Global Business Boosters

Oct 1 2014 @ 6:13pm

Neil Irwin flags a new survey showing that “where big business has the least power and capitalist economies are the least developed, optimism and support for the corporate sector is highest”:

When it comes to business exerting power over the economy, Americans have mixed views but are generally comfortable. But when it comes to business exerting power over government, they are much more exercised. Americans aren’t antibusiness, in other words. They’re just against business having what they see as too much power in Washington.

Compare that with China, where citizens seem to view businesses as less powerful in terms of lobbying (only 19 percent seeing a lot of influence by corporate lobbyists, a full 40 percentage points lower than in the United States) but are more likely to believe it is good for companies to be strong and influential. One might imagine that Chinese citizens see less a phenomenon in which business overly influences government and one more in which government overly influences businesses. … In Communist Party-led China, 74 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “it is a good thing when corporations are strong and influential, because they are engines of innovation and economic growth.” That is around three times the level of support found in capitalist paradises like Britain, the United States and Australia.

Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything, argues that capitalism is largely to blame for our climate crisis. How Klein describes her book in an interview:

Changes EverythingWhat I’m arguing in this book is that we need to return to the progressive tradition of responding to deep crisis by trying to get at the root causes of the crisis. And the best example of that is the way in which the progressive movement responded to the Great Depression. It became an opportunity to change the way we organized our economies, to regulate banks, to launch social programs that got at the roots of inequality.

If we really believed that climate change is an existential crisis, if we believed climate change is a weapon of mass destruction, as John Kerry said, why on Earth would you leave it to the vagaries of the market?

In another interview, Klein clarifies her position:

I’m not saying that markets have no role in combatting climate change. I think the right market incentives can play a huge role—we can point to all kinds of companies doing great stuff. The issue is not to say the market has no role. It’s the idea of leaving this to the market. We can mint solar and wind millionaires and still not get there because we have these hard targets we have to meet. There will have to be a strong role for the public sector, a strong role for regulations and, yes, incentives. But the idea of just leaving our collective fate to the market is madness. You wouldn’t treat any other existential crisis in that way.

Zachary Karabell strongly disagrees with Klein’s thesis. He fears that “rhetoric risks obscuring just how much is being done by large companies around the world to reduce their carbon emissions and environmental footprint”:

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Would You Eat A Black Bun?

Oct 1 2014 @ 5:15pm

Tiffanie Wen discusses the reception of a black burger in Burger King restaurants in Japan:

Americans have been both intrigued and repulsed by the images. “Finally #BurgerKing makes a burger the way your body sees it … disgusting and cancer-causing,” one Twitter user wrote. Another tweeted: “It’s the black cheese that freaks me out the most. It looks like the kind of rubber they use to make gimp masks.”

But the burger is enjoying a “favorable reception” in Japan, according to the Guardian—so why do Americans have such a negative response to it?

She offers an answer:

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Critical Thinking On The Job

Oct 1 2014 @ 4:32pm

Tara Mohr flags startling new research on the criticism men and women receive in the workplace:

Across 248 reviews from 28 companies, managers, whether male or female, gave female employees more negative feedback than they gave male employees. Second, 76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was “abrasive,” “judgmental” or “strident.” Only 2 percent of men’s critical reviews included negative personality comments.

She offers some practical advice:

In my coaching practice and training courses for women, I often encounter women who don’t voice their ideas or pursue their most important work because of dependence on praise or fears of criticism. …

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Mental Health Break

Oct 1 2014 @ 4:20pm

Spot your favorite underwater scenes in cinema:

A reader shares a harrowing series of stories and insights on corporal punishment, which at times borders on torture:

This email is too long, Andrew. But I don’t know another way to do it. Those last sentences in your post on “The Racial Divide On Spanking Kids” are packed with the stuff I’ve been struggling with all week. I’m sending this because I took so much time to write it. I’ve been close to tears often this week, and I suppose it’s a way of defending that tenderness.

“Discipline”: It was a belt or a switch in my house, except for the handful of times I was slapped. I hail from a poor, white, fundamentalist family in Texas. Sometimes we managed to get a hold of the bottom rung instead – lower-middle class, or is it upper-lower class? – but it wasn’t ever a very firm grip. I think that matters, our economic and social status – how it operated on my parents, their sense of self, their sense of control and agency, their standing, that fuzzy line between “poor” and “trash,” the dependable hierarchy at home of respect and obedience. But I can’t unpack all of that, and I don’t know what it would mean for anyone else if I did.

Whenever I got caught swearing – or if someone told my mother I’d been swearing – I had my mouth washed out with soap. In practice, even this is a stupid and violent thing to do. Really, the logistics of the sink and the soap and the faucet, the mouth and the hands, the gagging and spitting and crying – it’s jammed with aggression. I was six the first time.

