A Worthy Read

richtel-book-imageTCTers may recall the actual journalism of Matt Richtel. Turns out, he has now shaped his work on the politics of distracted driving into a pretty fascinating book, A Deadly Wandering.

It reveals not only the forces promoting the form of mass murder known as “the connected car,” but reviews some pretty important research into the interface between technology and brain science. Both these topics speak volumes about the ruinous direction of human culture under corporate capitalism.

To that point, Richtel quotes David Strayer, the ex-GTE engineer turned safety crusader. While still employed by GTE (now Verizon), Strayer discovered proof that cell phone usage by automobile drivers was wildly and obviously dangerous. The reply of his bosses was, Strayer recalls, this:

Why would we want to know this? That will not help us sell anything.

marx This is not only Fred Taylor-level system voicing, but also a pretty direct confirmation of Karl Marx’s analysis of Mr. Moneybags’ core worldview and ethical status:

Après moi le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence, Capital is heedless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society.

What They’re Working On

As their host society skitters toward the cliff, what are our late-imperial corporate capitalists placing at the top of their managerial agenda?  About what you’d expect, according to Advertising Age, which reports on the prat standing at the right in the picture to your left:

Mr. Burke’s rise has been a quiet but noticeable one. His first job after graduating Harvard Business School was devising product ideas for Grape-Nuts, then owned by General Foods in White Plains, N.Y., not far from his childhood stomping grounds in and around Rye, N.Y.

In a private meeting, Irwin Gotlieb, the global CEO of WPP’s GroupM, Bill Koenigsberg, president-CEO of independent Horizon Media, and Rob Norman, chief executive of GroupM’s North American operations, were among the executives who got their first good look at Chief Operating Officer Stephen Burke, the senior Comcast Corp. executive who at the time was months away from officially being named the incoming leader at the mammoth NBC Universal.

Mr. Burke’s pedigree and management style point to an executive who thrives on intense, albeit quiet, competition. “The stimulus for him is more about the work than all of the other stuff that comes with it,” said William Burke, his youngest brother.

[T]he end goal will be to try and hitch Comcast’s massive cable footprint and the set-top box technology upon which it relies to hours of NBCU content to drive new TV-viewer behavior, such as responding to TV commercials with a remote and pushing the evolution of so-called “addressable” advertising.

These new formats could ultimately make TV advertising more valuable even as TV watching becomes a more diffuse activity. It’s this mix of “pipes, data and content,” said one senior media executive familiar with Mr. Burke, or the ability to devise entertainment as well as the means by which people see it, that might make the $37 billion-plus combination of Comcast and NBCU more compelling to Procter & Gamble or Unilever.

Indeed, Comcast has the opportunity to carve a new media landscape. “Comcast didn’t acquire NBC Universal to move Steve Burke to run the network,” said Group M’s Mr. Gotlieb. Instead, he suggested, Comcast purchased the company “because they saw significant synergies going forward” that include marrying the company’s ability to reach consumer homes with the content that draws consumers to the TV set, computer screen and digital device in the first place.

Such is the stuff of the scions of the executive salary, the absentee dividend, the classic stuffed-shirt pose:  “to drive new TV-viewer behavior.”

If you live to know your grandchildren, be sure to tell them this was the way corporate capitalists responded to the gathering trends of the early 21st century.

Sound Familiar?

“What was it that at every decisive moment made every British statesman do the wrong thing with so unerring an instinct?

“The underlying fact was that the whole position of the moneyed class had long ceased to be justifiable. There they sat, at the centre of a vast empire and a world-wide financial network, drawing interest and profits and spending them – on what? It was fair to say that life within the British Empire was in many ways better than life outside it. Still, the Empire was underdeveloped, India slept in the Middle Ages, the Dominions lay empty, with foreigners jealously barred out, and even England was full of slums and unemployment. Only half a million people, the people in the country houses, definitely benefited from the existing system. Moreover, the tendency of small businesses to merge together into large ones robbed more and more of the moneyed class of their function and turned them into mere owners, their work being done for them by salaried managers and technicians. For long past there had been in England an entirely functionless class, living on money that was invested they hardly knew where, the ‘idle rich’, the people whose photographs you can look at in the Tatler and the Bystander, always supposing that you want to. The existence of these people was by any standard unjustifiable. They were simply parasites, less useful to society than his fleas are to a dog.

“By 1920 there were many people who were aware of all this. By 1930 millions were aware of it. But the British ruling class obviously could not admit to themselves that their usefulness was at an end. Had they done that they would have had to abdicate. For it was not possible for them to turn themselves into mere bandits, like the American millionaires, consciously clinging to unjust privileges and beating down opposition by bribery and tear-gas bombs. After all, they belonged to a class with a certain tradition, they had been to public schools where the duty of dying for your country, if necessary, is laid down as the first and greatest of the Commandments. They had to feel themselves true patriots, even while they plundered their countrymen. Clearly there was only one escape for them – into stupidity. They could keep society in its existing shape only by being unable to grasp that any improvement was possible. Difficult though this was, they achieved it, largely by fixing their eyes on the past and refusing to notice the changes that were going on round them.”

Orwell, “England Your England”

Death by Car

I am starting another blog devoted to the topic of the book I’m trying to finish. That topic is the homicidal perpetuation of cars-first transportation by our corporate overclass.

Take a look at the initial post, if you so desire.

Also, the questions and comments are great. I’m preparing some posts to address the topics you raised.


The Daily Delivery/Betrayal

fraudObama lied his ass off to us rubes who voted for him.  But he sure keeps his promises to the overclass owners of “politics,” doesn’t he?

Today’s delivery, with its typical confirmation of the “bipartisan” [translated from the Doublepseak: non-partisan, one-party] nature of the system, requires no further comment.  Even The New York Times can’t disguise this one:

White House Pares Its Financial Reform Plan

The Obama administration on Wednesday abandoned a…significant provision [of its alleged reform plan] in the face of widespread political and industry opposition.

At a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner announced that the administration had dropped one provision in its plan for a consumer financial protection agency — a requirement for banks and other financial services companies to offer “plain vanilla” products, like 30-year fixed mortgages and low-interest, low-fee credit cards.

Mr. Geithner’s decision followed a wave of criticism by Democrats and Republicans, some with close ties to the industry, that the plan was the first step toward a new regulatory regime in which the administration would be handing new powers to government bureaucrats approving and disapproving a wide array of financial products.

Obamanocchio’s Mandate Excuse

Obama, in delivering on his campaign promise to the oxymoronic “private medical insurance” corporations, is going to make purchasing one of its defective, extortionary products mandatory for all U.S. citizens.

As The New York Times reported on Sunday:

[I]nsurance companies have never wavered. Starting two weeks after the 2008 election, they have said they would accept greater federal regulation of their market practices if Congress also required everyone to have [private-sector] health insurance.

[Obama certainly delivers for his overclass patrons, doesn’t he?]

This, of course, necessitates a constant river of Reaganesque lying to voters.

obamaliarOne of the latest whoppers came right in Obama’s woeful and patronizing (one wonders what percentage of those who voted for him fit under the belittling label “my progressive friends,” i.e. all those who expected Obama to deliver at least some beneficial, public-spirited changes) “health care” speech last week.  It was this:

That’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.

This is patently, brazenly, Ronald Reagan-style, false.

Purchasing automobile insurance is not mandatory.  If it were, it would long ago have been turned into the very kind of  public, single-payer, not-for-profit system that was, is, and ever will be the only possible solution to the nation’s medical insurance scandal/disaster.

Clearly, we radicals, progressives, and realists need to find ourselves some actual friends.