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What Would It Take to Stop the Ice Raids?

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The post What Would It Take to Stop the Ice Raids? appeared first on IT'S GOING DOWN.

Over the past week, nearly 700 people have been rounded up in a wave of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweeps across the US. In response, people have blockaded roads and ICE vans and organized massive demonstrations. But what would it take to stop the raids altogether?

The Assault

In some parts of the US, the ICE assault involved brutal militarized raids in which officers smashed windows and set off flashbang grenades inside residential homes. In other places, everything happened so quietly as to go virtually unnoticed: here a bureaucratic change in the status of a prisoner, there the transfer into indefinite detention of an arrestee who was about to be released.

The raids come on the heels of a set of executive orders from the Trump administration threatening millions of people across the United States. These orders aim to deputize police as immigration officials, to build up massive prison infrastructure, and to target entire communities for harassment, detention, and deportation. The idea is clearly to give police and government officials sweeping powers to terrorize an entire community.

Debate has centered on whether these raids represent Trump’s new program or the continuation of ICE policy under Obama. Obama’s administration deported 2.7 million people, more than the US deported throughout the entire 20th century. David Ward, the Director of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Agents, has stated that the current wave of raids were “probably planned at least three or four months ago, under the Obama administration, and finally launched under the Trump administration.”

Yet the Trump administration intends to open a new chapter in the criminalization of immigrants. Trump has appointed a white nationalist from the anti-immigrant group FAIR to head US Customs and Border Protection. The white nationalist wing of the regime, represented by Steve Bannon, intends to follow through on Trump’s campaign promises to build a billion-dollar wall along the Mexican border and carry out mass deportations.

The Obama administration took a neoliberal approach to mass deportations, using them to disrupt immigrant labor organizing while leaving enough undocumented people in the country to provide a cheap labor force to boost corporate profits. The Trump administration is taking a nationalist approach, gambling that it is more important for white people and US citizens to preserve their comparative status relative to people of color and non-citizens than it is preserve the functioning of the economy. An administration that is prepared to risk economic collapse to carry out its scapegoating is prepared to put up with a little outcry and protest as well.

The Response

Ever since the election, people have been organizing emergency hotlines, rapid response networks, and know-your-rights trainings. As soon as the raids took place, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Baltimore and Milwaukee, while confrontational protesters blocked a freeway onramp in Los Angeles. In Austin and Phoenix, people shut down streets and blocked ICE vans. On Thursday, February 16, thousands of people participated in massive school walkouts, marches, and demonstrations against the raids under the banner #DayWithoutImmigrants.

All of these actions are important. Together, they create an atmosphere of opposition to Trump’s agenda and a space in which his opponents can find each other. Yet a largely symbolic replay of the demonstrations of May Day 2006 (which were disruptive, confrontational, and included massive walkouts, wildcat strikes, and marches; successfully defeating HR-4437) will not suffice to halt the raids and deportations. The Trump administration is not concerned about expressions of disapproval; protests only make him more popular with his support base. It is necessary to move from protest to resistance.

Likewise, blocking ICE vans might interrupt a deportation or two, but they are not going to stop the regime. Certainly, these efforts are disruptive and set a precedent for responding immediately; they demonstrate considerable courage, and they inspire courage as well. But in most cases, they will not be quick enough or forceful enough to save the people who are being wrested from their families.

Applying the logic that made the protests against the Muslim Ban so effective, we see that what is lacking is a widely accessible point of intervention that provides direct leverage on the infrastructure with which these raids are being carried out. People need a pressure point, a place that they can converge to go on the offensive.

But what might that pressure point be? There are several possibilities. ICE maintains offices all around the United States. It is similarly easy to find the detention facilities they utilize. If word got out that protesters were massing around these and interfering with their operations, a great number of people around the country would likely follow suit. If this spread far enough, it could create a political crisis within the state.

Mind you, this is not an endorsement of any particular strategy. Many people surely consider it perfectly legitimate to sit on their hands while millions are rounded up and deported or imprisoned. That likely includes many good liberals who did not object to this under Obama but will be pleased with themselves for having registered their dissent under Trump. “First they came for the immigrants…”

The point is simply that—to paraphrase Utah Phillips—our neighbors and coworkers are not vanishing, they are being disappeared, and the institutions responsible for this have names and addresses.

“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If… if… We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more—we had no awareness of the real situation… We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

–Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago


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How To: Wheatpaste

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The post How To: Wheatpaste appeared first on IT'S GOING DOWN.

