Article 43

 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Global Elite Are Headed For A Fall

image: money

The global elite think they’re sitting pretty. How wrong they are.

By Damon Linker
The Week
Appril 17, 2017

Democrats keep telling themselves that Hillary Clinton “really” won the 2016 election (or would have, had it not been for interference by Vladimir Putin and James Comey). Republicans keep patting themselves on the back about how much power they now wield at all levels of government. And centrists throughout the West are breathing a sigh of relief about Emmanuel Macron’s likely victory over the National Front’s Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election on May 7.

You can almost hear the sentiments echoing down the corridors of (political and economic) power on both sides of the Atlantic: “There’s nothing to worry about. Everything’s fine. No need for serious soul searching or changes of direction. Sure, populism’s a nuisance. But we’re keeping it at bay. We just need to stay the course, fiddle around the edges a little bit, and certainly not give an inch to the racists and xenophobes who keep making trouble. We know how the world works, and we can handle the necessary fine tuning of the meritocracy. We got this.”

And why wouldn’t they think this way? They are themselves the greatest beneficiaries of the global meritocracy and that very fact serves to validate its worth. They live in or near urban centers that are booming with jobs in tech, finance, media, and other fields that draw on the expertise they acquired in their educations at the greatest universities in the world. They work hard and are rewarded with high salaries, frequent travel, nice cars, and cutting-edge gadgets. It’s fun, anxious, thrilling - an intoxicating mix of brutal asceticism and ecstatic hedonism.

The problem is that growing numbers of people here in America, in the U.K., in France, and beyond - don’t see it like this at all. Or rather, they only see it from the outside, a position from which it looks very different. What they see is a system that is fundamentally unjust, rigged, and shot through with corruption and self-dealing.

They see Marissa Meyer, the CEO of Yahoo, TAKING HOME a cool $186 million in stock (on top of many millions in additional salary and bonuses) for five years of “largely unsuccessful” work.

They see Henrique De Castro, who worked briefly for Meyer at Yahoo, pulling $109 million in compensation for a disastrous 15 months on the job.

They see Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly getting fired from Fox News for sexually harassing a parade of women over the years and taking home tens of millions of dollars each in severance.

They see former Democratic President Barack Obama sharing a $65 million book advance with his wife, earning $400,000 for a single speech scheduled to be delivered in the fall at investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald, and gallivanting around the globe with David Geffen, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, and Bono.

In Washington, they see a president who promised to act as the people’s voice appointing a long list of millionaires and billionaires to top positions. They see the White House and Congress struggling to pass a health-care bill that will leave millions more without insurance coverage at a time when a majority of Americans and a plurality of Republicans favor a single-payer system that would cover all. They see a president proposing to drastically cut corporate and individual taxes (including the elimination of inheritance taxes, which will benefit only the richest of the rich) when polls show that the top frustration with the tax system is that corporations and the wealthy don’t pay their fair share. They see a unified push to cut government programs at a moment when polls show a growing share of the public prefers bigger government.

To those on the center-left who are disgusted by the plutocratic antics of the Republican Party but dismiss the significance of Obama cashing in on his time in the White House by enriching himself and hobnobbing with the most famous people on the planet, I’d only note that “optics” (also known as “appearances") matter in politics ח perhaps more than anything else.

And this is how things appear at this historical moment: The world is run by an international elite that lives in a rarified world of seemingly boundless power and luxury. Though the members of this elite consider their own power and luxury to be completely legitimate, it is not. It is the product of a system that’s rigged to benefit them while everybody else languishes in declining small cities and provincial towns, eking out a dreary existence, toiling away their lives in menial service-sector jobs or scraping by on disability checks while seeking out a modicum of fleeting joy in the dumbstruck haze of a painkiller high.

Unless something fundamental changes, the gap separating these worlds will only increase, economically, culturally, and psychologically. Republicans show every sign of continuing to pursue policies that actively make the economic problems worse. Centrist Democrats, meanwhile, appear to be both unwilling to propose a sweeping critique of the outlook and policies that got us to this point in the first place and inclined to dismiss the populist anger building all around us as an expression of atavistic prejudice.

This cannot last. At this rate, make no mistake: The global elite will fall.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/30/17 •
Section Revelations
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Asshole Factory

Our economy doesn’t make stuff anymore. So what does it make?

