China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party (Includes Hong Kong SAR)

China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

By Ai Weiwei [1] Published 17 October 2012

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

New Statesman
(PHOTO: Marcus Bleasdale VII)

In February 2011, Ai Weiwei tweeted that he would like to conduct an interview with an “online commentator”. Commentators are hired by the Chinese government or the Communist Party of China to post comments favourable towards party policies and to shape public opinion on internet message boards and forums. The commentators are known as the 50-Cent Party, as they are said to be paid 50 cents for every post that steers a discussion away from anti-party content or that advances the Communist Party line.

Below is the transcript of Ai’s interview with an online commentator. As requested, an iPad was given as compensation for the interview. To protect the interviewee, relevant personal information has been concealed in this script.

Question: What’s your name, age, city of residence and online username?

Answer: I cannot make my name public. I’m 26. I have too many usernames. If I want to use one, I just register it. I won’t mention them here.

What do you call the work you do now?

It doesn’t matter what you call it: online commentator, public opinion guide, or even “the 50-Cent Party” that everyone’s heard of.

What is your level of education and work experience? How did you begin the work of guiding public opinion?

I graduated from university and studied media. I once worked for a TV channel, then in online media. I’ve always been in the news media industry, for four or five years now.Over a year ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to be an online commentator, to earn some extra money. I said I’d give it a try. Later, I discovered it was very easy.

When and from where will you receive directives for work?

Almost every morning at 9am I receive an email from my superiors – the internet publicity office of the local government – telling me about the news we’re to comment on for the day. Sometimes it specifies the website to comment on, but most of the time it’s not limited to certain websites: you just find relevant news and comment on it.

Can you describe your work in detail?

The process has three steps – receive task, search for topic, post comments to guide public opinion. Receiving a task mainly involves ensuring you open your email box every day. Usually after an event has happened, or even before the news has come out, we’ll receive an email telling us what the event is, then instructions on which direction to guide the netizens’ thoughts, to blur their focus, or to fan their enthusiasm for certain ideas. After we’ve found the relevant articles or news on a website, according to the overall direction given by our superiors we start to write articles, post or reply to comments. This requires a lot of skill. You can’t write in a very official manner, you must conceal your identity, write articles in many dif­ferent styles, sometimes even have a dialogue with yourself, argue, debate. In sum, you want to create illusions to attract the attention and comments of netizens.

In a forum, there are three roles for you to play: the leader, the follower, the onlooker or unsuspecting member of the public. The leader is the relatively authoritative speaker, who usually appears after a controversy and speaks with powerful evidence. The public usually finds such users very convincing. There are two opposing groups of followers. The role they play is to continuously debate, argue, or even swear on the forum. This will attract attention from observers. At the end of the argument, the leader appears, brings out some powerful evidence, makes public opinion align with him and the objective is achieved. The third type is the onlookers, the netizens. They are our true target “clients”. We influence the third group mainly through role-playing between the other two kinds of identity. You could say we’re like directors, influencing the audience through our own writing, directing and acting. Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality.

Regarding the three roles that you play, is that a common tactic? Or are there other ways?

There are too many ways. It’s kind of psychological. Netizens nowadays are more thoughtful than before. We have many ways. You can make a bad thing sound even worse, make an elaborate account, and make people think it’s nonsense when they see it. In fact, it’s like two negatives make a positive. When it’s reached a certain degree of mediocrity, they’ll think it might not be all that bad.

What is the guiding principle of your work?

The principle is to understand the guiding thought of superiors, the direction of public opinion desired, then to start your own work.

Can you reveal the content of a “task” email?

For example, “Don’t spread rumours, don’t believe in rumours”, or “Influence public understanding of X event”, “Promote the correct direction of public opinion on XXXX”, “Explain and clarify XX event; avoid the appearance of untrue or illegal remarks”, “For the detrimental social effect created by the recent XX event, focus on guiding the thoughts of netizens in the correct direction of XXXX”.

What are the categories of information that you usually receive?

They are mainly local events. They cover over 60 to 70 per cent of local instructions – for example, people who are filing complaints or petitioning.

For countrywide events, such as the Jasmine Revolution [the pro-democracy protests that took place across the country in 2011], do you get involved?

For popular online events like the Jasmine Revolution, we have never received a related task. I also thought it was quite strange. Perhaps we aren’t senior enough.

Can you tell us the content of the commentary you usually write?

The netizens are used to seeing unskilled comments that simply say the government is great or so and so is a traitor. They know what is behind it at a glance. The principle I observe is: don’t directly praise the government or criticise negative news. Moreover, the tone of speech, identity and stance of speech must look as if it’s an unsuspecting member of public; only then can it resonate with netizens. To sum up, you want to guide netizens obliquely and let them change their focus without realising it.

Can you go off the topic?

Of course you can go off the topic. When transferring the attention of netizens and

blurring the public focus, going off the topic is very effective. For example, during the census, everyone will be talking about its truthfulness or necessity; then I’ll post jokes that appeared in the census. Or, in other instances, I would publish adverts to take up space on political news reports.

Can you tell us a specific, typical process of “guiding public opinion”?

For example, each time the oil price is about to go up, we’ll receive a notification to “stabilise the emotions of netizens and divert public attention”. The next day, when news of the rise comes out, netizens will definitely be condemning the state, CNPC and Sinopec. At this point, I register an ID and post a comment: “Rise, rise however you want, I don’t care. Best if it rises to 50 yuan per litre: it serves you right if you’re too poor to drive. Only those with money should be allowed to drive on the roads . . .”