Wheatpasting is a simple, dirt-cheap way of spreading ideas, news, analyses, and creative expression outside of (and against) the pacified modes made available by the institutions that control and mangle our lives. Let’s reclaim, together, the means of expression from the media, Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, and everything else that reduces us to mere observers of life. Poetry is in the streets!

WHAT YOU NEED
•1 cup of flour
•2 cups of water
•Stove or hotplate
•A pot or pan
•A large paintbrush
•A bucket or container
•Flyers that you want to put up
•Latex gloves (if you don’t wanna walk around with drippy hands)

(OR, you can use a gallon of pre-made “wallpaper paste,” which can be bought cheaply at hardware stores. If you do this, you can skip these first three directions.)

DIRECTIONS
•Mix the 1 cup of flour with 2 cups of water together in a pan and stir until there are no lumps.
•Heat the mixture by boiling it until it thickens.
•Cook for about half an hour, and then let it cool.
•Put the wheatpaste solution into a container, grab a paintbrush, some flyers, and head out into the night. Keep in mind that wheatpasting is not “legal” and therefore, it is best to go late at night and avoid being seen by cops.
•When you locate a visible, non-porous surface like metal or glass, use the paintbrush to apply the wheatpaste to either the back of the flyer or the surface itself and smooth the flyer down so there are little or no air bubbles. Put some more wheatpaste on the front of the flyer (especially the edges) to secure it to the surface.

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bibliogrrl
7 days ago
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Chicago!
subbes
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Berkeley Behind the Bandana

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The post Berkeley Behind the Bandana appeared first on IT'S GOING DOWN.

In the glare of the fire and in the throngs of protestors I see a friend and former professor of mine I haven’t seen in a while. I jump from the ledge I’m standing on and run up to him, excited to say hi. He turns around and quickly recoils, looking terrified.

For a split second, I’m confused. Then I remember and pull the black bandana down off the bridge of my nose.

Words don’t dissipate into air. They build walls that create violent borders between nations. They detain immigrants and tourists in airports across the country. Words lure transwomen into dark corners and leave them bloody and gasping for breath.

His grimace stretches into a smile and we embrace, sharing the joy of the moment we just created together. I, dressed in black and with my face covered up and he, with his sign and his friends surrounding him, are ecstatic at the news that Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart editor and white supremacist has just been evacuated from the building. Together we have made the campus a little bit safer.

***

In a matter of months the real threat of fascism has emerged from the shadows. What seemed like a fringe element to many has suddenly been doing interviews on CNN, trending on Twitter, and gaining seats in the White House cabinet. People who have championed the KKK. People who want my friends deported, imprisoned, or killed. People who want me dead.

And yet, in the aftermath of the demonstrations at Berkeley, the political back flips performed by the moderate left have made it clear what matters, (and, spoiler alert, it isn’t the systemic violence done to our marginalized communities). Suddenly my white liberal friends are demanding I defend the militant tactics that forced the police to shut down the modern equivalent of a Nazi rally. Suddenly the value of “free speech” is being turned on its head and used against marginalized people in defense of White Supremacists. Suddenly my former professor, Robert Reich, is publicizing his own conspiracy theory, which accused people in masks of working FOR the alt-right.

My initial reaction is to be angry. I am angry that you can’t understand why I feel called to fight for my life. I am angry that you seem more upset about the bank windows than you do about Milo’s plan to report immigrant students to get them deported. I am angry that you wouldn’t do what it took to keep him from publicly humiliating another transgender student, like he did in Milwaukee.  I am furious that an anti-fascist was literally shot by a white supremacist in Seattle, his shooter later being released by the police, and that the headlines are all about the tree that caught fire in Berkeley.

But.

When I step back and look at my whole self, the same person who fought in High School to stop censorship in our school newspaper, who went to UC Berkeley because I was so inspired by the Free Speech Movement, the person who loved Reich’s Wealth and Poverty course, who believes deeply that the government should never violate someone’s right to speak their truth, I can understand where you are coming from. None of us want to build a society in which our government gets to say which speech is safe and which speech is “inciting violence.” We all want the freedom to speak out. And yet here we are, turning out to shut down a public speaking event.

At first glance this could seem like an inconsistency. But I ask people who are sitting in discomfort right now to look a little deeper. Because I went to UC Berkeley on Wednesday night ready to do whatever was necessary to keep Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am a former UC Berkeley student who showed up in black bloc, ready to break shit, ready to stop the event from happening. I am queer. I am trans. I am femme. I am fighting for survival. I am fighting for my people.

