Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Sweatshop fast fashion Made in Leicester

January 23, 2017

We don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh… If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss. — Fashion Square Ltd

Shocking report this evening on Channel Four DispatchesUndercover: Britain’s Cheap Clotheson fast fashion sourced by leading brand names from sweatshops in Leicester – New Look, River island, Boohoo and Missguided – workers paid less than half the minimum wage.

The usual response, we did not know, if we had known we would have dealt with it.

When fast fashion forces down the price it pays, when a factory owner says he cannot produce at the price unless he pays his workers only £3 an hour, then of course these brands are culpable.

In one of the sweatshops, supplying Boohoo and Missguided, it was a potential death trap.

The brands rake in vast profits on the back of exploited workers.

The people who buy into fast fashion, wear once then throw away, are also culpable.

In addition to exploiting workers, it is damaging the environment.

It does not have to be, instead of fast fashion, zombies buying into the latest fad, we can have slow fashion, quality, sustainable production, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers and workers a fair price, clothes we value.

Though you will look long and hard to find fashion shops that support slow fashion, other  than simply pay lip service.

Two that spring to mind, The Fair Shop and Nia Boutique.

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop in Brighton, on the road leading down to the seafront from Brighton Station. Not the best location, a better location would be in North Laine.

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Nia Boutique

Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus overlooks Fig Tree Bay. A boutique in the open air, with clothes hanging from the trees, in the style would find on a Greek island. Sophia can be found hidden somewhere. It is next to Myu Coffee, one of the rare places where can obtain a half-decent coffee in Cyprus.

A New Economy

January 4, 2017

What if working together for the good of all was the most common business model? Watch, as several organisations strive towards building a more cooperative future. By putting humanity before the bottom line, they are finding their place in an economy previously dominated by profits and big business.

Why not make available for streaming on vimeo for a nominal fee?
 
As for example 13 Shades of Romanian.
 
Why not make freely available, as Sita Sings the Blues, if show, send money following.
 
Practice what you preach.
 
A film about coops, has to set an example

Falling price of information goods

January 2, 2017

Information, if allowed, flows freely.

Classic Marxist theory, cost consists of capital, land and labour.

We now have a fourth factor, information.

Karl Marx wrote of machines whose cost was zero, that never wear out.

Information does not wear out, costs nothing to reproduce.

Feel free to listen to The Way of the Bow, share with your friends, download.

Digital music costs nothing to reproduce, e-books cost nothing to reproduce. If I listen to digital music, it does not wear out when I listen, I can share with my friends. An e-book does not wear out when I read, I can share with my friends.

I can of course share a book with my friends, but were I to, I cannot read it, it costs something to cut down the trees, make the paper, print, to distribute,  to shelve, to retail. If I share it, for example pass on through BookCrossing, the more often shared and read the more dogeared it will become. One reason why I prefer to give books away rather than share.

The price of information goods tends to zero. If you are being charged more than a pound a dollar or a euro for an e-book, you are being ripped off.

The only thing that maintains the price of a song on iTunes is the near monopoly Apple exerts.

We see this with the price of iPhones, the price maintained by near monopoly and Draconian intellectual property rights, thus Apple maintains a high profit margin, even when its share of the market falls. Helped of course by tax dodging, low wage workers at Foxconn in China and the massive subsidies from the Chinese government.

Compare the cost of an iPhone with a  phone from One Plus, eg One Plus One, One Plus Two, One Plus Three, One Plus 3T.

On leanpub and bandcamp, artists set a minimum price, sometimes zero. Those who choose to pay for a download, can pay more. Often they pay much more than the asking price.

Most jobs could be replaced by robots, were it not for the creation of what David Graeber calls bullshit jobs. The car wash replaced by half a dozen migrants with dirty rags and a bucket of water.

Below a series of charts and a video that illustrate price of information goods falling.

Paul Mason discussing PostCapitalism

December 20, 2016

Что будет после капитализма?  — Paul Mason

What will come after capitalism? — Paul Mason

The ideal machine is one that costs nothing and lasts forever. — Karl Marx

Capitalism is an adaptive system, 50 year cycles, technological innovation commencing the next cycle.

How can we today, have technological innovation and no growth? Due to the unique behaviour of information and information goods.

With information goods, we should have abundance, instead we have artificial scarcity.

Since late 1970s, wages in US have flat-lined. Post-WWII, productivity and wages increased in step. Post-1980s they have diverged, productivity has increased, wages have not. A transfer of wealth from wage earners to owners of capital.