By Umair Haque
Medium
April 21, 2017

My good friend Mara has not one but two graduate degrees. From fine, storied universities. Surprise, surprise: the “only job” she was able to find was at a retail store.

Hey - it’s only minimum wage, but at least shes working, right? And at a major-league, blue-chip company, An American icon; an institution; a name every man, woman, and child in this country knows; an historic company that rings of the American Dream the world over, besides. Surely, if nothing else, it’s a start.

Perhaps you’re right. Maybe it isn’t the start she always dreamed ofbut at least it is one. If so, then awaits her at the finish?

What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored… by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both. Shes jacked into a headset that literally barks algorithmic, programmed, “orders” at her, parroting her own “performance” back to her, telling her how she compares with quotas calculated… down to the second - for all the hundreds of items in the store… which recites influence and manipulation “techniques” to her - to use on unsuspecting customers… that sound suspiciously like psychological warfare. It’s as if the NSA was following you around… and it was stuck in your head… telling you what an inadequate failure you were - psychologically waterboarding you… all day long - every day, for the rest of your life.

Mara’s boss sits in the back. Monitoring all twelve, or fifteen, or twenty people that work in the store. On a set of screens. Half camera displays, half spreadsheets; numbers blinking in real-time. Glued to it like a zombie. Chewing slowly with her mouth open. Jacked into a headset. A drone-pilot piloting a fleet of human dronesŅpressure-selling disposable mass-made shitas if it were luxury yachtsŅthrough robo-programmed info-warfarelike zombiesŅto other zombieswho look stunnedŅlike they just got laser blasted, cluster-bombed, shock-and-awed

WTF?

It’s bananas. The whole scene is like a maximum-security mental asylum designed by sadomasochists in a sci-fi movie. If Jeffrey Dahmer, Rasputin, and Michael Bay designed a store together, they couldn’t do any better. Her job will begin to drive her crazy,paranoid, depressed, deluded - in a matter of years if she continues doing it. No human psyche can bear that kind of relentless, systematic abuse.

Now. Note what all the technology and bureaucracy that wonderful, noble company has invested hundreds of millions in does’t ask her to do. Learn. Think. Reflect. Teach. Inspire. Lead. Connect. Imagine. Create. Grow. Dream. Actually serve customers. Heaven forbid. It just beats her over the head, over and over again, three times a minute, every twenty seconds, with how much she hasn҅t sold; hasnt made; hasnҒt produced. For her shitty .0003% commission. According to the quota thats been set for her. By her boss. For his boss. For their boss. And so on all the way up the food chain.

See my point? Mara’s job isnt to benefit customers. It isnҒt to educate, understand, listen to, or even to chat with them. It isn’t to stop them from buying what they donҒt want; to help them find what they might need; to match them with the right stuff. Nope. Its merely to push more and more and more and more shit at themҒfaster, meaner, and dumber than any sane person would think is humanly possibleusing advanced military technology and techniquesŅ programmed to abuse herso she can wage advanced psychological warfareŅon her customers. And they were just suckers, gaping maws, fools, marks. And be yelled atby a robotŅif she doesnt.

Really? This is the best our economy can do? To take the stuff of 21st century warfare and use them them toŒrack up the profit? To turn a bright young woman with two grad degreesinto a Superprofitable Human Weapon of Mass ConsumptionŅa half-crazed algorithmically-programmed assholea human droneŅso even bigger, actually crazy assholescan get super-richŅby slinging entire supertankers full of junkat people getting poorer at four thousand percent interest a yearŅby using drones and bots to wage psy-warfare against themso theyŅre conned into buying too much?

The economy doesnt make stuff anymore. That much you know. So what does it make?

It makes assholes.

The Great Enterprise of this age is the Asshole Industry.

And that’s not just a tragedy. It is something approaching the moral equivalent of a crime. For it demolishes human potential in precisely the same way as locking someone innocent up, and throwing away the key.

Consider Mara again. Who in Christ’s name would design such an inhuman system? Whose sick joke of an idea is a store like that? What do you even call it? Because it’s surely not a store.

