At the end of summer, my friend in the Dick Destiny Band was in Connecticut for a week, getting back together with his old buddies in a high school covers band so they could entertain at a small gathering that would be his class’ 45th reunion. The next to last day he was there an old classmate had him lifting furniture and while doing it some kind of mishap occurred and he suffered a detached retina.
A detached retina that is worsening by the hour is a serious health crisis. Any time part of the field of vision in one eye suddenly goes away is cause for an immediate trip to a doctor. In a country with a functioning health care system that cares for everybody, more or less equally, immediacy wouldn’t be a problem unless one was caught out in the wild.
That’s not the United States. It’s people aren’t up to it. Not even close. Even with the practice of Obamacare, it’s clear a significant portion of the populace has no belief in medicine for all being universally available, and quickly, as part of a civilized society.
My friend grew up in one of the wealthiest counties of Connecticut, attending a ritzy high school for the upper and upper middle classes in a genteel coastal community.
However, when a condition requiring immediate medical attention arose, no one could find it in themselves to do the right thing and get him immediately to a physician. Why? The insurance industry, essentially, and money. No one wanted to be left holding the bag if the local medical facilities weren’t interested in his kind of medical benefits. (Veterans coverage, essentially.)
So they put him on a plane home the next day, when he was scheduled to leave anyway. And in the intervening period, as well as on the trip across country, the torn retina became, as one might expect, worse. It was shameful behavior. The people involved, old classmates, lacked even the ability to feel concern over it.
When my friend arrived back in Pasadena he immediately consulted his eye doctor. This man, along with his colleagues, where exposed as what one might dub rich mens’ medical providers. There was this saintly worry that vet benefits might not cover care in sufficient amount or get going/pay with sufficient alacrity.
And what was recognized was that it was time to stop arguing, checking and diddling around because the good people, the right people, the chosen fortunate, the upper crust, their grand American health network, wasn’t for my friend, not even in an emergency.
Still, serious medical crisis — potential for permanent blindness in one eye. This meant getting dumped on USC/LA County hospital, aka “county,” where those (and you’ll like this description) in the population that are underserved by US healthcare go. That means the lower and lower middle class, you know — the poor, the not-white.
At USC/County my friend finally got what he needed. His retina was stabilized by cryogenic procedure and successive laser surgeries reattached it. However, weeks later, the degree of success or what subsequent treatment will be required still cannot be determined. He got the treatment he needed, late, when the problem was demonstrably worse than it was across the country when the incident that led to it occurred.
And the experience at USC/County shows the disparity in apportionment of resources that still exists in the US health system.
USC/County gets a huge number of people to treat, many, many with some form of insurance, working people, all who arrive with appointments. And when you arrive, once you have been stabilized, a triage that cannot be avoided occurs and every visit takes five to six hours out of your day as you wait for the heavily burdened system to get to you.
The middle class, those that still have corporate or good government health care plans, and their owners in the plutocracy, they don’t have to put up with it. Despite Obamacare, or perhaps because American business, the predatory health insurance industry and equally predatory doctors were allowed to write it, medical resources are applied in a staggeringly unequal way in America.
America does not do medicine. It does health care, even in a crisis, as a posh commodity, something for the good people first. Everyone else, later. Or root, hog or die.
You’d better believe there’s no quality of mercy, and certainly nothing good, in a national health system which sees nothing particularly atrocious in shipping someone across the country to dump at emergency services in LA because the patient’s benefits aren’t cadillac.
Stewart Parnell, CEO of Peanut Corporation of America, was effectively sent to prison for life for a salmonella epidemic caused by his company’s shipping of contaminated peanut butter in 2008. He was given 28 years in prison. The outbreak sickened over 700 and killed nine people outright.
Parnell’s brother, also in the business, was given 20 years, a lower-level flunky, five.
The sentences are, by far, the toughest ever handed down to food company executives.
