Speaking of Fraud…

clunkers

I recently mentioned how the nation’s car dealers are using the federal government’s new Car Allowance Rebate System, a.k.a. “C.A.R.S.,” a.k.a. “cash-for-guzzlers,” as the basis for bait-and-switch selling.

There could be no clearer proof of this flagrant criminality than the above photograph, which today’s online edition of The New York Times is running above a caption reading:

A car was displayed in a dumpster at a dealer in Springfield, Vt., as a promotion for the rebate program, which was said to have exhausted its funds within a week.

Now, that car in the dumpster is a 1990s Toyota Corolla. I can swear from long personal experience that a 1990s Toyota Corolla would take you around town at more than 30 MPG, and approach or exceed 40 MPG on the highway.

That means the car in the dumpster here is massively ineligible as a subsidized trade-in under C.A.R.S., which pays cash only to those trading in old cars getting lower than 18 combined MPG — or roughly 1/2 what that dumpstered Corolla gets. If you bring in a 1991 Corolla thinking you will be eligible for a $3,500 or $4,500 credit toward a new car, you are massively mis-informed.

Nonetheless, there it is, bigger than life, on that car lot, and probably also in its saturation advertising on local TV.

This shameless disinformation speaks triply to the runaway insanity of this market-totalitarian society. At this very late date, our system is:

1) Giving away free money for the purchase of still more iterations of the very commodity that is arguably the greatest single threat to continued human civilization.

2) Junking, not fixing and re-distributing, 1990s Toyota Corollas.

3) Doing less than zero to police the humongous, especially blatant marketing fraud being perpetrated by the nation’s car dealers vis-a-vis “cash-for-clunkers.” How many downward MPG car-swaps will be achieved, as the dealers lure and switch-sell owners of 1990s Corollas? That number, certainly, will not be zero…

The Axe Fraud Spreads

As the world hurtles toward its Mad Max future, what are our wonderful corporate capitalist behavior manipulators spending their time researching?

Can you get males to start thinking more about their looks than they currently do?

landfillAs part of this valiant soap-selling endeavor, we are about to witness the expansion of the Unilever corporation’s efforts to foist its shameful Axe line of products on teenage boys with the preposterous promise that smelling of Axe will get you laid.

The Procter & Gamble conglomerate is now taking this pathetic fraud to the next older age group with the new “pheromone-infused” Dial for Men Magnetic Attraction Enhancing Body Wash.

And people wonder how American culture gets so moronified…

Facebook Never Forgets

The second-most-emailed story today on nytimes.com is a report on the near impossibility of taking your personal data back from Facebook, the website that allows unwitting registrants to post bits of verbal and visual swag about themselves in exchange for letting Facebook “harvest” extremely precise and commercially valuable information about the users.

Turns out, once you walk into this trap, your data have no way to get out.

Are you a member of Facebook.com? You may have a lifetime contract.

Some users have discovered that it is nearly impossible to remove themselves entirely from Facebook, setting off a fresh round of concern over the popular social network’s use of personal data.

While the Web site offers users the option to deactivate their accounts, Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely. Indeed, many users who have contacted Facebook to request that their accounts be deleted have not succeeded in erasing their records from the network.

“It’s like the Hotel California,” said Nipon Das, 34, a director at a biotechnology consulting firm in Manhattan, who tried unsuccessfully to delete his account this fall. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

It took Mr. Das about two months and several e-mail exchanges with Facebook’s customer service representatives to erase most of his information from the site, which finally occurred after he sent an e-mail threatening legal action. But even after that, a reporter was able to find Mr. Das’s empty profile on Facebook and successfully sent him an e-mail message through the network.

The Times reporter explains the reason:

Tensions remain between making a profit and alienating Facebook’s users, who the company says total about 64 million worldwide (MySpace has an estimated 110 million monthly active users).

The network is still trying to find a way to monetize its popularity, mostly by allowing marketers access to its wealth of demographic and behavioral information. The retention of old accounts on Facebook’s servers seems like another effort to hold onto — and provide its ad partners with — as much demographic information as possible.

As usual, the whole scam is cloaked in layers of dishonesty:

Facebook’s Web site does not inform departing users that they must delete information from their account in order to close it fully — meaning that they may unwittingly leave anything from e-mail addresses to credit card numbers sitting on Facebook servers.

And if you doubt the immense importance of this whole shebang to our overclass and its big business marketing juggernaut of behavioral and technological dictatorship, consider the fact that none other than Microsoft has already paid the creeps who own and run Facebook a quarter-billion dollars — for a mere 1.6% share!

Draw your own conclusions, but I will say this again: If our out-of-control overclass and its political representatives hadn’t been keeping the FTC in an induced coma over the past several decades, this kind of fraud and theft would be punished. As it stands, it’s all treated as a simple matter of “personal responsibility” — for those at the bottom only, as always, of course.

One hears the voices of mega-over-privilege tittering out from the “third homes” of the world: “Let them eat cookies, and caveat double-emptor! Forever.”

Justice? It’s Vytorin.

kinuko y. craft painting

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.
- Langston Hughes

The 01/21/08 issue of Advertising Age reports:

“Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. [the makers of Vytorin] kept under wraps for more than a year findings that Vytorin does not deliver results.”

All the while, Merck and SPC continued their $100+ million television and print ad campaign claiming the precise opposite.

Now, overall, the official, court-certified FTC definition of what constitutes fraud in advertising is laughably lax, if you understand how the marketing process works and how utterly central planned deception is within it.

But this particular case easily and obviously crosses even the ridiculously loose, faux-naive fraud standards that are alleged to be in place. The planners of this affair belong in prison, and the corporations involved ought to be severely penalized, if not simply nationalized and restructured to make them what they allege themselves to be — namely, inventors and manufacturers of genuine modern medicines.

None of this will happen, of course. At most, the “Democratic Party” wing of the reigning two-party Business Biumvirate (the Democrats, of course, being the “party” that killed the Independent Counsel Statutes after their great triangulating hero, Killiam Klinton, perjured himself) will stage a show “hearing” in Congress, where they may possibly extract some “sincere” verbal regrets about managerial “mistakes.”

After all, who were Merck and Schering-Plough executives to say that the evidence of Vytorin’s ineffectiveness might not someday be reversed by further studies? You know — kind of like who were the Democrats to say that illegally invading Iraq on blatantly false and irrelevant pretexts was anything to actually vote against? Nod, nod, wink, wink, “regret,” “regret”…

Actual law enforcement, meanwhile, is now strictly for the little people in this country. Let them eat Value Meals and Vytorins, in jail, if need be.