Thomas Jefferson saw three main threats to democracy — governing
elites, organized religion and commercial monopolists (whom he
referred to as “pseudo-aristocrats”). With the above
precedent in mind, it is hardly surprising that he was keen to
include freedom from monopoly in the Bill of Rights. But, mainly
thanks to his Federalist opponents, that particular clause slipped
through the cracks of the constitution. From then on it was a
consistent goal of corporations to win the constitutional rights of
individual citizens for their businesses. This aim was largely
thwarted, but it built up momentum in the aftermath of the Civil War,
when the railroads acquired wealth and power that they were anxious
to convert into legal privilege. The Fourteenth Amendment of 1868
sought to guarantee former slaves the equal protection of the laws,
by making illegal discriminatory provision of education, for example.
This provision was then used by the railroads to sue states and local
authorities for regulations enacted specifically to control them, on
the grounds that this created “different classes of persons.”
The issue of corporate personhood was widely debated in the
newspapers of the day. With their wealth and longevity, the
corporations could keep coming back to the courts until they won. And
eventually they did, through the Supreme Court judgment of 1886 in
the case of Santa Clara County vs. the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Some of the fascinating images from the Kuriositas gallery Under the Electron Microscope. Check it out for more photos and a great explanation of the techniques used to get them. Click on the images above for descriptions of what’s pictured.
This is what moral bankrupcy looks like:
After [Florida Governor Rick] Scott last month rescheduled the execution for Sept. 10, the date of [Attorney General Pam] Bondi’s “hometown campaign kickoff” at her South Tampa home, Bondi’s office asked that it be postponed. The new date is Oct. 1.
Scott said Monday that he did not know the reason for the request, and he declined to answer when asked whether he considers a campaign fundraiser an appropriate reason to reschedule an execution.
The focus of the article to which I’ve linked is on delaying justice. But that’s only half of the story. For people like me, who oppose the state killing its citizens (even those who commit crimes), the other half of the story is the utter and complete moral bankrupcy of telling a healthy human being that you’re going to take him out of a cage on September 10 to pump his body full of poison and then, after he’s suffered with that knowledge for a little while, tell him that you’ve changed your mind, that he’ll get to live for a few more weeks because of the AG’s previously scheduled fundraising event, and that you’ll just poison him to death on October 1 instead.
This is torture, plain and simple, and it’s inherent in our death penalty system; most of the time, of course, it happens because of legal challenges that result in last minute stays of execution. But in this case it’s being done not in a last ditch attempt to save the life of the condemned man, but to ensure that the state official who wants to kill him can also have a nice time at her fundraising party.
The fundamental structure of human populations has changed exactly twice in evolutionary history. The second time was in the past 150 years, when the average lifespan doubled in most parts of the world. The first time was in the Paleolithic, probably around 30,000 years ago. That’s when old people were basically invented.
Throughout hominid history, it was exceedingly rare for individuals to live more than 30 years. Paleoanthropologists can examine teeth to estimate how old a hominid was when it died, based on which teeth are erupted, how worn down they are, and the amount of a tissue called dentin. Anthropologist Rachel Caspari of Central Michigan University used teeth toidentify the ratio of old to young people in Australopithecenes from 3 million to 1.5 million years ago, early Homo species from 2 million to 500,000 years ago, and Neanderthals from 130,000 years ago. Old people—old here means older than 30 (sorry)—were a vanishingly small part of the population. When she looked at modern humans from the Upper Paleolithic, about 30,000 years ago, though, she found the ratio reversed—there were twice as many adults who died after age 30 as those who died young.
But what never gets called out—despite using the exact same playbook—is poor-shaming.
Here’s how it works: You’re poor because you’re not good.
This is the land of opportunity. If you’re not wealthy it’s because you’re lazy. All you need are some bootstraps to pull up and you’re on your way! It’s framed as a moral issue. Lack of wealth indicates lack of morality.
“Four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives,” writes the AP according to their survey published this week.
Right now, 48 million Americans are in poverty. That’s one third more than the entire population of Canada (34 million). Our wealth inequality statistics are staggering. We have the worst infant mortality rate in the industrialized world. Twenty percent of our nation’s children live in poverty.
