Production is the Issue

Like the book from which it springs, this blog is called “The Consumer Trap.” By this phrase, I mean several things at once. Corporate capitalism is, I contend, a giant historic trap. That is the deepest claim.

But I also mean to protest against the foolish Frankfurt School suggestion that, under our epoch’s over-productive economy, the main strategic locus of politics and society somehow shifted from the boardroom to the bedroom — that we are somehow in an era in which “consumption” (meaning the ways we acquire and use commercial products) is the great question of our age.

This is a rather dull reaction to actual institutions and affairs. Our problem is no less one of macro-choice and investment (aka production) than it ever was. A sea of stuff, non-stop corporate entertainment, and increasingly commercialized off-the-job habits are all trends that emanate from elite dictation, not popular preference. But that is news to Herb Marcuse, who argued the opposite (without ever actually looking).

All of which brings me to this photograph:

That is the back of last night’s pizza box. It is one example of what’s wrong with talking about “consumption.” The manufacturer of this box is, no doubt, one or another major timber-and-paper conglomerate. That entity is certainly all too aware that greasy food containers DO NOT recycle. Yet, as we see here, that knowledge doesn’t lead to retraction of this dishonest little message. Why miss a chance to suppress and combat your customers’ actual concerns?

Corporate product producers are always biased in favor of lying and tricking and cheating to achieve their aims. Until we get back to studying how and why this happens, we will continue to chase our own tails in circles.

Score One for the Aussies

If you’ve recovered from the ecstasy or agony of your nation-state winning or not winning “medals” (what a grown-up culture we have!) for beach volleyball, mountain biking, rhythmic gymnastics, or 10-meter air rifle shooting, here is some other news of national achievement you might find refreshing. In Australia, the Supreme Court has upheld a new law that strips tobacco corporations of the right to sell their products in containers they fully control. Hence, instead of the being able to use their packages as the last step in their larger marketing effort, cigarette pushers now must put their product in boxes designed by the public:

Australian cigarette box image

The response by corporate forces is also quite funny. Lacking any straightforward point to make, they are sounding alarms about the new law’s encouragement of black market cigarette-selling.

It’ll be interesting to see if this change makes a dent in Australian nicotine addiction rates.

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

We’re #1!

flush Hey, kids! Guess what nation-state is home to the world’s highest cellular phone bills — by far the highest?

Hint: It’s corporate capitalism’s strongest stronghold, the land where brainwashed drones attend meetings to yell at people about the glories of the world’s most expensive and defective and profitable medical insurance scheme, rather than about the craven, bait-and-switch perpetuation of that scheme…

On Friday, the OECD will publish a report detailing the reality that, comparing similar packages and uses across borders, the USA is almost 5 times more expensive than Finland, and a full 25% more expensive than runner-up Spain. I will obtain the new report Friday and report on the details. Those are virtually certain to show that the American way of deregulation and private ownership equals naked theft in yet another boilerplate modern industry…

Until then, here’s a teaser.

The Gatekeeper Problem

gatedragon

In his new book, The Medea Hypothesis, archeologist Peter Ward points out that life can sometimes not only become its own worst enemy, but homo sapiens is now quite obviously acting as the epitome of this “Medea principle,” wildly wrecking its own biological pre-conditions.

At one point, while reviewing “deep ecology” and its argument in favor of preserving as much still-pristine natural habitat as possible, Ward asks:

Who could argue with that sentiment?  Conserve.  Who besides those beholden to business interests could argue with that one?

But there’s the rub, isn’t it?  Not only is our market-totalitarian overclass utterly opposed to the eco-social policies required for progressive human survival and avoidance of another planetary Medean catastrophe, but isn’t the real question which person who resides within a country mile of the levers of power is NOT beholden to business interests?

If we don’t change that arrangement very, very soon, Medea is going to finish cooking our last supper.

keymaster
Louis Tully, CPA, CKM

Alas, our current Chief Executive, despite election-time product packaging promising the contrary, is revealing himself to be yet another enthralled Keymaster laboring and blocking pitchforks for our still well-entrenched parasitical hyper-Medean extractor class…