Tag Archives: Business

Science News and Information Today

By Cary Funk, Jeffrey Gottfried and Amy Mitchell – At a time when scientific information is increasingly at the center of public divides, most Americans say they get science news no more than a couple of times per month, and when they do, most say it is by happenstance rather than intentionally, according to a new study by Pew Research Center.

Overall, about a third, 36%, of Americans get science news at least a few times a week, three-in-ten actively seek it out, and a smaller portion, 17%, do both.

And while Americans are most likely to get their science news from general news outlets and say the news media overall do a good job covering science, they consider a handful of specialty sources – documentaries, science magazines, and science and technology museums – as more likely to get the science facts right. more>

Did technology kill the truth?

By Tom Wheeler – We carry in our pockets and purses the greatest democratizing tool ever developed. Never before has civilization possessed such an instrument of free expression.

Yet, that unparalleled technology has also become a tool to undermine truth and trust.

The glue that holds institutions and governments together has been thinned and weakened by the unrestrained capabilities of technology exploited for commercial gain. The result has been to de-democratize the internet.

We exist in a time when technological capabilities and economic incentives have combined to attack truth and weaken trust. It is not an act of pre-planned perdition. Unchecked, however, it will have the same effect.

For a century-and-a-half, the economic model for media companies was to assemble information in order to attract eyeballs for advertising. To maximize that reach, traditional outlets curated that information for veracity and balance.

In stark contrast, the curation of social media platforms is not for veracity, but for advertising velocity. more>

Moral Life in the Global City

By Ian Klaus – Commerce depends on trust, civility, people doing favors. The bodega on the corner is not just a retail outlet. It’s a place where people in the neighborhood slowly get to know each other.

The ordinary virtues are things like trust, forgiveness, resilience, the basic honesty of ordinary life, a certain basic decency and civility that you see in ordinary life. These are the not-heroic virtues. Courage would be a heroic virtue. Self-sacrifice would be a heroic virtue. In a decent society we shouldn’t ask people to be heroes.

Globalization impacts every second of our daily lives. But the people we justify ourselves to, the people we care about when we exercise these virtues, are very local: Mom, Dad, family, kin, our neighbors, our workmates. When you display the virtues of decency, you’re not displaying an abstract commitment to treat all human beings decently. All you’re doing is treating the human beings you interact with every day decently. The ordinary virtues don’t generalize, they particularize. They don’t universalize. They are all very local. more>

If You Look Behind Neoliberal Economists, You’ll Discover the Rich: How Economic Theories Serve Big Business

The road to serfdom – sponsored by big business
By Dániel Oláh – Social classes have always embraced ideas and social philosophies. Not only to understand and interpret the real world, but most importantly to change it to their benefit. These theories (primarily in social science) have become beweaponed ideas called ideologies, as they are used to influence rather than to understand the human universe.

Of course the two are related: the nature of our understanding, i.e. what we consider important and what we leave out from our theoretical framework, is called modelling.

But what if modeling is just an euphemism for modern ideologies?

The great Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek didn’t favor mathematical modeling, but he had clear philosophical models in his head. One of his most famous statements is related to the slippery road to dictatorships: if you introduce a little bit of state involvement in the economy, you have already stepped on this messy road to serfdom. The main intention of this model was to call for action and to raise awareness against the increasing governments in an era when the battle between the West and the East hadn’t yet been decided.

Hayek’s model was working as an ideology in real life, not at all different from that of the Soviet side. At least we get this impression if we take a look at the cartoon version of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. This was his main work on social philosophy and economics, arguing for individualism and liberalism. Hayek’s argumentation in defense of a minimal state was so powerful that General Motors decided to sponsor the production of the comic version.

So, Hayek’s well-written piece of social philosophy was turned into a black-and-white, stylized world, where keeping the wartime planning roles of the government deterministically leads to the planning of thinking, recreation and disciplining of all individuals. more>

The small business myth

BOOK REVIEW

Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA, Author: Benjamin C Waterhouse.
The Land of Enterprise: A Business History of the United States, Author: Benjamin C Waterhouse.

By Benjamin C Waterhouse – Although love for small business may seem like a timeless feature of capitalism, the widespread belief that small entrepreneurs hold the keys to economic revival is relatively recent.

A key moment in the modern myth-making around small business came in 1978. That’s when MIT economist David Birch published claims – which he repeated in testimony before Congress – that small firms had accounted for 80 per cent of all new employment opportunities between 1968 and 1976. Critics quickly pointed out that Birch’s findings were quite wrong, largely because he defined firm size according to how many employees worked in a given location (like a branch office, factory, or store), not how many the firm employed altogether. In fact, most job creation, in the 1970s and today, comes from a small number of very fast-growing firms, while most small firms either fail (killing jobs) or remain small.

Birch later admitted that the 80 per cent figure was a ‘silly number’, but the claims took firm root in popular mythology and political rhetoric by the 1980s.

