Wednesday 18 December 2013

Cutting Down The Amazon (.com)

The BBC recently aired a Panorama documentary where they sent an undercover worker into an Amazon distribution centre in Wales.  They discovered that all the things we've been hearing about Amazon recently are true; they treat their staff appallingly, their working conditions are likely to lead to both physical and mental stress and staff can be sacked for not meeting impossibly high targets or just so Amazon can avoid paying benefits full time workers are entitled to.

But here's something I didn't know about Amazon, in addition to not paying taxes they receive millions of pounds of handouts from the British taxpayer.  The Scottish Government gave Amazon a handout of 6.8million pounds on the promise they would create 1700 jobs.   Not to be outdone, the Welsh Government gave them 8.8million and built them their own road ('Ffordd Amazon' – 'Amazon Way') for another 4.9million for 1200 jobs in Swansea.   I'm not sure if they've considered that Amazon are almost certainly destroying more jobs in bookshops and other retail outlets overall than they're creating, I'd be very surprised if this drive to greater efficiency created jobs overall.

The Libertarian philosopher Roderick T. Long argues that in addition to the well know concept of 'economics of scale', there are also 'dis-economics of scale', problems that arise when corporations get too big.  He argues that allot of the super large corporations that we see today are not a product of the free market but rather they come about due to the way the State interferes with the market.   Amazon would seem to be an example of this.   I wouldn't mind the loss of the local bookshops if it really was more efficient just to purchase books online, but it actually might not be as Amazon's low prices must in some part come from their tax advantage and the social welfare cheques they receive.

Here's the Panorama documentary in full -  

And here's a link to a talk by Roderick Long on how market forces act to limit the size businesses can grow to and how State intervention is usually needed to overcome this -

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Monday 9 December 2013

Those Pesky (GMO) Rats!

The Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology has retracted the now famous 'Seralini study' which linked the consumption of GMO foods with the development of tumours in rats, and gave us the horrible pictures above.  The journal would like to make it clear that this retraction is in no way related to the recent appointment of ex-Monsanto employee Richard E. Goodman to the newly created position of 'Associate Editor for Biotechnology'.  No connection at all.  Neither was the paper retracted on the grounds of methodological errors however, merely on the grounds of its 'inconclusive' nature.

To google 'Seralini' or something like 'GMO rats tumours', you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was the most debunked scientific paper of all time.   According to geopolitical analyst and GMO researcher F. William Engdahl however, Dr. Seralini's study is weathering the storm it's kicked up just fine.   All the criticisms made of it regarding its length of duration and sample sizes apply equally and more so to Monsanto's studies showing GMO's to be safe.   And that's an amazing fact in itself, all studies show GMO's to be safe are sponsored by the GMO industry itself!

James Corbett has produced a brief and comprehensive video summarising this latest aspect of the controversy.

You can read F. William Enghdal's latest article on the controversy here:

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Lee Harvey Oswald in Four Minutes

James Corbett has composed this four minute video on the very interesting and unlikely life of Lee Harvey Oswald, the most well connected 'lone nut' there ever was.  

He's also made this longer and comprehensive video – 'Meet Lee Harvey Oswald, Sheep-Dipped Patsy'. Sheep-Dipping is when a military or intelligence agent is given a civilian identity to continue their work after an apparent discharge.  This would explain allot of the inconsistencies surrounding Oswald's life.

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How to Fight Global Poverty

Good news doesn't sell, and it's strange how little we hear about the overall decrease in world poverty that has taken place over the last twenty years.  In this Learn Liberty video, Professor Stephen Davies explains how this has come about through an increase in that much derided concept of free trade.

Probably the majority of references I come across to free trade cast it in a negative light, I'm sure not without reason. But in principal at least, it must be the case that not restricting people from exchanging goods freely by drawing artificial lines in the sand must be a good thing mustn't it?

It's amazing to think that we're only ever about fifty years away from the complete eradication of global poverty, if we choose that path.

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