Thursday, October 18, 2018

Copyright & "Intellectual Property" Are endangering Lives & Democracy!

If someone were to distribute, for free, the most effective educational material, some funded by tax payers, about the leading causes of violence to people, including those in the poorest cities in the country with the highest rates of violence, so they could learn how to minimize crime and violence, would the government give them a medal of freedom for his or her service to their country?

Or would they threaten to throw him or her in jail for stealing "Intellectual property?"

You would think the answer would be obvious; but just a few years ago the government demonstrated, with their actions, that they might threaten to throw him into jail for educating the public about how to reduce violence, when they prosecuted Aaron Swartz for downloading documents from JSTOR. The vast majority of the public probably never understood the full implications of why he was prosecuted or how it threatens our democracy, and since it restricts educational materials about many different subjects, including how to reduce violence, it also prevents many people from understanding the most effective ways of dealing with crime, including violent crime. These complicated intellectual property laws also enable a small fraction of the public to control the educational material that we need to participate in the democratic process.

This means our intellectual property laws, which have never been adequately explained to the public, are putting lives at risk, and threatening the legitimacy of our democratic process.

This isn't limited to copyright laws, but it's part of a far-more complicated system where a small fraction of the public control large institutions and pass laws that the vast majority of the public doesn't understand, so they don't even know how it's impacting them. The mass media is now controlled by six oligarchs thanks to the merging frenzy that began decades ago and escalated, while most people weren't paying attention, until it became an oligarchy system, instead of a free enterprise system. these six oligarchies decide which political candidates get the media coverage they need to get the name recognition that makes them "viable," so contrary to what the media often used to tell us the first primary isn't the "money primary" where they see which candidates collect enough campaign donations to enable them to be viable, it's the media primary, which they never mention at all.

This means that the media, alone has the ability to limit the candidates that we choose from so that we can only hear from candidates that won't challenge their domination of the press, which is exactly what the first amendment was supposed to prevent.

The same media establishments decide which books can get promoted and which ones never even have a chance to get published. As I went into in a couple older articles, Copyright Bureaucracy and Copyright violators are thought criminals, they often allow their financial interests to impact their decision regardless of the most credible research into the social causes of violence and how to prevent them or the best interest of the majority of the public on any other give issue as well. this was also pointed out in Robert McChesney's books, "Rich Media, Poor Democracy" and "The Problem of the Media" which I cited in those articles, however he was unable to get much if any promotions from the mass media for the obvious reason that he was exposing their scams; but they became popular among people that follow alternative media outlets that spread the word about this. However good books like this are still at a massive propaganda disadvantage compared to authors that write books supported by mainstream media.

Books that are critical of the concentrated power of the mainstream media aren't the only ones suppressed, or that most of us never heard of, it's virtually guaranteed that there are many more, and we have no way of knowing how good the vast majority of them are, although in a few cases some people close to the author might know. One of the books that got caught up in the media merger frenzy of the nineties, and was stalled for a few years getting little or no promotions and unavailable in many book stores, even when the author was featured on Phil Donahue, was "Beating the Devil Out of Them," by Murray Straus, about the long term damage that can be done by corporal punishment, which often leads to escalating violence. His work was recognized by a large segment of the academic community at that time, as being very credible, and additional research since then has only added to that credibility; however as the following except from the introduction of the 2001 2nd edition indicates he had a hard time getting his book through to the public initially, and there's a possibility that he may never have been able to regain the lost opportunity as a result of the problems he had with publishing companies:

Beating the Devil Out of Them 2001 2nd edition by Murray Straus

Beating the Devil Out of Them was virtually stillborn. The month it was published, the original publisher, Lexington Books, was sold to Macmillan and the planned advertising and book tour never happened. given the merger frenzy of the mid-1990's this problem happened to many books. Every book needs an editor who "owns" a book as his or her project. Without that, it risks becoming and orphan. Unless it seems like it will be a "best seller," a book without an editor to advocate for it can get lost in the competition for advertising and other promotional efforts.

The positive side of the merger seemed to be that Macmillan is a long established and respected publisher of social science books. However, when Macmillan did nothing to advertise or promote the book -- not even to list it in their catalog, I realized there was a fundamental problem. This was dramatically illustrated by my appearance on the Phil Donahue show, which had an audience of many millions. When an author is on that type of show, publishers usually make sure there are copies in bookstores around the country. Not in this case.

Then Macmillan was sold to Simon and Schuster. Large publishers of academic books and textbooks probably publish about 500 books a year, so Beating the Devil Out of Them was even more likely to be lost in the shuffle. Then Simon and Schuster was sold to the TV and media giant Viacom. A year had now passed and the book was still not listed in any publisher's catalog. I was sure things could not get worse. But they did despite what at first seemed like a lucky break. Viacom had also acquired Jossey-Bass, a small social science publisher that markets its books very well. They transferred Beating the Devil Out of Them to them. I received a warm letter from the publisher saying they were planning to promote the book and that I would shortly hear from the psychology editor.

To my amazement, months went by and no word was received. I wrote to the psychology editor, and received no answer. I phoned and he said he was working on it. when the next Jossey-Bass catalog came out, it was not displayed. I presented a paper on corporal punishment at the American Psychological Association meeting that year. Jossey-Bass had a large display at the meeting. Even though I called to make sure copies would be on display, none were. And when I looked at the catalog on display at the meeting, there was no sign of Beating the Devil Out of Them.

