dingledine’s appeal to nat­ural law is not polit­i­cally neu­tral: it takes a side in a cen­tral, ages-old debate about the ori­gin of rights, the nature of the bod­ies that guar­an­tee them.

That’s fine, except when we remem­ber that we are asked to endorse Tor pre­cisely because it instances a pol­i­tics so fun­da­men­tal that every­one, or vir­tu­ally every­one, would agree with it. Oth­er­wise, Tor is a polit­i­cal ani­mal, and the pub­lic should accede to its devel­op­ment no more than it does to any other pro­posed inno­va­tion or law: it must be sub­ject to exactly the same tests every­thing else isYet this is exactly what Tor claims it is above, in many dif­fer­ent ways.

Fur­ther, it is hard not to notice that the appeal to nat­ural rights is today most often asso­ci­ated with the polit­i­cal right, for a vari­ety of rea­sons (ur-neocon Leo Strauss was one of the most promi­nent 20th cen­tury pro­po­nents of these views). We aren’t sup­posed to endorse Tor because we endorse the right: it’s sup­posed to be above the left/right dis­tinc­tion. But it isn’t.

Tor, like all other tech­no­cratic solu­tions (or solu­tion­ist tech­nolo­gies) is pro­foundly polit­i­cal. Rather than claim­ing it is above them, it should invite vig­or­ous polit­i­cal dis­cus­sion of its func­tions and pur­pose (as at least the Tor Project’s out­go­ing Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Andrew Lew­man, has recently stated, though there have yet to be many signs that the Tor com­mu­nity, let alone the core group of “Tor Peo­ple,” agrees with this). Rather than a staff com­posed entirely of tech­nol­o­gists, any project with the poten­tial to inter­cede so directly in so many vital areas of human con­duct should be staffed by at least as many with polit­i­cal and legal exper­tise as it is by tech­nol­o­gists. It should be able to artic­u­late its ben­e­fits and draw­backs fully in the oper­a­tional polit­i­cal lan­guage of the coun­tries in which it oper­ates. It should be able to acknowl­edge that an actual foun­da­tion of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties is the need to make accom­mo­da­tions and com­pro­mises between peo­ple whose polit­i­cal con­vic­tions will dif­fer. It needs to make clear that it is a polit­i­cal project, and that like all polit­i­cal projects, it exists sub­ject to the will of the cit­i­zenry, to whom it reports, and which can decide whether or not the project should con­tinue. Oth­er­wise, it dis­par­ages the very demo­c­ra­tic ground on which many of its pro­mot­ers claim to operate….

9. We conclude by presenting some of the salient points of the intelligence operation undertaken by Snowden/WikiLeaks et al:
  • One goal of the operation is the destabilization of the Obama administration, both its foreign policy and electoral appeal.
  • The Snowden op helped to frustrate Obama’s attempted dialogue with China and Russia, driving the final nail into the coffin of Obama’s “reboot” with Russia.
  • The op resulted in the alienation of many young voters from the Obama administration, resulting in the lowest voter turnout since the end of the Second World War in the 2014 elections that gave the GOP control of both houses of Congress.
  • The “op” was designed to destabilize the NSA and GCHQ.
  • Another goal of the operation was to gain Germany’s inclusion in the Five Eyes spying program. Germany being “shocked, shocked” at the Snowden “disclosures” is ludicrous, since most of the information has been on the public record for years and BND has partnered with NSA on the program for a long time.
  • The “op” was intended to attack and diminish the very Big Tech firms that were supportive of Snowden.
  • All of the participants and associates of the participants in this operation track to the far-right, including and especially Snowden himself.
  • The “op” is an Underground Reich project, with the BND being the whip hand. We also feel that an Underground Reich element of the CIA was involved as well. The current locations of the principals are significant: Glenn Greenwald is in Brazil, a prime locale for the Bormann organization; Assange is in the Ecuadorian embassy in London; Snowden is in Russia; all the rest of the principals are in Germany–Jacob Applebaum of WikiLeaks (who appears to have been instrumental in getting Snowden from Hawaii to Hong Kong, Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, who facilitated Snowden’s flight from Hong Kong to Russia; Laura Poitras, who was instrumental in the “leaking” of the Snowden material and in the Citizen Four documentary; Peter Sunde, the Siemens employee who created the Pirate Bay site that hosted WikiLeaks. WHY are they in Germany, when Germany is partnered with NSA and does the same kind of electronic surveillance? If they are REALLY concerned with privacy, civil liberties etc., Germany is the last place they would be. Foreign citizens have NO privacy rights in Germany.
  • Another successful goal of the Snowden op was to destroy Obama’s re-boot of relations with Russia and begin Cold War II, which has been done. Note that EBay kingpin Pierre Omidyar helped to fund the Ukraine coup, as well as underwriting Glenn Greenwald’s journalistic ventures.

