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Cory Doctorow

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Saturday, April 10, 2010


I spent a good chunk of my childhood obsessed over lists. Specifically, Billboard magazine's Hot 100. I had my favorite songs (this one -- audio only -- moving up the chart cracks me up. Enjoy!), but it was so very rare that a song I liked ever hit the top of the charts.

I've had two lists bouncing around my head until this morning. On the surface, what the lists say about our society is pretty disturbing. Just like the Hot 100 lists from years ago, a closer inspection reveals a few favorites that are sure not to bubble to the surface and a lot of other information which only shows one side of a much larger problem.

First, the injunction that's part of a "civil lawsuit proposed by the city attorney's office, 80 defendants, most of them gang members, would be barred from . . " the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. Some that are in recovery from drug abuse and live in the area seem appreciative of the potential break in the non-stop drug shopping mall. There was a small pocket of protestors outside the announcement of the proposed lawsuit -- upset about not enough done to build/remodel affordable housing in the area but I'd guess not upset about barring the gang activity involving drug deals in the Skid Row area.

Short of erecting an actual wall and a moat of some sort, if the injunction goes through, it doesn't stop the dealing -- it just moves it into the shadows and outside Skid Row's "boundaries". The key to ongoing recovery for drug addicts is making the conscious choice to not use, even if the decision is made hour by hour or minute by minute. A stronger network of support for those in recovery in the neighborhood as well as an increase acceptance of the presence of recovery groups and locations would be a big help.

At the other side of the world, another list that tells a larger story upon closer inspection, but doesn't tell the entire story. This list comes with pictures, so everyone's a winner. It is interesting to note that the assertion that the corporations in the list pay no income tax is like looking at a penny from one direction and saying there are no bumps or ridges in a penny. You and I know that's not true, but if you only stare around the edge and feel it with your finger, it's as smooth as copper/zinc gets.

Taxes get paid. Not necessarily paid to the IRS/U.S. Treasury, but paid somewhere. Perhaps a more united effort by the countries to which taxes are paid to demand the same percentage from corporations as the U.S. demands . .

Nah. That'd be like making Skid Row in L.A. a "drug free zone".

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