H II Regions, 24 July 2012 (update)

Welcome to the H II Regions, a weekly compilation of SF, publishing and political news. Send thoughts and story tips to cosmicvinegar@gmail.com.

Inequality Today

New report out detailing just how much money is possibly squirreled away in offshore banking accounts–unsurprisingly, it’s a fuckton. While there is a decent debate about the merits of paying executives huge sums of money, most reasonable people agree that secreting money away in offshore accounts so as to avoid taxes is a dishonest thing to do. It fundamentally destroys the social contract, which is predicated on the concept that we all pay our fair share for use of public utilities. People who earn millions of dollars do so not in a vacuum. Here’s a good summation:

“The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments,” the report says. [The Guardian]

Update: Felix Salmon provides necessary counterweight to the anger this information produces–he mildly gives the super-rich a pass (although he does say they live in a “stateless cocoon”, something I would like to make manifest The Million), pointing out that wealth isn’t taxed in most nations, so all this off-shore wealth wouldn’t be doing much were it on-shore.

Musical Insight

And now for something completely different. One of my biggest creative inspirations the last few years has been guitarist Mark McGuire, who releases solo material and also performs with the band Emeralds as well as numerous collaborations. You can read a long interview with him from earlier this year in which he explains his process of making music and of living with a legacy of many albums produced in a short period of time. This is probably my favorite quote:

Right now I’m working on a couple smaller run cassette and CD-R releases. I’m going to Japan for a couple shows in May, and made a tape called Nightshade that I’m going to make like 50 copies of to bring over there.

I love how cavalier that is. Yeah, I have a couple cassette and CD releases, one’s just gonna be 50 copies that no one’s ever gonna hear about. Seriously, I need to track that tape down. Damn. [Self-Titled Magazine]

Streets Behind

File this one with the “Warehouse Wage Slave“–yet another expose of blue collar working conditions. When people wonder exactly what are the negative effects of money pooling in the pockets of the wealthiest, this is the article they should read. The answer: A gradual erosion of opportunities in our society. People who work as a temp in the described situation are interchangeable cogs in a massive machine. With unemployment hovering at an official rate of 8.2% (the U-6 rate, the far more accurate measurement of underemployed people, stands at 15.1%), jobs like these are seized by those out of work. But a terrible economy does not validate terrible employment practices–except, of course, when you’re generating as much profit as humanly possible. [Mother Jones]

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