Posts Tagged ‘Capitalism’

Stop pretending wealthy CEOs pushing for charter schools are altruistic “reformers.” They’re raking in billions

News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch (Credit: AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Last week, Los Angeles provided yet another example of a cadre of anti-public-school millionaires swooping in to try (and in this case, fail) to buy a big-city school-board election. And once again, that sparked a round of Orwellian newspeak that distorts what’s really happening in education politics.

You know how it goes: The pervasive media mythology tells us that the fight over the schoolhouse is supposedly a battle between greedy self-interested teachers who don’t care about children and benevolent billionaire “reformers” whose political activism is solely focused on the welfare of kids. Epitomizing the media narrative, the Wall Street Journal casts the latter in sanitized terms, reimagining the billionaires as philanthropic altruists “pushing for big changes they say will improve public schools.”

The first reason to scoff at this mythology should be obvious: It simply strains credulity to insist that pedagogues who get paid middling wages but nonetheless devote their lives to educating kids care less about those kids than do the Wall Street hedge funders and billionaire CEOs who finance the so-called reform movement. Indeed, to state that pervasive assumption out loud is to reveal how utterly idiotic it really is, and yet it is baked into almost all of today’s coverage of education politics.

That, of course, is not all that shocking; after all, plenty of inane narratives are regularly depicted as assumed fact in the political press. What’s shocking is that the other reason to scoff at the Greedy Teachers versus Altruistic Billionaire tale is also ignored. It is ignored even though it involves the most hard-to-ignore facts of all — the ones involving vested financial interests.

Yes, though it is rarely mentioned, the truth is that the largest funders of the “reform” movement are the opposite of disinterested altruists. They are cutthroat businesspeople making shrewd financial investments in a movement that is less about educating children than about helping “reform” funders hit paydirt. In that sense, they are the equivalent of any industry leaders funding a front group in hopes of achieving profitable political ends (think: defense contractors funding a front group that advocates for a bigger defense budget). The only difference is that when it comes to education “reform,” most of the political press doesn’t mention the potential financial motives of the funders in question.

While I’ve written about this reality before, recent news perfectly exemplifies how the “reform” movement is really just a sophisticated business strategy.

First, there was the Washington state ballot initiative expanding publicly subsidized, privately run charter schools. As the Seattle P-I reported at the time, the initiative was effectively underwritten by Amazon and Microsoft. This was part of the latter’s larger education “reform” push through the massive foundation of company founder Bill Gates.

Yet, in most of the coverage of that ballot measure, just like in most of the coverage of Gates’ foundation work, there is no mention of the fact that both Amazon and Microsoft just so happen to be technology companies — that is, for-profit entities with their eyes on lucrative education technology contracts.

Those contracts are much easier to land in privately run charter schools because such schools are often uninhibited by public schools’ procurement rules and standards requiring a demonstrable educational need for technology. That reality, no doubt, is part of why charter schools often spend so much more on “administration” and “business services” than do their public school counterparts. Though it is rarely mentioned in the political coverage of education, that spending promises to benefit tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft. (Ready for proposals to give every kid an Amazon Kindle or Windows laptop, paid for by public money?)

Then, as mentioned before, there was last week’s high-profile Los Angeles school board race. The anti-public-school “reform” slate was bolstered by a $1 million contribution from billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who has been making similar contributions to other education “reform” campaigns across the country. As he pours money into buying these local elections, he is loyally portrayed in the press as a high-minded humanitarian using his perch as New York mayor to earnestly raise issues. Somehow, few bother to mention that he is the founder of a massive information technology company that seems well positioned to break into the burgeoning education business and profit off “reformers”‘ technology triumphalism (seriously, does anyone think we won’t soon see a Bloomberg School Terminal sometime soon?).