I am a former UC Berkeley student who showed up in black bloc, ready to break shit, ready to stop the event from happening. I am queer. I am trans. I am femme. I am fighting for survival. I am fighting for my people.

The slave owning authors of the First Amendment did not guarantee Free Speech because they wanted to mandate that everyone engage only in civil discourse with each other. They did so because they believed that the government should not be permitted to suppress ideas that would seek to undermine it. They believed that revolution is important and necessary, and that those who criticize the state should be protected from state retaliation. We are not the state. We do not have armed guards ready to move at our command. We are our own armor, and we must fight for each other if we are to survive. Facing the consequences of our words in the public sphere is actually a critical component of creating accountability that exists outside of the State.

I would not celebrate if Milo were taken to jail. I am much more disturbed by the strength and violence of the State than I am by a handful of attention-starved white boys with an embarrassing mascot. I don’t want the police to deny Milo the right to speak. I don’t even want the University to do that. I want Milo to be so afraid of us, the students and the queers and the immigrants, that he evacuates the building. That he never books another tour. That his followers won’t speak to the media. I want them to feel afraid of us.

As Martin Luther King Jr, for whom the building set to host Milo is named, himself said “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea.”

The deeper reality is that words do not exist in a vacuum. The idea that someone should have the freedom to say whatever they want to say without facing the backlash of those who are hurt is ludicrous in the way that asking someone under attack not to fight back is ludicrous. Words don’t dissipate into air. They build walls that create violent borders between nations. They detain immigrants and tourists in airports across the country. Words lure transwomen into dark corners and leave them bloody and gasping for breath.

***

If the Milo Yiannopoulos event had been stopped by the crowd standing around with signs demanding the event be shut down, I would have gone home satisfied. But that didn’t work in Boulder, in Colorado Springs, in Seattle, in San Luis Obispo, Albuquerque. And it didn’t work in Berkeley. Students as well as “outsiders,” a term that seems to refer to anyone who has lived in Berkeley or Oakland for more than four years, had been standing around with signs for an hour before the black bloc rolled in and shut down the event within 20 minutes. Of course, none of us are outsiders. As Martin Luther King Jr, for whom the building set to host Milo is named, himself said “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea.”

My question now is whether or not we are ready to escalate to respond to the far-Right escalation? When you called for the event to be shut down, did you mean it? If Donald Trump builds a wall, do you actually intend to tear it down? Or will you condemn those who do so as violent, call them “outside agitators?” Will you pretend you don’t know us? That you didn’t ask us to come?

I don’t want the police to deny Milo the right to speak. I don’t even want the University to do that. I want Milo to be so afraid of us, the students and the queers and the immigrants, that he evacuates the building.

Together we were able to stop Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at UC Berkeley. We need you as much as you need us. Your student faces, your classroom chic was the reason the police didn’t kill anyone that night. Black bloc’s militant tactics are the reason the event was successfully shut down. The reason no one is being deported. The reason no trans-person was forced to drop out of school. We do the work you won’t do. It’s dangerous, and it’s hard. And I respect your choice not to do it.

You may not agree with my choices, but I hope you can be honest with yourself about what we’re really facing. Because the time we are in calls for disciplined self-defense, in keeping with a long tradition of militant defense by marginalized peoples locally and around the world. And if we want to survive, we’re going to have to fight.

***

I run into the crowd and quickly pull off my mask, donning on a brightly colored coat before joining the people dancing around the speaker system. Like everyone else here, I celebrate our victory surrounded by people I love and admire. I don’t even hear the bank windows shatter as Rihanna bumps and we grind. I feel joy, I feel awe, I feel calm.

I feel ready for what is to come.

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subbes
11 days ago
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"The slave owning authors of the First Amendment did not guarantee Free Speech because they wanted to mandate that everyone engage only in civil discourse with each other. They did so because they believed that the government should not be permitted to suppress ideas that would seek to undermine it. They believed that revolution is important and necessary, and that those who criticize the state should be protected from state retaliation. We are not the state. We do not have armed guards ready to move at our command. We are our own armor, and we must fight for each other if we are to survive. Facing the consequences of our words in the public sphere is actually a critical component of creating accountability that exists outside of the State."
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The Problem of “Peaceful Protesters”

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The post The Problem of “Peaceful Protesters” appeared first on IT'S GOING DOWN.

