Who Controls Your Life — the Big 5 Tech Giants or You?

This morning I read, I Cut the ‘Big Five’ Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell by Kashmir Hill, and I left this comment:

I dumped my smartphone for a dumbphone several years ago. I don’t text. When I leave home, I leave the Internet behind and spend less than 5 minutes a month on my dumbphone.

When I get up in the morning, I leave my multiple screens (yes, I have more than one screen and I am tempted to add another one … or two) and desktop computer off until I finish the exercise routine of the day, and that exercise can take anywhere from an hour to two hours.

When I bought a new Kia Niro plug-in hybrid, it came with a radio that didn’t have a CD drive but it did offer SiriusXM free for several months.

What did I do? I had the original radio replaced ASAP, and a few months later got a “phone” call from SiriusXM asking me what happened to my car, that they couldn’t find/track it. I told the caller what I had done, and added if I had control of enough missiles I’d blow SiriusXM’s satellite network out of the sky. SiriusXM has been and keeps sending me ads through snail mail. I tear them up and drop them in the recycle bin. SiriusXM never gives up, but they aren’t alone. Most corporations constantly “harass” us with their unwanted ads.

I gave up my Kindle e-readers before I dumped my pest of a smartphone and only read books printed on paper or listen to them on CDs in the car with my new unconnected radio that came with a CD player, and it doesn’t even have GPS.

Although I still use Facebook, Amazon, and Google with my desktop and its two monitors, I have a lot of free time even if the kleptocracy’s autocratic technocrats are still harvesting information from me and making a profit off it.

With all that time to myself away from their digital claws, I still think for myself and easily avoid all the techno crap, cookies, traps and pitfalls when I am online. Every time I log off, I log onto the control panel and delete browsing history, cookies and saved website data, catched data and files and tabs I’ve set aside or recently closed.

Well, most of them anyway. Because once a month I also use the free editions offered by Malwarebyts, SuperAntiSpyware, and CCleaner, that just told me it can’t run on Windows … but it always worked before. Now I wonder why Windows must have blocked CCleaner. Maybe because it actually worked.

After all, I did click on the link to Kashmir Hill’s post and enjoyed reading it. We all know why it was recommended to me because some spy-app called a cookie from Amazon and/or Google that tracks what I’m interested in, sent it to me based on my internet history use.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Trump vs Hillary – are you keeping score?

This is worth sharing to make a point. I read this on Quora.  The question Jeff Redman answered was: How many times did Hillary Clinton invoke the 5th amendment during her testimony on the private email servers?

Jeff Redman, former Founder/Owner/Operator: LIGHTWORK (photo supply) (1979-1997)
Not even once. Ever.

She gave 11 hours of Public testimony before a largely hostile congressional committee and answered every question factually.

Benghazi was “investigated” for FOUR YEARS and did not produce even one indictment.

The email lark was “investigated” for TWO YEARS and did not produce even one indictment.

(Just for comparison, at this point the Russia Investigation has been going on for 14 months and has produced 23 indictments and, I believe, five guilty pleas.)

Does the United States have a CEO, a dictator, or a President in Donald Trump?

I woke up this morning thinking, “Trump is still a private citizen. Trump is the unofficial president elect. He isn’t the president until January 20. In fact, Trump isn’t officially even the president elect until December 19 when the Electoral College makes it official, but he’s acting as if he were already the president with powers that a president of the United States doesn’t legally have.”

Whitehouse.gov clearly defines the role of a sitting U.S. President: “The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of the United States, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by Congress and, to that end, appoints the heads of the federal agencies, including the Cabinet.”

In fact, even the U.S. Constitution, written by the Founding Fathers in the 18th century, says, “Under Article II of the Constitution, the President is responsible for the execution and enforcement of the laws created by Congress. Fifteen executive departments — each led by an appointed member of the President’s Cabinet — carry out the day-to-day administration of the federal government.”

Trump, as the unofficial president elect of the United States, does not have the legal authority to make deals with other countries or corporations, even to save jobs. Whatever deal Trump negotiated to keep about 1,000 jobs in the United States in Indiana with Carrier, a division of United Technologies, is not legal and binding without the consent of the state legislature.