At the time, DD blog wrote about Parnell more than once.
Stewart Parnell, Peanut Corp., before Congress. Where is his turban and beard? Where’s his video found on the
Internets by our government, like all the rest of those frightening guys from other countries shaking their fingers and ranting in Arabic at the netcam? Where are the experts from CSIS or Brookings saying what a dangerous fellow he is? Where are our tough lawmakers squeezing the truth from him? Talk, you! His hometown newspaper said he was a good football player in high school, though. Oh, where did it all go so wrong?
In the predator state, the bad company led by bad men will literally poison the public. And they won’t stop until people are killed. In the predator state system, still that’s not even enough to get them dragged from the street.
A year ago Baxter International and another US company it did business with killed people by selling tainted heparin. Heparin is a necessary drug in US medicine and it used to be made here. But in the rush for profits, like many other US businesses, both companies subcontracted their formerly in-house work to China, where there were people willing and malicious enough to deliver a cheaper counterfeit substance, a derivative of chondroitin sulfate, used to mimic heparin. The counterfeit material sickened hundreds and killed a number of people outright. There were news stories and vows of reform. And then nothing happened; it was back to business as usual in the predator state. It was no time to get in the way of commerce!
“[Parnell] gave instructions to nonetheless ‘turn them loose’ … ” reports the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. At the time, Parnell was engaged in finding a laboratory that wouldn’t return a positive salmonella test, kind of like fishing through a high school bundle of failed exams, looking for the lone good one, the coincidental exception…
The Bush administration spent a great deal of time in office building up homeland security defenses against mostly-imagined threats in biological and chemical terrorism.
On the domestic side it did all it could to destroy food safety by getting rid of regulators.
The years of the Bush presidency could be characterized in many ways, all bad, one being the recurring feature of a surprising number off mass illnesses caused by contamination in food products.
For example, the killing of a large number of beloved pets by mass distribution of melamine as an adulterant in their food.
In this climate, the Peanut Corporation of American, run by Stewart Parnell, caused one of the biggest outbreaks of salmonellosis in the country’s history. The outbreak killed nine people and sickened hundreds.
By contrast, anthrax bioterrorist Bruce Ivins killed five and made 17 others very ill.
It wasn’t until 2013, five years after the outbreak, that a grand jury indicted Parnell and his associates. Family members of those killed in it remarked that they thought the sentence was appropriate but that it had come way too late.
Parnell’s defense protested the severity, commenting that Austin “Jack” Decoster, a CEO who had caused the biggest egg recall in American history for another recent disease outbreak, received only a couple months in prison. Parnell’s defense has a point.
On the other hand, the salmonella epidemic caused by Decoster’s Quality Egg/Wright County Egg did not kill anyone straight-off, although it sickened more — estimates range from 1,600 — 56,000. Decoster, it’s clear, was just lucky.
Decoster, like Stewart Parnell, is a truly Dickensian character and the blog covered the news in a series of posts entitled Eat Shit Farms.
As the story unfolded, an unsurprising picture emerged, that of an American businessman who had used lawyers and evasions to fight off food regulations on egg production for years. Because it could get away with no regulation, Decoster’s Quality Egg became a dominant national business with which could undersell competing egg farmers in other states where local oversight was stronger.
California, it turned out was an example. Egg farmers had to immunize their herds against salmonella, which added a couple pennies to the price of eggs. DeCoster’s egg farming operation avoided this.
Subsequent photography of Quality Egg showed other major health problems, the build-up of chicken excrement until the sides of the building bulged out from the pile being an unforgettable example.
Although I gave up on Catholicism decades ago, a quick listen to David Peel seems appropriate in view of the visit and the fact that this pope has a lot of WhiteManistani panties in a twist because he believes we ought to do something about global warming, take from the rich to give to the poor rather than vice versa and drop the American ideology that a humanistic faith is compatible with our corporate business and capitalism. Jesus isn’t from America.
