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The Financialization of the American Elite – American Affairs Journal

"THE FINANCIALIZATION OF THE AMERICAN ELITE." This valuable 'American Affairs' article from last year by Harvard Business School graduate Sam Long helps explain tectonic changes in the financial sector over recent decades which has had the nasty impact of increasing American wealth and income inequality.
If we're going to fix the problem we have to understand it first. Jim

"…a closer look at Klarman’s remarks, as well as the origins and trajectory of his career, suggests a deeply flawed messenger. Indeed, Klarman’s story provides an interesting window through which to understand much of what afflicts our economy and society today.

"A considerable amount has been written about the financialization of the American economy. Less understood is the financialization of America’s business talent. Klarman, his alma mater, and its peer institutions are all part of this story. What we confront today—a business elite dominated by financiers and their squires, presiding over a disordered economy gutted of both its productive energy and the ability to generate mass prosperity—is a direct result of this economic and cultural evolution…

"…the shareholder primacy movement proved lucrative to a wave of CEOs in the early 1990s whose compensation was tied to stock price. In 1990, Jensen published another landmark article, this time in the Harvard Business Review. Jensen asserted that corporate performance could be improved by using stock options to compensate CEOs and further align their interests with those of shareholders. The result, coupled with a 1993 tax law that increased the cost-effectiveness of compensating management with equity, has been twenty-five years of skyrocketing executive pay…

"The new elite also applied their ample talent and superior educa­tion to devising financial mechanisms and 'business strategies' that captured increasing percentages of their companies’ revenues. They discovered financial engineering techniques to boost stock values without growing earnings or investing in productive assets. Bankers and consultants helped shareholders and boards value, measure, and optimize their equity, which often led to decisions to offshore jobs or purposefully reallocate capital away from asset-intensive industries that employed millions of middle-class Americans…

"…Within the economy, the finan­cial sector’s contribution to GDP now approaches 10 percent, more than triple what it was in 1950.

"The consequences have damaged the long-term health of the American economy and hindered its ability to create prosperity and offer opportunities for social mobility…

"Related to this shift in sectoral balances is both a shameful level of inequality and historically weak economic performance and produc­tivity growth…We live in the richest society in the history of mankind, but as the Federal Reserve report­ed earlier this year, 40 percent of Americans would be unable to fund the costs of a $400 emergency from their savings…

"…Given that 50 percent of Americans own no stocks, the wealthiest 10 percent own 80 percent of the country’s stocks, and the top 1 percent own almost 40 percent of the country’s equities, the benefits of this financially engineered asset price inflation have flowed almost entirely to the largest capital holders…

"The impact is not merely economic. The cultural and political consequences of shareholder primacy have undermined our social cohesion…

"It was not always this way. If the class of ’82 represents the wealth and success achieved by the shareholder primacy generation, another HBS class tells the story of a different era.

"In 1974, Fortune published a profile of the HBS class of 1949 on the twenty-fifth anniversary of its graduation. As a cohort, its mem­bers had achieved fantastic financial success: one in five were mil­lionaires in 1974 dollars. Fortune’s editors titled their profile “The Class the Dollars Fell Upon,” and the nickname stuck.28

"By 1974 approximately 45 percent of the class held the position of CEO or COO…

"While their wealth, professional success, and acclaim drive the comparison to the 82ers, it is the difference in how the two classes made their money that is striking. The young Americans who ma­triculated at HBS in the years after the war found an institution that sought to instill in its graduates a sense of noblesse oblige, despite the fact that few of them had any blue blood to speak of. They had been given an unprecedented opportunity, and much was expected of them…

"At bottom, when many of our country’s wealthy citizens say 'democracy,' what they really mean is 'our class’s way of life.' If they respected democracy as fervently as they worship the 'invisible hand,' they would see that the popular discontent simmering across the world today is the direct result of decades of elite hypocrisy and greed, hidden behind a façade of neoliberal economics…

"These are the same people who have left us with an upside-down economy and a weakened social fabric. Income inequality, financialization, and a socially inefficient distribution of both capital and tal­ent are the legacies of shareholder capitalism. Although these elites now mourn the erosion of the political 'center,' they actively par­ticipated in the erosion of the American middle class. To add insult to injury, they insist on telling us elaborate stories about their entrepreneurial spirit and good intentions, and invite us to celebrate their virtue when they give back a tiny share of their captured wealth.

"Encouraged by academics like Porter and Jensen, and the univer­sities at which they preach, this elite now purports to know how to fix our politics. Given their track record, we would be foolish to listen."

The Financialization of the American Elite – American Affairs Journal

On October 1, 2018, the newly christened Klarman Hall opened to much acclaim on the campus of Harvard Business School. The stunning $120 million building houses a conference center as well as a gleaming auditorium built around a 32-million-pixel, 1,250-square-foot video wall and a state-of-the-art,….