Only a monstrous asshole of the highest order could assemble such a demonically vampiric bullshit machine to prey oneveryone. Customers, managers, workers alike. Such a carefully sophisticated engine of human misery; of finessed cruelty; all to rake in a few extra pennies an hour, at the expense of dignity, intelligence, creativity, commitment, fairness, craft, service, sovereignty҅sanity.

The store is an Asshole Factory.

Allow me to explain.

What happens to Mara when shes Œdoing her job? Think about it for a second. She turns into precisely the kind of asshole that the heartless dweebs who thought up this infernal torture-machine no doubt already are. Not because she wants to. But because she has to.

ThatӔs exactly what the store was designed to do. Turn everyone into the same kind of asshole as the assholes that made it, run it, and benefit from itwant everyone to be.

The store is an Asshole Factory.

Our world is now full of Asshole Factories. That҅s what the stores, offices, industrial parks, skyscrapers, malls, low-rise blocks, gleaming headquarters, whimsically designed corporate campuses, really are.

Its the grand endeavor of today. We donҒt make stuff anymore. We make assholes. The Great Enterprise of this age is the Asshole Industry.

Consider, for a moment, my tiny hypothesis.

Have you noticed, lately, that people seem to be more, well, assholishthan before? That everywhere you go, people seem to be meaner, nastier, dumber, angrier, more brutish?

Why?

It is the last and greatest industry left in an economy that has been impoverished, emptied, hollowed out, drained.

The Great Enterprise of the Age of Stagnation is the wholesale manufacture not of great, world-shaking, ground-breaking ideas, inventions, concerns...but of bigger and bigger assholes.

The chain-store; the mall; the hypermarket. The corporation; the firm; the partnership. B-school; law school; med school. The boardroom; the backroom; the trading floor.

These are, by and large, Asshole Factories. They don’t make people. Capable of great things. Who create and build and touch and soar. They make assholes.

They are designed to disinfect us of our fragility. To cleanse us of our flaws. To disinfect us of weakness. Love, grace, mercy, longing, forgiveness, passion, truth, nobility, dreams. Their objective is to stamp all that out; to eradicate it; to erase it. To replace it with calculation, ruthlessness, self-concern; gluttony; cruelty; anxiety, despair. By using the most sophisticated technology ever made to subjugate, oppress, and goad us into being little torturers ourselves.

And in so doing, they emotionally sterilize us. They psychically traumatize us. They intellectually castrate us. They socially neuter us. They cheat us of greatness. That is how they turn us into assholes.

They are designed to deprive us into depriving everyone else of the lives we could and have, at our highest and truest and noblest.

The assholes haven’t just taken our incomes, our savings, our careers, our educations. They’ve taken something far more precious; something priceless. It is our lives - the full, true lives we should be living, that have been taken from us. And in the gaping void where the lives we should be living are, the assholes have deftly inserted carbon copies of… themselves.

When you think about it that way - is it any wonder that society seems to be stuck? That the economy seems headed into oblivion? That life for so pretty much anyone under the age of 35 and/or worth less than $20 million or so appears to be going… nowhere?

Remember my friend Mara? Shes probably being piloted like a drone… yelled at by a bot… three times a minute… into waging advanced techniques of psycho-war… designed to traumatize prisoners… over and over and over again - right this very second.

Until she’s cleansed. Perfect. Flawless. Pure. Another gleaming, brand-new asshole, rolling proudly off the assembly line of the Asshole Factory.

We’re obedient constructivists. Pragmatists. Rationalists. So you probably want to know: what can we do about it?

Its pretty simple.

Don’t be an asshole. Remember the Asshole Factories? Here’s a secret: they’re churning out assholes by the millions. And so should you bravely decide to be an asshole, what you’ll really be is just another interchangeable, forgettable, rapidly depreciating commodity.

So who should you be?

Be yourself. The person you were meant to be. Whether you believe in heaven or the inferno, freedom or fate, the simple fact is: each and every one of us was put here to be something greater than Just Another Asshole stealing pennies from his neighbors to pay off Even Bigger Assholes.

So let me say it again. Don’t be an asshole. Be yourself. The miracle of being that you were meant to be. A person that, consumed with passion, seared with happiness, aglow with meaning, brings forth all that is great, noble, and true in the world, and so, with love, mercy, and wisdom, lifts every life that you meet into the light.

Thank you and goodbye.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/27/17 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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