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by ManfromMiddletown Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 12:26:12 PM EST

This is going to be short, because I'm going to have to get on the road for my trip before things turn really bad.

Solidarity is a something that isn't nearly as in style as it was some time ago.  There was a time in the US and Europe when workers had songs that told them that together they were strong.  In Europe it was the Internationale.  In the United States, the song that said it all was Solidarity Forever by Pete Seeger.

Solidarity forever!
Solidarity forever!
Solidarity forever!
For the union makes us strong

When the union's inspiration
through the workers' blood shall run,
There can be no power greater
anywhere beneath the sun.
Yet what force on earth is weaker
than the feeble strength of one?
But the union makes us strong.


In our hands is placed a power
greater than their hoarded gold;
Greater than the might of armies,
magnified a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world
from the ashes of the old
For the Union makes us strong.

Read more... (10 comments, 629 words in story)

Status Matters: Material Economy vs. Positional Economy

by ManfromMiddletown Mon Oct 29th, 2007 at 04:46:18 PM EST

This is going to be a short diary.  One of the things I appreciate about being a graduate student is those rare moments when my efforts to follow a footnote in an academic article leads me to an an epiphany.

During this past summmer, I ran across a reference to Social Limits to Growth and the concept of positional goods.

Positional goods are products and services whose value is mostly, if not exclusively, a function of their ranking in desirability in comparison to substitutes. The extent to which a good's value depends on such a ranking is referred to as its positionality.

Like land, positional goods often earn economic rents or quasi-rents. Examples of positional goods include high social status, exclusive real estate, a spot in the freshman class of a prestigious university, a reservation at the "hottest" new restaurant, and fame. The measure of satisfaction derived from a positional good depends on how much one has in relation to everyone else. A society that devotes more resources to positional goods is arguably wasting effort, since a gain for one must come at a loss for another.

Competitions for positional goods are zero-sum games because such goods are inherently scarce, at least in the short run. Attempts to acquire them can only benefit one player at the expense of others. By definition, not everyone can be the most popular, cool, or elite, and in the same sense not everyone can be a star athlete because all those terms imply a separation or superiority over other people.

Diary Rescue by Migeru

Read more... (37 comments, 1255 words in story)

Free like we want 2 be? (Pt. 1)

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Aug 31st, 2007 at 04:43:19 PM EST

Tell me are we free like we want to be?

Free Like We Want 2 B

Free like we want to be
Some time you want to get off
Leave the work and take off
But the boss man say you gonna lose you pay
No chain on your feet now
9 to 5 got you beat now
You working hard to save
Inflation like a tidal wave

Are we free like we want to be
Tell me are we free like we want to be
Are we free like we want to be
Tell me are we free like we want to be

Read more... (7 comments, 892 words in story)

What's the highest level of education you've completed?

by ManfromMiddletown Mon Jul 30th, 2007 at 12:15:22 PM EST

One of the things that's always suprised me about EuroTrib is that it seems like about 95% of the posters on ET have a PhD.  Needless to say this is not true on most community blogs.

And there's this wealth of knowledge here that's just a great thing.  If you have an esoteric question, and ask it in an open thread, there's likely someone here with an answer.  

So I though that it was time for an education diary.  I've included a poll below, and if you'd like to tell us a bit more about what you've studied and where, feel free to use the comments.  It would be nice to know just how broad and deep the knowledge here is.

Comments >> (125 comments)

Utility.... fetish

by ManfromMiddletown Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 09:21:04 AM EST

I wrote a long comment in yesterday's evening thread rambling on about the consequences of the utility fetish in modern politics.  The damage done by the inflitration of this concept is demonstrated most clearly by the tendency for even those of us on the Left to unwittingly reinforce the concept by framing our arguments in utilitarian terms.  I would even argue that the recognition that utility is not the the primary mover behind social phenomena, even transcends right and left.

Even Marxism is predicated to a certain extent on utlitarian methodology.  Back to what I wrote earlier.

