Monday, July 09, 2007

A Guide to Corporate Ownership of Everything

SUMMARY: the mega-monopoly corporations that control most major industries in America also fund the (generally) right-wing corporate media by being the source of most of their advertising dollars, as they are the only ones that can afford the high-priced commercial airtime. They control the corporate political parties that run the country and, due to the mutually-beneficial advertiser-publisher relationship between the corporate press and the corporate monopolies, the corporate press rarely investigates the conflicts of interest between politicians and their corporate benefactors.

THE SOLUTION: STOP GIVING THEM YOUR MONEY!!! Shop at locally owned stores. Get an alternative-fueled car that doesn't need gas from the big-5 oil companies. Dump your cable TV. Seek out non-monopoly-corporate alternatives for everything you need. If every progressive American chose to not give their cash to the corporate monopolies, we could help starve them for cash that they would then not be able to give to their other corporate buddies.

Is it difficult? Maybe. Is it impossible? NO!

---Rex Frankel, webmaster


Here's an inspiring story:

Boycott Everything...

Like so many great ideas and Movements, this one is simplicity itself.

Just boycott everything.

Take public transportation to work, or walk to the corner store, or figure out a way to leave your car in the garage for the weekend. If you own an SUV, sell it. If you are in the market for a car, look into the gas/electric hybrids that are available. Thus, you boycott the petroleum companies that rape our planet and soil our air. Make your own coffee, or buy your morning cup of brew from the mom 'n pop joint you always walk by on your way to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. Sure, it's crummy brew. But you are boycotting corporate hegemony.

Turn off the God damned television. While it is on you are a vapid receptacle for all of the invasive nonsense that is our sad and deranged estate. By simply boycotting television, you are saying 'NO' to all the advertisers and corporate hucksters who have sold us all down the river. If you are a news junkie, satisfy yourself with a couple of newspapers or the Internet. CNN hasn't told you anything that you need to know for a long, long time.

continued...Boycott Everything...


Details on what the Mega-Corporations Own:

updates on corporate mergers:


How to Overthrow Corporate Rule in 5 Not-so-easy Steps


(yes... this cartoon is a parody of gleeful shoppers who have been lulled by advertising
into believing that buying new stuff is the key to happiness.)


1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

Greetings, Compact-wegians,

Tomorrow is the start of our 12-month flight from the consumer grid. To aid us all in getting started and sticking to the regime, I've compiled the guidelines we set in stone at our great dinner a few weeks back.

As agreed, The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact

2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)

3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

So, here goes for the rules:

  • First principle - don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
  • Second principle - borrow or buy used.
  • A few exceptions -
  • to read the rest:



    Monty Python's Completely Useless Web Site

    A splendid achievement

    George Bush should be congratulated - he has surely earned the right to join the ranks of despots

    Terry Jones

    Tuesday October 10, 2006/Guardian

    Dear President Bush,I write to you in my capacity as secretary of the World League of Despots.It is with great pleasure that I am finally able to extend an official invitation to you to join our ranks. For many years, we have watched your efforts to fulfil the requirements necessary to join our number. From the start, we were greatly impressed by your disdain for democratic principles - the way you wrested power from the democratically elected candidate in the 2000 election, and again in 2004 when you managed to swing what was clearly going to be a victory for your opponent.

    Contempt for human life has always been a priority requirement for membership of the league, and I and my fellow adjudicators were well aware of your record as governor of Texas when you quadrupled the number of state executions. But your record since seizing power has surpassed even our expectations. The thousands of innocent people in Iraq, who have died so that you could fulfil your declared political objective of establishing "an American force presence in the Middle East", attest to your eligibility to join our ranks.

    I cannot, however, disguise the fact that we adjudicators were extremely anxious when you announced your intention to remove from office one of our most stalwart members, Mr Saddam Hussein. However, we need not have worried. According to a recent UN report, you have ensured that there are now even more human rights abuses in Iraq than there were under Saddam. No less than 10% of those in custody are being physically or psychologically abused. Well done!

    Of course, your unstinting efforts to make torture an internationally accepted aspect of human life have surpassed everything we could have ever hoped for. I don't think there is a single member of the league who could have imagined, six short years ago, that our activities in tormenting our fellow creatures would once again be recognised as acceptable, civilised behaviour, as it once was in the middle ages.

