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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Anticapitalist Ranting!

The LA Times has a story about identity theft, which is a pretty good lesson on why people who are paranoid about having more identity-tracking need to get over it. The government is a billion times less likely to have incrementally more power to screw you over than some guy with a camera phone at an ATM. But that’s not really what struck me about the article. The part that I found interesting was this:
The reason I’m not divulging my bank’s name — as much as I would love to — is that it wouldn’t be right for me to use the influence of the newspaper to get my money back. The average Joe can’t do that. And besides, I want to see if in the end, my bank (a large national operation that will no longer have my business when this is over) does the right thing for the right reasons.

Note: a profit-maximizing organization like a bank will never do things “for the right reasons” as an institution. I assume, of course, that he means that they’d do it because it is the morally correct thing to do, as compared to losing business. It just isn’t going to happen. Now, you can hope that an individual working for the organization decides to take the initiative and help you out, but from the perspective of the people who dictate policy, that person is probably doing something wrong – they are damaging the entity for the benefit of a customer.

If the author were strictly trying to investigate the actions of the bank, maybe there might be some credence in his decision not to divulge which bank, but I think in this case, everyone would be better off if he told us which one (even if the problem is endemic to banking). It’s weird that he would say “the average Joe can’t do” this, so he doesn’t want to. Okay – the average Joe also can’t swindle people out of their savings, nor does the Average Joe have control over what amounts to a public service for the purpose of profit. The press is supposed to be the Average Joe’s independent check on things like this.

Honestly, and I fear this might turn into a senseless rant, but what the hell ever happened to the press in this country? Even The Economist (which, granted, isn’t ‘in this country’) has started becoming more overtly political and partisan. I realize in this case, it might not be nefarious – but the press that is protected by the constitution was supposed to be a defense against corruption and governmental overstepping. It used to be, if the press saw abuses taking place either within the government or within, say, a meat packing plant, they saw it as their moral and God-given duty to tell people about it. Now, for the sake of keeping up relations, they won’t even tell the people that their civil rights are being actively and willfully infringed by the President of the country.

I wouldn’t even doubt for a second that the justification given was “suggested” by the editor. After all, the “story” (in the sense of being a narrative) isn’t harmed by removing the name of the bank – but it does shield the paper from litigating a frivolous libel charge.

And now, a few random thoughts that are totally unrelated, but that don’t actually deserve their own post:

- I watched a lot of college football yesterday, and am now totally convinced that Skates is right, and all college football teams are bad. There are usually one or two really good athletes on each team, a handful of above-average guys, and a bunch of people who are clearly not that impressive. And yes, I realize that they are playing college sports and I am not, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t have blown that coverage against Alabama in the first quarter. Also, USC sucks.
- Has anyone in the history of the world been persuaded by PETA’s ethics campaigns? Seriously – I’m actually curious. I just can’t imagine anyone seeing their martyrdom and hysterics and deciding to make any life decision, other than possibly eating sixteen burgers out of spite.
- Five years from now, Reggie Bush will be considered the third-best running back from the 2006 draft, and the second-best from his own team.
- Maurice Clarett is being unfairly accused of committing armed robbery. We know it’s not true, because the robber was said to have run away when confronted, which, as the combine clearly showed, Mo is not capable of doing.
- “It’s On Like Donkey Kong” would be a cool indie band name.

cranked out at 6:40 AM | |

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