This sounds like I’m inviting attacks but the aim is to anger netizens and divert the anger and attention on oil prices to me. I would then change my identity several times and start to condemn myself. This will attract more attention. After many people have seen it, they start to attack me directly. Slowly, the content of the whole page has also changed from oil price to what I’ve said. It is very effective.

What’s your area of work? Which websites do you comment on? Which netizens do you target?

There’s no limit on which websites I visit. I mainly deal with local websites, or work on Tencent. There are too many commentators on Sohu, Sina, etc. As far as I know, these websites have dedicated internal departments for commenting.

Can you tell which online comments are by online commentators?

Because I do this, I can tell at a glance that about 10 to 20 per cent out of the tens of thousands of comments posted on a forum are made by online commentators.

Will you debate with other people online? What sorts of conflicts do you have? How do you control and disperse emotion?

Most of the time we’re debating with ourselves. I usually never debate with netizens and I’ll never say I’ve been angered by a netizen or an event. You could say that usually when I’m working, I stay rational.

When the government says, “Don’t believe in rumours, don’t spread rumours,” it achieves the opposite effect. For example, when Sars and the melamine in milk case broke out, people tended to choose not to trust the government when faced with the choices of “Don’t trust rumours” and “Don’t trust the government”.

I think this country and government have got into a rather embarrassing situation. No matter what happens – for example, if a person commits a crime, or there’s a traffic accident – as long as it’s a bad event and it’s publicised online, there will be people who condemn the government. I think this is very strange.

This is inevitable, because the government encompasses all. When all honour is attributed to you, all mistakes are also attributed to you. Apart from targeted events, are individuals targeted? Would there be this kind of directive?

There should be. I think for the Dalai Lama, there must be guidance throughout the country. All people in China hate the Dalai Lama and Falun Gong somewhat. According to my understanding, the government has truly gone a bit over the top. Before I got involved in this circle, I didn’t know anything. So I believe that wherever public opinion has been controlled relatively well, there will always have been commentators involved.

How do your superiors inspect and assess your work?

The superiors will arrange dedicated auditors who do random checks according to the links we provide. Auditors usually don’t assess, because they always make work requirements very clear. We just have to do as they say and there won’t be any mistakes.

How is your compensation decided?

It’s calculated on a monthly basis, according to quantity and quality. It’s basically calculated at 50 yuan per 100 comments. When there’s an unexpected event, the compensation might be higher. If you work together to guide public opinion on a hot topic and several dozen people are posting, the compensation for those days counts for more. Basically, the compensation is very low. I work part-time. On average, the monthly pay is about 500-600 yuan. There are people who work full-time on this. It’s possible they could earn thousands of yuan a month.

Do you like your work?

I wouldn’t say I like it or hate it. It’s just a bit more to do each day. A bit more pocket money each month, that’s all.

What’s the biggest difficulty in the work?

Perhaps it’s that you have to guess the psychology of netizens. You have to learn a lot of writing skills. You have to know how to imitate another person’s writing style. You need to understand how to gain the trust of the public and influence their thoughts.

Why can’t you reveal your identity? Why do you think it’s sensitive?

Do you want me to lose my job? Whatever form or name we use to post on any forums or blogs is absolutely confidential. We can’t reveal our identity, and I definitely wouldn’t reveal that I’m a professional online commentator.

If we do, what would be the purpose of our existence? Exposure would affect not just me, it would create an even greater negative effect on our “superiors”.

What do you mean by “superiors”?

Our superior leaders – above that should be the propaganda department.

Is your identity known to your family? Your friends?

No. I haven’t revealed it to my family or friends. If people knew I was doing this, it might have a negative effect on my reputation.

You say: “If I reveal inside information, without exaggeration this could lead to fatality.” Do you think that the consequence would be so serious?

With my identity, I’m involved in the media and also the internet. If I really reveal my identity or let something slip, it could have an incalculable effect on me.

If you say you want to quit, will there be resistance? Are there any strings attached?

Not at all. This industry is already very transparent. For me, it’s just a part-time job. It’s like any other job. It’s not as dark as you think.

How many hours do you go online each day and on which sites? Do you rest at the weekend?

I go online for six to eight hours nearly every day. I’m mainly active on our local BBS and some large mainstream internet media and microblogs. I don’t work over weekends, but I’ll sign in to my email account and see if there’s any important instruction.

In daily life, will you still be thinking about your online work?

Now and then. For example, when I see a piece of news, I’ll think about which direction the superiors will request it to be guided in and how I would go about it. It’s a bit of an occupational hazard.

Do you watch CCTV News and read the People’s Daily?

I usually follow all the news, particularly the local news. But I generally don’t watch CCTV News, because it’s too much about harmony.

Do you go on Twitter? Who do you follow?

Yes. I follow a few interesting people, including Ai Weiwei. But I don’t speak on Twitter, just read and learn.

How big a role do you think this industry plays in guiding public opinion in China?

Truthfully speaking, I think the role is quite big. The majority of netizens in China are actually very stupid. Sometimes, if you don’t guide them, they really will believe in rumours.

Because their information is limited to begin with. So, with limited information, it’s very difficult for them to express a political view.

I think they can be incited very easily. I can control them very easily. Depending on how I want them to be, I use a little bit of thought and that’s enough. It’s very easy. So I think the effect should be quite significant.