Semi-religious personal trivia: Before my first and only marriage, the priest who was going to perform it asked me if I was on drugs. I wasn’t impressed by his capacity for personalized assessments.
So about a half year later, noticing I hadn’t been to Sunday mass at all, he came around to the apartment for a visit.
Catholic priest, at intercom, outside: Hello, Mr. Smith. I’ve come by to see you. May I come in?
Catholic priest: You’re not going to let me in?
Me: That’s right.
Catholic priest: Could I come back some other time?
Me: No, that won’t make a difference.
Catholic: You’re really just going to let me stand out here, Mr. Smith?
When and where: Hulu, free, marked as a documentary on police militarization, dated 2007. Apparently, first distributed in 2000-2001, where it went straight to video. Possibly updated much later.
Summary: A snapshot, anywhere from eight to almost fifteen years old, one useful in illustrating how much worse things are now and that, yes, this country is a police state.
A bunch of things to know:
1. Stan Goff, a staff sergeant expert in urban warfare trained Los Angeles Police and others in civilian suppression tactics, the worst of which is euphemistically called Dynamic Entry. Dynamic Entry was developed for use in killing people in house-to-house fighting, at night, in a war zone. Now it’s the common tactic in no-knock police raids. If there is something in someone’s hand when a raid is conducted, they are to be immediately neutralized. This means being shot. Twice. Goff tells the audience, years ago — remember, that this means a lot of problems when used on civilians. No kidding. There is a segment, now dreadfully familiar, in which an African-American was riddled by gun-fire in such a raid, while he was in the process of calling 911 because he heard the SWAT team outside.
2. MRAPs have gotten a lot bigger and more ubiquitous. In Urban Warrior they’re about half the size you see now.
3. Posse comitatus was essentially dead, the public just didn’t realize it, when Urban Warrior was shot.
4. Non-lethal and less-than-lethal weapons have strict envelopes for usage. For example, many are not to be used on children, the disabled, the mentally ill or the elderly. Chemicals are not to be used in barrages. People are not to be shot in the eyes, head, face or other soft parts. All that has been out the window for ten to fifteen years. Non-lethal weapons are used to start fires, asphyxiate, knock people unconscious through concussion, or blind them.
5. Steve Aftergood, someone we all know, is in it, giving him a listing at IMDb. At the end, a short discussion about 9/11 is tacked on. How the military can be used at home after terrorism is becoming “fluid,” he says. Now, we might say, it is a swirling toilet in which we, but especially African Americans and the poor, can be flushed down the hole by paramilitary action that comes in the dead of night.
6. The Battle in Seattle, or the protests against the World Trade Organization, which had already gone very poorly, was escalated by authorities and police because the President, Bill Clinton, was coming to town and the city center needed clearing.
7. If the people who made Urban Warrior had had the time to add a segment on what the future might hold if Americans continued to choose illusions of security over civil liberties and fairness, videotape from the riots and police responses in Ferguson and Baltimore would have fit perfectly.
8. Then as now, the brunt of police paramilitary operations has been born by the African-American population, the poor and the easily stigmatized.
That alleged slow down on police militarization has certainly gone well.
There’s no beating getting it on in front of 16-inch triple mount phalluses. Speak or sing loudly, pose in front of or ride big dicks. So big, nobody’s going to mess with us! You bet Donald Trump liked Cher in 1989. (Minor note: For Cher, it was the Missouri in Long Beach, for Trump, the Iowa in San Pedro.)
“I do not consider myself to be a prude,” a retired Navy commander wrote to the Navy after being “arrested” by the video one evening. “I enjoy watching scantily clad young ladies as much as the next man. But were I the commanding officer or another of the senior people who form a deep personal bond with their ship, I would be deeply embarrassed.”
“She was wearing a see-through body netting that showed her rear end nude,” a woman from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., steamed in a letter to Navy headquarters in Washington, firing off a carbon copy to President Bush.