Discussion

5 comments for “FTR #851 Technocratic Fascism and Post-Reaganoid Political Dementia: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook”

  1. Jeff Martin created the “Think Different” campaign for Apple in the mid-late 1990’s after Steve Jobs’ return to Apple. Jeff was regarded as a literal ‘wunderkind’ and headed Apple’s marketing before creating TribalBrands in 2001.

    ——-

    http://www.ssec.si.edu/about/our_board

    Jeff Martin
    Founder and CEO
    TRIBAL
    San Mateo, CA

    Jeff Martin Through the marketing and development of groundbreaking technologies, Jeff Martin has spent his career applying innovation to multimedia product design. Martin continues to build new mobile commerce channels by changing the way consumers engage with the entertainment, sports, and philanthropic industries.

    Referenced by the San Francisco Chronicle as Steve Jobs’ “marketing whiz,” Martin spent ten years as a senior executive at Apple, six of which he was head of music, entertainment, and marketing. Martin was instrumental in the strategy, design, and launch of the iMac, iPod, and Digital Lifestyle products such as iMovie, iTunes, and what is now iLife.

    In 2001, Martin founded Tribal Brands, the first company to drive more than one billion dollars in mobile-based sales for the entertainment industry through 17 global carrier alliances. Martin and his team have since grown the business beyond mobile entertainment to include mCommerce solutions for a variety of consumer brands including Apple, BlackBerry, Chrysler Fiat, Elizabeth Arden, Harley-Davidson, The World Bank, and Verizon.

    In 2008 Martin launched Tribal Technologies, which created the first intelligent database behind mobile applications that predicts consumer behavior and interaction, powers unique mCommerce channels, and provides incentive programs for customers. This extensive mobile analytics platform captures actionable, psychographic data highlighting user tastes and preferences collected through mobile devices.

    Renowned visionary and founding member of the Verizon board of developers, Martin serves as a voting member of The National Recording Academy of Arts & Sciences / GRAMMY Awards, and was appointed by the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations to the UNFPA Global Advisory Board for Innovation.

    Featured on NBC Nightly News and Discovery Channel, Martin is the founder of mPowering, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, transforming the way philanthropic causes collaborate and utilize mobile technology to fight global poverty. mPowering is changing century-old behavior by building mobile rewards systems that provide instant, positive reinforcement for going to school, participating in preventative medicine, and driving village commerce.

    Martin is a co-investor and board member of Plex, a leading Internet TV solution and open media platform embedded in LG NetCast™-enabled HDTVs and a featured app for Google TV. Martin was additionally an advisor and co-investor in VideoSurf, and helped create the world’s first mobile video search solution – purchased by Xbox Live in November 2011.

    Martin is a former international consultant for digital imaging technologies at the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), through which he taught at Carnegie Mellon University’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration (GSIA). Martin has also taught at the Haas’ Executive Education Program at the University of California, Berkeley.

    —-

    http://www.tribaltech.com/index.php/site/leadership

    Jeff Martin, Co-Founder and CEO

    Through the marketing and development of groundbreaking technologies, Jeff Martin has spent his career applying innovation to multimedia product design. Martin continues to build new mobile commerce channels by changing the way consumers engage within the entertainment, sports, and philanthropic industries.

    A former Apple senior executive, Martin spent ten years at the company, six of which he ran Apple’s Global Entertainment and Multimedia Division, reporting directly to Steve Jobs.

    In 2001, Martin founded Tribal Brands, the first company to drive more than one billion dollars in mobile-based sales for the entertainment industry through 17 global carrier alliances. Martin and his team have since grown the business beyond mobile entertainment to include mCommerce solutions for a variety of consumer brands including Verizon, Harley-Davidson, Apple, BlackBerry, Elizabeth Arden, Chrysler Fiat, and The World Bank.

