Poligags :: America's Fix Tank


Category: Opinion

Stolen Elections: An American Tradition Since At Least 1800

We’re not huge fans of establishment Democrat Chuck Schumer, but he recently got something 100% correct: he said that Clinton & Co need to quit blaming others for their loss in 2016. (1)

The US has interfered in other countries’ elections many times; not even counting coups and regime change operations, these instances have been documented some 81 times, in fact. (2)

But this “nation of laws” has also subverted democracy on numerous occasions right here at home. And it has done so almost throughout its history.

In the presidential race of 1800, for example, supporters of Aaron Burr insisted that Thomas Jefferson had cheated him out of the presidency.

1824 – The next (in)famous example occurred in the contest between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. Jackson had edged out Adams in the popular vote; he failed to win the Electoral College, though.  In what Jackson supporters called the “Corrupt Bargain,” another presidential hopeful and congressman, Henry Clay, threw his support in the House to Adams. In return, Clay was named Secretary of State once the Adams administration was in place. Classic quid pro quo.

Fun Fact: By time he was 15, Adams – son of a Founding Father and former President – had already served as a translator in the court of Catherine the Great of Russia, Russian “colluder” that he was…

1876 – Democrats insisted that Rutherford B. Hayes stole this election. When the votes were tallied, it appeared that Democrat Samuel J. Tilden had won a majority in both the popular vote and by 184-165 in the Electoral College. However, four states were “unresolved” and accounted for 20 Electoral College votes. Hayes would not concede, and his backers screamed fraud.

Meanwhile, black voters had been beaten and intimidated throughout the South, but especially in Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. Congress finally appointed a committee to adjudicate the matter; a “compromise” was reached, awarding the disputed Electoral College votes to Hayes and giving him a one-vote margin of victory.

More or less the same thing happened in 1884. In that case, though, the Republicans made the same accusations of fraud against Grover Cleveland.

1916 – The election between Charles Evans Hughes and incumbent Woodrow Wilson went unresolved for days. California held repeated vote counts leading Hughes’s supporters to consider the possibility of fraud.

This is getting tedious, so let’s fast forward to the year 2000 and the Gore/Bush contest. During that election, investigations found, there were “irregularities” precluding traditionally Democratic voters from exercising their franchise: mostly minorities and low-income citizens.

In Florida, 36,000 newly-registered voters were never added to the voter rolls. Others were declared “convicted felons” even though most of those weren’t. Strategic precincts were closed early, leaving lines of people not having voted. State Troopers searched people’s cars to prevent them from accessing the polls. Some precincts required not one (as mandated by law), but TWO photo IDs.

The Secretary of State, Kathleen Harris, supervised her state’s election process and served on George Bush’s brother’s gubernatorial campaign committee at the same time. Under her stewardship, ballot boxes weren’t collected, were misdirected and ballots went uncounted. A recount effort was launched, during which members of the GOP flew in from Washington D.C. In one instance, they punched and kicked a local election board official and intimidated others until they abandoned the recount.

In the end, the matter was resolved in a five-to-four SCOTUS decision. The Court ruled that a complete recount in Florida would be a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause because different counties have different ways of counting the votes.

Just four years later, Bush rode again, this time against John Kerry in 2004. Pre-election polls indicated that, among the millions of newly-registered voters, Kerry was strongly favored and that most of the two million who had voted for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader previously also favored Kerry.

Exit polls showed Kerry leading 53-47% in the popular vote and with a solid lead in the Electoral College as well. Yet the final tally registered 11.6 million votes more for Bush in 2004 than he’d gotten in 2000 – in other words, the majority of all those new registrants and the Nader voters who’d said they supported Kerry. This could not be verified, since Democratic voter registrations had disappeared, So did absentee and provisional ballots. Some of the absentee ballots did not have Kerry’s name on them – a mistake, they said, that occurred when Ralph Nader’s name was removed. Half the Americans overseas never received ballots.

Once again, there were problems noted in individual states. One Ohio precinct reported a somewhat unrealistic 98% voter turn-out – another, only 7%. Over 90,000 ballots in Ohio recorded NO vote for the office of President. One precinct never opened; voting machines were locked away or were “broken”.

