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Why I Am Hopeful

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by Charles Hugh Smith

Why am I hopeful? the Status Quo is devolving, and a better way of living lies just beyond the corrupt, wasteful, ruinous consumerist debt/financial tyranny we now inhabit.

Readers often ask me to post something hopeful, and I understand why: doom-and-gloom gets tiresome. Human beings need hope just as they need oxygen, and the destruction of the Status Quo via over-reach and internal contradictions doesn’t leave much to be happy about.

The most hopeful thing in my mind is that the Status Quo is devolving from its internal contradictions and excesses. It is a perverse, intensely destructive system with horrific incentives for predation, exploitation, fraud and complicity and few disincentives.

A more human world lies just beyond the edge of the Status Quo.

I know many smart, well-informed people expect the worst once the Status Quo (the Savior State and its corporatocracy partners) devolves, and there is abundant evidence of the ugliness of human nature under duress.

But we should temper this Id ugliness with the stronger impulses of community and compassion. If greed and rapaciousness were the dominant forces within human nature, then the species would have either died out at its own hand or been limited to small savage populations kept in check by the predation of neighboring groups, none of which could expand much because inner conflict would limit their ability to grow.

The remarkable success of humanity as a species is not simply the result of a big brain, opposable thumbs, year-round sex, innovation or even language; it is also the result of social and cultural associations that act as a “network” for storing knowledge and good will–what we call technical and social capital.

I have devoted significant portions of my books Survival+, An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times, Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change and Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It to an explanation of how community and self-reliance have atrophied under the relentless expansion of the dominant Savior State and the cartel/crony-capitalist corporatocracy.

The social capital and “return on investment” earned from investing time and energy in community and other social networks has been replaced by a check from the Savior State–a transfer payment that surely beats the troublesome work of investing in community in terms of risk and return.

The net result of the Savior State dominating society and the economy is the rise of a pathological mindset of entitlement and resentment–the two are simply two sides of the same coin. You cannot separate them.

Once self-reliance has been lost, so too has self-confidence been lost, and the Savior State dependent–individual and corporation alike–soon distrusts their ability to function in an open market.

This is a truly sad, self-destructive state of affairs, and deeply, tragically ironic. The calls for “help” quickly lead to dependence on the Savior State, and that dependence quickly breeds complicity and silence in the face of repression and predation by the State and its corporate partners.

In a very real sense, citizens relinquish their citizenship along with their self-reliance and self-worth once they accept dependence on the State.

I often mention that the U.S. has much to learn from so-called Third World countries that are poorer in resources and credit. In many of these countries, the government is the police, the school and the infrastructure of roadways and energy. Many of these countries are systemically corrupt, and the State is the engine of enforcing that corruption.

Rather than something to be embraced and lobbied, involvement with the State is something to be avoided as a risk. In everyday life, people rarely encounter the government except in law enforcement or schooling.

As a result, people depend on their social capital and community for sustenance, support, work and connections.

This is not altruism, it is mutually beneficial.

Once a community dissolves into atomized individuals who each get a payment from the Central State, then they no longer need each other. Rather, other dependents on the State are viewed as competitors for the State’s resources.

These atomized, isolated individuals have a perverse relationship with the State and what remains of the community around them: lacking the self-worth earned from work or engagement/investment in a community, then their only outlet for self-identity is consumption: what they wear, eat, drink, etc. as consumers.

This dependence on the State also serves the State’s goal, which is a passive, compliant populace of dependents, and distracted, passive workers who pay their taxes. Thus dependence on the State and a hollow consumerism are ontologically bound: one feeds the other.

The era of debt-based consumption as the engine of “growth” and “prosperity” is coming to an end. Adding debt via credit no longer creates growth; it actually takes away from the economy by expanding debt service (interest payments).

The vast majority of developed-world people have had the basics of life since the late 1960s — transport, food, shelter and utilities. The “growth” since then depended on cheap, abundant oil and a consumerist mentality in which one constantly re-defines and renews one’s identity not from social investments in others or the shared community but from consumption.