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STIRRUP HOEING CORN ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE. Here, Caleb's sis…

STIRRUP HOEING CORN ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE. Here, Caleb's sister Amy (left) and Megan clean up the remaining few visible weeds left after running through this field of Organic Dorinny Seed Corn with a tractor outfitted with potato hoes. https://www.woodprairie.com/…/sweet-corn-seed-organic-dori…/
Immediately after this hand work, we companion-sowed this corn field to Organic Winter Rye to protect the soil and suppress weeds. This year the Rye will form a dense short mat. Next Summer the Winter Rye will be harvested as a grain crop.
Organic Certified Seed Potatoes (https://www.woodprairie.com/…/certified-organic-maine-cert…/) were grown in this field last year in our 4-year rotation . Immediately after last Fall's harvest potato, fields were planted to Winter Rye. That crop of Winter Rye is drying down and will soon be harvested. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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Sweeping U.S. pesticide reform bill introduced, banning some chemical agents

"SWEEPING U.S. PESTICIDE REFORM BILL INTRODUCED, BANNING SOME CHEMICAL AGENTS." Our current regulatory structure for assessing pesticides is deeply broken, and regularly caters to vested interests marching to elite political dictates over scientific scrutiny.
The formerly-valuable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), founded in the environmental era of the 1960s by President Nixon has devolved to dysfunction which increasingly fails to protect the public interest and instead utilizes political power which consistently kowtows to powerful economic forces such as Industrial Ag and pesticide manufacturers.
Reform is urgently needed and this bill – sweeping in its broad reform – could pass if there is a shake-up in Washington. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"The Protect America’s Children From Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020, introduced on Tuesday by Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, and Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat of Colorado, would overhaul the nation’s framework for regulating the sale and use of pesticides to safeguard public health and the environment, the legislators said in a press call with a panel of experts.

"Current regulations are based on outdated science and contain loopholes that keep dangerous pesticides on the market despite clear evidence of harm to people and the environment, they said. 'Our nation’s system for regulating harmful pesticides is broken and badly outdated,' said Sen. Udall. The system was meant to protect farmers and agricultural workers, consumers and the environment, he said. “'But it’s not. It’s protecting the pesticide industry.'”

Sweeping U.S. pesticide reform bill introduced, banning some chemical agents

The Protect America’s Children From Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020 would overhaul the nation’s framework for regulating the sale and use of pesticides.


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Aroostook County’s harvest break is indispensable for the potato industry, farmers say

ADDRESSING OUR 'POTATO HARVEST BREAK.' Aroostook County, Maine is one of the last regions in the country which perpetuates our traditional farm-based culture and still incorporates a Harvest Break into school schedules.
Next week, Caleb's sister Amy begins life as a High School Senior (in a bow to Covid 19, half of her 30-student Senior class will attend masked, socially distanced half-days in the morning and the other half in the afternoon).
After WWII, Maine enacted a State law which required all Maine schools to conduct classes for a minimum of 175 days. Back then, the Aroostook County delegation fought and worked hard to modify the law and create an accommodation so that Aroostook would be permitted to start classes early in August, then break for harvest in September, and in that way still meet the 175-day requirement.
While, yes, farmers do acutely need the harvest help, what is too often minimized in the on-going debate over keeping Harvest Break is the increasingly rare educational and personal benefit for young people in participating in the community farming activity. (https://www.mofga.org/…/Potato-Culture-of-Aroostook-County-…).
We're fans of structuring learning to incorporate outside the classroom opportunities. Potato Harvest Break is King of outside learning opportunities.
For generations, to get a Summer job on the coast after graduation from High School – in a tourist hotel or restaurant business – all a young person had to mention to a potential employer was that he or she was from Aroostook and had worked Potato Harvest. They would be hired on the spot. That's testimony to the reputation of a highly-developed work ethic which Aroostook potato fields helped to cultivate. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"A formal harvest break from school has been a vital part of Aroostook County’s history and culture since at least 1945.

Aroostook County students have been excused from classes for two to three weeks each fall to work for farmers during the annual potato harvest. This year, even with debate about sending students back to in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic, not a single district that participated last year has decided to ax the break…

"'[Students] learn things working in the fields that they are not going to learn in school,' Stanley said. 'That has a huge educational benefit even if it’s not something that we can put down in a grade book.'"

Aroostook County’s harvest break is indispensable for the potato industry, farmers say

While acknowledging there are potential drawbacks, superintendents say the break is necessary in a highly agricultural region.


