The past two years have seen a tremendous shift in the public perception of capitalism and socialism, the character of philanthropy as reputation-laundry rather than generosity, and the nature of wealth as an indicator of sociopathy, not virtue or cleverness.
Read the rest
I've spent a lot of time in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It's a beautiful place, filled with friendly people and an insanely low cost of living... if you're from somewhere further north in North America. In my experience, Mexicans are a hard-working people. They want to earn their way. That's not easy to do in a nation where many citizens, when they can find work are forced to work for pauper's wages. In some cases, the only compensation for doing your job in Mexico comes in the form of tips from those willing to help you get by. The folks that bag groceries and other consumer goods in big box stores like Walmart? Nothing but tips, baby. With any luck, at least in Cancun, this could soon change.
From Riviera Maya News:
With the support of la Confederación Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos (CROC) workers at Walmart stores including Sam’s Club, Bodega Aurrerá, Superama and Walmart demanded a salary for their work.
The workers, who are grocery baggers at the various Walmart outlets, are not paid anything beyond tips. El Comité Ejecutivo Nacional of CROC says that the Walmart chain has refused talks to solve the lack-of-pay issues with its workers.
El Comité Ejecutivo Nacional says the American chain store violates their labor rights. The workers protested outside a 24-hour Cancun Walmart where they demanded a salary and legal benefits for the packers since their tips have drastically decreased due to the ban on plastic bags.
Hard work for a fair wage? Read the rest
A man in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, was confused when the Tire Discounters next to Taco Bell refused to honor a quote, then bemused to learn that the place he'd called was actually Discount Tires—on the other side of the Taco Bell.
"What I experienced that day was crazy, funny, yet I'm still mad at the asshole who did this," adds Michael Gearlds.
Gearlds offers a simple but perfectly cromulent critique of the hotelier model of location competition, the hotelling principle of minimal differention, and their spread to other retail segments.
I wanted to see if the restaurant on the other side of the tire shop was a Chipotle, but according to Google Maps it's a Red Robin. Read the rest
Small towns had business districts. Then small towns had Walmarts. Then small towns had nothing.
Read the rest
For nearly 20 years retailers in downtown Winnsboro, South Carolina struggled to compete with Walmart's cheap products and one-stop shopping. As we reported in 2016, Walmart closed its supercenter there three years ago, one of 154 stores it shuttered across the country that year. NewsHour Weekend's Christopher Booker returned to see what life after Walmart is like for the small American town.
Apple doesn't give a shit about your child's education. But then, neither does any other tech company: they only care about what they can sell to schools and parents.
This likely isn't news to anyone reading this, but I feel like it needs to be said.
This morning Apple held an education-centric event at a high school in Chicago. They released a new iPad. With the exception of a processor bump and the fact that it supports Apple Pencil, it's very much like the last iteration of the iPad. They're selling it for $329 or, if you're a student or educator, it can be had for $299. Need an Apple Pencil? That'll be an additional $99. Let me reframe this for you: One of the most lucrative companies in the world thinks it's a grand gesture to knock $30 off the price of their hardware for anyone involved in book learnin'. But, if they want to make full use of the iPad's capabilities, it'll cost them another $99 to do so.
This, at a time when when parents are running crowdsourcing campaigns for classroom supplies and to keep schools heated during the cold months of the year.
The real reason that they've shaved a sliver of fat off their pricing is because they're getting bled to death in the education sector by companies churning out less expensive Chrome OS hardware. Google's Chrome OS might not be able to boast the wide assortment of quality apps that an iOS device does, but the operating system doesn't need high-end specs to run on. Read the rest
"A recent study conducted by Hasbro revealed that nearly half of game players attempt to cheat during Monopoly games, so in 2018, we decided it was time to give fans what they've been craving all along - a Monopoly game that actually encourages cheating," Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of Hasbro gaming told Insider.