Read the full article at: Salon.com

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FLOW OF WISDOM® | SEAN ANTHONY

“Give me control over a nations currency, and I care not who makes its laws” – Baron M.A. Rothschild

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List of Banks owned by the Rothschild family

Afghanistan: Bank of Afghanistan
Albania: Bank of Albania
Algeria: Bank of Algeria
Argentina: Central Bank of Argentina
Armenia: Central Bank of Armenia
Aruba: Central Bank of Aruba
Australia: Reserve Bank of Australia
Austria: Austrian National Bank
Azerbaijan: Central Bank of Azerbaijan Republic
Bahamas: Central Bank of The Bahamas
Bahrain: Central Bank of Bahrain
Bangladesh: Bangladesh Bank
Barbados: Central Bank of Barbados
Belarus: National Bank of the Republic of Belarus
Belgium: National Bank of Belgium
Belize: Central Bank of Belize
Benin: Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO)
Bermuda: Bermuda Monetary Authority
Bhutan: Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan
Bolivia: Central Bank of Bolivia
Bosnia: Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana: Bank of Botswana
Brazil: Central Bank of Brazil
Bulgaria: Bulgarian National Bank
Burkina…

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Dandelion Salad

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
April 26, 2014

Capitalism Kills Image by Infinite Ache via Flickr

Workers in Western countries are now paid so badly that businesses are reportedly finding it profitable to return from China – having relocated to Asia in the first place to exploit cheap labor there.

It is an astounding indictment of how capitalism has created a global race to the bottom of misery for workers – yet the Western corporate news media actively conceal this abomination.

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occupysydney

Image

This is how the Australian Government enable Corporate interests. This time its #BHP . But #Chevron #Securency and a host of other Corporations have benefitted from government collaboration.

 

In a post #TPP era governments (from what we see in leaks) will be bound to spy for Transnationals like #BHP ….

read how your Australian Government spied for #BHP here

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Dandelion Salad

by William T. Hathaway
Guest Writer
Dandelion Salad
September 9, 2012

Vicious fanatics are trying to kill us and destroy our country. They’re blowing up our soldiers overseas. They’ve infiltrated our country. We must defend ourselves against these mad-dog berserkers before it’s too late.

This litany has been repeated by corporate-controlled media and politicians for years now, pumping fear into us. It is used to justify a massive ongoing war that has killed hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings and almost bankrupted the USA.

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As originally posted on occupythebanks.

Gs blog golb sG

When you take a look around the world, it becomes clear that our way of living is unsustainable. Some people will argue that over-population is to blame, but I beg to differ. I think that even though population may be a small factor in sustainability, the real problem is the entire paradigm of our current corporate driven, consumption based system, with a monetary system based on usury, and also institutional religions which manipulate mans irrational sign by using fear and shame to create a bunch of robotic believers who don’t hesitate to put money in the basket at mass. How much of that money actually helps the poor? God knows- pun intended.

You see, all corporations are under pressure to keep growing so that their investors are pleased with their investments and don’t end up selling. So corporations put the greater good for humanity and the well-being of the planet…

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Glaxo Agrees to Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement

By and
Published: July 2, 2012

In the largest settlement involving a pharmaceutical company, the British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $3 billion in fines for promoting its best-selling antidepressants for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a top diabetes drug, federal prosecutors announced Monday. The agreement also includes civil penalties for improper marketing of a half-dozen other drugs.

The fine against GlaxoSmithKline over Paxil, Wellbutrin, Avandia and the other drugs makes this year a record for money recovered by the federal government under its so-called whistle-blower law, according to a group that tracks such numbers.

In May, Abbott Laboratories settled for $1.6 billion over its marketing of the antiseizure drug Depakote. And an agreement with Johnson & Johnson that could result in a fine of as much as $2 billion is said to be imminent over its off-label promotion of an antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.

No individuals have been charged in any of the cases. Even so, the Justice Department contends the prosecutions are well worth the effort — reaping more than $15 in recoveries for every $1 it spends, by one estimate.

But critics argue that even large fines are not enough to deter drug companies from unlawful behavior. Only when prosecutors single out individual executives for punishment, they say, will practices begin to change.

“What we’re learning is that money doesn’t deter corporate malfeasance,” said Eliot Spitzer, who, as New York’s attorney general, sued GlaxoSmithKline in 2004 over similar accusations involving Paxil. “The only thing that will work in my view is C.E.O.’s and officials being forced to resign and individual culpability being enforced.”