The end of this tale occurred when, in desperation, I contacted the president of Jossey-Bass and asked to have the rights to the book so that I could arrange to have it published elsewhere. His response was to apologize and to say he would work with the psychology editor to list and publicize the book. Again, nothing happened. so, after another year, and after increasing strident complaints, including a threat of legal action, Jossey-Bass finally returned the popyright to me and made it possible for Transaction Publications to publish a second edition. Additional excerpts

Murray Straus is just one example of many of good academic work that gets little or not promotion from the mainstream media. He's one of the earlier academics to completely argue that any use of corporal punishment is detrimental to the psychological well being of children, and that it's much more likely to lead to escalating violence; however, he didn't quite come to that conclusion with the first printing of this book in 1994, which had the problems he described. By that time both Alice Miller and Benjamin Spock had come to this conclusion. Benjamin Spock first became famous for being the "Baby doctor" shortly after World War Two but it wasn't until his revised edition in the eighties that he came out completely against it, shortly after Alice Miller did. However he did recommend alternative less punitive methods from the first printing of his most famous book "Baby and Child Care," which is still not available free online according to U-Penn Online Books Page although the eighth edition is available here for now, but why not make it available free to everyone, especially lower income people twenty years after Benjamin Spock's death?

Even though it's now virtually agreed among credible academics that early child abuse leads to much more violence later in life, including high rates of bullying, domestic violence, rape, murder and even support for wars based on lies that our politicians are always leading us into, the majority of the public is probably now nearly so well informed, and allowing free access to some of the best research along with more media coverage of credible research could do an enormous amount ot reduce the problem; and some of the most important decision s about reducing violence can be based on accurate science, instead of demagoguery and ideologies that won't stand up to basic scrutiny.

One of the simplest statistics that show how much problems early abuse cause is the murder rates in the states that still allow corporal punishment in schools compared to those that don't. The same nineteen states that allow corporal punishment in schools almost certainly also use it more in the home as well and in the years 2015-2016 combined they had an average murder rate of 5.98 per hundred thousand, while the thirty-one states plus the District of Columbia that no longer allow it in schools only had a murder rate of 4.54. (Source: FBI, additional details below) However the vast majority of the public isn't aware of this research and much more, and a large part of the problem is that instead of trying to provide the most credible research in the mass media, they provide the most profitable for the owners of media companies, and they use their consolidated control of the media to promote their own agenda on any given issue. Then on top of that, they use intellectual property laws to make sure that the vast majority of the public can only access a limited amount of the best research unless they pay for it, and some of it is outrageously priced, and often not promoted in locations where many people would even think to look.

One of the most fundamental principles of propaganda or indoctrination is that "a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth," or at least it seems to; and this is much more effective if they can prevent opposing views from reaching a large audience. By allowing a fraction of 1% of the public to control the mass media and then restricting access to some of the most credible research to the rest of the public the mass media now has that enormous propaganda advantage, and they use it to manipulate those that aren't familiar with some of their indoctrination tactics.

If the vast majority of the public understood the full extent of damage done by early child abuse, including corporal punishment, there is little or no doubt that they would recognize that protecting children from violence would go a long way to reduce all forms of violence, and this should include banning corporal punishment in schools. However, since the same states that use corporal punishment in schools also use it more in homes, it would also be necessary to teach parents that passed this child rearing method down from one generation to another that there are other better ways. Simply making educational material available free, won't be enough, but it will help, and if additional counseling is available when ever possible it will help the most troubled parents reconsider these methods.

While checking for some recommended research for a recent article Protect Republican Woman And Children From Abuse! I went looking through some academic journals searching for the papers and found one Suarez, E., & Gadalla, T. M. (2010). Stop blaming the victim: A meta-analysis on rape myths, that tries to charge people thirty-six dollars, which is a ridiculous price for these papers, which are typically between twenty and fifty print pages. The people in the academic world must know that this is not practical for people to pay when they go through an enormous number of these studies during their research, and if anyone from the grassroots level doing research thinks it might be worthwhile they'll be outraged when they see how little they get for their thirty-six dollars. They can often get better research for free at the library, but some of this is important, for one reason or another, but few will know what is worth paying for, assuming any of it is, until after they access it. Even if it's worth paying for it's not the most effective way to finance educational material.

Anyone familiar with copyright laws knows that the purpose of them is supposed to be to collect money for work put into it, and often on the free market, especially when electronic documents can be duplicated for free they try to find out the right balance between high prices, and low volume or low prices and high volume. However in this case the price is so absurd that few if any people are going to be willing to pay it, so this price is almost certainly not designed to maximize income, but to control who has access to educational material. As Aaron Swartz might say this kind of pricing is designed to keep "children in the Global South" from accessing it, and it also deprives students in many of the abandoned inner cities that have the highest rates of poverty and violence from accessing it, assuming they have the critical thinking skills to understand it, which many of them might not, but many others, with help from more educated advisers, can quickly learn how to sort through some of these documents, and recognize the leading causes of violence.

These high prices are also designed to keep students from studying it, until the bureaucrats controlling the education process decide it's appropriate for them to read it, and in many cases that isn't until they take out enormous amounts of loans and are heavy in debt in an education system that is more concerned with controlling education that providing it in the most efficient manner possible. If they wanted students to have an opportunity to get the most effective education possible they could allow them to access some of their course material before they began studying at college, in some cases even in high school so they might be better prepared when they do get to college, but by using these rigged methods to control the distribution of this educational material they're demonstrating that they're more concerned about controlling it than allowing people to help themselves with their own education when possible.