Not coincidentally, this dominance of consumption as the only metric for “growth” (as opposed to, say, productive activity) has been paralleled by the dominance of the Central State.

The end of credit-based consumption will be a very positive development, as will the devolution of the Savior State. The Savior State is like oil–both are at their peaks and are starting their inevitable slide down the S-curve. The world they created was not as positive for human fulfillment and happiness as we have been told.

Indeed, study after study has found that people with the basics for life, a higher purpose that requires sacrifice and a tight-knit community are far and away happier than isolated, atomized, insecure consumers, regardless of their wealth and consumption.

This potential to re-humanize our economy is why I am hopeful.

Longtime reader/correspondent Brad L. offered an insightful commentary on why he remains hopeful.

I see the potential for a discontinuous plunge into chaos driven by unsustainable debt every time I read a macroeconomic analysis. But “on the ground” in my own life, I see something different. Every day, in millions of unheralded ways, I see individuals making incremental changes in the direction of sustainability. There are twice the number of farmers’ markets that there were 10 years ago, largely because the number of farmers is actually rising for the first time in modern American history. My buddy who owns an electric bike shop can’t keep them in stock, because people are dumping their second cars in favor of e-bikes. There’s more solar on rooftops every week in my little Tempe suburb. Etc. etc. etc.

It adds up to “damping the discontinuity,” and perhaps explains why we are six years into fearing a plunge into horror that never quite seems to materialize. The better society that you envision – I often think as I read your great essays – may be quietly building itself under all of our noses.

The obvious question, of course, is will it happen fast enough? But I am very much an evolutionary theorist. Unlike Mencken, I don’t see boobus Americanus when I look around me, tempting as that dismissal may be. The deeper truth about even the most pathetic Americans is that, like all human beings, they are the end product of 250,000 years of homo sapiens selecting for survival and reproduction, which means selecting for problem-solving.

And I dispute the notion that the “default” way to solve the survival-reproduction problem is to kill or otherwise tear communities apart. At a deep level, we understand that groups and tribes survive more readily – and allow us to mate and raise young more successfully– than do individuals. I am confident that the emerging solutions will be rooted in that understanding.

Should the manifesting of problems pick up speed, I guarantee that this generalized, widespread, difficult-to-track-or-quantify problem-solving will speed up accordingly. I am confident that the former won’t outpace the later to any vast degree. Ultimately, I admit, that’s just a guess, but there is a lot of history behind that guess.

I know the numbers you have cited of the debt that’s been taken on to support the Status Quo over the past four years ($6 trillion in new Federal debt plus the $7.7 trillion bailout of the banks) don’t come close to being sustainable, and suggest serious, rapid, negative change. But a brilliant thinker once remarked that “Food is wealth, health is wealth, energy is wealth; all else is illusion.”

So if the first thing that changes is the internalization of this ethic, the remainder of the changes won’t be so difficult. Big if. Possible, though, because it will become necessary. Maybe the best example of “problem solving” that I cited earlier will be the revamping of problematic values…

Also – a huge, overlooked positive enjoyed by Americans is low population density amid vast tracts of arable land in a temperate climate. If sufficient food is the real basis for wealth, we’ll need to seriously screw up – via nuclear war that spreads within our borders, for example – to experience the loss of anything we truly need. Any “suffering” rooted in the loss of cheap Chinese crap does not, I think, deserve to the labeled as such, and perhaps many people will come to realize this.

I guess I’ll stay hopeful until forced to become otherwise. Have not been forced yet.

Best wishes to you for a safe and happy holiday.


by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds


Guest Post: Why I Am Hopeful


Written by testudoetlepus

December 27th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

The Grand Game of Perception Management

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by Charles Hugh Smith

The economy will expand if you believe it is expanding–because you’ll be “animal spirited” into buying a lot of stuff on credit that you can’t afford.

It all boils down to perception–that’s the insight at the heart of the Grand Game of Perception Management. Economists speak of magical “animal spirits” that fuel economic expansion, but this is simply a colorful term for perception management: when people perceive others reaping outsized gains in profits or pleasure from taking risky bets and freely spending borrowed money, then they will feel an overpowering urge to follow the herd and leverage their capital (if any) and disposable income (if any) into risky bets and zealous over-consumption, i.e. “animal spirits.”