“I’m not a protester. I’m violent.”
-Masked Rebel in Ferguson

Along with voting, in today’s society protesting peacefully is often held up as one of the only ways that everyday working-class and poor people can change the world. This is a myth we are raised with, and since the time that we are very young, we are taught that peaceful protest helped bring about massive changes in this country and remains the only way in which people can correctly pressure the government into addressing problems and grievances. This myth has gone on to become a framework that not only criminalizes and normalizes repression, but also helps to generalize the policing and shaming of various tactics of resistance in social struggles. If we are to create a movement that can not only push back against broad attacks but create a new way of living, this false notion of “peaceful protesters” is going to have to be completely destroyed.

A History of Violence

When someone says that non-violence has been the only way that human beings have changed the world, they’re fucking lying. 

Across the world and across history, oppressed, marginalized, poor, and working-class people have used a variety of tactics to further their goals and fight back, and this includes things that could be considered violent. Overall, this means that when people refuse their roles within society and instead force the system into a state of crisis, that’s when we can create a situation in which we can forward our own agenda. This often means that people refuse to do the things that allows the system to reproduce itself. In the case of workers, people strike. In the case of renters, they go on rent strike. For the poor, they refuse to be passive: they riot. In the case of all, they defend themselves against the violence of State repression and the police: they fight back. 

Throughout American history mass defiance to governance and the police is what led to historic changes in the cases of both the Labor Movement and the Civil Rights struggle. In both instances, mass, disruptive, riotous, and at times violent tactics were key in pushing the State to grant massive reforms. Furthermore, disruptive elements often catapulted reformist and non-violent organizers into a position to negotiate with the State and push through changes. Thus, if it wasn’t for violence or the threat of it, leaders such as MLK wouldn’t have become so prominent.

We should also keep in mind that our enemies have also used a variety of tactics in order to ensure that white supremacy and patriarchy have stayed firmly in place. For instance, a combination of white racist terror in the form of the Ku-Klux-Klan, which was backed by wealthy land owners along with the formation of White Citizens Councils helped defeat Reconstruction in the South and paved the way for the legalization of Jim Crow.

State repression has also used a variety of violent tactics in order to ensure that resistance movements were decimated and State authority and control was returned. For instance in 1990, the FBI with the help of local police and corporate officials, blew up the car of Earth First! and IWW organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, in order to stop their efforts to both unionize loggers and fight to protect old growth forests. In the 1960s, the FBI worked to destroy groups such as the Black Panthers through COINTELPRO and used a wide variety of tactics, up to out right assassination to destroy the black liberation struggle, anti-war movement, and radical Left.

In short, both racist reactionaries on the far-Right, the State, and movements for liberation have used a wide diverse array of tactics in order to fight both each other, and for their own power.

To imply anything else is to ignore reality and deny history.

The Myth and Image of Peaceful Protesters

In the daily reporting of the media, in the eyes of the police, and in the minds of millions of liberals, “peaceful protesters” are the basic building blocks of a “successful” push to change the status-quo. Across the social landscape, peaceful protesters are celebrated as the ‘only’ people who are listened too and who historically have been able to change the way the world functions. In many ways, the positive vision of ‘peaceful protesters’ also paints a rosy image of the ‘respectable government,’ which supposedly has its ear to the ground for concerns, listens politely to all those that are not rude, and grants the wishes of those who ask nicely.

Thus, peaceful protesters are celebrated for not disrupting society or physically becoming combative with the established order, while all those who actually do so are demonized by the State, the media, the Left, and attacked by the police.

We see this playing out in a variety of ways. In the media, reporters are always quick to give accolades to protests when they are symbolic, contained, and peaceful. When asked for comment by the police, the cops themselves will always give praise to “peaceful protesters” for policing themselves and making sure that disruptions and attacks on the normalcy of social peace do not happen. In many cases, we see many protesters returning this praise, going so far as to hug police and shake hands with them, “Thank you for protecting us,” they tell police who are there to make sure people don’t actually disrupt the normalcy of everyday life.

The media also always helps to divide protests into two camps: “peaceful” and non-protests, or riots. In today’s edition of The New York Times for instance, a headline reads, Peaceful Protest Is Not a Crime, as it discusses the various draconian pieces of legislation which are aimed at stopping people from blockading and disrupting freeways, roads, and pipelines.

Ironically, the whole point of these pieces of legislation is that the tactics they seek to criminalize are disruptive and confrontational, and thus dangerous, regardless of it they are ‘non-violent.’

Thus, liberals miss the point again. Any sort of strategy that seeks to physically shut down and block things from happening will be targeted by the State. It is not interested if things are “non-violent” or not, simply if they disrupt business as usual.

