A year ago, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could not be banned from political spending during elections through either independent expenditures from corporations’ general funds or “electioneering communications,” i.e. political ads. Detractors cried out that it would let loose a flood of corporate cash into elections, and they were right. A new Public Citizen report shows that outside groups quadrupled their contributions during the last mid-term election from the previous, and we will never know exactly where a good deal of the money came from.
For the quickest and easiest way to figure out your polling location for tomorrow, just Google for the word “vote.” A little search box with a vote button next to it will appear. Type in your home address and you’ll get a handy Google Map showing you your nearest place to go vote.
We’re generally quite critical of companies that try to squelch negative online reviews, astroturf them, or just bribe customers for positive ones. Not only is this behavior bad for consumers, but the experience of one company shows that it’s bad for businesses, too.
The workers at the FedEx Kinkos in Astor Place didn’t know how to react when reader Eric asked to overnight a letter. They were apparently trained to handle only the Kinkos side of the store, and weren’t sure how to ship Eric’s parcel—a school board election ballot—to Hackensack, New Jersey. Their solution was both innovative and idiotic: they told Eric to write his credit card info on a slip of paper, and promised to take care of everything the next morning.
Political scientist Benjamin Barber thinks mindless spending is killing America. Barber went on Bill Moyers Journal to promote his new book Consumed, and to lambast us for being infantilized drones who drool over whatever big business shoves into our greedy little mitts.
Wall Street’s relentless drive for short-term profit is ruining corporate America and the consumer experience, according to John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group. The overseer of one of the world’s largest mutual funds appeared on Bill Moyers Journal to discuss a New York Times investigation that revealed substandard care at nursing homes owned by investment firms. According to Bogle, the trend is not contained, and has dire long-term consequences:
The financial sector of our economy is the largest profit-making sector in America. Our financial services companies make more money than our energy companies — no mean profitable business in this day and age. Plus, our healthcare companies. They make almost twice as much as our technology companies, twice as much as our manufacturing companies. We’ve become a financial economy which has overwhelmed the productive economy to the detriment of investors and the detriment ultimately of our society.
Concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few and restricting the free-flow of information are the two main factors to look for when deciding whether a community is sliding towards despotism, according to this retro Encyclopedia Brittanica filmstrip. [YouTube]