“The U.S. Navy, a part of our government that should stand for what is good and honorable, is putting its stamp of approval on trash like this. . . . What kind of image did you hope it would give the Navy?”
Opinions varied: “I thought the ship looked outstanding,” Lt. Cmdr. Steve Chesser in Long Beach said ….
Failure of the old PC necessitated change of platform, upgrade via a loaner of sorts, a new-ish laptop the modern web can’t choke. So, to Hulu, for some free video, the price of which is enduring commercials, more than you can shake a stick at but not so many as to make it unendurable.
The Rise and Rise of BitCoin
Rating: Interesting to view in retrospect, perhaps mostly for its assortment of young tech financial criminals who were among its most enthusiastic subjects. B-
Daniel Mross, the documentary’s host and narrator, is an avuncular computer nerd, a libertarian fascinated by BitCoin. He’s invested in expensive mining rigs he hopes will pay off and totally taken by the idea of BitCoin money, free of banks and the government, at last digital money that allegedly means something and is not created by government fiat, only by Satoshi Nakamoto’s, uh, fiat.
Mross, like all the young libertarian geeks, some of them flat out anti-government types transparently only interested in making a quick fortune, never really explain why they hate the dollar. It’s just bad because the Fed prints it. Why is that bad? Well, it just is. Zimbabwe, maybe inflation, Ben Bernanke…
You get the idea they despise it because they have no way to make a quick fortune with the dollar by getting in on the ground floor with something like digital gold mining (in other words, printing their own) and the hoarding of it.
The BitCoin fanatics interviewed by Mross are all from the period when it was still get up and go, its value on a fast upward trend. (BitCoin has been stagnant at about $240 for almost the entire year now.)
First there’s Charlie Shrem of BitInstant, a BitCoin exchange. He’s making great money but confides to the camera he doesn’t want to be a criminal. By the end of the doc he’s been arrested and is wearing an ankle-bracelet. Today he’s in jail in Pennsylvania for two years for aiding a money-laundering scheme through the Silk Road, the infamous on-line bazaar for drugs, counterfeit IDs, and unregistered weapons.
Next is Jered Kenna in San Francisco, rapidly expanding another BitCoin exchange, TradeHill. You can guess what happened. Poof! TradeHill eventually collapsed — twice — although its founder made his fortune. Now he’s in Colombia, allegedly planning new business ventures to acquaint people with emerging technologies like BitCoin.
Next is BitCoin Jesus, Roger Ver, another wealthy libertarian filled with hyperbole and visions of the future. He gave up his citizenship to avoid US taxes. The government subsequently denied him permission to re-enter the country. Now he’s living offshore at an undisclosed location, an island state for money hiding, probably St. Kitts.
There’s a man who was making all those gold “BitCoins” you used to see in photographs, everywhere, about the currency. The US government told him he didn’t have a license to do that. His coins, you see, also contained the tech to carry a BitCoin value. So he quit although he still sells other collectibles, apparently in the world of numismatics.
Then, yet another libertarian, gone to Panama City with another exchange, making empty talk about serving the “unbanked.” There’s no serving of the “unbanked” in The Rise and Rise of BitCoin, just libertarian get rich quick types who want to form their own country.
Finally, there’s Mark Karpeles of Mt. Gox and by the time Mross visits him things are already falling apart. Currently, odds are 50/50 the Japanese government will imprison him over the BitCoin fortunes gone missing at his exchange. (Oof! Done.)
You see the trend.
The Silk Road and Dark Web are part of the documentary. The government takes Silk Road’s BitCoins. So much for the silly idea BitCoin fanatics promoted that such things were impossible.
The US government subsequently auctioned off the riches to California venture capitalist and billionaire nuisance Tim Draper. Draper, you may recall, tried to get an initiative to split California into six states on the ballot. He failed. Just couldn’t resist putting his fingers on the scale with illegitimate signatures, apparently. Another matter, yes, but still related to the tech libertarian thing, the bit where you want your own country, with your rules, with your money kept safe from parasites and the government.
