COMBAT!

Oppositional culture for an occupied age

FCC reverses stance on net neutrality

The internet

The internet

Tom Wheeler and the FCC have changed their position on net neutrality, drafting new rules that would allow internet service providers to charge companies for faster delivery of their content. Finally, Comcast and Netflix will get a chance to make some money. Wheeler strenuously denies that his agency is “gutting the open internet rule,” but it’s hard to see this decision making the internet a more equitable place. Perhaps it will be exactly as free and egalitarian as before. Or maybe we are not totally crazy to worry that letting Comcast—which owns NBC and Hulu—buy TimeWarner Cable, owned by AOL and what used to be Warner Bros., will result in some kind of collusion.

Read the rest of this entry »

Combat! blog stumbles through life, isn’t useful

Give a hoot: read a book.

Give a hoot: read a book.

There is no Combat! blog this morning, because I am taking a personal day. We’ll be back tomorrow with our scurrilous opinions. In the meantime, how about you read this early Jeeves story by PG Wodehouse? The prose is not quite so developed as in the subsequent novels, but we both know that you’re not going to read an entire novel online. You could, though.

 

Times: US middle class no longer word’s richest

The American middle class

In Canada, this man would have a nice beer.

The New York Times is running stories about inequality, and they are running hard. Today brings news that the American middle class is no longer the richest in the world. Our hardworking suburban football fans were tied with Canada’s hockey-gazing layabouts in 2010, and data suggest we’ve been surpassed since. Our poor—families at the 20th percentile of US income—make substantially less than families in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands. But those are all socialist countries. Our working poor may not have as much money, but they have freedom. In the decade since “freedom” became the most important word in American rhetoric, per capita income has shrunk at the 40th, 30th, 20th, 10th and 5th percentiles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Piketty: Inequality returning to 19th-century model

Economist Thomas Piketty wears a dress shirt in the French style.

Economist Thomas Piketty wears a dress shirt in the French style.

If you like totalizing theories of economics the way I do—which is to say, if you like reading descriptions of those theories—you have probably heard about Thomas Piketty and Capital In the 21st Century. The English translation of the 700-page book has been well-received since its publication last month, and Piketty has been interviewed in just about every outlet imaginable, including the New York Times. That one is worth reading, if for no other reason than for his observation that the income distribution that characterized the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when “the top 10 percent of the distribution was full of rental income, dividend income, interest income,” is coming back.

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday links! Baller-garchy edition

by Thomas Nast—the cartoonist, not my rap name

by Thomas Nast—the cartoonist, not my rap name

Let’s say a witch transports you to a mythical country called, I dunno, Furmerica or Harmonica or whatever. The country is nominally a democracy, but everyone you meet agrees that Furmerican politics are a farce. The two major parties are operatively indistinguishable, both in their dishonesty and in their infatuation with rich patrons. The few politicians who sincerely hope to govern by their beliefs—the real Furmericans, if you will—are invariably dumb. The Congress of Furmerica is a long argument between liars and fools, and don’t even get me started on the Hexagonal Office. Ask any citizen, and he’ll tell you that they’re all a bunch of bums, which is why he doesn’t even pay attention anymore. Today is Friday, and we have pinpointed Furmerica’s second biggest problem. Won’t you skirt the root cause with me?

Read the rest of this entry »