The State Has It’s Own Logic, And Not One of Non-Violence

In the minds of many peaceful protesters, they often believe that if they remain peaceful, the police will not attack them. They also surmise that if the police do attack them, then the police will be reprimanded for attacking the coveted “peaceful protesters.”

This line of thinking plays out in mainstream and Left media, as people will often write and say that police attacked “peaceful protesters,” in order to shock their readers. While many people believe that they are simply pointing out that the police attacked a crowd without provocation, what this does is simply draw a line between those that are disruptive and confrontational (who deserve to be attacked by the State) and those who are “peaceful,” (who deserve to be protected).

Furthermore, it also removes any real analysis of why the police would attack a protest to begin with, regardless of its makeup. For it already assumes that for the police to attack a peaceful gathering, this is somehow outside of the ordinary and uncalled for. It also reaffirms the status of the peaceful protester as the most sanctimonious creature in the universe, especially when compared to the hooliganistic being who riots, loots, punches Nazis, and start fires.

In reality, police attack peaceful demonstrations and actions all the time, not because they are violent or non-violent, but simply because the State views them as a threat and wants to shut them down.

Peace and Whiteness

The peaceful protester is both a convenient myth for the dominant system, as it is an archetype that it encourages people to strive for as it promotes that idea that only those who are non-disruptive will be listened to. There are peaceful protesters; those who are passive and submit to the authority of the State, and then there are rioters, hooligans, anarchists; those who fight, who destroy, who loot, who attack.

The racial overtones of these categories are clear. White, educated, and middle class people who already have more access and sway over institutions, who have been trained with the logic and morals of the dominant system in colleges and schools; are always more expected to be peaceful protesters. Meanwhile, black and brown youth who riot and fight back against the police also are likewise expected to simply be rioters and looters. In doing so, their actions are stripped of all reasons for acting and they are reduced to beings with animalistic urges; devoid of purpose other than being out of control.

We see this time and time again. When riots break out, elites always make the distinction that those that are physically fighting are not protesters and therefore are not legitimate. This is also how the black bloc is largely presented by the powers that be, as a body of people both in treason against the “peaceful protester” and also against whiteness itself. Instead of swallowing the State’s logic, let’s recognize this language for what it is: the State recognizing its enemies. It’s up to us to draw lines: who do we support? The State or those that resist it?

There is No Non-Violent Protest

The idea that any protest is non-violent is a total fantasy. The police are violent, the State is violent. To the police there is also always the immense threat that a protest (or any social situation) could leave the confines of symbolism and passivity and move into open confrontation and disruption with the established order; this is why they come to protests, to ensure that this doesn’t happen. To do this, they use the threat of violence. 

For instance, in Davis, California, a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos several weeks ago was shut down after a large crowd stood in front of the doors. Soon after the protest began, the Republican organizers pulled the plug out of fear of what might happen. Not surprisingly, Milo and Breitbart would go on to lie about what happened, claiming that windows were broken and this caused the event to be shut down.

On the other hand, others claimed that the event signaled a victory for non-violence and peaceful protesters, and rushed to show that in fact nothing was broken, as if to clear the good name of the people who demonstrated.

But in reality, it was the threat of physical fights and confrontation that forced the event to be shut down, even though in reality, it didn’t come to blows. And while sometimes we can win without carrying out certain actions, which is preferable, we must remember that it is the threat of our ability to do so that often allows us to win, not the ‘moral high ground’ or other made up nonsense that comes from the snake oil of non-violence.

Destroy the Myth of the Peaceful Protester

The sooner we destroy and leave behind the myth of the peaceful protester and stop holding it up as the archetype for all resistance movements, the better off all struggles for liberation will be.

Let’s not let the media define who we are and what we do. Let’s not allow the elites, corporate CEOs, and police brass to put us into categories of “good” and “bad;” “community” or “outside agitators.” All of this is bullshit and it comes from the State.

Let’s also remember that just because we reject non-violence doesn’t also mean that we worship or glorify armed struggle, being militant, or violent resistance, which is simply the other side of the same coin.

Instead, let’s work to popularize both self-defense against the State and far-Right forces, push back against liberal demonization of a diversity of tactics, and also work to promote strategies that win and build our power.


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Socialism Is Bad

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I get a worrying sense that socialism is becoming cool again. You can see it all over social media where people brag about joining the Democratic Socialists of America, and in the popularity of the socialist magazine Jacobin. If Trump fails terribly, I worry that left populism will be what replaces it and the end result will be a more socialist U.S. That’s bad because socialism is bad. Given the growing popularity of socialism, I think it’s worth talking about why socialism is bad specifically.

