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Farewell to Homo Oeconomicus

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2015/08/430440.shtml

Capitalism is not running so well. Is this because people are judged wrongly with misguided models? We must listen to our social side, says researcher Tania Singer

The model of homo oeconomicus is antiquated and over-simplified. Dominant economic models are not based on a realistic picture of humans… In the economic model, we act as egoistic beings who are only interested in optimizing our own advantages. The model does not know different human motives that could be differently activated depending on the context… We are more complex, more contradictory and more changeable than the homo oeconomicus.

“The old narrative must be replaced with a more realistic view of the person based on psychological and neuro-scientific findings which could encourage more pro-sociality and global cooperation,” Singer says. The question is only how these values can be strengthened in our present economic systems and a politics that moves economic and financial interests in the limelight.

How important it would be if children in school could cultivate their sympathy and pro-social conduct alongside learning leaping, geography and the xylophone! If children would learn how they could react without pre-judgments to foreign conceptual and faith systems and simultaneously had in hand a method that helped them cope better with difficult emotional situations and daily stress. How important would all this be for persons working in health care systems, schools and war zones or who find themselves in muddled family constellations! How path-breaking it would be for our politics if these abilities were promoted and included in its decisions.

If an investor is found, a social business will arise out of the ReSource Project to bring the developed exercise methods into the world. “A simple meditation app without a teacher and training is impossible,” says Tania Singer, “even if everyone wants this. Our project has nothing in common with the so-called McMindful attitude that can be seen everywhere in Silicon Valley.” A little sympathy training and reducing stress only to be more efficient cannot be the point. Altruistic alternatives must be discovered besides the service motivation. That is one of Tania Singer’s goals.

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Living and Working Differently and Self-Optimization

to read the articles by Ulrich Brand and Wilfried Gaum, click on
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2015/08/272819.php

Excessive consumption of natural resources destroys the environment and fuels climate change. The weaker members of society and regions are impacted by this climate change. Far-reaching use of renewable energy is imperative.

Good life for all is a political challenge and does not only have a cultural dimension of changed lifestyles. Decisions between alternatives are made amid power and interests. Employees and their organizations play a central role. The rebuilding process must be politically organized. This should not be left to investors and businesses and their political representatives.

The drivers of growth must be tackled. How can power be contained and how can democracy be developed? For a long while, the dominant experience of most people is that society cannot be organized. Others sit at the levers of political, economic and cultural power.

The challenge of neoliberalism took an offensive form in the countries of the global North with Thatcher’s 1979 election victory in Great Britain and Reagan’s 1980 presidency. This history has been written often enough. Still both Thatcher and Reagan came to office in elections in parliamentary democracies. No coup and no dictatorship were needed to gain mass loyalties and mass support for carrying out the political ideological hegemony of neoliberalism. How did neoliberal policy gain a mass influence? To neoliberalism, we must soon oppose a great alternative narrative of freedom, democracy and solidarity before the social dislocations neutralize the positive resources amid a collapsing world climate.

Posted in Alternative Economics, Neoliberalism | Leave a comment

From the Free Market to the Share Economy

to read the articles by Christoph Lutge and Nils Ole Oermann, click on

http://la.indymedia.org/news/2015/08/272711.php

In 1970 the economics Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman argued the social responsibility of business was only maximization of its profits. This is not true any more today. The responsibility of businesses goes beyond profit maximization. More can be demanded of those with power – that jobs are created, good, innovative and very reasonable products or services are offered, that they pay into the social treasury and pay their taxes.

Maximum avoidance of taxes is not a sensible strategy. Big businesses should not seek the most profitable tax havens. Businesses operating in European or worldwide competition can be expected to contribute to a functioning community – in the scope of their possibilities. Big businesses now have greater possibilities and greater responsibility.

Posted in Neoliberalism, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

Patients are not Consumers

to read the articles by Hartmut Reibners, Tom Berthold, Sven Giegold and Dierk Hirschel from 6/2015,click

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2015/08/430358.shtml

Patients are not Consumers

Mainstream economics is always based on the idea of homo oeconomicus, an egoist who maximizes his own advantages. In economics, the extreme form of egoism is treated as rationality. This is problematic. Thought models shape perception and conduct.

