Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

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Mongrel
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Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Mongrel » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:29 pm

So some news about the Silicon Valley antitrust lawsuit came out and oh baby: Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and others formally conspired to keep wages down.
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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Mongrel » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:35 pm

Changing thread title because, oh look a new link already.

Bayer CEO: "Poor? These cancer drugs aren't for you."
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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Mongrel » Sat May 17, 2014 10:32 pm

Book coming out on the Koch Brothers and wooo, it sounds fucked up. I've copied the text so you don't have to go to HuffPo:

WASHINGTON -- Charles and David Koch are the unofficial standard-bearers of a new generation of billionaires, willing to spend immense sums to influence politics. Best known for bankrolling the tea party movement, the fiercely private Koch family has achieved a quasi-mythical status in political circles. Yet they remain an enigma to most Americans.

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty aims to change that. Written by Mother Jones senior editor Daniel Schulman, the biography, set to be released Tuesday, draws on hundreds of interviews with Koch family and friends, as well as thousands of pages of legal documents. The Huffington Post received a copy of the book on Friday.

Schulman examines the roots of Charles and David Koch's libertarian worldview through the lens of their family, including the formative relationship that all four Koch brothers had with their father, the cold, ambitious Fred Koch. Schulman also traces the bitter and litigious history of Charles and David Koch's relationships with their lesser-known brothers: Frederick, the eldest, and Bill, David’s twin brother.

At the center of the saga is patriarch Fred Koch, a staunch anti-communist who drilled his political ideology into his sons from a young age. In 1938, then sympathetic to the fascist regimes ruling Germany, Italy and Japan, Fred wrote that he hoped one day the United States would resemble these nations, which had "overcome" the vices of "idleness, feeding at the public trough, [and] dependence on government."

Elsewhere, Fred warned of a future "vicious race war" in which communists would pit black Americans against white. "The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America," he wrote.

In private, Fred Koch "ruled the house with an iron fist” and faith in social Darwinism. Schulman recounts how the former boxer encouraged his sons to fight each other, sometimes with horrifying results. "During one bout, Bill bashed his twin over the head with a polo mallet," Schulman writes. And "David still bears a scar from the time Bill pierced him in the back with a ceremonial sword." Those early lessons left a deep imprint on the brothers.

Frederick, the oldest, was an outsider in the rough-and-tumble boys club of the Koch house. "Freddie was a sophisticate, a man of the world, in addition to the fact that he was gay, [which] wasn't easily accepted in those days," said a family friend.

Instead, it was Charles, the middle child, who became the vehicle for his father’s ambitions. According to a friend, the father worried that he had been "too kind to Freddie, and that's why he turned out to be so effeminate. When Charles came along, the old man wasn't going to make that mistake. So he was really, really tough on Charles."

The result was a serious, extremely disciplined man, who along with his younger brother David, would transform their father's medium-sized oil refining business, Koch Industries, into one of the largest privately held corporations in the world. But their success came at a high price.

Schulman describes how Charles, unable to convince brother Frederick to sell his stake in Koch Industries, allegedly resorted to "a homosexual blackmail attempt to force Frederick to sell his shares." And when the youngest twin, Bill, launched a bid to wrest control of Koch Industries from his older brothers, Charles' legal team responded by releasing a dossier of opposition research on Bill, filled with sordid details of his personal life.

In 2000, Bill's then-wife Angela, the mother of two of his children, called the police to accuse Bill of punching her in the stomach and threatening "to beat his whole family to death with his belt." Bill was charged with domestic assault and threatening to commit murder. Angela later recanted parts of her account, shortly before receiving a divorce settlement worth $16 million.

Nonetheless, Bill spent decades waging vicious legal battles against Charles and David, which cost the family tens of millions of dollars. Much of the book revolves around Bill's failed attempts to gain control of Koch Industries.

As Schulman recounts, Bill hired private investigators to bug his brothers' offices and pick through the garbage cans at their homes. He planted false memos aimed at rooting out spies in his own company, Oxbow, who he suspected were secretly working for his brothers.