In Minnesota, an elector voted for NC Senator John Edwards instead of John Kerry. In New York, several got Kerry’s middle initial wrong. They all made the same mistake.

Finally, we give “honorable mention” to former President Richard Nixon in 1972. In the most ill-conceived “opposition research” effort in the nation’s history, members of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) broke into the DNC HQ at the Watergate hotel, stole documents and bugged the phones.

The wiretap didn’t function, though, so a group of five had to return to install a new microphone. A security guard noticed that door locks had been taped over so that they wouldn’t latch. He called the police; the burglars were arrested. Nixon swore that his staff were not involved and he was re-elected. He later had to resign and some 40 people were indicted or jailed in connection with the investigation that followed.

So, again, this “nation of laws” has a prolific history of election tampering. Pre- and post-Internet. Pre- and post-Cold War. If you want to blame Russians, go ahead. If you want to simultaneously claim that Hillary Clinton “won” by three million votes but that Jill Stein somehow siphoned away that win, go ahead. If you want to blame the “Bernie Bros” – whose votes were deemed superfluous – for not supporting your candidate, go ahead.

But you’re kidding yourself. Because this country has tainted its own elections. We’re just fine at doing it to ourselves, as Chuck Schumer intimated. We don’t need anyone’s “help”.



(1) Schumer: http://www.thedailybeast.com/schumer-rips-hillary-dont-blame-comey-or-russia-blame-yourself

(2) US Election Interference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu-JW68B5CQ

© 2107 Poligags





Burlington College Flap May Prove a ‘Nothing Burger’

News broke over the weekend that Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane had “lawyered up,” having retained a “prominent attorney” to represent Jane in a bank fraud case stemming from her tenure as President of now-defunct Burlington College.

Well, that’s disconcerting. So we took a look at the news stories that had been published from 2010 when the deal was hatched until the school’s closure in 2016. Frankly, we were left shrugging…

The property acquisition was not made unilaterally or in isolation

This was not something any one person did on their own. There was a whole host of players involved. Alphabetically:

  • Burlington College Board of Trustees
  • College of Consultors
  • College of Deans
  • Diocesan Administrative Board
  • Diocesan Finance Council and
  • Diocesan Presbyteral Council

They all signed off on the purchase of the Catholic Church’s property on Lake Champlain.

Additionally, a bond issue was made by the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency. They were “in” upon the completion and submission of an 18-page application. They did not take the application at face value, but had it vetted by an independent financial consultant in Boston.

The bonds were then purchased by People’s United Bank; Burlington College agreed to a 10-year term with 30-year amortization. The school’s VP of Finance – who later succeeded Jane Sanders as President, co-signed the loan agreement.

Additionally, $3.5M came as a loan from the Diocese from which the property was purchased.

Burlington College Presidents

College presidents have a number of vital responsibilities for the health and continuation of the institutions they head. One of the key performance measures is attracting and retaining donors.

We weren’t able to lay our hands on any complaint filed in court, so we’re guessing as to the actual accusations being levied from press accounts. But we’re also guessing that Jane Sanders based her projections for enrollment and contributions to the school on pledges made and her plans for achieving the performance metrics.

There were three presidents of Burlington College after Sanders left. These were Christine Plunkett (the VP of Finance who co-signed the bank agreement and concurrently served the school as President and Chief Financial Officer), Michael Smith (interim capacity only), and Carol A. Moore.

Plunkett did not follow Sanders’ plan for growth of the school through enrollment. Instead, she went to China for a week, bringing with her for all her efforts, one student. Instead of enforcing pledges or cultivating other donors, she sold off student housing.

In 2012, Plunkett said in an interview that she’d raised half of the school’s goal for the year. In 2013, one $1M pledge made to Jane Sanders before her resignation was not realized; this year, that million-dollar donor indicated that she’d handed Sanders a check along with a verbal promise that the substantial gift was would be received by the school upon her death, with donations in addition to the bequest in the interim. In 2014, Plunkett’s capital campaign efforts were “put on the back burner”. Over her tenure, most of the confirmed pledges made to the school never materialized; only about $676,000 was ever collected.