July 30 was Medicare’s 50th birthday and Friday August 14 is Social Security’s 80th birthday. Millions were saved from abject poverty and hopelessness. Time to celebrate and to defend the social state, not the punishing state!

In a world where alternatives and radical thinking are encouraged and not made taboo, love of the future and confidence in human learning capacity can grow. The blurry future where most earn less than in the 1970s is the result of false assumptions, myths and fairy tales. Market failures and state failures are not identified and corrected. The homo oeconomicus, the egoist maximizing his advantages, is stylized as rationality. Long-term unemployment isn’t really counted any more. Auditors at IRS are dismissed so fraud and business-friendly inertia and enrichment go unchecked.

A computer guru told me few people pay attention to my website because of the lack of original content. Most of the 800 translated articles are original and not “unoriginal” and would be unavailable to English-speaking readers.

Hundreds of millions should be spent to train writers, translators and researchers so we’re not forever “cooking the intelligence” or captive to one’dimensional McDonaldization thinking. The last question will be whether you’ve received your McDonald’s uniform in the mail!

While FDR created 4 million jobs in two-and-a-half years, prosperous countries seem ready to be “entertained to death” (cf. Neil Postman). Freedom on the quiet seems reduced to Ponderosa this and Mr. Cartright that! We must be super-human to be people of hope in a culture that dismisses alternatives as “unoriginal”!

Here’s a link to William Davies’ article: How friendship became a tool of the powerful:

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/may/07/how-friendship-became-tool-of-powerful

more at www.booktv.org, www.nextnewdeal.net, www.foreffectivegov.org and www.openculture.com

Posted in Neoliberalism, Political Theory, trickle-down economics | Leave a comment

Environmental Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Shell Oil’s Risky and Reckless Arctic Drilling Plan

Agency gave Shell the stamp of approval to drill in fragile Arctic Ocean, despite threats

Interior unlawfully approved Shell’s problem-riddled Arctic drilling plan. In doing this, it has failed the communities and wildlife of this region.
Erik Grafe
Staff Attorney, Earthjustice

http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2015/environmental-groups-file-lawsuit-challenging-shell-oil-s-risky-and-reckless-arctic-drilling-plan
June 2, 2015
Anchorage, AK —

An alliance of environmental and Alaska-based community groups are challenging the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval of Shell’s oil exploration plan for drilling this summer in the Chukchi Sea.

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit today in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Pacific Environment, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society to challenge approval of Shell’s exploration plan. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management greenlighted Shell’s plan in May, paving the way for the oil giant to drill in the Arctic Ocean’s Chukchi Sea starting as soon as July.

See also

the 52 page review from the Department of the Interior, Secretary Salazar, 2013
Review of Shell’s 2012 Alaska Offshore Exploration Program, Report to the Department of the Interior, March 8, 2013, 52pp

http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/upload/Shell-report-3-8-13-Final.pdf

and from earthjustice.org

http://earthjustice.org/cases/2015/challenging-shell-oil-s-arctic-chukchi-sea-exploration-plan

Posted in Alternative Economics, Environmental Economics, Political Theory | Leave a comment

8 PROPOSALS ON TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS (TNCs) AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, www.tni.org

June 2015, 7 pp

https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/written-contribution-of-the-global-campaign.pdf

“…In conformity with the United Nations Charter, the future legally binding international instrument must reaffirm that international human rights laws are hierarchically superior to international trade and investment norms. The treaty must ensure that states develop, implement and comply with international human rights and environmental treaties, agreements and rules, and subordinate to them the international rules related to trade, investment, finance, taxation and
security. In particular, the legal principles linked to free trade and investment norms (
national treatment, most favorable nation etc.) must be subject to international human rights norms.

The treaty must obligate states to introduce a binding human rights supremacy clause into all trade and investment treaties that they sign, and to renegotiate existing agreements to this effect, or else to cancel them and refuse to sign any such agreements that do not explicitly recognize the supremacy of human rights obligations. States must be under the obligation to introduce into these treaties clauses concerning the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, as well as the defense of essential public goods such as water, health, education, and public services as
well as the protection of public enterprises and cooperatives. The binding instrument must also establish obligations in relation to the consultation of peoples, social movements, affected communities and consumers, as well as provisions for a democratic and transparent development process.