    In 2008, Martin launched Tribal Technologies, which created the first intelligent database behind mobile applications to predict consumer behaviors and interactions, to power unique mCommerce channels and incentive programs for customers. This extensive mobile analytics platform provides actionable, psychographic data highlighting user tastes and preferences captured through the mobile phone. Martin formed Tribal Technologies as a channel for the telecom, automotive, retail, sports, and entertainment industries to reach and interact with consumers using mobile devices.

    Posted by participo | June 22, 2015, 9:50 pm
  2. Remember kids: if it’s decentralized, it’s ok. That seems to be the new rule. And you’re in luck because decentralized censorship-free online forums are on the way! Not only can no government censor them but no entity at all can censor them ever. Unless that entity somehow manages to take down bitcoin:

    Business Insider Australia
    The next Reddit could be based on bitcoin and impossible to censor
    Rob Price 7/7/2015 1:22 AM

    What’s next for Reddit? After the abrupt dismissal of a popular staff member saw its volunteer moderators take hundreds of the site’s most popular communities offline in protest, some users have speculated that this is the beginning of the end for the community-driven news site.

    But there’s another, far more radical vision for Reddit (or a site just like it): A decentralised, bitcoin-powered community that is impossible to shut down, impossible to censor.

    It’s the free speech advocate’s dream — and it’s not as unrealistic as you might think.

    Similar projects are already thriving, and two new blog posts published on Sunday have made clear just how close we already are.

    Bitcoin, meet Reddit

    First we have Fred Wilson, a prominent venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures. Wilson suggests taking one of the underlying principles of bitcoin — the blockchain — and applying to Reddit. The blockchain, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a decentralised ledger that stores every transaction made on the bitcoin network. It means there is no need for a central bank to keep a record of who’s spending what, because everyone has the record. It also means that because everyone has a copy, it is all but impossible to censor.

    Apply that principle to Reddit and it gives you a community, collectively powered by its users, that is impossible to censor. It’s the techno-libertarian dream of effectively limitless free speech.

    Many of Reddit’s recent woes have come from the tensions that have risen between the site’s support of free speech, and the reality of having to police a website for abusive, offensive, or illegal content. (Many users were outraged when the site banned r/FatPeopleHate, a community dedicated to — you guessed it! — hating fat people.)

    Wilson suggests that, actually, “it may be that there is no viable middle ground between a centrally controlled media platform and an entirely decentralized media platform. You are either going to police the site or you are going to build something that cannot be policed even if you want to.”

    He goes on: “The interesting thing about an entirely decentralized media platform is that you can have clients that choose to curate, police, and censor and clients that choose not to … The demand is there. The supply (technology) is there. And we’ve seen a bunch of teams working on this. I think one or more will get it right. And I think that will happen soon.”

    This isn’t just a thought experiment

    Interesting hypothetical idea, right? Well, it gets a lot more exciting when you take into account the fact that Reddit has previously tried to do exactly this.

    A second blog post, published by former Reddit engineer Ryan X. Charles on Sunday, sheds new light on internal experiments at Reddit. Charles, though no longer working at the company, was hired as a “cryptocurrency engineer,” to help develop a digital currency for the site.

    But, he writes, “we actually had a secret, higher priority goal: We wanted to decentralise Reddit.”

    In a discussion last year with then-CEO Yishan Wong, Charles was told that the company “had a high-level plan of decentralizing reddit in the works, and they needed someone to execute this vision. Soon thereafter, I left my job at BitPay, the leading bitcoin payment processing company, to join reddit, Inc. My primary goal at reddit on Day 1 was to decentralize reddit.”

    Ultimately, the plans never came to fruition. Wong parted ways with Reddit, as did Charles just months later after a large funding round. http://www.businessinsider.com.au/fred-wilson-blockchain-reddit-openbazaar-uncensorable-2015-7But how might it have operated? The engineer gives an example:

    Each user has an app, the reddit app, which connects to the reddit p2p network. For most users, the app is a normal web app. Each user funds their own app with a small amount of bitcoin. In order to download content, the user pays a very, very small amount of bitcoin to the peers on the network. This incentivizes people to keep the app open so as to keep servicing the other users. Furthermore, when a user upvotes content, that sends a small amount of bitcoin to the author of that content, thus incentivizing the production of good content. If all the content is authenticated, we can be reasonably sure most payments are going to the right people.

