Shakedown, Breakdown, Takedown, Everybody Wants Into The Crowded Line

If you haven’t heard, open socialist Kshama Sawant (yes, really) of the Seattle Council Of Nine, desires Amazon and others pay at least $150 million dollars as part of a ‘head-tax’ to address the ‘homeless crisis’ in the city.  Four of her fellows agree.

‘They estimate the so-called “head tax” of about $500 per employee would apply to 500 to 600 companies and they are calling for it to be spent on low-income housing and emergency services for homeless people. The council has been planning to vote later this month.’

It’s just a start, mind you, phasing into a more permanent revolutionary revenue stream tax within a few years.

Amazon however, disagrees, and has halted construction on a downtown site in response (occupying something like 1/5 of premium office space in the city).

Long-story short:  Seattle is growing rapidly. The housing prices are through the roof.  Many arrivals are ambitious, skilled and entering the job market at the higher-end (Amazon works people pretty hard).  There are many other less-skilled people looking to gain skills and jobs.

Seattle is also attracting many mentally-ill, drug-addicted people into the city.  Many increasingly wander the streets and are encouraged to use public services and set-up tent cities alongside highways, taking-up settlement on public property (I’ll just link here as to final judgments about such matters…).

As for me: I’m currently [overhearing] a strategic political meet-up for the pro-head tax side in a coffee shop.  Here’s what I’m picking up:

  1. Their opponents are clearly ‘immoral.’
  2. Their opponents clearly have a lot of money, but they simply won’t cough it up and clearly don’t care.  In fact, their opponents are choosing to spend money to mobilize people against them unfairly (a lot of projection, that).  Did I mention ‘opponents?’   There’s a lot of ‘opponent’ talk.
  3. ‘Leverage’, ‘narrative’, press releases, ‘messaging’, mobilization, planned protests are all mentioned.  I infer a weakness in their position from their postures and subject matter. I’m thinking both realize this will take work.  Both lament the label ‘socialist.’  I check the latest news and see that iron-workers shouted Sawant down.
  4. As I suspect is the case with most coversations based upon shared principles, ideology and future planned action, there is a curious mix of praise and competitive false praise, familiarity and convenience.  There’s reinforcement of certain touchstones (class, industrialization, greed, the ‘industrial revolution’) and concrete action (Friday 5 pm, mayor’s office etc).

Having seen this a few times (my biases should be pretty clear :)):

Claim you have knowledge of how the world really is (usually some direct or warmed-over Marxism)–>

Claim that a better world is possible (utopia) through immediate political action–>

Claim that the ‘oppressor’ is responsible and blame the ‘oppressor’ for pretty much all injustices in life (filthy capitalist golden-geese like Amazon)–>

Claim anyone outside of your ideological lights is insufficiently ‘woke,’ falsely conscious, morally hollow and eventually either for or against you in supporting your conception of social justice–>

Organize protests/meetings/ to demonize and extract money, gaining political power while constantly projecting all of your intellectual/moral/ideological motives onto the ‘oppressor.’

We all need better advocates of liberty, and better ideas, than this.

Ah, Seattle:

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Fun fact: During times of stress, Josef Stalin is said to have marched his fingers just so across his desk, transgressing his own boundaries!

Jeff Bezos, Founder Of Amazon, Acquires The Washington Post

Just a few thoughts:

Interesting sidenote: Bezos’ involvement in the 10,000 year clock, buried deep in a mountain.

In American life, a tremendous amount of wealth has shifted hands from industry and manufacturing over to technology.  Like the industrialists who came before (too often maligned as robber barons), these tech entrepreneurs have added value to all of our lives, driving down the costs of their products in an extremely competitive marketplace.

Naturally, with all that money can come the desire for influence, or to achieve other social aims.  Print media’s model has been dying, and it’s doubtful how successful a business model journalism, news-gathering, and opinioneering has ever really been.

Technology has been changing business, politics, learning, higher education and culture quite dramatically.

Furthermore, Americans yearn for explainers, and many people nominate themselves to fill the role.  James Fallows, former speech writer for Carter, opines:

‘For years anyone thinking about the future of news has realized that, completely on its own, what we consider “serious” journalism has never been a viable business. Foreign reportage, serious investigative or government-accountability coverage — functions like these have always been, in economic terms, parasites that need to ride along on some profitable host body. In the old days, that was the fat, bundled newspaper, which provided a range of information to an audience with no technological alternative. We’re in the un-bundled era now, and serious journalism has been looking for new host bodies — much as higher education, museums, the fine arts, etc have also needed support beyond what the flat-out market would provide’

This blog has been tracking similar developments, especially with regard to the eroding influence of print media.  There’s a rush to fill the public square, and thousands of new voices have sprung up, with everybody knowing something each one of us may not.   Many individuals and groups of individuals desire to either acquire or maintain influence over our institutions, our political economy, and shape public opinion.

From a previous comment on this blog:

‘Opinion and news are now a commodity in this age, hard to extract money for that with the internet.’

We live in interesting times.

If you have a few minutes, it might be worth checking out Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappo’s online, putting $350 million of his own money into downtown Las Vegas to change the city.  From his original company LinkExchange which he sold, to Zappo’s customer focused business model, to Las Vegas itself, Hsieh is after scalability of interaction.  He wants to create a live/work environment that puts people densely enough to continue urban growth and human interaction.

At least he’s putting up his own money to achieve his vision:

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From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

Big Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-’Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This SiteJack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

A Free Lunch?-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘How To Get Ahead On Facebook Without Really Trying’

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”