Who is to buy the output of increased productivity? If wages do not rise, it is financed by growing debt.

$57 trillion added to global debt since collapse of Lehman Brothers.

When the dotcom com bubble burst in 2001 global debt was 200% of GDP. Debt is now 300% of GDP.

If there is an over supply of something, its price falls. Cost of money has fallen. Interest rates have fallen. 12 trillion dollars of money worldwide now attracts negative interest rate.

When we speak of free money, we mean the money is free, ie no interest paid.

Classic Marxism, cost is the sum of land, money and labour. We now have  a fourth factor, information.

Information freely flows, information products can be reproduced infinitely at near zero cost, information does not wear out.

Information cost nothing to reproduce, does not wear out. A digital book does not wear out when I read it, I can run off copies for my friends. The same applies to digital music. It does not wear out no matter how many times I listen, I can run off many copies to my friends, I can share via the internet.

Feel free to listen to The Way of the Bow, share with your friends, download.

Information naturally flows, all that stops it flowing is Draconian intellectual property legalisation. This is not a freely functioning market, this is near monopolies using the law to control the market.

As we saw with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Draconian control ultimately fails.

Free flow of information encourages innovation.

With information products, the price tends to zero.

99p a song on iTunes. On Spotify a pittance.

Would have to sell 1500 songs on iTunes to earn minimum wage. On Spotify 1.2 million plays.

How then do we reward the creator?

On leanpub and bandcamp, artists set a minimum price. Those who choose to pay for a download, can pay more.

It is not only information goods where the price is falling to zero, also physical goods with a  high information contents. Or it would if we had a functioning market.

It is only monopolies or near monopolies, bought and paid for naked political power, that maintains the price.

Contrast the price of high performance smart phones, One Plus One, One Plus Two, One Plus Three, One Plus 3T, with equivalent phones from Samsung or Apple.

Nearly half of all jobs will be replaced by robots and automation. Many of the remaining jobs, low paid, temporary, zero hours.

We have the creation of what David Graeber calls bullshit jobs. Half a dozen immigants with dirty rags and a bucket of water replace an automatic car wash.

Peter Thiel represents all that is wrong with Silicon Valley. Serfs working for apps, transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.  No surprise he backs Donald Trump and is on his advisory panel.

Donald Trump has well documented links with the gangster capitalism Vladimir Putin heads.

When government shrinks, social spending cut, what rises is spending on surveillance, from which Silicon Valley will benefit.

Peter Thiel is reminiscent of the German industrialists who backed Adolf Hitler.

Capitalism ended in 2008. It has lost its ability to adapt.

A banking crisis led to an economic crisis, to a social crisis and now a global geo-political crisis.

TTIP is dead, CETA and TPP in final death throws.

The Soviet Union collapsed overnight. In 2017 we are likely to see the collapse of the EU. Brexit is now a side show. Italy is poised to hold a referendum on leaving the EU.

In Greece it was thought there may be a coup by the military. Democracy was destroyed by the EU.

Across the world there is now a grass roots reaction to neo-liberalism, which has led to a fall in living standards, transfer of wealth from poor to the rich, environmental destruction, global warming.

It is on the fringes we see collapse of Empire.

Blockadia represents the front line, often resembling a  war zone.

What are we do to do as capitalism collapses?

A  neo-Feudal system, oligarchs, politicians like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the rest of society reduced to serfs?

Or a cooperative system, contribution to the sharing and collaborative commons?

Facebook is not free

December 19, 2016

When I am told facebook is a free, I ask is it a charity?

No, facebook is not a charity, it is a rapacious global corporation.

When something appears to be free, it is you who is the product being sold. In the case of facebook, it is your personal information that is being sold. Facebook only exists because you provide the content, only you do not get paid for doing so, you work for free.

Instagram is owned by facebook. Every picture you post, they reserve the right to use your pictures, you will never be told, you will not get paid.

When a friend angrily complained that I had shared her pictures, she was correct to be angry that I had not obtained her consent. But wrong to be angry that her pictures were now available for the world to see, they already were, she had posted them on facebook.

If you do not want your personal information to be shared, then do not post on facebook.

If a stranger stopped you in the street you would not hand over your personal information, why therefore post it on facebook for all the world to see?

It is not only your personal information facebook is stealing, abusing, selling. It is also the communications, who your are networked with. What are known as externalities.

Information is one of the most valuable commodities. We lock away our valuables in a safe place. Why do we not treat our information in the same way?

What we need is an open coop social media platform owned by the users.

