Thursday, December 6, 2012

Old Weird America's Last Stand, part 4

The 1970s: A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality (America in the World)The 1970s: A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality by Thomas Borstelmann is an insightful examination of one of the most confusing decades in America's history.  The decade was mired in government corruption (Watergate, etc) while at the same time people were struggling with an unprecedented change in social values (skyrocketing divorce rates, gay rights, women's lib, minority rights, a rise in religious cults and counter-culture communes).  There was also a series of failed U.S. foreign policies (military loss in Vietnam, the loss of the Panama Canal, debacled rescue attempts of the Mayaguez in May of 1975 and of the Iran hostages in 1979) plus the creation of new foreign governments that were hostile to the U.S. (Cambodia, Angolia, Iran and Nicaragua).  On top of all of that Americans were facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression (inflation, unemployment, stagnation, oil crisises, energy blackouts, etc).

As a collective identity America was having an identity crisis during the 1970s. Prior to the civil rights advancements of the '60s the social order in the U.S. was fairly cut and dry. The economy had been prosperous and expansive since WWII. Our military superiority was clear and our moral compass was intact. We knew who our enemies were--those Godless commie rats in Russia and China. But all that had become topsy turvy by the 1970s and that is when something interesting started to happen. It started with Americans becoming increasingly apathetic in regards to politics (and the government) as well as the ethics of big business.  Instead, Americans trended toward concentrating on themselves as individuals (the effect was the creation of what Thomas Wolfe famously decreed the Me Generation).  Borstelmann does an excellent job of illustrating this apathy and its causes through documentation and examples. More importantly he lays out how all of this apathy provided a vast opportunity for mechanisms to be put in place that would lead to economic inequality. Eventually the Reagan Administration promoted and instituted many of these mechanisms during the 1980s which in turn has led to the corporate globalization that has been putting stress on the American people ever since.

But this book isn't a partisan criticism of Reaganomics or right-wing politics.  In fact it examines something that Liberals/Progressives do NOT want people to think about: that the Liberal/Progressive ideology is PRO-globalization. At the core of Liberal/Progressive thought is the idea of equality among everyone. This idea has led to Free Trade agreements. It has led to nation building experimentation and financial support for third world nations. It has led to other countries starting to catch up to the standard of living that has been widespread in the U.S. for most the the 20th century.  For most of the 20th century we have seen that the overwhelming majority of the world's citizens held a gripe against the USA--a gripe that is pretty similar to the gripe that the Americans who are protesting at Occupy Wall Street have against Big Corporations. The irony is that it is the Liberals/Progressives OWN policies of globalization that has allowed the rest of the world to start "catching up" with us economically. So of course Liberals/Progressives don't want people to know that, because no American is going to vote for a policy that "shares the American wealth" with the rest of the world.

As the subtitle of his book suggest; A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality, Borstelmann keeps this conflict at the center of his focus.  Afterall this idea that racial, gender, sexual orientation, religious equality has actually led to economic inequality is prety fascinating. And as Borstelmann tackles this conflict and shows how it happened, it starts to seem that it was inevitable and, in fact, pretty much a natural part of evolution. And understanding this natural force is important in finding ways to move forward. Inequality is not something people generally stand for. Again, look at the Occupy Wall Street folks who are protesting the economic inequality that is largely defining our own decade. But a huge obstacle in getting rid of economic inequality exists, and it is illustrated in the false assumptions made by capitalists such as Milton Friedman who Borstelmann quotes at the beginning of the book:

The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want.

This of course simply isn't true. Today the market gives people what the Big Corporations think they ought to want. Big Corporation have used ethically questionable predatorial business practices that have skewed the playing field so far in their favor that consumers no longer are given a fair choice.  I mean, why do people really eat crappy tasting pink slimed McDonaldland/DisneyWorld chain store fast-food that will give them a lifetime of health problems?  It's because the corporate consumer culture has made that crappy food 9 times more accessible than healthy food (not to mention that they have brainwashed Americas children into sugar-crazed Happy Meal daze that parents have little defence against). But this is NOT giving the people what they want. That is giving the people what the Big Corporations want them to want.

So where does this leave us? 

How is this corporate consumer culture ever going to be change?  A good start is for "the people" to get a good understanding of how this climate really got traction, back in the 1970s. And Thomas Borstelmann's brilliant book is a good place to start that education. For this and numerous other reasons I give The 1970s: A New Gloabla History a solid 5 out of 5 WagemannHeads.