That’s not “opportunity.”
How have we resolved these sobering numbers? By kicking the downtrodden.
What Low Wage Workers Need Most
As King often made clear, he wasn’t trying to enforce just civil rights, least of all the right to sit at a lunch counter, but more like the right to work the counter and make (back then) $2 or $3 or, better, $4 an hour, and even run the restaurant. Or, as he once put it, he was interested in enforcing not just our rights under the U.S. Constitution — because he realized we don’t have a lot of rights. He was calling for the enforcement of human rights, religiously based for him, but also based in the New Deal, including both the right to a job and the right to a living wage.
As King well knew, the U.S Constitution, even the Declaration of Independence, fell far too short in terms of rights. He came of age in the late 1940s when Eleanor Roosevelt and disenchanted New Dealers and French intellectuals such as Jacques Maritain were pushing the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights: all the rights that the New Deal liberals could not get through the U.S. Senate, given Dixie and Republican resistance, but were putting in the new constitutions of the countries that our armies were occupying. Like them, King wanted to turn Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms into law.
That’s why it’s misleading to think that King turned to economic rights, or labor-type issues, after his civil-rights phase. The labor movement of the 1930s gave King some of his ideas for what the civil-rights movement should be. In turn, the civil-rights movement of the 1960s gave him ideas for what the labor movement should be.
For most people who consider that fatness is a problem, a problem called obesity, among them there are heated debates about who’s to blame and who’s to be held responsible. And one of the things I did for research with some of my graduate students: I coded hundreds of news reports, did different types of comparisons, different types of samples, but across these samples what we found was consistently the most dominant blame frame is that of personal responsibility. Sometimes its combined with sociocultural blame frame, meaning it’s the food industry, or poverty, or other factors that contribute to the rising rates of obesity, but overwhelmingly in the U.S. the focus is on personal responsibility. And this is consistent with a more general focus on personal responsibility in the US and a growing focus on this with Reagan, Thatcher, Neoliberals, and etc. And the political implications of this are important….
We have a population in the United States, the poor population, that doesn’t have access to healthcare, are suffering from growing levels of inequality; but we know that lack of access to health care and inequality, stress, and insecurity, all these things have been shown to raise levels of cortisol and lead to heart disease and other negative health outcomes. And yet, by talking about the fact that these people can’t push away from the table and just keep stuffing themselves, we’re distracting attention from the structural inequalities, the economic inequalities, and instead blaming the population that is poorer and disproportionately people of color. And then you hear discourses such as ,”why should we be funding food stamps if people are eating too much as it is ?” and, “the problem isn’t that they don’t have enough food to eat , its that they are eating too much and can’t make good decisions and we should punish them”. This is a very important and disturbing trend we should watching.
also wondering what percentage of minimum wage workers are women of color.
According to this article, 62.7% of all minimum wage workers are women. Of those, 15.9% are Black, 18.8% are Latina, and 3% are Asian (with 1.2% as “other”).
As unemployment holds steady and lower-class income plummets, the best and, frankly, only option for the country’s working poor is to try and come up with a new service like Facebook that forever changes how people communicate with one another, and then monetize it.
I doubt there’s anyone born in the age of television syndication who doesn’t have a haunting, dream-intruding memory of a Twilight Zone episode. We all know them: ventriloquist dummies who talk on their own, gremlins on airplane wings, neighbors who are space aliens or — worse still — who accuse us of being aliens. The visuals of The Twilight Zone form a kind of collective generational nightmare.
The remarkable thing about the man who created many of these episodes from 1959 to 1964, Rod Serling, is that the writer-presenter learned his craft not in the visual era but in the age of radio drama. It has been observed that Serling, whose characters routinely launched into long (and often enrapturing) moralistic jeremiads, wrote more for the ear than the eye. And it was Serling’s sense of moral outrage — against conformity, scapegoating, war as a first resort, commercialism above quality — that brought posterity to his scripts and stories, and that served to marry speculative writing and filmmaking, perhaps permanently, to some kind of ethical position-taking.