21 September 2016


No, not some obscure boy band notable mainly for walking on its hind legs:

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Nor even providers of link sausage ingredients. Well, not just ingredients...

  • Wellywellywellywellywell: The European Commission has decided that the future of the arts lies with artists and not distributors in its new single-digital-market copyright reform proposal (PDF). This has been rumored for a while, but I didn't want to rely on rumors — I'm not a tabloid journalist. One might say that this is Kirtsaeng I's Eurotrash progeny... except that it undervalues the potential for Schumpeterian creative destruction.

    Needless to say, not everyone — and especially not incumbent exchange operators (to borrow a disturbingly appropriate term from telephone-company deregulation) — is happy. Schade: The biggest "losers" will be the family-held/controlled media empires, which are largely agents for (or at least direct descendants of) fascism, and I don't even need to limit myself to Sauron's empire or English language or even the printed word to say that. Nobody is really asking in public whether media empires are the 21st century buggywhip manufacturers — perhaps because this time the incumbents are controlling the means of even having a conversation.

    But if they really want to make a difference, they have to NAFTAize it. The arts really are not an Old World/New World sort of thing... regardless of language barriers, or for that matter the entrenched financial interests behind Festung Europa (or, for that matter, Festung Amerika).

  • But a current exhibition at the V&A in London focused on the late 1960s and the interface between "popular culture" and "politics" may cut just a little bit too close to the interests of the public-school crowd. Perhaps Prospero gives a little bit too much credit to "Revolution," neglecting the six or seven other versions also left on the recording-studio floor... but the general point remains valid, and yet again Schumpeterian. Next up: The influence of the Monterrey Jazz Festival on electioneering in the 1980s (don't snicker too much, it's actually pretty apparent).
  • I am shocked — shocked, I say — to see irrefutable evidence of greed and fraud at the heart of megabanking. And gutless leadership, which is encouraged in a disturbingly ironic fashion by the very legal structures that make megabanks possible. Having guts means at minimum telling shareholders "No, I will not break the law, or foster a culture of lawbreaking, so as to increase your dividends by a penny per quarter per share."

    The Securities Exchange Act and Securities Act — our primary (not only) protections against investor fraud — distinguish between "shareholder" and "stakeholder" by never acknowledging the existence of nonshareholder stakeholders, and demand that management have allegiance only to shareholders. This is reinforced by Delaware law on corporation governance and function. The law's denial that once a business becomes large enough to meet exchange rating, it is also large enough to have thousands (or millions or tens of millions) of stakeholders who are not shareholders, has been refuted time after time. However, the unenlightened self-interest inherent in capital-appreciation primacy in corporate governance is both inconsistent with reality and basic math (hint: the concepts of limits and boundary values, both of which are rocket science... and first-year calculus).

  • Last, and far from least, a general election note. Remember to vote downballot, too. Indeed, there's an excellent argument that what happens regarding the Senate is actually far more important than what happens regarding the White House. (Nothing will happen in the House thanks to partisan gerrymandering.) Remember, also, that you're voting not just for the candidate on your ballot, but for all of his friends: A vote for a relatively moderate Heffalump like Mark Kirk is also a vote for retaining the obstructionism of Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, while conversely a vote for a relatively conservative Jackass like Bill Nelson is also a vote for retaining the, well, obstructionism of Harry Reid and Dick Durbin.

    Indirectly, this is my way of throwing my hands up at all of the choices on the ballot (including the major-minor parties) for the Presidency. Determining exactly who is the least of the evils among a career politician with a long history of blindness to the problems of self-interest, a racist union-busting slumlord with no concept of the Rawlsian original position, a purported "doctor" who is antiscience (except, perhaps, regarding global warming), and a pro-gun-nut former governor who hasn't the foggiest clue about international affairs or history is really appalling. I really don't think choosing among the rack, the bastinada, waterboarding, and the Iron Maiden for the next four years is what the Founders had in mind. It would be nice to have a choice that is not an obvious instrument of torture, but the political class hasn't seen fit to give us one.