And you’ll see the Winklevosses, too.
Go to the Winkdex, read the blog, not much happening. Except this, renting out an 18-million dollar mansion in Los Angeles that had been hyped as a future HQ of their Internet venture capital firm.
And those nifty high-powered BitCoin mining rigs? They didn’t pay off. The ROI was terrible.
The only thing that will save you — the you being the old white paranoid people in the studio audience — will be an old flivver, a water filter, and the electric generator whatsis he taps on. Plus, one the power fails and society breaks down, all the criminal drug addicts will raid your retirement homes for your medications and pills. Really!
All these people are delusional Christian right wing extremists, a big part of the Republican Party.
Ted Cruz, Republican Presidential hopeful (from USA Today— no link) :
If this deal goes through, we know to an absolute certainty people will die. Americans will die, Israelis will die, Europeans will die. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, the single greatest risk is they would put it on a ship anywhere in the Atlantic and they would set off what’s called an EMP, an electromagnetic pulse. It would take down the electrical grid on the entire Eastern seaboard, and kill tens of millions of Americans.
Fourteen years ago Osama bin Laden showed the world the United States had a glass jaw. After one very hard hit, the world superpower would appear to rise up, united only to see its people and leaders fail in spectacular fashion as they abandoned all principles they thought they stood for.
Fourteen years later, we’re subdued and fearful owners of a combination corporate dictatorship national security state equipped with an armored car-driving paramilitary police force and surveillance apparatus designed for the suppression of civilian participation. Add to that an embedded racial apartheid, one that puts African Americans and the poor in prison for profits, targets of extortion in the way of organized heists disguised as fines for petty infractions and legitimately resentful of their terrible officials.
The largest military and national security complex in world history was erected. And it’s only strategy, with the only exception being the recent agreement with Iran , is attacking much poorer nations with overwhelming force, selectively bombing impoverished regions of misery and lawlessness, launching pinprick military raids/assassinations and creating or exacerbating failed states.
A small example, yesterday, from Fox News and overseas sources (delivered by mercenaries probably on the US payroll, yet), reasonable evidence that ISIS can manufacture small amounts of mustard gas in Syria, for use in mortar shells and improvised bombs aimed at local militias opposed to them.
And who brought it about? We did when an illegitimate war was launched, one that destroyed Iraq and destabilized the entire region, a place where we’re still bombing people, making things worse, stirring the pot, training lousy local fighters who desert, and arming the same with weapons that eventually get turned over to even worse people.
One Kurdish soldier said that of 52 mortars ISIS launched at his team during one attack, three released yellow smoke that caused their skin to immediately water, discharge liquids, blister and create large wounds. Soldiers exposed to the gas vomited and experienced extreme abdominal pain and severe burning and itching eyes. Other mortars discharged a silver glittery substance that stuck to their skin like glue. The Kurdish soldiers said the Iraqi military also said ISIS used these chemical weapons on their forces.
The attached photos, if genuine, show wounds that appear to be caused by a blistering agent.
The nature of the story appears to show that only small amounts, militarily insignificant, are being produced and put into mortar shells, in and of itself a hazardous undertaking. The primary aim would appear to be to cause an additional measure of terror and demoralization.
The incident also appears to describe a failed improvised weapon, I’m guessing — something sticky and flammable — styrofoam or styrene dissolved in an organic solvent until thickened, to adhere. In this case, there was no ignition.
And what are we looking forward to in 2016?
More of the same, almost certainly.
Why, here’s the alleged leading candidate of the Democratic Party, being distasteful and awful, as it turned out, in making what she thinks is an off-camera joke about the killing of Moe Gadaffi.
Hilarious. Failed states and refugee crises.
