EDITORIAL: 'Quick! Monetize that Asset Before We Get Caught...' While 'progressives' fume about the religious right, the real heretics come from the cult of monetizing every human activity

Happy May Day. Six years ago, Chicago saw the largest May Day march in the history of May Day (which, as history buffs know, began in Chicago). May Day is celebrated the world over in recognition that the owning class and the working classes (those are accurate, since under capitalism there is one owning class but a few working classes), have little or nothing in common. In now country in 2012 is that more obvious than in the USA today, and especially in Chicago. So in honor of the day — Now, a quiz.

What do the 12.25 ounce "pound," the 59 ounces that equal 64 ounces, a 13 ounce "pound" of your favorite cookies — and the "business model" plaguing Chicago's public school all have in common?

What do the executives of Kraft Foods, Tropicana Orange Juice, and a hundred other major consumer products brands have in common in terms of the portions you can have a "choice" to buy if you buy one of their products in the supermarket today?

What corporations in Illinois have been dodging as many corporate taxes (both real estate taxes and income taxes) while campaigning, with the assistant of the Chicago Tribune and other mouthpieces of the plutocracy, to reduce their taxes to zero while demanding the right to oversee the city's remaining public schools?

There could be more questions, but that's enough for one May Day.

Let's start with the portions currently available when you exercise your "choice" (that's one of their favorite buzzwords) when you shop for your family.

Give up?

Even the most careful consumer cannot buy a one-pound or two-pound package of Cheerios in the USA in 2012. Why? Because General Foods has reduced the amount of cereal in its packages over the past ten years while keeping prices roughly the same. Most workers are too busy to notice that what was once 16 ounces is now less than 13 ounces. All of these companies, under the leadership of their overpaid CEOs, have been working overtime to cheat consumers — legally — by leaving the packaging of their products the same size, but reducing the net weight of the contents.

Their consumer research has told them that the psychological reality is that if they keep the same price but reduce what is inside, and nobody notices, the average consumer will think he's still getting a pound of Cheerios (when in fact he's getting 75 percent of that).

Or a pound of "Chips Ahoy!" when the package now contains fewer cookies and only weights 13,82 ounces.

It's the same with Tropicana orange juice and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other consumer products that line the shelves of America's stores. Every one today is a living example of why CEOs and business people are unfit to run anything as serious as public schools for real human children, wars, or even the delivery of the mail in a timely and effective manner.

Workers who once were able to buy two two quarts of orange juice (weight, 64 ounces) for their children are now getting 59 ounces, but the package looks the same.

A treat like "Chips Ahoy" (or Oreos) used to come in a one pound package (16 ounces), but now contains a little less than 14 ounces (the strange decimal point in the weight of the Chips Ahoy comes from the irregular size of the number of Cookies Kraft Foods has subtracted from the packages you can now see on your grocery shelves),

Welcome to the wonderful world of 2012 in capitalist America. It's not Orwell's "1984," but the British novelist and social philosopher would recognize the realities, from the "choice" of the new sized orange juice to the denizens of the Broad Foundation now being deployed as mercenaries across the nation's public schools.

So, she's now getting five percent less this year than two years ago.

The big scandals regarding the reign of Big Business in the USA during this second Gilded Age are not the dramatic ones, like the collapse of the major banks or the BP oil spill of 2011. It's time we argued about the entire reality of propaganda that promotes false "choice" over everything else and has worked very hard, and very successfully, the have people thinking not about the public good but about corporate models of thought.

The danger today isn't what's illegal —the world of the Bernie Madoffs and Kenneth Lays of the world — but what's legal. Supposed friends of working people can talk on and on and on about installing "consumer protection" in some form, while taking enormous corporate donations from the same people who have brought the USA the 59 ounce "two quart" version of orange juice, the 12.25 ounce "one pound" version of cereal, and, most important of all, the "business model of urban school governance." Welcome to the 21st Century in the USA.

After proclaiming a "revolution" in Chicago school governance with the passage of the "Amendatory Act of 1995" (which gave Chicago's mayor, then Richard M. Daley, dictatorial control over the city's public schools), the bipartisan coalition of all Republicans and (most) Democrat legislators in the Illinois General Assembly proclaimed that the appointment of two lifelong political hacks would give Chicago's public schools "business leadership." Above, in a recent photograph, lawyer Gery Chico and long time political factotum Paul Vallas became "President of the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees" (Chico) and "Chief Executive of Chicago Public Schools" (Vallas) after mayoral control began in 1995. Between them Vallas and Chico had less actual business experience than the average newspaper delivery boy. But the myth of mayoral control rested on the corporate media proclaiming that the two of them, and their successors, were implementing a "business model." Not all business executives in the USA in the 21st Century are crooks, just the majority of them. But as long as they keep the average American brainwashed with relentless prattle about efficiency and business models, they will keep getting away with it.