    In this scenario, reddit, Inc. still exists, they just don’t have a monopoly on the hosting of reddit content. Instead, anyone can run the app to host the content, and reddit, Inc. is just the biggest service provider. Any user can run a business by running the app full-time. Any user, including reddit, Inc., can censor content they themselves deliver to other users, but cannot censor content other users send to other users.

    Decentralised networks are far closer than you realise

    Bitcoin is the highest-profile realisation of a blockchain-powered app, but it’s not the only one. One of the other significant examples is OpenBazaar. Originally developed as a successor to online drug marketplace Silk Road, it has evolved to become a decentralised marketplace that lets users buy and sell literally anything using bitcoin.

    As such, OpenBazaar faces all the same challenges that any decentralised media platform would. How do you tackle harassment, or slander, or deceit? How do you deal with objectionable content? How do you persuade people to contribute processing power to the upkeep of a network that will, in all likelihood, be used to help facilitate illegal activity?

    In June, OpenBazaar took $US1 million in VC funding from Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s most high-profile venture capital funds, as well as Union Square Ventures — the same fund Wilson is a partner at. At the time of the funding, lead developer Brian Hoffman was candid about the fact there would inevitably be “misuse” of OpenBazaar by criminals, but hoped the funding round would help “legitimise development of the protocol.”

    Hoffman’s argument is that as OpenBazaar is a protocol (like BitTorrent), rather than a centralised entity (like the Pirate Bay), its developers can’t be held liable for what takes place on it — the same argument the creators of a decentralised Reddit would likely use to wash their hands of illegal content.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hoffman told Business Insider that he thinks Wilson is “super on point with this analysis I think.”

    The developer recommends some caution: “Being both a huge Twitter and Reddit fan I certainly think building a decentralized media company is intriguing but harder than it looks. You kind of saw the difficulty with attempts like Diaspora [an earlier decentralised social network] that never really took off. Projects like OpenBazaar and others are feverishly working to unbundle those types of businesses to push profit generation to the edges rather than by charging a toll with ads or fees in the center.

    “The blockchain and decentralized databases enable us to do so and those offerings are improving every day.”

    “A paradigm shift is happening”

    The outcome of the #RedditRevolt, as some are calling it, is anyone’s guess. More than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for CEO Ellen Pao’s removal over the weekend, while clones like Voat.co are springing up and promising users an “uncensored” Reddit-like experience. But at the same time, it’s not clear how many “ordinary” Reddit users — the majority of whom never even register accounts — care about these company politics.

    Whether it is ultimately Reddit or not, however, it is inevitable that someone experiments with building Wilson’s idea of a decentralised media platform. After all, as Charles points out, companies are already attempting it. When that happens, OpenBazaar may provide a useful social, business, and legal blueprint to follow.

    So the future of public forums like Reddit is bitcoin-powered message boards that no one controls and users power, presumably with microtransactions:


    Each user has an app, the reddit app, which connects to the reddit p2p network. For most users, the app is a normal web app. Each user funds their own app with a small amount of bitcoin. In order to download content, the user pays a very, very small amount of bitcoin to the peers on the network. This incentivizes people to keep the app open so as to keep servicing the other users. Furthermore, when a user upvotes content, that sends a small amount of bitcoin to the author of that content, thus incentivizing the production of good content. If all the content is authenticated, we can be reasonably sure most payments are going to the right people

    That’s the plan. And that’s something fans of not just r/FatPeopleHate, but ban-worthy forums everywhere can rejoice over. Soon, one of the most widely read sites on the web will have no restrictions whatsoever to the content because no one will be able to restrict it. At all. By design. And anyone else will be able to set up their own uncensorable forums too. And the best part is that the webs’ troll army that specialzes in putting the kind of content up that would have previously gotten them banned will not only effectively become unbannable, but they’ll now get paid in bitcoins for their trolling endeavors too! Wow.

    Let’s hope this doesn’t suddenly take the fun out of trolling. It’ll be like playing a video game a ‘God mode’…what’s the point?! LOL.

    Kidding…let’s hope it takes the fun out of trolling.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 7, 2015, 2:55 pm
  3. The Bitcoin assassination markets are about to get some competition. And maybe a lot of competition:

    MIT Technology Review
    Bitcoin’s Dark Side Could Get Darker

    Investors see riches in a cryptography-enabled technology called smart contracts–but it could also offer much to criminals.