Still the best song that applies. Shoulda been a contender.
Incidentally, it’s the only rock video to show anthrax mailer Bruce Ivins entertaining in a Maryland bar AND his vanity-pressing white label single, “Pass Me By.”
Ivins’ anthrax mailings touched off the biggest investment in bioterror defense in world history (we’re always number one in these dubious achievements), all to counter a threat, the predicted scope of which has never materialized.
The best and only bioterrorist minted during the war on terror? Our man! Paid for by the US taxpayer.
Also eyeball the video for the “puffer machine.” (We’ll check you now, for purity!) Designed for the detection of explosives at airports, many were bought. None of them worked and it was subsequently canned.
Let’s take a moment to honor the regular Labor Day tradition in which public demonstrations, opinion pieces and the news are used to shit on workers.
American politicians, corporate leaders and plutocrats, from big-names to nobodies, line up with bits and little dances in which they pretend to praise the meaning of the day by calling your attention to something, somebody, or some group having to do with labor. And those named deserve your hate because they stand in the way of business and the corporate Bund!
The enemy can be teachers. Or unions and dues. It can be a riff on the fun big lie: the country was built on small business; yea, verily, small business is our lifeblood.
It can be praise for a billionaire who has been very bad to American workers in pushing legislation that has made them into ants for stepping on. It can be straight bootlicking for corporate wealth and ease. There will always be a scapegoat and it will always be maximum bullshit served with a big helping of mean passed off as concern.
Let’s see who’s first out of the gate this year!
Bruce Rauner, GOP governor of Illinois:
Big Labor union bosses in your state enjoy a special privilege allowing them to expand their ranks through compulsion. Union bosses can impose a monopoly bargaining contract which virtually always includes a forced-dues clause that requires every employee (even the ones who did not vote for the union) to pay tribute to the union bosses, just for the privilege of having a job.
While forced unionism is just plain wrong; coercing workers into subsidizing union officials also holds back a state’s economy …
So as you celebrate the coming three-day weekend, consider the benefits of Right to Work.
From a small newspaper in Minnesota, the standard let-us-all-now-praise-Labor-Day thing ending with the sentiment that there can be no jobs without business and so it is always necessary to think about what can be done to make thing’s better for corporate America:
Monday is Labor Day — a day to celebrate the achievements of our nation’s working men and women…
[But, but, but, but…]
Yes, Monday is a time to celebrate work. But work cannot take place if there are not jobs, and there can’t be jobs without business and industry. When business and industry create jobs, it spurs the creation of more jobs and the growth of the economy.
If our nation’s and our state’s leaders are serious about creating jobs, they need follow local officials’ lead to be business- and industry-friendly…
With Wisconsin joining the ranks in March of this year, there are now 25 Right to Work states in America; states that have outlawed Big Labor union bosses’ ability to force workers to pay them fees as a condition of employment.
The absence of forced unionism gives Right to Work states an economic leg-up.
Perhaps not coincidentally, this appears to be a canned anti-labor Labor Day column, also used by GOP governor Rauner. Admire the efficiency. One anti-labor piece penned by some chamber of commerce enemy of the people can be cut and pasted with different by-lines.
My Uncle Del once told me, “Bobby, I’ve never worked a day in my life.” What he meant by that was that he loved his job, found it fun and liked his co-workers. He was a quality control inspector at several aircraft manufacturers from when he left the Army Air Force after WWII until he retired. What I took from his comment was that if you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work. That’s why it’s so important to be incredibly honest and ask yourself what do you really like to do? Do you want just money, or a profession that serves your soul as well as your pocketbook. If you’re lucky, get an education and training, work hard and pay attention and one day you’ll be able to say the same thing my uncle did.
We know it’s Labor Day, but let’s talk about day labor.
