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July 12, 2013

imagine a koch bros joint being intellectually dishonest

You may not have heard, but the Charles Koch Foundation is starting a little ad campaign that is raising some hackles.  Unfortunately, I think the wrong hackles are being raised.

You can see the ad at the link, but it's a brief little rah-rah for "economic freedom," full of graphs and still photos of poverty and a nice-sounding narrator.  The point sticking in the public craw is that it states that if you're making $34,000 per year, then you are the one percent... in the world.  This is galling, I guess, a moving of the goalposts, but I'm not personally moved by it enough to double-check the research.  In fact, if it's true, all it means is that the Koch brothers are not the One Percent, but rather the Point Oh Oh Oh Oh One Percent.  Whatever.

But what is more troubling to me (and to ThinkProgress) is the entirety of the ad, and the message it's trying to impart.  "Economic freedom" is not actually a thing.  And the ad is just a small part of a larger effort to make "economic freedom" some sort of verifiable metric that free-marketeers like the Kochs can point at and tsk.  Says ThinkProgress:

The ad cites a report from the Koch-funded Fraser Institute showing that "The United States used to be a world leader in economic freedom but our ranking fell. And it's projected to decline even further." (That same Fraser report interestingly ranks Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Chile ahead of the U.S. Those places all have government-run health care, which the Kochs adamantly oppose.)

The arbiter of this silly "economic freedom" is Koch-funded.  They're creating their own outside expert, so to better swindle a gullible public into getting all hepped up over some gauzy pre-business platform that happens to have the word "freedom" in it.

It is intellectually dishonest, at the very least, a ploy to get all the poors of the world united in pitying the poor big businesses and all they have to endure.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:24 AM

July 11, 2013

walmart uncomfortable with this living wage thing

Here's your heart-warming story of the day.

So, our nation's leading employer, Walmart, wants to open stores in urban markets, having already closed every last mom and pop store in the rest of America.  They take a look at the DC area.  They plan to open four stores.

D.C. lawmakers, however, are leery.  Walmart, which had $17 billion in profits last year, is famous for doing fun things like union busting and taking scheduling liberties with "team members" or whatever they call them.  So the City Council drafted legislation stipulating that big box retailers pay a living wage (one well above D.C. minimum wage).

Walmart was not pleased, and threatened to pull the plug on the proposed stores if the legislation enacted it.

The City Council passed it anyway.

So, and it's fun to type this knowing it's the absolute, verifiable truth: Walmart is avowedly opposed to a living wage.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:55 AM

July 10, 2013

rereading wigwag for the awl

New piece for the Awl up yesterday, a reread of the magazine Wigwag.  And kind of a weird time for the Awl to run it, considering they ran a (terrific, terrific) piece by Elon Green on the history of the New Yorker, specifically the event that occasioned the founding of Wigwag in 1989 last week, and like two or three other pieces on old magazines in the past couple days.  So it's all like, "It's raining magazines!" which is a punchline to a joke I would tell in some alternate universe.

Unlike Omni, I did not actually read Wigwag back in the day.  I would've been a sophomore in college, living pretty much like a homeless person in NYC, and between class and putting up plays and carousing there was not a lot of time left over to support the magazine publishing industry (though I do think my folks boxed up the Rolling Stones that kept coming via subscription and ship them to me).

Even so, it was a bit of a headtrip, especially actually having a copy of the mag, and you do kind of go to a place where you start to remember things you'd forgotten decades ago.

Some say smells trigger acute reappearance of memories.  I say old mags.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:59 AM

July 8, 2013

dunkin' donuts and the slow degradation of new york city

Hey New Yorkers, ever wonder what it was, exactly, that was eroding New York City before your very eyes?  Oh, nostalgia may be a poison and it may be a waste of time, but time was the City was a place that all the people enjoyed, a place where it seemed that you didn't have to buy your way into, a place where you could actually DIY.  Hell, a place where small business ownership was the rule and not the exception, a place with a natural distrust for all those neon signs that littered the suburbs, knowing that they just undercut the mom-and-pops and take the profits and reinvest it in nothing.  This wasn't that long ago.  Not at all.  New York City was awesome, and it was why we were such insufferable homers.

Well, today Dunkin' Donuts is opening its 500th location in Gotham.  Here's from the press release:

"Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins are two of the world's most beloved brands, and we're excited about opening this location, which will provide those who pass through the 'crossroads of the world' with Dunkin' Donuts' fresh and affordable coffee and baked goods, and Baskin-Robbins' ice cream and frozen treats," said Nigel Travis, Dunkin' Brands' Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We're truly proud to be able to serve the people of New York City, at this location and at hundreds of others around town, and this celebration marks a continuation of our service to them."

New York City is now a place where Dunkin' Donuts is proud of their service to you.  Slap that on a T-shirt.  Get excited.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:00 AM