View all my reviews
©2012 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Didn't Bush Go After Bin Laden?

bin laden photo: Osama Bin Laden Osamabinladen.jpgThere was a program that BBC aired in November of 2001 (just days before the famous incident in Tora Bora where U.S. troops had cornered Osama Bin Laden) in which news anchor Jeremy Vine produced an FBI document that revealed U.S. agents were told to "back off" from investigating the Bin Laden family. That seemed out of sorts but it became even more relevant a few days later when the Pentagon ordered American soldiers to stand down in Tora Bora eventhough they now had Osama bin Laden cornered.  Dalton Fury, the commander on the ground at Tora Bora, reveals the details of the Pentagon ordering him to 'stand down' in his book, Kill Bin Laden.  Which brings up the obvious question: Why? If you have Bin Laden cornered, literally just feet from where our troops are dug in, just weeks after 9/11, then why order our troops to stand down? 

At the time, the reasons behind the order to stand down were not known to the public at large and the Bush/Cheney gang pivoted into high gear toward a costly effort to misled the America people into supporting an invasion of oil-rich Iraq.  Bush/Cheney famously claimed that they knew that Saddam had WMDs and that they knew exactly where those WMD were, yet when WMDs never actually materialized there was only a slight grumbling of a 'bait and switch'.  For the most part America went along for the ride and soon enough the world was tuned into their mainstream media of choice as the Bush/Cheney Gang mounted a pre-emptive strike that kicked off an unethical war that was not paid for and which eventually nudged the U.S. economy spiraling into the worse recession it had seen since the 1930s.  A large reason for the faint resistance to a war that resulted in the death, displacement and injury of millions of innocent Iraqi citizens along with the death and dismemberment of thousands of U.S. troops was because Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack was still at large.  Americans were either afraid or pissed off and they wanted the government to do something about it.

But once the tanks started rolling into Iraq, the mastermind of the largest attack on US soil in history was no longer a concern for Bush/Cheney. In fact, at a press conference Bush43 famously came out and admitted that he didn't care about Bin Laden and wasnt interested in going after him. Such a comment sparked disbelief in some - especially soldiers in Iraq who had joined the military after 9/11 to fight in retaliation of bin Laden's brutal attack on innocent U.S. civilians.  It also prompted serious questions whether Bush43's loyalty was to the American people or the corporate oil industry.  Then, on top of that, reports came out about how the Bush family had deep business ties to the Bin Laden family - ties that began when Bush43 and Osama's Bin Laden's brother Salem Bin Laden founded Arbusto Energy, an oil company based in Texas.  As research uncovered that a bank controlled by the Bin Laden family had bailed out one of Bush 43's failed businesses during the 1980s Bush's reasons for not going after Bin Laden came under even more scrutiny.  And then eyebrows were further raised when reports came out of the ties between the Bush Family and the Bin Laden family via The Carlyle Group, a private global equity group whose senior advisor was Bush41.  
bin laden photo: Obama bin laden CIAOWNSALQAEDA-1.jpgThe Bush family's connections to the Bin Laden family was interesting and certainly grist for conspiracy theorists, but to understand the real motive behind the Bush/Cheney gang ordering Dalton Fury's troops to stand down in Tora Bora you must go back to 1997 when a rightwing think tank called The Project for the New American Century produced a document outlining how America needed to be transformed. Members of this think tank included Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Several of these future members of the Bush Administration took their plans for a war in Iraq to Bill Clinton with the hopes of convincing Clinton to invade Iraq.  After presenting Clinton with a fully detailed plan, Clinton refused and the wheels were set in motion for the Cheney-led cabal to groom a candidate for the White House who would promote The Project for the New American Century's agenda.

The designs that the The Project for the New American Century had in mind are clearly laid out in a report they issued titled Building America's Defences - which states "The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor."  Or a 9/11 perhaps?

Again, conspiracy theorists have since jumped on Building America's Defences report to argue that 9/11 was more than just coincidence.  And in fact, Congressional investigators such as John Farmer, a Senior Counsel for the 9/11 Comission, has said this about the Bush/Cheney gang's involvement in the events of 9/11: "At some level of the governmet at some point in time...there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened."  While Senator Bob Graham added that "the White House was directing the cover-up".  

