Covey was to break me, I was to break them; break and be broken–such is life

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If you don't mind Java based desktop applications RSS Owl is a great free rss reader. A few minutes of clicking around the GUI and most folks should be ready to rss their way to information overload.

World's first beer health spa opens in Czech

London, Mar 28: A family brewery in the Czech Republic has opened the world’s first beer health centre in its cellar. The Chodovar Family brewery in Chodova Plana offers beer baths, beer massages and beer cosmetics.

As compared to here where anyone with a TV and three dollars sets up their own beer spa very Saturday and Sunday. And hey if you want to rub some beer on your face while watching the game just don't get any on the pile carpet.

The Enron Model of Irresponsible Capitalism

The Enron verdicts are one more blow to a new American model of capitalism already heavily criticized for its gross abuse of common-sense moral values.

The American economist Robert Lekachman has written (in the admirable "Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought") that "the ideology of capitalism makes an implicit assertion that inequalities of income and wealth measure, however roughly, the economic contributions of the men and women who embark their energies and resources in the productive process."

The new American economic and corporate model grotesquely departs from such a moral foundation, doing so in a way that suggests damaging ultimate consequences for society.

The usual defense of billion-dollar rewards for executives, for example, is the nihilistic one that the market settles business morality. That is, you get away with what you can.

The theoretical argument is that such rewards for managers are a necessary element in a modern system where creating value for investors generates prosperity for everyone. Wealth "trickles down." The rising tide lifts everyone.

This today is untrue. The globalized corporation identifies labor as usually its largest production cost, and its easiest cost to cut. This means that management regards itself as obliged to restrict to the maximum the "trickling down" of value to workers.

Sometimes as we're following stories in politics, the economy, science, sports, or popular culture we can get so immersed in minute details that some of the most obvious things fly by without notice. I don't read the various discussion boards as much as I used to, but one thing that I noticed was a tendency for some of the more progressive minded contributors to get a little tongue tied when it came to dealing with those that have passionately and wrongly embraced trickle down economics. Partly I think that is because the argument against trickle down is so obvious that progressives tend to think it is too self evident to spell out and maybe in part do to a lack of simple counter jingoisms with with to counter the far right's jingoisms. Trickle down didn't work for Reagan, the middle and working classes lost ground, yet the notion of it may have taken further root because, at least to some Reagan was likable. Part of Reagan's trickle down formula was big D deregulation. Even many who traditionally supported labor jumped on board the deregulation train with the notion that striping away all those regulations that protected consumers, investors, and the environment would mean more corporate profits which would translate into more jobs and better wages. Well here we are almost twenty years later and the poor and working class are still losing ground and the middle-class has been, for the foreseeable future locked into an economic box in which one foot is on the edge of a cliff; one wrong move and they're over the edge. Deregulation was not the key ( see Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, corporate profits, health care costs) and a perverse incarnation of capitalism that makes sure that the wealthiest Americans are taken care of wrapped in the doublespeak of "ownership society" is doing for American workers what the worship of deregulation did, absolutely nothing. Capitalism really only works when it is guided by a moral compass. Without that compass its like a car without breaks riding on bald retreads. I think there is a general fear, an underlying anxiety among the middle-class that they should not act, they should not rock the boat, that things can get worse. That fear is awful legacy to leave the next generation.
In a related piece in a diary over at Daily Kos, Catch-22 as prophecy: privatization vs. democracy that talks about how privatization, another right-wing panacea, which has proved deadly for the military that the far right conservatives claim to care so much about.

My fears were groundless. Their spree was over for the present, and the rascals now moved off as soberly as though their behavior had been natural and exemplary. On reaching the part of the forest where I had been, the day before, chopping wood, I filled the cart with a heavy load, as a security against another running away. But, the neck of an ox is equal in strength to iron. It defies all ordinary burdens, when excited. Tame and docile to a proverb, when _well_ trained, the ox is the most sullen and intractable of animals when but half broken to the yoke.

I now saw, in my situation, several points of similarity with that of the oxen. They were property, so was I; they were to be broken, so was I. Covey was to break me, I was to break them; break and be broken–such is life.

from My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

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