keys to freedom

I was struck today how much the United States is tipping towards a culture of presumed guilt. It is a sign of the times that people are being forced to prove their innocence.

Chris Corrigan steps into The Innocence Project:

Unlike guilty convicts who are able to access a system of resources upon serving their time, exonerees are often assumed to be satisfied with freedom and justice itself. But when you have spent 10, 15 , 20 or more years in prisons like Sing Sing, Utica and Angola, freedom is not an easy transition to make.

What strikes me [among the dozens I have met] is that they are at the same time some of the happiest people I have ever met, and yet there is a deep core of sadness for both what was taken from them as well as what is being taken from others who are behind bars because of mistakes, lies and ignorance. They are imbued with a core purpose that awakens the potential in others, that inspires and invites and draws others to their cause.

not a fair share

CNNMoney: Although its international businesses netted a $10.8 billion profit and General Electric filed more than 7,000 income tax returns in hundreds of global jurisdictions last year, when push came to shove, the company owed the U.S. government a whopping bill of $0.

Yes. After Getting Bailed Out By American Taxpayers, General Electric Pays ZERO U.S. Taxes, Pretending that All of Its Profits are Overseas

generational equity

Younger people bellyache about paying for Social Security, but the cost of kindergarten through college is an entitlement too. To pay for the education of the young that provides a lifetime of gains, today’s elderly experienced a net loss:

Using historical data and future projections, Lee and his research team calculated the net value of Social Security, Medicare and public education at all levels – minus taxes – for Americans born from 1850 through 2090.

They found that people ages 38 and younger – including those born 20 years from now – will make net gains in earnings of 4 to 6 percent over their lifetimes.

By contrast, those now aged 63 to 80 will have paid out more in taxes than they will have received in Social Security, Medicare and public education benefits, losing 1 to 2 percent in net earnings over their lifetimes.

incompetence and ignorance

Michael Lewis has put good effort into helping us understand why some people were able to see our  financial disaster while most were so blind.

His point is from Tolstoy:

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.

A Pack of Fools, James Kwak prefers to say, is what was going on behind the scenes on Wall Street.

Free financial markets are supposed to create efficient prices.

Every argument about the benefits of financial markets (optimal allocation of capital, liquidity, etc.) depends on this one point.

But the prices in this market were being set based on the dealers’ own interests. Think about that.

value and behavior

Think of Edward O. Wilson, one of the most important biological theorists since Darwin.

Author of some two dozen books, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, expert on social insects, discoverer of new species, passionate advocate of bio­diversity, he is best known for his groundbreaking work on the evolution of social behavior.

Describing ‘the decency of ants’, no writer could do this better.

When the nest must be defended, its eldest residents — with the least long-term utility remaining to them — become the most suicidally aggressive: Where humans send their young men to war, ants send their old ladies.

inhabiting her creation

Lady Gaga, The New YorkerStefani Joanne Germanotta: “I don’t like Los Angeles. The people are awful and terribly shallow, and everybody wants to be famous but nobody wants to play the game. I’m from New York. I will kill to get what I need.”

“If you know me, and you call me Stefani, you don’t really know me at all.”

“A year from now, I could go away, and people might say, ‘Gosh, what ever happened to that girl who never wore pants?’

“Rule the world! What’s life worth living if you don’t rule it?”

we made us

Yes, it’s socialism and welfare. For whom? Do you know their names?

One of the most understated issues in American political discourse is is is surging extraction.

Plutocracy Reborn.

thenation.com - Extreme Inequality

tsunami of weight

Australia reports that obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness. “What we have done about obesity is not working. This issue needs concentrated and determined action,” via the Council of Australian Governments.

Similar to the US, more than 60 per cent of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese.

the self-proclaimed

Conservatives and libertarians who claim early years of American independence as golden age of liberty can only do so by ignoring slavery.

David Boaz:

I am particularly struck by libertarians and conservatives who celebrate the freedom of early America, and deplore our decline from those halcyon days, without bothering to mention the existence of slavery.

people are contagious

Obesity is contagious and can spread like a pox from one friend to another, and then another, and then to one more. Both cooperation and selfishness can spread like a virus. Poor sleep and pot smoking are contagious among teens.

Dave Johns:

Not until midcentury did economists, sociologists, and psychologists begin to study contagion with rigor.

One strand of research has examined the spread of relatively simple behaviors: things like coughing, applause, and face-rubbing. Another strand has looked at more complex contagions—speeding, baby-making, and suicide.

A newer area of interest is emotional contagion, which has gotten a boost from the discovery of so-called “mirror neurons”—contagion receptors in the brain that supposedly facilitate the transmission of contagious anxiety, satisfaction and fear.

rapid-fire nonsense

Glenn Beck as a fraud: A man who only embraces conservatism and the tea party movement as a means to furthering his significant personal wealth and career as a successful TV goon.

Bob Cesca:

My reoccurring reaction is generally twofold. One: he’s exhausting to watch because just as I’m wrapping my head around one line of googly-eyed horseshit, he belts out another ridiculous, melodramatic or dangerous line, and before I know it, I’m faced with a log-jam of crazy, forcing me to scramble for either an oxygen mask or a stiff drink. And, two: why pay attention to the television equivalent of an escaped mental patient screaming gibberish on the median strip at a busy intersection?

But to underestimate Glenn Beck as just some sort of random extra from Cuckoo’s Nest, as I admittedly have done, is a mistake as it barely scratches the surface of what his scam is all about. A schizoid raving street loon tends to command attention purely for the freak show curiosity of passers by, yet the nonsense is rarely taken seriously. This isn’t the case with Glenn Beck.

Several million people every day take his word for it. They’re suckered into buying the ruse. And it’s bad for America.

digital and real worlds

Steve Puma:

Young gamers spend approximately 10,000 hours playing online games by the time they reach age 21.

While this number may not seem significant, at first, it happens to be about the same number of hours a child will spend in school between 5th grade and high school graduation.

Game designer Jane McGonigal asks, “Exactly what skills are these gamers getting good at?”

industrial thirst

Annual water extraction is about 50% of the flow of our three largest rivers.

Little information is available on supply chain or indirect water use for the production of goods and services in the United States. Carnegie Mellon’s study noticed that it takes:

— 270 gallons of water to produce $1 worth of sugar
— 200 gallons of water to make $1 worth of pet food
— 140 gallons of water to make $1 worth of milk

Residential or domestic water use is 6.4% of total withdrawals. Irrigation, 34% of our total water usage, and power generation account for 90% of direct water withdrawals, the overwhelming majority.

ripoff sans

Diane Blohowiak, IT director at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, switched the font on the campus e-mail systems because Century Gothic uses 30% less printer ink than Arial.

net net kvetch

Feels like rich uncles have moved into our master bedrooms.

ExxonMobile paid $36 billion in taxes last year. None to the USA.

Out of Chevron’s $19 billion paid out for income tax, just $200 million were paid to the USA. With sales of $157 billion, GE arranged an income tax loss of $1.1 billion. BofA took writedowns to show a $2 billion loss on $4.4 billion of taxable income. Hewlett Packard paid the USA $1.75 billion on its $115 billion sales.

Forbes’ Corporate Taxes in Pictures. I wonder if we will ever truly know if our costs to keep these companies is greater than what they provide?