Of course, these copyright laws are designed to finance research, however when the cost of distributing it for free is dropping steadily, thanks to computer and internet technology, and the cost of suppressing educational material from those that don't have permission to access it is rising steadily due to the same technology, it should be obvious that we need to seek alternative means to finance research. A close look at how the academic world works often indicates that they already found some ways to finance research besides copyright, and I'll come up with a couple more ideas below, but there should be no doubt that if we can finance one war after another based on lies, and prison and court systems that are housing more people than any other country in the world, except Seychelles, which only has 100,000 people, then we can find a way to fund research on the causes of violence and how to prevent them. Europe has already done this and indicated that by funding better education and child care that they can dramatically reduce violence, especially in some states that ban corporal punishment both in schools and at home, and have murder rates that are often below one per 100,000, less than one-fifth of the United States.

This is also demonstrated in stories about how funds are intentionally withheld from poorer communities, especially minorities as indicated in the following article:

For black, brown, and low-income students, public education is underfunded on purpose 09/12/2018

Like many reports, the latest from the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) drops a number of disturbing facts.

Between 2005 and 2017, the federal government neglected to spend $580 billion it was supposed to on students from poor families and students with disabilities. Over that same time, the personal net worth of the nation’s 400 wealthiest people grew by $1.57 trillion.

Seventeen states actually send more education dollars to wealthier districts than to high-poverty ones.

Over 1.5 million students attend a school that has a law enforcement officer, but no school counselor. The school policing industry was a $2.7 billion market as of 2015.

But Confronting the Education Debt doesn’t just throw numbers against other numbers to see what sticks. It tells a tragic story: the rich are getting richer, and our public schools are broke on purpose. And it comes to an indisputable conclusion: black, brown, and low-income students and their schools are owed billions of dollars.

That’s because many public schools do in fact work, but only when they are fully resourced, which tends to be in white, middle class, and affluent communities.

These findings drive home that adding market forces to public education — so-called “school choice” — is a superficial and, even, harmful attempt at solving a deep and enduring problem. After being hijacked as a political project by private investors and billionaires, charter schools have begun to threaten the existence of public education itself. As they grow in number, they siphon more and more funding from school districts, forcing cuts at traditional, neighborhood schools. Charter schools are costing San Diego Unified School District, for example, over $65 million annually — or about $620 per neighborhood school student.

Meanwhile, some charter school operators rely on weak regulation to pocket public dollars — like the Arizona Republican lawmaker in the news this week for raking in up to $30 million from the charter school chain he owns.

So, what is the answer? That’s what makes this report so powerful. The answer is right in front of our noses: working families, whether they’re black, brown, or white, must together demand a Marshall Plan-level of investment aimed at education justice. One that pays teachers what they deserve, fully resources all schools, divests from the school-to-prison pipeline, and invests in community schools.

This would mean that all students get a great education, not just those from wealthy families or families with the time and know-how to enroll them in a charter school. The rhetoric of “school choice” drives a wedge between families that otherwise share common interests.

As journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones writes in a defense of democratically operated — truly public — public schools, “Even when they fail, the guiding values of public institutions, of the public good, are equality and justice. The guiding value of the free market is profit.” Complete article

Diane Ravitch Crosspost: Jeremy Mohler: Schools Are Underfunded on Purpose 10/02/2018

Many people that are reasonably comfortable, and rely on the traditional media for their information, might think that we have fair opportunities to advance up the economic ladder, in this country; however the people that live in many of these low income cities no damn well that they have little or no opportunities to get a well paying job and that one way or another the economic system is rigged against them, even if they don't understand how. They might think caste systems like India has been trying to abandon, or apartheid systems, that South Africa supposedly abandoned after their limited and incomplete "Truth commissions" are only happening in other countries; however it doesn't take a lot of research to learn otherwise, assuming they want to learn. While reviewing murder rates for a series of articles about causes of violence I found that there are about one hundred and twenty five cities in this country which have more than twice the national murder rates, in some cases six to ten times as high. Some of the larger cities, like Chicago or Philadelphia, almost certainly have many wealthier neighborhoods where the murder rates are much lower, which would mean that the poorer neighborhoods have even higher rates to bring the average up to about 17 or 22 city wide.

The push for Charter Schools is a major part of corporate efforts to increase their control over the education process for the working class as well, and as I reported in Is Push For Charter Schools Increasing Murder Rates? sixteen of the cities with the highest concentration of Charter Schools are all in cities with above average murder rates, and most of them are in cities with more than double the national average, often much more. Diane Raqvitch has been reporting much more on this including one article about Massachusetts: The Waltons Won’t Take “No” for An Answer 09/27/2018 showing how wealthy people spent an enormous amount of money advertising and lobbying to remove the cap on Charter Schools in Massachusetts but failed miserably when the only cities that voted in favor of this initiative were in wealthy cities that didn't expect or want these Charter Schools in their own towns.

