Richard M. Stallman and the Failure of the Free Software Foundation

(Note: since the writing of the following, the Free Software Foundation has tweeted: “The FSF board unanimously condemns misogyny, racism, and other bigotry as well as defamation, intimidation, and unfair attacks on free thought and speech.” They are rejecting the criticism of Stallman as unfair and, in so doing, they aligned themselves with neo-Nazis and white supremacists. They have put themselves beyond redemption and any fair hearing for their ideas. No-one wants to listen to the logic-chopping of rape apologists – it is as bad as listening to Southern racists excusing slavery.)   This is outside of my usual ambit, and it is about cooperative software development rather than market economics, but it seems to belong here more than anywhere. People who follow free and open source software by now know that alleged harasser and rape apologist Richard M. Stallman has, by a secret process, been restored to the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation. Stallman has lon

Injury Rates at Amazon Warehouses Revealed

“Amazon often points to the tens of millions of dollars it has invested to enhance safety practices. Yet Amazon’s injury rates have gone up each of the past four years, the internal data shows. In 2019, Amazon fulfillment centers recorded 14,000 serious injuries – those requiring days off or job restrictions. The overall rate of 7.7 serious injuries per 100 employees was 33% higher than in 2016 and nearly double the most recent industry standard” – Will Evans, “How Amazon hid its safety crisis,” , September 29, 2020.

Amazon Calls Police on Congresspeople Seeking to Tour Warehouse

“Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell, both Michigan Democrats, made a surprise visit earlier this month to an Amazon warehouse in Romulus, Michigan. The lawmakers said they were asked to wait outside for about 90 minutes before being invited in for a tour. While they waited, someone inside the building called the police on them.” – Always nice to see law-abiding corporate citizens. Dingell and Tlaib were forbidden to make a video record of their visit, but Tlaib did offer a report: “Employee screening is poorly executed, cleaning is insufficient, social distancing is often difficult or impossible, and Amazon’s relentless quota system does not allow for breaks for adequate personal hygien. Moreover, if Amazon is willing to call the police on congresswomen it invited to tour its facility, we can only imagine the harassment and intimidation Amazon worker

A Grand Unified Theory of Bad New Economy Firms

The wildly successful internet economy firms mostly operate by evading laws. New technology which has allowed firms to move their business to less-regulated jurisdictions and a generation of deregulation and favorable court decisions have allowed these firms to be bad places to work and bad places to do business with. Here’s a catalog of some of their abuses: Evasion of local laws through national operations . Amazon notoriously picks jurisdictions with lax labor laws for its warehouses. Uber simply ignores local laws until penalized. When penalized, they initiate political campaigns to get the laws overridden at the state level. Extortionate business practices . Doordash infamously underpays its workers. Grubhub notoriously overcharges restaurants . Uber has the resurrected long-illegal practice of raising taxi rates when demand is highest. Monopolistic practices . Enforcement in this

Amazon Offers PR As News

Newscaster Zach Rael (KOCO, Oklahoma City) tweets : Just got an email from Amazon’s PR team with a pre-edited news story and script to run in our shows. They are selling this as giving our viewers an “inside look” at the company’s response to COVID-19

Coronavirus: A Need for Industrial Hygiene

There are widespread reports of SARS-nCoV-2 infections in warehouses and grocery stores. It is time to bring in the industrial hygienists and work out infection-control protocols. OSHA? Are you there? OSHA?

Coronavirus in Amazon's Warehouses

There's wildcat strikes ; since the NLRB has been non-functional for 35 years, wildcat strikes are all that is possible. So far, one leader has been fired . I expect this will escalate to a full lockout. How are they going to find people to work in coronavirus hotspots? Additional reporting, as of May 22, 2020: Karen Weise of the New York Times reports on Amazon's Hazelton warehouse: In the less than two months since then, the warehouse in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania has become Amazon’s biggest Covid-19 hot spot. More employees at AVP1 have been infected by the coronavirus than at any of Amazon’s roughly 500 other facilities in the United States. A 60 Minutes television report by Lesley Stahl, How Amazon is handling the coronavirus pandemic , Amazon's Senior Vice President “Dave” Clark interviewed, along with several Amazon employees and contractors. Mr. Clark claims that the infection is not spreading at Amazon, refuses to