Conversely, when said risky bets blow up and participants have lost their ever-lovingderrieres by following the herd, then “animal spirits” quickly dissipate as the herd thunders off a cliff to its financial demise.

The task of the financial/political/media Status Quo is to convince Americans to overlook the abundant evidence of economic deterioration and focus on heavily juiced “evidence” of robust “growth.”

The game plan is this: if the Status Quo can convince you that the economy has righted itself and from here on in everything will get better and better, every day and in every way, then we will abandon financial rationality and start buying homes we can’t afford on credit, cars we can’t afford on credit and boatloads of stuff from China that we don’t need on credit (of course looking cool is a “need,” i.e. having an iPad to carry around).

In other words, believing it is so will make it so. That is the essence of the campaign to stimulate “animal spirits” confidence: though the economy is actually tanking, if they can only convince us the Dow is moving to 15,000 and then on to 20,000, jobs are being created left and right and things are looking up everywhere, then the resulting piranha-like shopping-feeding-frenzy will create the expansion that is currently chimerical.

This “feel-good” promotion of “growth” is also designed to persuade the millions of holdouts earning nothing on their IRA funds to drop all that cash back into the stock market, which is “breaking out to new highs.” (Isn’t that what they said in January 2000?)

And just in case this propaganda campaign fails to do the trick, the Federal Reserve has destroyed the return on savings and cash, all in the hope that the decimated, income-starved herd will turn from rationally avoiding risk to irrationally embracing it out of sheer desperation.

“Perception management” can be usefully shortened to a one-syllable word: “con.” The confidence-man’s most basic tool is to create the surface sheen of success with minimal investment of time and capital. Thus the con-man buys a couple of designer suits, rents a cubbyhole office with a prestigious address, leases a 500-series Mercedes vehicle, counterfeits some diplomas or other signifiers of Elite status and achievement, and then goes to work conning his credulous marks.

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Written by testudoetlepus

February 17th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Self-Interest and The Pathology of Power: The Corruption of America – Part II

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submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from of Two Minds.

The self-interest of the alcoholic is to keep drinking. Is this truly in his best interests? The answer illuminates the pathology of power in America..

If we ignore the lip-service showered on “reform,” we find that there is really only one strategy in America: extend and pretend. Individuals, households, communities, cities, states, enterprises and the vast sprawling Empire of the Federal government and its many proxies–all are engaged in extend and pretend.

The closest analog is a seriously ill alcoholic who tells himself he just has a hang-over when it’s abundantly clear he is suffering from potentially terminal cancer. With a hang-over, extend and pretend is the only strategy that works: you can try various “magic potions” to relieve the symptoms, but the only real cure is to give the body enough time to cleanse itself of the toxins you’ve created and pretend to be functioning in the meantime.

In the case of aggressive cancer, then extend and pretend is the worst possible strategy: ignoring the rapid progression of the disease only makes eventual treatment more difficult and uncertain.

The only way to treat cancer is to face it straight-on, learn as much as you can about the disease and the spectrum of treatments, consider the side-effects and consequences of various treatment strategies, and then get to work radically transforming your entire life, mind, body and spirit to effect the cure.

Why do we perpetrate the delusion of a hang-over when it’s painfully clear we have cancer? We’re afraid, of course; we fear the unknown and find comfort in the belief that nothing has to really change. We call this denial, but it arises from fear and risk aversion.

In the moment, amidst all the swirling chaos of fear and uncertainty, we choose extend and pretend because it seems to be in our self-interest.

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Profligacies of Scale

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by John Michael Greer

The logic applied in last week’s post to photovoltaic solar power can be applied more generally to a fairly wide range of technologies that can, under the right circumstances, provide a modest supply of electricity to power those things for which electricity is really the most sensible power source. I want to talk about a couple of those in tthe weeks to come, partly for the sake of completeness, partly because the options I have in mind offer some distinct advantages, and partly because touching on a series of examples will make it easier to grasp certain common themes that aren’t often addressed on those rare occasions when discussions of the future of technology manage to make it out of the realm of popular mythology in the first place.I don’t mean that last comment as a joke, by the way. If mythology can be defined as the set of stories that people in a given society use to make sense of the universe and themselves, contemporary beliefs about the future of technology in the cultural mainstream of the industrial world fill that role, doubled, tripled, and in spades.