Do you think the government has the right to guide public opinion?

Personally, I think absolutely not. But in China, the government absolutely must interfere and guide public opinion. The majority of Chinese netizens are incited too easily, don’t think for themselves and are deceived and incited too easily by false news.

Do you have to believe in the viewpoints you express? Are you concerned about politics and the future?

I don’t have to believe in them. Sometimes you know well that what you say is false or untrue. But you still have to say it, because it’s your job. I’m not too concerned about Chinese politics. There’s nothing to be concerned about in Chinese politics.

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Why I support Ron Paul

Last night I attended the Ron Paul Webster Hall grassroots rally as both an attendee and as a volunteer for the NYC Liberty HQ grassroots organisation. There was some issues leading the event, such as Pras being delayed and the last-minute additions of speakers, but overall it went will with a final count is over 1800+ in the audience and reasonable coverage from the national media outlets.

It was not always like this. Back in college, I was passionately against George W. Bush, his collaborators and his War of Terror. The people I met who mindlessly supported Bush did so with the assumption that he could do the following: protect Americans from a terrorist attack, get revenge on so-called “dirty Jesus-hating Muslims” for 9/11, stop Sharia Law from subverting Western Civilisation or because the liberals were pro-Al-Qaeda. The war to supposedly liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqis peace of mind resulted in that country being divided among religious sects, and culture along with reducing the country into a pro-Iranian proxy state.

In 2004, I supported John Kerry with the hope that he would put a stop to all the excesses of the Bush administration that took hold after 9/11 and went to new heights during the invasion of Iraq. Sadly, the majority of Americans backed Bush because they supported his new war against gay marriage, and were still out for revenge over 9/11 despite the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. It was after the elections I lost faith in Americans, believing them to have a hard-on for simple answers to complicated issues and will simply throw away their vote to anyone who says what they want to hear whether it is a lie or fabrication. It did not even help when many Republicans tolerated voter fraud simply for the sake of keeping their “Patriot” as President.

Bush’s 2004 election by the people was simply depressing. It was as if the entire country had decided to stop thinking and voted out of misguided fears and faith in a backwards and corrupt administration. I once said to a group of my classmates that Bush’s election was going to “Bring the country down to hell” and I even mentioned voting for Hilary in 2008 since I had lost that much faith in America at that time. This questionable election by questionable voters in an already rough period of my college life just made matters worse.

2007 came and I was glad that the bastard George W. Bush was going to leave power after seeding America’s decline during his years in power. I didn’t watch any of the early debates but I kept hearing on the news that the frontrunners for both the GOP and Democrats was going to be Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton months before the primary campaigns started. I did not expect much from Republicans at the time so I automatically assumed Giuliani was going to be their nominee while the Democrats would just pick Hillary out of recognition. There was some guy named Barack Obama that seemed intelligent and progressive yet he lacked the influence a Clinton had. In addition, my boss at the time felt that Obama had no chance despite being well spoken and intelligent and implied it was because Americans were incapable of having a “Black President”. Ironically, I had similar thoughts since my expectation for Americans was so low that I did not think they were capable of having an ethnic minority for a President.

Then at one of the debates, a Congressman named Ron Paul got into a heated exchange with “frontrunner” Rudy Giuliani over the root causes of 9/11 and foreign policy. I was shocked to see someone in the Republican Party who actually used reason, persuasion, and logic to explain his views and make a sincere effort to educate the audience and viewers. This was something that was out of the ordinary in an American Presidential debate that usually consists of oversimplified talking points or rants about Islamofascism and 9/11. Many others felt the same way and started their own Ron Paul grassroots campaigns despite having little to no experience in the political process. I was able to find my way to a few of these events in New York City and even voted for the first time in Super Tuesday.

Ron Paul would eventually dropout after the frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, resulting in the nominee being John McCain who won because he was unscathed by his rivals. It was over for the GOP Primary but at the same time, Barack Obama somehow beat Hillary Clinton to secure the nomination as the Democratic Presidential Candidate. To be honest, I really did not follow the Democratic Primaries since I was under the assumption it was going to be Hillary like most Americans and the big media. Because Ron Paul was knocked out, I wanted to punish the GOP for being idiots and for allowing someone like Bush to reduce the country into a cesspool. This was why I voted for Barack Obama like most people who wanted something radically different, make history, and punish the GOP for being stupid.

With a leap of faith, Barack Obama because our next President and a symbol of change that so many needed after nearly 8 years of misrule by George W. Bush. Obama was so popular with the world that the Nobel Prize Committee decided to pass Liu Xiaobo over to prematurely give Obama a Nobel Peace Prize despite being just less than a month on the job. The first 100 days were exciting seeing Obama declare closing the prisons at Guantanamo Bay, getting a stimulus package passed to insulate the American-engineered Global Recession, and wind down the War of Terror.

After those 100 days, I realised nothing was getting better in my life and that very little was actually done despite all the nice speeches Obama made. Some of his fans were rabid fanboys claiming Obama is our generation’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt and that he is the culmination of years of progressive development. I became increasingly disillusioned, realising he was slow to withdraw from Iraq while at the same time escalating the conflict in Afghanistan. I was angry when Obama decided to expand Bush’s TARP bailout programme to mismanaged car companies such as GM and Chrysler. Most of all, what really lost my support was Obama’s need to keep making feel good speeches and allowing his advisers and Congressional counterparts to regularly undermine him instead of asserting himself.

