Friday, December 28, 2012


No matter what happens with the "fiscal cliff," people are going to get screwed over.

Congress and the White House have not been working in people's interests in many, many years.

So much for education "reform" in Louisiana.

Although I just got a Kindle and have long had an iPod, I am really opposed to the constant shoving of virtual stuff that people never can own but only rent. This post on DU describes this dire situation, which is part of a bigger, more disturbing, trend:

The Ownership Society in the Digital Age.

A thread floating around here on Netflix's changing TOS got me to thinking. It wasn't that long ago, perhaps twenty years or less, that when you bought something, it was yours. A book, a CD, a movie, even software. This was the Ownership Society. But as the Digital Age has changed many products from being physical, tangible goods into simple streams of 1's and 0's, we no longer own the things that we pay for.

Take books. With physical, paper books, once you bought it, you were free to do what you wished with it. You could lend it out, resell it to somebody else, stash it on your bookshelf for future reference, whatever, you owned it. Now, with ebooks, your options of what you can do with that book are quite limited. You can't resell it, you can lend it out for a limited period of time and only a limited number of times. Your book that you paid for, but don't really own, can even be repossessed by the original company for a variety of reasons.

The same applies with music and movies as well, in essence what you are paying for is an elaborate rental agreement, be it for movies, music, books, whatever that you download. You don't own those works, you are only renting them.

Now the Supreme Court, in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons is deciding whether we will truly own physical things, ie printed books, CD's, a car, even a house. If the court uphold the lower court ruling, we're screwed. We will no longer truly own the things that we bought and paid for, be it books or furniture, music or tools, because if you truly own something, you can resell it.

We are becoming a renter society.

This has been coming on for awhile. Some of the first groundbreaking on this was done with long term car leasing, you know, nothing down, X amount of dollars per month for three years or such. When it first started, most people rightly said the leasing was a sucker's move. After all, if you went the leasing route, you would constantly making monthly car payments, have nothing tangible to show for those payments, and you would have to get another car in three years. Back in 1990, only seven percent of new cars were leased. Now almost a quarter of new cars are leased, and the only reason I figure is that the monthly lease rates are cheaper than monthly payments to own the car. That, and possibly the fact that we've now got consumers who are so fixated on new, bright and shiny objects that they are constantly going through new cars anyway.

Yet with leases, you don't have full control of your car. Maintenance is done when the company you're leasing from wants it done(this includes the infamous three thousand mile oil change, a totally unnecessary act that is wasteful and only profits the oil companies) and where they want it done, you can kiss off that great independent garage that has been in business for decades and does a great job cheap.

The same thing is happening in our food supply. Corporations like Monsanto exercise strict control of their genetically engineered seed and plants, where they can be planted, what can be used on them, even who can and cannot buy them. Heaven forbid if you farm next door to somebody growing a Monsanto GE crop. If it cross pollinates with yours, your crop is now forfeited to Monsanto, thanks to various patent laws.

Meanwhile, the Ownership Society is even continuing to slip away from the market that coined the term, housing. After decades of relative stability, the housing recession has driven millions into becoming renters. The percentage of homeowners has dropped into the basement, but this foreclosure crisis only accelerated a long term decline in home ownership, a decline that started a couple of decades ago.

What this means is that we're becoming a nation of tenants, depending on corporations for our shelter, our food, not even owning the clothes on our back. We are, in essence, reverting back to a feudal society, only instead of being ruled by kings and emperors, we're being ruled by corporations, the same corporations who are the lease holders on our food, shelter, transportation, oh, and employ us as well.

How long before we wake up and realize that we're living in a New Feudal Age? How long before we recognize that we own nothing?

Probably closer than you think unless we start acting now.

It's so true.


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