In the early 1980s, Ralph Nader launched a new advocacy group called FANS, Fight to Advance the Nation's Sports, which aspired to address many of the social ills associated with professional sports. While some of his ideas were arguably misguided, such as trying to ban junk food sales at the ballpark, others were incredibly prescient. One idea was to stop taxpayer subsidies to the mega-stadiums that were being built for big-league baseball and football teams.
The noxious gusher of oil flowing from one mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico is an unprecedented environmental disaster, no doubt about it. But will we learn the right lessons from it?
At a time when our national (and global) predicaments are seen mostly as a matter for economists and policy wonks to solve, historian Roger Kennedy comes forward to remind us of the critical role of art. Art is not just an aesthetic pleasure or indulgence, he insists; it is a way in which people makes sense of their problems. It is a way of re-imagining the common good.
Today the U.S. Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for corporations to enclose our democracy. The Court ruled that corporations must legally be considered “persons” who are thereby entitled to First Amendment rights. By this tortured logic, long-standing limits on corporate contributions to political campaigns constitute an unconstitutional infringement of free speech.
Funny, if corporations are persons, why don’t they have the same kind of affirmative moral and legal responsibilities that real people have?
A sweeping international treaty to regulate how knowledge and creativity may flow on the Internet is now being negotiated. Haven’t heard of it? Funny thing, that’s exactly what the backers of the treaty want. The film, music, publishing and information industries don’t want a public debate about the issues or an open debate in Congress. So they have been working hand-in-glove with the U.S. Trade Representative to move U.S. policymaking offshore and throw a dark cloak of secrecy around everything. The next stop: draconian penalties for anyone who is accused of violating copyright law.
It’s a great victory for the commoners that our tax monies for student loans may soon go directly to students, via a U.S. Education Department program, rather than through banks. Yesterday, by a 253 to 171 margin, the House of Representatives voted to shift billions of dollars in college student loans to the Education Department. The move prevents Sallie Mae (the largest private corporation providing student loans) and banks from continuing to act as parasites on public resources and as predators of needy students.
I’m all for the American people getting a fair return on any public assets that private businesses use to turn a profit. But what’s the deal with the new Interior Department regulations that require wildlife photographers and documentary filmmakers to pay a “location fee” in order to shoot inside national parks?