Obama is a very weak President who is so afraid to take bold steps that he prefers to do next to nothing instead of offending anyone. He handpicked advisers that either defied his orders or undermined him, which resulted in administrative deadlock while the entire country continued to suffer. He decided to delegate his defining healthcare reform to Congress instead of leading its development as leader of his party and when he had a majority in Congress. This lack of leadership brought Americans a healthcare reform package resembling Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare reform with its flawed individual mandates and more regulations that increased healthcare costs.

When I keep bringing up all these problems that happened under Obama’s watch, his fans either downplay it or make personal attacks on me. In one instance when I criticised the GM/Chrysler bailout as a plan that rewarded bad management and as a loss for taxpayers, one fan kept making personal attacks claiming that I make a meager income and that I am a disgrace to my university instead of explaining why the bailout was a good plan other than because it was “Obama’s idea”, when that’s not even true. Another fan told me that economics was not a big deal since Obama still has the support of other world leaders and “isn’t Bush” despite ongoing criticisms that the stimulus was misspent or was adding to an already bloated national debt.

Other issues I had with Obama involved his need to keep Guantanamo Bay’s prisons in service, his decision to persecute Wikileaks despite their efforts to expose America’s questionable past and present actions, Obama’s move to renew the PATRIOT ACT, waging war in Libya with NATO assets despite not getting approval from Congress, and his inability to work with Congress on fiscal policy, which resulted in America’s credit downgrade. Although Obama did make some progress in appointing two female minorities into the Supreme Court, improving foreign relations, and “getting” Bin Laden, he failed in translating these achievements into tangible benefits for Americans. In addition, it seemed like despite these missteps, Obama and his fans did not seem to care because they expect everyone to reelect him with the impression that the GOP is incapable of nominating someone who would take him on.

This was true until Gary Johnson first announced his 2012 campaign and later when Ron Paul announced he was also running. I once told a friend that I felt I did not do enough in the 2008 election and that I would be actively engaged in the 2012 election if Ron Paul decided to run again since I was disillusioned with Obama’s lip service to “Hope & Change”. In addition, I told him that I would regret it if I just sat around and allowed the primary elections to result with a lying, shifty personality running against an already disappointing President. With Paul’s official announcement, I began working with the local grassroots movement and taking a role contributing in social media outreach in the NY state and NYC metro area.

I know there are many out there who think the other Republicans candidates are better than Ron Paul is and this is because they believe either the other candidates are a guarantee in helping Obama be reelected or they have serious misconceptions about Dr. Ron Paul. This is something I plan to discuss in a later post.

Resignation Letter from Piss-Off American Apparel Employee

From: Ryan Narita
Sent: Wed 11/10/2010 9:59 AM
To: [A half dozen entire AA stores]
Subject: peace out american apparel… peace out forever.

Dear fellow american apparel employees,

First off I’d like to say working for this company for the most part was pretty fun! I’ve made some excellent friends and met some really cool people. Working for american apparel has opened up many interesting opportunities for me and I am thankful for that. I am also thankful for all my past managers district, store, and backstock(al boyle) I was lucky enough to have kind , thoughtful, intelligent people leading the way.

That said I’d like to share a little of my story.

A little over a year ago when I started with this company I was (although not by my standards) a prime candidate for management. Within my first week I memorized all proper procedures, knew all placements, style codes and any technical aspect of the job. I was even helping my backstock manager with his duties. Being naturally a hard worker, well organized, and to some extent obsessive compulsive helped me to excel easily at my job. As months passed and my responsibilities grew exponentially I received little reward for both my hard work and aptitude. I could already feel the stupidity of 9 dollars an hour. But I sucked up my pride to work with cool friendly people. I’ll try to condense this a little..

Around 2 months in: I was given the title ‘assistant backstock manager’ and promised a small but reasonable raise. No such raise came.
Around 5 months in: my backstock manager was fired. And instead of promoting me(second in command) to manager they brought in someone who 1. Had worked two months less than me. 2. Knew less about the job. 3. Knew nothing about our store.
Around 7 months in: my backstock manager was once again fired. And once again replaced by someone with less knowledge, and less experience. However, this time my new backstock manager was completely incompetent and entirely unproductive. Although he was good at playing the drums. wwabd.
Around 8 months in: to everyone’s surprise he too was fired(sarcasm)

I thought finally they will make the obvious choice and make me the new backstock manager and I will finally get paid more than 9 dollars an hour for this stupid job.

Around 8.5 months in: I am once again stepped over and another outside person is brought in to be promoted..
By this point I had been screwed too many times to care about my job. I simply concluded that by nature this company is counter productive. Someone might ask why I would be so resentful? If you worked full time for a company for a full year at 9 dollars an hour I could only assume you must be mentally retarded. I however was given a raise of 75 cents so that only makes me partially mentally retarded.

The moral of my story is don’t give a shit about the company because they definitely do not give a shit about you! That is obvious.

I’d also like to share a couple more secrets I’ve learned over the past year:

– don’t be afraid to lose your job. if some shit for brains ass hole like dov or dan sends a quiver down your spine then I truly pity you. they are just men. Stupid spoiled jewish men. Losing 9 dollars an hour is nothing to be afraid of. Certainly nothing worth losing your dignity over. Which brings me to my next point.