The web and the internet were designed to be free. Free as a global information commons, we contribute information, we draw upon that information. It was not intended as a pool to abuse unsuspecting users.

No gente en la Calle Mequinez

November 29, 2016

A little after eleven o’clock at night in Puerto de la Cruz, coffee bars, restaurants and bars closed, not a soul on the street.

This is the devastating impact all-inclusive hotels is having on the local economy.

 

Cowboy Amazon Logistics dump parcel on doorstep

November 7, 2016

I open my front door to find Amazon Logistics had dumped a parcel on my doorstep.

It is an educated guess left by Amazon Logistics, as no card left.

Last two deliveries were by Amazon Logistic, and both times they dumped the parcel, first time behind a wheelie bin, the second time in a wheelie bin.

Amazon has not denied parcel was dumped by Amazon Logistics

Royal Mail does not dump parcels. They may lose, but do not dump.

The location where the parcel was left, in full view of passers by in the street.

Whoever dumped the parcel blatantly lied, they claimed in tracking notes:

Parcel was handed to resident to K P

Not the first time they had lied. When the parcel was dumped behind the wheelie bin, it was claimed it had been handeed to myself. I was not even there.

Had it rained, the parcel dumped on my doorstep would have got soaked.

I was home at the time the parcel was dumped.

This is the third time  a parcel from Amazon has been dumped. Complaints are made, complaints are ignored.

Note: Tracking notes show delivered by Amazon Logistics.

Paul Mason discussing Postcapitalism at De Balie

October 27, 2016
Paul Mason Postcapitalism discussion at De Balie

Paul Mason Postcapitalism discussion at De Balie

Capitalism ended in 2008. We are now in a post-capitalist world, a period of transition.

We have to decide what do we want.

Do we want a world of serfs working for apps, Uber, task rabbit, Deliveroo, atomised workers bidding against each other to drive wages below the minimum wage, of zero hours, bullshit jobs, of workers standing in the market place, the literal job market, hoping to be offered a job.

When a  worker offers his labour,  it is a perishable good, if not sold today, it cannot be sold tomorrow.

Or we can have a world of open source, peer-to-peer. sharing, collaborative commons, open coops.

The people who produce the wealth, are not sharing that wealth. In the US, wages have flat-lined since the 1970s. The wealth generated by a steady increase in productivity is flowing upwards to the one percent.

Capitalism is an adaptive system, that is how it has mange to survive.

Technological innovation, the railways, the steam engine, computers, the jet engine, lead to new periods of growth, 50 year Kondratieff cycles.

Since 2008, we have seen no new technological innovation, no growth.

In the past what spurred technological innovation and investment, was the high cost of wages. Now that wages are being kept low, there is no impetus to innovate. Robots could do many of the bullshit jobs, the only reason they do not, is because the cost of labour is so low.

Information flows freely, the price of information goods tends to zero. To counter this capitalism has monopolies, Draconian copyright and intellectual property legislation.

It is a natural human condition to wish to cooperate, to share. Could you pass me the hammer please? We do not demand a price. We show someone the way in the street. We do not expect anything in return, either now or in the future.

If you impose an artificial structure on how people relate to each other, it will eventually collapse.

Neoliberalism and globalisation are not writ in stone.

With Brexit, we are seeing the breakup of the European Union.

Wallonia, a small region in Belgium, said no to Ceta. Although it looks like they have now buckled under pressure from the EU dictatorship.

Quantitative Easing has failed. It lined the pockets of the rich, inflated stocks and shares and the bonuses of bankers and led to a property bubble.

Why are we buying the debt of VW, why are we bailing out the banks?

Use the money to buy up every student debt across Europe, invest in Green Infrastructure, but not in HS2, Hinckley Point C and airport expansion.

EU has turned southern Europe into a wasteland. Youth unemployment is running at 50%, in Greece 60%, poverty levels are rising.

We need to promote open source business models, the sharing economy, collaborative commons, a basic income, open coops. If this sector grows, people have less requirement to work for a living.

Education could be free. If it is free to the age of 16, why not beyond?

We have to seize control of local Town Halls, implement participatory democracy, but this does not go far enough,we have to have to have participation in all areas of the city, the transport system run as an open coop, then network these cities across Europe.

Look to Barcelona and Catalonia.

If we can design an iPhone, why can we not design a better society?

Innovation does not mean an iPhone without a headphone socket. Innovation is The Hive in Dalston, putting an empty building to community use, giving people a function in their community.

Yes, we can introduce touchscreens in McDonald’s, eliminate bullshit jobs, but is it not better to eliminate McDonald’s?