The treaty must prohibit states from submitting an investor-state dispute to an international arbitration body under any circumstances, as this undermines states’ sovereignty, impairs their ability and duty to protect human rights and vitiates individual and peoples’ rights recognized under international human rights law…”

and from Susan George

Video: Power at stake – Susan George at TEDxGeneva, 19 min
31 July 2015
Multi-media

https://www.tni.org/en/article/video-power-at-stake-susan-george-at-tedxgeneva

Susan George looks back at her four decades of scholarship to explain what led her to write her different books, how it formed her vision of power and the best ways to challenge the Davos class in order to deliver a more just world.

Quotes from Susan’s talk

“There is no such thing as neutrality in social sciences; we should take sides with the poor and the powerless”

“Study the rich and powerful not the poor and powerless: the poor already know what is wrong with their lives. If you really want to help you should give them a better idea of who is keeping them where they are”

“No amount of human suffering, in and of itself, is going to cause policy to change”

“I meet a lot of well-meaning people who genuinely want social and ecological justice, but seem to believe it is possible to have good ideas and good blueprints for policy and you are home free, but that has never been the truth. It is a huge mistake to forget that there are forces out there, adversaries out there who have no intention to allow anyone to do anything that affects their interests”

“Those blocking change are the 1%, the TNCs, Finance Markets, Politicians governing on their behalf – what I call the Davos Class. To do anything concrete we must deal with those adversaries.”

Key lists for change 1. Banks back under control 2. Close down tax havens and invest that money in services 3. Binding regulations for TNCs 4. Debt workouts

“I believe with a social system that is growing more stressed, I and you might be that unpredictable element that can provoke the system to break down and reconfigure in a way that could be more just and sustainable.”

Posted in Alternative Economics, Political Theory, Roosevelt and New Deal | Leave a comment

The end of capitalism by Paul Mason

The end of capitalism by Paul Mason, July 16, 2015, The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/17/postcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun

Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian

The information economy is an economy of abundance that puts in question the assumptions, myths, priorities and paradigms of the past quantitative economy of scarcity. www.openculture.com gives us 700 free movies, 700 free E-books and 450 audio books and indirectly challenges the hard-nosed culture of exploitation, enrichment and conspicious consumption. The 26 community centers in Vancouver B.C. are an antidote to hyper-individualistic, solipsistic culture that makes “free” and “shared” into tabood realities and shared and solidarity into intrusions.

Why should we not form a picture of the ideal life, built out of abundant information, non-hierarchical work and the dissociation of work from wages?

Millions of people are beginning to realize they have been sold a dream at odds with what reality can deliver. Their response is anger – and retreat towards national forms of capitalism that can only tear the world apart. Watching these emerge, from the pro-Grexit left factions in Syriza to the Front National and the isolationism of the American right has been like watching the nightmares we had during the Lehman Brothers crisis come true.

We need more than just a bunch of utopian dreams and small-scale horizontal projects. We need a project based on reason, evidence and testable designs, that cuts with the grain of history and is sustainable by the planet. And we need to get on with it.

Postcapitalism is published by Allen Lane on 30 July. Paul Mason will be asking whether capitalism has had its day at a sold-out Guardian Live event on 22 July. Let us know your thoughts beforehand at theguardian.com/membership.

Posted in Austerity, Political Theory, Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment

Brewster Kahle: A digital library, free to the world 13 min

How Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive Will Preserve the Infinite Information on the Web

in Archives, Technology, TED Talks, Web/Tech| May 11th, 2013

http://www.openculture.com/2013/05/how_brewster_kahle_and_the_internet_archive_will_preserve_the_infinite_information_on_the_web_.html

Brewster Kahle is an unassuming man. But as an internet pioneer and digital librarian, he may rightly be called a founding father of the Open Culture ethos. In 1996, Kahle began work on the Internet Archive, a tremendously important project that acts as a safety net for the memory hole problem of Internet publishing. Kahle developed technology that finds and aggregates as much of the internet as it is able in his massive digital library.

Along with the archive, which Open Culture has drawn from many a time, comes Kahle’s “Wayback Machine,” named for the time-traveling device in a Rocky and Bullwinkle segment featuring the genius dog Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman (the cartoon spelled it as an acronym: WABAC). The “Wayback Machine,” as you probably know, logs previous versions of websites, holding on to the web’s past like classic paper libraries hold on to an author’s papers. (Here’s what we looked like in 2006.)