– all “head office” employees(with the exception of dom. He is competent) are nothing to fear. These are people with no ambitions nor goals in life. they are content with being the subservient pet of an idiot cocaine addict and blatant self proclaimed pervert. They know they will go no further in life than this company and concurrently don’t mind sucking a little dick once in a while .

– [Other person] is incompetent. [Other person] is useless. [Other person] is a moron. [Other person] is satan incarnate. Ignore her whenever you get the chance.

– Dov charney is an ethical pervert. THAT is why you do perfect fill..

– If you are a hard working valuable employee ask for a raise now.(if you do not receive a raise within three weeks guess what? You’ll never get one.)

– You may ask whatever you want to pretty much anyone in charge, you will receive little to no response you WILL be ignored.

– the company may ask whatever they want of you then place the word “mandatory” after it, If you do not comply you WILL be fired.

– this is just a job you do so you can get drunk on the weekend and have food to eat during the week . it’s not a career do not disillusion yourself in thinking otherwise.

sincerely Ryan Narita
ASSISTANT BACKSTOCK MANAGER

xoxo

For Details – http://gawker.com/5690499/an-american-apparel-employee-says-goodbye-dov-charney-is-an-ethical-pervert

Decisions tomorrow and intellectual bankruptcy

As everyone is aware, tomorrow is election day. During the midterm elections, many may have the knee-jerk reaction to punish the President and his “allies” in Congress.

Truth-be-told – the economy is in much better shape now than the day Obama took office. While his term hasn’t been perfect, things are dramatically better than during Q4 2008 when he was first elected to office, and Q1 2009 when Bush left office. The economy is growing, the stock market has improved, and while huge deficits are amounting, deflation remains as much a concern as inflation, at this point.

The housing market is still in bad shape, to be sure, but TARP has proven to be a success and GM and Chrysler are posting profits. In Oct 2008, an economic Armagedon was hitting America. Today, America is coming off the ropes and with some sweat equity, will be back.

That said, if you believe that Obama is the devil, a Kenyan born citizen, a Muslim, a Marxist, or a Socialist – you need to look up the definitions of these words, and get back to me. This isn’t for you. Chances are you are insane and need to seek serious mental help, or be put on very high doses of Haldol.

We, as citizens, have a civic duty every election day. We must vote not only for what is in our own best interest, but the best interest of the country as a whole.

What no politician in American will admit to you is that this country has been “sold out,” starting the day Ronald Reagan became POTUS and Free Trade and the mantle of supply side economics became the “laws of the land,” so to speak. NAFTA, CAFTA, and other free trade agreements have destroyed and eviscerated the very engine that created the middle-class in America.

The manufacturing jobs in America are not coming back. If you’re not a professional in this country, or if you aren’t born into a family of money, chances are, you’re not moving “ahead” in life. Your children will almost certainly have a worse standard of living than you did as corporations seek to continually move off-shore to save pennies, and create the never-ending race to the bottom. Education is no longer the marker for success. There are plenty of people who attended Universities, who have higher levels of education than did their parents, who due to rising tuition costs, lack of health-care, etc. will undoubtedly be worse off than their parents.

No politician in America will tell you that. Chances are, you will make about 30% on average less per year, inflation adjusted, than your parents did unless you are a professional of some degree or have a specific trade. So, rather than going to college for 2 years to drop out, push your family members or kids into trades. Become plumbers. Electricians. Machinists. Take jobs/positions that can’t be sent off-shore.

We have had politicians in this country lie to you for the past 30+ years. There is no such thing as a tax cut, just like 5+3 doesn’t equal 6. A tax cut without subsequent cuts in government spending only represents a tax shift.

Anyone who believes in this fallacy about cutting taxes, absent cuts in spending, has been duped.

This means that a tax cut combined WITH HIGHER government spending ONLY guarantees that taxes in the future will need to be higher unless the government wants to perpetually run deficits. This of course, carries the burden of higher inflation and interest rates, which will crowd out private investment, and act as a tax on ones disposable income.

Conservatives love to talk about generational theft. How Obama’s high spending is stealing from your grandkids. Again – if you look at the last Bush budget and the last Obama budget, federal spending isn’t the cause of the change in the deficit. The cause is simply an issue of revenue – meaning – that not as many taxes are being collected because of the huge amount of job losses from 2007-2009.

This has been the game of the Republicans/conservative movement for the past 30 years. They talk about cutting taxes, but NEVER deliver on promises to reign in spending. The past Republican administration saw an increase in farm subsidies, defense spending, and spending on Medicare Part D – a NEW ENTITLEMENT. This came from a man who conservatives had wet dreams about until Hurricane Katrina hit.

I have asked numerous movement conservatives and even emailed Republican congressional candidates about what they plan to cut in the government.

The only answers I have gotten are that they want to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and they want to slow the rate of spending or try to eliminate the Department of Education.

Imagine that. Let’s say you are in a lot of debt in your house. You and your spouse talk about ways to cut your debt and eliminate your credit card balances. Let’s say you spend $175 a month going out to dinner. Well, if you want to get rid of your debts, a good way to start would be to eat in. Eat out less. Don’t buy expensive clothes. Cancel your HBO subscription. Don’t get your nails done 3 times a month. Those are all valid ways to get rid of your household debt. If you spent $175 a month eating out, would you say that a good way to save money would be to buy deodorant on sale because that may save you 40 cents a month, while continuing to spend $17 a month on HBO and $175 a month eating out? No. Of course you wouldn’t.