One thing we know for certain about the local day-labor market: Employers will continue a don’t-ask, don’t-tell hiring practice for unauthorized immigrants regardless of what the law says. The question is whether Dallas will continue tolerating the existence of disorganized, unwelcome ad hoc recruitment centers on street corners and convenience-store parking lots, or adopt the more orderly concepts used by Garland, Plano and other cities.
This newspaper has long supported the expansion of government programs like e-Verify to hold employers to the letter of the law. A major magnet for illegal immigration has been the willingness of employers to look the other way, even when they suspect they’re hiring an unauthorized immigrant.
Day-laborers, well, they suck, because they’re illegal, hang out in parking lots, snarl traffic and are often homeless.
With the approach of the Labor Day bookend of summer, this series of columns on the economy, employment and immigration (all written in early July to avoid Internet dead zones while traveling) will include more specifics on 1) immigration’s impact on wages, 2) the boon to Democrats through illegal immigration, and 3) the diminished state of economic freedom in America…
I hope Republicans will see through candidates that verbally kowtow to the pro-immigrant activists. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, for instance, is not intimidated, as he calmly insisted to a hysterical illegal worker, that America’s laws apply to everyone and immigration laws, particularly, do not exempt anyone.
Democrats, to a man or woman, won’t reject the illegal immigration activists because, as I have correctly asserted, these groups are on path to be lifelong Democrats; many of them come from pro-authoritarian, anti-private gun ownership cultures and are easily persuaded to accept government hand-outs (I mean benefits). Democrats already benefit from illegal aliens in Congress—I’ll explain how next week.
At its August meeting, the Board of Directors of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, without objection, voted to strongly oppose increasing the minimum wage in Pasadena. Citing two studies performed for the Chamber and a peer-review of that work, Board members, representing small, medium and large businesses in diverse sectors of our local economy, cited potential negative impacts on the local economy, risks to employment, impacts on the local retail, hospitality and healthcare industries, as well as youth employment, in making their decision. Pasadena Chamber Board members clearly understood that imposing the Los Angeles minimum wage model in Pasadena would harm workers, local small businesses and pose a threat to our local economy.
Of course, there are pro-labor Labor Day opinions this year, some prominent. There could hardly not be. It’s no longer possible to ignore how badly workers, and the civilian populace in general, have been treated.
Nevertheless, I’d expect more of the usual anti-labor sermonizing passed off as holiday ice cream through the weekend. Add them up if you can stand it. Be on the watch for the opinions of the presidential types, particularly on Monday. If they weren’t surrounded by security at all times, they’d face barrages of dog excrement for their philosophies.
What do you think will be on the menu?
How salt-of-the-dirt (sic) American small business is? More right-to-work-for-less? Should we take the miraculous lessons of [some Silicon Valley tech tycoon]? Are not more tax breaks and bribes needed for corporate America to make jobs? More illegal and legal immigrant bashing? How great is it to live in America this weekend, shopping for goods in Labor Day promotions, made overseas by slave labor? A pack of lies and fraud from the American Enterprise Institute? How many fabricated stories from the six and seven figure earners about how their dads or moms opened a penny-candy store with nothing but hope and a prayer? Perhaps the old sidestep: More Americans will be driving this weekend than ever and don’t drink because the police are conducting a special Labor Day crackdown?
Once sharing meant giving someone a slice of your pie, gratis. Now, fittingly, in America it has gone modern, meaning to take a slice of someone else’s pie, through technology, and sell or rent it to yet another person while putting your sharing hand in both their pockets.
AirBnB is one of the great companies of the sharing economy and it has powerfully enabled people with a smartphone app or a laptop. So much so that it’s now easy to find AirBnb owners drunk on their own urine-passed-off-as-Kool Aid: Why, we’re so great and have done so much for world cultural understanding, founder Brian Chesky ought to win a Nobel Peace prize!
Here’s how the AirBnb operation works from personal observation.
AirBnb-enabled entrepreneurs live in a rented apartment nearby. They subsequently rent another apartment in the same complex and sublet it through AirBnB. It has a weekly retinue of guests, signed up for one or two day stays.