But the important thing to take from the Bush/Cheney cabal's Building American's Defenses report is that it makes it very clear that when 9/11 (the new Pearl Harbor they needed) actually occured, the Bush/Cheney Administration was already prepared to use such a tragedy and, in fact, was able to quickly ratchet together the machinations for exploiting 9/11 to justify public support for a build-up to a war for oil in Iraq - after all, they had been planning for nearly a decade. Combine this with the Bush Administration's blatant dishonesty, their misinformation campaigns and the military-indusrial complex agenda that they were beholden to, it would suggest that their entire reign was full of evil-minded plots that reveal their obvious intentions. 

In hindsight, you would think the American people would have been quicker to catch on, or more vocal and assertive in their opposition.  After all, Americans had been doubting the government and expecting cover ups in large numbers since the assasination of JFK and the crimes committed during Watergate.  Yet, in general, the American people reacted more like fearful citizens during the rise of Hitler's Third Riech.  There were a few in the Land of the Free however who stood up on the right side of history.  One of those few would become Bush43's replacement who ended up spending the majority of the next 8 year repairing the damage that the Bush/Cheney gang had inflicted upon our great nation.
For more writing by Ed Wagemann click here:  ED WAGEMANN

©2010 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 12, 2012

Where is ObamaCare taking us?

How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in AmericaOtis Webb Brawley, M.D. (the author of How We Do Harm and the chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society) becomes especially upset when he hears politicians and pundits declare that America has the best health care system in the world.  Those who say we have the best health care in the world are either completely ignorant and out of touch with the reality or they are straight up lying out their asses.  Just look at the statistics.  The U.S. ranks 50th in the world in life expectancy with an average of 78.37 years.  Meanwhile Canada is over 81 and the UK is over 80.  And Monoco - at 89.7- has an average life expectancy at almost 90 years of age.  The U.S. also ranks 44th in infant mortality.  Yet we pay more in health care than any other nation on earth. We pay 50 percent more than our closest competitor (which is Switzerland).  In fact, American's health care costs account for 17.3 percent of our gross domestic product and we are on course to hit 25% by the year 2025.

In How We Do Harm, Brawley writes: "I have seen enough to conclude that no incident of failure in American medicine should be dismissed as an aberration.  Failure is the system." 

And he quotes Peter Bach as saying, "America does not have a health-care system. We have a sick-care system."  Bach goes on to say that "system" is not even an accurate word to describe what we have in our country, because "system" denotes organization. 

Brawley further criticizes the "system" by saying, "Too often, helping the patient isn't the point.  Economic incentives can dictate that the patient be ground up as expensively as possible with the goal of maximizing the cut of every practitioner who gets involved."

Question: Who is responsible for American's health-care/sick-care "system" being such a disaster? 

1) Health insurance and pharmaceutical companies
2) Medical professionals and health clinics
3) Consumers, i.e. patients
4) The government/large corporations
5) All of the above

It seems like a trick question.  I mean, is the patient (whether they be a low-informed consumer or not) to be blamed for taking the advise of experts who recommend procedures and drugs that do more harm than good?  Obviously not.  But is that same patient to be blamed for a lifetime of smoking, eating poorly, engaging in unhealthy or exceedingly risky behavior and not properly exercising?  Yes.  They are.

Or who's fault is it that patients do not trust the medical profession, and instead of going to them early enough to be treated in the early stages of a disease (in which they could be fully cured for $30,000) they wait years until they have no choice but to see a medical professional and end up having treatment that costs over $150,000 which will only delay death from that disease for a few months?

Or are the doctors at fault for experimenting with drugs and procedures that have been approved by health care agencies and experts?  What if these doctors did not reveal everything they know and everything they do not know about these procedures/drugs to the low-informed consumer/patient.

And what about large corporations that are polluting the environment and pumping toxins into the air, water and earth we live with? Like in 1977 when big chemical corporations decided they could make billions of dollars for years and years if they convinced our corporate-politicans to put fluoride in the water, even after Congress used the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to determine that fluoride caused the bone cancer called osteosarcoma.  That was over 20 years ago, but guess what we still have in our water?
Also, who is to fault for there not being enough quality medical professionals available to treat all Americans? 

The finger pointing can go round and round and in the end everyone involved is acountable for some of the blame.  Brawley writes of middle-aged black women who are so afraid of hospitals and doctors that they go without medical attention, knowing they have breast cancer, for nine years or more until their tumor becomes so big that it actually causes their breast to fall off.  He writes of sick Americans who actually can not afford health care or who can not afford to take off work to get treatement when they need it.  He writes of patients whose health care companies pay for unesseasry procedures recommended by doctors who are taking advantage of a system that is just out to make money.  He writes of patients who are prescribed unproven drugs that lead to worse health problems and then have their insurance companies drop them because they are too much of a risk.  So in this vicious cycle, where there is plenty of blame to go around, there is one thing that is for certain:  SOMETHING most be done to change the "system".