The budget deficit this year is 1.3 trillion. Eliminating the deficit via fiscal austerity, which usually means cutting government spending, will be tantamount to taking an axe to your arm. Moreover, it will throw the economy into a depression if you simply eliminated the deficit by cutting spending.

Taxes will need to go up. But, how much will they need to go up, and on who.

The Democrats are campaigning on raising taxes only on the rich. There is probably not enough money to only soak the rich unless we can implement a real progressive tax in which those earning more than 1 million a year pay in excess of 40% as a top marginal rate. The Democrats and the Republicans, those who aren’t idiots, likely know this.

Taxes will likely have to increase on everyone.This is the worst kept secret in Washington.

But, most importantly, we are in dire need of entitlement reform in this nation. And, while both parties know this, AND THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY SHOULD BE PUSHING THIS, neither is.

Why – because the Republican base is composed of old senile people who are on Medicare and SS who don’t realize that smaller government means LESS BENEFITS FOR THEM. Once they start to have their benefits cut, they will simply vote out their Republican lackeys who will do the same as the Democrats; buy their votes with more government goodies.

At least the Democrats make no fucking bones about wanting to utilize tax-payer money for increases in social services and welfare.

The Republicans/conservatives are supposed to be against this.

And sadly, even though I’ve offered my vote up for sale, for just a pittance of an educated response, I get that the GOP wants to cut 1/1000 of the federal government’s budget to help eliminate the deficit.

It’s almost shocking to me how stupid they think I am, but judging by those who have voted for their candidates and been duped by this, maybe I’m the one who is stupid for thinking I could get a coherent response.

Unless one wants to talk about cutting SS, Medicare/Medicaid, defense spending, or payments on the debt, one is not serious about deficit reduction.

Do you think all of those Republicans who come from rural districts and represent agricultural states are going to vote to end agricultural subsidies 70-90% of which go to Big Agra companies which have PROFITS in the millions/billions each year?

Surely nobody reading this is that naive of a fucking sap.

I hate Medicaid/welfare leeches as much as anyone. It sickens me every time I look at my paycheck to see how much the government steals from me and wastes on people who have little-to-no desire to improve their own lives.

It also sickens me to see how capital is considered the superior of labor and how deregulation has twice in America’s history nearly destroyed capitalism, one time contributing to WW2, and how the conservative party cheer-lead military operations in Iraq, a country we had 0 business invading and occupying for what will soon be longer than US forces fought in WW1 and WW2 combined. This war cost will cost the treasury close to $4 trillion when all is said and done. $4 trillion for what. At least the stimulus money was spent in America. Money was used in Iraq to bribe politicians, pay off Sunnis from joining Al Queada, and pay for the building of bridges in Iraq that would only be blown up weeks later by IED’s. Talk about the inefficiencies of government.

The Democracts are far from perfect. They have helped to create a sense of entitlement in ghettos across the nation in order to pander to race hustlers that continually spoon feed illiterates that people are held down because of the system and that if only we throw more money at these people that they can rise up.

But, the Republican leadership and conservative movement is 100% intellectually bankrupt. They say they favor small government, but apparently to them, this simply means selling more and more government bonds to the Communists to ensure that the Paris Hilton’s of the world inherit their parent’s wealth to buy more Ferraris.

Why can’t a single Republican get on a microphone and have the balls to say, “I want to cut SS transfer payments by 3% each of the next 5 years for people with incomes over $40,000”?

As it stands, no serious person, with a functioning cerebrum, can vote for such nonsense.

It is intellectually bankrupt to say that you support less intrusive government and then go out and vote for someone who wants to criminalize abortion, prohibit gays from serving in the military, continue the drug war, and simply cut taxes while raising spending.

This really is like a train-wreck from the Twilight show.

On Nov. 2nd, I urge you to vote for the “socialist.” At least then, you get what you vote for.

Chrysler 300C: New Development Strategy

Several factors cause companies to start new product development such as changes in technology, consumer trends, and competitors.  Companies respond to these changes by setting some of their resources for new-product development, or making new products their research and development divisions.  DaimlerChrysler (DCX) is one such company that had new product development, since their Chrysler brand is plagued by quality control problems and a lack of unique products.  One of their products that DaimlerChrysler developed to strengthen their Chrysler brand was the 300C.

The first step in they did was having idea generation in developing their product.  They knew what they needed was to cut costs and give Chrysler a unique look and product and DCX already had an idea of what they needed to do.  DaimlerChrysler were already aware that their retro-styled cars such as the PT Cruiser and Crossfire were already a hit with buyers when they were first released.  Moreover, they knew that they could cut costs by making new Chryslers out of existing Mercedes parts and technology (platform), which can be exemplified by the Crossfire (made from an old SLK platform) and the Pacifica (an old M-Class platform).  In addition, DCX also realized that they needed to replace the 300M, a sedan based on an ageing Chrysler platform.

Based on these existing ideas, DaimlerChrysler develop a product concept to develop a new sedan that had a retro design, shares parts with Mercedes and would replace the ageing 300M.  In designing their concept, Chrysler decided to keep the “300” name because of its association with Chryslers, and it had styled to recall the influential Chrysler 300-series models between the 1950s and 1960s.  DaimlerChrysler also wanted their car to be powered by an updated HEMI engine, since Chryslers were once famous for their HEMI engines.  Additionally, they wanted it to be a sports sedan that competed with affordable premium models made by Saab, Toyota, Volvo, and Acura.  In short, DaimlerChrysler’s product concept was a retro styled premium 300-series sports sedan with an updated HEMI engine to compete with some premium brands.

