First, the American Democracy Dies; Will Modern Capitalism be the Next to Go?

On the other hand, maybe this is the cure for everything.
Clearly, the Market knows best.

My claim that America is in decline? I get seconded here. I’m not the only one.

Doomed! Because people like just don’t want to get a job and work. I kid you not, it says it’s my fault right here. And Our Leaders maybe actually believe it and make guaranteed-to-fail policies based on that belief.

Doomed! This makes me wonder: If Our Leaders didn’t feel protecting Too Big 2 Fail speculative entities, who, other than the inevitably permanently employed would actually have been hurt? What would the damage have actually been? Citicorp goes down; are we supposed to believe no one would have paid a good price to get their global retail banking operations, for example? Or pay fairly for their legitimate investments? I have yet to see a clear simple analysis of what the risk actually was. (Yes, I realize there was the housing bubble and that problem. To the extent TARP was involved with those lenders, let’s just say that I have a problem understanding why, outside of the rightist crazies there’s any belief that uneducated fools taken advantage of by greeedy fucks who know better should be the one to take the loss, or what possible justification there could be for HAMP.)

The true Special Interests corrupting government can be found here.

The foreclosure crisis gets hit by the rule of law. (Link.)

Is this enough proof of corruption for you?

The latest on the Road to Victory in Iraq!

The following is excerpted from Douglas Rushkoff’s piece on why he’s bagging a conventional publisher for his next book. It applies, however, to modern business generally. That is, the tendency to sacrifice tomorrow’s viability and profitability for gains now is becoming ever more rampant. This is what essentially destroyed Detroit and to a slightly lesser degree the music industry.

Today, editing is seen as a market inefficiency, or wasted salary. Most editors spend the bulk of their time acquiring new titles instead of editing the ones they have. So once they’ve read the proposal they’re pretty much done with the creative end. Instead, that year or two from manuscript to book launch is spent “gearing up” the marketing and publicity machines. All sorts of people are supposed to learn about the book, and then “sell” it to distribution partners, chain stores, and independent retailers. The longer this process takes, the more people are involved. And in a self-justifying feedback loop, the more people are involved, the longer the process becomes.

In the end, the books we read and write must keep a few dozen people employed, and the shareholders of at least three major corporations satisfied—almost none of whom actually create value. A book that costs three dollars to print ends up costing the consumer 28 dollars from the retailer, plus tax, plus shipping. The author gets around 10% of cover price per book applied to his advance, returns, discounts, and other creatively accounted debits. Then there’s publicity departments to work through before doing any interviews or asking for reviews—all who have multiple authors competing for the same media opportunities. Getting oneself a great “media hit” can actually get an author in trouble.

Meanwhile, the better editors and publicists—the ones who understand their jobs differently than the corporate publishing model now dictates—are the first to be let go when budgets are cut. Working with an author on a book takes valuable time away from the acquisition of more titles. Working a whole afternoon to get a young novelist on NPR for an hour means a lot less to the executives and their balance sheets than getting a defamed movie star two minutes with Katie Couric.

But there’s hope, for publishing and for other industries and professions nearly destroyed by owners’ greed:

Luckily for writers, however, the editors, marketers, and publicists booted from the corporate publishing industry are starting up little companies of their own. The corporate book industry can’t grow at the rate required by publicly held companies, anyway. This is why it is failing. Publishing is a sustainable business, not a growth industry. So it needs to be run by people looking for sustainable projects and careers—not runaway profits.

In other words, there will be professionals who could do the necessary jobs, and one hopes they’d be available….

Apropos nothing much, what I’ve been meditating on is the fact that capitalism is essentially pretty recent a phenomenon. Yes, you’ve had trade and barter for centuries, millenia, but modern capitalism such as resulted first in the Great Depression then in the current crisis, when the difference between societally beneficial investment and insane speculation disappears, is fairly recent. And as such, I wonder whether it will be a system for the long term (although I’m sure it will at least survive me).

A timeless piece on the inane Park51 controversy.


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