ObamaCare in a Nutshell

The first step in instituting ObamaCare came in the form of two ("fucking big deal") health care acts passed by Congress in 2010.  Assuming that The Supreme Court does not declare these two acts unconstitutional (the Supreme Court has scheduled six hours for oral arguments from March 26 to March 28 of this year and will issue a decision by the end of June) then the next step in ObamaCare is for Congress to pass the public option. The public option, for those of you not up to speed on the debate, would basically be a government-run health insurance agency which would compete with other health insurance companies - it would not be the same as publicly funded health care (like Medicare) because it would be financed entirely by premiums paid by those who buy into it (with no subsidies from the Federal government).  President Obama, the Congressional Democrats and others say that the public option would:

~Drive down premiums and provide choice where few options exist.
~Break up monopolies that control state and local markets
~Be a moral advancement (as Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column, "The most successful [health insurance] companies are those that do the best job of denying coverage to those who need it most.")
~Force other insurance companies to share information and reduce costs.
~Possibly force several insurance companies out of business.

In a recent address to Congress, President Obama explained why he thinks the public option will cost people less money to buy into than privately owned companies.  The public option, according to him, would avoid "some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits and excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers, and would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better."  That logic sounds a bit idealistic considering the government's ability to create red tape out of nothinginess, but many Right-wingers who oppose the public option use Obama's reasoning to express concern that the public option is simply a stepping stone toward a single-payer health care system.  They say that the public option will eventually run the competition (the other insurance comanies) out of business and that the public option is an attack on the free trade market beause the public option would mean that the federal government would not only be providing a health care option, but it would also be regulating the health care industry--which is sorta like playing football against a team that not only has their own players in the game, but has their own referee and commissioner as well.

Even if all of these things are true and the public option makes toast of the private health care insurance industry, most Americans honestly won't mind.  How many Americans do you know that have a huge love affair for big private insurance companies?  The real concern with such a public option (that eventually evolves into a single-payer system) is that:

1) the federal government has too often been a breeding ground for fraud, waste and abuse as witnessed in several of its other large government agencies and it would therefore just breed fraud, waste and abuse into a single-payer system. 

And 2) that the government will become even more intrusive in our daily lives--making decisions about our very health and depriving each of us from making these decisions for ourselves. 

But despite these concerns, the public option (and then eventually a single payer system) still appears to be the only way forward in the repairing of a broken, corrupt and disasterous private health care system that is draining the American people and ruining the American way of life.  And the alternative, the Right-wing Republican option, is to DO NOTHING.  And that is just not acceptable. 

So What Changes Should a Government Run Health Care System Implement? 

The Wagemann Health Care Plan could be our most effective way forward. The first part of the Wagemann Plan is something we already see being done: Sin taxes. But the Wagemann Plan calls for this concept to be expanded. Alcohol, cigarettes, foods with transfat, foods with pesticides and preservatives, etc should all be taxed at 100%.  Under the Wagemann Plan a bag of potato chips should cost 9 dollars. A single doughnut or a Twinkie should cost 4 dollars. And so on. The idea is that this will encourage folks to consume these things in moderation.  By the way, the Wagemann Plan also has something that Right-wingers should like: under the Wagemann plan none of the SIN foods will be able to be purchased with food stamps.  If Ghetto Joe wants to buy junk food that is going to risk his health and make him a burden on the health care system, then Joe is going to have to pay for it out of his own pocket--NOT THE TAXPAYERS. 

The second part of The Wagemann Plan calls for something similar to a program that our military has in which military members are required to have a physical fitness test once a year. The Wagemann Plan calls for giving all individuals in the health care system a physical fitness tests at least once a year, and then using that fitness score to determine the cost which each individual will pay for their health care.  Different factors go into determining the test results, like age and height, etc.  And of course the plan calls for exemptions for people with disabilities. 

If implemented, The Wagemann Plan would not only be an incentive for people to eat right and exercise--which would dramatically lower the costs of health care in this country--but it would also be the most fair Health Care Plan there ever was and put some factual mustard on statements such as "America has the best health care system in the world". 