The result of this concept was known as the Chrysler 300C, a retro styled car that had an all-new HEMI engine and developed from Mercedes parts and technology.  The 300C’s unique design consisted of new headlights, a large grille, a long hood, large wheels, chrome detailing, and other radical styling that paid homage to the past 300s and muscle cars of the past.  It is also powered by a new HEMI engine, which is used to make Chrysler distinct from other cars and appeal to buyers who wanted something different in their car.  Moreover, the new HEMI was made to appeal to the casual customer because of its Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which reduces the engine’s capacity when it is not fully used.  Most of all, Chrysler sourced most of their parts to develop the 300C from Mercedes E-Class components, such as the transmission, suspension, and drive configuration to cut product development time.  As a result, these decisions allowed DaimlerChrysler to develop a good product that has a bold design, a unique engine, and quality Mercedes parts and technology.

After developing the 300C, DaimlerChrysler decided to introduce their new model to the public.  The 300C was first introduced at the 2003 New York International Auto Show as a concept car before deciding to make it a production model.  Their representatives at the auto show received a very positive response from journalists and interested visitors about the 300C and DaimlerChrysler decided to make it a production version in the following year.  Moreover, Chrysler began to further commercialize the 300C by giving them to rappers, such as Snopp Dogg and 50 cent, for free so they can promote it by word-of-mouth.  Eventually the 300C’s popularity among rappers and other entertainers reached a point where it was placed their music videos, helping cement its place as a cool car.  In addition, journalists unknowingly promoted the 300C by pointing out that it is developed from E-Class parts and by giving it good reviews.  Therefore, its warm reception by the public, its popularity with entertainers and good reviews helped the 300C become a success for Chrysler.

DaimlerChrysler was able to successfully develop a new product that was well received in the car market.  They were able to do this by developing the right ideas for their car, refine their idea into a clear concept, develop a working product the concept and successfully market it to the public.  The result of DaimerChrysler’s product development was the 300C, a unique car that was well received and succeeded in its goal of improving Chrysler’s image.  In short, DaimlerChrysler is a good example on how a company successfully develops new product and meet its long-term goals.

Sources Cited

http://www.allpar.com/cars/300c-chrysler.html – The Chrysler 300C concept car – not 300N – details

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3012/is_4_183/ai_100627961Merger payoff: Chrysler products finally benefit from family technology – Cover Story: Crossfire/Pacifica – Company Profile

http://autozine.kyul.net/html/Chrysler2.htm – Chrysler 300

http://www.automobear.com/Chrysler300C-HunfightAtTheOKCorral.html – Chrysler 300C: Hunfight at the OK Corral

http://www.edmunds.com/news/column/carmudgeon/102644/article.html – 300C — Chrysler’s Escalade?

http://www.chrysler.com/300/?context=homepage&type=bottomImage – Chrysler – 300

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3012/is_2_180/ai_59966996300 + Hemi = Chrysler – Chrysler 300C convertible – Brief Article

http://www.autoweb.com.au/cms/A_102709/newsarticle.html – Chrysler Shows off First 300C Production Version at the Australian International Motor Show

http://www.allpar.com/cars/lx/300.html – The Chrysler 300 and 300C



Lose that fat! Turn it into … biodiesel?

A burgeoning trend is that of turning “trash into treasure,” where innovation is employed to transform waste into a usable product. The world is becoming increasingly environmentally aware, and is seeking energy-consumption methods that have less dangerous ramifications on the environment. A potentially lucrative development is the biodiesel fuel industry. In the global community, it is garnering attention and greater importance as an alternate energy fuel.

Biodiesel is essentially made from recycled cooking oil, animal fats, and plant oils. With the addition of several chemicals, the oil then undergoes the process of “transesterification,” where the glycerin is isolated from the oils. The result – methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin (which can be used in the soap making process. It is a relatively simple process not limited to major corporations, and homemade recipes can be found in abundance on the Internet.

Several factors can be attributed to the growing industry of the biodiesel fuel, geopolitical factors being some of the major factors. In Australia, the government plans to cut excise tax on biodiesel to half the current tax rate. The change is expected to go into effect around 2011-2015. Under the recommendation of its Environmental Protection Administration, Taiwan is currently experimenting with biodiesel use for public buses, transport trucks and garbage trucks. The European Union is planning to pass regulations that will require the proportion of biofuels to increase from 2% to 5.75% by 2010. In the United States, the government encourages the use of biodiesel by offering rebates of 50 cents to $1 per gallon of biodiesel. In addition, federal and state governments are offering other investment incentives on biodiesel partnerships. The Environmental Protection Agency is offering grants to private/public partnerships to develop efficient means of manufacturing and distribution of biodiesel products. On a state level, state-license waste oil collectors began a program in January 2006, in which used cooking oil was collected from Oberlin restaurants, to be processed and made into biodiesel fuel.

The growing demand for biodiesel fuel is making its presence known in the automotive industry. Ford is developing an engine that will cater to a “Tri-Flex” fueling concept. This engine is expected to be able to accommodate hydrogen, ethanol or gasoline fuel. General Motors now is developing their own concept engines with Flexfuel engines, that can run on combinations of fuels – gasoline only or a blend of 85% ethanol plus 15% gasoline, and is looking to create an engine than can run on any variation of fuels.