Furthermore, from Whitehouse.gov, we learn “The Executive Branch conducts diplomacy with other nations (it doesn’t say corporations), and the President has the power to negotiate and sign treaties, which also must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. The President can issue executive orders, which direct executive officers or clarify and further existing laws. The President also has unlimited power to extend pardons and clemencies for federal crimes, except in cases of impeachment.”

Finally, everyone should know, and that includes Trump’s supporters ignorantly cheering him at that rally in Cincinnati, the oath of office that Trump must take to become president of the United States on January 20, 2017.  Once he takes that oath, he will be risking impeachment if he does what he just did with Carrier to allegedly save about 1,000 jobs in Indiana from going to Mexico.  If Trump really wants to save jobs, he’ll have to get Congress to pass laws he can sign that limits how many human jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector can be given to robots, because that’s where 88 percent of the lost jobs in manufacturing have gone since 1979. “The vast majority of the lost jobs — 88 percent — were taken by robots and other homegrown factors that reduce factories’ need for human labor.” – Why robots, not trade, are behind so many factory job losses.

From PresidentsUSA.net we learn that before Donald Trump will be allowed to become the president of the United States, he must take the following oath or affirmation: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

What Trump just did in Indiana with Carrier is a publicity stunt; it’s all for show, and when Trump acts (on one of his rally stages), it’s obvious that the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law for the United States, isn’t important to him.

If the state of Indiana, the U.S. Congress and/or the Republican Party, since they hold the majority of seats in Congress, and the courts from Indiana to the U.S. Supreme Court do nothing to stop Trump, the United States has elected its first emperor, king, or dictator, and the U.S. Constitution is now worth less than the cost of a package of toilet paper sold at Costco.

Alt-Right fascist, often misleading news sources like Brietbart, the Conservative Tribune, and Fox News are all trumpeting this as a victory for the autocratic, billionaire oligarch that’s about to become President of the United States. However, Business Insider, a valid and reputable media source, reports, “Conservatives are worried Trump’s Carrier deal could set a bad precedent.”

“This is not a precedent we want to see — American presidents aren’t supposed to interfere on behalf of individual companies,” said David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington. … He added, “Frankly, it brings to mind the term ‘banana republic.’”  But two of Trump’s billionaire appointees – Trump’s billionaire cabinet could be the wealthiest administration ever –  said, “this will be business as usual in a Trump administration.”

“BUSINESS as USUAL”

If correct, that means the U.S. will not have a president in Donald Trump. It will have a dictator, because that’s what corporate CEOs do. It’s obvious that Trump plans to rule the United States as if it were part of his business empire, and ignore the U.S. Constitution that he will swear an oath to support, but most Americans already know that lying and breaking promises comes very easy to Donald Trump.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Where to Buy

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Is Tim Cook, the CEO of APPLE, ignorant or a fraud?

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, was recently asked why his company moved its production to China. “It’s skill”, said Cook in response to Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes. “The U.S., over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills” he said. “I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we’re currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields.”

A football field is 360 feet long and 160 feet wide for a total of 57,600 square feet.

Apple’s CEO was wrong. The reason the US public schools probably stopped funding vocational programs that trained, for instance, these tool and die makers Cook mentions, is because U.S. corporations left the U.S. for cheaper labor. And when those U.S. manufacturers left, the need for more tool and die jobs dropped, and the jobs that replaced them shifted to the service sector and paid less. For instance, fast food and Walmart, a company that imports many of the products that it sells.

But what Apple’s CEO doesn’t mention is the fact that automation has also cut back on the need for many jobs—like tool and die makers—because computer programmers do that work now. They program a robot to make a part without the need of a tool or die maker.

Yes, the world has changed, but the U.S. still has a large manufacturing sector. In fact, it is the 3rd largest in the world behind China and Germany, and it wasn’t that long ago, about three years, in fact, that the U.S. was still number one.

The manufacturing institute.org reports that “in 2012, (U.S.) manufacturers generated $2.03 trillion worth of value-added.  In the 20 years ending in 2012, manufacturing output increased more than 83 percent. The U.S. manufacturing sector is so huge that if it were its own country, it would rank as the eighth-largest world economy.  The United States produces the most goods and services overall as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), and is far ahead of second-place China.  Other countries, such as Japan and Germany, showed less growth buoyancy over the past decade compared with the United States.”

