"Umair Haque"

Capitalism torched the world, fascism rose from the ashes

Umair Haque (previously) is in the unfortunate position of being both inarguably correct and horribly depressing when he says "catastrophic climate change is probably inevitable." Read the rest

Capitalism is self-annihilating, not self-perpetuating

Umair Haque (previously) is on fire: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism, Then What’s the Point of Capitalism? "You can see it in stark, comic terms. What are Bezos and Musk doing? Trying to flee to Mars. What’s Gates doing? Recommending you books to read, and trying to save the world with charity. LOL — how ironic. These are different forms of freedom from capitalism. Maybe on Mars, we can build a better world. Maybe through ideas and philanthropy, we can solve the problems that corporations can’t. All the capitalists I see are trying to win freedom from capitalism, in one way or another. Aren’t they?" (via Kottke) Read the rest

America is the world's first poor rich country

Americans' median income is $60,000 -- but the average American couldn't stump up $500 to bail themselves out of an emergency, and a third of Americans can't afford food, shelter and healthcare. Read the rest

Presenting political argument on Twitter, and the "prestige economy"

Here's a fabulous interview with activist Sarah Kendzior, a journalist and researcher who made a great, concise argument against unpaid internship as a series of four tweets last June. Policymic talks with Kendzior about her work on the "prestige economy" and the widening wealth-gap, and also talks about the theory of presenting arguments over Twitter, a subject on which Kendzior is every bit as smart as she is on matters economic and political. Read the rest

Internal audit shows NSA often breaks privacy rules, made thousands of violations a year

The Washington Post today published several big scoops related to the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. The paper's investigations were triggered by documents leaked to them "earlier this summer" by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. He has sought political asylum from a number of nations, and is currently in Moscow. The U.S. wants to charge him with espionage for his revelations.

Barton Gellman writes about an internal NSA audit document which shows that since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, it has broken privacy rules thousands of times per year--and sometimes because of typos.

Read the rest

Michael Jackson and the "Zombieconomy"

Snip from a Harvard Business blog post by Umair Haque on the digital-age business lessons to be learned from Michael Jackson's death, and analysis of the purported revenue from his career over the last three decades:

Want to know why we have a zombieconomy? Because the beancounters killed the incentives to create real value.

Let's use MJ's tragic death as a mini case-study. $300 million over, for example, 25 years? That's $12 million a year.

I'm deliberately leaving out ads, endorsements, concerts, etc., to focus on the the structural problems in one industry: music.

If the world's biggest pop star only made $12 million a year from his recordings, why would anyone make serious music? Where did the rest of the money go? Why, straight into record labels' pockets. Did they make better music with it? Nope — they made Britney and Lady GaGa. And that's how they killed themselves: by underinvesting in quality, to rake in the take.

Wait a second — that sounds familiar. You can add back in the endorsements, etc. now — they only double the figure: to about $25 million.

If the world's biggest pop star only made $25 million a year in total, something's very, very wrong. Where's the rest of the money? Why can't a resource as scarce as the King of Pop capture more value?

Michael Jackson and the Zombieconomy (via Bob Lefsetz) Read the rest

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