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