Jonathan Kozol has also been reporting on unjustifiable spending differences on working class communities compared to wealthy ones for decades, the best of his work may still be "Savage Inequalities" where he exposed how an enormous amount of money was spent on legal fees and lobbying, not to improve education, but to avoid doing so. If these legal funds and advertising were spent on education instead of suppressing education they could go along way to reducing the problem, and additional savings from lower demand for prisons would further reduce the problem, clearly indicating that they're more concerned with controlling education so it's only available when it suits their purposes than providing it in the most effective manner possible. Kozol also reported on San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, which virtually overturned Brown v. Board of Education, however the traditional media almost never mentions this while the keep reminding the public about the Brown case as if it was the solution to the problem. The San Antonio decision was written by Lewis Powell, who was also the author of the infamous "Powell Memo" which shows that he had an overwhelming bias in favor of large corporations and never should have been allowed to sit on the Supreme Court, yet he also decided Ingraham v. Wright, which allowed corporal punishment to continue to be allowed in schools even though it was about a child that was seriously injured by it, and there's been an enormous amount of evidence since then to show how much damage it does, yet the media refuses to report in in a high profile manner and it remains allowed in nineteen states, which as I said often have among the highest murder rates. Lewis Powell and other business leaders were far more concerned about controlling education and children of the working class than they ever were about educating them to learn how to stand up for their rights.

There's little if any doubt that many politicians, media pundits, businessmen, lobbyists, or the most influential people from the academic world including deans that control decisions about intellectual property, live in the most dangerous of these cities or neighborhoods. This means that the people making decisions about the economic, social and democratic system aren't the ones paying the price for their bad decisions.

The "intellectual property" laws that are designed to control the educational information available to the majority of the public aren't limited to copyright, they also include trade secrecy laws, non-disclosure laws and more that the vast majority of the public knows little or nothing about. Recent high profile examples of these laws include contractual agreement that are literally designed to make it illegal to expose crimes, believe it or not, which should be so obviously wrong that it's hard to imagine why the public hasn't demanded that they be outlawed immediately. Several members of Congress settled accusations of sexual harassment with tax payer money and as the media and Jackie Speier pointed out the forced the victims, assuming the accusations are justified, to sign a non-disclosure agreement banning them from informing the public that law makers have been involved in sexual assault allegations. Donald Trump also paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover up his alleged affairs.

Now that they've been made public, Donald Trump and several of the members of congress that have been named publicly have declared that they paid them out as nuisance claims, even though they claim they didn't have the affairs or commit sexual harassment or possibly even rape. Many people are skeptical of some of these denials, especially when the politicians making them often can't keep their stories straight, however this means that these non-disclosure laws are designed to either cover up illegal sexual harassment activities, or possibly rape, or they're designed to cover successful extortion attempts. Thanks to these absurd laws we have no way of knowing how many more lawmakers used tax payer money to cover up their sexual activities, or if some of them were potentially used for blackmail or extortion, that could conceivably even impacted their votes on important issues. Jackie Speier deserves credit for drawing attention to these outrageous laws and trying to change them, even if she hasn't succeeded; however, when asked if she would be willing to disclose the names of additional lawmakers that make settlements even though she was trying to change these laws and there's nothing respectable about laws designed to cover up crimes or potential threats to the democratic process, she declined saying that it would be illegal and while the laws are in place she would "respect" them.

However, these non-disclosure agreements are almost certainly a minuscule fraction of the contracts designed to prevent people from understanding how the economic and political system has been turned into an incredibly corrupt tragedy and farce, including trade secrecy laws which are designed to cover up psychological manipulation of children by advertisers as Susan Linn child psychologist and author of "Consuming Kids," Juliet Schor economist and sociologist and author of "Born to Buy" and Professor Roy Fox author of "Harvesting Minds" have pointed out. They exposed how some psychologists or advertising executives have been researching child behavior from the cradle and how they begin targeting them with advertising non-stop, now often even in schools, long before they develop critical thinking skills.

There have been plenty of stories about kids being killed for sneakers that they thought were worth two hundred dollars thanks to some of this deceptive advertising research so their should be little or no doubt that this is a contributing cause of violence. I haven't done what would be considered a scientific study on the subject, however when you see enormous volume of crime stealing petty Christmas decoration and Black Friday violence, it doesn't take a genius to see the connection, assuming people actually want to see the connection. One of the things Schor and Linn exposed was the "Girls Intelligence Agency" which recruits cool girls to market merchandise to their friends or help study how to manipulate them, which could potentially have a major negative relationship on their friendship once some of them realize they're being used. And there should be little or no doubt that this involves massive amounts of fraud increasing poverty, which also increases violence and crime, so it provide additional indirect impacts on crime as well. However a large portion of this is a trade secret and the portion that these researchers exposed gets little or no media coverage from the industries that are in the business of selling the ads targeting children.

One thing that is almost never considered by most people, is that our media is funded by advertising expenses, which are passed on to consumers. They don't maximize profits by providing us with honest advertising, they do so by finding the most effective methods of deceiving the consumer as possible than add the costs of this research and ads to the price of goods, which also funds the media. However just because consumers indirectly finance our current media system, that doesn't mean they have any influence over them; instead it gives the media an incentive to help their clients deceive consumers, which is essentially a hidden propaganda tax, levied by corporations instead of the government.

As I reported in Union Busting adds to corrupt bureaucracy and incites crime trade secrecy laws are also used to cover up activities from union busting consultants, however some of it has been disclosed any way, including confessions of Marty Jay Levitt a former union busting consultant who disclosed many of the dirty tricks they've used and how it lead to increased violence at coal mines, and could conceivable also lead to additional violence elsewhere, including at Walmart, which is infamous for it's union busting tactics and As I've reported repeatedly in several articles including Walmart’s crime problem, Rolling Back Safety more than prices? trade secrecy laws are also used to hide research to study how complacent consumers are when corporations gradually reduce the quantity of products in every day items while slowly increase the prices, and to hide sweatshop conditions and an enormous amount of additional epidemic levels of fraud that often go unnoticed as the quality of life for working class people is gradually reduced creating unjustifiable income inequality. These secrecy laws are basically designed to help wealthy people steal, and that indirectly contributes to traditional blue collar crime.