Matt Bruenig has written a useful piece on socialism that I think is a jumping off point. As usual with Matt, it’s written with clarity and specificity that is appreciated. Unlike a lot o vague paeans to how socialism is good and we should have it, Matt offers specific plans for how we could get to government ownership of business.

The plan calls for the gradual socialization of existing companies, and Matt tells me on twitter that this would apply only to large firms. It may be appealing to think of a massive, centralized company like Apple and assume that it wouldn’t matter whether the government slowly became the sole shareholders. After all (ignoring the importance of options in executive compensation for the moment) the shareholders aren’t doing the innovating, the employees are. What does it matter who the dividend checks go to?

One issue is that the government would not just own but control companies, and this plan doesn’t tell us what they would do with that control. And yes, Matt does see this control as a benefit and not a cost to be avoided. Would Apple be free to innovate with the government controlling it? Or would they be forced to onshore all their production? It would be a lot easier for Trump to push Ivanka’s clothing line if the government owned and controlled Nodstrom, Sears, and K-Mart. It is hard to both desire control presumably as a means to some unspecified end and also to assume this control won’t have negative consequences for productivity.

Second, even if we could easily socialize every large company in the U.S. without negatively affecting them, this does not tell us about the future large companies who don’t exist yet. If socialism was in place in 1995 would we have Google today? If we were socialist in 1975 would we have Apple today? Why would small business founders grow their businesses knowing that this would cause them to be socialized? This is especially true given that you can’t socialize the globe at once and companies on the cusp of growing large enough to be socialized would be free to locate in, say, New Zealand.

Fast growing, small companies are a very important source of new job creation and innovation. More productive firms are more likely to grow, and less productive ones more likely to exist. Telling firms to stay small or be socialized is going to give small, successful companies incentive to avoid the important growth dynamics that are essential to a productive economy. To take one recent example for how costly inefficiencies like this can be, Garicano, Lelarge, and Van Reenan examine laws in France that affect only firms with 50 or more workers. They find that this creates more small firms than would otherwise be the case, and the distortions lower GDP by 3.5% by increasing unemployment and keeping productive firms below their optimal size.

Indeed, a broad literature shows that the inability of small successful companies to grow is an important factor that holds back economic development. Hsieh and Klenow show that in the U.S., as manufacturing firms age they get bigger. The effect can be seen in the graph below, from Charles Jones “The Facts of Economic Growth”.  Hsieh and Klenow estimate that if U.S. firms expanded as slowly as they do in India and Mexico, total factor productivity in the U.S. would be 25% lower.

klenow

Because he is Matt Bruenig, I know exactly how he will reply to this: if reducing firm size along some margin is bad, then making firms be bigger must be good so let’s just mandate all firms be large somehow. Of course this ignores the fact that it is not arbitrary size that is good, but a system that incentivizes the most productive firms to grow and the least productive to shrink or exist. It is the productivity increasing selection mechanism of capitalism that matters, and not just the mere outcome of firm size that should be mandated by politicians like some kind of dial to turn up or down.

Socialism is bad and it is bad that socialism is becoming cool again. Nevertheless I enjoy reading Matt Bruenig and other new socialists who clearly lay out their ideas for how it all would work. I think entrepreneurship, productivity, dynamism, and reallocation are first order factors for economic growth and socialists should address these issues. There are many other reasons why socialism is bad, but I think this is an important place to start.

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subbes
13 days ago
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this post is wrong :)
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wreichard
13 days ago
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Having just lived in the UK, I lived to say there's absolutely nothing wrong with socialism.
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acdha
12 days ago
The weirdest thing about these propaganda posts is the way they completely ignore all of the other countries available for comparison. I mean, maybe Denmark has taxes which are too high but just how bad can it be when everyone seems pretty content with it and surprised by, say, Americans pleading online for donations to cover their medical bills?
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3 public comments
dukeofwulf
11 days ago
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People are rightly unnerved by companies with too much power, because we've seen how it can go wrong. Well, the largest company in the world by revenue is Walmart with $482 billion in revenue last FY. US government revenue in FY2016 was $3270 billion. Include state and local, and that jumps to $7030 billion.