    By Tom Simonite on August 13, 2015

    Some of the earliest adopters of the digital currency Bitcoin were criminals, who have found it invaluable in online marketplaces for contraband and as payment extorted through lucrative “ransomware” that holds personal data hostage. A new Bitcoin-inspired technology that some investors believe will be much more useful and powerful may be set to unlock a new wave of criminal innovation.

    That technology is known as smart contracts—small computer programs that can do things like execute financial trades or notarize documents in a legal agreement. Intended to take the place of third-party human administrators such as lawyers, which are required in many deals and agreements, they can verify information and hold or use funds using similar cryptography to that which underpins Bitcoin.

    Some companies think smart contracts could make financial markets more efficient, or simplify complex transactions such as property deals (see “The Startup Meant to Reinvent What Bitcoin Can Do”). Ari Juels, a cryptographer and professor at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, believes they will also be useful for illegal activity–and, with two collaborators, he has demonstrated how.

    “In some ways this is the perfect vehicle for criminal acts, because it’s meant to create trust in situations where otherwise it’s difficult to achieve,” says Juels.

    In a paper to be released today, Juels, fellow Cornell professor Elaine Shi, and University of Maryland researcher Ahmed Kosba present several examples of what they call “criminal contracts.” They wrote them to work on the recently launched smart-contract platform Ethereum.

    One example is a contract offering a cryptocurrency reward for hacking a particular website. Ethereum’s programming language makes it possible for the contract to control the promised funds. It will release them only to someone who provides proof of having carried out the job, in the form of a cryptographically verifiable string added to the defaced site.

    Contracts with a similar design could be used to commission many kinds of crime, say the researchers. Most provocatively, they outline a version designed to arrange the assassination of a public figure. A person wishing to claim the bounty would have to send information such as the time and place of the killing in advance. The contract would pay out after verifying that those details had appeared in several trusted news sources, such as news wires. A similar approach could be used for lesser physical crimes, such as high-profile vandalism.

    “It was a bit of a surprise to me that these types of crimes in the physical world could be enabled by a digital system,” says Juels. He and his coauthors say they are trying to publicize the potential for such activity to get technologists and policy makers thinking about how to make sure the positives of smart contracts outweigh the negatives.

    “We are optimistic about their beneficial applications, but crime is something that is going to have to be dealt with in an effective way if those benefits are to bear fruit,” says Shi.

    Nicolas Christin, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has studied criminal uses of Bitcoin, agrees there is potential for smart contracts to be embraced by the underground. “It will not be surprising,” he says. “Fringe businesses tend to be the first adopters of new technologies, because they don’t have anything to lose.”

    Gavin Wood, chief technology officer at Ethereum, notes that legitimate businesses are already planning to make use of his technology—for example, to provide a digitally transferable proof of ownership of gold

    However, Wood acknowledges it is likely that Ethereum will be used in ways that break the law—and even says that is part of what makes the technology interesting. Just as file sharing found widespread unauthorized use and forced changes in the entertainment and tech industries, illicit activity enabled by Ethereum could change the world, he says.

    “The potential for Ethereum to alter aspects of society is of significant magnitude,” says Wood. “This is something that would provide a technical basis for all sorts of social changes and I find that exciting.”

    For example, Wood says that Ethereum’s software could be used to create a decentralized version of a service such as Uber, connecting people wanting to go somewhere with someone willing to take them, and handling the payments without the need for a company in the middle. Regulators like those harrying Uber in many places around the world would be left with nothing to target. “You can implement any Web service without there being a legal entity behind it,” he says. “The idea of making certain things impossible to legislate against is really interesting.”

    “You can implement any Web service without there being a legal entity behind it…The idea of making certain things impossible to legislate against is really interesting.”
    Yes, the acquisition of more and more power and influence by cyberlibertarian technocrats out to change the world will indeed lead to an “interesting” future.

    In related news…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2015, 5:03 pm
  4. Amazon’s drone delivery program just moved closer to becoming a reality. No, it’s not the robotic drone delivery program. They’ll be using organic drones for this. And, no, it’s not the one ot those biodegradeable fungus drones. It’s the classic organic drone:

    AFP
    Amazon recruits ‘on demand’ delivery workers in US.

