Category Archives: The Corporatocracy

Industrial Farming: Expensive, Inefficient and Dangerous

But let’s do it anyway, shall we? Let’s eliminate family farms despite the fact that on only 25% of the planet’s arable land, family farms provide about 70% of the world’s food while the industrial farms of Big Agro own 75% of the land and produce only 30% of the food supply.

Yessir, that’s the right system for us.

The world is increasingly hungry because small farmers are losing access to farmland. Small farmers produce most of the world’s food but are now squeezed onto less than 25 percent of the world’s farmland, a new report reveals. Corporate and commercial farms, big biofuel operations and land speculators are pushing millions off their land.

“Small farmers are losing land at a tremendous rate. It’s a land reform movement in reverse,” said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, an international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers, which released the report Thursday.

Nothing about this way of handling a basic human need makes sense. The rationale for allowing industrial farming has always been its supposed efficiency and ability to increase the food supply. Yet a new study by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization shows quite clearly that industrial agriculture is inefficient, wasteful, dangerous, and a breeding ground for speculators. So why are we doing it? All over the world?

If all farms in Central America matched the output of small farms the region would produce three times as much food, the report said.

“Every day we are exposed to the systematic expulsion from our land,” said Marina Dos Santos of the National Coordination of the Brazilian Landless Movement.

We’re doing it because we’ve given up fighting the money. They own the world’s governments, they make the rules, they do whatever makes the most profit the quickest, and we get out of their way and let them do it even though it means destroying more than building and we get starved in the process.

Might be we ought to reconsider that strategy before we’re all living on cat food.

 

BP Bail Fail – UPDATED

The corporation that virtually destroyed half the Gulf of Mexico by spilling millions of tons of oil into it tried this week to get out of its responsibility – and previous agreement – to pay for at least some of the damage it caused.

Last week, [the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals] rejected [British Petroleum]’s attempt to stop businesses in the Gulf from collecting on losses resulting from the 2010 oil disaster. BP claimed that the companies were trying to recover “fictitious losses,” but the New Orleans court didn’t buy it. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the judges upheld an earlier ruling against BP, and said that an injunction on BP payments to Gulf businesses should be lifted. These payments are part of a settlement that BP agreed to back in 2012 – a settlement that the oil company said was “good for the people, businesses and communities of the Gulf, and in the best interests of BP’s stakeholders.”

This is just s-o-o-o corporate America. First they lowball damage estimates, then they make promises they have no intention of keeping, then they attack the victims by claiming they’re perpetrating fraud, and finally they send their high-priced lawyers to convince the courts to let them off the hook when the damages turn out to cost more than their original, absurdly low, estimate. Corporate America takes NO responsibility for its actions unless forced to by the courts (an increasingly rare outcome, btw) and even then never stop trying to get out from under. Continue reading

Privatizing the PO

Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) is trying to turn the Post Office over to Staples.

While slamming Democrats, [American Postal Workers Union president Mark] Dimondstein reserved special condemnation for Issa, the Republicans’ leading voice on postal reform. Noting that Issa had proposed eliminating Saturday postal service as part of a bill undoing veterans’ pension cuts, the union president called the congressman “a pure enemy of the Postal Service…”

This is, of course, a half-truth. In fact, Issa has shown himself to be an enemy of all public services, including free parks and libraries. He has consistently advocated the privatization of all govt functions, proposing that even police and military be replaced by private security firms and fire depts be paid for by subscription. So it really isn’t fair for the postal workers’ union to single him out. Still, it’s typical of the Issa wing of the party (the wing which is, after all, in control of the party) to attach an attack on a public union to a bill cutting veterans’ benefits. Sort of a Pub’s Dream Two-fer.

An Issa “spokesperson” (you can never get these guys to reply personally to any communication from the hoi-polloi) replied to the union’s criticism this way:

This false claim about privatization is being pushed by entrenched special interests who oppose common sense and bipartisan reforms in both House and Senate postal modernization bills.

“Special interests” may be accurately considered as a reference to unions since Issa defines “public interest” as anything a corporation wants, but the interesting word here is “false”. Whenever Issa and his people have claimed that some unpleasant fact reported about this peppy little stooge of the powerful was “false”, all the evidence proved it was true, which in turns mean this flat denial likely proves it’s exactly what this is all about.

The most obvious question here is: did Staples contribute to Issa’s campaign and if so how much? But Salon’s reporter, Josh Eidelson never asks – let alone answers – that question. Instead he delves deeply into Dianne Feinstein’s husband’s connections to Staples (to no very great effect) because he’s suspicious of La F’s refusal to support the union’s preferred bill (offered by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders), a bill he doesn’t bother to explain.

