Mike Lofgren at Salon reminds us that isolationists like the late Sen. Robert Taft (R-OH), once dubbed “Mr. Republican,” have always been with us. He also reminds us that we shouldn’t think their isolationism sincere, merely because they don’t indulge in anti-Semitism or love of fascism out loud. We have all succumbed to the temptation to think that Republicans Used to Be Better in The Good Old Days – I can’t tell you how many sentences I began with “at least Reagan didn’t” during Tha Bush Mobb’s reign of terror – but we would be wiser to take the 30,000-foot view here. I’ll only add that if Mr. Taft had ever condemned Father Coughlin, it wouldn’t have been useless. Even if he didn’t mean it!
From Julia Rock at The Lever we learn “How Big Pharma Actually Spends Its Massive Profits.” Long story short: “Between 2012 and 2021, the 14 largest publicly-traded pharmaceutical companies spent $747 billion on stock buybacks and dividends — substantially more than the $660 billion they spent on research and development.” So no more of this ZOMG BUT TEH INNOVASHUNZ!!!!! crap! Must I add that the money a corporation spends on research and development can’t be taxed by any government? Because it’s an expense?
Sonali Kohatkar at Raw Story reveals “The Disturbing Truth About How Much Unearned Wealth and Power Has Been Accrued by Elites.” Said disturbing truth is nepotism: “some of the most dramatic success stories began with a parent using their wealth or connections to give their child the upper hand,” she reminds us, and not just our most famous tech zillionaires like Jeff Bezos ($250,000 from his parents) or Mark Zuckerberg ($100,000 loan from his parents), but also Donald Trump – remember how he said, out loud, that his father had given him a “very small loan” of $1 million to jump-start his real estate career? And, thanks to said father’s tax evasion schemes, little Donald had been a millionaire since he was a small child! So no more of this ZOMG BUT THEYZ EARNEDZ ITZ!!!!!! crap. Better to call nepotism an affirmative action program for the well-off.
When Marick Masters at The Conversation wonders if the last year’s surge in union elections and strikes “mark a turning point for organized labor,” I’m tempted to say: only if we make it so! But Mr. Masters does us a great service by pointing out that for all the media coverage of strikes and elections lately, the numbers of these are only a little bit up from the last 40 years – as late as 1980, the year before President Reagan broke the air traffic controllers’ strike, we saw 200 major work stoppages, compared to 20 in 2022. So maybe the pandemic hasn’t driven union membership upward the way we would have liked – or the way the Depression and World War II did. A possible “ace up labor’s sleeve”? More folks like unions and/or want to be in unions than in a very long time. We should work to ensure that doesn’t just mean people tend to like what they don’t have.
Jonathan O’Calllighan at IFL Science evaluates a study suggesting that octopuses are actually aliens from outer space, and finds it wanting. Yes I also got a kick out of that viral video showing an octopus escaping through a crevice in a boat’s deck, but when a scientific paper about an animal counts 33 scientists among its authors but zero zoologists, red flags should go up. And when a study points to “gaps in the evidence” and then fills those gaps with speculation, that isn’t the same as filling them with, you know, evidence. The “we can’t explain it, so it must be aliens” argument may even remind you of “intelligent design.”
Finally, the incomparable Matt Stoller relays some good news for American workers, as our Federal Trade Commission (or FTC) has proposed a new rule that would bar “non-compete” agreements in employment contracts, meaning that workers would have more freedom to work where they like, rather than being barred from working for competitors. And of course, with “non-compete” clauses already being unenforceable in at least 12 states and with many actual bosses being fairly sympathetic to the new rule, America’s “free” market votaries are applauding the rule change, right? I kid, of course – they think the “free” market only means “freedom” for overpaid executives, not actual freedom for workers to make more money, and maybe even one day become bosses themselves! (Don’t believe any hype about “employees stealing trade secrets,” either, because other laws cover that.)