Is the Current Health Care Bill nothing but yet another Bail-Out for Big Corporations?

If you are a frequent reader of Rockism101 you will know that we do not generally delve into politics. One controversial exception was made when we endorsed Barack Obama on the day he announced his candidacy for President a few years ago. However recently R101 has received numerous requests and questions as to where we stand on the Health Care bill signed into law this past week. There is one glaring aspect of this bill that is particularly irksome.  As soon it was known that the bill was going to pass the stocks of all the corporate health insurance and drug companies skyrocketed. This was the first signal that this bill was just more of the same old, same old.

A couple days later, after Obama signed the bill, 13 states immediately filed law suits claiming that mandating Americans to buy into the corporate health care system is unconstitutional.  Whether the bill is unconstitutional or not, the idea of forcing an individual to buy into a very corrupt and profit-motivated corporate health care system is wrong.  It's also wrong because the responsibility for our current health care crisis is not entirely the fault of the Individual.  If you look at nearly any ailment that the typical American is likely to get, it is quite likely a direct result of something that our Corporate Consumer System has caused. Whether the ailment is from the bizarre experimental drugs that the corporations pump onto the market, or by the pollution that their chemical plants pump into the food, water and air, OR from the cancer-causing preservatives and pesticides, etc that they glob our food and drinks with, it is the Corrupt Corporate System that is MAKING AMERICA SICK. 

Take for example the water in this country. Years ago, big chemical corporations decided they could make billions of dollars for years and years if they convinced our corporate-politicans to put fluoride in the water. But then in 1977, some "whacko" enviromental group convinced Congress to use the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to determine whether fluoride causes cancer. It wasnt until 13 years later that the NTP released data showing that lab rats given fluoridated water had a higher rate of a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma. According to a memo by the Environmental Protection Agency, the data indicated "that fluoride may be a carcinogen." That was 20 years ago, but guess what we still have in our water?
This is just one tiny example.  The list goes on and on, so why not make the Corporations take responsibility for the part they have played in the health care crisis in this country? Why are we bailing them out of this crisis--yet again--by making Joe Taxpayer foot the bill???

However, pointing the finger at Corporate America and making them take responsibility is only part of the solution.  American Individuals must also be held accountable.  That is why Rockism101 is a staunch supporter of the Wagemann National Health Care Plan.

The Wagemann Health Care Plan

The first part of the Wagemann Plan is something we see already being done: Sin taxes. But the Wagemann Plan calls for this concept to be expanded. Alcohol, cigarettes, foods with transfat, foods with pesticides and preservatives, etc should all be taxed out the wa-zoo.  Under the Wagemann Plan a bag of potato chips should cost 9 dollars. A single doughnut or a Twinkie should cost 4 dollars. And so on. The idea is that this will encourage folks to consume these things in moderation. The second part of the Plan calls for something similar to a program that our military partakes in, where military members are required to have a physical fitness test once a year. The Wagemann Plan calls for the institution of an agency that is responsible for giving individuals physical fitness tests once a year, and then determine the cost that individuals pay for health care based on the physical fitness test score they get.  Different factors go into determining the test results, like age and height, etc.  Of course the plan calls for exemptions for people with disabilities. 

If implemented, the Wageman Plan would not only be an incentive for people to eat right and exercise--which would dramatically lower the costs of health care in this country--but it would also be the most fair Health Care Plan there ever was.  

©2010 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 13, 2012

Are Corporations People? And Is Mitt Romney a Robot?

The Real RomneyThere is a very simple reason why Mitt Romney isn't going to be our next president and that is that he is not 'human' enough.  He doesn't sound like a regular human being, he sounds like a robot that spews CEO talking points instead of heart-felt views and opinions.  This tendency to sound rehearsed and stiff has gotten him only so far, but to become president there are going to be those inevitable rare unguarded moments of candor that are caught by cameras and microphones.  And it has been during these unguarded moments that the real person, Mitt Romney has been revealed.  And the real Mitt Romney has some very strange things to say. In his climb for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, he has let slip such statements as he "likes to fire people", that he's "not concerned about the poor people" and possibly most puzzling of all that "corporations are people".

These quotes are taken out of context and easily spun by Romney's opposition. Still though, when I hear things like "corporations are people" I find it pretty baffling.  I know that Romney spent the majority of his adult life as a corporate sapien, but does he really believe that corporations are people?  And are there really other people out there who think corporations are people?  