In the animated adventures of Peabody and Sherman, the Wayback Machine was a monstrous contraption that occupied half of Peabody’s den. And while we often think of Internet space as limitless and disembodied, Kahle’s Internet Archive is also physically housed, in a former Christian Science church now lined with towering servers that store digitized books, music, film and other media for free access. It’s an impressive space for an impressive project that will likely expand past its physical boundaries. As Kahle says above, “it turns out there is no end; the web is, in fact, infinite.”

Kahle is deeply invested in data. The challenges of maintaining the Internet Archive are immense, including translating old, unplayable formats to new ones. But what Kahle calls the greatest challenge is the perennial threat to all libraries: “they burn.” And he’s committed to designing for that eventuality by making copies of the archive and distributing them around the world. If you’re interested in what motivates Kahle, you should watch his 2007 TED talk above. He frames the business of archiving the internet as one of making available “the best we have to offer” to successive generations. “If we don’t do that,” Kahle warns, “we’re going to get the generation we deserve.” It’s a warning worth heeding, I think.

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment

Jürgen Habermas’s verdict on the EU/Greece debt deal – full transcript

to read the full transcript published in The Guardian UK, July 16, 2015, click on

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/16/jurgen-habermas-eu-greece-debt-deal?CMP=share_btn_fb
Guardian: What is your verdict on the deal reached on Monday?

Habermas: The Greek debt deal announced on Monday morning is damaging both in its result and the way in which it was reached. First, the outcome of the talks is ill-advised. Even if one were to consider the strangulating terms of the deal the right course of action, one cannot expect these reforms to be enacted by a government which by its own admission does not believe in the terms of the agreement.

Secondly, the outcome does not make sense in economic terms because of the toxic mixture of necessary structural reforms of state and economy with further neoliberal impositions that will completely discourage an exhausted Greek population and kill any impetus to growth.

Thirdly, the outcome means that a helpless European Council is effectively declaring itself politically bankrupt: the de facto relegation of a member state to the status of a protectorate openly contradicts the democratic principles of the European Union. Finally, the outcome is disgraceful because forcing the Greek government to agree to an economically questionable, predominantly symbolic privatisation fund cannot be understood as anything other than an act of punishment against a left-wing government. It’s hard to see how more damage could be done.

The European Council is effectively declaring itself politically bankrupt

And yet the German government did just this when finance minister Schaeuble threatened Greek exit from the euro, thus unashamedly revealing itself as Europe’s chief disciplinarian. The German government thereby made for the first time a manifest claim for German hegemony in Europe – this, at any rate, is how things are perceived in the rest of Europe, and this perception defines the reality that counts. I fear that the German government, including its social democratic faction, have gambled away in one night all the political capital that a better Germany had accumulated in half a century – and by “better” I mean a Germany characterised by greater political sensitivity and a post-national mentality.

Posted in Austerity, Neoliberalism, Political Theory | Leave a comment

Reduced Working Hours as a Socio-Economic Investment

Reduced Working Hours as a Socio-Economic Investment by Michael Schwendinger and Martin Risak, 2014

http://la.indymedia.org/news/2015/07/272143.php

This economy condemns and enslaves. Reduced working hours and community centers (as in Vancouver B.C.) could be a third way beyond state and market enabling us to be grateful subjects instead of abject objects. The financial crisis of 2007-8 should lead to shrinking the financial sector, expanding the public sector and freeing ourselves from vulgar materialism, narcissism and environmental destruction.

In these Austrian articles, reduced working hours is seen as a socio-economic investment, not as a cost-trap. A 1909 study by Sidney Chapman shows that shorter hours can lead to higher productivity and greater output. More time sovereignty and better health of workers could be long-term gains.

Why can’t we experiment with redefining work, health, strength and happiness? Sustainability means not taking resources and possibilities from the rising generation. The economy should be a part of life, not a steamroller crushing creativity and self-determination!

more at www.openculture.com, www.kickitover.org, www.worklessparty.org, www.steadystate.org and www.alternativetrademandate.org

Posted in Alternative Economics, Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment