Innumeracy and Class Domination

Book coverThe psychic effects of wealth are as fascinating as they are crucial, as shown here and here.

One major dimension of the mental distortion that tends to plague those who make it to the top in our radically unequal world is, ironically, innumeracy.

Consider the prevalence of the very strong tendency of tax resentment to increase as zeroes get added to incomes and wealth stocks. People who never would bat an eye at having taxes withheld from $50,000 incomes become irate crusaders when the base sum becomes $5,000,000 or $5,000,000,000.

Meanwhile, consider the patent stupidity of the latest pose being struck by the supposed genius, Jeff Bezos. $2 billion dollars for a “network of new, non-profit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities”? Jeff, honey: How many top-shelf schools do you imagine can be built and staffed for $2 billion? There are 8 million households living below the official poverty line, in many hundreds of communities. I hate to tell you, but you are therefore off on this one by at least one order of magnitude — and that’s presuming you’d be giving this $2 billion every year (schools, you see, need to keep going once they open), which you are not.

But, of course, this kind of wild innumeracy is part and parcel of the capitalist creed. We need, they say, to let our creative entrepreneurial class have an unspeakable amount of wealth, so that they will turn around and use it to help the rest of us. Simply putting limits on them and doing what needs doing ourselves wouldn’t work, they say, despite the Nordic countries’ existence and apparent thriving.

Stupid is as stupid does. (Not, of course, that the corporate media will ever mention it in their predictable paeans to private power.)

Theses on Kaepernick

Nike Kaepernick ad 1. It is brilliant, well-researched and planned marketing. It will massively increase brand interest and loyalty while generating news for some considerable period.

2. If you watch regular TV these days, you see that “cause marketing” is rampant. Corporations now use marketing to portray themselves as charities.

3. It is a perfect example of how trivial and broken our society is.

4. It is about selling over-priced shoes and clothes.

5. It is about whether it is right for people to strike gestural poses about vague attitudes toward racial injustice and inequality, with the clearest suggestion being the thoroughly silly idea that police reform is both possible and would somehow make everything much better in that area.

6. Live sports is as hugely important as it is in modern society because it is, by its very nature, the most reliable and durable platform for attracting eyeballs and eardrums to corporate advertising campaigns.

7. Watching sports is a deeply childish activity, particularly in a world that is probably destroying the ecological basis for further civilizational progress.

8. All our politics are now like this. If it isn’t a tempest-in-a-teapot, it gets no mention in corporate media-and-politics.

Self-Storage Statistics

clutter-on-couch Corporate capitalism means an ever-expanding marketing race between its major firms, which in turn means the ceaseless, progressive, radical commodification and commercialization of human cultures.

Here is one apt indicator of this entirely predictable, if politically unmentioned, trend:

As of 2016, the annual revenue of the U.S. self-storage industry exceeded the annual gross domestic products of each of the 100 poorest nation-states on Earth.

Sugar & Pets

Mars, Incorporated, which makes profits from selling candy and pet supplies and services, wants you to see yourself as a hero of human civilization for keeping a pet dog. Of course they do!

In the process, you are asked to forget that George Washington was a major slave-owner, a fact that rather overshadows whatever love he may have had for dogs, and that it was certainly not snowing on October 4 in Germantown, which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Ah, but in the ongoing reign of Patriotic Correctness, it was always snowing on our ragtag tepeed pure-of-heart Heroes, wasn’t it?

“Follow the flattery,” says Leslie Savan.

“How strong, deep, or sustaining,” wondered Robert Heilbroner, “can be the values of a civilization that generates a ceaseless flow of half-truths and careful deceptions?”

Cultural Heroes

nero fiddle In the year 2017, in a world that needs to solve its problems of runway wealth maldistribution/population growth, ecological non-sustainability, and politico-military chaos, what are the leading lights of corporate capitalist innovation worrying about and working on? This, per Advertising Age:

“This is a unique moment in the ad industry,” Mr. Joe Marchese said. “If we don’t work together, ad-free models will continue to proliferate.”

“We are trying to figure out how to create new models that transfer attention more efficiently,” said Fox TV marketer David Levy.

“We know there is a need to lower the ad load because we inundated consumers and they are now tuning out and blocking,” said Helen Lin, president-digital investment and partnership, Publicis Media U.S. “When you increase the number of ads, your lift potential is reduced. We know we have to do something before consumers completely block out.”

Lovely, ain’t it?