Susan Linn also pointed out how coal companies impacted the educational material that was provided in one of the schools that was funded with help from advertising, and ironically as I pointed out in "Frank Luntz confesses to sabotaging democratic process for clients" Frank Luntz also exposed additional trade secrecy laws designed to keep secrets about his studies on how to manipulate voters to support candidates that oppose the best interests of the working class. It's hard to imagine why he wrote "Words That Work" PDF since it obviously looks to me like a virtual confession, even though it includes some incredibly bad spin designed to justify his manipulation tactics. Ironically the voters he targets primarily are conservatives that don't seem to recognize that he's studying how to manipulate them, but other political operatives do the same things for Democratic candidates including James Carville and George Stephanopoulos who came up with Clinton's rapid response team in 1992. Frank Luntz admits that some of his additional research not in his book is protected by non-disclosure contracts; however he provided enough material in his book to show that he studies how to manipulate people to elect candidates that turn around and serve the interests of their campaign donors instead of voters.

The recent leaks of the DNC or Podesta E-mails also exposed how they political establishment is using trade secrecy laws to hide how they corrupt the political system. Even before they came out, those that thought it through recognized that the media was rigging elections by simply refusing to cover honest candidates that don't support their agenda; however when the leaks exposed how the Democratic Party was rigging the election people were, of course, outraged; but then, amazingly, the Democratic Party began arguing they were the victim, and that they had the right to manipulate the public in secrecy, and that the only crime was that their manipulation was exposed. Ironically a surprising number of people don't recognize that the Republicans and Donald Trump are doing the same things and that the sincere candidates are the ones that never get any media coverage at all, which is unacceptable in a democratic country. This enables the oligarchs to ensure that the most effective research on preventing crime isn't discussed at the national or statewide level, although local levels with informed people do implement some successful reforms in some cases.

This is especially true when it impacts corporate profits.

One of the most brazen examples of this is the insurance industry, especially when they try to sell life insurance for babies, often marketing it as a "College Plan," however as I pointed out in Killing Kids For Insurance Is Semi-Routine, not only is this an obvious fraud, where the more they spent on advertising or lobbying the less they had to pay claims, which was exposed by Helaine Olen and Chuck Jaffe but over thirty desperate and emotionally unstable parents were implicated in killing over fifty children, partly as a result of the incentive provided by life insurance that never should have been sold in the first place.

When I wrote the first of at least half a dozen articles about epidemic levels of insurance fraud incorporated into the current system, Gerber Life was advertising a lot on television for this incredibly obvious scam, including even on major news shows like This Week With George Stephanopoulos, and shortly after that there were two high profile cases in Georgia where two toddlers were killed with possible insurance motives. In both cases after a few months the majority of the online news stories about them stopped mentioning the possible insurance motives, although when they allowed comments there were occasionally people that reminded others of this. One of them was a hot car death, and the other one wound up convicting a black teen after a witness that was given a financial reward for his testimony testified against him, despite the fact that the adult daughter of the mother claimed she had emotional problems and both the mother and father of the toddler tested positive for gunshot residue, leading many people to suspect it might have been a wrongful conviction. Within a couple years after that TV commercials for Gerber Life became much less common, but they still have an enormous amount of online advertising and come up with the annual Gerber Baby contest to pick a spokes baby for their insurance policies. They never mentioned, that I know of, that they might have scaled back on their advertising because of outrage, but it seems like a reasonable possibility. Regardless of how hard they push for insurance in this scam there should be major doubts about the integrity that tries to prey on uneducated lower income parents and whether or not such a company should be trusted to provide baby food or anything for children.

Epidemic levels of fraud by insurance companies isn't limited to children, although that may seem like the most shocking, and there are at least three to four times as many adults killed with a potential insurance every single year, and as I pointed out in Insurance Executives Profit By Inciting Murder Occasionally Paying Killers, there have been dozens if not hundreds of examples where people really did get away with murder and collected the insurance money, at least for a little while, often not getting caught for years or decades and including at least eight times where insurance companies paid out claims over one million dollars to people that may have been implicated in the murder, and dozens more that were over half a million. One of these million dollar payouts was a friend of Marla Maples and her former husband Donald Trump, another victim was a political ally of George Bush, and a third victim for these million dollar pay outs was a former professional basketball player.

However there's little or no research to expose how much these insurance incentives are increasing violence, and what ever research that is available on the subject is often done by people with ties to the insurance industry, with an incentive to cover it up, or they can't get any media attention. In past reviews based on killers cited on Murderpedia, I've found that at least 5% of their entries if not close to or more than 6% have a potential insurance motive, almost all involving life insurance, although a handful might be murders to cover up other scams or accidents that weren't intended to kill anyone but did any way. There's no guarantee, for now that this is statistically representative, but if it is it comes to about 750 murders each year, if it's not it could be even higher or if they do over represent insurance related incidents it's still virtually guaranteed that there are over a hundred murders every year if not three or four hundred.

