Imperial Decline

The New York Times today features a piece on the design of the workspace at the ?What If! [note: a fine nominee for the most annoying agency name ever] marketing agency, which “works to expand the markets of businesses like PepsiCo, Pfizer and Virgin.”

The theme is postmodern playground:

work-booths

The new interiors recall the whimsies of larger creative campuses like Google. There are “stimulation” shelves for employees to display objects; white boards in the elevators (“Smiths or Cure?” read one line of graffiti the other day); a “library” with no books (just wallpaper that looks like books); and vintage stereo components that play vinyl.

Can you guess what the building housing all this behavior-engineering “play” on behalf of corporate sugar water and other forms of cash-farming used to be? Yep, a free-care hospital and a lending library.

For the umpteenth time, Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up.

The Ultimate Form of Waste

dump Waste, these days, is alleged to be a creature of public, not private, enterprise.

The suppressed fact, of course, is that this is a huge case of excessive protestation.  Corporate capitalism, with its scattered McMansions and its 95 percent idle 4,000-pound grocery fetching machines and its omnipresent packaging-for-marketing efforts, is 2/3 waste.

And the waste isn’t confined to the use of materials and space, either.  In a nation of billowing, softening, clogging bodies, with vast fields of work needed in reconstructing towns and rehabilitating ecosystems, how sick is this?:

108.616 million people in America are either unemployed, underemployed or “Not in the labor force”. This represents 45.5% of working age Americans.

If you count the “Part time employed for non-economic reasons”, you get 126.8 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, working part time or “Not in the labor force”. That represents 53% of working age Americans.

Hat-tip: Doug Pressman