Right-on diary from MfM - afew

Read more... (51 comments, 1876 words in story)

So you say you want a Revolution?

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 05:47:07 AM EST

What is the basis of world order?

What are the fundamentals of the international system?

Are relations between states controlled primarily by a system of universal morality that exists outside of the power system imposed by the Anglo-America hegemony?

Or is morality relative so that the rules of the game result from the imposition of order by hegemons?

And is the current system of American hegemony such a grave danger to human life, that anarchy is preferable to order?

I stirred up some indignation this morning by declaring America world leader.

American world leadership is reality, like it or not.

The simple fact is that the moral understandings of the Anglo-American world are the basis of the current system of international power....

I guess the point that I'd make is that the existence of international "systems" is due either to  brute power whether military or through constraining economic relationships.  If there is no hegemon, there is no system.

Brought across by afew

Read more... (119 comments, 1449 words in story)

Iraq PM Orders Union Leaders Arrest, Army Breaks Oil Strike

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 05:12:56 AM EST

In the Southern Iraqi city of Basra, a standoff is developing between striking Iraqi oil workers and the Iraqi military. Iraq PM Nouri Al-Maliki has issued arrest warrants for leaders of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) currently on strike in Southern Iraq to stop the Oil Law that would privatize much of Iraq's oil industry, opening the door to foreign ownership.  Prior to issuing warrants for the union leaders arrest, the Iraqi military surrounding the striking workers as they stopped the flow of oil to Baghdad.  At this time oil exports have not been affected.  

According to a statement released by numerous international solidarity groups working with the oil workers in and around Basra, in southern Iraq, the workers were charged with "sabotaging the economy" and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Tuesday he'd meet "with an iron fist" those who threaten Iraq's oil production.

From the diaries - afew

Read more... (4 comments, 2042 words in story)

US Researchers Announce Possible Oil Replacement.

by ManfromMiddletown Fri May 18th, 2007 at 01:59:46 PM EST

Reuters has an article  up today about an important research breakthrough by researchers at Purdue University in Indiana that could lead to the widespread replacement of gasoine by aluminium as the fuel of choice for American motorists.  Through a process mixing aluminium with gallium in water, researchers were able to yield hydrogen through a process that costs about $3/gallon.

In the experiment conducted at Purdue University in Indiana, "The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," said Jerry Woodall, an engineering professor at Purdue who invented the system.

Woodall said in a statement the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen.

For now, the Purdue scientists think the system could be used for smaller engines like lawn mowers and chain saws. But they think it would work for cars and trucks as well, either as a replacement for gasoline or as a means of powering hydrogen fuel cells.

Read more... (31 comments, 804 words in story)

Sean Connery: Blair an a**hole making his legacy from graves in Iraq

by ManfromMiddletown Mon May 14th, 2007 at 11:39:54 AM EST

Sean Connery never seems to lack for honesty.

SEAN Connery has given his most incendiary ever interview on politics, branding Tony Blair an "a***hole" making his legacy from graves in Iraq and suggesting that First Minister Jack McConnell is frustrating democracy in Scotland.

In his first interview since the Holyrood election, Connery also calls on Scottish Secretary Douglas Alexander to resign over the voting fiasco, which saw almost 150,000 ballot papers spoiled.

The actor reveals he has been giving post-election advice to SNP leader and likely new First Minister Alex Salmond and suggests he has already become a roving ambassador for Scotland. But on the issue of a return to the land of his birth, Connery remains as enigmatic as ever.

Speaking from his home in the Bahamas, Connery described the conduct of the election as an "embarrassment".

Comments >> (9 comments)

Scottish Elections 2007: SNP makes large gains.

by ManfromMiddletown Fri May 4th, 2007 at 04:30:33 AM EST

With early results coming in from Scotland, it appears that Alex Salmond will be the next First Minister. Early this morning he announced to supporters that the winds of change are sweeping Scotland. And while SNP gains make it highly likely that Salmond will be able to emerge as First Minister with LibDem support, electoral irregularities have created some contreversy.