That doesn't mean that insurance was the sole contributing factor in many or any of these murders, but there's little or no doubt that it was a contributing factor in many that might not have been committed at all if it weren't for the insurance. However the insurance system that we have is based almost entirely on fraud, where the more money they spend on adverting or lobbying the less money they have available to pay out claims, especially with their enormous CEO salaries, profit margins and other bureaucratic expenses, so by increasing poverty as a result of this fraud, sanctioned by the political establishment, they indirectly increase another contributing factor to violence.

If you search the background of most, if not all of these killers there'll almost certainly be additional evidence of early child abuse that led to them to become violent as adults. Psychologist Dorothy Otnow Lewis claimed that every one that she researched in depth turned up additional evidence of an abusive upbringing, and James Garbarino also indicated that all the child killers he dealt with came from abusive homes. Even though Benjamin Spock was focusing on childhood behavioral problems when he wrote the following over seventy years ago he indicated that they understood how important early child rearing tactics are when it come to preventing violence:

Benjamin Spock: Avoiding behavior problems 1945

Serious behavior problems seldom arise abruptly in later childhood. The maladjustment in the child and the tension between him and his parents have usually accumulated step by step as the child passed through successive stages in his development. In tracing the origins of emotional disturbances, one encounters again and again stories of friction developing in infancy and early childhood around certain typical everyday situations. The commonest are: feeding, weaning, thumb-sucking, toilet training, anxieties incidental to development, sibling jealousy. It is helpful for physicians to know ahead of time where and when these difficulties are likely to arise and to give routine advice calculated to avoid or minimize them. Complete article

Seventy years after Dr. Spock wrote this and decades after mountains of additional research has piled up adding to this, there's little or no discussion about this in the mass media. Occasionally the Democrats pretend to support scientific research about one subject or another more than the Republicans, and since the Republicans do such an incredibly bad job supporting science, this seems legitimate; however when it comes to get tough on Crime policies, instead of helping the best academics educate the majority of the public about how to reduce violence by increasing early child care and providing at risk parents with the help they need they often try to compete with the Republicans sounding tough and intimidating, except on a few examples at the grassroots level when informed members of the public speak out against them, but then the media refuses to cover this. James Garbarino has recommended a home visitor program, which is very cost effective, to advise at risk parents on how to help raise their children. this is one of many successful programs that have been proven to work, yet there are no politicians willing to champion them and and push for funds to implement them, nor are the media pundits willing to report on them. Instead they cut programs like this, pretending to save money, even though the research indicates that they result in much higher court and prison costs.

There's no doubt that our current economic and political system is a major contributing cause of violence, although it's almost certainly not as important as early child abuse leading to escalating violence later in life; however, one of the other biggest contributing factors is almost certainly abandoned cities with a dysfunctional education and economic system, and our economic system is a major cause for that.

Then what?

First of all we need to acknowledge that our political system, has broken down and they're not even doing a good job pretending to represent the majority of the public. they've demonstrated this by providing an insane amount of obsession coverage that enabled two political nominees to run for president while both were under FBI investigation. There's no way either of them could have won their nominations if they didn't have an enormous amount of institutional support, despite all the rhetoric about Donald Trump standing up to the establishment, which just happened to give him the coverage they refuse to provide to honest candidates. If the current political establishment wanted to do a better job they already would have, so it should be clear that if there's going to be major reform on a national basis there needs to be a massive grassroots uprising, or something else that will bring in major changes.

If there is such a movement they're going to need a lot of well informed people helping to make it successful, but even if it doesn't come right away, there's some indication that some improvements can be made at the grassroots level, and in some cases they already are.

There's no doubt that we need to stop allowing a minuscule fraction of one percent of the wealthiest people in this country to control all the major institutions without much if any accountability to the general public. One solution that Robert McChesney and John Nichols floated a few years ago with the help of Dean and Randy Baker was to help fund alternative media through a “Citizens News Voucher,” however before you object to media funded by citizens, keep in mind we already fund the media indirectly through a portion of the sales that we buy where some of it is used to pay for ads, so keep in mind, unlike the current system the following idea allows citizens to influence the media and hold them accountable:

"The Death and Life of American Journalism" By Robert W McChesney, John Nichols 2010

This brings us to the third core policy initiative we propose: the creation of a funding mechanism to spawn viable independent Internet journalism. The trick is to provide ample funds or create a bureaucracy that doles out funds to its preferred media. We need a system that is competitive, accountable and open to innovation. Advertisers and foundations are not up to the job, and the idea of converting computers into vending machines is unappealing and impractical.

So what policy solution is there?

The strongest proposal we have seen has been developed by the economist dean Baker and his brother Randy Baker over the past decade. Our proposal embellishes their core concept. We call it the “Citizens News Voucher.” The idea is simple: every American adult gets a $200 voucher she can use to donate money to any nonprofit news medium of her choice. She will indicate her choice on her tax return. If she does not file a tax return, a simple form will be available to use. She can split her $200 among several different qualifying nonprofit media. (p. 201) Additional excerpts

This idea was written to provide additional funding for alternative media outlets that are already doing a better job than the mainstream media; however it clearly hasn't gotten very far, because no one has pushed it yet. It may continue to sit there until more people pay attention to it and try to push it eventually finding a politicians that might mention it on the campaign trail forcing the mainstream media to either cover the discussion or provide additional evidence of their efforts to suppress media reform by spinning it or smearing it, as they often have in the past.