Part of biodiesel’s appeal lies in the benefits that its use offers. Vehicles that use biodiesel emit cleaner exhaust, and it can be used in many of today’s diesel engines. It also contributes to less engine wear due to the lubricating qualities of the used cooking oil. Restaurants that give their used oil often save hundreds of dollars a year in disposal costs.

Some companies are already capitalizing on this growing trend. Biodiesel is the second largest alternative fuel in Australia, and Axiom Energy built biodiesel plants that recycle cooking oil, tallow, palm oil, and waste plastics such as plastic bags. American slaughterhouses, due to USDA regulations are required to routinely rinse out the machines that process livestock. Because of the cleanings, dissolved air flotation sludge or DAF is produced in excess. Greenshift Corporation developed a method in which the amount of DAF is reduced. From the remaining DAF, the fat is extracted to then make biodiesel. In collaboration with American slaughterhouses, there is an estimated waste disposal saving of $400 a year. A Nebraskan company is currently developing a processing system that creates methane gas from animal wastes to power ethanol plants. The energy from the ethanol plants then produces fuel and distills grain to feed cattle which are then slaughtered, from which the wastes then can be converted into fuel.

In Brazil, vehicle engines that accommodate a variety of fuels are gaining popularity. GEA Group AG’s Plant and its plant engineering subsidiary Lurgi AG established contracts to build biodiesel plants in Germany and US for 170 million euros.

With the emergence of the biodiesel industry also comes the emergence of other possibly profitable industries. The marketing sector could be heavily used to expose the public to this type of alternative fuel. In America especially, there is a wide breadth of market segments – the biodiesel user could be the “Average Joe”, the trucker, and the farmer. The modern American is particularly responsive to the concept of eco-friendly products. For example, Toyota forecasts that it will sell more than 150.000 Prius hybrid cars in the US. Rising gas prices and a dependency on Middle East imports have spurred a patriotic element in the market, and Americans see biodiesel as a means of decreasing money spent on imported crude oil.

In keeping with the independence, Thomas Dorr, head of the Agriculture Department says that Iowa has the potential to become a key player in the biodiesel industry, in that they are a major supplier of corn that can be made into ethanol. Instead of establishing an industry that relies on the waste byproducts of restaurants, the collection process could be eliminated by simply establishing plants that are self-reliant and manufactures the raw materials for biodiesel production on-site. The establishment of processing plants could create more jobs for Americans.
Across the globe, Namibia, looking into employment prospects of such an industry, is developing possibilities of establishing the industry. A growing infrastructure begets the need for efficient means of energy. The hotel and restaurant industry could easily generate excessive amounts of cooking oil to be made into biodiesel. A company that could supply the Namibians with the biodiesel facilities could potentially acquire a lucrative contract.

What could make the biodiesel industry even more promising is if innovation found a way to keep the biodiesel fuel from coagulating in cold conditions. Currently, to keep the alternate fuel from thickening, users have to blend in regular diesel. A biodiesel that maintains its durability in cold weather could further its profitability. In addition, since a byproduct of the biodiesel process is glycerin, biodiesel companies could set up partnerships with soap-making companies.

Should the biodiesel as an alternative fuel in vehicles show signs of success, perhaps the possibilities of manufacturing boats, motorcycles, and airplanes that accommodate biodiesel fuel should be investigated. Biodiesel use could also be expanded into public transportation. The feasibility of biodiesel pumps at conventional gas stations may also be of worthy research. The biodiesel industry – the manufacturing and distribution – looks to be a promising industry.

Arirang: The Korean American Journey

The documentary “Arirang: The Korean American Journey” traces the development of Korean Americans as they left Korea in the late 19th century first in search of new opportunities and later to escape Japanese imperialism. The documentary first starts off discussing Korean immigration to Hawaii due to increased demands for cheap labor and because it was also a way for Koreans to escape the turmoil in their country. In these immigrant communities in Hawaii, the Korean immigrants were able to create self-sufficient communities that protected their interests as well as teaching their children Korean ways and giving them a good education. This part of the documentary was interesting since it discussed the significance of Hawaii in shaping Korean American culture and as being another outlet for Koreans to contribute to the independence movement. Moreover, another interesting item the documentary brought up was that when Korean Americans went to visit Chosen for a baseball game, they were shocked that many Koreans were unable to properly speak Korean because of Japanese language policies on Koreans. This was very interesting since it highlights the degree that the Korean American community was able to preserve their customs and language while it was systematically destroyed in Korea.

In the second half of the documentary, the interesting parts concerned the Korean American contributions during the Second World War and in general. First, it was quite interesting that the United States actually classified Koreans as Japanese subjects and how the Korean American community was able to mobilize and lobby the US to recognize them as their own people. In addition, it was also interesting that the US made stamps commemorating Korea even though they knew little about it as seen by attempts by Soon Hyun’s many attempts to convince his White classmates that Korea existed. In addition, it was also interesting that some Korean Americans even had to courage to fight alongside Japanese-Americans in the same Army unit and later make contributions by working in the occupied US military government in Korea. However, the most interesting thing was the role the Methodist churches had in assisting Korean immigrants, creating an environment for Korean patriots to work like Syngman Rhee, and most of all in preserving Korean culture.