    Published
    10 hours ago

    SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Amazon began advertising its plan Tuesday to recruit on-demand delivery workers, in a move that challenges startups in the sizzling sector.

    The US online giant launched its Flex webpage seeking people to deliver Amazon packages on a contract basis, saying it can produce earnings of US$18 to US$25 (S$25.70 to S$35.70) an hour.

    The programme is now available in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, Washington, and “coming soon” to other cities including New York, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland.

    “Be your own boss: deliver when you want, as much as you want,” the website says.

    Amazon enters a field crowded with delivery startups like Postmates and Instacart, and similar services from the ride-sharing giant Uber.

    They will be able to choose blocks of two, four or eight hours to work.

    Amazon’s drive comes amid a growing trend of on-demand employment replacing traditional jobs. While offering more flexibility, the workers generally lack benefits such as unemployment or disability insurance..

    The move comes with Amazon expanding its options for deliveries of groceries and other items in many locations, with same-day delivery for many items.

    “Amazon’s drive comes amid a growing trend of on-demand employment replacing traditional jobs. While offering more flexibility, the workers generally lack benefits such as unemployment or disability insurance.

    Note that Amazon’s new “Flex” courier service is a significant departure from the Uber model in one key respect: it’s paying hourly wages (and yet doesn’t consider them employees), as opposed to Uber where your pay is based solely on customer volume. So that is indeed a potential improvement over the “sharing economy” paradigm, as far as providing some degree of income security for the “contractors” in this new “sharing economy” paradigm. Hopefully the $18-$25 hourly wage Amazon is projecting will actually be the drones make, but since that pay range estimate assumes customer tips, it’s worth keeping in mind that your Amazon delivery guy’s quality of life is now going to be heavily reliant on you tipping him well.

    So drone on little biodegradable organic drones! But never forget, whether or not you’re a “contractor” getting an hourly wage or working for whatever you can make, you’re not just little biodegradable organic drones. You’re biodegradeable organic disposable drones:

    Salon
    Robert Reich: The sharing economy is hurtling us backwarrds
    The former secretary of labor outlines the increasingly dystopian future of America’s workforce

    Robert Reich, ROBERTREICH.org
    Wednesday, Feb 4, 2015 03:45 AM CDT

    How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?

    Meanwhile, human beings do the work that’s unpredictable – odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours – and patch together barely enough to live on.

    Brace yourself. This is the economy we’re now barreling toward.

    They’re Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, and  Airbnb hosts. They include Taskrabbit jobbers, Upcounsel’s on-demand attorneys, and Healthtap’s on-line doctors.

    They’re Mechanical Turks.

    The euphemism is the “share” economy. A more accurate term would be the “share-the-scraps” economy.

    New software technologies are allowing almost any job to be divided up into discrete tasks that can be parceled out to workers when they’re needed, with pay determined by demand for that particular job at that particular moment.

    Customers and workers are matched online. Workers are rated on quality and reliability.

    The big money goes to the corporations that own the software. The scraps go to the on-demand workers.

    Consider Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk.” Amazon calls it “a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence.”

    In reality, it’s an Internet job board offering minimal pay for mindlessly-boring bite-sized chores. Computers can’t do them because they require some minimal judgment, so human beings do them for peanuts — say, writing a product description, for $3; or choosing the best of several photographs, for 30 cents; or deciphering handwriting, for 50 cents.

    Amazon takes a healthy cut of every transaction.

    This is the logical culmination of a process that began thirty years ago when corporations began turning over full-time jobs to temporary workers, independent contractors, free-lancers, and consultants..

    It was a way to shift risks and uncertainties onto the workers – work that might entail more hours than planned for, or was more stressful than expected.

    And a way to circumvent labor laws that set minimal standards for wages, hours, and working conditions. And that enabled employees to join together to bargain for better pay and benefits.

    The new on-demand work shifts risks entirely onto workers, and eliminates minimal standards completely.

    In effect, on-demand work is a reversion to the piece work of the nineteenth century – when workers had no power and no legal rights, took all the risks, and worked all hours for almost nothing.

    Uber drivers use their own cars, take out their own insurance, work as many hours as they want or can – and pay Uber a fat percent. Worker safety? Social Security? Uber says it’s not the employer so it’s not responsible.