According to the IMF and CIA World Factbook, in 2015, the U.S. had dropped to third place behind Germany and China. The industrial output in U.S. dollars for the top five countries in 2015 was: 1st place China at $4.92 trillion, 2nd place Germany at $4.16 trillion, 3rd place United States at $3.75 trillion, 4th place Japan at $1.16 trillion, and fifth place U.K. at $588 billion.

My question is this: how does the U.S. support such a large home-based industrial output with only a small roomful of tool and die makers? It doesn’t, because the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 75,950 tool and die makers working in the U.S.

How large? Well, according to Rental Max, it takes 8 square feet per person for what they call partial seating. That means a room to hold almost 76-thousand tool and die makers must be at least 607,600 square feet in size. Now if the tool and die makers are standing, then the room only has to be about 456,000 square feet.

How many multiple football fields would it take to hold that many tool and die makers?
8 to 11 football fields depending on if they were standing or sitting.

Anyone who is interested in discovering the big fat lie that the Apple CEO said on 60 Minutes only has to check the following page at bls.gov.  It’s very detailed and it clearly reveals how misleading the CEO of Apple really is.

During the 60 Minutes interview Tim Cook said the notion of Apple avoiding U.S. taxes was ‘political crap’. What do you think—is Apple’s CEO Tim Cook a fraud and liar, just ignorant, and/or full of the crap he’s talking about?  After all, isn’t there some truth in that old saying that it takes one to know one?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Where to Buy

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Hostile Corporate Takeover of Democracy

Between 1969 and 2014, the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded 46 times to 75 Laureates, and Milton Friedman was only one of those 75 award winners, so why has he been crowned, even in death, as the godfather of modern American economics—is it because he said greed was good and the other winners didn’t?

Milton Freedom gave the greed of the 1% legitimacy with his Noble Prize in Economics in 1976 with his claim that greed is good. Then President Reagan—arguably America’s Mao for the 1%—launched his U.S. Cultural Revolution to privatize government and the public sector (in China between 1949 – 1976, Mao was the enemy of the 1% and about a million were tried by the people and executed).

Forbes reported, “Ronald Reagan was elected in the US in 1980 with his message that government is “the problem”. In the UK, Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979. These leaders preached “economic freedom” (translation: greed is good) and urged a focus on making money as “the solution”. As the Michael Douglas character in the 1987 movie, Wall Street, pithily summarized the philosophy, greed was now good.

The results: starting at zero in 1979, the share of income of the top 1% after taxes grew by almost 150% by 2007, and the share of income for the top 20% grew by almost 30%, but for the rest of us—the other 80%, we saw a decline in the share of our income by as much as –30%. … Wall Street’s profits increased 720%, the unemployment rate grew by 102% and Americans’ home equity dropped by –35%. … Payroll tax revenue increased from 10% in 1950 to more than 40% by 2007, but the share of corporate taxes went from about 28% to less than 10%. – WordPress.com

Can this hostile takeover of the U.S. democracy be reversed?

Maybe, because more people vote during presidential elections so we should expect that to happen again in 2016, and I think the GOP has shot itself in the foot with its first majority in both Houses of Congress in more than 70 years by using that as a false mandate to come out against Social Security (75% of both Republicans and Democrats endorsed a plan to fix Social Security—not destroy it.  – The Christian Science Monitor), Medicare (Over half of Americans support single-payer health care, Improved Medicare for All – Medicare for  All), public pensions (Seventy-one percent oppose reducing pension benefits that are currently being paid to already-retired public employees, while 27 percent favor a reduction in benefits to these retirees. Fifty-three percent of Americans oppose reducing current public employees’ future pension benefits, while 44 percent favor reducing the pension benefits of current government employees who have not yet retired – Reason.com), public schools (47 percent of the public gave their local public schools a grade of “A” or “B,” while 18 percent gave them a “D” or “F.” – Brookings.edu), teachers (70% of Americans trusted grade school teachers – Gallup), etc.

