Talk to the Sheriff! Several bizarre Robert Gates updates, Senate committee approves TPP fast-tracking, Bruce Jenner interview
  • Talk to the Sheriff! Several bizarre Robert Gates updates, Senate committee approves TPP fast-tracking, Bruce Jenner interview
  • Citizen Radio

A brief Daredevil discussion, several bizarre Robert Gates updates (white privilege is a helluva thing), Senate committee approves fast-tracking of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Bruce Jenner interview, Comcast-Time Warner merger deal is dead, David Petraeus receives no jail time for leaking highly classified information, F.B.I. can gag whistleblowers who want to talk to Congress, and rich people are why you can’t get an apartment in NYC

Remember to order #NEWSFAIL: all about our shitty media and how alternative media will save us all and give us a nice review on Amazon!

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Why So Many Americans Feel So Powerless

A security guard recently told me he didn’t know how much he’d be earning from week to week because his firm kept changing his schedule and his pay. “They just don’t care,” he said.

A traveler I met in the Dallas Fort-Worth Airport last week said she’d been there eight hours but the airline responsible for her trip wouldn’t help her find another flight leaving that evening. “They don’t give a hoot,” she said.

Someone I met in North Carolina a few weeks ago told me he had stopped voting because elected officials don’t respond to what average people like him think or want. “They don’t listen,” he said.

What connects these dots? As I travel around America, I’m struck by how utterly powerless most people feel.

The companies we work for, the businesses we buy from, and the political system we participate in all seem to have grown less accountable. I hear it over and over: They don’t care; our voices don’t count.  

A large part of the reason is we have fewer choices than we used to have. In almost every area of our lives, it’s now take it or leave it.

Companies are treating workers as disposable cogs because most working people have no choice. They need work and must take what they can get.

Although jobs are coming back from the depths of the Great Recession, the portion of the labor force actually working remains lower than it’s been in over thirty years – before vast numbers of middle-class wives and mothers entered paid work.

Which is why corporations can get away with firing workers without warning, replacing full-time jobs with part-time and contract work, and cutting wages. Most working people have no alternative.  

Consumers, meanwhile, are feeling mistreated and taken for granted because they, too, have less choice.

U.S. airlines, for example, have consolidated into a handful of giant carriers that divide up routes and collude on fares. In 2005 the U.S. had nine major airlines. Now we have just four.

It’s much the same across the economy. Eighty percent of Americans are served by just one Internet Service Provider – usually Comcast, AT&T, or Time-Warner.

The biggest banks have become far bigger. In 1990, the five biggest held just 10 percent of all banking assets. Now they hold almost 45 percent.

Giant health insurers are larger; the giant hospital chains, far bigger; the most powerful digital platforms (Amazon, Facebook, Google), gigantic.

All this means less consumer choice, which translates into less power.

Our complaints go nowhere. Often we can’t even find a real person to complain to. Automated telephone menus go on interminably.

Finally, as voters we feel no one is listening because politicians, too, face less and less competition. Over 85 percent of congressional districts are considered “safe” for their incumbents in the upcoming 2016 election; only 3 percent are toss-ups.

In presidential elections, only a handful of states are now considered “battlegrounds” that could go either Democratic or Republican. 

So, naturally, that’s where the candidates campaign. Voters in most states won’t see much of them. These voters’ votes are literally taken for granted.

Even in toss-up districts and battle-ground states, so much big money is flowing in that average voters feel disenfranchised.

In all these respects, powerlessness comes from a lack of meaningful choice. Big institutions don’t have to be responsive to us because we can’t penalize them by going to a competitor.

And we have no loud countervailing voice forcing them to listen.

Fifty years ago, a third of private-sector workers belonged to labor unions. This gave workers bargaining power to get a significant share of the economy’s gains along with better working conditions – and a voice. Now, fewer than 7 percent of private sector workers are unionized.  

In the 1960s, a vocal consumer movement demanded safe products, low prices, and antitrust actions against monopolies and business collusion. Now, the consumer movement has become muted.    

Decades ago, political parties had strong local and state roots that gave politically-active citizens a voice in party platforms and nominees. Now, the two major political parties have morphed into giant national fund-raising machines.

Our economy and society depend on most people feeling the system is working for them. 

But a growing sense of powerlessness in all aspects of our lives – as workers, consumers, and voters – is convincing most people the system is working only for those at the top.

7 Colorado towns just gave big cable the finger 

Residents of seven communities in Colorado sent a resounding message to cable companies Tuesday: We’re tired of your Internet service, so we’re going to get our own.

Voters in seven cities and counties have agreed to let their local governments provide Internet service, thereby giving big broadband companies some much-needed competition. It’s a solution that has made service cheaper, faster and more reliable.

And it’s popular, too.

Comcast refused to cancel customer’s service after his house burned down

Comcast excels at disappointing its customers, but it rarely rubs salt in a wound this raw.

St. Paul, Minn., resident Jimmy Ware saw his home destroyed in a large fire on April 1. He likely didn’t expect one of his many headaches to come from a service call with Comcast. But when his daughter, Jessica Schmidt, tried to cancel Comcast service at the now-destroyed house, the company made it exceedingly difficult.

First, Comcast wanted Schmidt’s father’s account number. She couldn’t provide it; she said the paperwork had been destroyed by the fire.

“Schmidt grew increasingly frustrated because she wanted to focus on helping her father with more serious matters, such as where he’s going to live or how he’s going to rebuild his life,” the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported.

After an apparently maddening conversation with a support rep, Schmidt called back several times. Finally, Comcast’s corporate team reached out to her and tried to make it right. They backdated her father’s service-plan cancellation to the day of the fire.

In a statement, a Comcast spokeswoman blamed security measures like “not allowing unauthorized users to make changes to a customer’s account.”

Comcast customer service is so legendarily bad that hyperbole has become pretty much impossible. But why? If this entire massive corporation hates their own customers so much, why bother providing Internet service at all instead of, say, a cable that delivers an endless stream of spiders straight into our homes? Well, we decided to track down three members of Comcast’s customer service strike force, and discovered that this phenomenon is far more complicated and far stranger than we thought…

5 Nightmares You Live Working for America’s Worst Company

As FCC Prepares To Enforce Net Neutrality, GOP Congress Prepares To Undermine The FCC (VIDEO)

As FCC Prepares To Enforce Net Neutrality, GOP Congress Prepares To Undermine The FCC (VIDEO)

This week the FCC is expected to propose new rules for regulating the internet. Not at all surprisingly, Republicans in Congress are plotting to undermine the power of the FCC to enforce those rules.

According to the New York Times, the FCC is expected to:

“reclassify high-speed Internet service as a telecommunications service, instead of an information service, under Title II of the…

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Comcast Cashes And Tries To Keep Senior Citizen's Rent Check (VIDEO)

Comcast Cashes And Tries To Keep Senior Citizen’s Rent Check (VIDEO)

It seems that every day, we find a new story about Comcast customer service and none of them are positive. You’d think that Comcast would be attempting to clean up their act, but instead, they do something like this:

A 79-year-old Albuquerque, NM woman who lives only on Social Security, accidentally put her rent check in her cable envelope. Instead of $20, Francis Wilson sent Comcast $235.…

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