    Amazon’s Mechanical Turks work for pennies, literally. Minimum wage? Time-and-a half for overtime? Amazon says it just connects buyers and sellers so it’s not responsible.

    Defenders of on-demand work emphasize its flexibility. Workers can put in whatever time they want, work around their schedules, fill in the downtime in their calendars.

    “People are monetizing their own downtime,” Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s business school, told the New York Times.

    But this argument confuses “downtime” with the time people normally reserve for the rest of their lives.

    There are still only twenty-four hours in a day. When “downtime” is turned into work time, and that work time is unpredictable and low-paid, what happens to personal relationships? Family? One’s own health?

    An opportunity to make some extra bucks can seem mighty attractive in an economy whose median wage has been stagnant for thirty years and almost all of whose economic gains have been going to the top.

    That doesn’t make the opportunity a great deal. It only shows how bad a deal most working people have otherwise been getting.

    Some economists laud on-demand work as a means of utilizing people more efficiently.

    But the biggest economic challenge we face isn’t using people more efficiently. It’s allocating work and the gains from work more decently.

    On this measure, the share-the-scraps economy is hurtling us backwards.

    “But the biggest economic challenge we face isn’t using people more efficiently. It’s allocating work and the gains from work more decently.”
    Allocating work and the gains from work more decently. What a novel concept. And when turning “employees” into “contractors” because the new paradigm (which is actually a 19th century labor model), it’s not really clear what’s going to stop the creation of some sort of 21st century nightmare economy.

    And while it’s frustrating to see a company with Amazon’s size and clout embrace and promote the “disposable drone” employment model, it’s worth keeping in mind that even if Amazon, Uber, and all the other “sharing economy” companies out there actually made their contractors real employees with the protection and security that comes with that status, and let’s say the larger “temp” economy of temp workers that also don’t get the same benefits and protections as full workers also disappeared, that might not be nearly as much of an improvement as one would hope.

    Drone on, disposable bio-drones.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 3, 2015, 11:24 am
  5. Amazon’s drone delivery program just moved closer to becoming a reality. No, it’s not the robotic drone delivery program. They’ll be using organic drones for this. And, no, it’s not the one ot those biodegradeable fungus drones. It’s the classic organic drone:

    AFP
    Amazon recruits ‘on demand’ delivery workers in US.

    Published
    Sep 29, 2015, 11:49 pm SGT

    SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Amazon began advertising its plan Tuesday to recruit on-demand delivery workers, in a move that challenges startups in the sizzling sector.

    The US online giant launched its Flex webpage seeking people to deliver Amazon packages on a contract basis, saying it can produce earnings of US$18 to US$25 (S$25.70 to S$35.70) an hour.

    The programme is now available in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, Washington, and “coming soon” to other cities including New York, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland.

    “Be your own boss: deliver when you want, as much as you want,” the website says.

    Amazon enters a field crowded with delivery startups like Postmates and Instacart, and similar services from the ride-sharing giant Uber.

    They will be able to choose blocks of two, four or eight hours to work.

    Amazon’s drive comes amid a growing trend of on-demand employment replacing traditional jobs. While offering more flexibility, the workers generally lack benefits such as unemployment or disability insurance..

    The move comes with Amazon expanding its options for deliveries of groceries and other items in many locations, with same-day delivery for many items.

    “Amazon’s drive comes amid a growing trend of on-demand employment replacing traditional jobs. While offering more flexibility, the workers generally lack benefits such as unemployment or disability insurance.

    Note that Amazon’s new “Flex” courier service is a significant departure from the Uber model in one key respect: it’s paying hourly wages (and yet doesn’t consider them employees), as opposed to Uber where your pay is based solely on customer volume. So that is indeed a potential improvement over the “sharing economy” paradigm, as far as providing some degree of income security for the “contractors” in this new “sharing economy” paradigm. Hopefully the $18-$25 hourly wage Amazon is projecting will actually be the drones make, but since that pay range estimate assumes customer tips, it’s worth keeping in mind that your Amazon delivery guy’s quality of life is now going to be heavily reliant on you tipping him well.