One would think that, given the recent election, progressives would be backing away from philosophies that vests undue power in the government. We've just seen how easily those reins can be taken by a malefactor. We've also seen lots of large companies step up against that malefactor.
salsabob
11 days ago
duke, the vast majority of federal spending is for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - all that spending goes to individuals who then spend it in the private sector. Then there's Defense spending. Do you think Apple, Amazon or Google should be providing money to people instead? Do you believe they should be running our military? And at the local level, government spending goes almost entirely to schools, social services, roads, police and fire departments. You want Walmart to do that? Weird.
dukeofwulf
11 days ago
salsa, you're putting words in my mouth. I consider myself a moderate. Example: I support Dodd Frank and ACA, and think that neither went far enough. My point was that the US government is by far the largest organization on Earth, and it's fair to be skeptical of any attempt to increase its power further due to the risk of its abuse. - And yes, funds dedicated to SS, Medicare/Medicaid, schools, roads, etc are still under government discretion, and are a source of government power. I don't care if Amazon gets ripped off by their purchasing manager by giving a bid to their cousin, because I don't own Amazon; but if that happens to government, that's the people's money.
salsabob
4 days ago
dukeofwulf, your metric of government power ($'s spent) is just too simplistic particularly in regard to comparisons to the private sector. The public sector is not driven by profit motive or investors' best interest; instead, it is driven by poltical choice of the electorate - that's why most of government dollars go to safety nets and Defense spending at the federal level and schools and roads at the local level. No other entity is going to do that anywhere near the levels of the government because there is not enough PROFIT in it. What you are saying by confusing power with government spending is that you want less safety nets, less Defense, less education. less roads. If what you are concerned about is government power, you need metrics that address regulatory power. Whether you like it or not, Dodd Frank provides enormous government power and comparable at little actual government spending. The ACA is something in the middle, it has considerabe government spending in the form of subsidies to individuals buying health insurance and it provides considerable government regulatory power over the insurance sector. I'm just suggesting that if you become a tad clearer on what is actually power, you may find your government to be a tad less scary. On the other hand, if you delve into the power of information, you may find Amazon to be a tad more scary.
dukeofwulf
4 days ago
Uh... so you agree that the government has a scary amount of power, not only by the virtue of its massive budget but also due to its power to enact and enforce laws and regulations? You seem to be proving my point. Regardless, you continue to take my simple observation and expand it into a political philosophy that I simply don't hold.
kleer001
12 days ago
reply
Companies need to have lifespans like other living things. Different legal instars. Moultings and matings.
sfrazer
13 days ago
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Yeah, I'm seeing a lot of "socialism is bad" without much supporting evidence.

There's a middle-ground between 100% laissez-faire capitalism and complete government ownership of all businesses.
Chicago

Bra making: I must, I must, I must increase my bra sewing and fitting skills.

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One of my goals this year was to sew my own bras. Finding a bra is soul destroying for many people, and it’s been hell for me because I need a large band and cup. Bras for my size are nearly impossible to find, and the one or two that I can find cost anywhere from $90-150. As a result I have been wearing the incorrect size for years.

Aside: do you know how much it bothers me when people trot out the “n% of women are not wearing the correct bra size!!!??!!” There’s a reason: Bra sizing is not standardised, you can’t just assume you are the same size across all brands. Even if you fit into and use the sizing chart, there’s no guarantee the damn bra will fit! Another reason: bodies are different. Fat and breast tissue are distributed in all matter of different ways across all the bodies in the world.

This vintage ad for Charmode Cordtex bras illustrates sizing from small cups to large. Notice the longer frame for the largest size? That doesn't really work for larger stomachs and will ride up under the bust! Plus notice the style gets decidedly less lacy and delicate as the style increases. Some things never change...

This vintage ad for Charmode Cordtex bras illustrates sizing from small cups to large. Notice the longer frame for the largest size? That doesn’t really work for larger stomachs and will ride up under the bust – hence the straps to attach to a girdle! Plus notice these bras get less lacy and delicate as the style increases. Some things never change…

 

So, last year I decided the only thing to do would be to sew my own bras. Aside from the major challenge of learning bra construction, finding a pattern to fit me has proven to be incredibly challenging. If I thought ready-to-wear bras were hard to find… bra patterns in my size are non-existent. Remember what I said about bra sizing? It applies to bra patterns as well. I decided to go with the Pin Up Girls Classic pattern, because Beverly Johnson’s Sewing Bras: Construction and Fit class use this pattern (her one). I bought two of her bra kits and a couple of underwires, then upon figuring out that the largest band size (48) would not fit me, I aborted the project.

 This is my third version of the PUG Classic bra, and I used some fairly thick ugly white tricot from my work. In this version I'd gone down a cup size and darted out excess in the top cup as well as added a gothic arch in the band (between the cups).

This is my third version of the PUG Classic bra, and I used some fairly thick ugly white tricot from my work. In this version I’d gone down a cup size and darted out excess in the top cup as well as added a gothic arch in the band (between the cups).