    Despite these achievements, we had, until now, felt unable to extend our invitation to you because you had been unable to fulfil one of our basic requirements: the ability to carry out arbitrary arrests, imprisonment without trial, secret torture and executions at will.

    We approved of your attempts to establish the principles of arbitrary arrest under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but unfortunately it was still restricted to terror suspects. We appreciate that you were hampered by the US constitution, but the restrictions this imposed on your arbitrary powers kept you below the threshold requirements for qualification as a despot.

    Now, however, all that has changed. At the end of last month you persuaded the Senate to pass a bill regarding the treatment of detainees. Illegally obtained evidence can now be used against suspects, even if it has been gathered abroad under torture. Anyone you care to accuse can be thrown into prison without the right to a trial or the right to represent themselves.

    Officially the legislation is restricted to "enemy combatants", but you have skilfully adapted this definition to include anyone who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the US". This presumably means that anyone who publicly criticises your conduct can be defined as supporting hostilities to the US. You are now free to arrest and imprison anyone you don't like. You've got it in the bag!

    It is with great pleasure that we in the World League of Despots note that you have now appropriated to yourself all the powers of arbitrary arrest and torture that Saddam once enjoyed. You are now one of us. Congratulations!

    · Terry Jones is a film director, actor and member of Monty Python's Flying Circus
    Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006,,329596788-103677,00.html

    Uncooperative Consumers Screw Up Corporate Innovation

    "but the problem is, those people don't want to pay for it.''

    Online billing, an idea that looked like a winner, has held its own but has
    not caught on in a big way.

    Bob Tedeschi. New York Times
    June 4, 2001. p. C.8
    Copyright New York Times Company

    AMONG all the half-baked Internet ideas that made it onto investors' plates in
    recent years, online billing was one of the few that seemed to offer some real

    Here, after all, was a technology that promised to save time and money for
    consumers and the companies that bill them, while giving a potentially valuable
    new service to banks and online portals like Yahoo and MSN. And it created a
    business opportunity for new types of e-commerce companies like Checkfree,
    Spectrum and Transpoint, which provided the portals and bank sites a way to let
    customers view and pay multiple bills.

    That was the theory, at least. But the so-called e-billing category is still
    mainly a frog, waiting for consumers to kiss it and turn it into something

    According to the Gartner Group, the technology consulting firm, only about
    three million of the nation's estimated 130 million Internet users use the
    Internet to pay any of their bills -- and most of those customers still receive
    the billing statement on paper through the mail. A far smaller number, about
    100,000, actually go to a single Web site to view their incoming bills and
    electronically pay them, according to Gartner.

    Already, Transpoint, which was backed by Microsoft, First Data and Citibank, is
    a thing of the past, having been swallowed up by Checkfree last August for
    about $1.3 billion. And Spectrum is still rolling out its services. In light of
    such underwhelming activity, some analysts are beginning to question the basic
    logic behind the business plans of the e-billing companies.

    ''Things aren't necessarily bleak for online bill payment,'' said Susan Landry,
    research director at Gartner. ''But it may be rather bleak for companies
    looking to make a business out of this. The way things are structured right
    now, it's a losing proposition.''

    Ms. Landry said that while Checkfree and other so-called online bill
    consolidators must charge for their services, the banks and online portals that
    pay the consolidators cannot necessarily pass on those costs to consumers.
    Consumers are loath to pay an extra fee for the privilege of seeing and paying
    their bills, Ms. Landry and other analysts said, no matter how convenient it
    may be to do so online.

    As a result, banks and portals have offered the service, but have not yet
    advertised it widely. ''Banks don't want to charge their best customers for
    this, because they don't want to risk losing them,'' said David Easthope, an
    analyst with the investment bank Friedman, Billings, Ramsey. ''They end up
    charging people who aren't their best customers $5 a month, but the problem is,
    those people don't want to pay for it.''

    Yahoo, which was the first portal to offer online bill payment, in late 1999,
    does not charge customers for the service, hoping instead to make money from
    advertising and from luring users to its paid financial services. So Yahoo,
    which would not disclose how many people use the feature, absorbs the fees
    charged by Checkfree.

    Without discussing the specifics of the Yahoo arrangement, a Checkfree
    spokesman said the company's fees typically included a $75,000 set-up charge,
    plus a monthly fee of about $4 per subscriber. Another Checkfree customer,
    Microsoft's MSN, charges users nothing for the first three bills they pay;
    beyond that, the fee is $6 a month.