While Bill's anger may have been rooted in childhood rivalries, according to Schulman, it was exacerbated by Charles' ultra-libertarian business philosophy, which Bill considered bad for business. Schulman describes how Charles, and by extension Koch Industries, regularly ignored environmental regulations on principle, believing them to be a hallmark of "Big Brother" government.

After losing a string of huge regulatory battles in the 1990s and paying heavy fines, Charles softened his stance somewhat. Still, the company remains a libertarian venture to this day. Schulman writes that Charles believes the role of government should be "only to keep a check on those who might attempt to interfere with the laws of supply and demand."

Charles still lives in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas, with his wife, Liz, and generally avoids drawing attention to himself or his family.

By comparison, his brothers can seem like dilettantes, despite Schulman's exceptionally fair treatment.

As a bachelor, David was known for hosting hundreds of people at champagne-soaked, all-night parties at his homes in Aspen, Colorado, and Southampton, New York. He once boasted that at least a third of his guests were "beautiful, wild, single women." A guest told Schulman, "A lot of the crowd were these L.A. chicks who had just bought a new pair of tits and wanted to make sure that they did not go unnoticed -- those parties got pretty wild."

In 1996, Bill went to court to evict his former girlfriend from the Boston apartment he had set her up in. Included in the court records were faxes the couple exchanged, some of them sexually explicit. One of the notes was signed "Hot Love From Your X-Rated Protestant Princess." In another, the woman described herself as "a wet orchid," writing, "every inch of my body misses you." Bill succeeded in having her evicted.

For his part, Frederick lives an intensely private life and apparently has little contact with his three brothers. He maintains a collection of historic houses around the world, as well as smaller homes in which he actually lives. The historic houses, which Frederick fills with priceless art, essentially serve as his own private museums.


Source (HuffPo)
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François
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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby François » Sat May 17, 2014 10:38 pm

That almost reads like a let's play for Crusader Kings II.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Thad » Mon May 19, 2014 1:19 am

On the one hand, I'm uncomfortable with this kind of hit piece, innuendo, scandal "journalism".

On the other, I'm more uncomfortable with people running international politics while trying to maintain the comfort of anonymity. You can't have it both ways; the Koch brothers have made themselves public figures. The Democrats are trying to turn "Koch-financed" into an epithet, and it's the smartest thing they've done since 2008. Provided they can actually make it work, of course.

It might. The Kochs are still not a widely-known name among the mainstream public. But did anyone catch the Daily Show segment where they interviewed the Tea Party candidate who, after the Kochs funded a series of slimy attack ads against his opponent, came in last place and declared that he was glad he had because he considered a Koch endorsement to be about as welcome as a KKK endorsement? Stuff like that gives me hope.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Brentai » Mon May 19, 2014 2:32 am

Mongrel wrote:
In private, Fred Koch "ruled the house with an iron fist” and faith in social Darwinism. Schulman recounts how the former boxer encouraged his sons to fight each other, sometimes with horrifying results. "During one bout, Bill bashed his twin over the head with a polo mallet," Schulman writes. And "David still bears a scar from the time Bill pierced him in the back with a ceremonial sword." Those early lessons left a deep imprint on the brothers.



Is Mann Co. based on this shit or is it just life imitating art?

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Thad » Tue May 27, 2014 1:26 pm

Stross: Amazon: malignant monopoly, or just plain evil?

He's referring to Amazon removing preorders for Hachette books over a contract dispute.

TL:DR; Amazon's strategy against Hachette is that of a bullying combine the size of WalMart leaning on a much smaller supplier. And the smaller supplier in turn relies on really small suppliers like me. It's anti-author, and in the long term it will deprive you of the books you want to read.


I still buy lots and lots of things from Amazon (mostly games and electronics), but I've become increasingly uncomfortable buying books from them. I've never bought a Kindle ebook for reasons I doubt I have to explain, and I'm not sure the last time I bought a dead-tree book from them (though I'm sure I could find out inasmuch as they've got my entire 15-year purchase history available at a couple of clicks -- which, in fairness, was damned convenient when I had to report the values of a bunch of stolen property to my insurance company last year).