    So drone on little biodegradable organic drones! But never forget, whether or not you’re a “contractor” getting an hourly wage or working for whatever you can make, you’re not just little biodegradable organic drones. You’re biodegradeable organic disposable drones:

    Salon
    Robert Reich: The sharing economy is hurtling us backwarrds
    The former secretary of labor outlines the increasingly dystopian future of America’s workforce

    Robert Reich, ROBERTREICH.org
    Wednesday, Feb 4, 2015 03:45 AM CDT

    How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?

    Meanwhile, human beings do the work that’s unpredictable – odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours – and patch together barely enough to live on.

    Brace yourself. This is the economy we’re now barreling toward.

    They’re Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, and  Airbnb hosts. They include Taskrabbit jobbers, Upcounsel’s on-demand attorneys, and Healthtap’s on-line doctors.

    They’re Mechanical Turks.

    The euphemism is the “share” economy. A more accurate term would be the “share-the-scraps” economy.

    New software technologies are allowing almost any job to be divided up into discrete tasks that can be parceled out to workers when they’re needed, with pay determined by demand for that particular job at that particular moment.

    Customers and workers are matched online. Workers are rated on quality and reliability.

    The big money goes to the corporations that own the software. The scraps go to the on-demand workers.

    Consider Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk.” Amazon calls it “a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence.”

    In reality, it’s an Internet job board offering minimal pay for mindlessly-boring bite-sized chores. Computers can’t do them because they require some minimal judgment, so human beings do them for peanuts — say, writing a product description, for $3; or choosing the best of several photographs, for 30 cents; or deciphering handwriting, for 50 cents.

    Amazon takes a healthy cut of every transaction.

    This is the logical culmination of a process that began thirty years ago when corporations began turning over full-time jobs to temporary workers, independent contractors, free-lancers, and consultants..

    It was a way to shift risks and uncertainties onto the workers – work that might entail more hours than planned for, or was more stressful than expected.

    And a way to circumvent labor laws that set minimal standards for wages, hours, and working conditions. And that enabled employees to join together to bargain for better pay and benefits.

    The new on-demand work shifts risks entirely onto workers, and eliminates minimal standards completely.

    In effect, on-demand work is a reversion to the piece work of the nineteenth century – when workers had no power and no legal rights, took all the risks, and worked all hours for almost nothing.

    Uber drivers use their own cars, take out their own insurance, work as many hours as they want or can – and pay Uber a fat percent. Worker safety? Social Security? Uber says it’s not the employer so it’s not responsible.

    Amazon’s Mechanical Turks work for pennies, literally. Minimum wage? Time-and-a half for overtime? Amazon says it just connects buyers and sellers so it’s not responsible.

    Defenders of on-demand work emphasize its flexibility. Workers can put in whatever time they want, work around their schedules, fill in the downtime in their calendars.

    “People are monetizing their own downtime,” Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s business school, told the New York Times.

    But this argument confuses “downtime” with the time people normally reserve for the rest of their lives.

    There are still only twenty-four hours in a day. When “downtime” is turned into work time, and that work time is unpredictable and low-paid, what happens to personal relationships? Family? One’s own health?

    An opportunity to make some extra bucks can seem mighty attractive in an economy whose median wage has been stagnant for thirty years and almost all of whose economic gains have been going to the top.

    That doesn’t make the opportunity a great deal. It only shows how bad a deal most working people have otherwise been getting.

    Some economists laud on-demand work as a means of utilizing people more efficiently.

    But the biggest economic challenge we face isn’t using people more efficiently. It’s allocating work and the gains from work more decently.

    On this measure, the share-the-scraps economy is hurtling us backwards.

    “But the biggest economic challenge we face isn’t using people more efficiently. It’s allocating work and the gains from work more decently.”
    Allocating work and the gains from work more decently. What a novel concept. And when turning “employees” into “contractors” because the new paradigm (which is actually a 19th century labor model), it’s not really clear what’s going to stop the creation of some sort of 21st century nightmare economy.

    And while it’s frustrating to see a company with Amazon’s size and clout embrace and promote the “disposable drone” employment model, it’s worth keeping in mind that even if Amazon, Uber, and all the other “sharing economy” companies out there actually made their contractors real employees with the protection and security that comes with that status, and let’s say the larger “temp” economy of temp workers that also don’t get the same benefits and protections as full workers also disappeared, that might not be nearly as much of an improvement as one would hope.

    Drone on, disposable bio-drones.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 3, 2015, 11:49 am

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