The GOP is even going after veterans’ benefits and the Veterans Administration to continue the spread of the privatization movement there too. Concerned Veterans for America (always the use of misleading titles for these organizations) is calling for the Veterans Health Administration — the wing of the VA that oversees health care — to be turned into an “independent, government-chartered nonprofit corporation.” – Stripes.com

What about the growth of private, for-profit prisons?

Global Research asked if “The Prison Industry in the United States was Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?”

Private security guards have outnumbered police officers since the 1980s, predating the heightened concern about security brought on by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. What is new is that police forces, including the Durham Police Department here in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, are increasingly turning to private companies for help. Moreover, private-sector security is expanding into spheres — complex criminal investigations and patrols of downtown districts and residential neighborhoods — that used to be the province of law enforcement agencies alone. – Washington Post.com

The only way the Democrats cannot win back enough seats in at least the Senate and/or Congress and take the majority back from the GOP during the 2016 election season is if the party refuses to return to their Progressive grass roots that supported the 99% for decades starting with President Wilson.

But if both parties continue to be led by the 1%, then we might see another low voter turnout like we saw in 2014 (the lowest voter turnout in more than seven decades).

Back to Milton Friedman, who, even in death, is still the economic-greed-is-good-god of the 1%.  After Friedman’s death in 2006, Keynesian Nobel laureate Paul Krugman (who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for 2008) wrote that Friedman “slipped all too easily into claiming both that markets always work and that only markets work. It’s extremely hard to find cases in which Friedman acknowledged the possibility that markets could go wrong, or that government intervention could serve a useful purpose.”

And in her book The Shock Doctrine, author Naomi Klein criticized Friedman’s economic liberalism, identifying it with the principles that guided the economic restructuring that followed the military coups in countries such as Chile and Indonesia. Klein is an award-winning journalist who is a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics.  If Klein is right, the hostile takeover of America’s republic and democracy by the 1% will continue until most U.S. citizens have lost many of the freedoms they take for granted.

To read more about the threat from within to the U.S. republic and its democracy, I suggest clicking Paul Horton: Common Core = Corporate Control. One pull quote from that post:

“The idea that the Common Core Standards are the product of a democratic process is simply misrepresentation of fact—a big lie that GMMB, our education secretary, Bill Gates, Pearson Education, and the Fordham Institute propagate. What many rightfully be called corporate-education reform has bypassed the democratic process.”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

An example of a Financial World run by Milton Friedman Economic Thinking by looking at the Hunger Games

In Milton Friedman’s world, profits are god—more important than an end to poverty, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To Milton Friedman thinking, the only way to end poverty is for the top 1% to earn more than the bottom 99%, and to see that those earnings for the 1% continue to increase while the net worth of the 99% continues to shrink.

And here’s a perfect example of how this thinking works: The Hunger Games franchise.

The latest Hunger Games film, Mockingjay  – Part 1,  came out on November 21, and the next day, Saturday, I read a major media financial news piece about  how this film was a loser, because it didn’t earn more money its first weekend than the previous Hunger Games film, Catching Fire.  Before I reached the end of this piece, it mentioned how the stock prices had dropped for the production company behind the film due to this horrible opening. IMDb.com

Now for a dose of reality—production costs for all three films compared to the total box office to the date of this post:

The Hunger Games cost $78 million to produce, but total global box office earnings reached $692.3 million its first 168 days.

Did this film lose money, and what was the profit margin?

Catching Fire cost $130 million, but total global box office earnings reached $864.9 million in its first 133 days

Did this film lose money, and what was the profit margin?

Mockingjay – Part 1 cost $125 million, but total global box office earnings reached $480 million in 10 days.

Did this film lose money, and what was the profit margin?

Does Mockingjay – Part 1 look like a loser to you? It does to anyone who worships at the altar of Milton Friedman, because profits must always show an improvement over the last quarter. There is no room for DOWN. There is only room for UP.


To Milton Freedom, Greed is god, but what does the Bible say about Greed?

That is what Milton Friedman economic thinking looks like—if you worship at Milton Friedman’s altar of GREED, you worship wealth acquisition anyway you can get it even if those methods cause the extinction of homo sapiens by destroying the earth’s environment.