Those of my readers who have come to take the challenge of peak oil seriously, and tried to discuss it with family members, coworkers, and friends who haven’t yet grappled with the issues themselves, can testify just how forcefully most of these latter cling to the belief that some technological gimmick or other will bail us out. Technology, for a great people nowadays, is their source of meaning and their hope of salvation. Most liberals, conservatives, atheists, and plenty of people who think they belong to some other religion all put their trust in the great god Progress and wait prayerfully for him to bring a future that, they insist, must be better than the present. However poorly founded that faith may be, it plays an immensely important role in today’s industrial cultures, and the death of Progress in our time thus bids fair to deal the same shattering blow to our present certainties that the death of God announced by Nietzche measured out to the equally comfortably certainties of the nineteenth century. If anything, the approaching experience may be the harsher of the two. What Nietzche was saying, stripped of his ornate imagery, was that the people of Europe in his time no longer believed in the Christian myths and doctrines they claimed to accept, and needed to own up to the anthropocentric cult of power that had become their actual religion.

That may have been true; still, it’s one thing to realize that you no longer believe things you were raised to think were good and right and true; it’s quite another, and far more devastating, to believe in something with all your heart and have it disproved right in front of your eyes. The religion of progress claims to be justified by works, not faith; during the three centuries or so of technological expansion, the apparent confirmation of the myth gave it immense strength; as the age of progress ends and we enter on three centuries or more of technological regress, the resulting body blow to our culture’s fondest beliefs and hopes will dominate the cultural psychology of an age.It’s the effort to avoid that profoundly unwelcome experience that drives current attempts to insist that we can maintain our contemporary lifestyles, and even provide them to the population of the world’s nonindustrialized (and never to be industrialized) countries, using renewable energy sources. That same effort drives plenty of other exercises in futility, to be sure, and many of them are a good deal more dysfunctional than the dream of a world of middle class comforts powered by wind turbines and solar panels. Still, if we’re going to get beyond the mythology of a dying religion and talk about the future in more useful terms, it’s crucial to start by owning up to the fact that renewable sources are not going to allow anyone to maintain the kind of extravagant energy-wasting lifestyle that most people in the industrial world think of as normal.What they can do instead is rather more valuable.

There are certain technologies that are either dependent on electricity, or are easiest to provide using electricity, that contribute mightily to human welfare. (Long range radio communication is an example of the first kind; refrigeration for food storage is an example of the second.) If these technologies can get through the present crisis in a sustainable form, they will contribute to human welfare as far into the future as you care to look. Renewable energy sources that provide a modest amount of electricity on a local scale can keep a good many of these technologies going, and if enough people here and now either learn how to build and maintain renewable systems on that scale, on the one hand, or learn how to build and maintain the technologies themselves on the same modest and local scale, on the other, our civilization may actually accomplish the surprisingly rare feat of adding something worthwhile to the long-term toolkit of our species.The modest amount and the local scale are vital to any such project. Right now, anyone with a fairly good set of hand tools and a good general knowledge of electricity, carpentry, and metalworking can build a wind turbine for a few hundred dollars. I can say this with some confidence because I helped do exactly that, for a good deal less, while at college in the early 1980s. The turbine itself was basically a two-blade propeller cut, shaped, and sanded from a block of fir; the conversion of rotary motion to electricity was done by an alternator salvaged from an old truck; the tail that kept it facing into the wind, the safety shutoff that swung it out of the path of the wind when the wind velocity got too high, and the tricky doodad that allowed it to turn freely while still getting electricity down to the batteries in the little shed at the base, were all fabricated out of scrap parts and sheet metal.