An audit of the school’s finances was conducted and released in June 2013. It showed that Burlington College had not paid ANY principal OR interest on the loan. The Diocese had sent notice of default. Recall that Plunkett was both college President and Chief Financial Officer at this time; Sanders had left in 2011.

Likewise, the school did not make any payments on a $500,000 bridge loan from a philanthropist for the purposes of improving the property so that it could be used.

By 2014, the school was in default, on probation and facing loss of accreditation when Plunkett left the school to students’ chants of “hey, hey, ho, ho, Christine Plunkett’s got to go”. It closed in 2016 under “crushing debt” and with an enrollment of only 200 students – about the same number as when Jane Sanders stepped down.

UPDATE (July 2, 2017): VTDigger reports that the allegations arose from a conversation with three bankers around the time the school closed. They were not involved in the loan and no longer employed at People’s United Bank when the conversation took place. A link to that story appears below.

UPDATE (November 13, 2018): Jane Sanders was cleared of any wrongdoing. https://www.mynbc5.com/article/vermonts-us-attorney-clears-jane-sanders-of-burlington-college-wrongdoing/25055185?src=app&fbclid=IwAR0xVPqlZNeiJCAZTDngS8kmTTvYAePgpKs51C-DLOL1NXISvZwXmF4WV7o


© 2017 Poligags







Update story: https://vtdigger.org/2017/07/02/source-sanders-bank-pressure-allegations-says-evidence-hearsay

Can’t have it both ways, Bill Maher…

Can’t have it both ways, Dems.

You claim Hillary Clinton won – by 3 million popular votes – but was robbed of the presidency.

So you can’t then say “liberal purists” stole the election from her. After all, she won, right?

The ELECTORAL COLLEGE decides presidential contests in this country. And Clinton didn’t have sufficient broad-based support to swing it in her favor. Look at the map. It’s a sea of red…

2016 EC Map.png

Would Jill Stein’s 1,457,216 votes have blued that map up for you? And don’t forget you said that you didn’t need Brother Cornel West and the rest of Bernie Sanders’ supporters to win.

Well, you were right. SHE WON. By 3 million votes.
So Bill Maher’s “liberal purist” argument falls flat.
And as any “liberal purist” knows, locally-grown, organic cucumbers aren’t in season yet.

(c) 2017 Poligags

California Session Can’t Happen for Years – At Least

California secession has been a hot topic since the state’s citizens began collecting signatures at the end of January to place the issue on the ballot before voters. Often citing the fact that California’s economy would rank sixth in the world were it an independent country, about a third of the 40 million residents of the state support the idea.

There’s also been some blow-back, as the founder of the movement lives in Russia half the year and is said to have the backing of a right-wing faction there. He even opened – by his own authority – an “embassy” in Moscow. Secession would require a vast majority of Californians’ support to make it a reality; it is unlikely that this majority would permit an unelected individual to speak and act on their behalf should the movement progress.

Assuming that sufficient support is generated, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. We haven’t found anyone discussing these. Look, for example, at what Great Britain (with a comparable population of 53 million and a current ranking of ninth among world economies) is having to consider with its 2016 Brexit vote. The realities start to come into focus.

While not insurmountable, it will take years for California to extricate itself peacefully from the United States. We offer some of those complexities that occurred to us:

The Military industrial Complex

California is home to 29,594 defense contractors who have, collectively, been awarded 723,841 contractors over the years 2000-2015. These contracts were valued at $537,311,342,851 (1). According to a Deloitte study a year ago, a disproportionate number of the United States’ 1.2 million defense employees are located in California (2).


Making up for the value of those lost contracts would be, at best, difficult. Replacing over 100,000 equivalent jobs would be, as well. There are US defense contractors outside of the United States; presumably California could bid on some of those. Also, as a new country, California would need to have its own defenses. How much could be recouped is beyond the pay grade of this bunch of t-shirt makers, but some of the jobs could be saved.

There are a couple dozen military bases in California and a number of other military properties besides (3). Installations and their nearly 270,000 personnel contribute about 2% of the state’s GDP (4). Several local economies rely on their existence.