The federal whistle-blower law, officially the False Claims Act, dates to 1863 and was originally envisioned as a check on war profiteering after the Civil War.

Whistle-blowers get a share of any money recovered by the federal government. So far, according to Patrick Burns, spokesman for the whistle-blower advocacy group Taxpayers Against Fraud, at least $10 billion has been agreed to in settlements this fiscal year, which ends in September.

The settlement, which requires court approval, stems from claims made by four employees of GlaxoSmithKline, including a former senior marketing development manager for the company and a regional vice president, who tipped off the government about a range of improper practices from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s.

Prosecutors said the company had tried to win over doctors by paying for trips to Jamaica and Bermuda, as well as spa treatments and hunting excursions. In the case of Paxil, prosecutors claim GlaxoSmithKline employed several tactics aimed at promoting the use of the drug in children, including helping to publish a medical journal article that misreported data from a clinical trial.

A warning was later added to the drug that Paxil, like other antidepressants, might increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in teenagers. Prosecutors said the company had marketed Wellbutrin for conditions like weight loss and sexual dysfunction when it was approved only to treat major depressive disorder.

They said that in the case of Avandia, whose use was severely restricted in 2010 after it was linked to heart risks, the company had failed to report data from studies detailing the safety risks to the F.D.A.

“Today’s multibillion-dollar settlement is unprecedented in both size and scope,” said James M. Cole, the deputy attorney general. “It underscores the administration’s firm commitment to protecting the American people and holding accountable those who commit health care fraud.”

The initial terms of the settlement were announced in November, and Glaxo had already set aside cash for the settlement. In a statement Monday, the company said it has since changed many of its policies, including no longer rewarding sales representatives for the number of drug prescriptions sold.

Andrew Witty, the chief executive, sought to portray the illegal actions as part of the company’s past.

“Whilst these originate in a different era for the company, they cannot and will not be ignored,” he said in the statement. “On behalf of GSK, I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learned from the mistakes that were made.”

The three criminal charges involved Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia and included a criminal fine of $1 billion. The remaining $2 billion involves fines in connection with a civil settlement over the sales and marketing practices of the blockbuster asthma drug Advair and several other drugs.

Part of the civil settlement also includes claims that the company overcharged the government for drugs. Glaxo did not admit any wrongdoing in the civil settlement.

Despite the large amount, $3 billion represents only a portion of what Glaxo made on the drugs. Avandia, for example, racked up $10.4 billion in sales, Paxil brought in $11.6 billion, and Wellbutrin sales were $5.9 billion during the years covered by the settlement, according to IMS Health, a data group that consults for drugmakers.

“So a $3 billion settlement for half a dozen drugs over 10 years can be rationalized as the cost of doing business,” Mr. Burns said.

Mr. Burns and others have said that to institute real change, executives must be prosecuted criminally or barred from participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, an action known as “exclusion.”

This has occurred in only a handful of cases, and rarely in a case involving a major pharmaceutical company. In 2011, four executives of the medical device company Synthes were sentenced to less than a year in prison for conducting clinical trials that were not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

That same year, the former chief executive of K.V. Pharmaceutical was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $1 million for selling misbranded morphine tablets. The previous year, the Department of Health and Human Services excluded him from doing business with the federal government.

Those in the pharmaceutical industry have stressed that the activities revealed in the recent settlements occurred many years ago, and practices have changed radically since then. The Glaxo settlement includes an agreement by the company to withdraw bonuses from top executives if they engaged in or supervised illegal behavior, believed to be a first.

“That creates pressure and it creates an element of responsibility,” said Erika Kelton, who represented two of the four whistle-blowers in the Glaxo case. “I think it’s a good step in the right direction.”

 

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 6, 2012

 

An article on Tuesday about a fine levied on the British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline for illegal marketing of some of its drugs misstated the use of Depakote, an Abbott Laboratories drug involved in a similar case. It is an antiseizure drug, not an antipsychotic.

As Originally Reported NYTIMES. Original Author and website stated.