The Guardian is reported that some irregularities might change the outcome of races.

You couldn't make it up. The big story of the Scottish elections isn't the success of the SNP but the chaos of the count.

The Fife count has "ground to a halt" due to data overload. Ballot papers in East Kilbride are being rescanned and there is an indefinite delay.

There have been calls for an inquiry by the electoral commission into the high number of spoiled ballot papers. In Anniesland, 7.2% were rejected. In Glasgow Kelvin, the number of spoiled papers was larger than the Labour majority, and it was the same story in Airdrie and Shotts. On average 5% of ballot papers have been spoiled.

Update: The Guardian now reports the Tories are questioning the credibility of the election on word that the number of spoilt ballots exceeds the vote margin in several key seats. In Glasgow one constituency returned with more than 10% of the ballots invalidated. From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

Read more... (18 comments, 593 words in story)

Workers of the World...... are Uniting.

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Apr 6th, 2007 at 10:41:32 AM EST

This is a story that has sadly been missed by the media.  We all know that corporations and capital are increasingly beyond the control of any one nation. Because corporations are allowed to move operations out of one country and to another if they think that playing by the rules of the game in a country are too onerous (and still export back to that country.  So thought they are unwilling to play by the rules, they are still allowed to play the game.)  Because of this, labor as a force in the global economy is on the wane.

One of the principal reasons for labor's decline has been the inability to organize globally encompassing unions that are able to simultaneously strike in order to disrupt corporations global operations.  This may be changing.  Workers of the world are uniting.

Boeing Co. workers around the world now have a new and stronger voice to deal with the multinational aerospace giant with the formation last week of the Global Union Alliance.

The new alliance is made up of the Machinists (IAM)--which represent about 40,000 Boeing workers in the United States and Canada--and unions from five other nations where Boeing has major production facilities.

Read more... (8 comments, 279 words in story)

Neither Communist nor Capitalist, I am a Socialist.

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 09:56:58 AM EST

This is something I wrote for my political economy class.    It was when I was writing this, that I realized that I enjoy writing and talking about political economy far more than nationalism.  Ceterus paribus this is where I see my academic career headed.  Earlier I tried to distill this further into seperate diaries.  Like cognac, at some point further distillation deprives the thing of its essence.

At the heart of the matter is the recognition that the social order is antecedent to the economic order, and that the preferences of formal rationality , of which utility maximizing economic behavior is a deriative, only have meaning understood in the context of the substantive rationality, the social order which is internalized as right and wrong, in which they are embedded.  Capitalism and Communism both fail because they seek to disembedd formal rationality from its substantive context.  The backyard furnaces of the Great Leap Forward and climate change denial derive from the same madness, the disembbeding of formal rationality from its substantive context.  I'll let you read the rest, and judge for yourself.

Read more... (20 comments, 3471 words in story)

Scottish Slaves for New England?

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 01:37:17 PM EST

Jerome asked that I turn this comment into a diary.  

I've been doing research lately on my father's family, and I've come into something very bizarre.  I'm as white as the driven snow, and although we know that my paternal grandmother's family came from Scotland to the United States, we never knew when or how.  Going through records that my father has, we came across a possible answer, but I'm not sure it's even plausible.  Apparently, my distant ancestor Tormut Rose was deported to America by Cromwell and sold as a slave.

Read more... (51 comments, 511 words in story)

Trendspotting: French Presidential Race

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 08:44:54 AM EST

It's been a while since I did my last Pulse of the Nations poll review.  I've decided I want to try something new.  Because many of the polls tracked elections, I recognized that they're a lot more interesting together than apart.  So what I've done is create charts. This is my first effort.

Because the only European election looming on the horizon in a "big" country is in France, I've decided to do my first diary on the French Presidential Election. I'm only using polls run in 2007.  I want to create a running database on series data like this.  

Read more... (18 comments, 416 words in story)

How many nations in Europe?