Additional Federal Funding

California received an estimated $252.6 billion in federal spending in 2015 – 25% of the state’s revenues (5). Many of these dollars are earmarked for education and Medicaid. The state’s infrastructure plan (6) includes $13.9 billion in federal funds over five years. That plan takes into consideration not only what you’d expect to fall under infrastructure, but also Natural Resources, California EPA, Corrections, Education and more.

Relationships between the state and federal are intertwined and interdependent. The new “smart” power grid relies heavily on new construction in California; that new construction is heavily funded by the federal government. Consider aviation, too. Air Traffic Controllers are federal employees; they all receive their training at one facility – which is not located in California. It might be enjoyable to imagine airports without the omnipresent gray bins, but without sufficient security to comfort the United States and other countries, both California tourism and business would suffer. TSA is, of course, federal.

California is home to one of only a handful of US National Laboratories. There are 11 federal prisons in California. There’s the Border Patrol. And the US Mint in San Francisco. There are a lot of moving parts to consider.

Treaties and Trade

Interstate agreements exist between California and other states. The Colorado River Compact is, importantly, one of them, and involves seven states in total. Upon secession, renegotiation of this agreement would be between the country of California and the US State Department. California had better build its desalination capacity, pronto!

California agriculture represents over 400 different commodities (7) – and already exports more than a quarter of the volume produced. But, of what currently falls under domestic sales, most would, post-secession, be subject to international treaty. Much of what California produces and distributes now is a matter of interstate commerce. The market will, no doubt, remain lucrative, but subject to international trade agreements.

Intrastate Governance

There will be other headaches for the state – again, not insurmountable, but requiring some up-front legwork. For example who’s a citizen of California? Will US residents with a California birth certificate be welcome to “repatriate”? Who, if anyone, is “out”? For those wanting to hightail it for the United States, will there be compensation for property left behind?

Will there be a potential “brain drain” if, say, the whole of Silicon Valley empties out? How will travel visas into and throughout the United States be handled? Will the citizens of California be able to take jobs in the US, like citizens of the EU do throughout the Eurozone?

Great Britain has demonstrated the importance of thinking and to planning prior to exiting. These are just a few of many things that will have to be considered before any major move can actually occur.

© 2017 Poligags



(1) Defense Contractor Data by year and by county, CA 2000-2015 http://www.governmentcontractswon.com/department/defense/california_counties.asp

(2) Deloitte Defense Study, Feb 2016 


(3) Military bases http://www.militaryauthority.com/wiki/military-bases/nationwide/california/

(4) Economic impact of bases http://www.ncsl.org/research/military-and-veterans-affairs/military-s-impact-on-state-economies.aspx

(5) CA revenues from federal government https://ballotpedia.org/California_state_budget_and_finances

(6) CA infrastructure plan http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2016-Infrastructure-Plan.pdf

(7) CA Agriculture https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/PDFs/2016Report.pdf

Ted Cruz’s Long-planned Healthcare Charade

Ted Cruz is full of it…

Daily Kos is reporting that Cruz told a New Hampshire crowd that he and his family are among the ranks of the uninsured, and that (of course) it is the fault of the ACA. He said he’s among those who “lost their health care because of Obamacare” and that he’d received notice that Blue Cross / Blue Shield “was leaving the market”.

Until very recently, Cruz was covered under his wife’s plan at Goldman-Sachs in Houston. His wife took an unpaid leave from her job for the duration of ol’ Rafael’s campaign and may have had her benefits suspended or rates increased because of that leave; however, BCBS of Texas has not left the market. In fact, their website says they “offer individual coverage options in every market in the state, both on and off the exchange.”

Cruz is eligible, as a Senator, to sign on with the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program just like every other federal civilian employee. He chooses not to. And he’s been planning this charade since last March. He was reported by Think Progress to have said in an interview with Dana Bash “[w]e’ll be getting new health insurance and we’ll presumably do it through my job with the Senate.”

By law, Cruz is subject to the $695 or 2.5% of household income penalty for non-covered individuals. On a typical Senate salary, that would be ~$4350…good thing Heidi’s not working, huh?

Update: Think Progress is now reporting that Cruz “forgot” to renew his plan… thanks, Obama!

Update: Wall Street Journal reports that the Cruz campaign was forced to admit that Rafael and family are, indeed, insured.