We used a disused power pole to put the turbine up where the wind blew freely, but if that hadn’t been there, an octet truss tower – one of Bucky Fuller’s better designs – could easily have been put together out of readily available hardware and bolted onto a hand-poured concrete foundation. The design wasn’t original, not by a long shot; half a dozen old appropriate tech books from the Seventies have the same design or its kissing cousin, and it’s one of a half dozen or so standard designs that came out of the ferment of those years. The most important difference was between horizontal axis from vertical axis models. A horizontal axis wind turbine is the kind most people think of, with blades like a propeller facing into the wind and a tail or some other gimmick to pivot it around in the right direction. A vertical axis wind turbine is less familiar these days, though you used to see examples all over the place back in the day; the business end looked either like one side of an eggbeater – the Darreius turbine – or an oil drum cut in half lengthwise, and the two sides staggered around the vertical shaft – the Savonius turbine. Some of the standard designs yielded high speed and low torque, which is what you want for generating electricity; some of them produced high torque and low speed, which is what you want for pumping water or most other uses of mechanical power. All the information needed to design and build one or more of the standard models is easy to come by nowadays – literally dozens of books from the time cover the basic concepts, and it’s far from hard to find detailed plans for building your own. It’s also not too difficult for those who lack the basic technical skills to find small wind turbines of quite respectable quality for sale, though the price is going to be a good deal more than you’d shell out for an old truck alternator, a chunk of fir six feet by eight inches by four inches, and the rest of the hardware we used to cobble together our turbine. Either way, if you live in an area with average winds and your home isn’t surrounded by tall trees, steep hills, or skyscrapers, your odds of being able to run a respectable 12 volt system are pretty good.

Still, it will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that very little of this wealth of practical information receives much in the way of attention nowadays. Instead, the concept of wind power has been monopolized by a recently minted industry devoted to building, servicing, and promoting giant wind turbines that provide electricity to the grid. The giant turbines have their virtues, no question; compared to most other energy production technologies, certainly, they’re safe and clean, and their net energy yield is a respectable 8 or 9 to 1, which beats the stuffing out of most other alternative energy sources. Still, the idea that serried ranks of giant wind turbines will enable us all to keep on using energy at today’s extravagant rates runs headlong into at least two difficulties.The first difficulty is intermittency. A wind turbine, obviously enough, produces power only when the wind is blowing, and it’s a safe bet that no matter where you put turbines, the wind won’t always be blowing. That wouldn’t be a problem at all if Americans were used to using electricity when it happens to be available, and doing something else with their time when it’s not, but that’s not the way Americans do things any more. Just now, intermittency isn’t much of a problem, since modern gas-fired power plants can be cycled up and down promptly to respond to any shortage of power from the turbines, but if your plan is to replace the gas-fired plants (and the coal-fired ones, which can’t be cycled up and down so quickly) with wind turbines, you’ve got a problem.

You have an even bigger problem if you want to rely on solar as well as wind, since then you’re dependent on two intermittent energy sources, and when they both go down at the same time – as, by Murphy’s law, they inevitably will – you’re left with no power going into the grid at all.The second difficulty, as discussed in previous posts here, is complexity. Those giant turbines, it bears remembering, are not made out of spare truck alternators, blocks of fir, and other readily accessible and easily managed parts. They are triumphs of modern engineering, which means in practice that they depend on baroque supply chains, high-tech manufacturing processes, and massive investment, not to mention plenty of fossil fuels and, more generally, a society that has plenty of cheap energy to spare for projects on a gargantuan scale. Nor is a giant wind turbine sitting all by itself on a hilltop particularly useful to much of anyone; it gains its economic viability through connection to the electrical grid, which is itself an immense technostructure with its own even more sprawling supply, manufacturing, and investment requirements. If industrial society finds itself unable to maintain any one of the factors that make the grid and the giant turbines possible, then it doesn’t matter how useful they might be; they won’t be around.Homescale windpower systems suffer from the intermittency issue, but then so does nearly every other option for providing electricity on that scale, and we’ve already discussed at some length the solution to it: get used to using electricity when it’s available, or to storing up modest amounts of it in inexpensive storage batteries and using that supply sparingly.