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Finnish Photographer Shoots Foxes, And We Can’t Finnish Looking At Them

37 FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHS OF FOXES. Finnish photographer Ossi Saarinen has a knack for discovering and capturing Red Foxes in their natural environment.
We see foxes frequently on our Maine farm, in addition to regularly spotting moose, black bears and deer.
Also, this Summer after years of absence, we're again seeing Cottontail Rabbits. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"Ossi has photographed these adorable animals since last summer. In an early morning, when he was just wandering around the countryside with his camera, Ossi luckily encountered baby foxes. The cubs noticed his presence, but without any fear, they curiously come close to check out this human with their eye wide opened. He quietly took photos of them, enjoyed watching the wild animals playing with each other, and felt the emergence of a special connection to the cute foxes. Since that unforgettable moment, the fox has become an endless inspiring topic for his photos."

Finnish Photographer Shoots Foxes, And We Can’t Finnish Looking At Them

Remember the Finnish photographer Ossi Saarinen, the guy who captures angry birds in real life? It turns out that he also has huge love with wild foxes, and his photos say it all. Ossi has photographed wild foxes since last summer. In an early morning, when he was just wandering around countryside w…


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The Dark Forest Theory of the Universe

MAYBE IT'S TIME WE CONSIDER THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE 'DARK FOREST THEORY.' If – as the numbers would indicate – we do have intelligent alien neighbors, why are we not hearing from them? Maybe it's time to think this situation through. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"But this scenario is a bit different in the Dark Forest theory which arises from Liu Cixin’s novel The Dark Forest, a sequel to the award-winning Three Body Problem. In the novel, the theory becomes an attempt to answer the question of the Fermi Paradox, a problem in science named after physicist Enrico Fermi. It is, in short, an exploration of why we’ve so far seen no signs of alien life when we should statistically be able to see at least 10,000 of them in the universe with 20 of those alien civilizations existing somewhere nearby (on a cosmic scale). These numbers come from the Drake equation, conceived by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961. The equation is an estimate of how many civilizations should exist in our galaxy by examining the many factors that might play a role in their development.
Image for post…

"In The Dark Forest, the assumptions of life are this: living organisms want to stay alive — they have a survival drive — and there is no way to know the true intentions of other lifeforms. Because there can be no certainties of a peaceful encounter, the safest course of action is to eradicate the other species before they have a chance to attack you instead. This also explains why an alien society might want to stay quiet, reducing the risk of discovering that humanity, for example, might be hostile after all. The novel also brings up the point of limited resources. A civilization that wishes to continue expanding across the universe will need to compete for the limited resources with any other intelligent life. With this assumption, one need not even consider that the species is hostile. We endanger animal populations on our planet all the time, not out of hatred but out of need for resources."

The Dark Forest Theory of the Universe

A terrifying answer to “where are all the aliens?”


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Watch: Eerie Deepfake Video Depicts Nixon Announcing Apollo 11 Disaster | Coast to Coast AM

OUR BRAVE NEW WORLD: WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL OF "DEEPFAKE" VIDEOS FROM HERE ON OUT. Technology has advanced to the point where malefactors-with-a-motive are now capable of creating flawless "Deepfake" videos which are indistinguishable from the real thing.
Watch this Deepfake video (7:46) created by experts at MIT in order to demonstrate the point of believeability of a faked version of the July 1969 Moon event. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"Initially unveiled last November at an art event, MIT's Center for Advanced Virtuality posted the creation online for the public on Monday in commemoration of the 51st anniversary of the Apollo landing. The group hopes that the video will enlighten people as to just how well-crafted and believable these so-called 'deepfake' videos can be, especially since it is almost certain the quality of such productions will only improve as technology advances."

Watch: Eerie Deepfake Video Depicts Nixon Announcing Apollo 11 Disaster | Coast to Coast AM

In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers surrounding deepfake videos, experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have released a chilling creation which depicts President Nixon announcing that the Apollo 11 mission had turned tragic.


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Research: Crop plants are taking up microplastics

NEW RESEARCH ASSERTS THAT 'MICROPLASTICS' ARE GETTING INTO THE FOOD WE CONSUME. New research published in the journal 'Nature Sustainability' confirms that edible plants do indeed take up microplastics (MPs) serving as a point of entry into the human body.
One controversy in organic agriculture has been the banning under USDA 'National Organic Program' standards of so-called "biodegradable" bio mulch. This research now confirms that the cautious ban has been visionary. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"Microplastics (MPs), i.e., tiny plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in length, can now be found throughout the ocean and other aquatic ecosystems, and even in our seafood and salt. As MPs have become ubiquitous, scientists have become concerned about the transfer of MPs from the environment to the food chain and the potential impact of MPs on human health…

"Most MPs are emitted to the terrestrial environment and accumulate in large amounts in soil. In addition, secondary particles are formed by the degradation of plastics. Wastewater, an important source of water for agricultural irrigation, also contains small-sized MPs…

"For decades, scientists believed that plastic particles were simply too large to pass through the physical barriers of intact plant tissue. But this new study disproves this assumption.