(c) 2016 Poligags


Mike Huckabee Had A Brain Fart – But We’re Here To Help

Former Arkansas governor and presidential never-gonna-happen Mike Huckabee took to the airwaves in the wake of the Paris terror attack. Although indicating that he knew it was impolitic to be a wing nut bigot and hypocritical Christian publicly, he charged ahead: Muslims leave their worship  “like uncorked animals – throwing rocks and burning cars.”

He is also reported to have said, “I don’t know of any other group of people uniquely that are targeting innocent civilians and committing these acts of mayhem.” Really, Mike?


So you don’t recall an America citizen shooting a member of Congress and several of her constituents…or another fine “patriot” who took out a federal building, the ground floor of which housed a day care center? How about the DC Beltway Snipers who took out random targets of opportunity from a hole in the trunk of their car? Surely you recall the neo-Luddite who sent bombs through the mail as well as the US Army veteran who declared “holy racial war” against Sikhs. How about the American-raised (naturalized) citizen who wreaked havoc at the Boston Marathon? And, as in France, even casual dining isn’t safe in the good ol’ US of A, as evidenced by the San Ysidro McDonald’s episode.

These “acts of mayhem” were all homegrown. So maybe you want to dial down the derision and take a more temperate tone about who is “uncorked”.

(c) 2015 Poligags


Larry Lessig is Brilliant – But His “Referendum Candidacy”..?

Lawrence Lessig is an ivy league professor, political activist, and amazing mind. He helped define Internet law and was on the founding board of Creative Commons. He has sought to correct campaign finance inequity through his Mayday (Super) PAC’s influence, helping to elect those who would advance campaign finance reform legislation. Recently, he announced plans to possibly run for the presidency in 2016 as a “referendum candidate”.

Lessig’s Plan

Lessig’s attention is laser focused on fixing the rigged electoral system first, recognizing this fatal flaw as the one from which other national woes originate. Lessig would run for president and his candidacy would be a referendum. If elected, the theory holds, a mandate supporting that referendum will have been achieved.

The Election

The referendum presidency would exist solely to pass the Citizen Equality Act of 2017. Once that goal has been achieved, Lessig would quit and turn the balance of his term over to his VP.

Before any of this can begin, however, Lessig needs to bank $1 million by Labor Day (which will be returned to donors if the threshold isn’t met). He raised $150,000 by the end of the day after he announced.

The Citizen Equality Act of 2017

Lessig proposes – or, more accurately, proposes to propose the Citizen Equality Act of 2017. According to his website, if the million dollar goal is met by Labor Day, he will “crowdsource a process to complete the details of this reform, and turn it into proposed legislation by January 1. In other words, he’s got nothin’ right now.

However, that “nothin’” consists of three fundamental parts:

The Equal Right to Vote – at present, this consists of the Voting Rights Enhancement Act of 2015 (S. 1659), which would amend the Voting Rights Act, and the Voter Empowerment Act of 2015 (HR 12), which amends the National Voter Registration Act.

Equal Representation – achieved through the termination of gerrymandered districting, with the Fair Vote plan serving as the model to achieve equality.

Citizen-funded Elections – it is proposed that some hybrid of the Government by the People Act (HR 20) and a plan floated by Represent.US (which does not appear to have been introduced yet) be drafted.

At present, none of these challenge the concept of corporate personhood or would overturn Citizens United and cases associated with it. To accomplish that requires that either the Supreme Court reverse itself or a constitutional amendment be passed and ratified by the states.

So What’s Wrong With The Plan?

Wrenches in the ‘Works’

The Presidential Bid – Lessig appears to be running as the personification of the referendum he proposes. This country elects presidents, not referenda, with the victor ultimately decided by the Electoral College.

Likewise, he will choose his vice president with a little help from those who “vote” via https://lessigforpresident.com/vote4vp/ There is no means for determining whether those who “vote” via the website are eligible voters, which calls into question the legitimacy of such an “election”. Nevertheless, Lessig’s choice would succeed him upon his stepping down.

The US Constitution says that the President and the Vice President are chosen separately; in practice, however, they are chosen together. In the event that a vice presidential choice fails to receive an Electoral College majority, then the Senate selects the VP. Lessig’s plan appears to be outside of this legal framework.