    Ms. Landry said that she expected most consumers to choose not to view and pay
    all of their bills at one site, and opt instead to go to each biller's site
    directly. And in a few years, technology may enable a consumer to set up a
    software ''agent'' that will assemble ''all the information on who you pay, how
    you pay them and when, and will romp around the Internet on your behalf,'' Ms.
    Landry predicted. ''Why would you need a consolidator when you had that?'' she

    Others, though, are not ready to give up on the consolidators. ''It may be that
    we see the customer base grow by 5 percent a year, and we never see a big
    break-out year,'' said Mr. Easthope, of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey. ''But we
    probably will see mass adoption.''

    Investors seem to share that optimism. Checkfree's market value of $3.36
    billion is nearly twice that of Travelocity, Ariba and Doubleclick, just to
    name a few other types of e-commerce companies. Checkfree's shares closed at
    $38.76 on Friday, well above their 52-week low near $24 in early April.

    The billing consolidators and billers are not the only ones waiting for
    customers to warm to the idea of clicking through their monthly statements.
    Consider Billserv, which takes a billing company's paper bills and converts
    them to a form that can be posted on a Web site. Billserv's clients, which
    include Chevron, AT&T and dozens of other companies, send out 15 percent of the
    20 billion bills produced in the United States each year, said Michael R. Long,
    Billserv's chief executive.

    BillServ receives 30 to 40 cents for every paper bill it posts on a Web site.
    But so far, less than 2 percent of its clients' bills are handled this way.

    ''We're actually much farther along than I would've anticipated,'' Mr. Long
    said. ''But we really would like to see those adoption rates kick in.''

    Mr. Easthope, the Friedman, Billings analyst, predicted that the e-bills market
    would benefit from -- among other forces -- increasing competition by Spectrum,
    a consortium of banks including Wells Fargo, FleetBoston and J. P. Morgan
    Chase. The competition could bring about better financial terms and product
    features, he said, making it more attractive for billers to aggressively market
    these services.

    He said that at least one bank, Bank of America, planned to step up advertising
    for its online billing feature. Bank of America and Checkfree said in April
    that they would jointly commit $45 million over the next two years to advertise
    online billing. Linda Mueller, a Bank of America spokeswoman, said the company
    charged a typical customer about $6 a month for the service, which began
    nationally in February.

    Ms. Mueller would not say whether the company made or lost money on its
    Checkfree service. But she contends that customers are willing to pay for it,
    because the price equals the amount a consumer would spend on postage for about
    18 checks.

    But that math might not convince would-be customers. The average consumer
    receives 12 to 18 bills a month, but only 275 billers are sending their bills
    to Checkfree each month, said Peter Sinisgalli, Checkfree's president. That
    means that the average consumer can receive only four or five bills today
    electronically, Mr. Sinisgalli said, ''although our goal is to push that to 10
    or more by the end of the year.''

    Many utility companies, trash collectors and other companies, meanwhile, have
    been somewhat slow to offer their bills online -- whether through their own Web
    sites or through a site served by one of the consolidators. Ms. Landry, of the
    Gartner Group, said of online billing, ''Billers hate it.'' Setting up an
    online billing system is not only costly, she said, but can clutter the line of
    communication a biller previously had with its customers.

    But some billers are much more enthusiastic. George McGrath, senior vice
    president of Norcal Waste Systems, a trash collection and recycling company
    based in San Francisco, said he was ''truly excited'' about the company's
    online billing system, even though just 28,000 of his 400,000 customers use it.

    Mr. McGrath said his customers can view and pay their bills on Norcal's Web
    site for no charge. In the future, he said, those customers will also be able
    to do so on another Web site affiliated with Spectrum, although that might
    entail a service charge. Mr. McGrath would not disclose how much the company
    spent on the online billing system, but he said that online bill processing
    cost half as much as traditional bill processing, given the expense of
    printing, mailing and handling paper bills.

    Mr. McGrath said customers had also responded favorably to a feature, rolled
    out last month on his site, that automatically debits their checking accounts
    when their bills come due, and then notifies them by e-mail. ''They're telling
    us, 'We don't want to go into your site; just take the money and let us know
    you're doing it,' '' Mr. McGrath said. ''So that's what we're giving them.''

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