This could also be used to fund copyrights or additional research into a variety of subjects including on how to reduce violence. In many cases there are already a lot of alternative media outlets seeking donations or other sources for funds, with limited degrees of success, however people that check some of these outlets already know they're far more credible than the mainstream media, although people need to be cautious about some of the extreme alternatives, including Alex Jones, the medias current favorite punching bag, which I usually don't like either, however there have been a few exceptions where even Alex Jones has done better job than traditional media.

One of the obvious rebuttals that will come up if this idea gets more attention is that they'll refer to it as that old fashioned evil they call "Socialism," which has been demonized for decades. However, whether Socialism is as bad as they claim depends on how it's implemented, since either "the devil is in the details," or "the most effective solution could be in the details," assuming we sort through them well enough. Many countries in Europe are partially socialist, and they provide much better education, child care and have a better quality of life and much lower murder rates, so Socialism isn't always bad. Besides, as Noam Chomsky and others often accurately say, our economic has socialized the risks and privatized the profits, providing massive subsidies for wealthy campaign contributions, so the people calling Socialism evil are trying to distract from the fact that they support it as long as it's rigged in their favor.

This isn't much of a start but if there is major reforms coming and more progressives elected then we'll need to start working on more ideas to begin with so they'll have something to help push, and along with exposing all the corporate scams this could help contribute to more solutions. While preparing this and on at least one or two previous occasions I inquired with several authors about non-disclosure agreements and if they're used in copyright contracts, or if they might consider alternative funding for their work, most of them haven't replied yet, even though they were involved in research that is designed to reform one subject or another to reduce violence or reform media; however I did get one reply from Sherry Hamby, who seems open to suggestions even though she may be skeptical. Skepticism is justified since little is likely to change unless it has a lot of support, but if something does change the results could eventually be enormous.

Professor Hamby says that she's already trying to make her research available through "a variety of outlets, including some open-access," (her work on her website) which a lot of good researchers are also doing, and is helpful; however, most people probably aren't aware where to find these open-access sources that have the best research, often including myself, so until there's more effective media reform, we need more efforts at the grassroots level to spread the word. She also said, "Most copyright agreements are for perpetuity (last forever). Sometimes if the publisher takes your book out of print, the rights revert to the author. Copyright agreements don't usually have nondisclosure clauses. The main place you might see nondisclosure agreements is when you review grants, to protect the applicants."

I'm a little skeptical about whether she knows about some of the most outrageous non-disclosure agreements, especially since we already know that congress has been using them to cover up lawsuits that might have impacted their legislative performance and corrupted their decisions; and it's highly unlikely they would want more people knowing about the most outrageous of these non-disclosure agreements than they have to. This is especially true when it comes to academic fields that attract researchers that are as concerned about solving social problems as they are about making lots of money, including those that study how to reduce violence, or in Professor Hamby's case rape, or expose deceptive advertising like professor Schor, or many other researchers in fields that aren't primarily focused on maximizing profits regardless of negative externalities. If they let some of these academics know about some of the worst uses for trade secrecy laws, many of them would inevitably leak it more often.

Professor Hamby provided a link to publicly disclosed APA Forms for Journals Publication including copyright forms, which are disclosed, however, only a small fraction of the public would even think to look at it. I have no hard evidence to show that there's anything more to it than that; however, Robert McChesney, Ben Bagdakian and Lawrence Lessig have written extensively about how politicians have been collecting an enormous amount of campaign money from publishing and media companies, and coincidence or not, they've passed a series of laws escalating for decades gradually shifting control away from authors and to large institutions controlling who gets published and promoted and who doesn't. McChesney has reported on how they often give preferential treatment to those that support their ideological or financial agenda. Professor Hamby claims most agreements last forever, or as copyright law indicates, seventy years after the death of the author, assuming they don't extend it again, which they've already done repeatedly. However they didn't always do this and as Murray Straus indicated there have been problems during the merger frenzy and companies that used to be reputable within the academic community for promoting good research may now be more increased in controlling academic work to increase profits.

When Murray Straus was alive he put most of his work available free on line at Murray A. Straus articles on his home page, (Way-back copy) presumably because he wanted it freely available for all to take advantage of. Unfortunately UNH is no longer maintaining it so it's only available for now on the way-back machine. Shortly before he passed away I wrote him about Steven Pinker's book "Better Angels of Our Nature" which included a citation of him I felt sure he would disagree with, and he did responding by sending me a copy of what he calls "the Legitimate Violence Spillover theory of crime," which was written partly in response to Pinker's book; but in addition to that he also sent me a free digital copy of "The Primordial Violence" which I later realized wasn't available free on-line. I can't say for 100% certainty, but I suspect the most likely reason why he did this was because he knew he had limited time to send out copies of his work and he wanted to do so. Thanks to current laws, which seem to have abandoned the best interests of authors or the public in favor of publishing and media companies he may have been forced to sign a long term contract that would last seventy years after his death to get some promotion for his book to spread it in the short term but would prevent people from accessing it free for decades to come if not over a hundred years, assuming publishing companies have their way.