"'Cracks at the emerging sites of new lateral roots of lettuce and wheat crops can take in MPs from the surrounding soil and water. Those MPs can then be transferred from the roots up to the edible parts of the crop,' said Prof. Luo.

"Scientists already knew that particles as tiny as 50 nanometers in size could penetrate plant roots. But Prof. Luo's group revealed that particles about 40 times that size can get into plants as well…

"These findings shed new light on the possibility of food chain transfer of MPs. If MPs are getting into our crop plants, they are also getting into our meat and dairy. This raises obvious concerns about growing crops on fields contaminated with wastewater treatment discharge or sewage sludge, a process that could introduce MPs into the food chain. It also raises the key question of how MPs affect human health, a question for which there is as yet no clear answer."

Research: Crop plants are taking up microplastics

Microplastics (MPs), i.e., tiny plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in length, can now be found throughout the ocean and other aquatic ecosystems, and even in our seafood and salt. As MPs have become ubiquitous, scientists have become concerned about the transfer of MPs from the environment to…


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The Future of Food: To fix the food system, fix our democracy

IS FIXING OUR DEMOCRACY KEY TO FIXING OUR FOOD SYSTEM? Iconic food writer Frances Moore Lappe – who wrote 'Diet for a Small Planet' almost 50 years ago – argues YES. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"Fifty years ago, our world was also gripped by fear. Paul Ehrlich’s book 'The Population Bomb' predicted 'mass starvation' on a 'dying planet.' The ensuing scarcity scare triggered a fixation on ever-greater production of food.

"Along the way, agribusinesses have warned that only their seeds and agricultural chemicals could save us. 'Worrying about starving future generations won’t feed them. Food biotechnology will,' declared a 1998 Monsanto ad

"As our fear-driven vision narrowed, we continued to perceive lack — even when our more-than-ample food supply has kept well ahead of population growth…

"As creatures of the mind, we see the world through frames of meaning that determine what we can see and what we cannot. With a frame fixed on production, we’ve not seen how our global, corporate-driven food system has turned our food supply into a health hazard. Today, noncommunicable diseases account for almost 70 percent of deaths — and diet is implicated in most of them…

"It soon becomes clear that, as was true a half century ago, today people go hungry not from lack of food but from lack of power — the power to access food and the land to grow it…

"This is a lot easier when we team up — just as millions of courageous Americans are discovering, as today they step out together to demand deep, systemic reforms."

The Future of Food: To fix the food system, fix our democracy

The Future of Food from @GlobeIdeas: What we eat, where it comes from, and how we get it are being reimagined like never before. Our food can be tastier, more accessible, and healthier for us and the planet.


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How Has the Pandemic Affected Food Prices?

WHAT A DILEMMA: "CONSUMERS PAY MORE FOR FOOD, FARMERS EARN LESS." National Farmers Union (we are members) has prepared a valuable analysis of Food Price trends.
NFU highlights the enormous problem with a wobbly food system dominated by self-serving Industrial Ag: consumers are paying more – WAY MORE – and farmers are getting less.
The article contains helpful graphics which lay out the predicament.
Time to reform our food system so it will best serve the interests of citizens and the family farmers working hard to grow our nation's food.
A good place to start would be vigorous enforcement of EXISTING ANTI-TRUST LAWS. Honest enforment would effectively bust up competition-crushing monopolies which increasingly control agricultural inputs, production and market channels. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"In the last 12 months, food prices at grocery stores have risen 5.6 percent – the largest annual increase in nearly a decade. The severity of price increases vary drastically depending on the product; beef prices, for instance are 25 percent higher than they were a year ago, while those for fruits and vegetables are just 2.3 percent higher.

"But the extra money consumers are shelling out for their pantry staples isn’t being passed on to the farmers and ranchers who grew that food. In fact, the prices that farmers are currently receiving are, on average, 4.8 percent lowerthan they were last year. Like consumers’ prices, fluctuations in farmers’ prices differ significantly by product: livestock prices are 17 percent below where they were last May, whereas fruit and tree nut prices are 49 percent higher…

"…Many farmers, ranchers, and fishermen had nowhere to sell their products, forcing some to bury surplus crops or dump milk. Even those who were lucky enough to find a market often sold at a loss because the sudden drop in demand dragged down prices."

How Has the Pandemic Affected Food Prices?

By Hannah Packman, NFU Communications Director In the last 12 months, food prices at grocery stores have risen 5.6 percent – the largest annual increase in nearly a decade. The severity of p…


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