To figure this thing out, I did what any inquiring 21st century mind would do:  I posted a question on a Conservative Republican internet message board to provoke a discussion and perhaps get my explanation. Here's what I got (my user name on this site is Jack btw):
Jack (me): Question. Are corporations people? Yes or No.

Nellie: Yes.

KD: Corporations are designed BY PEOPLE, operated BY PEOPLE, employ PEOPLE and are made or broken by yes, Corporations are PEOPLE!

Mertle: Yes they are!

Me:  KD, movies are designed by PEOPLE, operated by PEOPLE, they employ PEOPLE and are made or broken by PEOPLE. So therefore following your line of logic. Movies are People also. And so are lamps and so are poems and so is Preperation H.  If that is your argument, then you are sounding like the Steve Carell character in the movie Anchor Man "I love lamp!
I LOVE LAMP Pictures, Images and PhotosAnd Romney's statement that "Corporations are people" sounds like it belongs in a Matrix movie...If corporations are people and corporations can own other corporations that means that people can own people. Which is slavery. I'm not sure but I imagine if you polled all the people in America at LEAST 80% of those people would disagree with Romney's statement that 'people are corporations'. Of course if you polled corporations the results would be much less. Oh wait a can't poll a corporation, can you?

Dr. Rose: yes, they are people!

Me: If you are a Republican then I think you have to worry about this quote by Romney, because this question is going to splinter your Republican party.  The goofball knee-jerk Right-wing exrtremists will HAVE to side with Romney. And that will only make them look like fools as they trip all over themselves trying to rationalize this bizarre Gordon Gekko-esque statement.
The more Independent thinking Republicans here will realize that Romney is completely off his rocker with this statement and it will make them look like fools if they vote for a man who would say such a thing.

Butch: Corporations are people in the legal sense.

Me:  So if Romney is saying that corporations are people in he legal sense, then does he think that the U.S. Constitution should be changed to "We the Corporations of the United States...

Mertle: Do you even know what Corporatism is Jackhole?

KD: ‎Jack Squat - please run along and sue the ever living crap out of your UNION TEACHERS and the Dep of Education for scr3wing you out of a proper education and then your Parents for scr3wing you out of some common sense!! Thanks - the 53% of us who pay taxes!!!

Me:  Come on, face reality people. It is idiotic to think or say that a corporation is a person. Does a corporation have a soul? If you believe that God created people, then you cannot believe that corporations have souls and that they are people. Maybe Romney thinks that corporations go to heaven/hell when they die--I mean he has some pretty unconventional religious beliefs anyway.

KD: Jeffrey Dhalmer didn't have a soul, but he is considered a person! Just sayin'!

Me: So you are comparing corporations to Jeffrey Dalmer then KD? Oh there's a real peak to strive for!

KD: I was making a point Jack Squat - I do not expect you to comprehend this

KD: Do animals have souls Jack Squat? Yes they do, but animals are not people...... can you get THIS point?

Me: So you were making a point that you were not expecting me to comprehend KD??? That's weird.  I mean why bother to make the point if you don't think I'm going to get it...And now you are comparing corporations to animals??? Its wall to wall entertainment here!!

KD: TO sum it up - Clearly Jack Squat - you do not know JACK SQUAT~~~

Me:  Look, if any of you women here have souls and have given birth to a child, you should be able to understand what humanity is all about. You should be able to understand that people can love. Can corporations do that? Can corporations love?

KD: ‎Jack Squat - I have TWO CHILDREN you tool ......and yes, if it were not for compassionate CORPORATIONS whom give money to CHARITIES, the homeless, help the poor go to college, then those people would be SCR3WED.......

Rose:  I work for a corporation. In exchange for my contribution towards the success of this corporation, I am awarded a salary, health insurance, paid vacation, annual raises and bonuses based on my contribution and the success of this corporation. I am an asset to the corporation, therefore I am the corporation along with the other individuals who contribute to the success and, therefore the existence of the corporation. Corporations ARE people!

Me: Corporations give to charities for tax breaks and to improve their public image. It has NOTHING to do with Love. Corporations are NOT about love. They are about the bottom line. They are about money. Plain and simple. And if you or anyone here is comparing the love they feel for a child with what they feel for a corporation, then I truly feel sorry for that child...

Harvey:  Corporations ARE people.  Deal with it, hippie!  

Me: Let me ask you folks this - If corporations are people, then can I marry a corporation? And if I am a mormon, can I marry multiple corporations???

