Tuesday, May 07, 2013

May 6, 2013 Too Much Online, Inequality Atop Mt. Everest

In a society that tolerates grand accumulations of private wealth, can public services — like public schools — survive and thrive? Americans who value public education have a new reason to worry: “parent trigger” laws. Journalist Yasha Levine has just detailed this new danger in a case study of the nation’s first public school privatized under “trigger” legislation. Under this “reform,” if enough parents sign a petition, they can have their local public school turned over to a private contractor. In Southern California, Levine found, a faux grassroots group bankrolled by the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune engineered just such a petition, but only after subjecting parents to months of harassment and intimidation . . .


A luxury car from Ferrari, many people believe, can help you look cool. A Ferrari, beware, can also make you a fool. Just ask Mohammed Nisham, an Indian mega millionaire now in hot water with police after he let his nine-year-old drive his Ferrari F 430, a speedster that retails north of $200,000. The boy’s mom doesn’t understand all the fuss. After all, she told reporters, her son has been driving the family’s Lamborghini and Bentley since he turned five. Meanwhile, stateside in Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell has his own Italian luxury car issues. McDonnell has been caught accepting — and not reporting — exceptionally generous gifts from a well-heeled plutocratic patron. Among the unreported generous gestures: The patron let McDonnell drive his flashy Ferrari . . .

You don’t have to be a mountaineer any more to climb Mount Everest. You just need the $65,000 or so that will buy you the Everest “experience.” The “luxury adventurers” who pay that freight have come to expect the comforts of home as they ascend up Everest, everything from tea in their tents to Wi-Fi, and the Sherpa guides who escort them up have come to feel like servants. Late last month, growing resentment at this servant status exploded into a rock-throwing melee that almost turned deadly for three real mountaineers. Afterwards, one of the three told reporters that Everest’s “increasing numbers of well-heeled” climbers often don’t even bother to learn the names of the Sherpas who carry their huge luxury tents. Everest, he added, “attracts money,” and many Sherpas have become “angry at this financial gap on their mountain.”

Read more at Too Much Online.

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