A National Referendum – A referendum is a right reserved to the people to approve or reject an act of the legislature, or to approve or reject legislation that has been referred to them by a legislature. Referendum power is derived from a state’s constitution; people do not have the right to challenge federal legislation by referendum. Likewise, the Constitution does not provide for a national initiative.

The subject of initiatives and referenda (I&R) is addressed by the I&R Institute, which says “[t]here have been two distinct approaches to obtaining a national I&R process in the United States. One is working through the states and the other is by getting Congress to pass an amendment establishing the initiative process.” In other words, a constitutional amendment proposed, passed and ratified in accordance with Article V of the Constitution would be a prerequisite.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 8 of the Constitution

Should Lessig’s referendum candidacy be successful, he hopes to be in office for a mere day, have Congress approve his Act, and allow him to step down. Given their record over the years, this single-day scenario is unlikely. So what of the nation’s other business while Lessig waits for his Act to move through both chambers? In an August 19 interview with Rolling Stone, Lessig said he “has to convince the public that, in the case of something extraordinary, they could act as a kind of leader that the nation needs at the time of crisis. That tepid response does little to inspire confidence.

Existing Legislation and Candidates

As noted, the as-yet-written Lessig plan is a patchwork of existing and proposed legislation. One of the declared candidates for president already introduced legislation that would overturn Citizens United; the other bills mentioned above can stand, be amended and pass or fail on their own merits. Lessig, through his Mayday PAC, could advocate for the advancement of any or all of them.

© 2015 Poligags


UPDATE (September 8, 2015) – Lessig achieved his million-dollar goal over the Labor Day weekend, and officially announced.

Beat The 1% At Their Own Game

Guest post by X382163

They control every aspect of your life: when you get up in the morning, what you do during the course of the day, what you eat and how (or whether) foodstuffs are labeled, the commodities you can buy, what media you can take in. In some instances, they tell you who to vote for or even “buy” elections outright. They profit from your labor and impinge on your “off” hours, expecting a reply to their every email, call and text, regardless of how you might be spending “your” time.

They’re the 1%. And they “own” you.
After all: without them, you don’t have an income.

Capitalism goes through cyclical crises every 40 or 50 years. These are often triggered because the avenues for accumulating more wealth cease to be productive enough and the system has to be “restructured” in order to keep the Almighty Dollar coming in. The TTP and TTIP “trade” agreements are evidence of a very typical effort to rein in social welfare programs and re-subordinate labor through deregulation, union-busting and the creation of the “flexible” workforce.

Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich believes that the “flexible economy” or “gig economy” or “share economy” – it’s known by several names – assures a return to sweatshop conditions, because those living it operate in a variable cost sphere while existing in a fixed cost world. While the latter part of that statement is true enough, it doesn’t have to portend a return to the 19th Century.

A recently-released GAO survey demonstrates some confusion who to – and who to not – classify under the heading of “contingent worker”. The GAO surmises that “flexible” workers comprise somewhere between 5 and 33% of the workforce. That’s quite a spread. They also assume that “flexible” workers are under-educated and impoverished as a class.

Yet the “flexible economy” is exactly where we can beat them at their own game.

Freelancers Union and Elance/o-Desk teamed up to conduct their own survey. In the process, they learned that 53 million people – a third of the workforce – were engaged as so-called contingent workers some or all of the time. This segment of the population already contributes an estimated $715 billion to the economy. While fully half of the respondents indicated that lack of a stable income was a concern, technology continues to make freelancing an entirely viable means of earning a living. Groups such as Freelancers Union, The Next System Project, Collaborative Commons and others are springing up to address the need for and to support the members of this burgeoning community.

Uniting 53 million people represents a lot of economic clout. Economic clout is what the 1% understands. Through commoning, co-ops, employee-owned enterprise, commerce can shift from corporate entities to worker-centered businesses. The 1% do not seem to grasp that the very people they disdain and marginalize are the same people who make for and buy from them and elevate them to positions of privilege. By withholding productivity from them, workers can disrupt the existing power dynamic in favor of one in which the profits remain in their hands.