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Nov 30th, 2006 at 04:41:28 AM EST

I've been thinking about the possible impact of Scottish independence for a while now, and I've come to the conclusion that a Europe of the nations would have consinderably more flags than the current set.  Very few member states of the EU are not suspectible to fracture by active European automonous movements. So I started to map out what a Europe where stateless nations were given independence would look like.  The Europe of the 25 ballons to 75+.  Here's what it looks like.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

Read more... (280 comments, 670 words in story)

How about a guaranteed gas price, Jerome?

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Nov 3rd, 2006 at 10:35:51 AM EST

I'm posting this as a response to Jerome's call for discussion of gas tax.  I believe casting government management of energy consumption as a tax is a mistake.  I believe that it is far better to cast this managment in terms of generating stability than generating revenue, thus I propose a guaranteed gas price (GGP) to restrain consumption, and further to avoid the counterproductive tendency for present conservation to create future consumption.  I've reworked all this from a comment on an earlier diary.

Read more... (14 comments, 591 words in story)

Catalan Election: Nationalist CiU tops Socialist PSC

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 03:57:30 AM EST

The Spanish region of Cataluna held regional elections yesterday in which the leading party of the ruling tripartite, the regional section of the Socialist Party (PSC), lost 5 seats.  The opposition centre nationalist CiU gained 2 seats while the real story of the evening were the 3 seat gain by the ICV, a Left(as in Linkes Partei)-Green coalition, and the entrance of Ciutadans, a reformist left grouping famous for the appearance of its leader, Alberto Rivera, nude but for his cupped hand in a campaign poster, with 3 seats in the Generalitat, the regional parliament.  I will post this on the other side. (Nudity warning!)

Party  Ideology      2006%  '06 Seats '03 Seats  Change

CiU    Nationalist   31.52      48        46       +2

PSC    Socialist     31.16      37        42       -5

ERC    Nationalist   14.06      21        23       -2

PP     Conservative  10.64      14        15       -1

ICV    Left/Green    9.56       12         9       +3

Ciuta  Left/Reform   3.04       3          0       +3

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

Read more... (43 comments, 836 words in story)

Pulse of the Nations VI: European Poll Review

by ManfromMiddletown Wed Oct 18th, 2006 at 08:33:36 AM EST

I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they're never the ones to fight or to die
And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

Jackson Browne, Lives in the Balance

Last Pulse of the Nations

See all the polls in the comments below. From the diaries. -- Jérôme

Comments >> (35 comments)

New China labour law too European say large corporations

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Oct 14th, 2006 at 04:20:38 PM EST

I must have been in high school the first time I signed up for Portside, an American Left Internet reading list, an act that I'm certain has placed me on other lists as a consequence.  And those of you who've been here for a while are aware that I'm a big fan of irony, when wealth and power fail in spite of the advantages they have, I'm even more entertained.

There was a convergence of sorts in my mailbox this morning when I got this Portside article about a new labour law being proposed in China that would  grant local branches of the government trade union, All China Trade Union Federation (ACTUF), collective bargaining power, and create offer workers greater employment protection by making it more difficult to fire workers. The irony involved in corporations moving production from nominally capitalist regions like the US and EU to nominally communist China, and then complaining when the country actually stands up for workers strikes me as extremely ironic.

Some of the world's big companies have expressed concern that the new rules would revive some aspects of socialism and borrow too heavily from labor laws in union-friendly countries like France and Germany.

Read more... (18 comments, 1177 words in story)

Pulse of the Nations V:European Poll Review

by ManfromMiddletown Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 06:37:19 AM EST

Know that you can, want that you might
leave you fears outside
paint your face the color of hope
touch the the future with you heart

It's better to get yourself lost than never go
better to go ahead than leave it to chance
although you see now that it's not so easy to start.

Know that the impossible can pass
that the sadness will some day go away
and so life changes and will change.

Feel your soul soar
to sing it one more time.

Color Esperenza, Diego Torres

Last Pulse of the Nations.

Comments >> (59 comments)
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