This is what leads me to suspect that even though I don't doubt Professor Hamby's claim that NDAs are used in publishing agreements with scholars concerned about the well being of society and willing to balance it with their own financial well being, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that authors promoting pro-corporate ideology might be more inclined to provide propaganda that puts profits ahead of addressing legitimate social research to reduce violence. One example of this is Frank Luntz, who's book is available free on-line, with or without permission, and it has been taken down from previous locations. It appears as if his publishing companies might be playing "whack-a-mole" with so called pirates distributing his book for free. In the case of Luntz, I don't have a lot of sympathy since he's worth about twenty-six million dollars or more, because he helps billionaires study how to manipulate voters so they will vote for candidates that oppose the best interests of the majority of the public. In other words, he's a government authorized thief! But the same doesn't go for those that are looking for a much more reasonable balance, which I'm sure includes many good researchers including Straus, Hamby, Garbarino, Coloroso, Linn, Schor and more; which is why I suspect that the people distributing material for free, that the government and media often refer to as "pirates" might actually be doing more to force a solution to this problem than the media that refuses to even discuss it.

We already have reason to know that it's standard operating procedure to require non-disclosure agreements for wrongful deaths, injuries or many other civil cases, including Tracy Morgan, who initially expressed an enormous amount of outrage when he was hit by a Walmart truck, but after he settled with a non-disclosure agreement he was talking about how they treated him so well and indicated he was extremely happy with Walmart, which is very unusual for people settling lawsuits with Walmart. This was followed up by another lawsuit because the insurance company initially refused to pay their share of this lawsuit, which was also eventually settled with another non-disclosure agreement. Even without inside knowledge it doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened, they gave Tracy Morgan a much better settlement than they ever would have provided for anyone that isn't a celebrity because it would have been devastating to their reputation if he drew attention to their typical practices. This isn't just speculation, the vast majority of lawsuits against Walmart don't get nearly as much media attention but they routinely fight them tooth and nail, and public disclosures are enough to know they treated him very differently because he was a celebrity.

There's no doubt that trade secrecy laws or other intellectual property laws are being used to hide an enormous amount of corporate fraud, which is why one of my previous suggestions for reforming democracy including increased reliance on ballot questions, since politicians routinely demonstrate they're not interested in supporting some laws with wide support among voters and came up with Ten ballot questions of my own that included one that banned all trade secrecy laws unless they could provide justification for some of them, without exception for epidemic levels of fraud, psychological manipulation of the public, activities that put the public at risk or any research that is funded by taxpayers. This should have been a no-brainer, which would have banned the settlements for sexual harassment lawsuits with tax payer money; however they've demonstrated that lawmakers don't seem to want to be accountable to the law.

Another one of my previous ballot questions involved increasing spending for schools and day care every time they increased spending for prisons. There's no doubt that this is a much more effective way of preventing violence from escalating, and even though the financial expenses shouldn't be as important as the social expenses, it's much cheaper to, and would save an enormous amount of money. Claims that they save money by cutting these kinds of programs are based on ideological extremist beliefs, not on the most credible research; and if we had a media establishment that was willing to report on educational research most of the public would know this!

The average murder rates for the nineteen states that still allow it in 2015-6 was 5.98 per hundred thousand; the average murder rate in states that don't allow it in schools is only 4.54 during the same two years. These averages were based on FBI crime rates 2015/2016 includes population estimates The nineteen states states that still allow it includes NC, SC, Ga., Fla., Al, Mi, La., Ak., Tn., Ky, Mo, Ind., Tx, Ok, Ks, Co, Wy, Ariz, and Ind. The estimated population for these nineteen states combined in 2015 was 133,322,590; in 2016, 134,800,581; total number of murders in 2015 was 7,589; in 2016, 8450; the rest of the country including the District of Columbia, but not territories like Puerto Rico had an estimated population of 2015: 187,574,028; in 2016, 188,326,932; murders: 2015: 8,294 2016: 8,790. The average murder rate in states without corporal punishment in 2015 was 4.42, in 2016 it was 4.67; the average rate for those with corporal punishment in 2015 was 5.69; in 2016 6.27.

The following are a few related articles:

Correlation Between High Rates of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools and Social Pathologies By John Guthrow, December 2002

Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care 1966 edition PDF

Dr. Benjamin Spock comments on spanking (1989) In the eighties Benjamin Spock reversed himself on supporting minimal amounts of spanking when other options don't work to oppose it all the time; and additional researchers from many other researchers since then has indicated that this is a better alternative, and that child rearing experts like Dr. Spock or Barbara Coloroso have come up with better alternatives.

Copyright Bureaucracy

Copyright violators are thought criminals

The following are some of my past articles about contributing causes to crime and how to prevent them:

Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows

Does lack of education increase violent crime? Religion?

How much does Income Inequality Affects Crime Rates?

States with high murder rates have larger veteran populations

Teach a soldier to kill and he just might

The tragedy of gambling politics in United States

How does gambling and gun control impact violent crime?

Politics, not technology, caused botched executions

Troy, Cameron, Gary all innocent? And executed?

Democrats do a bad job on crime; Republicans and the Media are worse!!

Politicians increase crime; Grass roots efforts reduce crime; Politicians steal the credit

Life Insurance and media companies are encouraging lots of murders

Union Busting adds to corrupt bureaucracy and incites crime

Obama’s Opposition to Corporal Punishment Needs to be Finished by Grassroots

Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation Should Become a Priority Again!

Prevention of violence has to address all causes, not just Guns!

Growing Evidence Of Mega-Church Fraud Violence & Support For War?

Apartheid States of America

Is Push For Charter Schools Increasing Murder Rates?

Insurance Executives Profit By Inciting Murder Occasionally Paying Killers

Media Glorify Themselves While Still Refusing to Cover Causes of Violence!

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