Begin by uniting with and patronizing other independent contractors, consultants, freelancers, co-ops, commons and virtual workers whenever the opportunity rises. A free-to-join and free-to-access directory is being compiled, with the first edition scheduled for release by Independence Day. Celebrate your independence by beating the 1% at their own game.

Dear PayPal – you really blew it this time!

PayPal recently announced that, beginning on July 1, there would be a new Terms of Service going into effect. This is because baby bird is finally leaving the nest and its parent company eBay. They will be entirely separate companies.

New Terms of Service. Yawn, right?

Well, let’s start with the fact that this Terms of Service is 60 pages long! Who needs 60-page Terms of Service? You know at the get-go that there has to be a lot of stuff buried in there that can’t be good for the consumer.

One of those things can be found on page 53 – a point long past which narcoleptics fell asleep with their finger on the “Agree” button:

PP ScreenShot

That’s right. By agreeing, PayPal gets forever rights to your intellectual property posted and tied to a PayPal account. To use if they want, when they want and how they want. You have no say in the matter and (per the paragraph that follows) and you will not receive any compensation or royalties. Oh. And they can resell any or all of it to anyone they want.

And eBay, the separate company? They have the identical language in their Terms of Service, which already went into effect!


When providing us with content or causing content to be posted using our Services, you grant us a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) right to exercise any and all copyright, publicity, trademark and database rights and other intellectual property rights you have in the content, in any media known now or developed in the future. Further, to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law, you waive your moral rights and promise not to assert such rights or any other intellectual property or publicity rights against us, our sublicensees, or our assignees.

You represent and warrant that none of the following infringe any rights mentioned in the preceding paragraph: your provision of content to us, your causing content to be posted using the Services, and use of any such content (including of works derived from it) by us, our users, or others in contract with us that is done in connection with the Services and in compliance with this User Agreement.

We’ll be making some changes. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled before hitting that “Agree” button!

© 2015 Poligags

UPDATE (May 27): Just in case you think we’re being paranoid, check out this article. Some people are turning others’ posts into “art” and selling them for $90,000: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2015/05/25/a-reminder-that-your-instagram-photos-arent-really-yours-someone-else-can-sell-them-for-90000/?postshare=9371432648650700

The Fight for $15: Legislative Update

There are a few bills in play or being drafted in some state legislatures that aim to address the plight of low-wage workers. As near as we can tell, their main intent is to apply pressure to major employers – those that directly employ a certain number of people within that state who earn less than the strived-for threshold of $15 per hour – to voluntarily adopt paying a living wage.

Across the country, full-time minimum wage earners find themselves having to apply for food stamps and other forms social assistance. Their employers encourage them to; their employers show them how. The public subsidizes these bad players through their taxes.

So, you would think we would welcome an effort in Connecticut that proposes to force employers with 500 or more direct employees and paying less than $15/hour to pay an assessment of $1 per employee as described in the Hartford Courant. The truth is, we’re not so sure about it as it is written.

The Courant did not, in its roughly 1150-word article, mention the bill number. So we did the research. It turns out that there are actually two similar bills – one in each chamber of the state’s General Assembly.

The one mentioned in the article corresponds to SB 1044. If passed, it would apply to employers of 500 or more people, and would impose a tax / fee / fine on every one who is not paid $15 per hour or greater. The money would go straight into the General Fund to be re-distributed to state social service agencies “to support and improve the quality of state-supported consumer-directed services for elderly and disabled persons” and to increase access to “school readiness programs, the child care subsidy program…Head Start, Early Head Start or other programs…” Funds would also be allocated for administering and enforcing the law.

The second piece of legislation is HB 6791. This one would apply to employers of 250 or more direct employs. Like SB 1044, a wage threshold is established, as is an assessment for every person not being paid at or above that rate. Again, the money goes to the state treasury. And, after that, it seems to do nothing other than pay for the program itself!

There is not one word in either of these bills about direct assistance to the affected workers on whose backs these funds would be generated. Elder and child care are certainly worthy social services, but if a low-wage worker has neither elderly relatives nor young children requiring these programs, how are workers’ lives in any way improved by these bills?

© 2015 Poligags