When my last couple of bras popped their underwires I knew I had to resume my bra making goals. I measured myself again and worked out I’d be a 54F based on the Pin Up Girls sizing system. Previously I’d been wearing 44G bras from Marks & Spencer, and even then the wires did not sit comfortably under my breast. I had no idea how this was going to work out. I graded the 48F pieces up three sizes and sewed up the bra while religiously watching the Craftsy course. It’s practically compulsory if you want to learn to make your own bras – and I’ve been sewing for 20 years! I put the bra on… and the cup was too big. My mind exploded. Bra sizing, what the fuck?

With help from Beverly (it’s incredible how much time she dedicates to answering questions, and truly one of the best reasons for purchasing the class) and a bra making group on facebook, I went down a cup size. From there it took me 5 pattern versions undertaking various alterations to get a reasonably well fitting and comfortable bra. The bridge still isn’t tacking to my chest wall but I’m not being stuck in my bingo wings by vicious wires and I don’t feel like I’m going to die after wearing my bras for 6 hours.

This was my first "good" bra after splitting the lower cup. I added some lovely caramel coloured lace to the chocolate duoplex (my favourite bra making fabric so far) to create a butterfly effect between the cups and bridge.

This was my first “good” bra after splitting the lower cup. I added some lovely caramel coloured lace to the chocolate duoplex (my favourite bra making fabric so far) to create a butterfly effect between the cups and bridge.

I’ve altered the PUG Classic pattern significantly, and this is the norm rather than the exception in the bra making world. Why bother making your own bras unless they are tailored to suit you? I should have properly kept track of my alterations but I know I:

  • Darted out excess in upper cup.
  • Took a dart out of the outside of the cup (upper and lower).
  • Narrowed the bridge at the top, and widened it at the bottom (I will widen even more next time).
  • Split the lower cup to allow the breast to settle into the cup.
  • East/ west alteration to project the tissue forward. Yep, east/ west refers to the direction the breasts point!
  • Rounded the cross cup seam so it was less “pointy”.
  • Added a gothic arch to the band (good for those with big high tummies).
  • Raised the height under the arm and added a back strap extension.
  • Darted out excess under arm in the frame.
  • Widened the base of the straps where they attach to the upper cup.
This bra uses the beige bra kit from Bra Maker's supply as well as some coral lace positioned as a kind of power bar on the side of the cups. I am not fond of it, and wish I knew how to extend the scalloped lace up the strap.

This bra uses the beige bra kit from Bra Maker’s supply as well as some coral lace positioned as a kind of power bar on the side of the cups. I am not fond of it, and wish I knew how to extend the scalloped lace up the strap.

I’d love to try other patterns but the problem is they simply don’t come anywhere near my size. I will have to grade up regardless of which pattern I choose. Another reason why it really shits me when people tell me to “make my own” when ready-to-wear doesn’t come in my size – PATTERNS DON’T EITHER! I can use the Classic bra and morph it in a few different ways – I’ve already drafted a four piece cup (with power bar) and a horizontal seamed bra. When I can afford it, I want to buy the Bravo Bra #2 and the Queen Bra Elite – the two other patterns that come up close to my size.

Bra making supplies are scant in Australia and shipping from Canada and the US can be prohibitive. I have purchased my pattern, kits, and supplies from Sew Squirrel, who have amazing customer service. Duoplex is my favourite material by far as it has nearly no stretch, is soft, and requires no lining; it is available from Sew Squirrel in black and white by the yard and in other colours in the kits. I’ve also purchased fabric and findings from Booby Traps, who have the best name, and while they don’t stock duoplex they do have a range of tricot, lining fabrics, elastics, and findings in a variety of colours.

My favourite bra to date uses black duoplex as well as a sheer net with flocked hearts on the upper cup, and a sheer bra lining behind it for stability.

My favourite bra to date uses black duoplex as well as a sheer net with flocked hearts on the upper cup, and a sheer bra lining behind it for stability.

I’ve worn my self made bras exclusively over the last two weeks and even the early versions are more comfortable than my shop bought bras. I have so many plans for new bras, it’s really exciting to have control over the design when the only bras you’ve been wearing have been black or beige for the last 10 years!! The black bra above is my favourite and the most comfortable by far. The wider back band and strap extension make a huge difference because I don’t feel like the band is disappearing into my back rolls any longer; it’s truly incredible to take my bra off at the end of the day and not feel like I’ve been caught in a mouse trap for an eternity!

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subbes
15 days ago
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SF Bay Area
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