Yeah, it costs more for me to shop at my local bookseller and comic shop. But I consider the value I get from their continued existence to be well worth the extra dollars I pay them.

And of course, as Stross points out, that value isn't simply naive do-gooder stuff -- it preserves competition and, in the long run, will keep prices down. When Amazon chases its rivals out of business, what's its incentive to continue with the bargain-basement prices?

It looks to me like that's already started to happen -- this is anecdotal but it seems like Amazon's price drops are a lot slimmer than they used to be.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Thad » Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:57 pm

The Highest-Paid CEOs Are The Worst Performers, New Study Says.

That headline's from motherfucking Forbes, by the way.

How could this be? In a word, overconfidence. CEOs who get paid huge amounts tend to think less critically about their decisions. “They ignore dis-confirming information and just think that they’re right,” says [study author Michael] Cooper.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Thad » Fri Jun 20, 2014 5:49 pm

Doctorow to Hachette: If you guys wanted to be able to get out from under Amazon, maybe you shouldn't have insisted Amazon put DRM on every one of your ebooks it sold so that they can only be read in the Kindle app.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Büge » Mon Sep 29, 2014 1:27 pm


McDohl
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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby McDohl » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:58 pm

But corporations can't afford to raise wages

Or hire so I can get out of this crock of shit job.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby sei » Tue Sep 30, 2014 4:49 pm

Meet the Prison Bankers Who Profit From the Inmates
JPay streamlines the flow of cash into prisons, making it easier for corrections agencies to take a cut. Prisons do so directly, by deducting fees and charges before the money hits an inmate’s account. They also allow phone and commissary vendors to charge marked-up prices, then collect a share of the profits generated by these contractors.

Taken together, the costs imposed by JPay, phone companies, prison store operators and corrections agencies make it far more difficult for poor families to escape poverty so long as they have a loved one in the system.


Would have stuck it in the prison / justice system thread if I'd remembered where it was, but...
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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Thad » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:08 am

Now that's just plain poor risk assessment.

And/or they copied and pasted a contract from another company.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Mongrel » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:23 am

Yeah, several people I know already pointed out that it's dumb as hell anyway. What are those workers going to give away? Is there a risk of Subway cracking Jimmy John's ULTRA coupon code? Do they think Subway actually uses real war surplus U-Boats? Are there posters in the Jimmy Johns employee bathroom that depict dead fast food workers covered in mustard with "LOOSE LOAVES SINK SANDWICHES" on the bottom?
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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby ocksi » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:30 am

I know (in the US, at least) three miles is the delivery radius for any given JJ store, so it's probably just a way to discourage their employees from trying to work for any delis in the immediate area.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Thad » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:18 am

Yesbut noncompete agreements are for highly skilled workers. The idea is that you don't want your chief engineer to go to work for your competitor and turn around and start developing a similar, competing product to the one he was building for you.

There is absolutely no fucking reason why an entry-level food services employee should be prevented from working at another sandwich shop for two years after leaving Jimmy John's. Unless the goal is to coerce dissatisfied employees into staying because they won't be able to get a job somewhere else. Which, itself, is a pretty dumb idea in a job market like the one we're in where it's pretty easy to find someone who wants an entry-level food services job.

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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Joxam » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:33 am

This is sadly a very common practice. Right up there with telling people accidentally taking a pen home is the same as ROBBING THE SAFE and making people agree to arbitration instead of suing the company if they want to take legal action. Every single job I've worked at has had these agreements. I'm not saying its right or anything but its definitely a thing that pretty much ever entry level job does.
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Re: Inspirational tales of Glorious Unfettered Capitalism

Postby Thad » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:17 pm

Exhaustive Rolling Stone piece on the Kochs and their companies' history

"Rebuttal" by the Kochs that, tellingly, makes it six paragraphs before it even tries to rebut anything, and then doesn't really do a very good job of rebutting things (mostly it points out that Koch now complies with laws and regulations, which, you know, is something you're SUPPOSED to do, not something you should be bragging about, especially if you're accused of personally controlling the laws and regulations)

Rebuttal to the rebuttal by Rolling Stone

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