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An expert from the in-tray weighs in:

I am a political scientist, and my research focuses on executive power and the American warfare state. I’m writing in response to the ongoing discussion about the Obama administration’s tenuous legal rationale to wage war against ISIL without requesting permission from Congress. Most legal scholars that you cite agree that a congressional authorization is constitutionally required in order to carry out extended air strikes. You pushed this normative case even further, balking that “Obama…has blown a hole so wide in any constitutional measures to restrain the war machine that he has now placed future presidential war-making far beyond any constraints.”

However, there are very logical (if troubling) reasons why presidents continually assume the prerogative to carry out their national security agendas unilaterally, and why Congress’ power to declare war has become nearly obsolete.

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Readers may understandably be concerned by my continued dissent on the new war counter-terrorism operation in Iraq and Syria – which has no chance to roll back a Sunni insurgency that will endure as long as Iraq is still kept as a unitary “state”, huge chances that blowback will bring terror to the US again, and has only token Sunni support in a region where the Shi’a-Sunni war may well continue for years or decades. But I have long argued that we should look at Obama’s long game in assessing results. And with two years to go, the long game can begin to be assessed.

The results in foreign policy? A new open-ended years’ long war in Iraq and an indefinite continuation of thousands of troops in Afghanistan. These were not wars, it turns out. They were operations in which the United States became permanently responsible as a neo-imperial power for two more failed states. More to the point, as ISIS has managed to become the new al Qaeda, Americans have returned to their 2002 mindset, with a new Congress looking as if it will be dominated by Republicans, who are all-too-eager for ever more wars against ever more non-threats to the United States. The last two years of Bush were more hopeful for some kind of unwinding of this war machine. But now a liberal Democrat has given them bipartisan legitimacy – and fueled the fires for a Cheneyite comeback.

Gitmo, of course, remains open. More to the point, even as war criminals have been given total immunity, the Senate Intelligence Committee report remains bottled up, as the CIA is allowed to doctor, redact and openly challenge it, while the president sits back and lets Denis McDonough protect the war criminals we once had some aspiration to at least expose. James Clapper has been revealed as a liar to the Congress and suffers no consequences; he admits he failed to anticipate ISIS’s breakout, and the president retains full confidence in him. John Brennan runs an agency which actually spied on its Congressional over-seers, lies about it in public – and retains the president’s full confidence. And now we discover that a real current issue of mistreatment of detainees in Gitmo is being covered up:

The Obama administration has asked a federal judge to hold a highly anticipated court hearing on its painful force-feedings of Guantánamo Bay detainees almost entirely in secret, prompting suspicions of a cover-up.

Justice Department attorneys argued to district judge Gladys Kessler that allowing the hearings to be open to the public would jeopardize national security through the disclosure of classified information. Should Kessler agree, the first major legal battle over forced feeding in a federal court would be less transparent than the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay.

That’s precisely what we supported Obama for, isn’t it? That allegations of abuse of detainees in Guantanamo Bay be kept completely secret – and that no one will ever be held accountable for it. The actual videotapes of the force-feeding – critical evidence to allow anyone to judge whether these methods are indeed a form of torture – are barred from any public viewing.

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Ebola Makes It To America, Ctd

Oct 1 2014 @ 3:04pm

Sara Stern-Nezer and Aliza Monroe-Wise insist that “even if you were on that September 19th flight from Liberia to Dallas and shook the hand of America’s ‘patient zero,’ your risk of transmission remains relatively small.” Julia Belluz looks at how fast Ebola spreads:

A mathematical epidemiologist who studies Ebola wrote in the Washington Post, “The good news is that Ebola has a lower reproductive rate than measles in the pre-vaccination days or the Spanish flu.” He found that each Ebola case produces between 1.3 and 1.8 secondary cases. That means an Ebola victim usually only infects about one other person. Compare that with measles, which creates 17 secondary cases.

If you do the math, that means a single case in the US could lead to one or two others, but since we have robust public health measures here, it probably won’t go further than that.

Jonathan Cohn doesn’t see how we could have prevented the Dallas case:

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What Do Prisoners Value Most?

Oct 1 2014 @ 2:41pm

Sarah Shourd argues that a certain “progressive” jail in New Hampshire has major drawbacks:

There are many things about Cheshire County Jail that you’d be hard-pressed to find in any other carceral space in the country. The warden, Rick Van Wickler, prides himself on the building’s environmental design—complete with a geo-thermic heating and cooling system—and overall low-carbon footprint. The correctional officers insist that there’s “very little conflict” between the 150 prisoners currently being held at this 240-bed facility. They also claim that they’ve had relatively few issues with contraband and zero escapes in the 4 years of the jail’s existence, thanks in part to high-tech surveillance and the 118 cameras spread throughout the site. Boasting accessible health and psychiatric services, over 100 community volunteers and the strict enforcement of U.N. standards on the use of solitary confinement, which limit isolating a prisoner to 15 days, Cheshire County Jail has attracted national attention as a rare model of progressive incarceration.

The prisoners at Cheshire offer a different perspective. …

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