For instance, the Tea Party movement, funded by the devout Catholic, professed libertarian Koch brothers, is not interested in facts, truth or reality. The Tea Party was born on a platform of lower taxes and less spending ONLY after Obama—an African-American—was elected president, who is, surprise, surprise, a Milton Friedman neo-liberal.

No one who follows the Tea Party movement blindly will mention, discuss or admit that three GOP presidents since 1945, are responsible for 62% of the federal National Debt of $17.9 Trillion: Presidents Reagan and the two Bushes, and it was Reagan who ushered in the era of Milton Friedman economics that is a major force behind the corporate war on the public schools in the United States.

There have been 12 presidents since 1945 starting with Truman.

The federal National Debt this morning hit about $17.9 Trillion, and $10.64 Trillion of that debt came from those three GOP presidents thanks to Milton Friedman’s insane theory of greed-based economics.

By the way, the Koch brothers are also funding the propaganda campaign to deny that Global Warming is caused by carbon emissions. Guess what the foundation of their great wealth is based on?

oil

And don’t expect anyone who worships at Milton Friedman’s altar of greed to mention the country that reduced global poverty  by 90 percent in the last 30 years—Communist China.


Milton Friedman thinking leads to Disaster Capitalism

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The more things change, the more they stay the same

The quote I used for the title of this book review sums up what I learned while reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s nonfiction book, “The Bully Pulpit”, about Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden age of journalism. The quote comes from Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808 – 1890), a French critic, journalist and novelist.

Anyone who reads my Bog—Crazy Normal—knows that I support the resistance fighting for the survival of the public schools against the fake Ed reformer billionaires who want to destroy the transparent, democratically run, non-profit, US public schools and replace them with CEO controlled, corporate owned opaque Charter schools.

You might ask what today’s war on public education has to do with “The Bully Pulpit”, and I’d reply “Everything!”

Because the corruption that Roosevelt fought starting as a member of the New York State Assembly 1882 -1884 that continued with his work on the US Civil Service Commission fighting spoils politics; then his two years—starting in 1895—as the president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners where he reformed and cleaned up the corrupt police department, and then as the Republican Governor of New York where he was exposed to the corruption of the trusts, monopolies, labor relations and conservatism and where he also built an alliance with the main stream media. This has all been reversed and the situation may be worse today than it was before Roosevelt went to work to make the United States a better place for everyone instead of just the few.

Roosevelt was the champion of the common man, the working man, the average family, but the corrupt Republican political machine was controlled by the richest Americans who wanted to keep control of the United States, and the GOP in 1901, manipulated Roosevelt to become Vice President where he wouldn’t be in a position to go after corruption.

But something the GOP corrupt political machine didn’t count on was President McKinley being assassinated on September 6, 1901, causing Roosevelt to become president where he then went after the giant corporations that had a strangle hold on business through trusts and monopolies, and Roosevelt won this battle.

Roosevelt, a progressive president (1901 – 1909), curbed the power of large corporations and supported organized labor. However, more than a century later, organized labor has been demonized and is losing members after decades of brutal attacks using smear tactics, cheery picked facts, misinformation and lies paid for by billionaires and large corporations that have taken back the political power lost to the richest Americans when Roosevelt was president. For instance, by 2010, union membership in the U.S. fell to a 70-year low.

Today, thanks to large corporations and the billionaires who also own/control most of the traditional media, many Americans have been fooled into supporting agendas that will eventually hurt them.

In fact, with the power back in the hands of the few wealthiest Americans and large corporations, America’s public schools face the threat of closure and being turned over to corporations to teach our children while millions of teachers face the threat of losing their jobs and joining the ranks of those living in poverty; a possible end to cleaning up our air and water with the threat of global warming growing worse, and a roll back of women’s rights at the same time as the misuse of this power swells the ranks of those living in poverty while working for poverty wages in the fast food industry and for companies like Wal-Mart.

I bought an unabridged copy of the audio book of the “The Bully Pulpit” at Costco, and I highly recommend reading this book to discover what’s wrong with the United States today. Without public pressure, the wealthy will rule this country through the corrupting influence of their money and power just as they did before Theodore Roosevelt put a stop to that abuse.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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