Stop CETA

October 24, 2016
Stop CETA support Wallonia

Stop CETA support Wallonia

We will never decide anything under an ultimatum or under pressure. — Paul Magnette, Wallonia

CETA, like TTIP, is a trade deal. Though trade is something of a misnomer.

Both are about handing control to global corporations to decide our future in secret trade courts. Both are being pushed in secret by the EU.

CETA is with Canada, TTIP with the US.

CETA appears to have been derailed by Wallonia, a region of Belgium. Now joined by the Brussels region in opposing CETA.

The supreme irony, the people have revolted at the heart of the evil empire.

Enormous pressure is being put on Wallonia by the EU corporate thugs.

It is important Wallonia and Brussels stand firm as they are all that stands between CETA being ratified. By standing firm, they are acting for all of us.

Last week, the Wallonian prime minister, Paul Magnette, did what no other European leader had the courage to do, and declared his government won’t support CETA. He stood up for democracy and became the champion of the millions of Europeans opposing the deal.

The European Commission and the EU’s big member states aren’t willing to give up, and they are putting huge pressure on Paul Magnette to back down in time for a signing ceremony planned for later this week. Now only one thing stands in their way — Paul Magnette and the brave Belgian regions.

Paul Magnette stood up for democracy over corporate power – but he might buckle under the pressure from all sides, unless we can send him a huge show of support from people across Europe. But we don’t have long to act: the EU and Canada are hoping to force Wallonia to retreat in the next 48 hours. So we must stand with Wallonia now!

CETA is a huge trade deal bewteen EU and Canada that would hand corporations the power to overturn our laws in their favour. If all EU member states agreed it could mean that everything from environmental protection to consumer safety laws are under threat from greedy corporations.

Wallonia is being intimidated by the Commission and some big member states. Paul Magnette said he was receiving “thinly veiled threats” because he is trying to make sure CETA doesn’t override basic democratic values.

We need to show the unelected undemocratic EU that Paul Magnette has our support from all over Europe, and we won’t stand for the EU abusing its power.

Please sign the petition opposing CETA and supporting the stance taken by Wallonia.

UPSat: The first open source satellite

October 21, 2016

At Libre Space Foundation all our projects (currently Sat NOGS & UPsat) are open source hardware and libre software. We consider it our mission to develop, advance and promote open source technologies in space applications. All our work was, is and will be open source. — Eleftherios Kosmas

As I often explain to people, capitalism ended in 2008.  We are now in a postcapitalism phase.

As Paul Mason explains in PostCapitalism, we have waves 50 years long. Mercantile Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism, Financial Capitalism.

cAs David Graeber explains in Debt, we have mush longer waves, pre-classical period, classical period, Middle Ages, Capitalism.

We are now in a period of transition.

The market self-corrects or so we are told.

The market did not self-correct for the banks and they had to be bailed out.

Iceland did not bail out the banks, criminal bankers and politicians received prison sentences.

Price gives a signal in the market.

Cost according to classic Marxism, has has three components, labour, land (raw materials) and money.

We can now add a fourth factor, information.

Information flows freely, the cost tends to zero.

We see this with e-books, digital music.

If there is zero price, there is no signal in the market, the market cannot function.

It is only the application of Draconian copyright and intellectual property rights that blocks the free flow of information.

We think of markets and capitalism as the same, we use interchangeably. As David Graeber shows in Debt, they are not the same.

During this period of transition we could have many different outcomes.

Serfs working for apps, is one possibility. Uber, task rabbit, Deliveroo, atomised workers  bearing all the risks and capital costs, working for a  pittance, bidding against each other in a negative auction,  often working for less than the minimum wage.

Or bullshit jobs,  McJobs, mindless, deskilled jobs, workers cheaper than robots.

Or we  could have open source, sharing, open coops, collaborative commons.

We have open source software, designers contribute for free, the software is available for free. The Hive in Dalston. There are are open source cars, tractors.

We now have an open source satellite,  UPSat, Greek QB50 cubesat, which the Greeks have just delivered. Open source software and hardware. A Cygnus automated cargo spacecraft will deliver UPSat to the International Space Station.

Launched earlier this week, the Cygnus supply spacecraft en-route to the International Space Station after a successful launch of Orbital ATK‘s Antares rocket. It’s next launch, scheduled for the 30th of December, will carry UPsat, the first open hardware and first made in Greece satellite to the International Space Station.

Do we want the future of UPSat, collaboration, sharing, free flow of information or one of atomised workers working as serfs for apps?

The choice is ours.