Category Archives: Economics

Products need to be modular, durable, adaptable, repairable, recyclable…

The mufti-dimensional mega-crisis crisis includes resource depletion, waste, and pollution. Products need to be modular, durable, adaptable, repairable, recyclable, and efficient in their use of scarce resources. The old corporate model of private profit maximization encourages just the opposite.

Here’s one example of how products can be made the right way.

Ed Asner–The insanity of Florida’s proposed nuclear plant

This video featuring Ed Asner makes some powerful arguments against the proposed new nuclear power plant in Florida.

One need not argue the pros and cons of nuclear power. If we take away government subsidies and guarantees, the free market will kill nuclear power automatically.

Unemployment figures explained

Bud Abbot and Lou Costello were one of the most popular comedy teams of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good subject. Terrible times. It’s about 9%.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: You just said 9%.

ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 9%.

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?

ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed.  You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: But … they are out of work!

ABBOTT:   No, you miss my point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work, can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.

COSTELLO: To who?

ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you’re off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how you get to 9%. Otherwise it would be 16%. You don’t want to read about 16% unemployment do ya?

COSTELLO: That would be frightening.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like a president.

An amazing story about human progress

This short video graphically  shows improvements in human health and wealth over the past 200 years. But it leaves some lingering questions: Does longevity equate to health? Is higher money income a causal factor?

An inspiring story of ecological, economic, and social regeneration

Willie Smits: How we re-grew a rainforest

Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding Resources

Here is a brief compilation of some Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding websites I’m aware of. Crowdfunding is being increasingly used to fund enterprises that serve the community and the common good.–t.h.g.

Updated January 18, 2012

Crowdsourcing.org

“Everything and anything crowdsourcing”

http://www.crowdsourcing.org/

Learn about the explosive growth of crowdsourcing to share ideas, information and content. Search our communities to see how crowdsourcing is being used to create, raise funds, engage customers, innovate, share knowledge, make predictions, promote social and environmental causes. Discover what crowdsourcing tools and platforms are available.

Share your knowledge of who’s doing what in crowdsourcing by uploading articles, documents, videos, blogs and news posts and also get involved in our question and answer forums. Assign your content submissions to the crowdsourcing communities of your choice to make your content easy to find. Educate and inform others and grow your knowledge.

Connect. Crowdsourcing.org is the place to connect and network with others that can learn from you and teach you. Join in the dialogue, share your views, interact online with other members. The more active you are the more you will benefit from being part of a network of Crowdsourcing followers and experts.

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IndieGoGo

http://www.indiegogo.com/

IndieGoGo helps you raise more money, from more people, faster.

Have something you are passionate about? You can create a funding campaign to raise money quickly and securely by tapping into your network of supporters and beyond. Our trusted platform has helped to raise millions of dollars for over 15,000 campaigns, across 157 countries.

Designed to meet your funding needs, anyone can start raising money immediately on IndieGoGo. Offer unique perks or tax deductions to your contributors in lieu of offering profit, but always keep 100% ownership. Each campaign has the opportunity to be featured on our homepage, placed in the press, or exposed via social media.

Join the tens of thousands of people that are visiting IndieGoGo everyday – start your campaign or find something to fund!

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Kickstarter

http://www.kickstarter.com/

Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects.

We believe that:

• A good idea, communicated well, can spread fast and wide.
• A large group of people can be a tremendous source of money and encouragement.

Kickstarter is powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.

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GoGetFunding

http://gogetfunding.com/

Go Get Funding lets you raise money for personal plans, events, causes and more.

Use our site to support people you know, or others you can get to know!
Along with the satisfaction of helping people, you´ll also enjoy any rewards offered by fundraisers.

The Amazon Mechanical Turk

https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome

The Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace that enables computer programmers (known as Requesters) to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks which computers are unable to do. It is one of the suites of Amazon Web Services. The Requesters are able to pose tasks known as HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), such as choosing the best among several photographs of a store-front, writing product descriptions, or identifying performers on music CDs. Workers (called Providers in Mechanical Turk’s Terms of Service) can then browse among existing tasks and complete them for a monetary payment set by the Requester. To place HITs, the requesting programs use an open Application Programming Interface, or the more limited Mturk Requester site. [from Wikipedia]

Harvey Wasserman on ownership and class warfare

It may not really be “socialism,” but community ownership seems to be both sane and fair. The new Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers are the prime example. They are the only community-owned team in the NFL, but as Wasserman points out that ownership structure is no longer allowed. Why not? It seems to fit the pattern of privatization and dispossession that has been going on for a very long time. Recent examples are the demutualization of banks and insurance companies that I wrote about in my book, The End of Money. What will it take to reverse that tide and bring freedom back to organized sports? A boycott by fans might be a place to start, followed by the creation of new teams and leagues that make community ownership a requisite condition.–t.h.g.

Socialism triumphs at Super Bowl as class war looms
Harvey Wasserman
February 7, 2011 

Socialism has again triumphed at the Super Bowl.

The only major sports team owned by the community in which it lives has toughed out its fourth modern-era National Football League championship.

But the billionaire bosses of the rest of the league may be about to again assault the players—and the rest of us—who make it all possible.

Predictably, though FOX broadcast the Super Bowl, CBS refused to air a player’s union ad that was to air during another game on February 5.

The Packers’ gritty win underscores the kind of ownership that should be in place for all major sports teams. As a part owner (3 shares) of the Packers, I hate watching greedy union-busting bosses blackmail whole cities for tax breaks and new stadiums. They whine about “losses” but won’t open their books to the public or players.

The owners’ poster child is Daniel Snyder, whose Washington Redskins bears the most inexcusably racist moniker in America. Snyder is now suing the local alternative paper for an in-depth article he claims libeled him.

With some notable exceptions—like the now deceased Abe Pollin, who changed the name of the cross-town NBA Bullets—the owners treat these franchises like toys. They get taxpayers to fund obscenely overpriced arenas that double as private palaces and that always drain the communities that can afford it least. Then they threaten to leave town unless they get whatever they want.

Which now includes a huge give-back from the players and numerous other concessions.

The players are certainly well-paid by current national standards. And they’re hardly a band of angels. But unlike the owners, the game doesn’t happen without them.

And we’re only beginning to grasp the seriousness of the injuries many endure. Countless concussions suffered as “part of the game” could have been mitigated throughout league history by facing up to the issue and demanding better helmets and thoughtful rule changes.

The issue is doubly serious because the game as played downstream from colleges to little leagues mimics the NFL. Thousands of young people copying the big leaguers have suffered needless injury, often with lifelong impact.

But owners will almost always protect the status quo. And their corporate media will bill this likely lockout as a fight between “millionaires and billionaires.”

In fact, it’s between workers and owners.

As the superb sports commentator Dave Zirin has shown players who dare to speak out on issues of social justice often face serious repercussions from owners and the mainstream media.

Network sports bloviators love to rhapsodize on the small-town “cheese-head” roots of the Packers. But they never mention its not-for-profit status, or that the league now bans such ownership for other teams.

This is the great tragedy of American professional sports. Those of us who love these games, and the communities that support them, deserve to own the teams.

As the Packers have shown yet again, a not-for-profit enterprise can win the big games. And when owned by the towns in which they play, players and the society as a whole can win too.

Congratulations, fellow cheese-heads. May the rest of professional sports crumble at the feet of our community-based, not-for-profit ownership model.

And at those of the people who make the game possible by actually playing it.


HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is atwww.harveywasserman.com and www.lulu.com. This article was originally published by The Free Press, www.freepress.org.