The object of the game is still to be the player with the most money at the game's end, but it may be a little tougher to accomplish. The Cheater's Edition will ask players to get away with cheating as many times as they can during game play. That means players can skip spaces, try to avoid paying rent, and slip a few extra bills from the bank when no one's looking.
Yes, it comes with handcuffs too. Read the rest
In the New York Times, Jason Schreier reports on the game industry's cult of crunch: the pervasive practice of making workers put in 20-hour days, resulting in one met deadline and a many lines of low-quality code.
“People think that making games is easy,” said Marcin Iwinski, a co-chief executive and co-founder of CD Projekt Red, the Polish developer of a 2015 game, The Witcher 3. “It’s hard-core work. It can destroy your life.” Mr. Iwinski, like many other top video game creators, sees crunch as a necessary evil ... A growing faction of game developers, however, argues that it’s possible to make good games without crunching. Tanya X. Short, a co-founder of the independent studio Kitfox Games, asked colleagues to sign an online pledge against excessive overtime. The pledge, which was published last year, has been signed by over 500 game developers. “Crunch trades short-term gains for long-term suffering,” said Ms. Short in an email.
Hey, ever met a geeky computer programmer with a bottomless need to prove his own competence and a political ideology perfectly tailored to capital's needs? Read the rest
You might think every American state is overrun with tech billionaires, given the amount of press they get, but Forbes shows that the richest person in each state is more likely to have made their fortune in fashion, retail, finance, or investing: Read the rest
Julia Wick found a cinematic trailer for a Opus, a "$100 million "state of the art dream home" currently for sale in Los Angeles." The creators "wanted to do something really high art," she quotes a spokesperson mercifully left unnamed. [via JWZ]
The video was created by the Society Group—a luxury public relations firm whose "mission is to spark authentic conversations in society by intersecting the worlds of art + architecture + lifestyle"—along with a "celebrity developer," a high-end realtor, and "a french director who specializes in marketing luxury brands." We spoke to the Society Group's Alexander Ali over email for some more information.
It's all so Trumpian. Read the rest
A Harvard University survey found that among adults between 18 and 29 years of age, 51 percent "do not support capitalism." 42 support it, reports The Washington Post. A third say they support socialism as an alternative.
The survey is "difficult to interpret" due to the simplicity of choices and their lack of definition, say pollsters.
Read the rest
Capitalism can mean different things to different people, and the newest generation of voters is frustrated with the status quo, broadly speaking. All the same, that a majority of respondents in Harvard University's survey of young adults said they do not support capitalism suggests that today's youngest voters are more focused on the flaws of free markets.
The Onion proves that it's still got it (and that you can distill the entire joke to a single headline if you have the right shooping skills): Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos.
Read the rest
Sometimes you just want the world to burn, especially when it's ending. In Little Inferno, a wintry apocalypse has engulfed the Earth, and you're sitting by a fireplace throwing everything in the flames.
Fracking is the perfect metaphor for the service-charge, extraction oriented economy: "suck up a sky’s worth of valuable gas through a massive crack pipe, then pack up and lumber off to fracture and steal someone else’s underground treasure." Read the rest
"Its protagonist lives in a world of almost continual night, with the hungry eyes and dead affect of an Ayn Rand wet dream: his world is constituted of chrome, glass, a palette of white-to-taupe, a spatter-pattern rug and one book, a single book, on graphic design" - Piercepenniless on the Redrow London property development promo video. Read the rest
Before Reagan's FCC deregulated kids' TV and allowed toy-makers to produce 22-minute commercials disguised as cartoons, there had been major strides in de-gendering toys, grouping them by interest, rather than by constraining who was "supposed" to play with them. Read the rest
Graeber wrote the magisterial Debt: The First 5,000 Years; Piketty, of course, wrote the essential Capital in the 21st Century -- in a must-read dialog, they discuss their differences and similarities and offer views on whether capitalism will collapse. Read the rest