Historically, however, ‘small business’ did not exist in any meaningful sense until the advent of ‘Big Business’ in the late 19th century. Before the emergence of large, vertically integrated, and diversified corporations, ‘small business’ was simultaneously everywhere and nowhere, and no one spoke on its behalf. more>

How Big Tech Became a Bipartisan Whipping Boy

By Nitasha Tiku – A few years ago, successful technology companies were widely envied as paragons of American business. No longer.

Against the backdrop of the 2016 election, social-media platforms that had been viewed as free, frictionless, neutral connections to the world looked instead like tools to undermine democracy.

Now concerns about their outsized influence on public debate, the real cost of their convenience, their voracious appetite to swallow markets and competitors, and their control over Americans’ personal data have formed a fog of suspicion that has many in Washington questioning the lax rules that facilitated their rise—and has politicians and public figures on all sides taking on big tech to score populist points. more>

The Many Faces Of Self-Employment In Europe


By Mathijn Wilkens – Despite the growing debates, self-employment in the EU has in fact not increased in decades, remaining stable at around 15% of the EU labor force. This is largely the result of the shrinking agricultural sector – which traditionally has a high proportion of self-employed – counterbalancing the rise in services.

In terms of their working conditions, the self-employed can be roughly divided into five distinct groups.

On one side of the spectrum we find the types of self-employed that the Europe 2020 strategy seeks to promote – entrepreneurial independent self-employed, often enjoying higher earnings and more autonomy which is reflected in healthier, happier and longer working lives. Two of the five clusters – labelled ‘employers’ and ‘stable own-account workers’ – represent about half of the self-employed. The ‘employers’ are a group of self-employed with employees, while the ‘stable own-account workers’ do not employ any employees. Both groups are more likely to be self-employed out of choice.

The opposite is the case for one in four self-employed labelled ‘vulnerable’ and ‘concealed’ –representing together roughly the size of Austria’s population. more>

Why Cities Shouldn’t Bend Over Backwards for Corporations

By Rick Paulas – In early 2010, the city of Topeka, Kansas, was in trouble. The city’s unemployment rate had risen to unprecedented levels. Some in the mayor’s office thought that a lack of affordable broadband Internet access wasn’t helping. Mayor Bill Bunten tried to remedy the situation by changing the city’s name to Google.

“There was a feeding frenzy, so Google was in the position to say, ‘If we don’t get what we want, we’ll go elsewhere,'” says Tony Grubesic, a professor of policy analytics at Arizona State University who has studied Google Fiber’s effects on Kansas City. “Google was in the driver’s seat.”

Corporations pitting cities against one another to get the best deals won’t stop anytime soon. Cities are currently courting Amazon in hopes of becoming the site of the company’s second headquarters.

Tucson sent a 21-foot cactus to Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos; Birmingham built huge Amazon boxes downtown; Stonecrest, Georgia, voted to give the corporation 345 acres that it’s dubbed “the city of Amazon“; and New Jersey is trying to push through a $5 billion tax break. more> https://goo.gl/Yxj2sA

The only job a robot couldn’t do

By Daniel Carter – The gig economy is growing rapidly, but it’s also changing how we think about what it means to work. Uber and other online platforms are making the case for a future in which work happens in little on-demand bursts — you need a ride, and someone appears to give you that ride. Instead of a salary and benefits like health insurance, the worker gets paid only for the time they’re actually driving you around.

I’m a researcher who studies how people work and I have a hard time endorsing this vision of the future. When I see Favor delivery drivers waiting to pick up a to-go order, I imagine a future in which half of us stand in line while the other half sit on couches. And then I imagine a future in which all these mundane tasks are automated: the cars drive themselves, the burritos fly in our windows on drones. And I wonder how companies are going to make money when there are no jobs and we can’t afford to buy a burrito or pay for a ride home from the bar. more> https://goo.gl/gXoUXd

This striking feature of Manila makes it an emblematic global city

BOOK REVIEW

A World of Homeowners: American Power and the Politics of Housing Aid, Author: Nancy Kwak.

By Nancy Kwak – In our urbanizing world, Manila, and a few other rapidly growing world cities, are not only just helpful in understanding how global cities work; they are indispensable.

The most striking aspect of life in Manila, however, lies not in physical attributes but rather in the legal status of the communities living above and around these waterways.

A city can be predominantly informal with lively black markets and mostly unregulated labor and housing. Informality does not have to occur on the margins of everyday life

Even a casual look at Manila, and other burgeoning global cities, shows that the functioning of the urban economy depends on informality. Informality allows workers to subsist on marginal incomes.

Informality provides homes where the formal market does not. Despite or perhaps because of their meager pay, these workers’ role in the global service economy is anything but marginal.

A shoe repairman sets up a roadside station where he fixes the shoes of the restaurant worker who in turn serves food to visiting investors and local business-people. Workers rest in informal settlements before getting up to drive the jeepneys that transport young men and women inexpensively to Makati’s call centers. There, they will answer questions and complaints from customers of global firms headquartered in New York, London, and more. All for a low wage.

Informality provides the foundation for local and global profits. more> https://goo.gl/T7ba1y