....LMB: "Boss W's Political Machine"....

November 22, 2002

This article should scare you.

USA, Inc.

The Bush administration has a plan to privatize up to 850,000 government jobs. Meaning that these positions like secretaries and computer programmers will be contracted out to private companies. And the Bush administration can put this policy into effect without getting approval from Congress. Of course, the White House claims that this privatization will save taxpayer money. Because private companies never overcharge, work inefficiently, or pay their CEOs millions more than their worth. No, private companies are lean, mean, efficient and honest. Well, probably one or two are.

When I first heard about this, I simply thought "jeez, another corporate handout by Bush." But this article makes me much more anxious, and reminds us of the good ol' days of the robber barons, political "bosses," and the Teapot Dome scandal:

"By turning over half of the federal service to Corporate America, the Bush administration will create legions of employees whose jobs will depend on political loyalty to the corporations that hire them, and thus to the party that gives those corporations the employment contracts..."

"And the elimination of the federal employee unions through privatization will do away with protections for on-the-job rights, negotiated salaries and independence from corrupt political orders. (The religious right loves the plan: It renders null and void the Clinton executive order against discrimination in federal employment on the basis of sexual orientation for the privatized half of the work force.) The Bush plan is nothing less than a flying leap toward the institutionalization of the Republican Party as the party of government. It is the equivalent of a bloodless coup d’état."

Essentially, the plan gives the party in power hundreds of thousands of "favors" that can legally dole out for any reason they see fit. And knowing recent presidential administrations, those "reasons" will usually be "to increase our power."

That's enough to unnerve me, but the article delves deeper into the murk. I don't know if I entirely buy it, but it's plausible. Once the Total Information Awareness system goes into effect, some of these low-level, privatized employees might have access to the huge consumer/legal/political dossier on every American. And every company in America would like to get their hands on that data. Which could mean a) corporations will fight each other tooth and nail to get these government contracts, or b) we'll see a new era of industrial espionage, where corporate spies work undercover in these privatized jobs to illegally obtain our personal data records. Again, far-fetched, but not impossible.

I guess that's what happens when you give the keys to the country to a mob of white collar criminals.

Posted by Jake at 10:23 PM

God forbid, the unions loosing power because jobs are made private. Gee, maybe he is actually trying to save money. You know, competitive biding for jobs as apposed to stuffing the union's faces which tax dollars.

Posted by: Lance at November 23, 2002 08:10 AM

Lance would have a little more creditibility if he could spell stuff like losing or bidding.All the "patriot Act" crap is about partisan politics,not terrorists. GWB is a judas goat for the craziest most reactionary splinter groups attempt to demolish american democracy.

Posted by: david at September 9, 2003 05:45 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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