Followup On Money

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

Next week I will move beyond the US elections, but so long as the big media does such a poor job of looking behind the show, I feel the need to bring forward whatever information I feel is of importance.

Some months back my internet colleague Chris Weagel recommended a media source to me, by the name of consortium news.  I’ve subscribed to that site, and have indeed found useful information that is not available in the mainstream.

The latest eye-opening article went over Hillary Clinton’s income, on the heels of her 5 million dollar loan to her own campaign.  Some people may not be surprised or remotely uncomfortable about the numbers, but I want to lay it out anyway.

According to author and journalist Nat Parry, Hillary’s income breaks down like this:

  • Senate salary of $169,300 a year.
  • From her memoir Living History, 9.9 million$
  • $10.2 million for giving 57 speeches in 2006

And then there is husband Bill’s money coming from such places as:

  • $20 million via business relationship with Yucaipa Cos., the investment firm of his longtime supporter, billionaire Ron Burkle, which has connections to the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.  – according to the Wall St. Journal
  • Helped Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra in securing a lucrative uranium deal with the repressive government of Kazakhstan in 2005, shortly before Giustra made an unreported $31.3 million donation to Clinton’s foundation. – according to the New York Times.

This is just a taste, read the full post for details as well as links to the sources.

Seeing these numbers just makes me do a double-take, as sometimes I forget how very wealthy politicans in the United States can be; especially if they’ve lived in the white house.

Dutch Parties Shrinking

by bicyclemark 2 Comments

I’m fascinated by associations, groups, unions, fanclubs… well maybe not fanclubs.  But if there is a group of people dedicated to something, and they have meetings and membership cards, I’m interested in learning about them.  And it is even more compelling if they’ve been around for awhile.

Here in the Netherlands, for example, It seems there has been a tradition of people being not only supporters of a political party, but actually card carrying members.  I realize this happens in many countries, but it is not often that I hear the numbers or that someone comes forward and says “Oh Im a card carrying member of the Sloth Party.”

Today I read about how membership numbers for political parties in the Netherlands is shrinking.  A very interesting, though not at all surprising, development.   As with every passing election voters grow tired of one party and turn to another, and then grow tired of that one and turn to yet another, or they go back to the previous one maybe.  And despite all their voting efforts, these parties continue to disappoint and generally do things that people don’t agree with.. even their own party members.  So why continue to be a member of a party that never seems to represent you and they said they would.

The numbers in the Netherlands are as follows:

  • Christian Democrats (party of the prime minister) – 69.200 members
  • Labor Party  – 59.327
  • Socialist PArty – 50.238
  • Liberal PArty – 36.832
  • United Christians – 27.683
  • Green Left – 21.901
  • Animal Party (yes!) – 6972

Note that I skipped a few parties because I don’t feel like describing them, though they would be located at the bottom of the list.  Furthermore the populist-far-right Freedom Party has no membership, yet you can bet plenty of people vote for them they would just prefer not to have any evidence linking their vote back to themselves.

In the end I think the way people think of elections has changed.  Instead of wanting to be a member of a party, and going to meetings and trying to influence party policies, it starts to resemble a menu in a restaurant… you choose what looks like it would be good. And if you dont like it, you spit it out, or choose something else next time.  Unfortunately there is no equivalent, besides leaving the country, of “going to another restaurant cause this one is bad”.  Then again like so many citizens, you could go on a hunger strike.

bm234 Kasparov and The Other Russia

by bicyclemark 4 Comments

Gary Kasparov is known for being a chess master. Now he is challenging the president of Russia for control of the country, calling it a battle to bring democracy back to the nation.  With the help of my guest, Olaf Koens, in Moscow, we look at the details of Kasparov that you may have not known, and beyond that.. the parties that are challenging the Putin backed campaign in the next Russian election. We Discuss:

  • – Who is Kasparov?
  • – His contreversial chess moves
  • – His politics
  • – Other parties aligned or not aligned with him
  • – The threshold
  • – The crazy writer
  • – The Putin candidates
  • – The communist party
  • – The likely outcome
  • – Apathy in Russia, Apathy in Europe

Dishwasher Pete and Personal Politics

by bicyclemark

Last night was one of those classic Amsterdam nights that involved a whole lot of things to do, places to be, and people to spend time with. The kind of night that helps to remind oneself why oneself lives in this place.

The highlight of the evening was attending a reading by my friend Dishwasher Pete, who’s book is flying off shelves everywhere. Over at the American book store, Pete treated the crowd to free artisan brewed beer and an opportunity to ask him questions, get your book signed,and of course – hear him further explain some of the adventures included in the book.

While it is probably often considered comedy or travel if you look it up on some Amazon type site, I see this book as something far more important – political. By political I mean personal-politics, the most important politics one has.

As I read this book it was his personal politics that jumped off the page for me, at least the way I read it. The idea that a job is not the most important thing in your life. Or even beyond that, that no job that makes you miserable should be kept. The power of your feet, to walk out, walk away, and walk on when some force threatens to destroy or damage your mental or physical quality of life. Typical societal values would call such a philosophy “lazy”, but then again, typical society is miserable, in debt, uninspired and hoping to drag everyone else along with them.

Nowadays many of us live the reality of this “new economy”, which is a fancy name for a world where jobs come and go, and people have hardly any employment security or financial guarantee in the future. Hopping from 6 month contract to 6 month contract, accepting low salaries in exchange for the empty promise that it will significantly increase.

Yet being so disposable brings some of the very benefits that Dishwasher Pete realized more than a decade ago; the freedom and power of using your feet. Just as jobs use todays workers, todays workers are learning how to use jobs. They are no longer paranoid of losing their longtime jobs, instead often looking forward to an upcoming resignation. For those that understand and believe in their ability to find something else when needed, like the dishwasher, todays workers can also say goodbye to the irrational or incompetent boss. And of course, there are more and more of us that love to find ways to steal naps or wander off during the day.

My point today is more of a theory. And as I live my day-to-day, I see a connection between Pete’s marvelous thoughts and wisdom, and personal politics of today’s young “professional.”

Or maybe I should just replace the term “young professional” with “ME”.