...This discussion went on, quickly descended into a rash of schoolyard name calling and nonsense.  However it did show me that some people actually DO think that corporations are people--or at least that is what they say they believe.  But what about Romney?  Did he actually believe his own statement?  To seek the answer to this I headed to my local library and picked up a copy of The Real Romney by Michael Kranish.  And after reading it I feel that I gleaned a better idea of what makes Romney tick.  A person's values have quite a bit to do with who they are. Romney has some very good values, but I honestly think that his values include the idea that corporations are people. And this value, is the worst possible value a President of the United States could have.  The worst thing for this country would be if we elected a CEO-in-Chief. (CEO=Creating Employment Overseas).  Because not only are corporations not people, but the United States is not a corporation, or at least it shouldn't be.  Corporations put monetary concerns ahead of humanitarian ones.  And if that principle was ever to become the core of our nation--the greatest, most powerful nation on Earth--then quite frankly, humanity is doomed.

Overall The Real Romney was easy to read and well researched and it rates 3 out of 5 WagemannHeads.


For more writing by Ed Wagemann click here: ED WAGEMANN

©2012 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 10, 2012

Player One

Ready Player One

"It was the dawn of a new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a videogame."

If the 1980s was "Morning in America" as the transformational Ronald Reagan famously dubbed them, then the 2040s that are imagined in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline could be called "Midnight in America", i.e. the logical end result of Reagan's trickle down corporate dream.  In this bleak future imagined by Cline, in the midst of a 30 year Great Recession, after a global oil crisis, mushroom clouds and even a short-lived Retro 80s fashion fad, comes the story of Wade, a pimply-faced, overweight, no-income teenager in Oklahoma, who like everyone else seems to be sitting around, escaping into an alternate reality (whenever he can) and basically awaiting the doom of mankind's fate. Kinda sounds like the 70s doesn't it?
In the tradition of George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and William Gibson's Neuromancer, the entertaining question that Ready Player One dances with is: "Could this really be what the future might look like?"  Could mankind go on existing in a reality so bleak that spending nearly every waking moment inside the virtual reality of an internet video game becomes the only way to cope with it?

Ready Player One is filled with enough clever details and plausible tweaks to convince most readers that this vision of the future is not so far fetched. Some details are subtle, like certain characters, pop culture references, video games, events and "things" that accurately echo their counterparts in today's reality. For instance, the creators of OASIS (the videogame at the center of the novel), are suspiciously similar to John Carmack and John Romero who are the Lennon and McCartney of video game creators (and whose life stories are documented in Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner).  Other details are more universal however, for instance the depiction of the all consuming vidoe game/pop culture addiction that so many people in 2040 are inflicted with doesn't seem vastly different from the video and pop culture addictions of the dozens (maybe hundreds or thousands) of "friends" we all know on facebook.
Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
There was however one central aspect to Cline's depiction of a future that was not at all believable (to me, at aleast).  And that was that in this future there is nearly a total lack of actual face-to-face human contact that anyone has with anyone else.  For instance in this excerpt, after finally meeting the character that Wade considers to be his best friend in person, he admits:

"As we continued to talk, going through the motions of getting to know each other, I realized that we already did know each other, as well as any two people could.  We'd known each other for years, in the most intimate way possible.  We'd connected on a purely mental level.  I understood her, trusted her, and loved her as a dear friend." 

Then, at the conclusion of the book, Wade meets his love interest face to face for the first time and we are led to believe they will live happily ever after.  None of this rang true to me however - this idea that people can fall in love over the internet - and it made for a lackluster ending.  But overall, although Ready Player One has a fairly formulaic plot and relies heavily on stereotypical young adult character devices and it is chock-ful of played-out comic bookish dialog and its share of clunky descriptive passages, it is none the less an immediately gratifying, guilty pleasure/page turner with several interesting cultural matters at play.  For pop culture junkies and folks who like to ponder upon what the future might hold, Cline's novel will be a must-read.  For these reasons and more I give it 3 out of 5 WagemannHeads.

©2012 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Does the Superbowl encourages Socialism?

