Monday, December 02, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Nick Cohen writes that the corporate sector is home to some of the most dangerous cult philosophy in the world:
(T)he language of business has become ever more cultish. In the theory of "transformational leadership", which dominates the business schools, the CEO is a miracle worker. In Transformational Leadership, by Bernard Bass and Ronald Riggio, he is described, not by some gullible Forbes hack, but by two supposedly intelligent American academics. The transformational leader "inspires" his follower to "achieve extraordinary outcomes", they say. He "empowers them" to "exceed expected performance" and show ever greater "commitment to the organisation".

I don't see why anyone should find the comparison with fanatics so hard to accept and not only because the idea that CEOs can manufacture new and better subordinates matches Trotsky's belief that the revolution would create a "new man who raises himself to a new plane".

The nearest you are likely to come to experiencing life in a dictatorship is at work. Unless you are fortunate, you will discover that the management is the source of all ideas and all power. Executives will have privileges that bear no more relation to real achievement than the fat and ugly cult leader's expectation of sex. In 2012, the median pay for CEOs in the USA was $14.4m, the average salary for employees $45,230. In Britain, the High Pay Commission found that the average annual bonus for FTSE 300 directors had increased by 187% in 10 years even though the average year-end share price had gone down by 71%.

Above all, whether you are in the public or the private sector, John Lewis or Barclays Bank, you will learn that if you challenge authority you will lose the chance of promotion and if you challenge it in public, you will lose your job. To prosper in the workplace, as in the dictatorship, you must tell leaders what they want to hear.
- Meanwhile, Paul Krugman calls for reasonable wages - including a livable minimum wage - to ensure that workers aren't at the mercy of the worst corporate leadership. And Digby explains why big business is working to bury the very idea of public service:
They must have a reason for their dedication to austerity. And that reason is simple greed: the government is competing with them for "insurance" dollars. They are rent seekers and every time the government provides a service efficiently and at lower cost, it takes the provision of that "service" away from a private entity that could make a profit at it. All the propaganda about government being the problem and the private sector being the solution is in service of creating wealth for the rent-seekers. Obviously.
(T)here is a great deal of money to be skimmed by financial wizards and insurance company share-holders from health and pension programs. Everybody needs them. They've already managed to grab hold of virtually all the private pension management in this country and all that's left is Social Security. By starving it of funds, they hope to force more and more people to put money into market based schemes from which they can siphon off even more profit. They see every penny the government extracts for the common good as stealing from them their rightful share.   
- Michael Harris criticizes the Cons' full devotion of Canadian diplomacy to the service of our corporate overlords. The Council of Canadians notes that a strong majority of Canadians disagree with the elimination of buy-local policies in the Cons' CETA sell-out. And Erin Weir points out how the Wall government has given away tens of millions of dollars in uranium royalties without any discernible benefit to anybody besides Cameco.

- Mike de Souza reports that Joe Oliver has been aware of uncontrolled and unexplained leaks at the CNRL Primrose tar sands site since this summer - and hasn't missed a beat in denying any knowledge of risks associated with oil development of any kind. Which means that we now have our water source for the Tar Sands Taste Test Challenge - just as soon as somebody other than an oil executive is allowed in the same room as Oliver.

- And the Globe and Mail confirms that the Lac-Mégantic derailment and explosion can be traced in large part to a complete lack of regulation of oil shipment by rail, together with decreasing enforcement of existing rail regulations.

- Finally, Tim Harper wonders whether the last week's developments in the Senate scandal will produce the bumper-sticker messages which spell the end for the Cons' stay in power.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:28 a.m.

    To all,

    How flattering that Noam Chomsky's most bitter critics at the Guardian (Cohen, Monbiot, etc.) sustain their careers through the outright theft of his analysis.

    They present these works as revelations & responses to the post-2008 era. In fact, these are all ideas & underpinnings that Chomsky shared pre-2008 (sometimes decades earlier). I recall Chomsky discussing this idea of corporation-as-soviet - back when I was in highschool. I have the similar flashbacks when Greg Fingas shares Monbiot's works here at AccidentalDeliberations.

    If you wish to experience premonitions, have a look through the excellent "Chomsky.Info" database. A young Dan Tan created the site's first FireFox search-script (he is now-retired from technical nerd-ery). Perhaps it still exists...and perhaps it graces Monbiot & Cohen's browsers.

    C'est la vie,
    Dan Tan