The challenge of complexity, on the other hand, is not something a homescale windpower system has to deal with at all. Even in the absence of salvageable alternators, and there are quite literally hundreds of millions of them lying unused in junkyards across the United States, a generator that will turn rotary motion into direct current is not a challenging project. I built a simple one in elementary school, for example, and although it wasn’t really suited to wind turbine use – most of the structural elements were made from paperclips, with a toy horseshoe magnet to provide the field, and the amount of current it produced was just about enough to get a decent glow out of a very small light bulb – the principle can readily be scaled up.In the kind of future we can realistically expect, in other words, homescale windpower will almost certainly be a viable technology, while giant wind turbines of the modern sort almost certainly won’t. Now of course it’s a safe bet that the windpower industry as it now exists will keep on building, servicing, and promoting giant wind turbines as long as it’s possible to do so, so the small chance that the giant turbines might actually be viable is covered. What isn’t covered yet is the very large chance that small wind turbines of the sort that can be built and maintained in a basement workshop could provide a real benefit during the difficult decades ahead of us. In order to respond to that range of possibilities, homescale windpower units need to find their way back into the conversation of our time and, more importantly, up above the rooftops of homes across the modern world. Professionally manufactured wind turbines of the right scale are a good start, and those green wizards in training who have the money and lack the fairly modest technical skills to build their own could do worse than to buy and install one. Still, there’s also a huge role here for the homebuilt turbine, and for those individuals whose willingness to get to work shaping turbine blades and bolting together octet truss towers might, as things unfold, lead to a future career.

Promoters of giant wind turbines, and for that matter of centralized power generation schemes of all kinds, tend to talk quite a bit about economies of scale. In an expanding economy with a stable or growing resource base, that sort of talk often makes sense, though the extent to which those economies of scale are a product of direct and indirect government subsidies to transportation, financing, and large businesses generally is not something economists like to talk about. Still, in a world facing economic contraction, resource depletion, and a loss of complexity potentially capable of rendering a great deal of today’s infrastructure useless or worse, the balance swings the other way. In the face of a future where small, cheap, localized approaches that are sparing in their use of resources, relying on massive, expensive, centralized, resource-intensive power plants of any kind is not an economy but a profligacy of scale, and one that we very probably will not be able to afford for much longer.

Profligacies of Scale

[The Archdruid Report]

Written by testudoetlepus

June 20th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

The Fatal Timidity of the Corporate Media

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Want to reverse the decline of the media? then stop worshipping corporate profits and start worshipping skepticism and a strong voice for truth, however inconvenient it might be to the Status Quo.

Lost in all the hand-wringing over the corporate (mainstream) media’s decline is a key cause of the decline: the MSM no longer publishes or airs anything that challenges the Status Quo. The timidity of the corporate media knows no bounds. The iconic Washington Post now makes its corporate bread off its ownership of a diploma mill of the sort that it should deplore.

Choose the phrase your prefer to describe this: bought off, sold out, compromised.

In web-based corporate media, “journalism” has been distilled down to churning out lists: the 11 best cities to do your $50 million IPO in, the 9 most adorable dog breeds, 7 reasons why we hate corporate web-based media (you’ll never see that list), etc.

The print media has always lived off advertising. What’s changed is the overt slavishness of the media toward its advert masters.

If you flip through a corporate mainstream media publication from the late 1960s, for example LIFE magazine, you will see plenty of adverts. But you will also see uncompromising stories about alternative lifestyles, about demonstrators against the Status Quo being beaten, arrested and thrown in temporary gulags, and other stories which bluntly called the entire machinery of the Status Quo into question.

The deal was this: the media was relevant, so people wanted to read it. Advertisers who wanted to reach this audience had to suck it up and advertise regardless of whether they approved of the content.

A near-monopoly certainly aided the corporate media pre-cable TV and Internet: there were a handful of national print media outlets, two big newspapers per major city, a town newspaper in smaller burgs, and three national TV networks. Advertisers had little choice about where to place their advert dollars.