Conservatives & Liberals Pictures, Images and PhotosAfter World War II, during the Eisenhower years America's national past time was shifting from pro baseball to pro football. George Carlin famously characterizes the differences between the two games in his iconic comedy routine Football and Baseball, and in doing so he accurately sketched out the reasons that football has become a much better representative of our modern national psyche than baseball.  Today, pro football's holiest of days, Superbowl Sunday is as important as any other national holiday (with the exception of Christmas). During football season, millions of fans chuck church each Sunday to religiously study the scriptures of fantasy football internet pages and bow at the alter of the large screen plasma game of the week. Other devotees make pilgrimages to the stadium/shrines in painted face while sporting their team's tribal colors and logos, screaming, crying and celebrating like pagans at a sacrifical offering of a goat to the benevelent Gods of pigskin. Multi-national corporations invest multi-millions of dollars in the NFL, pimping out players and teams to promote their products. The NFL has become a symbol of America: our celebration of the competitive spirit where the strongest, smartest, most poised, sneakiest, strongest willed and at times luckiest violent bad ass triumphs.

In many ways America's obsession with the NFL is rooted in our nation's political system. Beyond the obvious similiarities that political elections and NFL contests feed America's hunger for competition (as well as the primitive need for real life heroes and villians) there is a more subtle undercurrent of tension that exists when thinking of the NFL as a representative of the American Way. The NFL really began to come into its own after World War II, when millions of returning soliders were using the G.I. bill to obtain college educations. College football at that time was much more popular than the NFL.  But as this influx in college-educated American males hit the work force four years of college, they took their love for football with them--which eventually began to translate into an interest in the NFL. Many of the conservative stigmas associated with pro football derive from that Eisenhower era of crew cuts and white bucks. The NFL was the sport of the 1950s Conservative American man--a relationship that wouldn't be challenged until the late 1960s (when the brash, long haired Joe Namath guaranteed a victory in Superbowl III and subsequently upset the crew-cut topped Johnny Unitas). But in many ways, the American Conservatism that seemed to permeate from every oriface of the NFL had just been a front. In many ways the NFL had been actually promoting socialism since the New Deal era of FDR.

In 1933, the Philadelphia Eagles, who incidently were named after the logo on FDR's National Recovery Administration's emblem, were owned by Bert Bell (who became commissioner of the NFL in January of 1946). As the owner of the Eagles, Bert Bell was getting tired of watching the same 2 or 3 teams always winning the league championship year after year, so at a league meeting in 1935 he addressed the other team owners, saying this:

 "I've always had the theory that pro football is like a chain. The league is no stronger than its weakest link...Every year the rich get richer and the poor get poorer...I propose, at the end of each football season...that we pool the names of all eligible college seniors. Then we make our selections in the reverse order of the standings--that is, the lowest-ranked team picks first. We do this round after round until we have exhausted the supply of college players." 

The idea of the wieghted draft, in which the weakest teams would get the better pick of the college talent was a direct shot at free market capitalism if there ever was one.  I mean substitute the words "pro football" and "college players" with "the auto industry" and "electric cars" and you have the makings of Barack Obama stump speech.

In 1947, (now Commissioner) Bell was foreshadowing Obama campaign rhetoric once again when, after a gambling scandal threatened the NFL, he put forth a measure to insure that the league conveyed the utmost transparency in terms of reporting the playing condition of each player by requiring that the league "publish in advance of each game a list of players who were injured and would be unable or unlikely to play." This laid the groundwork for the detailed weekly injury lists that have become such a large part of the NFL experience. Bell stated that "Professional football cannot continue to exist unless it is based on absolute honesty...the game and its players must be kept free from corruption." Once again, a far cry from Romenyesque Deregulation ideology.

By the 1980s as the NFL evolved, it digested other Socialistic mechanisms. Revenue sharing for instance, which allows each team in the league an equal share of all TV revenue that the league brings in--thereby "spreading the wealth around". We have also seen the NFL adopt salary minimums and salary maximums (Those Marxist bastards!!!). We have seen the league adopt regulations that protect the health and safety and working conditions of its players (too bad we can't just fire the players and replace them with half-clothed children in China, Romney must be thinking).  And we have seen the NFL take a pro-union stance.  In short, the longest-lasting, most successful Industry in America right now has a socialistic business model. Which beckons the question that "If socialism worked for the NFL then why not try it on other U.S. industries?"

                         For a more indepth study of the history of the NFL I suggest the thoroughly researched
America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a NationAmerica's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation by Michael MacCambridge--which was suggested to me by Victor Harris, the superb author of
http://smokingmule.blogspot.comAmerica's Game is a very enjoyable account of the history of the NFL.  I therefore give it a coveted 5 out of 5 WagemannHeads.

View all my reviews
©2012 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved