Shutdown And Hostage-Taking — It Is NOT Both Sides Doing It

One side says, “Never mind the deal we just agreed to, cut this or we’ll shut down the government” and the other side says, “This isn’t fair, and it hurts people. We can’t keep agreeing to pay these ransoms, this has to stop!” Is this “both sides squabbling?” Is this “Congress can’t get its act together?” Or is this a group of hostage-takers using media obfuscation of what is going on as cover for a radical strategy to turn people against government and democracy, while the “other side” tries to stop them?
So here we are, another fight looms over shutting down the government. This time the Republicans have taken disaster relief hostage and are using it as a lever to demand we cut even more of what We, the People do for each other, so that the big corporations and the wealthiest 1% can have even more wealth and power. Many in the media are reporting this as “both sides squabbling” but this is not what is happening.
Democracy depends on the public being informed so that they can hold their representatives accountable. So the media has a responsibility to correctly identify, in clear terms, just who is doing what. “Both sides do it” tells people not to bother to vote, that government and democracy don’t work, that you should just tune ou and leave it to the plutocrats to run things. Stop it!
“Blame Both Sides” Reporting
The Chicago Sun-Times, in Government on brink of shutdown again blames “Congress”, calls it “bickering” and “posturing” and blames “Congress.”
More “blame both sides” reporting is found in today’s Progressive Breakfast, hiliting this NYTimes story, Flood Victims Getting Fed Up With Congress says the current hostage-taking is “a dispute between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency,”

“Neither side wants the other side to get credit for doing anything good,” Mr. Golembeski said. “Elections are coming up.”

Neither side wants the other to get credit. Nice.

“Members of Congress are playing with people’s lives, not just their own political careers,” said Martin J. Bonifanti, chief of the Lake Winola volunteer fire company. “While they are rattling on among themselves down there in Washington, people are suffering.”

Dear NY Times, “members of COngress” are not doing this. ONE PARTY is doing this. The story offers nothing to counter the quote.

“Members of Congress are intelligent, but they have no common sense,” Ms. Swithers said. “They fight too much. They should be put in a corner and take a timeout and start working together as a team. I’m so sick of hearing Republicans this and Democrats that.”

Dear NY Times, This fight is not “Republicans this and Democrats that” it is Republicans taking disaster relief hostage and using the suffering of the people you quote as a lever to gut programs like green energy.
Norman Ornstein writes about this problem, in What ‘The Washington Post’ Doesn’t Understand About the Looming Government Shutdown,

One of the biggest problems of reporting on our dysfunctional politics has been the reflexive tendency in “mainstream” media to balance, via what is increasingly false equivalence. A glaring example was a front-page, above-the-fold story in Saturday’s Washington Post by Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, titled (in the print edition, though not on the web), “Gloom Grows as Congress Feuds.” The story was about the looming showdown, and possible government shutdown, over disaster relief funding. The piece makes sure to include a comment from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor blaming Democrats, ends with a comment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blaming Republicans, and includes a comment from an independent analyst blaming both.

If you reflexively “blame both” you are not informing the public and you are not serving democracy. There are people who will want to vote for the ones who are trying to help We, the People watch out for and take care of each other. And there are people who will want to vote for the ones who have a strategy in play to eliminate government so that the biggest corporations and wealthiest few can use their wealth and power to have their way. But our media are not letting the public know who is doing what.
Blaming “Both Sides” Is An Anti-Government Strategy
In Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, retiring Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren explains why Republicans try to make government dysfunctional while pushing the “both sides do it” narrative. They do it on purpose as a strategy to make people hate government and democracy,

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.
[. . .] A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters’ confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that “they are all crooks,” and that “government is no good,” further leading them to think, “a plague on both your houses” and “the parties are like two kids in a school yard.” This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s – a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn (“Government is the problem,” declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

They do this on purpose, to turn people against government, and then when people are disgusted and looking the other way they can just grab the loot — your savings, your retirement, your wages, your common wealth, your rights.
What Can We Do?
There is a session titled Taking Back the Media: Embracing New Media and Using it to Our Advantage at the Take Back The American Dream conference next week. Nicole Sandler, Timothy Karr, Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter will be speaking about how to overcome the corporate-media lock on information.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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They Just Lie

Lots of people are talking about Kevin Drum’s post about last night’s Republican debate, and the flat-out lies told all over the right’s disinformation engine. In honor of the discussion, and for all of those who are so surprised, let me trot out a piece I wrote in 2004, They Just Lie: (click through for the links…) (PS right now the lie machine is telling lies about Solyndra.)
They Just Lie
Hesiod spots a big fat Bush lie. Someone has changed a story in order to smear Kerry as weak on terrorism, when it is actually Bush who did the bad deed. He’s outraged. He counters with the truth.
Kash spots that decisions in the bush admin. are made “according to political calculations instead of according to the advice of specialists.” He is shocked.
Bush is making stuff up and lying, and everyone is surprised and shocked and outraged. And everyone counters with the truth and argues the finer points and tries to disprove each claim.
But what is happening is that while we’re all chasing down each and every particular of each and every lie, the general public is hearing over and over again a much broader theme. They’re hearing that they should be suspicious of Kerry. For example, today they are hearing the lie that Kerry “voted against American troops,” and “did not support bills that would have ensured troops had body armor and earned higher combat pay, and would have given reservists and their families better health care” and all kinds of just the nastiest stuff.
Listen, there is something we all need to get through our heads. They just lie.
If the Bush people did a focus group and found out that people would vote against him because he owns a miniature green Chinese monkey with an earring, THEN WE WOULD BE HEARING THAT KERRY HAS A MINIATURE GREEN CHINESE MONKEY WITH AN EARRING! They are making it up, they are lying, they are going to say and do ANYTHING. OK? They just lie. Get used to it.
They just lie. So don’t be surprised and don’t be shocked. And most of all, don’t start responding by trying to disprove their charges and going through all the points and specifics and particulars! YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT THE CHARGES THEY WILL MAKE TOMORROW AND NEXT WEEK ARE FALSE. OK?
They just lie. What have I been telling you since day one of Seeing the forest? THEY JUST LIE. See the forest, don’t get bogged down with trees. See the bigger picture. If you get all bogged down trying to argue each point or disprove each lie you are going to be 100 lies behind by the time you refute the first point of the very first lie.
They just lie. Remember the lead-up to Iraq, all nicely timed for the 2002 election? They just lie. Remember what they said about why we need tax cuts? They just lie. Remember what they said about Al Gore? They just lie. Remember what they said about Clinton?
They just lie. We know it. So when do we figure out that they just lie? When we do figure it out, THEN maybe we can start responding effectively, instead of getting all bogged down in the lies each and every time. The public needs to understand that they just lie, and the things they say should just be ignored. THAT is where we should be spending our time.
(Does repetition work? Tell me what they do.)

I Can Get You Your Money Back!

Action Line

Q I played the sweepstakes I received in the mail and won $2-3 million and a car. They wanted me to pay for insurance and cover delivery charges. I paid $300 to these people. Then they said they need another $300. Then they said that $50 would be the last payment. I paid over $600. OK. Maybe I’m stupid, but I played, and they said that I won. I have $9.24 left in the bank.

I can get you your money back. It will only cost you $9.24.

Republican Committee Report Exposes Shocking Union/Environmentalist Conspiracy

Oil-backed Republicans are doing everything they can to turn the public against … alternatives to oil. Today a Republican Congressional committee held a hearing, named the hearing “How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs,” and released a “report” with the same name. The report calls the push for green-energy jobs “a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology.” Here’s the thing: the report itself actually is “a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology.” Heh.
The Report
The Republican House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has release a 33-page report, How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs. This “report” is a stunning document that reads like an oil-company promotional piece raised to he level of Glenn-Beckian, conspiratorial hysteria. From the Executive Summary,

The Obama Administration’s green energy campaign has been pursued while it simultaneously implemented a regulatory agenda that is choking American businesses and restricting access to abundant domestic natural resources which have traditionally provided cheap energy that supports economic growth.
… By sacrificing domestic carbon-based resources upon the altar of an ill-fated “green energy” experiment, the President has put U.S. economic security in jeopardy and wasted billions in taxpayer money at a time when our fiscal health is in peril.

One “finding” of the report is that green jobs might help people who are members of labor unions, and that “payment of union-level wages” might be mandated! Along with this, a press release promoting the report warns:

It also points out that the guise of “green jobs” has become a rallying cry for a political coalition comprised of environmentalists and union leadership to consolidate an ideologically-based agenda, and notes that many federal green jobs programs have strings attached that require union workers, union-level wages and other mandates.

Shocking, Americans might want a clean environment and good pay. We must warn our constituents about this terrible possibility before communists take over!
Key Findings
Among the report’s “key findings:”

  • Labeling an occupation as a green job does not mean it has any special economic worth;
  • The guise of “green jobs” has become a political rallying cry aimed to unite environmentalists and union leaders in a deliberate effort to consolidate an ideologicallybased agenda;
  • Labor unions are profiting from the many so-called “green” programs because there are often “strings attached” that require hiring union workers, the payment of union-level wages and other mandates;
  • The metric of a “green job” is nothing more than a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology rather than the economy or the environment…

The Conspiracy
The report lays out in detail a grand, Glenn-Beckian conspiracy theory, claiming that environmentalists and labor unions are working together to promote a grand, “green jobs” conspiracy. The section titled, PART I: OBAMA’S GREEN AGENDA DECONSTRUCTED lays out this conspiracy,

…union leaders support “green jobs” because much of the subsidized work is designated to be awarded to unionized workers. For their part, environmentalists benefit from having a broader base of support for policies that seek to “green” the economy. The outcome is a political alliance with incredible power.
The genesis of promoting so-called “green jobs” can be traced to a group known as the Apollo Alliance, which has been the center of gravity for the green jobs movement since 2001. … Accordingly, the Apollo Alliance and other coalition efforts like the Blue-Green Alliance bring together two major components of the Democratic political base – environmentalists and labor unions. …
Labor Unions are Profiting under the Pretense of Green Energy
While the green jobs movement clearly advances the interests of environmental special interest groups in the green jobs movement, the interests of labor unions may not be as readily apparent. However, a careful look at statutes passed in the Democrat controlled 110th and 111th Congresses reveal that unions stand to benefit from many of the so-called green programs because these programs have “strings attached … that require paying union-level wages, hampering lower cost, nonunion firms from competing for the jobs produced by the grants.” The left-wing magazine, The American Prospect, noted in September of 2007 that Leo Gerard, the President of the United Steelworkers, has played a major role in the development of the Apollo Alliance and its political influence…

The report goes on to make the case that one goal of this conspiracy is to promote American steel, and require other parts of this effort to be American-made, which would benefit members of the Steelworkers union.

Another reason why Gerard and the United Steelworkers, in particular, are drawn to this coalition is the amount of steel required to manufacturer green energy products, such as wind turbines. To the extent that manufacturers use American steel, the assumption is that the government subsidies and regulations would benefit their membership as well. As Gerard has stated, arguing for steel protections, “If we are not going to do solar panels and fluorescent bulbs and wind turbines here, the next generation of R and D will not be here.”

Oil Good, Green Bad: Promoting Oil Companies
Another section of the report, Fossil Fuel Use Has Been a Major Driver of American Prosperity, explains the benefits to America of promoting oil companies and getting rid of any green jobs effort to promote alternatives to fossil fuel use. You can almost hear the patriotic music welling up as you read this section.

The positive relationship between access to affordable energy sources and economic growth is undeniable; fossil fuels have been the backbone of American prosperity.
… The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) credits carbon-based energy with spawning “one of the most profound social transformations in history.” Fossil fuels currently meet more than 80% of U.S. energy demand, with petroleum satisfying half of that demand.
The expanded use of fossil fuels throughout history has facilitated the development of some of our nation’s most productive industries. …
Oil is credited with “the rise and development of capitalism and modern business” itself. Today, coal, oil and natural gas form the backbone that supports the American economy. [emphasis added]

Misstatements Of Fact
The report also contains what can politely be called “misstatements of fact.” The report talks about “a private investor—one who happened to be a prominent Obama fundraiser.” This is just flat-out false, In my post, Five Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Solyndra I pointed out the way this lie is used to create an appearance of impropriety:

5. The biggest investor in Solyndra was an Obama donor.
Conservatives (and now picked up by corporate “mainstream” outlets) make the accusation that there was corruption in the process by which Solyndra received its loan because a major Obama donor named George Kaiser is a major investor in Solyndra. The charge is that Solyndra only received the loan guarantee as a result of campaign contributions by people “connected to” Solyndra. The problem with this is that George Kaiser was not an investor in Solyndra. According to Tulsa World,

In an emailed statement to the Tulsa World, a representative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation said the organization made the investment through Argonaut.
“George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan,” the statement said. “GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization, which means Kaiser (or anyone else) could not personally profit from a successful investment by the foundation.

Please take the time to skim through this astonishing report. A copy of the Committee report is available by clicking here.
At Politico Darren Sameulsohn explains what Republicans are up to, in President Obama’s green losing streak writing, “Now, with Solyndra’s collapse, Republicans are promising to make the green jobs concept politically toxic for years to come.”
This Mark Fiore animation sums it up.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Conservatives Say It Out Loud: They Hate Democracy

The roots of today’s toxic conservative movement lie in Ayn Rand’s teaching that wealthy “producers — now called “job creators” — should be left alone by the government, namely the rest of us. The rest of us are “freeloaders,” “moochers,” “leeches” and “parasites” who feed off these producers and who shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions to collect taxes from them or regulate them or interfere in most other ways. The Randians hate democracy, and say so, declaring that “collectivism” sacrifices individual rights to majority wishes. (See Concern Over Republican Embrace Of The Ayn Rand Poison.)
For decades these selfish, childish, “you can’t make me” beliefs stayed largely below the radar, because conservatives understood that voicing them in public risked alienating … well, anyone with any sense at all. But for various reasons sense has departed the country and conservatives are finally saying it out loud, for everyone to hear: they hate democracy. They want to limit the country’s decision-making and the rewards of our society and economy to those they feel “deserve” to be on top, namely the “producers” and “job-creators.”
Writing in Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American conservative columnist Matthew Vadum reflects these views, writing that democracy is “like handing out burglary tools to criminals.” He writes,

It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.
A decade before the Motor-Voter law that required states to register voters at welfare offices was enacted, NAACP official Joe Madison explained the political economy of voter registration drives. “When people are standing in line to get cheese and butter or unemployment compensation, you don’t have to tell them how to vote,” said Madison, now a radio talk show host in Washington, D.C. “They know how to vote.”

Vadum echoes the Randian ideology that we should be government by the “producer” supermen, and the parasites (the rest of us) should have no say in this, calling it communism:

Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn’t about helping the poor. It’s about helping the poor to help themselves to others’ money. It’s about raw so-called social justice. It’s about moving America ever farther away from the small-government ideals of the Founding Fathers.
Registering the unproductive to vote is an idea that was heavily promoted by the small-c communists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, as I write in my new book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.

Thom Hartmann talks on his TV show with Vadum about this:

In response, conservative outlets like FOX News have been giving Vadum a platform to repeat his views to large numbers of people:

Other Conservatives Weigh In

Vadum’s perspective are not unique in conservative circles. Rush Limbaugh has questioned on the air whether poor people should be allowed to vote. Judson Phillips, president of Tea Party Nation thinks voting should be limited to those who “own property.”
Other conservatives are also on the record as opposing democracy. Walter Williams, in Democracy Versus Liberty, writes, “I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government.” He echoes the old “taxes are theft” line, writing, “Laws do not represent reason. They represent force.”
Pat Buchanan picks up the baton and mocks democracy, calling it a “childlike faith,” and laments the downfall of a corrupt tyrant, in The Democracy Worshipers,

…Hosni Mubarak, though a ruthless ruler, had been our man in Cairo since the assassination of Anwar Sadat, fighting alongside us in the Gulf War, keeping the peace with Israel, allying with us in the war on terror.
But as soon as the tide turned against him, we ditched him and cheered on the crowd in Tahrir Square, a few of whom celebrated the downfall of despotism with a sexual mauling of Lara Logan.

Some Good Points

Earlier this year, writing at the Cato Institute, Senior Fellow Steve H. Hanke offers a more nuanced view of democracy’s failings, in, On Democracy Versus Liberty Mr. Hanke makes very good points about the tendencies of the public to be steered toward bad decisions by panic during crisis. “The result is that crises acted as a ratchet, shifting the trend line of government size and scope up to a higher level.” Later, he equates the power of organized wealth (Cato’s funders, anyone???) to influence lawmakers with the problems of majority rule! He uses examples including farmers continuing to receive subsidies long after the depression ended, and the Bush-era expansion of government in response to 9/11.
But Hanke fails to see that it is not democracy that causes these distortions, but the failure of our system to keep the power of concentrated wealth from shouting down the collected wisdom of the people. It is the suppression of democracy that causes the very problems Henke attributes to democracy.

Republican War On Voting

Today in several states Republicans are making it harder to vote. In The Next Voting Rights Movement Must Start Now, CAF’s Isaiah J. Poole warns,

In state after state, new hurdles, such as voter ID laws, are being constructed to the right to vote that will especially trip up low-income people, students, rural residents and seniors. They disproportionately affect many of the groups who helped put Barack Obama in the White House in 2008 and who are in the vanguard of opposition to right-wing economic policies today. This disenfranchisement is largely happening below the radar of a populace and a national media preoccupied with the poor state of the economy and with the series of attacks by governors on public employee unions.

Ari Berman, in The GOP War on Voting at Rolling Stone,

As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots.
. . . In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.
All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.
Taken together, such measures could significantly dampen the Democratic turnout next year – perhaps enough to shift the outcome in favor of the GOP.

In Taking Back The Vote, CAF’s Terrance Heath writes about the Republican war on voting,

If tea party conservatives have their way, the right to vote will revert back to a privilege — and one enjoyed by far fewer people. It’s easy to dismiss media motormouths like Ann Coulter, when she says that women should not have the right to vote, because too many of them vote Democratic (single women, anyway). But it’s a mistake to shrug off someone like Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips, who thinks it would be a good idea to put "certain restrictions on the right to vote," like restricting voting to property owners.

Phillips’ claim is reminiscent of Republican attempts to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the 2008 election in states like Michigan and Ohio. When right-wing pundits like Matthew Vadum (author of the ACORN "exposé" Subversion, Inc.) and Rush Limbaugh say that the poor shouldn’t have the right to vote, they’re expressing the same sentiment. It’s a manifestation of the conservative concern that too many of the "wrong people" have too much of a voice in politics, and too few of the "right people" have any. That’s what Paul Weyrich meant when he said to a group of evangelical activists in 1980: "I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Undermining Democracy On Purpose

We are not dealing with the Republican Party we used to know. This is not even George W. Bush’s Republican party anymore. In Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, retiring Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren writes,

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.
[. . .] A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters’ confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that “they are all crooks,” and that “government is no good,” further leading them to think, “a plague on both your houses” and “the parties are like two kids in a school yard.” This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s – a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn (“Government is the problem,” declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

Please read that again, and then read the whole piece. This is a Republican writing, from the inside. They are doing it on purpose. They are making the government dysfunctional on purpose. They are making people hate government on purpose. They are working to turn people against democracy and put themselves in power in its place.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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m4s0n501

Netflix = New Coke

As I wrote yesterday, I think the reason Netflix has lost 1 million customers is that most of their customers do not yet know that anything has changed.
In 1985 the Coca Cola company, sitting on the #1 brand in the world, with a spectacular product, loyal customers and spectacular sales, decided to scrap the product and come up with a new formula. They called it “New Coke.” It didn’t work out, and is remembered as one of the biggest business mistakes of all time.
In 2011, having dominated the competition, Blockbuster having gone through bankruptcy, spectacular market share growth, sales growth and stock somewhere around 300 decided that being an American company and all it was too obviously being good to its customers. Netflix announced a huge price increase, and then announced they are going to make it impossible for customers to continue to do business with them by splitting the company into two separate companies, with two separate websites.
I guess it’s possible that the Board and CEO could be replaced, and they go back to being the Netflix that was successful… but in the meantime there is Blockbuster, Amazon Prime (includes free 2-day shipping on all Amazon purchases), Hulu, Redbox, Comcast has XFinity, I don’t know what ATT does, etc.
I mean, can you imagine being at Redbox or Blockbuster, sitting around wondering what you’re going to do, and hearing these announcements? I mean, like winning the lottery?
Don’t leave a comment talking about how their business model required them to … anything. Any business model that involves screwing the customers, giving them less for more money, making it harder to get what you want… just don’t justify it. I don’t want to hear it. This is so stupid, it is the epitome of how MBAs destroyed Silicon Valley.

More Netflix

I don’t care WHY Netflix changed its business model, I just know that as a customer I don’t like it.
All over the web are stories about how the Netflix business model moves to the future, and their DVD business wasn’t growing fast enough, the content providers were asking for more, etc… I do not care. If businesses want to try to make me conform to their business model, good luck with that. I don’t care how brilliant or stupid their business model is, I care what they are doing for me, if they want my money.
I think the reason Netflix has lost 1 million customers is that most of their customers do not yet know that anything has changed. The website looks the same, you get your DVD, you can stream videos. And you probably don’t look at your credit card statement.
But I hear they are going to change that soon. They are going to move the DVD service to another company, with a funny name, so you won’t be able to get your DVDs anymore, and it won’t tell you it is available as a stream, etc. THAT is when they will start to lose customers. Maybe all of them.

Netflix Alternatives

Netflix had a good thing going, was making money, moving along OK. So they just had to fuck with it. Great.
We liked the deal that Netflix offered. We got one DVD at a time through the mail, and watched some streaming movies and TV shows, especially British TV shows, because the Tivo made it easy. It was nice while it lasted.
Then they suddenly raised the price a whopping 60%, no notice, just “Ha, Got Ya!!!” And then, to top it off, they are going to SPLIT OFF the DVD from the streaming.
So, OK, I’ll be exploring the alternatives. I have Comcast, and they offer some stuff. Amazon has some stuff, Hulu has some stuff. Doesn’t Blockbuster do this now, too?
I guess Netflix is trying to be this generation’s “New Coke.” (Look it up.)
Anyway I’ll be looking and posting, and please leave alternatives in the comments.