Now that advertisers have a vast spectrum of choice, they have the upper hand. The media outlets have to sell their audience to advertisers: please give us money, because our audience is huge, or targeted, and oh yes, in all cases special.

The media, corporate and non-traditional alike, could count on subscriptions to pay the basic bills. No more. “Free” content is of course not free: somebody has to pay the electricity bills for the servers and the staff to post the content, even if it’s skimmed from other sites.

In a world of “free” content, why pay for content? Why indeed? There are two reasons: 1) loyalty to the voice provided by the magazine, channel, radio station, newspaper, blog, etc. In some cases, this might be the loyalty of those who love to hear their own views confirmed on a routine basis: the “true believers.”

In other cases, the loyalty is for “telling it like it is,” even if the positions don’t always align with the readers’ own views.

Reason Two is that the publication/channel/station is indispensible: everyone who is anyone reads it/watches it/listens to it.

What makes a media outlet indispensible? One, it is skeptical about received wisdom and official explanations, and two, it has a strong and unique voice. Please tell me there is any corporate media that meets these standards. Perhaps on a good day, here and there, but consistently? No.

The “liberal” media parrots the same old tiresome Keynesian blather that we need to borrow another $10 trillion, oh heck, make it $20 trillion or $100 trillion, because we need to pay our teachers and cops a living wage, unions are the backbone of the country, all we need to do is tax the top 1% and all our problems will be solved, etc.

The “conservative” media parrots the same old tiresome corporate welfare blather that we need a strong defense, never mind the cost, cutting taxes is the solutions to all our problems, so while we wait for that magic to work we have to borrow another $10 trillion, oh heck, make it $20 trillion or $100 trillion, and government shouldn’t be intrusive unless it’s enforcing our standards on everyone else, and then Central State tyranny is “morally necessary.”

All corporate media reprints Central State propaganda with only the faintest mewling skepticism. You want an example? The media broadcast or headline blares: “Unemployment down as economy recovers.”

If there was any skepticism left, and even the faintest shred of principled devotion to truth, the headline should read “Government spins unemployment numbers again, keeps pushing propaganda.” We all know that’s the reality, the truth, that the unemployment statistics are doctored, tweaked and massaged to play the same message again and again: “unemployment” is down, never mind it’s because we removed 4 million people from the workforce; the economy is recovering because if you stop believing that, you might rise up against the Status Quo.

The corporate media is fatally timid because it’s running scared. The focus is on profits that must be made and shipped to restive shareholders and managers, and on keeping a job to pay the mortgage.

The grand irony is the solution to decline is to stand for something other than corporate profits. Have you read what passes for “editorials” in the corporate media? The same old cliches are trotted out, the same bland milktoast “positions” that mean nothing, say nothing, signify nothing but complicity and surrender: the government should keep spending until we get out of recession, or the government should spend responsibly, blah blah blah.

In other words, let’s play “journalism” not as if it mattered, but as a game where the “winners” attract more eyeballs and clicks with eye-catching lists and low-cut blouses, and snagging adverts is the only real goal.

Yes, there are adverts on this very blog. But I don’t cater to whomever is paying Google to place their adverts; the adverts are displayed based on your preferences as much as on the content of today’s entry. I don’t change the content based on whether I get adverts or not. Nothing is “free,” and somebody is paying the bills somewhere. The adverts help, but they have zero influence over the content. If they went away the content would slog on because it’s what’s important, and what counts.

I pay for subscriptions to various independent magazines, and donate to support independent blogs and online publications, because my money is a “vote” for skeptical, investigative media. If I don’t “vote” for that kind of media, it will fade, because there is no such thing as “free.” The home office has to be paid for, the servers must be paid for, the time must be compensated in a way that the “content producer” can buy groceries and trips to the dentist, etc.

But the way to build loyalty is to stand for something, not just repeat government propaganda and tired cliches that were drained of all meaning a generation ago.

Thank you, Norman M. ($240), for your staggeringly generous contribution to this site– I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Thank you, David T. ($20), for your exceedingly generous contribution to this site– I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

The Fatal Timidity of the Corporate Media


Written by testudoetlepus

May 12th, 2011 at 4:38 pm