My grandmother was a brighter consumer than many of our peers. Back in the day when a butcher would weigh the meat she was buying (when she could afford it), she had been trained (by her parents) to watch so that he didn't put his thumb on the scale. Or water the beef. Every scale in every deli in Chicago has a government stamp on it, because when the scale is rigged, the consumer gets cheated. Every gas pump is inspected for the same reason. Working class people, whatever their stated ideologies, knew that the merchant class would try to cheat them if it thought it could get away with the cheating.

It's literally only in the last 20 years that a massive legislative and propaganda campaign has tried to train Americans into believing that wisdom, rather than a crooked soul, lies at the heart of the average capitalist. And only during those same years that the entire Western World has been trained to say "entrepreneur" rather than "capitalist."

Above, one of the rarest consumer products in 2012 is the 64 ounce container of Tropicana Orange Juice (above, in a 2007 photograph). As profit margins squeezed, Trobicana reduced the amount of actual orange juice in its main supermarket sized containers between 2010 and 2012 from 64 ounces to 59 ounces. The price remained the same, so that the inattentive consumer was exercising a 21st Century "choice," American capitalism style. It is impossible for the average consumer on May 1, 2012, May Day, to purchase a two-quart container of Tropicana like the one above (which is now a collectable). However, there is one place in the USA where Tropicana is still forced to provide consumers with a full two quarts in every container. The first Substance reader who emails the answer to that question (where is Tropicana still sold in two quart containers?) gets a free two year subscription. Send you answer to Csubstance @ aol. com.And it isn't only with Cheerios, Tropicana Orange Juice, and Chips Ahoy cookies that the capitalists have been playing this reduce-the-amount-but-keep-the-package-the -same-size game.

The biggest cheat of all has been in the successful push for the moronic reality show called "mayoral control" on the major cities of the USA as the supposedly best way to govern public schools and educate the public's children. And that's been worse than all of the packaging deceptions OK'd by all of the CEOs of all of the Fortune 500 companies combined.

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fool me a dozen times, and welcome to "school reform" in the USA from the 1980s to today.

One of the craziest moments in American history has been played out since the advent of mayoral control in Chicago in 1995. Republicans, aided and abetted by some Democrats, declared in 1995 that Chicago's public schools were terrible, and that only the 'business model' could save them. Accordingly, they passed the Amendatory Act of 1995, which took away most democratic rights from the people of Chicago and created a mayoral dictatorship. Supposedly, the mayor was going to appoint an experienced business person to head the schools, and that was going to clean things up. Whatever it was that needed cleaning.

Since 1995, who have those business people been who were made Chief Executive Officers of Chicago's public schools.

Paul Vallas was the CEO of CPS from 1995 until June 2001. His entire career had been spent as a toady to Democrat Party politicians, first in Springfield Illinois in various government jobs, then in Chicago as Mayor Richard M. Daley's budget director. At every stop of his career, if Vallas got close to facing a "business decision," it was according to the rules of crony capitalism that govern Illinois politics (and which regularly send former governors of Illinois to prison).


May 2, 2012 at 8:46 AM

By: John Kugler

How Shortshanks Screwed All

The Tribune continues to write like they just found the key to the safety deposit box with their balls in it. Another broadside at the Daley years:

Two years into his reign as Chicago's longest-serving mayor,Richard M. Daleytook advantage of the state's convoluted pension system to significantly increase his potential payout while saving $400,000 in contributions, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found.

Daley, a former state senator, made it happen by briefly rejoining the legislative pension plan in 1991. He stayed there just one month before returning to Chicago's municipal pension fund, but the switches made him eligible for benefits worth 85 percent of his mayoral salary — a better rate than all other city employees receive.

He was just 49 years old at the time. Even if Daley had never won another election, he could have started collecting a public pension at age 55 of $97,750 a year. Without the steps he took, his public pension benefits at that age would have been worth just $20,686.

But remember, it's those evil police, firefighters and teachers bankrupting the funds.

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