Today's Silicon Valley nouveau riche are a far cry from yesterday's old money, says conservative David Brooks. He calls the information age elite Bobos for bourgeois bohemians, "highly educated folk who have one foot in the bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of worldly success."
Bagel buttons, defrost buttons, reheat buttons, and cancel reset buttons: with all the wonders of modern technology, companies can't even make a reasonably priced toaster that lasts. It's symptomatic of what's gone wrong with our modern disposable society.
Conference Board, the New York-based business-backed research enterprise best known for its monthly Leading Economic Indicators and Consumer Confidence Index, recently released a report detailing the widening of the wealth gap. What's more surprising is the list of Fortune 500s who underwrote it.
The U.S. has pledged a billion dollars per year in loans to debt-saddled African nations that cannot afford high-priced HIV-treatment. Even though drug makers will sell the drugs at discounted prices, are the loans mere ploys to slow the development of less costly generic HIV-drugs?
Given the spectacular advances in clean automobile technology over the century, there is just no reason -- other than pure criminality -- why we have been forced to live and die today with gas-guzzling, polluting automobiles.
The legitimacy of a report warning that the UN Global Warming Treaty will push Blacks and Hispanics into poverty has been undermined by its questionable financing. Backed by a coal industry front group, the report was released by six Black and Hispanic labor, civil rights, and business organizations.
There may be legitimate public policy rationales for raising gas prices -- notably, to spur conservation -- but if so, such price increases should be government mandated, with revenues used for appropriate public purposes. They should not be the result of industry rip-offs and profiteering.
The endless amount of soft money cash flowing from corporate coffers into federal campaigns and national political parties have created a veritable tsunami of corruption that is crashing over the countryside. According to Charles Korb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, Washington's culture of corruption has given the green light to the rest of the country. "Go for it!" is the message being sent out from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- and the country is responding.
Channel One Network is the company that loans televisions to public schools, in exchange for access to schoolchildren for 12 minutes every day. The marketers use this opportunity to pump the children with commercials pushing such nutritious staples as Pepsi, Snickers, M&M's and Fruit Loops. When one Alabama citizen started a crusade against this commercialism in schools, it turned into a tortuous conflict between corporate interests and grassroots politics.
In the early part of this century, a political cartoonist named Percy Crosby invented a comic strip character named Skippy. In 1933, the corporate entity behind Skippy Peanut Butter stole the Skippy character, without offering Crosby a dime. Now Crosby's daughter is fighting for her father's legacy with an inflammatory Web site. But if Skippy's corporate lawyers have their way, that site will soon be silenced -- just like her father's cartoons.
It was a bleak week for communications democracy in the United States. When MCI and Sprint announced their poten- tial merger, stock prices went up, and the investment banks that brokered the deals will surely collect inflated fees. But citizens are not likely to make out as well.
"The W.R. Grace corporation -- the chemical company featured in "A Civil Action" that poisoned wells in Massachusetts -- is at it again. This time, it has exposed people in Montana to deadly asbestos dust, causing a local epidemic of deadly asbestosis and mesothelioma diseases."
"Think Big Tobacco has been whupped? Think again. Philip Morris and company aren't throwing in the towel. With a series of image-enhancing ad campaigns that cast them as 'caring, responsible members of the community' Big Tobacco hopes to reform itself in the eyes of Americans."
"For the most part, the corporate press, caught up in their euphoria over this bubble economy, has ignored the reality on the ground: that today's massive inequality in wealth poses serious threats to our democracy and civic life."
"The U.S. government was slow to act in stopping the East Timorese bloodbath not only because it wanted to protect Nike's and other U.S. multinationals' interests, but also because the U.S. foreign policy and military establishments attach great geopolitical importance to maintaining good ties with the Indonesian military..."
"Few top government officials have managed to emerge as unscathed from a half dozen years in the Washington, D.C. spotlight as former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. And Rubin did better than escape without scratches -- he ended his term of office with his image enhanced."
After her cutting edge plant tissue culture research was hijacked by biotech corporations, Indiana University biology professor Martha Crouch began teaching her students of the dangers of industrialized chemical agriculture -- and has come under fire from the scientific community in the process.
"With the ascendancy of corporate power in America came the rise of its primary countervailing force -- citizen activism and a vibrant public-interest movement. But some of those once vibrant citizen institutions have now been corrupted by corporate funders."
"A new report issued by the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions details with piercing clarity how the thousands of American employers violate their workers rights by squashing unions, intimidating organizers and illegally firing pro-union workers."
"A new book published by the Smithsonian covers "the promise of plastic in 1950s America." But why doesn't it cover any questions about the workers in the industry, and people who live near plastics manufacturing facilities, and the threat to their health and well being? Could it be because the Tupper Foundation -- funded by profits from plastic producer Tupperware -- gave $4 million to the Smithsonian?"
"A little bit of democratic empowerment can be a dangerous thing. If the broad coalition that came together in Seattle can stay together -- a big "if" -- it may eventually be able to force new rules for the global economy, so that trade is finally subordinated to the humane values of health, safety, ecological sustainability and respect for human rights, rather than the reverse."
Earlier this year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) accepted a $1 million grant from consumer giant Colgate Palmolive. Though the non-profit APHA assured us that it wasn't selling its soul to a corporation, the message has been sent: if not for sale, then for rent.
"Watch out, because the newly minted millionaires of Silicon Valley are on track to become major political players. They have graduated from the adolescent view that they could ignore government to the more "mature" position that money and economic power translates easily into political power and influence on Capitol Hill."
"A rebellion is brewing in Hollywood -- not on screen, but behind the scenes. Entertainment industry unions are protesting against 'runaway' film and television production, where studios set up shop in foreign countries to cut cost and exploit cheaper labor."
Public health scientist Dr. George Carlo has found that the risk of acoustic neuroma, a benign brain tumor, was 50 percent higher in people who reported using cell phones for six years or more. Unfortunately, his findings may go unheeded -- because the cell phone industry has bought off the FDA.
"HIV/AIDS has reached epidemic proportions in the Third World, and the U.S. government is making it worse. Working in concert with the pharmaceutical industry, our government refuses to let developing countries make HIV/AIDS drugs available at affordable prices."
"A few years ago, even a few weeks ago, we might have opposed the AOL-Time Warner merger. In buying Time Warner, AOL suddenly acquires one of the largest cable systems in the country, and gains a material interest in opposing open access. But that's OK. We're satisfied by AOL's verbal commitment that it will voluntarily permit open access in the cable systems it will control...."
The vast majority of newspaper carriers are not covered by workers' comp laws, because the newspaper industry has successfully pressurred legislatures to deny them their rights. Earlier this year, this dirty little secret was exposed by Marc Linder, who sent an article about it to reporters and columnists around the country. But on this very hot labor issue dear to the hearts of newspaper industry, Linder was given the cold shoulder.