It seems that even “progressives” can’t bring themselves to directly attack extreme corporate puppets like Issa, who has never had a thought a corporation didn’t put in his head.

PS I don’t have to explain why privatizing the Post Office is a really bad idea, do I?

Coke’s Anti-Water Conspiracy

Just when you thought corporate greed couldn’t sink any lower, Coca-Cola, based in not-too-far-away Atlanta, takes it to a whole new level.

Coke [is] urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: “Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain.” Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, “by teaching [your] crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages.” Continue reading

Thanks to the SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is the govt “watchdog” that’s supposed to bark at corporate wrong-doing, has a gift for us this Thanksgiving. Well, that is, not us exactly. More like for lobbyists.

As the Project on Government Oversight reports, the SEC is postponing a new ethics rule. That’s no big deal, right? Wrong.

As POGO notes, the move deliberately allows an untold number of senior SEC employees to evade standard employment regulations – more specifically, it allows them to leave the agency and immediately begin lobbying their old government colleagues on behalf of corporate clients.

Continue reading

Chickenshit Democrats Attack Food Supply…Again. Literally. (Updated)

This is almost unbelievable.

Chicken contaminated with chicken manure is one likely result to come from the ag department’s dangerous and ridiculous determination to privatize poultry inspection in some 200 processing plants across the country. Currently, government inspectors – who’re professionally-trained in food safety – are stationed along the processing lines in the factory operations of such giants as Tyson Foods. They examine the birds for diseases and visible defects, including – yes – contamination by feces.

But the Obamacans have a “modernization” plan to remove these skilled, independent inspectors and let corporations police their own lines with untrained company hirelings. In addition, the privatization scheme would allow the poultry plants to speed up their lines to an absurd 175-birds-per-minute!

I said almost unbelievable. If I hadn’t, years ago, given up on Obama proving to be something other than a tame corporate shill, this would feel like a betrayal. As it is, I just sighed, “Of course.”

More of the Myth and one of the reasons corporate-owned Pubs spent so much spreading it around. “Govt is bad, corporations can do a better job policing themselves if we just leave them alone” is the kind of thinking that certainly makes it easier for corporations to dump govt inspections (after having paid the appropriate bribes to the appropriate officials and pols, of course), which means, of course, there will be no inspections at all, thus no possibility that profits will be lost due to nasty govt refusing to let them sell – at full price, mind you – spoiled food or food full of, you know, poisons and nuclear waste and shit and what not. Of course.

Apparently it isn’t enough for the Democrats to let agrocorps make our food unsafe, now they have to let them make it lethal. I hope the Dems are getting a good price for poisoning us. Because that’s what’s important here.


Update:

Obviously this is less important than it might at first appear.

Among the ostensibly “non-essential” services on hold during the government shutdown is the Food and Drug Administration’s food inspection program. Within the country, as the Huffington Post points out, that means as many as 80 food production facilities each day may be going uninspected (although an FDA spokesman clarified that an unclear portion of those will be carried out by state agriculture and public health departments).

Yes. Well.

 

Extortion IS Corporate-Style Governing

A lot of well-meaning but thoughtless people have been supporting the modern GOP because they believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, in the right-wing myth of corporate efficiency and competence. What all these people refused to acknowledge was that the reality beneath the appearance of corporate success had far less to do with competence than greed, far less to do with efficiency than ruthlessness.

Well they may still be in denial but if they’re paying attention at all they will have realized that we are seeing corporate-style governing this week in the extortion and blackmail the Republican Congress has loosed on the nation in a desperate attempt to get its own way. These are time-honored corporate strategies used by disparate corpos from Disney to IBM to Microsoft to Wal-mart to McDonald’s. Extortion, blackmail, and bribery are the three key components of American corporate success.

So it was no surprise when Robert Reich let it slip in his blog that this govt shutdown was planned and paid for by…tah dah!…the corporate BigWigs of th 0.1%.

The bullies are a faction inside the Republican Party – extremists who are threatening more reasonable Republicans with primary challenges if they don’t go along.

And where are the Tea Party extremists getting their dough? From even bigger bullies – a handful of hugely wealthy Americans who are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into this extortion racket.

They include David and Charles Koch (and their front group, “Americans for Prosperity’);  Peter Thiel, leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, investor Howie Rich, Stephen Jackson of the Stevens Group, and executives of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, (all behind the “Club for Growth”); and Crow Holdings’ Harlan Crow, shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, and investment banker Foster Friess; executives of MetLife and Philip Morris, and foundations controlled by the Scaife family (all bankrolling “FreedomWorks.”)

Their game plan is to not just to take over the Republican Party. It’s to take over America.

These are the standard tactics of a hostile takeover: threats and intimidation. Do what we want or we’ll burn down the store. I’d say the gloves are off. They’re not even pretending anymore.