And a parking bay is a key thing since such space is important in LA County.
Which is how it was noticed and, one presumes, how many AirBnb places appear in the midst of housing that was formerly long-term rental. The complex has a set of renters who have year-long leases, as do many — it was standard pre-Airbnb — and while renters sometimes change vehicles or allow a friend to use their spaces, they don’t drive two or three new, often hire cars, a week.
The most clever bit about this is the way the sub-letter/AirBnB sharing economy entrepreneur used and uses a refurbishing the apartment owner and management company applied to the place before they rented it as an attractive feature. It is a nice place!
And so one sees the sharing economy isn’t that at all.
Is AirBnB’s Brian Chesky ripe for a Nobel Peace prize? Well, a good deal of what AirBnb does has now been described in news pieces as process that doesn’t smell so good.
AirBnb has directly aggravated a shortage of long-term housing Los Angeles County, one of the most expensive places to live in the country:
The last time he advertised one of his apartments, longtime Los Feliz landlord Andre LaFlamme got a request he’d never seen before.
A man wanted to rent LaFlamme’s 245-square-foot bachelor unit with hardwood floors for $875 a month, then list it himself on Airbnb.
“Thanks but no thanks,” LaFlamme told the prospective tenant. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
But he understood why: More money might be made renting to tourists a few days at a time than to a local for 12 months or more.
As short-term rental websites such as Airbnb explode in popularity in Southern California, a growing number of homeowners and landlords are caving to the economics. A study released Wednesday from Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a labor-backed advocacy group, estimates that more than 7,000 houses and apartments have been taken off the rental market in metro Los Angeles for use as short-term rentals.
While this may be described in many ways, one of the words that doesn’t come to mind is sharing.
Using trivial network communications technology and the web to grab a piece of the economic pie is a fair way to characterize it. Predatory, is another. Of course it is more attractive to rent to transient stay tourists on the upper side of the wealth curve than it is to long-term residents, particularly if there is no process in flipping to a hotel/motel arrangement other than entering a listing in a database!
For the LAT, the landlord who turned down the AirBnB-armed customer said he has had no trouble finding qualified long-term renters in the county. His open slot was filled in 24 hours.
Brooks writes for the New York Times opinion page. As an accidental concern troll. I’ve characterized his work — stupid armchair philosophies insisting Christian faith, fulfillment and happiness come naturally from existence as a capitalist small businessman.
To hear him tell it, [AirBnB co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk] started the business because it was fascinating and fun. And most of all, he says, because it could help ordinary people who needed an affordable place to stay or had some excess capacity in their homes. That’s right — Nate sees Airbnb as a “helping industry.”
Some will howl at this …
Ordinary people, especially vulnerable people without power and privilege, find Airbnb empowering and useful. It lifts Americans up …
Any of us can work in a helping industry. That includes teachers, nurses, stay-at-home parents … The blessing of our free enterprise system is that any of us can sanctify our work. We just need to ask if what we are doing truly lifts others up.
The fundamental problem with Arthur Brooks, if you’re read a lot of his columns at the Times, is he never really acknowledges how thoroughly American big business and its free enterprise have worked over the majority of Americans over the past few decades. There’s never a single atom of this harsh reality. Just lots of material on how Americans allegedly hate negativity, how things should be approached with a gentle smile for maximum mindfulness and joy at one’s work. How a positive attitude is always what is needed. And how people, or more specifically, a poverty-stricken woman sleeping on a friend’s couch, has now potentially reached the beginnings of nirvana as a small business person by renting out her old bed.
Never mind there’s no evidence that a majority of American’s want to be small business people. Or that most Americans do not work for small businesses, if they work at all. And that such a person, sleeping on a couch in a place they didn’t have to rely on previously, is just another sand pebble on the empty beach of the desperation economy.